1.28.2015

Snow Day Chicken 'n Dumplings


Along with most of the Northeast, we were bracing for an historic storm. By all accounts, a blizzard was coming that intended to dump two, if not three, feet of snow on our laps. Yes, feet. Ugh. The governor imposed a travel ban, school was canceled, and we hit the grocery store (so many empty shelves!) for a couple days' worth of supplies. We were ready.


These cold, dark, snowy days are the the ideal time for classic comfort foods - roasts, braises, stews, carbs. How about all of the above? In the last couple of weeks we've made two whole chickens, one braised, one roasted, and put the leftovers in the freezer. We had onions, carrots, celery, stock, all the makings for a soup or a stew, or a pot pie, or...something different? Then we thought about chicken 'n dumplings. Is it weird that Amy's never had chicken 'n dumplings? It seems like the kind of comfort food classic that one should have tried before their 40s. So that answered that - we're making chicken 'n dumplings!

Chicken pot pie is our normal go-to when we have leftover chicken, so we started by making a version of our pot pie recipe as a base. We made it thinner than pot pie (less flour, no milk), but thicker than a soup, so we guess, more like a chicken stew. Then we grabbed some biscuit mix and milk and made a soft dough which we dropped onto the top of the stew and cooked. The biscuits puffed up like marshmallows and floated on top of the stew. A couple of minutes under the broiler made them nice and brown. 



We got about 20 inches of snow and we enjoyed making this recipe - hot, delicious, and cozy - perfect for a snow day. Or two. Tee hee!


Snow Day Chicken 'n Dumplings

Ingredients:

1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
3 cups chicken stock
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
1 cup pancake mix (such as Bisquick)
1/3 cup milk

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring, until golden. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring often, until vegetables are translucent. In the meantime, steam the carrots in a separate pot. Add the cooked carrots, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Stir in chicken. In a small bowl, mix pancake mix and milk until it forms a soft dough. Place spoonfuls of dough on top of (not in) the chicken mixture. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes. Cover, then cook another 10 minutes. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes to brown if desired. 




1.23.2015

Lavender Crème Brûlée


Our friend E loves food. She just doesn't know it. When we first met her, she claimed to be "allergic" to almost everything. Sugar. Gluten. Shellfish. Meat. The fact was, she had never really experienced good cooking. When she decided she didn't like something, she pronounced herself "allergic" and didn't eat it again.
Until she met us and we cooked for her. Once. Twice. A few more times. We showed her some easy things she could make on her own and bought her a couple of ingredients so she'd try to. This past weekend, we had her and her new beau S over for dinner, and she came straight into the kitchen to watch, ask, and learn. It was awesome. We are both teachers in real life, after all.

E watched intently as we prepped the beautiful Porterhouses we had bought at Bogner's, our favorite butcher shop. We did two preparations (not just for variety, but for the sake of learning!) - one marinated then grilled, and the other grilled then basted in garlic and rosemary butter. We showed her how to make our pan-fried camembert appetizer, this time with panko rather than plain breadcrumbs. For side dishes, we had Chris's famous potato pave (Amy's favorite) ready to go, but asked E to re-create the first recipe we ever taught her, green beans blistered in ghee with mint. It was quite the feast, and we glanced at each other, satisfied and happy, as we saw E's plate utterly cleared except for a nearly-gnawed-clean T-bone.

That brings us to dessert, which we had to prep ahead of time because of its nature. However, we chose it because it is made with one of E's favorite things, lavender. Dried lavender (remember to use only culinary lavender) infuses this velvety classic custard with an intriguing scent and subtle flavor. Wouldn't this be a lovely little Valentine's Day dessert? E, this one's for you.
Lavender Crème Brûlée
Ingredients:

Cook's note: keep your egg whites in the fridge for omelets the next morning, or to make 2 batches of meringue cookies.

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender blossoms
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup demerara sugar (for topping

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and lavender blossoms. Place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain through a sieve and discard the lavender. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the granulated sugar until dissolved, then very slowly whisk in the lavender-flavored cream. Divide the mixture into ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish. Pour warm water into the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, then place baking dish in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until firm. Remove from baking dish and allow to chill at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle demerara sugar over the top of each custard. Caramelize the sugar until dark golden brown using a handheld blowtorch held 3-4 inches from each dish, or by placing the dishes under a preheated broiler. Allow to chill a few minutes again before serving.

