Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicken Piccata Ravioli

To download a cookbook-style copy of the recipe for Chicken Piccata Ravioli, click HERE.

A meal of homemade ravioli can be as satisfying to make as it is to serve and eat. It also affords some great opportunities to be creative with your fillings and sauces.

With that in mind, today’s recipe takes Chicken Piccata, that simple and very delicious restaurant favorite of browned chicken topped with a white wine and lemon sauce (and that is often served over pasta), and uses it as the basis for a unique, fresh ravioli dish. It’s a simple idea – the chicken is used to make the filling, and the wine and lemon sauce is used to top the finished ravioli – that’s a whole new way to look at ravioli.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.
  • In the recipe below, we’ll be making our own pasta dough from scratch. It’s fun and not at all difficult, but if you still prefer not to make your own, store-bought wonton wrappers will work just fine.
  • There are many ways of rolling and cutting pasta dough for ravioli. In the recipe below, I hand rolled the dough and used a ravioli stamp, but if you prefer other ways – rolling with a pasta machine, cutting with round cookie cutters, using a ravioli attachment on a stand mixer, etc. – feel free. The right way is any way that works for you.
  • When we make the pasta dough in the recipe below, I combined the ingredients in a bowl. Some people do prefer the more traditional way of mixing the ingredients directly on the counter. As was the case with rolling and cutting the ravioli, there’s more than one way, and you should use any you prefer.

This recipe makes about 24 ravioli.

We’ll start by making the pasta dough. (Skip this step if you’re using wonton wrappers.)

In a bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour; ½ tsp salt; and 1 tsp dried sage.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.

Add 1 tsp of olive oil and 3 egg substitute eggs.

Mix until a dough forms. (Add a little more flour if the dough seems too moist, but not more than 1 Tbsp.) Knead by hand or using the dough hook of a mixer for about five minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cut the dough into quarters and wrap in plastic wrap. Let dough rest for at 20 – 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, begin making the filling.

Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 Tbsp chopped shallots or onions, and sauté until translucent but not brown.

Add ½ pound of ground chicken and ¼ tsp dried thyme, and cook until slightly browned. Add ¼ cup of dry white wine (Chardonnay or similar) and ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth, and cook for about three minutes, stirring often.

Remove the chicken mixture from the heat and mix ¼ cup of plain, fresh bread crumbs.

Using a blender or food processor, grind the chicken mixture till it has a slightly coarse texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, let cool, and mix in 1 egg substitute egg to make the filling.

While the filling is cooling, make the piccata sauce as described below.

Using the same pan you used to cook the chicken, reduce the heat to medium, and heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. When heated, sauté 2 chopped garlic cloves until aromatic, 30 seconds – 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, combine ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth; 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice; and ½ cup dry white wine.

Add the broth mixture and 2 tsp all-purpose flour to the pan, and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in 1 Tbsp dried sage and 1 Tbsp capers. Cook another 2 – 3 minutes.

Stir in 1 Tbsp butter substitute, remove from heat, and set aside.

Now let’s make the ravioli! (Repeat the following steps for each of the dough quarters. Keep the unused dough covered to prevent drying out.)

On a well-floured surface, roll to a thickness of about 1/16”.

Cut into desired shapes.

Apply egg substitute to the edges of half of the shapes.

Place 1 tsp of filling on half the shapes.

Place an identical shape on top, pressing down onto the egg. Press down edges with a fork or fingers to seal.

If using a ravioli stamp, press out each ravioli. Cook in salted boiling water (usually about 7 minutes but check often for doneness) or freeze for later use.

To serve, plate the ravioli and top with the sauce. Garnish with parsley. Serve with a salad or vegetable side dish.
To download a cookbook-style copy of the recipe for Chicken Piccata Ravioli, click HERE.

Whether you’re making it for yourself or for company, this is a dinner you’ll be proud to serve. Bon appétit!

We hope you’ll visit here again next week for another kitchen-tested, home-cook ready recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Apple Pie Bread Pudding

To download a cookbook-style copy of the recipe for Autumn Apple Pie Bread Pudding, click HERE.

It’s no wonder bread pudding is made in some version or other throughout the world. In addition to being one of the easiest, great-tasting desserts you can make, it’s also one of the most versatile. In past Kissing the Cook postings, we’ve explored a peach-flavored bread pudding, and one that is French Toast flavored. This week we’re going in an appropriately seasonal direction: a reduced-fat Autumn Apple Pie Bread Pudding.

For anyone not yet familiar with bread pudding, it’s not exactly the same as French Toast, but if you’ve made French Toast there’s a lot about making bread pudding that will feel very familiar. Stale or lightly toasted chunks of bread, often a sweet bread, are soak in a custard, spices are added, and the whole thing is baked until soft and firm. A sweet topping, usually ice cream or a sweet sauce, is added for serving. There’s a lot of room for creativity in the combinations of bread and flavorings used. (I’ve even heard of some brave souls who use donuts to make their bread puddings.)

