Forbidden Rice with Brussels Sprouts, Squash and Pecans

Aunt Suzy says . . .

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it – after all, I had the exact amount of Forbidden Black Rice sitting in my cupboard from a whirl with a so-so recipe this summer.  Even though I didn’t like the previous dish, I was introduced to the unusual floral flavor and wonderful mouth appeal of this new-to-me rice variety.  This blend of favorite ingredients and flavors looked like a can’t-miss.  In addition to the squash and pecans, I added another seasonal favorite, good old Brussels.  It only occurred to me after making it, that it’s perfect for Halloween with it’s black and orange color scheme.  Whether you make this as part of a Halloween spread or for dinner as a side to roast something (we served with roast chicken), I know you’ll enjoy.

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)

1 pound small Brussels sprouts, bottoms removed and cut in half (about 3 cups)

Olive oil for roasting

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil or a combo

2 shallots, peeled and minced

1 1/2 cups forbidden black rice

2 1/2 cups water

Zest of 1 orange

1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)

1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Roast the vegetables:

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Place the squash cubes on the foil and toss to coat with the oil. Roast for 15 min, stir and roast for another 5-10 min.  Remove from oven and turn out onto a platter.  Do the same for the Brussels sprouts, but roast for 10 min, stir and roast for another 5-10 min.  Turn out onto a platter.

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Cook the rice:

Rinse the rice thoroughly in a mesh sieve and set aside to drain. Set a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and/or olive oil and heat till bubbling or shimmering if using oil.  Add the shallot and saute for 2 minutes. Add the rice, stir and saute for another 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt,.  Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until water is completely absorbed.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Assemble the dish:

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, the roasted vegetables, the orange zest and thyme.  Stir to combine.  Add the pecans and stir again until just combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:  The original recipe did not call for the Brussels sprouts, so if these aren’t a favorite for you, they can be omitted. Black rice is available in both bulk and packaged at our local co-op, so if you have a co-op or health food store locally you can check there. I highly recommend seeking it out. It’s available online directly from Lotus Foods. Short grain brown rice or one of the black or rice blends from Lundberg could be a good substitute.

Chicken Chili

October 13, 2013

Chicken Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We have been BUSY around here.  With Desi starting school and Stella being at that age where she doesn’t sleep all the time anymore and is into EVERYTHING, I haven’t had time to do much of anything other than cook dinner and do dishes.  The rest of the (extremely dirty) house and my side projects have definitely suffered.  But fall is here, and I’m cooking new and fun things again, so I’m doing my best to make time to post about them.
Charred Veggies - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

My husband raved about this chili, and actually got really protective over the leftovers. I knew this meant that he really REALLY liked it, because usually I’m the only one in this house that eats any leftovers.  The charred veggies gives the chili a little bit of a smoky flavor…it’s very different than any chili I’ve ever made.  So I’m definitely making it again, even though that means I’ll have to make Desi his own little pot of chili because this one has meat in it AND is pretty spicy. But that’s ok…more leftovers for us.

Chicken Chili

adapted from Martha Stewart Living

10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 jalapeno (or I used a Fresno because the jalapenos didn’t look that good)

1 yellow onion, peeled and halved

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1/4 cup chili powder

salt

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2-14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat broiler, with rack 3 inches from heat source.  Arrange tomatoes, jalapeno and onion, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Broil until starting to char, about 5 minutes.  Pulse tomatoes and jalapeno in food processor until chunky.  Chop onion and mince garlic.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Working in batches, brown chicken in a single layer, allowing to sear before stirring, 5-6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add onion to skillet.  Cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chili powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring for one minute.  Stir in chipotles, and drain fat off chicken and add chicken to the pot.  Raise heat to high.  Add tomato-jalapeno mixture.  Cook, scraping up browned bits, until fully incorporated, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in stock; simmer for 20 minutes.  Add beans, simmer for 10 minutes.  We served topped with sour cream and tortilla chips on the side…it would also be great with shredded cheese and chopped avocados, and with corn bread on the side.

