Chicken in Poblano Sauce…rich, velevety and delicious!

Here was another really fast and delicious dinner courtesy of Gourmet magazine and my friend, Chef Kris Etze from Delaware. It’s great to have chef friends!

I had purchased Poblano peppers at the public market over the weekend with every intention of making Chile Rellenos, but the week unraveled and the time needed to make the chiles evaporated so I needed a plan B. Poblano peppers are different from green peppers. For one thing they are a much darker, richer green color, and they are triangular shaped. They have a thinner skin and much more flavor than regular green peppers. They have some heat, but they aren’t set-your-hair-on-fire hot like a jalapeno, but they give more of a gentle-tongue-tingling warmth and a great flavor!

The recipe begins with browned chicken breasts, boneless and skinless if you are short on time, if you have a few extra minutes, bone-in breasts are always more flavorful and delicious! Tonight, boneless, skinless was the gameplan.

The sauce came together in a matter of minutes while the chicken breasts cooked. Saute the peppers and some sweet onion until soft.DSC00436
After they are soft, you blitz them in the blender with some milk and sour cream, and viola, you have a luscious green sauce for your chicken! DSC00440

Chicken bathing in green velvet!

Chicken bathing in green velvet!


Top it all off with some shredded Monterey Jack cheese and then a brief stint in a hot oven to finish cooking the chicken and dinner is done! DSC00445 Tonight we had it with cilantro infused rice, some fresh melon and hot corn muffins.
This dinner got double thumbs up from all three kids and my husband, and I will call it truly crave-worthy. I’ll be making these again!
Dinner!

Dinner!

Here is the recipe based on one from Gourmet magazine.
Chicken with Poblano Sauce
Serving Size : 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used EVOO)

2 large poblano chiles — seeded and sliced into ¼-inch strips

1 medium onion — sliced ¼ inch thick

4 6 oz. skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese — grated (about 2 2/3 cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet. Add the poblanos and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy skillet. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add them skinned side down to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until browned, and 3 minutes per side. Arrange the chicken breasts in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer.

3. Transfer the cooked poblano mixture to a blender with the sour cream and milk; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the chicken is cooked through.

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Rice Noodle Nests with Chicken. Another fast, delicious dinner!

OK, so it’s hot. Summer has finally arrived in upstate New York, and while I LOVE hot summer weather, I do NOT love to heat up the house cooking an elaborate meal. We’ve used the grill a few times already so tonight was a quick stove top meal that came together in about 20 minutes and was full of flavor and great textures!

I made these with my chef friend Laura Whalen on our foodie weekend for a little snack. They became dinner for us tonight! This is a very quick and easy “concept” kind of recipe, no measurements, just a few techniques and away you go! It was based on a recipe from a great cookbook author Donna Hay from Australia. She is a kitchen goddess!

Part of the fun in making this meal is shopping for it. All the ingredients except for the chicken come from the Asian food market. If you’ve never been to one, be prepared for lots of brightly colored packages with names of things that you have never seen! It’s a great adventure to look things over and try to guess what they are and how to use them! I had stopped a few days ago in anticipation of making this recipe so I had all the ingredients on hand.
For this recipe,you don’t need anything too funky. First you need some rice noodles.

Check the labels!  There are so many varieties of noodles available!

Check the labels! There are so many varieties of noodles available!


The noodles are dry and brittle when they come out of the package and you need to soften them for this recipe by soaking them in cold water for a few minutes. noodles
Once the noodles are soft and pliable, you just grab some strands and wind them around a few fingers to make nests, and then drop each nest into a hot saute pan filmed with a neutral oil like safflower or canola. Pan sear each nest until the noodles become crispy on the bottom, flip them over and complete the process. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet to cool.
Tonight I seared boneless skinless chicken breasts that were seasoned with salt and pepper and then finished them in the oven while I completed all the nests and got everything assembled. You could grill the chicken or just use a rotisserie chicken if it’s too hot!
The remaining ingredients are sweet and spicy chile sauce.sauce and Thai basil which is really peppery and pungent compared to Italian basil. DSC00429

To assemble the nests, simply place a slice of chicken breast on the noodle nest, add some chile sauce and top with a few leaves of basil. Couldn’t be simpler. These taste great served at room temperature so you can make all the components and eat when you are ready.

This quick dinner got three double thumbs up from the kids tonight! There are some great tastes and textures going on between the crispy, chewy noodles, the moist, tender chicken, the sweet and spicy sauce and the peppery bite of the basil. It’s like a party in your mouth! dinner
Give it a try!

Happy Anniversary Dinner!