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin:
  • Bread Pudding is usually baked in a baking dish and cut into squares or circles for serving. In keeping with the apple pie theme of the one we’ll be making, we’ll make ours in pie pans and cut into wedges to serve. 
  • In the recipe below, I used the challah bread with raisins and apricots recently posted here. Any sweet bread, though, should work well. 
  • In addition to the other fat-reduction ingredients used, the Bread Pudding below is topped with fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. 
  • Similar to the apple pies that inspired this recipe, there’s some flexibility in the choice of apples. Granny Smith’s are often used for apple pies and work well here too. In this recipe, I went with a combination of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp.

This recipe makes two 9” round bread puddings.

The first two steps – preparing the bread and making the custard – can be done when you’re ready to make the bread pudding, but are better if done the day before.

Cut 1 pound of challah or other sweet bread into 1” pieces. Leave out overnight to get stale or, if you’re in a hurry, toast lightly.

Combine the custard ingredients in a container: 2 cups fat-free half-and-half; 4 egg-substitute eggs; 2 Tbsp sugar; ¼ cup light brown; sugar; 1/2 tsp salt; pinch nutmeg; pinch ground cinnamon; 1/2 cup low-fat (or fat-free) plain yogurt. The custard can be used right away, but it’s better if it rests overnight.

When the bread and custard are ready to be used:

Begin preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and core 2 pounds of apples. Mash enough for about ¾ cup.

Slice the remainder into ¼” thick slices.

Fold the mashed apples into the custard.

Divide the bread evenly into two buttered 9” pie pans.

Divide the custard evenly into the two pie pans, and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes to let the bread absorb the liquid, occasionally pressing gently on the bread to help it absorb the custard.

Cover each pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes. When done, remove the foil and   bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes to get a little browning.

While the bread puddings are baking, prepare the apple topping as follows:

Combine ¾ cup sugar and the juice of 1 lemon in a medium saucepan. When the sugar and juice are combined, begin heating the saucepan over low heat until the mixture has melted.

Add the sliced apples, a pinch of nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp of butter substitute to the saucepan and stir until all the apple slices are coated with the sugar mixture.

Increase the heat to medium-low. Cook the apples till they are pie-filling tender, then remove from heat until needed.

To serve:
Cut the finished bread pudding into wedges while still warm. Top with fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt or low fat vanilla ice cream, and some warm apple topping as in the photo at top. Serve immediately.

To download a cookbook-style copy of the recipe for Autumn Apple Pie Bread Pudding, click HERE.
Of course, you can enjoy this special dessert any time, but fall seems such a special time for apples!

You’ll find another easy, delicious recipe here next week, so please come by again! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cream of Trinity Soup

To download a copy of the recipe for Cream of Trinity Soup, click HERE.

When the French settled into Louisiana, they brought their famous mirepoix, a mix of celery, onions and carrots that formed a reliable base for a wide range of soups and sauces. Over time, that venerable combination evolved into the celery, onions and green bell pepper blend that serves a similar purpose in Cajun-Creole cooking and that has come to be known throughout Louisiana as the Holy Trinity.

Most Louisiana dishes using the Holy Trinity involve a long, slow cooking process that breaks down the celery, onions and peppers until they are more like seasoning than vegetables. Other vegetables are then added.

This week’s recipe, for Cream of Trinity Soup, involves a much shorter cooking process that allows the celery, onions and peppers to be the dish’s main vegetables that shine as a very flavorful combination in their own right. Some of the cooked vegetables are pureed into the soup liquid, and some are mixed into the soup as is. A third layer of texture is added by garnishing the soup with a bit of the Trinity vegetables, fine-diced and uncooked.

For good measure, we’ll also use bacon – turkey bacon, in this case – both as part of the soup filling and as one of the items pureed into the soup liquid, thereby ensuring the bacon’s goodness is part of the very DNA of the creamy liquid.

Also worth noting: by using fat-free half-and-half to replace the cream normally used in soups of this kind, we make the soup low fat and guilt-free. (In general, I’ve found fat-free half-and-half to be a very valuable asset when making creamy dishes low-fat. It’s definitely an item to include in your low-fat tool box.)

This recipe makes 2 quarts of soup.

We’ll start by sautéing the vegetables.

Heat 1 Tbsp butter substitute and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook till aromatic, another 30 seconds to one minute.

Place 4 cups of thin-chopped celery (about 1/8”); 2 cups of chopped onion, and 2 cups of chopped green pepper in the pot. (If you’re using sliced mushrooms, add 8 ounces of them now also.) Sauté until the onions are translucent and the remaining vegetables are soft but not mushy.

