Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yet another catch-up post...

I'm back with another recipe filled post to try and catch up on our meals! I do have a small kitchen update - the work is almost complete, save the large granite piece for the new cabinets. We had planned on trying to match what was already in place, but it has been a few years since the previous owners did their kitchen renovation and while the slabs of stone we looked at recently were close, it wasn't exact. It would have looked like we did a poor job trying to match it. In the end, we chose a piece that drew on the same colors, yet had a completely different flow - hopefully this was a good choice!

A recipe for Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken is up first. This is a flavorful, yet simple, take on oven-fried chicken that Jeff and I both said we can't wait to make again after we cleaned our plates. I say simple because there is no typical triple breading process involved - just a leisurely dunk in tangy buttermilk and Dijon mustard combo, then a quick dredge through the crunchy coating. This isn't any ordinary breadcrumb coating either - made from panko breadcrumbs, chopped walnuts, a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fresh rosemary, the mixture definitely speaks for itself.

Panko is already texturally crisper than regular breadcrumbs, but to give it an edge, we gave the crumbs a light toast in a skillet first. Instead of putting the chicken on a baking sheet, where the bottom usually ends up fairly soggy using the oven-fried method, we placed them a rack to allow the hot air in the oven to flow all around the sides of the chicken. If you don't have a rack, I'd suggest pre-heating the baking sheet for 5 minutes or so to get it rocket hot - this way the crust on the bottom gets a jump start.

When the fresh corn was practically singing off the farmers' market stands with sweetness as they came into peak season, we snatched a ton of ears. We ate much of it right off the cob, but like squirrels, we stashed a good amount of it in the freezer for later use. We thawed some of it recently to bring a taste of summer into this chilly fall weather, making this Fettuccine with Fresh Corn Pesto for dinner.

The corn "pesto" was fantastic and a snap to make, with the corn and garlic first cooked in a couple spoonfuls of bacon fat for a bit of richness. Made like a regular pesto, blitzed in a food processor with Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and quality extra-virgin olive oil. It does make much more than I'd comfortably feel dressing a measy half pound of pasta the original recipe called for, so I bumped up the pasta to 12 ounces and felt that was a better fit. Don't be concerned if you find the pesto quite thick after being made - once it is added to the hot pasta, a few splashes of the starchy cooking water will thin it out nicely. We thought this was quite creamy, especially with no dairy cream involved!

The other dish we made in the past couple of weeks, Broccoli, Beef and Potato Hotdish, was prepared mainly because we needed a good dose of comfort on one of the first fairly chilly days we have felt since moving to Charlotte. The recipe is a take on a classic hotdish-type meal (and given my extreme pickiness growing up, in Minnesota where hotdish is a staple no less, I never could bring myself to try it), though this is made with a healthier spin to it.

Underneath the crispy topping is a mixture of browned ground sirloin, onion and fresh garlic, seasoned with ample amounts of Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. On top went a generous amount of roasted broccoli, followed by a drenching of homemade sharp cheddar cheese sauce. Rather than tater tots, which you are more likely to see on top, this take uses shredded potatoes mixed with an egg, hot Hungarian paprika and cayenne pepper for zip.

We made the shredded potatoes fresh from a barely boiled russet potato, but you could make life easier by using frozen (or even the refrigerated variety if you can find them) shredded hash browns. We prepared this in individual baking dishes, but feel free to go family-style - just layer all the ingredients into a larger 9" x 13" pan. You could also prepare this up to the point of adding the hash browns a day ahead of time and keep it chilled, or stash it in the freezer, unbaked, for a couple months - just let it thaw in the refrigerator for a couple of days, then let it stand at room temperature for half an hour before baking to serve.



  1. Corn pesto? Can you even DO that??

  2. Great post! I’m looking to make some changes in my own eating habits and learning to cook, so I appreciate your insight a lot! Thank you. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I did yours and I thought your readers may appreciate it:

    I’ve started to look for blog help more regularly and I think I’m going to add your blog to my list as well. Thanks for the post!


  3. Anon - Apparently so!

    Amy - Thanks for the comment, Amy!

  4. Sounds like a tasty dish. I might try this out in the upcoming holidays.