Chickpea Stew with Chicken: Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux and I are on the lookout for good recipes using shredded chicken.  I was looking for something new to make but that would be fast and easy on a busy Sunday. I love all the flavors in this stew, so thought I’d give it a whirl.  It was a hit!  Randy and I both agreed that I should double the recipe next time – we barely had a small lunch portion left after eating.  We served it with a salad, baguette and some a Pinot Gris wine.  Since spring is seeming like it is not going to show up this year, this warming dish was especially welcome on a cold and snowy day.

Margaux says . . .

This dish was a hit in our house, too!  We always love bean stews, so I knew it would probably get gobbled up.  At Aunt Suzy’s suggestion, I made a double recipe, and I’m glad I did.  It was the perfect amount for dinner and then lunch for Desi and me the next day.

When I made this, I misread the recipe and used bone-in chicken, and it was really good, if  a little greasy.  I just skimmed as much of the extra fat off the top as I could.  This would be a great recipe to use for leftover shredded chicken, I would just use chicken broth instead of water, and add the chicken at the end with the red peppers, etc.  It would also be good vegetarian, eliminating the chicken altogether.  In that case, I would maybe use more red pepper.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

4 cups water or chicken stock or a combination

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced into 1-inch pieces

Juice of ½ lemon, or more

1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to low and let oil cool slightly; add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add cumin, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.  Add the liquid, the reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat  and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Add chickpeas to pot; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Shred the chicken.  Add the chicken, red peppers, half the herbs and lemon juice; simmer for a couple of minutes until heated through. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more of the herbs.

Snowy Day

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March.  I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already!  So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring.  Perfect for a day like today!  Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough.  He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much.  He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad.  After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe.  So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor.  Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!

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This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients.  Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small zucchini, small dice

1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper

9 cups chicken stock

1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available

1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)

2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery.  Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic  zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to over-stir.

Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta.  Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).

Meyer Lemon Bars

February 27, 2013

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Margaux says…

I am always looking for recipes using egg yolks or egg whites, to use up whichever I have sitting in my fridge, begging to be made into something. Like I need another sweet sitting on my counter…this time of year it’s birthday after birthday in my family, so I’m on a cake baking spree from the beginning of January until late February. But, no matter, these lemon bars were a nice break for us in our parade of cakes. I love Meyer lemon season, and try to make things with them as often as possible, including savory things with preserved lemons in them like this and this. Oh, and this.  I also usually make a batch of the preserved lemons to have on hand for the year.

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars

Make sure you keep a close eye on the crust while it’s baking…I would recommend starting to check it at about 22 minutes.  The first time I made these, I just set the timer at 25 minutes and didn’t pay attention and they got rather brown.  Still yummy…but much better when they’re golden!  These can easily be made with regular lemons, and would probably be very good with limes as well.

Shortbread Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbls unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces
Cover a 9-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, perpendicular to each other. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Meyer Lemon Filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbls sugar
2/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 Tbls heavy cream
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl. Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into squares.  Use a sifter to sift powdered sugar onto the top.  I’d recommend doing a couple of layers of the powdered sugar, because the bottom layers will just melt into the lemon curd (as you see mine has done in the photo).  I actually prefer them without the powdered sugar at all, but put a small amount of it on there for Jason’s sake.  🙂

Tuscan Bean Stew - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We are having a real Minnesota winter this year! A recent Sunday plunged to minus 14 degrees F, necessitating a hearty and warming stew. I spied this recipe on The Bitten Word blog, saw that it was their take on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and was sold! It’s one of those recipes from Cook’s where they have experimented with many different methods to come up with the perfect approach. For this one, the recommendation was to brine the beans overnight and to cook slowly in the oven to achieve a creamy stew in which the beans remain mostly whole. We love Cook’s scientific approach to things here at S&SK and so jumped on this recipe. It turned out as promised! Margaux and I both cooked this, as well as my brother John, so we have lots of experience and opinions to share on this stew. We may have diverged a little on ingredients or methods, but one thing we all three have in common is that we thought this was delicious!

