Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Chopped Apple Salad & Meeting Bobby Flay

I had the privilege of receiving free tickets to attend the New York Food & Wine Festival again this year, courtesy of ShopRite, as a Potluck featured blogger.  I had the opportunity to taste lots of fabulous foods, and try out many of ShopRite's new products that their tasting pavilion.  In addition, I had the opportunity to have a photo taken with and of course meet one of my favorite chefs from the Food Network - Bobby Flay.  As a huge fan of cooking his recipes over the years, and watching him on Iron Chef America, I got him to sign a copy of his Bar American cookbook, and since then I've been cooking tons of recipes from it that we have really enjoyed. Here's the first recipe of several that we enjoyed trying out from his new cookbook.  It's a crisp, chopped apple salad with blue cheese that is healthy and perfect for fall!

Chopped Apple Salad (recipe adapted from Bobby Flay)
4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used granny smith apples)
5 oz baby spinach (the original recipe only calls for 2 oz but I like more)
2 large heads of belgian endive, thinly sliced crosswise
1 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2 lbs crumbled blue cheese (about two cups)

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
3 T pomegranate molasses
2 T red wine vinegar
1 heaping T dijon mustard
1 T honey
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

Combine the ingredients for the salad and toss in the vinaigrette. Happy fall!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Biscotti

I've been craving some good biscotti for awhile now so I figured I'd make my own chocolate biscotti with almonds.  I've always been a big fan of Dave Lebovitz, an American chef cooking from my beloved city of Paris, who focuses on the sweet life in Paris - desserts and pastries.  I came across this recipe for chocolate biscotti on Dave's blog, and it's truly great - decadently chocolate, crisp biscotti, perfect for dunking in a nice cup of hot tea (sorry i don't drink coffee, but you get the idea).  It's also not that difficult to make, either and made a nice large batch that you can enjoy for a couple of weeks as long as you store them in an airtight container.  This recipe is a great way to start the day with a cup of tea, or coffee if you prefer, and reminds me the chocolate croissants starting off a morning in Paris.

Dave Lebovitz's chocolate biscotti
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips
For the galze
1 large egg
2 T of coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat togther the eggs, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. I did this using a stand mixer.  Then I mixed in the dry ingredients, nuts and chocolate chips until the dough holds together in the mixer.  It doesn't quite come together in the mixer on its own - you're going to need to pull it together with your hands - very chocolatey!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and divide the dough in half.  Roll the dough into two long logs, nearly the length of the baking sheet. Flatten the tops of the logs and glaze with the remaining egg. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until the dough is firm to the touch.

Remove the dough from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Use a serrated knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2 inch slices.  Lay the cookies cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how crisp you like you biscotti. For my oven, which is brand new, I found 20 minutes to be perfect.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Chicken Pot Pie

I made chicken pot pie, my first savory pie (I'm a pro at sweet pies, but never did a savory one until now) for the meal before the Yom Kippur fast last weekend. A little but un-traditional, but when served with apples and honey and a nice challah, it made for the perfect meal, with plenty of leftovers too.  The filling is easy, and you simply prepare a savory pie crust, which is very similar to a sweet crust.  I used butter in the crust - not so healthy, but in my view makes for a much better crust than margarine or all-crisco.  So, take it as you will - this is a special meal, rather than a regular, everyday healthy meal.  It was enjoyed by all and was the perfect meal with plenty of leftovers.  My top crust fell apart a but when I was putting on the pie, so the pictures aren't dazzling, but trust me it tasted really, really good.

Chicken Pot Pie filling (from this recipe from chef Emeril Lagasse)
6 T butter (I used canola oil instead)
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
6 T flour
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup half and half
2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup sweet peas
2 cups shredded chicken (from boiled chicken breasts)
2 T finely chopped parsley

Savory Pie Crust (from Bon Appetit Magazine, 2011)
3 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks butter, chopped (cold) (you could use margarine if you prefer but the result won't be as good)
1/2 cup crisco
1/2 cup ice water (approximate)

To make the crust, mix the chopped butter with the flour/salt/baking powder by hand, and add in the crisco.  Follow the instructions from my apple pie, as they are similar - but this makes a harder, savory crust.  Then slowly add the ice water until it just forms a dough.  You may need a little less than the half cup that the recipe calls for.  Form into two balls of dough and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Roll out one for the bottom of the pie and one for the top, following the instructions for the apple pie bottom.  Make the top in a flat sheet to cover the chicken pot pie filling as you don't use a lattice for savory pies.

To make the filling, in a large saute pan add the onions and celery to the canola oil (or melted butter) and saute for two minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir the flour and cook three to four minutes for a blond roux.  Add the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for four to six minutes, until the sauce thickens to a gravy like consistency.  Add the half and half and continue to cook for four minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the potatoes, carrots, peas and chicken.  You can prepare a 9 inch circular pie like I did, or a rectangle pie in a nine by eleven inch baking dish.  Pour the filling on to of the bottom crust.  Roll out toe top crust and cover.  Tuck the degrees to form a tick edge and crimp the edges of the pie.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees until golden brown and crispy.
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