Thursday, March 31, 2016

Coq au Vin Blanc

When you think of Coq au Vin, you typically think of it being cooked in red wine. Here we’ve substituted a dry white wine for the red, which produced a brighter flavored dish.

This recipe is based on one from Williams Sonoma and the original called for chicken legs, but we’ve substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The original also used baby carrots, which I had no luck finding. I used the smallest carrots available, but click here to see Williams Sonoma’s photo of the dish, which you’ll see is very pretty with the baby carrots and chicken legs. If at all possible, seek out smaller carrots than I found. We also substituted pearl onions (because we had them) for the shallots and used a bit less bacon than the original recipe. The pearl onions added a few more minutes, so if time is an issue, I would recommend the shallots.

This is a great way to take a winter favorite and lighten and brighten it for spring. We’ve served it with a scoop of mashed potatoes, but noodles would be nice too. I hope you’ll enjoy this spring time version of coq au vin as much as we did.

Coq au Vin Blanc
Adapted slightly from Williams Sonoma – serves 4 – 6
Printable Recipe

1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
5 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus 2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
4 oz. thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
3 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. small white button mushrooms
1 dozen (or so) pearl onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 3/4 cups low salt, low fat chicken broth
3/4 lb. small baby carrots, peeled
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a large saucepan over high heat, boil the wine until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a bouquet garni: Using a piece of kitchen twine, tie together the parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Set aside.

In a large ovenproof sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pan. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Set the pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the chicken, turning once, until browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pan. Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside. Set aside the sauté pan to brown the pearl onions.

Parboil the pearl onions in boiling water for 3 seconds. Drain and when cool enough to handle, peel. Using the same sauté pan that you used to brown the mushrooms, brown the pearl onions until they are slightly brown and have taken on a bit of color. When done to your liking, set aside with the mushrooms.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the sherry and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the pan bottom. Whisk in the reduced wine and the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Add the bacon, chicken, mushroom mixture, carrots and bouquet garni. Cover, transfer to the oven and braise until the chicken is tender, about 1 1/2 hours (less if you’re using boneless chicken).

Transfer the chicken to a plate. Using a large spoon, skim the fat from the surface of the liquid. If you don’t have enough sauce, add some more white wine to the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and simmer until the sauce is thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6 and accompany with mashed potatoes.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms and Miz Helen's Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.

Have a nice weekend and thanks for visiting
My Carolina Kitchen

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

White Asparagus with a Brown Butter Vinaigrette - plus 6 more favorite asparagus recipes

Everyone knows green asparagus, but it’s not often you find white asparagus. We’ve found it each time we visit France in early spring, but it’s a specialty here in the States. Luckily I just happen to find a nice bundle at our local Publix the other and promptly put it in my cart. Of course the color white makes it unique, but it is also milder and more delicate than the green variety. To me it has very faint hint of fresh artichoke flavor.

White asparagus is intentionally white because it’s kept from turning green. We’ve been told (in Provence) that the farmers cover the asparagus in the early spring before it sprouts to keep out the light and thus it is white instead of green. Cooking it is not any different that cooking the green variety. If the stalks are tough, you’ll want to peel them of course; otherwise just trim off the tough ends and poach them in softly boiling water for about 5 to 6 minutes.

When we were in Provence last year, I found this recipe on line at Gastronomer’s Guide for white asparagus served in a brown butter vinaigrette. Of course you could also make a Hollandaise sauce for the asparagus, but the savory brown butter vinaigrette with fresh lemons and sherry vinegar lends an air of freshness that a heavy Hollandaise would not. You’ll notice that I’ve used the bright red Aleppo pepper flakes, which I thought gave it a punch of color.

This is a sophisticated sounding dish, but not at all difficult to make. The bonus with this dish is that it can be served at room temperature, making it a candidate for a buffet. It’s a perfect side dish for any spring menu and would make a lovely accompaniment to a baked ham or roasted lamb for Easter.

White Asparagus with a Brown Vinaigrette
Adapted from Gastronomer’s Guide, serves 4
Printable Recipe

1 bunch white asparagus (or green if you can’t find white)
Fine sea salt such as Maldon
Low sodium, low fat beef broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Aleppo chili flakes (or freshly ground black or white pepper)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Trim about 1” from the tough ends of the asparagus spears using a sharp knife. If desired, peel about 2/3 of each spear below the floret using a vegetable peeler, taking care not to break the asparagus.

Bring a skillet filled with about 2” of beef broth to a boil. Season with salt. Add asparagus and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Check for doneness, then remove to a serving platter & discard liquid from pan.

Meanwhile add the butter to a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Let butter turn a nutty brown, about 5 minutes, while swirling the pan to keep butter from foaming too much. Pour browned butter into a small bowl and whisk in lemon juice and vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt, then stir in parsley. Pour vinaigrette over the asparagus, sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes, and serve immediately.

