July 27, 2011

Chic Chicken

I get really excited when someone mentions the word potluck. I just can't help it. I daydream and zone out. I cant stop thinking about what I am going to make. Most likely because it gives me a chance to scan the bookshelf, flip through old magazines or dip into the bin of overflowing recipes scribbled on just about anything (like the back of a blank patient evaluation form I came across the other day. I'm telling you, I get that excited. I can't think of anything else...work? patients? what?).

Chicken Salad Veronique
Despite how absolutely delighted and eager I get, I waited until the last minute to decide what to bring to a potluck not long ago. I think I lost myself in planning and thinking and list-making and spacing out, because suddenly it was Thursday night and nothing actually came out of all that built-up excitement.

I finally decided on an old classic, a tried and true chicken salad. Fresh and satisfying, much more so than anything stuffed between two stale pieces of bread and wrapped in plastic at 7-Eleven or WaWa, this version of Chicken Salad Veronique is adapted from Ina Garten, in Barefoot at Home.

I buy a few more skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts than originally called for to make enough for a small crowd of people. The breasts are dressed with olive oil, thyme or herbs de provence, as well as salt and pepper. Be generous with the salt as this is your chance to really draw out the flavor of the chicken. For extra color and more juicy kickback I throw in red grapes (also keeping with the veronique style, which is a dish prepared using grapes) as well as an apple for texture and extra crunch. A tablespoon of dijon mustard is also a nice addition, making the dish sing a little bit more. Nuts, raisins, the spice or herb of your choice would also add wonderfully to the consistency or overall combination of flavors. This is a forgiving dish; if you overcook the chicken and its a little dry, the mayonnaise, dijon and even a few spoonfuls of the juicy drippings from the pan can help bathe the chicken a bit,while also allowing the flavors to mingle while it sits.

Chicken Salad Veronique

*4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
*Good olive oil
*Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
*1/2 cup good mayonnaise
*1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
*1 cup small-diced celery (2 stalks)
*1 cup green graps (or mix of both green and purple)
*dijon mustard, optional and to taste
*the juicy chicken drippings, optional and to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan. Rub all over with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool.

When cool, remove the meat from the bones, and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch dice and place into a bowl. Add mayonnaise, tarragon and rest of ingredients; toss well.

July 13, 2011

Blogs require more than one post!

So, soon after I posted my first post I continued to fiddle around, made a few dishes, wrote up a few things to include...but just never posted. And then about a million things got in the way- number one being my motivation.

Its funny becuase I've talked about writing a blog  forever (mostly becuase all I talk about is food and cooking and I figured I would soon need an entirely new audience secondary to completely tiring out or boring my first audience to tears) and the minute my first post goes up...bam, it takes me over a month to post anything else!

Another reason I wanted to do this was becuase it would hold me accountable. Accountable for documenting and photographing the dishes I make (or WAS making) as well as to keep up with and make the many things I see in magazines, online, that I tear out of the newspaper, or that scribble down qucickly.
Well, anyway...I AM BACK . Even if this is just for me and my closest confidants to read...here I am...AGAIN.

Beef Tenderloin with Picon Cheese

What I have pictured here is a dish I decided to make this past friday night. It is adapted from Jose Andres' Made in Spain television series and cookbook. It was a fun dish to prepare. I would normally use white wine or stock to deglaze, but this calls for cider. I think the cider, shallots and cheese really gave the sauce (which was already a beautiful creamy, silky addition to the meat) a bit more bite.

While shopping, I did go for the filet mignon, but a cheaper blue cheese. There are a few lovely cheese shops in the Alexandria area where I live, as well as in DC, but I ended up going with a Danish blue (right from the grocery store). Jose calls for a Spanish blue called Picon. This dish turned out well, so I will probably end up attempting to find Picon, or another spanish blue, at some point...but perhaps then I will go with a cheaper cut of meat? I guess that all depends on who's coming for dinner!

Also, please forgive the pictures-  from the placement and size of the chives to the amount of sauce- we were deleriously famished and I just quickly snapped a few shots. ENJOY!

Beef Tenderloin with Picon Cheese
* 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1 lb. beef tenderloin
* 3 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
* 2 fresh thyme sprigs
* 1/4 Sidra (a Spanish cider, or any hard cider)
* 1/2 c. heavy cream
* 2 oz. Picon, or any good quality blue cheese
* sea salt to taste
* chopped chives, for garnish

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large ovenproof skillet over high heat, heat oil until smoking. Add beef tenderloin and sear for 2 minutes on all sides. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 more minutes (or until meat registers at 130 degrees on meat thermometer, for medium-rare). Transfer tenderloins to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Return pan to stove and heat over medium-high heat. Gently crush garlic cloves and add to pan juices, along with the springs of thyme and sliced shallots. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the hard cider, as well as 2 Tbsp of water to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cream and 1 oz. of the blue cheese. Stir to melt cheese, as well as to thicken the sauce. Remove pan from the heat.

Slice the beef tenderloin into 1/2 inch thick medallions, or arrange as you please. Season with salt and pepper and spoon the creamy blue cheese sauce over and arond the beef. Crumble the remaining blue cheese on top of the beef, and garnish with chopped chives. Serves 4.