Food Flight

An aviator's culinary adventures

Cardamom/Thyme Grilled Vegetable Quesadilla January 21, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Snacks,Vegetarian — flyingbubble @ 4:53 pm
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Today, I got off work early because my LT really didn’t have any tasks for me.  Partially because I don’t have a CAC card (meaning my ID does not log me into their computer system), to which Senior Chief told me, “Good Job!” with a wink and a thumbs up.  I actually spent the morning reading a book about investing and playing deal or no deal on my iphone after I made exactly 3 phone calls and had a short conversation with the Master Chief about the book I had just finished reading.  It’s a tough life getting paid to hang out doing nothing all day :).  I arrived home at lunch time and my mom bombarded me with lunch options since she was apparently starving.  She seemed to favor the quesadilla option (since it would use up some fresh vegetables) so I offered to cook for her.  We’ve had fresh thyme sitting the fridge from the Chicken Couscous recipe a few days ago so my mom suggested that I throw that in.  My experience with quesadillas did not involve thyme but like I said before, they’re a great blank canvas for any flavor combination.  On the tv show The Next Food Network Star, I have seen contestants bite into random ingredients that they’ve not cooked with before so they know what flavor they’re dealing with.  That example led me to munch on some fresh thyme leaves, to my dismay… they tastes like leaves.  Yup, I literally felt like I was just eating part of a bush from the backyard.  Online research seemed like the next logical step, from which I discovered that thyme is often overlooked because it does not have a strong “centerstage” flavor profile.  Thyme cannot compete with the distinctive smell/taste of tarragon, basil and sage, however it is the perfect herb to blend into recipes and enhance the other flavors.  With this knowledge, I realized that I needed another flavor for the thyme to enhance.  Rather than researching anymore, I went to the spice cabinet, read through the labels and essentially just picked one at random… cardamom.  Sounds good, smells good, why not?  Clearly I’m on the path to culinary genius.  I sauteed Red onions and green peppers in a skillet with olive oil, salt, pepper, a dash of cardamom and a handful of fresh thyme leaves.  Then I assembled my mom’s quesadilla with mexican blend cheese, chopped tomatoes, the herbed onion and green peppers and a slice of cheddar cheese (the extra cheese was her request).  I wasn’t hungry enough for the tortilla so I served myself a plate of steaming hot vegetables topped with shredded cheese and a dab (yes that’s a legitimate measurement) of mango salsa.  The food was really good, I don’t know if the flavors were the best compliments for each other but it definitely worked.  If you’re feeling adventurous try it out and let me know what you think.

PS.  When I remembered to take pictures my mom had almost completely polished off the quesadilla so you may see some teeth marks in there.

 

Baked Couscous Chicken January 16, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Dinner — flyingbubble @ 6:45 pm
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This is another Weight Watchers recipe with a slighty spicy twist of my own (no one should be surprised at that).  I love my chili parmesan chicken that baked perfectly every time but if I want to join the ranks of culinary masters (haha, kidding) I need to expand the “poultry” section of my mental cookbook.  This recipe looked tasty and I already had all the ingredient (except the chicken of course) in the fridge.  I’d like to point out a trend in my cooking for those who haven’t noticed, I prefer to adapt the recipe or choose the recipe based on the ingredients I already have at home.  I believe the better term for that is “lazy” culinary master (haha, kidding again) uh how about… “lazy learning to cook girl”.  Sounds like a super hero right? Okay, maybe not.  My mom and I both loved this meal!  It was really great.  I added some spicy red peppers from the grocery store becuase the meal would have been boring without the spiciness.  The couscous is actually unnecessary but if you’re like me and happen to love the micro pasta balls it’s a great addition to the chicken.  Alright, here is the recipe, I cooked the chicken for less time because I had smaller pieces so be aware of your chicken size or watch the cooking carefully.

Before the Oven

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 (4oz) skinned, boned chicken breast halves

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup sliced green onions

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth, undiluted

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I never measure this, I love pepper)

1 sprig fresh thyme

4 cups hot cooked couscous (I used whole wheat)

After the Oven (notice the bubbles from boiling liquid)

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Coat a 2-quart casserole dish or ovenproof Dutch oven with cooking spray and add oil; place over medium-high heat until hot.  Add chicken, and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is lightly browned.  Add garlic, and cook 1 to 2 additional minutes, stirring often.

