Monday, March 30, 2020

Rick’s Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Since so many of you liked my humble Chicken Noodle Casserole here’s another oldie but goodie comfort food recipe. If you have the time (and who doesn’t these days) make your best meat sauce. Or, as per this recipe, brown some ground beef and/or Italian sausage, put it in some good jarred sauce, add some cheese, and Roberto is your uncle.
1 lb. Ziti (or Penne)
1 lb. ground beef (or bulk Italian sausage, or a mixture of the two)
½ cup sturdy red wine
2 jars of good spaghetti sauce (I like Rao’s or Emeril’s)
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 8 oz. packages of whole milk mozzarella
2 cups sour cream (or ricotta cheese)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Boil  plentiful water for pasta while you brown the ground beef over medium high heat. Cook the pasta for about 8 minutes, drain and add a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
When the ground beef has no pink in it, add the wine and let it boil down for a few minutes. Add the jars of sauce, add the oregano, and let it all cook down for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 f.
Grease a standard baking pan with olive oil or Pam. Put about a cup of the sauce in the baking dish and spread it evenly. Add half the pasta, the sour cream spread evenly, and one package of the cheese. Add the other half of the pasta, half of the remaining cheese, and the rest of the sauce. Finally, cover with the remaining cheese package and the Parmigiano.
Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the cheese on top begins to brown.
Serve with a salad (or frozen green beans, as we did) and a sturdy red wine.
(Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2020)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Rick’s Pandemic Chicken Noodle Casserole

Since Price Chopper cancelled my pick-up order, I have turned to my pantry to feed the six of us (a couple of my grandchildren and their parents are quarantining with us.) You know those cans of chicken breast you bought at Costco or BJ’s in case you wanted to make chicken salad or there was a pandemic, now is their time to shine.
This is a one dish casserole that many people (my wife included) had so much as a child that she can’t bear to look at it. I kinda like it. It’s not the typical recipe I put up here, but everything is different now.
1 lb. egg noodles or other pasta
2 12.5 cans of of chicken breast in water (or leftover cooked chicken)
1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup (yes, I know, stay with me here)
1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
1 package of frozen peas, thawed more or less
2 cups of cheese (cheddar or whatever you’ve got)
1 cup of Mayonnaise
Bread crumbs (or Panko or crumble crackers for topping)
1 stick of melted butter to put on top of the crumbs
Boil water for the noodles. Preheat the oven to 350 f.
In a large bowl put the two soups, mayo, peas, cheeses. Stir to mix.
Drain the pasta, and mix it in the bowl.
Butter a baking dish and put  the whole smear in it.
Cover with the crumbs. Pour the melted butter over it.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until it is bubbling and the top is browned and crispy.
Let it cool for a few minutes.
Serve with your favorite box wine, red or white. I suggest red.
Stay safe, wash your hands. God bless you. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken with Mushrooms and Broccoli

We have an Asian dish at least once a week in our rotation. My wife loves mushrooms and broccoli, so this easy chicken stir-fry is always a hit.
1 Lb boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced (You could also use boneless, skinless thighs)
8 ounces white button mushrooms, stems removed. Cut any big ones in half
2 tablespoons  peanut oil
A good sized broccoli crown cut into florets
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth (or water if you don’t have broth on hand)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1  teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Sesame seeds (you can toast them if you want to get fancy)
Two chopped scallions
Put the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk to combine.
Add the sliced chicken to the bowl with the sauce and let it marinate for at least a half hour in the fridge. (Pro tip: put the chicken in the freezer for half an hour before to firm it up before slicing. It makes it easier to get nice slices.)
Put a wok or skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. When the oil shimmers add the broccoli. Stir-fry for about five minutes, adjusting the heat so it doesn’t burn. Put the broccoli on a plate.
Put another tablespoon of peanut oil in the wok, and when the oil shimmers add the mushrooms and stir-fry until they give up their liquid and are nicely browned, about three or four minutes. Put them on another plate.
Add the chicken and the sauce to the wok over high heat.  Stir-fry for about five or six minutes, then add the mushrooms and stir to coat them with sauce. Then add the broccoli and stir to cover with sauce for a minute or two. Pour it all into a warm serving dish and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve over rice.
(Photo by R.L. Floyd, 2020)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Rick’s Nearly Moroccan Beef Tagine

I don’t own a tagine (the vessel) but you can make a very good facsimile of a tagine (the dish) in a Dutch oven, which is the way I have done it here. For authenticity this would typically be lamb, but I had a nice chuck roast and, as you know, good home cooking is all about innovation and flexibility so beef it was tonight. Don’t be scared of making this, it is basically a pot roast. I know you can do it. You can make it hot by adding cayenne pepper, but be prudent.
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 chuck roast (about 3 LBS give or take)
1 yellow onion slice fine
4 carrots, peeled and cut into two inch pieces
1 14 OZ can of diced tomatoes
1 TBS Ras El Hanout (McCormick makes a version of this Moroccan spice blend)
1 TBS honey
8 whole green cardamom pods
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
10 pieces dried apricots
10 pieces dried Bing cherries (You can get these at Trader Joe’s, or use prunes)
2 whole Cinnamon sticks broken in half.
Salt and Pepper.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Proceed as you would when making a pot roast by browning the meat over high heat in the Dutch oven (salt and pepper it) on the stove top, turning the meat with tongs and adjusting the heat so you brown it but don’t burn it.
Remove the browned meat to a plate, reduce the heat, and sauté the onions and carrots in the Dutch oven until they have caramelized a bit, about five minutes or so.
Add the canned tomatoes, the Ras El Hanout, honey, cardamom pods, garlic, apricots, cherries (or prunes) and the cinnamon sticks. Add a half cup of water in the tomato can and stir it all. Bring it to a boil, put the meat on top of the sauce, cover it, put it in the oven and cook it for 3 hours. You can turn it half way or just leave it.
Let it sit for five minutes and then cut it up. It should be falling apart and fork tender. Serve over couscous or rice.
(Photo: R. L. Floyd 2017)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rick's Paprika Chicken