1.21.2015

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk


Chris has been home nursing a broken foot and spending a lot of time on his I-Pad. During his virtual travels, he came across a recipe called "Chicken in Milk" by British celebrity chef and restauranteur Jamie Oliver. Since we have tried, and liked, cooking pork in milk in the past, Chris decided he would try this recipe, and surprised Amy with a nice chicken dinner after she had a long day at work last week.
While this quote appears on the website:
Trust me, you're going to love this one – the milk creates the most amazing flavoursome sauce. 
that is not what we found with this recipe. In fact, the sauce was unpleasantly lumpy from the lemon juice curdling the milk, and it was quite lackluster in flavor. We would definitely increase the amounts of ALL of the flavor-inducing ingredients (cinnamon, sage, lemon zest, salt, pepper) and remove the skin from the garlic cloves next time we make this recipe.

Which we will. Why, you ask? Because the thing we most certainly did love about this recipe was how tender the chicken was after cooking in the milk. Milk contains calcium and lactic acid, both of which help break down the protein in meat, thus creating a more tender consistency. We doubt anyone could follow this recipe and come out with dry chicken. Although they will not come out with crispy chicken skin, which is yet another fault with this recipe.
So, to sum up, this is the chicken in milk we made as per Jamie Oliver's recipe. When we make it again, we will create a new post with any and all of our own changes and our updated results.

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk
minimally adapted from here

Ingredients:

1 whole roasting chicken (2-3 lbs.)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 "good handful" fresh sage leaves
zest of 2 lemons
10 cloves garlic, skins on
2 1/2 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pot that is "snug-fitting" for the chicken, then brown it on all sides in the oil. Remove from heat and discard oil from the pot. Add remaining ingredients to the pot with the chicken, then place in preheated oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, basting often. Spoon sauce over chicken when serving.

1.16.2015

Spicy Curb A-Peel on Real Estate Resource Video on Demand


Didn't get a chance to see Real Estate Resource on Thursday night? Watch it anytime on demand AT THIS LINK to see Amy make the Spicy Curb A-Peel and learn ways to spruce up your own curb appeal during the winter!

1.08.2015

Spicy Curb A-peel




Amy writes:

I am so blessed to have made, during my adulthood, several close friendships with some amazing women. One of my groups of friends is connected through teaching at the same high school. We call ourselves "WTL," or "Work to Live," as a reminder that there is life beyond the school day. Because really, we do need reminding of that fact sometimes.


In the last year, one of our WTLs, Erica, made The Great Escape. She left teaching for a new career in real estate, and within months, she and a new realtor friend, Reba, had their own show on West Hartford's community cable station, WHCTV. The show, called Real Estate Resource, is part The Kitchen, part Watch What Happens Live, but with a focus on real estate. That is to say, it's a talk show with flair.
Never one to hoard her own successes, Erica gave the rest of us WTLs a way to be a part of the show. I am the show's mixologist. I create cocktails based on the theme of each episode and demonstrate how to make them during my segment. Joanne is the flower expert who shows viewers how to decorate their homes with wreaths and floral arrangements. Laura does our hair and makeup and there are plans for her to show off her other artistic skills in future episodes. So far, we've only taped one.

At this point, you're probably wondering why I'm writing about all of this on a food blog. Well, here it is. The theme of our first episode is "Spicing Up Your Curb Appeal in Winter." And so I came up with a drink I call the "Spicy Curb A-peel." With hints of honey, apple, ginger and cinnamon, it's the perfect cocktail for entertaining guests and making them feel warm and cozy in your home during the winter months. As an added bonus, it is made from local and/or artisanal products, including Onyx Moonshine from East Hartford, CT and Yellow Ginger Simple Syrup from Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont.




And while I'll give you the recipe (below), I sure hope you'll check out Real Estate Resource, which is airing on WHCTV every Thursday in January at 8:00. If you don't live in West Hartford, you can stream it when it airs online at this website, or you can watch it ON DEMAND HERE.

Stay warm, and cheers!


Spicy Curb A-peel
makes two drinks

Ingredients:
2 ounces Onyx Honey Apple Infusion Moonshine
1/2 ounce Sumptuous Syrups Yellow Ginger (or other ginger-infused simple syrup)
4 ounces hard apple cider (I used Angry Orchard's Apple Ginger for added ginger flavor)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
curled apple peel, cinnamon stick, or apple slice for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add moonshine, syrup and hard cider. Stir (don't shake because the hard cider is carbonated). Pour a little of the leftover cider into a small bowl or dish, and the sugar and cinnamon (stirred to combine) into another. Dip the rim of a martini glass first in the cider, then in the cinnamon sugar to coat the rim and allow the cinnamon sugar to stick. Repeat with second glass. Strain cocktail into glasses and garnish as desired.

1.05.2015

Aligot is a Waffle No-No

Aligot Waffles? No!