Today my husband and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. We decided to celebrate at home this year and, of course, my contribution was the feast for dinner. One of our favorite meals when we eat out is duck so with a trip to Wegman’s in Pittsford, I was able to put together our dinner with some beautiful D’Artagnan duck breasts. A simple reduction sauce with dried cherries, tawny port, a splash of balsamic and fresh sage from my pot on the patio was delicious. To accompany, a delicious wild rice saute with hazelnuts, oven roasted beets and wilted spinach with balsamic.
We closed off the diningroom from the rest of the house (read that kids), ate off of the good china and lit some candles. My husband said dinner was better than most meals we could get at a restaurant, and I must say that I agree!
STA_0987

No pictures of dessert, it got too dark to take a good photo and I was not waiting to eat my Bavarian Torte from Philip’s European (my husband’s contribution to our dinner..) It is a wonderful dessert with layers of meringue, genoise and lightly sweetened whipped cream and strawberries. It was heavenly as always!
Here’s to 17 more!

Chefs Making Chevre (goat cheese)

As part of my fabulous foodie weekend on Seneca Lake a few weeks ago we decided on a couple of easy foodie projects to do together. The first project was making goat’s milk cheese or “Chevre”.

Who knew making cheese was so much fun?

Who knew making cheese was so much fun?

It was surprisingly easy and the end product was wonderfully silky and creamy. The nice thing for our group was that several people who thought they didn’t like goat cheese (“too goaty” says my chef friend Kris) deciding that it was really quite tasty.

It all begins with fresh goat’s milk which my chef friend, and our hostess, Laura got from a goat farm in Penn Yan, NY, just over the hill from her Seneca lake home. The milk itself was quite mild tasting, but definitely not cow’s milk!

We made two batches of cheese with differing results so it was a great learning experience for all of us! The recipe calls for pasteurizing the milk to kill off any unwanted bacteria, and to give a reliable way to have the cheese turn out. As newbie cheese makers we thought this was a good idea!

We pasteurized the milk by heating it to 165º then allowing it to cool to 86º before proceeding with the cheese making. Then you add some enzyme (ours came from cheesemaking.com and it came in a small packet that was sprinkled over the pasteurized milk.) The batch then sits for 12 hours as the curd forms. yogurt(It looks a bit like yogurt.)

After 12 hours, you drain the whey off, and put the curd into a fabric called butter muslin and then hung over a bowl to continue draining for another 12 hours at which point you have chevre!squeezing cheese (You can drain it longer to get a drier cheese, but then it gets that chalky texture that many people don’t care for. Our cheese was very creamy and soft.)

mmmm, cheese...

mmmm, cheese...

The first batch was started late on Thursday night after some wonderful Lemondrop martinis and a lot of talking and eating, and eating and talking so the milk didn’t cool the whole way down to 86º before we were ready for bed sometime around midnight (not enough ice for an ice bath either!), so the cheese making enzyme was added while it was around 92º. The second batch was started at noon on Friday, allowed to cool to the proper temperature and we ended up with a lot more cheese curd than the first batch. Lesson learned? Temperature really matters when making cheese, have plenty of ice ready for an ice bath and don’t drink Lemondrops prior to making cheese! 😉

After draining the cheese you can sprinkle a pinch of salt over it and whisk it in, or what we did for our first batch was to flavor it with some lovely Herbs de Provence that Laura had brought home from a trip to France while we were waiting for the curds to form (just about 1/2 tsp. was plenty to give a mild flavoring).

Chevre can be made into small forms by using cups or timbales, but it can also be made into logs which is what we did.

Chef Marcy shaping her cheese

Chef Marcy shaping her cheese

It was easy to handle and when the logs were rolled we experimented with flavoring the outside of the cheese. Some we rolled in Fleur de Sel salt (flaked sea salt from France), others in a great salt mix made in western NY called Borsari salt 431192

Some of the other logs that didn’t have the Herbs de Provence in them were coated in the herbs.

Chef Jodi takes her turn!

Chef Jodi takes her turn!

Any way we prepared them, they were delicious, but I have to say the Borsari salt was my favorite! (Borsari is a great blend of salt and herbs and spices that is a great way to add flavor to any meat or vegetable. Just a great ingredient everyone should have! You can find Borsari salt with the spices and salt at Wegman’s stores around here. Or you can order online!

We each took a log home and Laura shared some of her delicious red pepper jelly with us to go along with the chevre and it was a wonderful treat!

Chefs Jan and Jodi enjoying the fruits of our labor!  Yummy!

Chefs Jan and Jodi enjoying the fruits of our labor! Yummy!

Give it a try! Here is a great .pdf file with instructions
http://www.susanparks.com/cheesemaking/makingchevre.pdf, and here is a resource for the enzymes http://www.cheesemaking.com. To find goat’s milk, check the natural food markets or ask at the local farmer’s market. It’s easy to find and worth the effort!