Saturday, September 21, 2013

Danish Braised Chicken

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
It is a rare occasion when you are presented with a dish that requires only four ingredients and have it come out so finger-licking fantastically good. Such is the case with this braised chicken dish. Adapted from the cookbook gifted by my Danish friend, I was really skeptical at first but was totally convinced by the time I was done eating. I also served it to my two friends and short of devouring a whole chicken between the three of us, what was left was half a chicken breast which was packed to go by one of my friends and the neck part which I ate for lunch the next day. 

The dish was originally served with a cucumber salad but I'm not a big fan of pickled cucumbers so I paired it with a vegetable salad. However, I realized that boiled baby potatoes seasoned with olive oil and the usual salt and pepper was the best side dish since you get to eat them with the thick creamy gravy that is nothing really but melted butter and cooked cream. Need I say more? This is one awesome dish. Word of warning though: not for those with cholesterol problems. I'm not kidding. Stay away from this dish!

Danish Braised Chicken - Adapted*

1 2-3 lbs whole chicken, trimmed
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley 

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on the outside and in the cavity. 
    Stuff with the parsley leaves and half the butter. Secure the legs with a 
    butcher's twine and set aside. 

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Once melted, 
    increase the heat to medium high and brown the whole chicken on all 

3. Add half the cream and decrease the heat to low and simmer the chicken 
    covered for about an hour or until the juices run clear when you pierce 
    the thigh. Turn the chicken occasionally during this time.

4. To complete the dish, add the remaining cream and simmer for another 
    10 minutes. 

5. To serve, cut the chicken into large pieces and drizzle the sauce over it. 
    Best served with boiled baby potatoes. 

* Forlag, N.N.; Busk, A., Dining With The Danes, Clemenstrykkeriet, Copenhagen: 2011.

Fettuccini Alfredo

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
What do you do with 2 lbs of fettuccini? Why, you make Fettuccini Alfredo of course! Here in my country, this pasta dish is also often bastardized and ends up in a sea of white sauce that may or may not contain condensed milk. I've tried one where I had to add a ton of Parmesan cheese just to neutralize the sweetness of the sauce. It was almost like a dessert pasta in its sweetness. Another offense is the addition of either bacon, mushroom, ground meat or a combination of two or three of the above mentioned items. Somehow for us Filipinos, more is usually better although sometimes, that is not the case. 

In my desire to go back to basics when it comes to Italian dishes, I am scaling back on the expectations of what a Pasta Alfredo is to those who claim to know all about it and honor the original recipe of Alfredo Di Lelio which traditionally is made with only butter and cheese. Well, I'm almost going to honor it. The addition of cream allowed the use of less butter when making the sauce and this is what I'm going to follow. I also used a little bit of milk to thin out the sauce. As much as I love butter, I'm on a low fat diet at the moment and even with just one serving of this dish, I may have already pushed my caloric intake to the brink. I'm eating this dish with one eye blind. Thus, with a nod to the original recipe and a bit of a twist by adding lemon juice and zest ala Giada de Laurentis, here is my version of Fettuccini Danilo. Ooops, I meant, Alfredo! 

Fettuccini Alfredo

1 lb dried fettuccini
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and white pepper

1. Cook fettuccini as per packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking, 
    prepare the sauce. 

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Keep an eye on it
    and make sure it does not burn. 

3. Slowly add the heavy cream while stirring and continue to stir until the 
    cream is fully incorporated. 

4. Season with salt and white pepper. Slowly add the lemon juice and stir 
    quickly to prevent the cream from curdling. 

5. When the pasta is almost ready, add the milk and nutmeg into the sauce. 
    Turn off the heat and add half the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted
    into the sauce and check for flavor and adjust accordingly. 

6. Toss the fettuccini into the skillet and coat with the sauce.  Add the rest 
    of the Parmesan cheese and lemon zest and serve immediately. 

Fettuccini with Sweet Red Peppers

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Another healthy dish for the week is a product of my obsessive compulsive need to use an ingredient in my cupboard that stands like a sore thumb just because I bought it by mistake and have no use for it. The culprit, canned pimientos. I've searched for recipes that uses canned pimientos (sweet peppers) and what came up were recipes on how to can peppers. Well, that was not what I was looking for. Eventually, I tried searching for recipes that uses sweet red peppers in a pasta dish and a few good hits finally came through the web. 

