Archive for the ‘Entrees’ Category

Backyard Egg Salad Sandwiches

February 15, 2010


Glorious Cleo the Egg Layer

I’ve never felt the need to Twitter any chicken news, until today. What could be so important that it had to be instantly shared across the world? Well, today I witnessed something that I wanted to immediately tell everyone I knew: Today I watched Cleo lay an egg!

This afternoon when I went into the coop to collect the eggs, there was Cleo sitting in the nest cooing and making all sorts of soft maternal sounds. She didn’t seem bothered by my presence, so I settled down in the coop and proceeded to wait and watch. It can take a chicken 20 to 30 minutes to lay an egg, so I had no idea how long I’d have to wait. In the meantime, I patiently sat there wishing I’d brought the camera.

She cooed and wiggled her butt, used her head to throw nesting material around and a few times repositioned herself to get the perfect position, all the while keeping up a low gentle murmur. Finally, when my legs were starting to cramp and I wondered if I should leave her to it, she raised her legs and rear keeping her head low, and in an instant out popped an egg. The egg was shiny and wet with the bloom that dries quickly but keeps bacteria from entering the shell. She instantly went to work moving the egg with her beak into the corner of the nest, presumably to protect it and keep it safe.

At that moment, as I watched her gently and carefully move that unfertilized egg that would never hatch into anything, I felt an overwhelming sadness that maybe I shouldn’t be snatching her precious eggs and eating them for breakfast. But of course, they will never hatch and tomorrow she will lay another one and such I guess is the life of a chick. However, her gentleness and care was a good reminder to me of the precious gifts my chicks give.


Cleo’s Egg

I do personally thank each of my chicks every day for the eggs they lay, but I especially thanked Cleo today for letting me witness her miracle. I’ll eat that egg with extra blessings and wonder.

Cleo’s eggs are beautiful. They are olive green on the outside, but blue on the inside! The color of an egg will not change the flavor, but it does make it more interesting to peel. Lulu’s eggs are light blue inside and out, while Roxanne’s eggs are brown on the outside and white on the inside.

Sometimes the best way to enjoy backyard eggs is the simplest. Today for lunch we had egg salad sandwiches. Yum….it added a touch of spring to this sunny winter day.

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Vietnamese Sandwiches

January 19, 2010

I love leftovers. Because I cook a lot, my fridge and freezer often are filled with a nice assortment of leftovers, which I usually don’t mind. Sometimes, however, leftovers pose a problem. Such was the case last week when I couldn’t stop nibbling the leftovers of a wonderful chicken liver pâté I had made. A couple of tastes are fine, but night after night of buttery pâté is enough to totally blow anyone’s January resolutions. The problem was I just couldn’t throw it away.

You see the reason I developed the pâté was to use everything the chicken has to offer. Not only the meat, but also the parts that are normally tossed aside such as the liver. It’s important to utilize the whole bird.

I wanted to use the rest of the pâté as part of a meal, but the first thing that came to mind, Beef Wellington, was way too rich for after-holiday fare. Then I remembered that liver pâté is part of the traditional Vietnamese sandwich called bahn mi.

As with most things Vietnamese, this sandwich is light, fresh and satisfying. Assembled in a crisp baguette-style roll (the best ones are from the Asian markets or Vietnamese bakeries), layers of roast pork and pâté are topped with crisp cucumbers, carrots and cilantro keeping it light and crunchy.


Almost a full salad within the sandwich.

Flavored with spicy Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce, it offers a taste sensation more complex than any traditional American sandwich.


Sriracha – The Rooster Sauce
(Follow the link for the behind the scenes story of this American Asian-style hot sauce.)

Even if you don’t have liver pâté in your fridge, give this sandwich a try. Its spicy fresh taste may be just the thing to liven the upcoming football weekend frenzies.

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Grilled Eggplant with Feta Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil

March 30, 2009

Grilled Eggplant with Feta Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil

Grilled eggplant has a wonderful smoky quality to it. This versatile dish can be served as an appetizer, a vegetarian main course or as a side dish to chicken or pork. It can even be used as a sandwich filling for pita bread.

3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
extra-virgin olive oil
½ lemon
coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Heat the grill. Rub the garlic over the eggplant slices then brush the eggplant with olive oil. Grill the eggplant over medium to medium-low heat 5 to 10 minutes or until slightly charred and tender when pierced with a fork, turning once.

Place the eggplant slices on a large platter and drizzle with additional olive oil. Squeeze the lemon half over the eggplant slices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter the cheese and tomatoes over the eggplant and top with basil.

