Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheddar Chicken

Cheddar chicken. It's every bit as good as it sounds. I came across this while reading my May Real Simple magazine, and I'm posting the link to make sure I give proper credit! Remember, I do come from a legal background.

My tips? I doubled the garlic because I do love me some garlic. I crushed the crackers (Late July Ritz-type) in my Mini-Prep food processor, and next time I would put the garlic cloves right in with them so they got properly mixed. I would also add more crackers for more crunch!

Pre-shredded cheese tends to have additives to keep it from sticking together, which means it doesn't melt as smoothly. Yes, it's a pain to shred your own if you're using a box grater, but put the cheese in the freezer first so it's good and firm and easier to shred. If you do this in your food processor, do the same thing, and it'll make a time-saving trick even easier!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I finally figured out what to do with those shrimp: a good, garlicky scampi. It was easy and so, so good. Next time, I'll make it spicier since I like that, and I'll make sure to have bread on hand for the sauce or serve it over pasta or rice. Tweak it to your liking.

Scampi (for two)
- 1/2 pound shrimp, tail on but preferably deveined (get them as big or as little as you prefer)
- 3 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- crushed red pepper flake, to taste and crushed in your palm to release more oils (I did a small pinch this time and would do more like a small palmful next time!)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil (2 turns around the pan)
- 3 tbsp. butter
- salt if you do not use salted butter, or to taste
- pepper-- freshly ground, if possible!
- about a 1/4 c. of chicken stock, or extra white wine
- a splash of white wine (or more if you don't use the chicken stock)

About an hour or so before cooking, pull the shrimp out of the fridge so that it can come up to room temperature. You run the risk of shrimp that are cooked on the outside and raw inside if you don't do this.

Pull out a skillet, and turn the heat on medium-low. Add the olive oil and 2 tbsp. of the butter, letting the butter melt and foam. Turn the heat down at this point.

Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Burnt garlic gets bitter so make sure to keep a close "nose" on your skillet! As soon as it is fragrant, add the shrimp, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flake. Flip the shrimp after about 2 minutes.

After about 1 1/2 more minutes, making sure the shrimp is curled and pink, remove it from the pan. Keep it warm if possible. Add the stock or wine and the remaining butter. Turn the heat to medium so that the sauce begins to simmer and reduce.

Once the sauce has reduced and thickened to your liking (my preference is about the consistency of melted butter, which is appropriate here), put the shrimp back in the pan, giving it a couple of turns so that it gets coated in the sauce and is definitely warmed through.

Serve in a bowl (over the pasta or rice if you desire). Enjoy!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Matzo Ball Soup

Today is a beautiful day and not really soup weather, but I have been craving matzo ball soup. Since it is Passover and Maundy Thursday, this is an appropriate choice. I do not make mine according to a kosher recipe, but I love it. It adds a few elements for some flavor that really make it comforting and delicious to me! Remember that the beautiful thing with soup is that you can tweak recipes according to your own personal preferences, adding or subtracting ingredients as you like. Get the basics down, and you can make soup out of whatever is in season and what you want to eat.

Matzo Ball Soup, a la Anne Lane
- 1 package matzo ball mix or matzo meal (you'll need a can of plain seltzer if you use the meal)
- 1 quart chicken stock (Kitchen Basics is a great brand, and they also make an unsalted stock, which is great if you're cooking for someone on a sodium-restricted diet)
- 1 small onion, chopped as fine as you like
- 1 stalk celery, chopped as fine as you like
- 1 carrot, chopped as fine as you like
- olive oil (enough to saute the veggies in, which should be about 2 tbsp. or 2 turns around the pan)
- crushed red pepper flake, to taste (I find a very small palmful--equal to about 1 tsp. or so-- works well, and crush the flakes in your palm to release more of the flavor.)
- salt and pepper to taste
- a couple of pieces of the rind of parmigiano reggiano cheese (This might sound odd, but oh, does it add some great flavor!)

Start by making the matzo balls according to package directions, cooking them in salted water if desired. You can also cook them directly in the chicken stock, which is what I have done.

Saute the chopped onion, carrot, and celery in the olive oil until the onion is translucent and the carrot and celery have brightened in color. This should take no more than about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, crushed red pepper flake, salt, and pepper (and parmigiano reggiano rind, if using), and bring to a simmer. Add the matzo balls. If they are uncooked, you'll know the soup is done when the balls float, which takes about 15 minutes. If using cooked matzo balls, let the whole thing simmer for about 15 minutes any way. Simmering the balls in the soup allows them to take on more of the flavor of the chicken stock.

Serve in bowls, and enjoy.