paprika-chicken-2Sometime on the proverbial “cold winter’s night” you may want to cook this for your family and/or friends. It’s about as easy as it gets, and no one ever complains.
I have several versions of chicken paprikash, (mushrooms are great in it) but this is the simplest.
 2 TBS canola oil
1 TBS unsalted butter
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TBS good paprika (You know, that good Hungarian kind in the red can. I use mostly sweet with a few dashes of hot. Adjust to your taste.)
1 14 oz. good chopped or diced canned tomatoes
1 cup good chicken stock
½ cup of sour cream
Salt and pepper
Heat your oil and butter in a wide pan (with a lid for later) over medium high heat until it foams. Wipe your chicken pieces with a paper towel so they will brown. Season them generously with salt and pepper. Put them in the pan and brown them on both sides, adjusting your heat so they brown but don’t burn.
When nicely brown remove them to a plate, turn the heat down to medium low and put your onions in the pan, and stir. When they are getting light brown (about 4 minutes) toss in the garlic and stir for a minute or two.
Add the paprika and flour and stir into the onion/garlic mixture until they are well blended. Cook and stir until for a few minutes to get the floury taste out. But don’t burn it!
Add the stock and tomatoes and stir. It should thicken up. If it is too thick add a little more stock. When it is bubbling nicely put the chicken pieces back in the pan, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, put the lid on it, and time it for 30 minutes, turning the pieces at half-time.
When the timer goes if the sauce is thin (it most likely won’t be) remove the chicken and simmer the sauce down. If it is too thick add some more stock.
Adding the sour cream is a bit tricky because it can curdle, but I know you can do it! Here’s what to do. Put the sour cream in a small bowl, and add some of the hot sauce to it a little bit at a time, and whisk it in. Keep adding small amounts and whisk. Then add it to pan with the sauce and stir. This should keep the sour cream from curdling.
Serve over buttered wide egg noodles, with a salad or the green vegetable of your choice. Add a sturdy (but not austere) red wine with some fruit to it, and you will be in comfort food land. Enjoy!
(Photos by R.L. Floyd. 2016)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rick's Blackened Red Snapper

The late great Paul Prudhomme, who died last year, brought Cajun cookery to national attention with his 1984 classic Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. His most iconic recipe was “blackened redfish.” Redfish was a humble fish that suddenly was in high demand. His recipe called for scorching high heat. I made it several times and it was delicious, but set off the fire alarms.
I bought some beautiful Red Snapper today from my friend Mike Mazzeo at Guido’s Marketplace and wondered how to cook it without smoking up the kitchen.
After some research I found a kinder, gentler version of Prudhomme’s recipe on-line from Mario Batali using the Red Snapper, which is a really great fish no matter how you make it.
So I made it tonight with a few of my own tweaks and it came out great, and didn’t set off the fire alarms. I have an ancient 10-inch cast iron skillet, which works like a charm. Once you make the spice mixture, the rest is just keeping an eye on the heat of your pan.
If you don’t like hot and spicy food this one is probably not for you (though if you substitute more Paprika for the Cayenne you can make it less hot.) This recipe is for two, but can be doubled by doing more batches. Add more oil and butter before starting a new batch.
Cajun Seasoning Mixture:
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
1 Teaspoon Paprika (I used Smoked Paprika because I love it)
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 6-8 ounce fresh Red Snapper fillets about ½ inch to ¾ inch thick.
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat until it is hot and add the oil and butter. When the butter foams, dredge the fish fillets in the spice mixture and put them in the pan skin side down.
Cook for five minutes. Turn the fish and cook for another minute.
Remove and serve with lemon wedges.
(Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2016)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Grilled Hoisin Sauce/lime juice/Sambal Olek marinated shrimp

We often grill shrimp in the summer for a quick dinner. I have no single recipe, but many of my variations utilize the wonderful fresh flavors of Asia.
Here’s a marinade that people seem to enjoy:
1 TBS Hoisin Sauce
Juice of ½ of a lime
1 TSP hot pepper sauce. I like Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce, but you can use Tabasco or Franks’s
1 TSP peanut oil
1 TSP sesame oil
1 TSP good soy sauce
Whisk it all together and marinate your cleaned and deveined shrimp for no more than a half an hour.
Thread the shrimp on skewers.
Prepare a hot fire. Cook the shrimp 3 or 4 minutes to a side.
Serve over rice or (as in this photo) lovely cold sesame noodles.
(Photo: R. L. Floyd, 2016)