Serves 4 to 6

Roasted Mushroom Linguine with Parmesan Eggs

February 18, 2009

In honor of The Year of the Egg, I recently made a roasted vegetable pasta with eggs. Italians have always used eggs in pasta, the most famous dish being Pasta Carbonara. The eggs add extra protein and creaminess to the sauce. This recipe is tossed at the last minute with lightly fried eggs. The eggs add flavor while the creamy yellow yolk adds richness to the sauce.

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White Bean and Hominy Chicken Chili

January 08, 2009

My large enormously heavy flame-orange enameled cast-iron Le Creuset pot is getting a workout these days. I’ve entered huddle mode. That is, I’m not doing much beyond huddling around steaming pots of soup, stew and chili. January in Minnesota will do that to you.

I’ve made three pots of soup in the last 2½ days with more on the way. Soups and chilies are my way of fighting the cold weather, the bad economic news and the latest world crisis. Tensions fade when you tuck into a warming bowl. Plus, having a stockpile of soup in the freezer may soon end up being worth more than stock certificates, if the latest Wall Street news is any indication.

Last night we sunk our spoons into White Bean and Hominy Chicken Chili. It’s a simple chili, basic but stick-to-the-ribs hearty. Best of all for those of us trying to take off holiday pounds, it’s low in calories—only 190 calories per serving. Perfect!

White Bean and Hominy Chicken Chili

Adding toppings is half the fun of eating chili. So pile on the chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, chopped serrano chiles and diced tomatoes. (For those of you lucky enough not to be counting calories go for the cheese, sour cream, avocados and chips—just don’t let the rest of us see you.)

If you’ve never used hominy before you’re in for a pleasant surprise. You can find it in the canned bean or vegetable section of the grocery store. It’s made from dried corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed. The canned version is ready to use. You’ll find the flavor of the chewy tender kernels reminiscent of corn tortillas.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
⅓ cup finely chopped shallots
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 (15.6 oz.) can Great Northern or navy beans, undrained
1 (15.5 oz.) can white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
1 (14 oz.) can lower-sodium chicken broth
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ cups chopped cooked chicken breast

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and swirl to lightly film the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until they are just starting to soften. Stir in the shallots and cook for 1 minute then add the garlic and cook for about 15 to 30 seconds or until the garlic just starts to smell great.

At this point, stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the chicken and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low or low and gently simmer, stirring every now and then, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook another 15 minutes or until the flavors have blended.

5 (generous 1½ cup) servings
About 190 calories/serving

Copyright Janice Cole 2009

Smoky Grilled Chicken

January 04, 2009

Smoked paprika is the key ingredient in this simple recipe. The Spanish slowly smoke the special peppers used for this paprika, known as pimenton, during the drying process giving this spice its rich flavor. There are mild and hot versions of smoked paprika. I always use the mild version but for those interested in heat look for the picante version. With its popularity smoked paprika is becoming widely available in supermarkets and specialty stores.

Smoky Seasoning Rub:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon pepper

Chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl to blend.

Brush the chicken breasts with the oil and coat generously with 2 tablespoons of the seasoning rub. (Store the remaining seasoning in an airtight container for another use.) Cover and refrigerate the chicken 1 to 4 hours to marinate.

Heat grill. Grill chicken over medium heat or coals 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, or until chicken is no longer pink in center.

Serves 4; Smoky Seasoning Rub makes ¼ cup

Copyright Janice Cole 2008
Seasoning Rub is from Culinary Adventures by Janice Cole (North American Media Group 2008)

Rotini with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce

January 04, 2009

Early fall is tomato and eggplant season. Nature does a good job of providing natural pairings when vegetables are harvested together. This pasta takes advantage of both. The smoky flavor of eggplant is accented with the bacon in this dish and the fresh mint provides the perfect accent to the sweetness in the season’s ripe tomatoes.

8 oz. bacon, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ medium eggplant, peeled, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and mashed to a paste with the side of a knife
4 cups diced tomatoes or 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
8 oz. rotini pasta

Brown the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until the bacon is almost crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon drippings. Add the onion, eggplant and garlic to the bacon in the skillet and continue cooking over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the bacon is crisp, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and bring the sauce to a boil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and the sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the mint and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes to allow the mint to flavor the sauce but still keep the fresh taste of the herb.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain. Top with the sauce.

