Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Halmark Cards

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours. With so many people in the world torn apart from their families due to violence and disease, we all have a lot to be thankful for tomorrow, even if the American Thanksgiving is not a part of your traditions. May you, along with all of the people you love, have a very special Thanksgiving Day.

Meakin and I are grateful for your support of our blog throughout the years, for your taking time out of your day to leave a comment, for your friendship, and most of all, for making our lives richer.

From Ben Franklin….
“Wish not so much to live long, as to live well.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cranberry Sauce & Relish Recipes

Thanksgiving always means cranberry sauce to me. I’ve been making my own cranberry sauce for years and today I’m featuring some of my all time favorites that have appeared previously on My Carolina Kitchen, each with its own special twist and worthy of another showing. Each year I normally try a new cranberry sauce, but vertigo continues to give me problems so for now I’ll be sticking with these sure-to-please favorites.  

The first is our traditional cranberry sauce flavored with red wine with a citrus undertone. I call it “French” cranberry sauce because of the red wine, even though the French don’t have a cranberry sauce that I know of. No matter how many new ones I try, this one will always be my favorite.

My Carolina Kitchen’s French Cranberry Sauce
A citrus twist on a classic – serves 12
Printable Recipe

1 (12 ounce) package of fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup dry red wine, preferably French
¾ cup to 1 ½ cups sugar, or to taste (I used 1 cup)
2 oranges, navel or tangerines

Put the cranberries (no need to thaw if they’re frozen) in a sauce pan with the one of the cinnamon sticks, red wine, and sugar. Zest the oranges and set aside half of the zest for a garnish. Add the remaining zest and the juice of both oranges to the cranberry mixture. Stir the cranberry mixture and bring to a boil.  Partially cover the saucepan and simmer about 15 minutes, until the cranberries have burst. Remove from the heat, let cool, and discard the cinnamon stick. The sauce will firm up as it cools. It can be refrigerated, covered, for up to five days. At the last minute, using a microplane rasp style grater, grate a little cinnamon “dust” over the cranberry sauce and garnish with the remaining citrus zest. Serve at room temperature.

This cranberry sauce is a mixture of fresh cranberries and dried tart cherries, flavored with crème de cassis, a popular French black current-flavored liqueur commonly used in a Kir or a Kir Royale. The cherry flavor really comes through in this cranberry sauce and offers a new and exciting taste to the traditional.

Cranberry Sauce with Cassis and Dried Cherries
Cooking Light – serves 12
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup finely chopped shallots
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
½ cup crème de cassis (black currant-flavored liqueur)
¾ cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh lemon rind

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, swirl to coat the pan. Add shallots and sauté for 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let them brown or burn. Add cherries, crème de cassis, sugar, and cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes or until cranberries began to pop, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon rind. Cool to room temperature.

The next recipe is a relish and would be good with smoked turkey. It’s from a very old Cooking Light recipe and is fairly low in sugar compared to most cranberry sauces. It cooks for a relatively short period of time compared to most cranberry sauces.

Sweet & Sour Cranberry Relish
Adapted from an old Cooking Light recipe – serves 6
Printable Recipe

½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups fresh cranberries
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons good cider vinegar

Coat a saucepan with cooking spray. Place over medium high heat until hot. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Add cranberries, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in the vinegar. It can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

This is a citrusy one flavored with dried figs and crunchy nuts. It is another relish and I really enjoyed the crunch of the nuts. My mother used to make a molded cranberry jelly with pecans and the nuts in this one brought back fond memories for me of my childhood. I can still see the pecan tree in the back yard and remember well what a chore it was to crack the pecans and separate the nuts from the shells.

Cranberry Fig Relish
Cooking Light – serves 12
Printable Recipe

1 cup fresh orange juice (about 4 oranges)
¾ cup chopped dried figs
½ cup dry red wine
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1/3 cup chopped roasted fresh pecans or walnuts

Combine the orange juice, figs, and red wine in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add both sugars and the cranberries. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until mixture is slightly thick and berries pop, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Stir in pecans. Cover and chill. If you make this a few days ahead, leave out the nuts until just before serving so they remain crunchy.

The last one is fresh cranberry relish and it’s important that you use fresh cranberries, not frozen ones, because the cranberries are not cooked in this recipe. The ingredients may sound a bit strange, but the fresh flavors of the cranberries and oranges are very refreshing. The relish just bursts in your mouth and the crunch of the nuts gives it a nice dimension. The first bite reminded me of fresh oranges flavored with cranberries and it looks like colorful sunrise on the plate.

Fresh Cranberry Relish
Adapted from Red Book magazine – makes 2 cups
Printable Recipe

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries (do not use frozen cranberries)
1 small navel orange (unpeeled), quartered or if large, cut into 1/8’s
¼ cup good orange marmalade
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup golden raisins, chopped
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted, plus a little for garnish
A half slice of fresh orange for garnish

In a food processor, roughly chop cranberries, oranges, sugar, raisins and horseradish to combine. (Check to make sure the oranges are fully incorporated before continuing.) Remove relish from processor and stir in the nuts. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours. Relish can be made 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving and garnish with a chopped nuts and fresh orange slice.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.  

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.
Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon

When the weather turns chilly you can never go wrong with comfort food. Beef Bourguignon happens to be one of our favorite comforting dishes. I’ve had vertigo and haven’t been able to do much, so I hope you don’t mind a repeat of this Ina Garten favorite, first seen here. In south Florida our normally sunny skies and pleasant temperatures changed over the weekend as the cold front brought us a damp and chilly Sunday. Of course that was nothing compared to the cold blast of Arctic air that is affecting many of you.

I hope you’ll come in from the cold and enjoy a bowl of rich French deliciousness. Beef bourguignon can be made in advance and actually it taste even better the next day.