Here are 6 more of our favorite asparagus dishes that have previously appeared on the blog that are perfect for Easter.

Asparagus spears drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette and garnished with sliced lemons. Grilled asparagus lovers take note - this recipe will work for you as well. Just grill the asparagus instead of poaching it, drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette, garnish with the lemon slices and you’re good to go.

Printable recipe
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Asparagus Mimosa, also known as Asparagus Goldenrod is a classic dish that will never go out of style. It is an elegant, easy to prepare dish that can be made ahead of time. It’s poached asparagus, served cold with a light vinaigrette and garnished with grated hard-boiled eggs and capers shown above or with chopped radishes shown below. Dishes such as this were a mainstay on the menus of the grand hotels in a bygone era. If you wish to grill the asparagus, toss the grilled asparagus with the vinaigrette and garnishes either with the grated eggs and capers or radishes.

Printable recipe with eggs & capers 
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Printable recipe with radishes 
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Grilled Asparagus with Melon & Fresh Mozzarella Cheese shown above is a very versatile recipe in that the asparagus can be cooked outside on a gas or charcoal grill or in your kitchen on a stove top grill, which is what we did. The melon and cheese make a great fresh topping full of flavor and have real eye appeal, plus it tastes great. What more can you ask for from a recipe?

Printable recipe 
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Asparagus with fig vinaigrette uses fig balsamic vinegar to make rich, dark vinaigrette, tossed in some chopped shallots, and served it over crispy poached asparagus at room temperature. Chopped Mission figs can be added to the garnish if you wish for even more fig flavor. Feel free to grill the asparagus rather than poach it, then top the asparagus with the fig vinaigrette and the garnishes.

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Asparagus served on a Bed of Arugula with Roasted Red Peppers & Kalamata Olives is super easy to prepare and very impressive on the plate.
Again, you could grill the asparagus if you wish, then toss in the vinaigrette, serve on the arugula and garnish with the roasted peppers and olives.

Printable recipe
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For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday. 

We hope everyone has a nice Easter  
and thank you for visiting My Carolina Kitchen. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Orange Salad with a Smoky Spanish-inspired Vinaigrette

This is by far THE best orange salad we have ever made. The first time we served it we devoured it, then craved it afterwards for days. Martha Holmberg, author and creator of this Spanish-inspired vinaigrette, writes in her book Modern Sauces, “I’m addicted to this flavor combination. It tastes like the exotic vacation I never quite manage to take.” This salad tastes like an exotic vacation – what more can I say?

I first discovered this orange salad via Pinterest on the blog Pure Wow. Long time readers will remember in the past that I’ve made other oranges salads. In fact my original orange salad, a French Orange & Onion Salad shown here, was our introduction to several bloggers that are now good friends of ours. So never underestimate the power of an orange salad.

There are several things that make this recipe so special. First is smoky Spanish paprika, also known as pimentón de la Vera. It is rust red in color with a unique smoky flavor. It’s used in countless Spanish recipes and the key ingredient in an authentic paella. It comes in 3 types – sweet (dulce), medium-hot (agriduce), & hot (picante). Smoky paprika can be found in specialty stores or on line at La Tienda. 

The second thing that makes this recipe special is sherry vinegar. I am constantly reaching for my sherry vinegar when I make vinaigrettes and it’s easy to find in supermarkets and specially stores such as Fresh Market or on line here. To quote the site Serious Eats, who wrote why sherry vinegar should be your number one choice in vinegars here, “Sherry vinegar is loaded with complex, nutty flavors you won't find in other vinegars. And its 80 distinct aromatic compounds translate into more interesting salad dressings and crazy-good accents in soups and pan sauces that apple cider or rice vinegar could never hope to imitate.” 

The third thing is Aleppo pepper flakes, which I use on just about everything now and I cannot live without it. The Aleppo flakes are the bright red dots you see on the oranges. More and more we reach for the Apello pepper flakes instead of crushed red pepper. They are milder than crushed red pepper flakes and have a slightly raisin-like flavor. Aleppo pepper flakes comes from southern Turkey, near the Syrian town of Aleppo, which is considered one of the culinary meccas of the Mediterranean. I have yet to find them anywhere local, but Amazon & Penzey’s both carry them.

This orange salad is an elegant dish that I will serve over and over again. Recently for guests we paired it with Chicken Marbella, an old favorite of ours, found here. I can also see serving this orange salad with grilled steaks, roasted chicken, and of course it would pair beautifully with a baked ham for Easter. I hope you’ll find this exotic orange salad as delightfully addicting as we have.