(I didn’t have those crazy dishes so I fried the chicken in a skillet and move the chicken and garlic to a casserole dish for the oven)

2.  Stir in green onions and next 5 ingredients.  Cover and bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until chicken in tender.

3. Place 1 cup of couscous on each of 4 individual serving plates; spoon chicken mixture evenly over couscous. (Make sure you get the liquid it flavors the couscous nicely). Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition: (per serving) 369 calories, 46.4g carbohydrate, 4.9g fat, 3.5g fiber, 35.1g protein, 66mg cholesterol, 98mg sodium, 41mg calcium

 

Daube de Boeuf December 30, 2009

Filed under: Dinner — flyingbubble @ 11:07 pm
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After skimming the pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, hopefully searching for a recipe that sounded somewhat appetizing.  (Most of her recipes involve ingredients that I don’t currently care to eat.)  This recipe (aka Estouffade de Boeuf or Terrine de Boeuf) is a casserole of beef with wine and vegetables.  “Daube” is a covered casserole, unfortunately I missed the line of the recipe with the direction to “cover closely”.  This was also one of the few recipes I found with absolutely no butter!  The fat comes from the bacon that gets layered into the casserole.  My mom doesn’t own a 5-6 quart casserole dish (actually I don’t either), and the biggest size she could find was 1.5 quart.  We borrowed a 3 quart dish from a neighbor and decided to cut the recipe in half.  I’m not sure if that caused any problems with the preparation or cooking, maybe next time I’ll get a bigger dish and cook the full amount.  The stew was very good and my dad requested the recipe after announcing it “a keeper”.  If you have an entire day to waste cooking, you should definitely try this out.  Actually I just spent some time in the morning, picking up groceries and tossing together the marinade, and then roughly 4 hours later I did some more preparations in creating the casserole and then it just went into the oven for 3 hours.  I had my mom checking on it while Jeremiah and I took the dog (Red) out for a long walk.  Here’s the recipe (full size):

Ingredients:

3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2.5 in squares

1.5 cups dry white wine, dry white vermouth or red wine

1/4 cup brandy, eau de vie, or gin

2 Tb olive oil

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp thyme or sage

1 crumbled bay leaf

2 cloves mashed garlic

2 cups thinly sliced onions

2 cups thinly sliced carrots

1/2 lb lean bacon cut into 1″ slices, .25″ thick and 2″ long

1.5 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1.5 lbs ripe red tomatoes peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped

1 cup sifted flour on a plate

1 to 2 cups beef stock or bouillon

Directions:

Place the beef in the bowl and mix with the wine, optional spirits, olive oil, seasonings, herbs, and vegetables.  Cover and marinate at least 3 hours (6 if refridgerated), stirring up frequently.

Simmer the bacon for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water.  Drain and dry.  Prepare the mushrooms and tomatoes. (For tomatoes: drop tomatoes one at a time into boiling water to cover, boil for exactly 10 seconds.  Remove.  Cut out the stem.  Peel off the skin starting from the stem hole.  Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, not through the stem.  Squeeze each half to extract the seeds and juices from the center of the tomato. Chop into small chunks.)  Remove the beef from the marinade and drain in a sieve.  Preheat oven 325 degrees.  Line the bottom of the casserole with 3 or 4 strips of bacon.  Strew a handful of the marinade vegetables, mushrooms and tomatoes over them.  Piece by piece, roll the beef in the flour and shake off excess.  Place closely together in a layer over the vegetables.  Cover with a few strips of bacon, and continue with layers of vegetables, beef, and bacon.  End with layer of vegetables and 2 or 3 strips of bacon.

Pour in the wine from the marinade and enough stock or bouillon almost to cover the contents of the casserole.  Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover closely, and set in lower third of preheated oven.  Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly for 2.5-3 hours.  Then meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Tip casserole and skim out fat.  Correct seasoning.  (*) May be prepared ahead and reheated, and its good either hot or cold.

Beef Marinading

Me: blanching a tomato

Layered casserole ready for the oven

DONE! (with a crispy top layer because I forgot to cover it)