Ina’s Beef Bourguignon
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa via The Food Channel – serves 6
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound apple wood smoked bacon, diced - *see cook's notes
2 1/2 pounds bottom round or chuck beef, trimmed of excess fat & cut into 1-inch cubes (we prefer bottom round)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, peeled, then sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups fat free, low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions (or fresh small onions, parboiled & browned)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish

Serve with:
Country bread or sourdough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove, or if you prefer, buttered noodles or creamy mashed potatoes

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate lined with paper towels.

Dry the beef cubes well with paper towels, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside. Toss the carrots and the sliced onions in the fat in the pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and add the ¼ cup of cognac. Stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. (You can add up to ½ cup of cognac if you wish).

Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of red wine plus, enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Time out for a cook’s note: If you wish to prepare this dish in advance, at this point when it cools you can cover it and keep it covered for several days in the refrigerator. We like to skim off the excess fat from the top with a spoon when it’s removed from the refrigerator and still cold. Braises served the next day are always better for maximum flavor.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the small frozen pearl onions or if using fresh onions, parboil for 30 seconds in lightly salted water, then drain and slip off the skins. Brown the onions in a little butter & olive oil until they take on a bit of color before adding them to the stew. Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on one side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon some stew over a slice of the bread and sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley. Buttered noodles or creamy mashed potatoes make a delicious base for the bourguignon as well.

Cook’s Notes: The French would not use overly smoked bacon in their Bourguignon. Therefore I suggest that you use a lightly apple wood smoked bacon and stay away from the heavily smoked bacons such as Nueske’s and Benton’s. Both brands are excellent smoked bacons, but save them for a BLT or breakfast. You don’t want your Bourguignon to taste too smoky.

I will be sharing this with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Living.  

Have a great weekend everyone. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Barefoot Contessa’s Parmesan Chicken topped with Salad Recipe

Parmesan chicken topped with a salad is one of our favorite Ina Garten recipes. Often it’s the recipe I go to when I want a dinner that’s not complicated but guaranteed to be delicious every time.

Recently I received my copy of Ina’s latest cookbook Make It Ahead and already I can tell I’m going to love this book. It’s full of Ina’s normal solid, no nonsense advice and no-fail tasty recipes that we’ve come to expect from her plus they all can be made ahead.

This recipe for Parmesan chicken topped with a green salad could have easily been in her new Make It Ahead book. If you let the chicken rest on a rack in the refrigerator for about half an hour it helps to dry the coating so it won’t steam when sautéing. The vinaigrette for the salad can be made a couple of days ahead and left to chill in the refrigerator. Salad ingredients can be cleaned and assembled in advance, so the only thing left to do at the last minute is to brown the chicken (which does require a bit of attention) and toss the salad.

This chicken recipe is similar to a family favorite I’ve made for years – my father’s unfried chicken here. The only major difference is that this chicken is pounded flat plus there’s Parmesan cheese in the bread crumb coating. My father always added several generous shakes of hot sauce such as Tabasco to his egg mixture for extra flavor and I like to do the same. I've used our house vinaigrette because it's very similar to Ina's lemon vinaigrette minus the shallots. Spring mix is my favorite combination of greens, but as you’ll notice in the photos, some of the darker lettuces don’t photograph well. Next time for appearance sake if I were photographing the salad, I would use all light green lettuces.

The charm of this dish is the cold crispy salad greens atop hot “fried” chicken. If you are a fried chicken lover, I know you’ll really like this sophisticated version sautéed in good butter and quality olive oil. Here, why don’t you have a bite?

Parmesan Chicken with Salad
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten – serves 6
Printable Recipe

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
A few good dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 ¼ cups seasoned dry bread Italian style bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Meslun salad greens for 6
About 6 small handfuls of grape tomato halves for color, optional
My Carolina Kitchen’s French vinaigrette (recipe below)

Sprinkle two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap with a few drops of water to keep them from tearing. Pound the chicken breasts between wax paper or plastic wrap until they are ¼ inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a sheet of wax paper. In a bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water and a few good dashes of hot sauce. On another sheet of wax paper, combine the bread crumbs and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken breast on both sides with the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, dip both sides into the egg mixture, then dredge both sides in the bread-crumb cheese mixture, pressing lightly. Place breaded chicken on a rack on a sheet pan and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to help dry the coating so it won’t steam when sautéing.

While the chicken is chilling, chill a bowl for the salad, make the vinaigrette and store in the refrigerator. If you like, the vinaigrette can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Heat 2 tablespoon of butters and 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts, taking care not to crowd the pan, on medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through, taking care not to let the cheese burn. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. You may wish to do the chicken in batches. The chicken breasts can be kept warm for about 15 minutes on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven or your warming drawer.

At the last minute toss the salad greens in the chilled bowl with vinaigrette and optional grape tomato halves. Place a chicken breast on each plate, sprinkle with a little sea salt, mound salad greens on top of the hot chicken, add a few more grains of sea salt to the salad and serve right away. Pass extra grated parmesan at the table if desired.

My Carolina Kitchen’s French Vinaigrette
Serves 6

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), or limes or red wine vinegar also work well
9 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Couple of dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Maldon sea salt, or other good sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well.  Can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator and also saves well for several days. Easily doubled or tripled.

Cook’s note: The mustard is used to emulsify the vinaigrette and to keep it from separating. The hot sauce brings added flavor and is highly recommended.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

Thank each of you for the kind comments last week and your support of My Carolina Kitchen for the past six years. The winner of last week’s giveaway,
Little Paris Cookbook, is Kaye Barley. Congratulations Kaye. Please email me your address and I’ll get the book right off to you right away.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, eekend Bites at Simple Recipes, & Food on Friday at Carole's Chatter.    
Have a great weekend everyone.