Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Canned goods

We all know they're convenient, but studies continue to show that canned food is just not good for long term health. The first article you might want to read discusses the need for FDA regulation on sodium levels in processed foods - known to heighten heart health concerns related to high blood pressure. (Thank you, Mike, for sharing this link with me.)

The second is a call to ban the use of hazardous BPAs, found in the lining of metal cans. (Thank you, Shaun, for bringing this one to my attention.) Better off just stopping by the produce market on the way home from work...

Chicken Cacciatore/ Barbecue Chicken Stromboli

These dishes pull chicken legs in different directions
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | May 19, 2010

Chicken legs are often overlooked in favor of their leaner counterpart, boneless, skinless breasts. Legs have more flavor and usually cost much less pound for pound. For this dish, choose leg quarters, which means the legs and thighs are attached. Simmer them in a quick cacciatore, and while the dish is bubbling away in the oven, put on a pot of rice. Ladle the sauce over the rice, and top each portion with a leg. Pour a glass of Chianti, set aside some of the chicken for tomorrow, and settle in for a nice meal.

Stromboli is Philadelphia’s answer to the calzone, an Italian treat made by forming a half moon with pizza dough and filling it with traditional pizza toppings. Typically loaded with mozzarella and pepperoni, stromboli is shaped more like a burrito than a calzone. Start by stretching pizza dough with your hands (you don’t have to make it; many markets and pizza shops sell the dough by the pound), taking care not to tear any holes. Once the dough grows to a size that no longer seems manageable, set it on a baking sheet, and continue stretching until it fills the pan.

Mix leftover, shredded, chicken and cacciatore sauce with bottled barbecue sauce and mozzarella. Mound the filling in the center of the dough and seal it. Brush with an egg wash so the top browns. Once the stromboli bakes, let it cool for a few minutes. If you slice it too hot, the pieces will not hold together. Don’t fret over minor blowouts; simply tuck the filling back inside with a spoon. Serve with a salad, so you get nutrition plus comfort.

Chicken cacciatore

Serves 4 with leftovers

Serve this old-fashioned Italian-American dish with rice.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, cored and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
10 green olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
6 chicken leg quarters

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. In a large flameproof casserole, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until vegetables soften.

2. Stir in oregano, tomatoes, olives, wine, and water. Bring liquid to a boil. Remove pan from heat.

3. Sprinkle chicken legs with salt and pepper. Place the legs in the pan, skin side up, leaving the skin exposed.

4. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the chicken is brown and pulling away from the bone. Reserve 1 cup of sauce and 2 whole legs for the stromboli.

Chicken stromboli

Serves 4

Pizza dough is sold by the pound. You can buy good commercially made dough in many markets and pizza shops.

Olive oil (for the pan)
2 whole cooked chicken legs, skinned and shredded
1 cup leftover cacciatore sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound pizza dough
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Oil a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. Remove the skin and bones from the legs. Shred the meat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the cacciatore and barbecue sauces, mozzarella, salt, and pepper.

3. Begin to stretch the pizza dough in your hands, holding it above the counter. When you can’t stretch it anymore, set it in the pan, and continue stretching the dough until it fills the pan completely.

4. Place the chicken mixture in a long thin lengthwise mound down the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border at the ends. Fold over the edges of dough on both short sides.

5. Fold the closest edge of the dough over the filling. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg mixture on the dough.

6. Roll the encased filling away from you toward the top of the pan, so the stromboli seam is now on the bottom.

7. Brush the entire stromboli with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut three shallow diagonal slits on top of the dough making sure not to cut all the way through the dough.

8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly through the holes.

9. Remove from the oven, and set aside for 10 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife.

Lemon-Pecan Butter Cookies

Lemon-pecan butter cookies

I styled these cookies a while back, and I'll have you know that they are irresistable. Many times, we pawn off the results of styling or recipe testing on unsuspecting neighbors or friends like Suzan and Bryan. Other times, the temptation to scarf down the entire batch before the goodies even have a chance of being transported is far too great. This was one of those times, and I am sad to say that after popping 6 in my mouth while shooting the photo, I promptly dumped the rest into the trash. Willpower has never been my forte. The cakey treats remind me of my grandmother's pecan crescents, but they aren't as cloyingly sweet - probably due to the addition of lemon. The best part is that they are surprisingly simple -- a great project to get husbands and kids into the kitchen! (Although, in many of my friends' homes, it is the women who need the call of an easy recipe to invite them into a room of the house rarely entered!) Click on the link to view the recipe in full.


Parmesan Clams from the Boston Globe 5.19.10

Serves 4

In Chile, where this popular dish is called machas a la parmigiana, you’ll find it made with Pacific razor clams. New England littlenecks make a fine substitute. Although Parmesan and shellfish seem an unlikely pair, the results are delectable. Steam the bivalves open, and then thicken the juices with a little cornstarch to maintain the briny sea flavors and balance the richness of the cheese. Here, the cheese is a combination of Asiago and Parmesan. The clams combine elements of the Mediterranean and the Pacific. Serve this appetizer before big bowls of pasta dinner or as part of a barbecue.

3 tablespoons white wine
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
18 littleneck clams
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Turn on the broiler. Have on hand a 12-inch baking dish.

2. In a large pot, bring the wine, garlic, and olive oil to a boil. Add the clams and cover with the lid. Steam clams for 5 minutes or until they just begin to open.

3. Using a slotted spoon, remove clams from the liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle.

4. Stir the water and cornstarch until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture and lemon juice into the clam cooking liquid and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until it thickens. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.

5. Snap off and discard the top of each clam shell. Loosen the clam meat from the other shell, but do not remove it. Set the clams in the dish.

6. Add a spoonful of cooking liquid to each clam. In a bowl, mix the Asiago and Parmesan cheeses. Top the clams with grated cheese.

7. Broil the clams, checking them often, for 5 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.