Serves 4

Copyright Janice Cole 2008

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

January 04, 2009

This rich creamy soup is made without cream! Rice is the secret ingredient that creates the smooth richness in this soup as it’s blended into a silky consistency. It’s delicately flavored with the Indian spices of garam masala and saffron. Garam masala is a spice blend fragrant with cinnamon, cloves, cumin and black pepper. It can be purchased in the spice aisle or the ethnic section of well-stocked supermarkets, Indian markets or you can create your own. The tastiest pumpkin to use is a sugar pumpkin, also called a pie pumpkin. They’re smaller than the large jack-o-lanterns. Butternut squash and other squash are tasty alternatives for the pumpkin.

1½ large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash (1-inch)
1 (32 oz.) container lower-sodium chicken broth
1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garam masala or ground cinnamon combined with pinches of ground cloves and cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of saffron threads, crushed
¼ cup basmati rice or white long grain rice
¼ cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)

Stir the onions and oil together in a large pot over medium heat until the onions are coated. Cover and cook 5 minutes to sweat the onions (the onions will glisten and be slightly softened). Uncover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until the onions are golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring continually. Stir in the pumpkin.

Pour the chicken broth over the pumpkin and stir in the thyme, garam masala, salt, pepper and saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice and reduce the heat to medium-low or to the point where it maintains a gentle boil. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin and the rice are tender, stirring now and then.

If you have a hand blender (also called an immersion blender), use the hand blender to blend the soup in the pot until smooth. Otherwise, cool the soup to lukewarm and blend it in batches. Fill the blender container half to three-quarters full and pulse until the soup is smooth.

Whisk together ¼ cup of the blended soup with the yogurt. Stir half of the yogurt mixture back into the soup and reserve the remaining mixture for the garnish.

Serve the soup warm with a dollop of the yogurt mixture swirled in the center.

Serves 4 (1½ cup servings)

Israeli Vegetable Tart

January 04, 2009

I now have two chicks swingin’ their hips with feathers flying in the wind. Lulu has joined Roxanne and started molting. Casting off a coat of feathers and growing new ones takes a tremendous amount of energy leaving nothing additional for egg laying. With Roxanne still littering the yard with her own feathers, it means Cleo is the only one laying. She’s been trying to do her part but the weather is cool and she’s also slowing down.

We’re eating fewer eggs as a result. While longing for an egg dish, albeit one that needs only a few eggs, I came upon this wonderful recipe which uses only two eggs. It’s filled with Mediterranean vegetables and crowned with feta cheese and nuts.

Israeli Vegetable Tart

I adapted this recipe from a beautiful new book on Israeli cooking The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805212248. The tart is called a pashtida, which is Hebrew for any dish (with or without a crust) baked with eggs and cheese and filled with vegetables, meat or fish.

Dough for 1 (9-inch) single pie crust

Filling:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small eggplant, chopped ½-inch (about 3 cups)
1 medium onion, halved, sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small zucchini, chopped (1 cup)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 eggs
½ cup half and half
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Topping:
¾ cup halved cherry tomatoes
¾ cup coarsely chopped feta cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts

Place an oven rack on the bottom setting. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with the pie dough, extending the sides slightly above the top of the tart pan. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the eggplant and toss in a medium bowl. Spread the eggplant in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned. Add the zucchini to the onion and continue sautéing 2 to 3 minutes or until the zucchini is lightly browned. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Cool completely.

Whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt and pepper. Scatter the eggplant over the bottom of the tart and top with the onion and zucchini mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables then float the tomatoes, cut side up, in the cream. Arrange the cheese and nuts over the vegetables. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the tart pan in the center.

Bake the tart with the baking sheet on the bottom oven rack 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean.

Serves 6

Tomato-Basil Pasta with Goat Cheese

January 04, 2009

This is the perfect pasta to make in September when the farmer’s markets are overflowing with ripe red tomatoes. Look for a sunny warm day to serve this dish, the sauce requires no cooking and it will feel like summer is still here.

3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
½ cup slightly packed chopped fresh basil
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
8 oz. linguine, fettuccine or your choice of pasta

Toss together the tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. If you have the time, do this about an hour before you want to eat and let it sit at room temperature. The tomatoes will infuse with the flavor of the basil and the garlic.

Gently stir in the goat cheese. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions. Drain and immediately toss the hot pasta with the tomatoes. The heat of the pasta will warm the sauce and melt the cheese to a creamy consistency. Serve immediately.

Serves 4