Alice Springs Chicken

 AliceSpringsChickenIf you have visited an Outback Restaurant, you probably have seen Alice Springs Chicken on their menu.  On our occasional visits to Outback, we usually order beef, so I have never eaten this dish there, but there are dozens of copycat recipes online. This is my version, voted “please make this again soon” by my family.  I use a downloaded image because this was one of those meals served immediately. It looked and smelled so good, we only took time to say Thank you God for our family and food and listen for 2-year-old Nora’s hearty “Maymen!” before enjoying.
Alice Springs Chicken
4-5 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
6 slices bacon
1/3 cup honey
2 cups sliced  Baby Bella mushrooms
2 cups shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

 Sprinkle chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper. Cook bacon until crisp, remove and set aside. Do not discard grease. Brown chicken in the bacon grease for 3 to 5 minutes per side. Place chicken in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish or pan.

In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayonnaise and dried onion flakes.

Spread Honey Mustard over each piece of chicken, then layer with mushrooms, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is done.

 

Shrimp in Pastry Shells

20160309_174852

On our first wedding anniversary (over 52 years ago) we lived in Corvallis, Oregon. Our budget did not allow restaurant meals and I was still a beginner cook. But I served Joe Shrimp in Pastry Shells on our wedding china and we still consider it one of our fanciest dishes. Somewhere I still have the index card on which I taped the simple recipe clipped from a magazine, using Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup and canned shrimp.  These days, I do not buy the little shrimp in a can, but I do keep a bag of frozen peeled and deveined shrimp as a freezer staple. This version is how that first anniversary shrimp n shells dish has changed, definitely for the better.  However, Pepperidge Farm still makes their wonderful Puff Pastry Shells that make it so easy to pull puff pastry out of my oven for the base of a wonderful entree.

Shrimp in Pastry Shells

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry shells (6 shells)

1/2 to 1 pound medium size shrimp, shelled and deveined (fresh or thawed from frozen) We like plenty of shrimp.

2 Tablespoons butter,

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill,

1/4 cup Sherry

Bake Puff Pastry according to instructions on package..  Be sure to save the discs of pastry that you remove from the top after baking to top each serving. Place each pastry on serving plate, with tops on the side.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in saute pan, add mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms have cooked down and liquid begins to reduce. Add soup  plus only 1/2 cup milk and simmer until well blended and beginning to thicken.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring, 4-5 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through. Blend in dill and sherry and ladle into pastry shells.  Top each with a puff pastry topper.

 

 

 

Oriental Beef

IMG_0088

I often refer to the ways when I was growing up my family made more than one meal out of a dish or created something new and tasty out of leftovers.  Not only did we use leftovers, but we were very good at stretching a meal to feed extras if needed.  I took those ideas with me when I was a young wife and mother, and enjoyed searching out new recipes that worked like that. Oriental Beef is one of those dishes I liked to make when our 3 boys suddenly multiplied to 6 or 7 at the table, and enjoyed the fact they liked to ask their friends to stay for supper. I just added some more rice and sprouts, adjusting seasoning accordingly.

The recipe was originally given to me by Marjorie Saltzgiver when we were students in nursing school.  I was in my early twenties.  She was in her 40’s and had returned to school after she had a large family.  She was the best student of us all, and a mentor for me.  She is now deceased, but remember her every time I cook…

 Oriental Beef

1 cup of uncooked rice, or more according to your preference.

Steam the rice while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 package frozen green peas

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 can bean sprouts ( I use fresh sprouts when I have them)

2 teaspoons Wyler’s beef bouillon powder

chow mein noodles, toasted

Brown meat, add celery and onions.  Cook only until shiny, add cooked rice and soy sauce.

Mix cornstarch in 2 cups of water and add along with bean sprouts.  When thickened, add peas and remove from heat.  Sprinkle with toasted chow mein noodles over each serving.

Squash Blossom Sauce over Butternut Ravioli

For these months leading up to and including holidays which are important family celebrations, Kitchen Keepers is celebrating the Art of Cooking, or beauty in the kitchen if you prefer!  One of the most stunning ways of feeling like an artist while working with food is the use of edible flowers!  Not just as a garnish, which is always lovely, not just for a ladies luncheon, but as a wonderful taste and tell addition to your menu.  Squash blossoms are so much fun, especially if you happen to grow your own. Since  the male squash flower has done its work when it has provided pollen for the female flowers (yep, there’s a difference – they have a longer stem and no small bulb at the end next to the vine), it is perfectly alright to pick them for using in the some fanciful and fantastic recipes. If there are no squash vines in your garden, you may find the blossoms sold at farmer’s markets or specialty stores.  There are great recipes that use the whole flower by stuffing it or dipping it in a batter to fry.  For this sauce, the flowers need to be fine chopped.

Simply trim off the stem end, spread the flower flat to brush off any tiny bug or debris, rinse and pat dry.  You can stack the flat blossoms to shred for this recipe.  I like to use purchased butternut ravioli which I cook and drain before plating with the sauce.

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
12 squash blossoms, quartered lengthwise and chopped fine

pinch of saffron

2 cups  chicken broth
1 egg yolk

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil for cooking pasta while starting sauce.

Add butter and oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and parsley; cook, stirring occasionally for  3 minutes. Add the squash blossoms, a pinch of salt, and the saffron. Stir gently. Add 3/4 cup of the broth, stir gently, and raise the heat to medium. As the broth starts to reduce, continue adding more broth gradually until it has reduced significantly and only a small film of broth coats the vegetables. This should take about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.. While it cooks, place the sauce back on medium heat. Measure  3 Tablespoons of pasta water and, whisking constantly with a fork, gradually add the hot water to the egg yolk to temper it.  Pour the yolk mixture into the saute pan, and stir continuously to combine. The yolk will thicken the sauce.

