Thursday, April 30, 2009

BB: Croque Monsieur

The second Barefoot Bloggers recipe for the month of April is Croque Monsieur, chosen by Kathy of All Food Considered. I loved this recipe . . . it reminds me a little bit of fondue (must be the hint of nutmeg) . . . but unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it. I'm sure I'll make it again, so I'll try to remember to add a picture later. You can check out the blogs of other Barefoot Bloggers if you'd like to see the end result.

I cut the recipe down to approximately 1/4 of the original, using pretty imprecise measurements, and it still turned out well. Here is the original recipe:

Croque Monsieur
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere (OR Swiss), grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot. - Recipe from Ina Garten via Food Network

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Finally - something new to share! I love stir-fry recipes because they are usually quick and easy, plus a great way to get a couple servings of vegetables. The lemon makes this one particularly good for spring . . .

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

1 lemon
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Vegetables (mix & match 3-4 cups total of your favorites):
10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 cup diagonally sliced carrots (1/4 inch thick)
2 cups snow peas (6 ounces), stems and strings removed
1 cup bell pepper strips (any color pepper will work)
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup asparagus

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1. Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of the juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. Add mushrooms and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

3. Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 225 calories; 6 g fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 3 g fiber; 448 mg sodium; 796 mg potassium.
Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat
- Recipe and nutrition information from

Thursday, April 09, 2009

BB: Chinese Chicken Salad (my pick!)

It was my turn to pick a recipe for Barefoot Bloggers . . . after a quick scan through Barefoot Contessa Parties!, I knew exactly what my pick would be - Chinese Chicken Salad. I'm a fan of good chicken salad (there is a mango curry chicken salad I particularly love) -but I'd never tried a "Chinese" version until this one. I really liked it - but I have a few comments: a) I think it is best when the dressing very lightly coats the ingredients - too much dressing = too much of a peanut butter taste - I didn't use all the dressing; b) adding more red pepper strips can never be a bad thing; and c) based on comments, some people think there is too much kosher salt in the recipe - I don't think it's too salty (but then again, I like salt). To find out what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought, check out their posts here.

Chinese Chicken Salad
4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I reduced . . . probably used 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar (get Bragg's, Spectrum, or something locally produced - there is huge difference!)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Tamari)
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil (I used toasted sesame oil)
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream

I got an ice cream maker last summer, but until a few weeks ago I had only tried a few ice cream recipes. Now I'm making up for lost time, making about one batch a week (and sharing most of it!). I thought this ice cream was pretty delicious . . . but some people (not naming names, you know who you are) thought it was "too creamy." Isn't ice cream supposed to be creamy?

Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa (unsweetened)
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm 1 cup of the cream with cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to blend. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; add chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in remaining cream. Pour mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate meduim bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Slowly pour warm milk into egg yolks, whisking constantly (sloooowly - you don't want to cook the eggs with the warm milk!). Scrape warmed egg yolk mixture back into saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in ice cream maker according to mfg. directions. Store in a tightly sealed freezer container.
- Recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Coffee Cake Muffins

I'm always looking for a reason to bake something, and last week I found a great excuse . . . actually two excuses. First, I had a morning meeting at work and second, my cousin Sarah and her husband Clayton were visiting and I wanted to leave breakfast for them when I left for work. Why I chose coffee cake muffins is a bit of a mystery . . . I'm not usually a fan of coffee cake (it always seems dry). However, I'm glad I did try it, because I thought the muffins turned out really well - tasty and not too dry. I'll definitely make them again.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake [Muffins]

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
(Next time I make this recipe, I will double the streusel - the portions above are the original portions)

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
(Alternatively, you can pour batter into paper-lined muffin tins [follow the same streusel directions] and bake 20 to 30 minutes)

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon. - Recipe from Ina Garten via the Food Network.