Friday, April 27, 2012

healthy weekday meals, and some treats...

I have been making a roasted chicken on Monday's lately, I like it because it's easy, you have a delicious and great comfort meal with the option to make chicken soup, stock or just left over chicken for chicken salad sandwiches the next day.  I make it different every week....different herbs, sometimes lemon in the carcass, sometimes I baste it every 15 minutes, sometimes no basting.  I think the best so far is to leave the chicken out at room temperature for an hour or even slightly longer so it gets closer to room temperature (which helps with even cooking), separate the skin from the flesh on the breasts and "schmear" 1-2 Tbsp of softened butter under the skin of each side of the chicken breast; and make sure the skin is dry because the skin will never get crisp if its not dry.  I like thyme or rosemary in the carcass and even under the skin with the butter.  Make sure to season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper ( it really comes through in the end), season the skin with kosher salt and pepper, tie the legs together and put it in a hot oven, 500 degrees for 15 minutes in the upper third rack.  After the chicken is in there for 15 minutes turn down the temperature to 350 and roast about another hour, sometimes an hour and 15 minutes.  It depends on the size, I think Whole Foods usually gives me a 3 1/2 to 4 Lb bird.  Baste by brushing the fat that drips to the bottom of the pan ( I use a cast iron skillet and rest the chicken on either carrots or celery, just to keep it off the drippings), every 15 minutes or so.  You want to take the temperature between the leg and thigh and it should be about 175-180 degrees or so (165 degrees,  because of the bones comes out sightly under-done). 

I served slices of fresh whole wheat boule and a baby kale salad with roasted tomatoes and Parmesan along with the roast chicken. 

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with a Porcini Mushroom Puree
I saw this on the show "the best thing I ever made, Italian".  This was Scott Conant's recipe, who is a chef with Italian restaurants and he is one of the judges on Chopped.  He made this Gnudi which is the filling of a ravioli without the pasta.  I found the recipe for you here.  It's really good and for someone who hasn't made their own pasta, this is a good start.  We loved the mushroom sauce, and the light as air gnudi... no fat in the sauce and very healthy.  Good stuff!!

Pork tenderloin and Prunes
I love this Jacques Pepin recipe that I have made a few times in the past.  I served millet and slow cooked shaved fennel which went very nicely with the pork.  To make 2 servings this is what I did.  Soak about 12 dried prunes in hot water for 1-2 hours then drain and cover with port wine until you are ready to cook them.  Cut 1 pork tenderloin into 2 inch angled pieces, season with salt and pepper.  Brown the pork in a saute pan with a little canola oil for about 5 minutes then remove to a warm oven while you make the sauce.  Add a Tbsp of shallots for 30 seconds then 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup chicken stock and the port and prunes, reduce for about 5 minutes until lightly thickened.  Add a scant Tbsp of black-currant jam (or similar) and a scant Tbsp of ketchup.  Heat to melt the jam and add the pork with juices back into the sauce, heat through.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

At Whole Foods they had a big package of raspberries on sale for 5.99 where the tiny pint size was 4.99 so I grabbed the big one.  I decided to make a fresh raspberry sauce by dropping some into a blender with a squeeze of lemon juice and a couple Tbsp of confectioners sugar.  Blend it and strain it, then add whole raspberries.  I used it for 2 desserts this week, here they are....

This one has the fruit puree and a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt and fresh mint.

This one has the fruit puree with some homemade vanilla creme anglaise (vanilla beans make all the difference).  When you make the creme anglaise it's just egg yolks so I was left with 2 egg whites and I decided to whip them with 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks then I folded in some ground almonds (almond flour) and a pinch of salt.  I dropped them on a Silpat lined cookie sheet and made some cookies.  300 degree oven for about 45 minutes and they went nicely on top of this dessert.

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