Set the cooked vegetables aside in a separate bowl.

Next comes our soup base.

Reduce the heat to low. Add ¼ cup of butter substitute. When it has melted, add 6 Tbsp of all-purpose flour and mix to form a roux. Cook till golden, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add 1 quart of vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring till the liquid has thickened, for about 10 minutes.

Add a pinch of red pepper flakes; ½ tsp dried thyme; ½ tsp dried oregano; and ½ tsp dried rosemary. Add 1/3 cup of uncooked white rice and simmer until the rice is softened, about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add half of the cooked vegetables, and 1-1/2 ounces of cooked, fine-diced bacon.

Add 2 cups of fat-free half-and-half, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each ¼ cup is incorporated before adding the next.

Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables till smooth.

Add the remaining cooked vegetables and another 1-1/2 ounces of cooked bacon cut into ½” square pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste.

All that's left is to dish it up!

Serve in bowls, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and some uncooked, fine-diced celery, onion and green pepper. (For great accompaniments, be sure to add some good bread and a fresh salad!)

To download a copy of the recipe for Cream of Trinity Soup, click HERE.

You’re all set for the chilly weather. Bring on the fall!

Thanks for visiting this site. Please come back next week for another great-tasting, home cooked recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shrimp on Corn Pudding with Buttermilk White Sauce

To download a copy of the recipe for Shrimp on Corn Pudding with Buttermilk White Sauce, click HERE

If you’ve never heard of corn pudding before, you might be tempted to think it must be a dessert item. As it happens, corn pudding is an easy, versatile side dish made with corn and eggs, a great gift from our friends in the south.

In this week’s recipe, we’ll make a meal out of our corn pudding by adding some brined shrimp and topping it off with a buttermilk white sauce. In the photo at the top, I’ve added oven fried green tomatoes – a healthier take on another southern classic – as a side dish. You can see that recipe at Oven Fried Green Tomatoes, and can download a copy of the recipe by clicking HERE.

This recipe makes six servings.

We’ll start by brining our shrimp.

Combine ½ cup kosher salt; 2 crushed bay leaves; and the juice of ½ lemon (about 1 Tbsp) with two quarts of water. Place 1-1/2 pounds of peeled, uncooked shrimp in the liquid and let brine for about 30 minutes. Drain well when done.

While the shrimp are brining, we’ll start our corn pudding batter.

Heat a little olive oil and butter substitute in a large sauté pan and sauté 4 cups of corn; ¾ cup of finely chopped onion; and ¾ cup of finely chopped red pepper. (Fresh corn is best, but frozen will work if fresh is not available. If you do use frozen, be sure you thaw and dry the corn before putting it in the pan to sauté.) When done, set the sautéed vegetables aside to cool.

Begin preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine ¾ cup corn meal (fine grain or medium, not coarse); 1 Tbsp sugar; 1 tsp kosher salt; ¾ tsp fresh ground black pepper; 2 tsp dried parsley; 1 tsp dried oregano; and 1 tsp dried thyme.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk; ¼ cup melted butter substitute; 4 egg-substitute eggs; and 2 Tbsp hot sauce.

Add the cooled corn mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Add the egg mixture to the corn mixture and mix till combined.

Divide the corn mixture into two 9” pie pans that were lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Sprinkle a little Panko on top of each corn pudding mixture.

Bake the corn puddings until golden and a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

While the corn pudding is baking, we can cook the shrimp.

Sauté the brined shrimp until both sides are cooked. Set aside when done.

While the corn puddings finish baking, make the buttermilk white sauce as follows:

In the same sauté pan, melt 1-1/2 Tbsp of butter substitute. Add 3 Tbsp of all-purpose flour and stir to combine.

Cook over a low heat for about 1 minute till a slightly browned roux forms.

Gradually add 1 cup of buttermilk, stirring constantly, until a thickened sauce forms.

Add 1 tsp dried parsley; ¼ tsp dried dill; ½ tsp kosher salt; pinch of garlic powder; and a pinch fresh ground black pepper and stir till combined. Remove from the heat.

To serve:

After the corn pudding has finished baking and has rested for about 10 minutes, top with the cooked shrimp.

Cut each pie pan into three equal portions for a total of six portions, and top the shrimp and corn pudding with some of the white sauce. Serve warm or hot with a vegetable side dish.

To download a copy of the recipe for Shrimp on Corn Pudding with Buttermilk White Sauce, click HERE.

You’ll also probably like knowing the leftovers save very well too!

Hope you enjoy this twist on a great traditional southern comfort food! And that you’ll visit again next week for another delicious, home cooking recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)