Orange Salad dressed with Smoky Spanish-inspired Vinaigrette
Adapted from Modern Sauces by Martha Holmberg via Pure Wow, serves 4 to 6 (plus about ¾ cup vinaigrette)
Printable Recipe

1/8th of a small red onion, sliced paper-thin
3 juicy oranges (such as Navel or Blood)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus a sprig or 2 for garnish

½ teaspoon lightly packed finely grated orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons good sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 drops hot-pepper sauce such as Sriracha (or to taste)
Maldon sea salt or kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Aleppo chili flakes

Fill a small bowl with ice water and soak the onion slices for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Add the orange zest, orange juice, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, sugar, hot sauce, and about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt that you’ve crushed with your fingers to a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine, then let sit for a minute or two for salt to dissolve. Add olive oil and shake well to combine and set aside.

Working with one orange at a time, cut a slice off of each end to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange on a flat end on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, slice away the peel, including all of the white pith, cutting from the top to the bottom of the orange, following the contour of the fruit. Turn the peeled orange on its side and cut crosswise into ¼”rounds. Repeat with the remaining oranges.  Arrange the oranges on a serving platter, overlapping them slightly.

Shake the vinaigrette well and pour a little vinaigrette over the oranges. Pour the remaining vinaigrette into a small pitcher for passing on the table.

Place the platter of oranges in the refrigerator. The salad can be prepared as much as 4 hours ahead and kept refrigerated.

20 minutes prior to serving, remove the oranges from the refrigerator and sprinkle with the Aleppo chili flakes. Drain the onion slices and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Scatter the onion over the oranges, then sprinkle with the cilantro before serving. Stir the extra vinaigrette well and pass in a pitcher at the table.

Cook's note. You may have some left-over vinaigrette. It can be stored in it's jar in the refrigerator for several days to use if you want to repeat the orange salad later in the week.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday. 

Have a nice weekend everyone
 and thank you for visiting My Carolina Kitchen. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chicken Provençal with Saffron, Orange, and Basil

Chicken Provençal is perhaps one of the best examples of true French peasant food. Bone-in chicken is simmered in a tomato broth and infused with typical Provence flavors of herbs de Provence, thyme, garlic and of course olives.

For a more traditional Chicken Provençal, leave out the saffron and substitute lemon zest for the orange zest and chopped fresh parsley for the basil. If you compare this version to the traditional dish, we found the saffron, orange zest and basil added a new dimension to the dish as well as brightening it up, making it a nice dish to serve in the early spring.

Niçoise olives are the best choice of olives, but if they aren’t available, kalamata olives will do in a pinch. I find it handy to keep a tube of tomato paste in my refrigerator for recipes such as this that don’t call for a lot of tomato paste. If you’re concerned about fat, don’t fret about the chicken skin; it’s removed & discarded after the chicken is browned. If you want to jazz it up, add a few drained capers. Whatever you do, please don’t leave out the anchovies. They bring an air of richness to the sauce without being noticeable in the least.

We like something green on the plate and suggest either perfectly cooked haricots verts (French green beans) topped with slivered almonds or fresh asparagus, which we’ve shown here. Or you can opt for a more rustic approach and serve it in a bowl with a scoop of rice placed in the same bowl on the side shown here.

We love slow braises such as this. They can be made in advance and almost always, we have leftovers. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. We loved it and think it would make an attractive dish for company.

Chicken Provençal with Saffron, Orange, and Basil
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best French Recipes, serves 4
Printable Recipe

8 (5 to 7 ounce) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed, dried and minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained (reserve juice) and broken apart with a knife or spoon
1 cup low-fat, low salt chicken broth
2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest
½ cup pitted niçoise olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Season chicken with salt. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a Dutch oven medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 thighs, skin side down, and cook without moving them until skin is crispy and well browned, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining 4 thighs. When done, transfer them to the plate with the other thighs and set aside.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan. Add onions to pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, minced anchovy and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the saffron threads to the wine, then add to the pot, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, herbs de Provence, and bay leaf. Remove and discard skin from the chicken, then submerge chicken in the liquid and add any accumulated chicken juices to the pot. Increase the heat to high, bring to a simmer, cover and transfer pot to oven and cook until chicken offers no resistant when poked with the tip of a paring knife but still clings to the bone, about 1 ¼ hours.

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the chicken pieces to platter and tent with aluminum foil. Discard bay leaf. Set pot over high heat, stir in 1 teaspoon orange zest and olives, then bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.

Cook’s notes: At this point, if your sauce is too thin, thicken with a cornstarch and water slurry (equal amounts of cornstarch and water, stirred to incorporate). If your sauce is too thick, add some of the retained juice from the tomatoes.

Meanwhile mix basil and remaining ½ teaspoon orange zest together. To serve, place chicken thighs on individual plates, spoon some sauce over and sprinkle with basil mixture and serve accompanied by fluffy white rice.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

I will be sharing this with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms & Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.

Have a nice weekend everyone 
and thanks for visiting My Carolina Kitchen.