One recipe that caught my attention was from Ree Drummond also known in television as the Pioneer Woman. I have seen her show a couple of times but I never really took to her recipes until now. Even so, my version is really rustic due to the fact that I have no blender in my kitchen (Hey, Santa! I'm being awfully good so a blender will come in handy for Christmas!). Come to think of it, maybe I should call myself the Mountain Man! Oh, and when I say rustic, I mean RUSTIC. Ree's version is short of nothing but decadent.

Anyway, this version is almost like a Spaghetti al Pomodoro Crudo except that I used half sweet pimientos and half ripe tomatoes. The dressing is definitely simple and very sparse but it really has a good balance in terms of flavor. I envisioned adding heavy cream to it but after tasting the dish sans cream, it was already delicious I dare not spoil it. This time, simple is definitely better. 

Fettuccini with Sweet Red Peppers

1/2 lb dried fettuccini
1 cup diced sweet pimientos
3 tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Basil leaves
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Cook the pasta as per packet directions. While the pasta is cooking, 
    prepare the sauce. 

2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil 
    and saute the garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook 
    until softened. 

3. Add the sweet peppers and cook until heated through. Add the broth and 
    bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. 

4. When the pasta is almost ready, add the tomatoes into the simmering 
    peppers. Toss the pasta into the skillet and coat with the sauce. Loosen 
    with some cooking water if a bit dry. 

5. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the cheese into the pasta. Serve with torn 
    basil leaves and a drizzling of olive oil.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Updated Waldorf Salad

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Uric acid is my new nemesis. It has always been a family nemesis and now, it is my turn to fight the battle to defeat this villainous purine derivative. However, I am prepared to meet this foe head on with recipes that are not only delicious but are also good for the body. Thus, this recipe of an updated Waldorf salad as taken from a list of recipes designed to combat high uric acid levels in the body.

My initial plan was to actually combine two recipes to create a salad dish that will rival two of the most classic salad recipes: the Waldorf and the Cobb salads. However, upon further deliberation, I decided to recreate individual versions of both dishes starting with the Waldorf salad. Created at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City, it is a simple salad that over the years have changed very little but remains a favorite among many. Given the fact that I'm too far away from a decent grocery store, I'm creating my version of the famous salad with a bit of a twist on some of the ingredients. One big change is the omission of walnuts in my recipe. I've looked on the internet and there are conflicting reports regarding walnuts and how it affects people with gout so I left it out. I'm also not a big fan of celery so out it goes and in with diced cucumbers. I'm hoping the purists will take it easy on me. 

Updated Waldorf Salad

1 Gala apple, cored and diced
1 small pear, cored and diced
2 cups greens (Romaine, iceberg or any type of lettuce you prefer)
1/8 cup raisins
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced roasted chicken (optional)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp lemon vinaigrette (or red wine vinaigrette)
1/4 cup walnuts, optional
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Prepare the dressing by mixing the mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of the 
    lemon vinaigrette until the vinaigrette is incorporated.

2. Toss the apples, pears, cucumber, raisins, and the roasted chicken if using 
    into the mayonnaise dressing. Season with half the grated cheese. 

3. In a large bowl, arrange the greens and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette. 
    Top with the salad mixture above and sprinkle with the remaining cheese 
    and walnuts if using. Serve immediately. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chicken Ragout

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
My first dish for this month is a healthy chicken dish due to my new dietary restriction to help lower my uric acid level. Frying is definitely out of the question for me right now so it is either roasted, steamed or poached meat. I'm also down to two meat choices, fish and chicken. Being careful to not choose a vegetable ingredient that is high in uric acid, I found this recipe in my Good Housekeeping cookbook and it seemed healthy enough and had the right ingredients that will be good for me and for anyone else for that matter. I'm glad my local store had zucchini at the moment and I did not have to substitute this rather hard to find vegetable in my neck of the woods.

Chicken Ragout - Adapted*

3 lbs chicken pieces
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large zucchini, diced to 1-inch cube
2 medium carrots, diced to 1-inch cube
1 28-oz canned whole tomatoes
2 cups broth
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Heat the oil in a large deep pan over medium high heat. Add the onions 
    and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 2 minutes or 
    until softened. 

2. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Allow to brown 
    slightly on all sides. Sprinkle with the dried herbs. 

3. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the chicken along with 
    the liquid in the can. Add the broth as well and bring to a boil. Once 
    boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes. 

4. Add the carrots and zucchini and cook uncovered until the vegetables are 
    soft but not mushy and the sauce has thickened.

5. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve garnished with basil or 
    parsley  leaves. 

*Good Housekeeping Step by Step Main Dishes, Westmoreland, S.: Editor, Hearst Books, New York:1997.