Margaux says . . .

The whole family loved this stew…even my 4-year-old, who has recently decided he is a picky eater. But picky in a way most kids are not…he’ll refuse to eat his mac & cheese, and instead gobble down a salad. And lately, anything I make that has everything “mixed together,” ie., stews, soups, casseroles, etc…basically everything I make in the winter…is deemed inedible. Or as he says, “gross.” But I thought I might have a “win” on my hands here, with beans, sausage and carrots included in the ingredients (some things on the “ok” list), and I was right.

Something I will say about this stew, is that if you have a big client meeting the next morning, or are going on a date the next night, I would definitely cut back on the garlic. We love garlic in our house, but even for us, 8 cloves was a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious! And I’ll make it the same way again next time. But just a warning…your date may wonder if you’re trying to fend off vampires if you eat this the night before. 🙂

Brining the Beans

2 cups dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons salt (sea salt or table salt, not kosher)

4 quarts cold water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl or pot. Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Set aside for use in the stew.

Making the Stew

3/4-1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (casings removed or bulk if available)

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 large onion, medium dice (1 1/2-2 cups)

2 celery ribs, medium dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and diced medium (about 1 cup)

8 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or crushed with a knife blade

4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

3-4 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium head of Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

One sprig of fresh oregano

Salt and black pepper to taste (taste before adding salt)

Pre-heat the oven to 250°F. In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon. When browned, remove from the pot and place on paper towel. Set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and turn heat down to medium. Add the onions, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, water, bay leaves and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to a bubble. Cover the pot and place on a rack in the lower middle of the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 45 minutes or so, until beans are just softened but slightly firm in the center.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the reserved sausage, cabbage and tomatoes. Place back in the oven and cook for another 30-45 minutes or so, until the cabbage is tender.

Tuscan Bean Stew

Remove pot from the oven and submerge the oregano sprig in the stew. Cover and let stand 20-30 minutes. Remove the oregano and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil if desired and a nice crusty bread.

COOK’S NOTES – Aunt Suzy:Ingredients The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of sausage. I used 1 pound (of turkey sausage) and thought it was still too much, although I prefer meat in recipes like this for flavoring vs. a main ingredient. I used 3 cups of water, but my stew came out very thick so I think I’ll try 4 cups next time I make it.  Adjust meat amount and liquid to your preferences. I used a garlic press for my garlic, which I think resulted in a less garlicky result than Margaux described; she crushed the garlic with a knife blade (although I love garlic, so I might try that one day!). Regular green cabbage can be substituted if you can’t find Savoy. The original CI recipe called for pancetta and kale – I think we need to try that one also!  Methods I learned 3 things from this recipe: 1) The brining made for ultra-creamy beans as promised, 2) Cooking in the oven at a low temp made for beans that did not break apart, and 3) Adding tomatoes later in the cooking process insured that the skins of the beans were not tough.

COOK’S NOTES – Margaux: I made this on a weeknight, but I prepped everything ahead of time on Sunday, so it made it very quick and easy. Otherwise, this is one that I would probably make on a weekend, because it does take awhile, and you have to remember to do the beans the night before, etc. So I soaked the beans, chopped the cabbage, carrots, onion and celery, and had them all stored in the fridge and ready for Tuesday night. Also, I only used 3 cups of water instead of 4, as we like our stews less brothy around here.

 

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Recently I asked my brother John to do a guest post on the stuffed pumpkins he makes, but when he sent me the recipe I changed my mind. Instead of a guest post, I decided we should do a joint post!  He’s been telling me about these pumpkins for a couple of years, but I’d never attempted them.  Since I was travelling to his house for Thanksgiving, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to learn from the master.  Since there were so many options for the stuffing, we decided to experiment with three slightly different fillings.  I thought it would be fun to report on the results of the variations.

Uncle John says . . . 