When the pasta is  al dente. (about 2 1/2 minutes.),  scoop the pasta from its cooking water into the sauce, and use tongs toput it into the sauce. Cook the two together for about 30 seconds, then serve in shallow bowls or on plates, topped with grated Pecorino Romano and garnish with fruit and a sprig of basil.

Salmon Souffle

Salmon souffle is (like many of our favorite recipes) a dish with a story. Thirty-seven years ago, my good friend and neighbor Jean Merrill presented me with a gift: a cookbook titled Helen Corbitt’s Potluck.  I see several things that make me smile every time I take it from my shelf in the kitchen. First there’s its tomato red binding with a fanciful line drawing of a cow with some leaves in her mouth on the bottom right corner.  Just inside, the inscription “Mary Ann – thanks for being such a good friend. Love Jean  ’75.”  There’s the same cow from the front on the page.  Only this time she is standing with a pig and a chicken on her back.  The pig has a bottle of wine and a strawberry on its back, and the whole crew is plopped into a huge pot of vegetables labeled POTLUCK.  Not such a remarkable title for a cookbook unless you also know that Helen Corbitt was no everyday cook with her list of dishes to take to church dinners. This feisty chef authored 4 other cookbooks and is best known for her position as Director of Foods for Neiman Marcus and her menus for the Zodiac Room there.  So what makes me laugh when I pick up PotLuck is the unlikely face any recipe in there would actually find itself being called that.   In its pages, this little book has narrative and humour, and treasures from its author.  Poppy-Seed Dressing is one of her best known recipes. I have made  I have made Artichokes and Crab and a wonderful Lemon Rice Soup.  For my nieces bridal luncheon in 1983, I served Helen’s Cold Yogurt Soup.  But the recipe I have used so often that the book opens to its page is this one.  And every time I have made it, I have used leftovers, because the 1 1/2 cups of flaked salmon it calls for is just about right for leftover bits when I grill a salmon fillet.  I think Helen, the queen of sass and souffles,  would have approved.

Salmon Souffle

3 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon curry powder (we like to use a heaping teaspoon or more)

1 1/2 cups fresh or canned salmon flakes

Pinch of thyme

Salt and pepper

1 cup milk

4 eggs, separated

Melt the butter, add flour and seasonings, and cook until bubbly.  Add milk, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from stove.  add egg yolks beaten until light and the flaked salmon (no bones or skin). Cool.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Pour into a buttered souffle or casserole dish.  Place dish into a larger baking pan and add hot water carefully into the bottom pan (hot water bath).  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Left over chicken or ham works well instead of salmon.

Serve with Bengal Sauce, recipe follows.

Bengal Sauce

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon flour

1 cup milk or half and half

Salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

2 teaspoons grated coconut

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Melt butter, add flour, cook a few seconds.  Add milk and cook until smooth and thickened.  Add seasonings, coconut and nuts.

When I made this earlier this week, I served Italian plum halves filled with homemade fig chutney which I baked alongside the souffle.

Black Bean Chalupas

Our family loves Mexican food.  Along with Enchildadas Verde, Cheese Enchiladas, Fish and Shrimp Tacos, and Chiles Rellenos, we include Chalupas among our favorites.  These Black Bean Chalupas are so easy to make, look beautiful on your plate, taste fresh and delicious, and are full of healthy fresh vegetables.

Black Bean Chalupas

4 corn tostadas.

1 whole garlic pod

1 can seasoned smashed black beans

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 cups finely shredded romaine or other lettuce

1 tomato, diced

4 green onions, sliced

1 red and 1 orange sweet pepper, chopped

2 jalapenos, seeds removed and sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

vinegar for sprinkling on top

First, roast garlic by wrapping entire pod in aluminum foil and placing in 400 degree oven until pods soften, about 20 minutes.  Remove garlic and cool slightly. While garlic is roasting, prepare vegetables and set aside until ready to assemble chalupas.

 Reduce oven heat to 375, place tostados on baking sheet to heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, but leave oven on. Heat black beans with a dash of olive oil , stirring as they warm.

Assembly:  Place tostados on plate and squeeze enough garlic out of cloves to spread on top of each.  Then spread about 1/4 cup of the smashed beans.  Next, add 1/4 cup shredded cheese. To finish, divide the vegetables and cilantro among the four tostadas and sprinkle with a few drops of vinegar.  I like flavored vinegars, and often use sherry vinegar.

Sauteed Scallops served on Italian Chicory

Long-stemmed Fancy Dandelion greens, also called Italian Chicory,  is related to several other bitter leaf vegetables which make up the chicory family, such as Belgian endive and the many varieties of Radicchio which are so important in the region of Veneto in Italy. We recently had some in our CSA vegetable share which I enjoyed using as a delicious side with scallops.  We used this for a light supper.  Smaller portions make excellent starters for a heavier meal. I adapted a recipe from www.epicurious.com.

Sauteed Sea Scallops with Italian Chicory     4 servings

12 large sea scallops

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar, divided
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 bunch Italian chicory (other bitter greens may be used, or a mix)
2 tablespoons water

Whisk together 1/3 cup oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and shallot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tear chicory into small pieces and add to bowl.  Keep covered and chilled until ready to mix.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops to skillet and cook until golden brown and just opaque in center, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. When cooking a larger number of scallops, please cook them in batches, not crowding them into the skillet.

Whisk vinaigrette; pour over greens and toss. Divide slaw between plates.. Arrange 3 scallops atop slaw on each plate. Add remaining  vinegar to same skillet along with 2 tablespoons water. Bring to simmer, scraping up any browned pieces from scallops.. Drizzle this sauce over scallops. In this photo, I have served this with a side of edamame and wild rice.