Aligot is the fancy French word for cheesy mashed potatoes. We made a batch (recipe here) as a side to go with our New Year's Eve Cornish game hens and had plenty left over. Skip to New Year's morning. We were hankering for a big breakfast to go with our mimosas and thought about the leftover stuffing waffles we always make on the-day-after-Thanksgiving. We wondered: couldn't we make Aligot waffles? And wouldn't they be the most delicious potatoes we ever ate, all crispy and cheesy and amazing The answer? Nope. It didn't work at all. And while the rest of our breakfast was good, cleaning the waffle iron did not make for a fun New Year activity. 

Stuffing Waffles? Yes!







1.01.2015

New Year's "Challenge" Accepted: Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé


Amy writes:

2014 was a crap year and I'm glad it's over. It started with the death of a good friend of ours and didn't ever really improve that much. There were plenty of problems, lots of losses, and several stresses. I know I could have, should have, turned all that negative energy into creative cooking but I didn't. I stopped caring what, or even if, we ate. We did a lot of heat-n-eat and take-out. I stopped cooking, and I stopped writing about it. 

I, nay we, are in a better place now. Not perfect but better. And I've realized how much I've missed food. I started this blog on New Year's Day 2008 and I'm hereby reviving it today, exactly 7 years later.  I'll admit there have been times when it seemed like work and it added stress to our lives. I'm not going to let that happen again. I'm going to let it be what I meant it to be from the beginning - an online compendium of our recipes, a journal of the time we share in the kitchen, and a fun way to improve my own cooking, writing, and photography. 


What better way to restart than with a seeming challenge from the magazine Louisiana Cooking. The cover shot? "Make it at home: Commander's Palace  Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé." Yeah, I know what you're thinking - a dessert. And a dessert so famous there's an employee at that restaurant who makes only these. Full time. Challenge accepted. 

So on New Year's Eve, A Couple in the Kitchen spent the evening exactly there. We set a menu, we shopped, we prepped, we chopped, we cooked, we enjoyed, and yes, we even cleaned. And the challenging dessert? Creole bread pudding soufflé? The best dessert we've ever made. For rillz. Happy 2015!!! We are happy to be back. 


Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé 
(Adapted for two from Louisiana Cooking November/December 2014)

Ingredients:

Pudding and soufflé
Butter for greasing pan and soufflé dishes
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1 large egg
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup raisins
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Whiskey sauce
1/4 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 cup bourbon 

Make bread pudding: Preheat oven to 350. Grease a small baking pan with butter. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add egg and whisk until smooth; add cream and vanilla and stir to combine. Add bread cubes, and let soak until mixture is absorbed. Scatter raisins into prepared pan and top with bread mixture. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 25 minutes. Let cool. 

Make whiskey sauce: In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Bring cream to a boil In a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and return to a boil while continuing to whisk. Let simmer a few seconds meow and remove from heat. Stir in sugar and bourbon and cool to room temperature. 

Make soufflé: Grease 2 soufflé dishes with butter and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until foamy. Slowly add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until meringue is shiny and thick with stiff peaks. 

Assemble: Crumble half of bread pudding into a bowl. Gently fold in 1/4 of meringue. Add a portion of this into each prepared ramekin. Crumble the remaining bread pudding into the bowl and fold in the rest of the meringue. Top the soufflés with this mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Poke a hole in the top of each soufflé and pour in whiskey sauce. Serve immediately. 



8.06.2014

A.C.K. Returns from Hiatus...Recipe Published in E-Book


Obviously, we took a little break from the blog for a while. We ended an exhausting school year and needed a vacation from, well, everything, including this. And to be honest, we haven't been very creative in the kitchen this summer, so we haven't had a whole lot to share anyway.

Meanwhile, one of our recipes, Scallop Crostini with Blueberry-Rosemary Sauce, has been featured in Our State's 2014 Blueberry Recipe Collection, an E-book presented by the North Carolina Blueberry Council that you can download and check out HERE. This boosted our culinary spirits so we decided to come back and share. We'll be back again soon. 


5.27.2014

I Love You, Duck

Duck Confit with white beans and a fried egg, Eastern Standard, Boston

Dear Duck,
It's true that when I see you swimming around the pond I pass on the way to work that the first thing I think is how pretty you are. Gliding across the smooth water, leaving that ripple in your wake, your feathers glistening, the beautiful iridescent green of your small head contrasting so sharply against the landscape. So calm. So pretty. So in tune with your surroundings. 

Roast Duck, Hong Kong Eatery, Chinatown, Boston



Spicy Glazed Duck Wings, 20 Railroad, Great Barrington, MA

Duck Confit over lentils, Brasserie Jo, Boston 


But the second thing I think is how delicious you are. And how, when given the opportunity, I order you every time, everywhere, and eat every bite. One day, I will learn to cook you the right way, and that's not a threat, but a promise. I love you, duck. Quack!

Fondly,
Amy

"Daffy Duck" Spring Rolls, Sakura Garden, South Windsor, CT