This recipe comes from an NPR story from a couple of years ago featuring Dorie Greenspan’s stuffed pumpkin recipe.  This struck me because I was looking for something to do with winter squash beyond the typical sweet recipes made with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup.  I particularly liked the flexibility of Dorie’s recipe – you can use many different approaches to the ingredients and proportions of the stuffing.  I’ve experimented over the last couple of years and landed on our favorite ingredients.  I’ve also developed a philosophy of how to make sure you have the right amounts and proportions.  I’ve never had anyone eat these pumpkins who didn’t say “wow!”.

Savory Stuffed Pumpkins

For this recipe, we will not provide exact amounts but the “philosophy”  ingredients and amounts.  Half the fun of making these pumpkins is inventing the stuffing.  Here are the guidelines, as well as the instructions for how to assemble and bake:

Start with the pumpkins:  Select pie pumpkins at about 3 pounds.  This size will serve 2 people as a main dish and 4 people as a side.  In our experiment, we tried a red kabocha squash and thought it superior to the traditional pumpkin, but either work well.  Cut a “lid” out of the top of the pumpkin/squash by running a sharp knife around the top at a 45-degree angle. Set the lid aside – do not discard. Scoop out the seeds and use a spoon to remove the strings from the flesh.  Wash out the cavity and then dry with a paper towel.

Determine the amount of stuffing: Uncle John’s trademarked technique is to fill the cavity with water and then pour into a measuring cup.  This will tell you the capacity of  the pumpkin, determining the total quantity of ingredients.

Decide on your ingredients: The stuffing is comprised of a starch base, a meat flavoring, cheese (optional), vegetables, aromatics and spices – the exact ingredients and combinations of which are variable.  Here are some guidelines.

Starch base options – cooked brown rice and stale bread cubes will form the base. We cooked both and liked the rice better, but the bread was good as well.

Meat flavoring – we used sage breakfast sausage and bacon and think ham would work as well.  Whatever your choice, it must be cooked prior to combining with the other ingredients.  I can also see a vegetarian version with a combo of chipotle peppers and chickpeas or black beans.

Cheese – we used sharp cheddar with sausage/rice stuffing and pepper Jack with bread/bacon.  Gruyere, Swiss, blue and Parmesan would all be good options.  We made the kabocha without cheese and it was delicious.

Vegetables – we used cooked spinach and cooked Lacinato kale and thought the kale more flavorful as well as substantial.  Cooked Swiss chard, peas and Brussels sprouts leaves also sound good.

Aromatics and spices – for savory fillings you will want sauteed onions and garlic at the least.  Add celery, carrots and bell pepper to your taste.  We used fresh thyme and in the bread stuffing added nutmeg.

Binder – heavy cream or half and half are recommended to bind the ingredients together. We think stock could be used for a non-dairy version.

Other options – I’d like to try this with nuts and fresh or dried fruits.  Speaking of which, you could take this in a whole different direction with a sweet rice or bread pudding approach to the filling.  But that might have to be another blog post.

Prepare the filling and stuff the pumpkins: Combine all stuffing ingredients in a bowl.  A guideline is roughly 1/3 starch base, 1/3 meat and 1/3 vegetables, which you can vary according to taste.  To this, you’ll add the aromatics, spices and other ingredients until you get slightly more filling than the capacity of the cavity of the pumpkin/squash.

Place the filling in the pumpkin and pack down.  Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream, half and half or stock. Place the “lid” back on the pumpkins.

Baking the pumpkins: Place the stuffed pumpkins on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place in the center rack of a preheated 350 oven and bake for about 90 minutes with the lids on. Don’t be alarmed by the liquid escaping from the pumpkins – that’s natural.  After 90 minutes take the lids off and bake another 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 30 minutes.

Serving:  Depending on size, cut in half or into wedges to serve.  Or if small, individual pumpkins could be served to eat right out of the shell.

Making ahead:  These reheat really well in the oven.  We made the pumpkins in the morning, then cut in half, put back on the baking sheet and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.  Delicious!!