Sunday, January 28, 2007

Grilled Cajun Chicken Salad

Broke out my new countertop grill/griddle/panini press tonight, for the "grilling" part of this Grilled Cajun Chicken Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing from Epicurious.

Cajun Chicken Salad

Tasty, yes. "Cajun" or "Spicy", no. I'll make it again, but with at least twice the cayenne pepper the recipe calls for, maybe a bit more. I found a nice arugula and baby greens mix for the salad, and had a hunk of sourdough bread on the side (because a carb-free meal is NOT a meal for me). The dressing is excellent; it could even be almost-healthy, if you used low-fat mayonnaise. It's creamy and tangy, exactly what ranch dressing is supposed to be like.

Cajun Chicken Salad

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Semolina gnocchi

I have a bit of a tradition of making myself a nice dinner on the first night of the 24 season premiere each year. I'll sit there watching all the glorious violence, with my lovely meal and a glass of wine... Yes, the premiere of 24 is an event for me.

Beef and gnocchi

This year's offering was Giada De Laurentiis's Involtini of Beef, with her Gnocchi alla Romana (semolina gnocchi). Both recipes are from an episode of Everyday Italian about Roman cuisine. The gnocchi in particular were something I'd been wanting to make for a while. Semolina flour and chicken broth, cooked until it's the consistency of polenta, then mixed with an egg and spread on a cookie sheet to cool. As the mixture cools, it hardens to a point where it can be cut into pieces. Those pieces are arranged in a dish, topped with butter and cheese, and broiled. Relatively little work, really nice payoff.

I'm working my way up to potato gnocchi.

Semolina gnocchi

Kinda pretty, no?

The beef involtini are thin slices of beef rolled around a a veggie stuffing, cooked in a tomato sauce... also very good, but really, I made this meal because I wanted to try the gnocchi. :) They were a nice change from rice or pasta... this is a definite repeat dish for me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Skillet chicken pot pie

Got this one from The Best 30-Minute Recipe, from the editors of Cook's Illustrated. Mine took a bit longer than 30 minutes because I went off from the recipe a little, but it was still quick.

Nice premise, though. Make a pot pie filling in a skillet, bake the top (I used biscuits) while the filling cooks, then top the cooked filling with the baked biscuits. And since the Cook's Illustrated people say that whack-a-dough biscuits are absolutely acceptable, I used a roll of Pillsbury Grands biscuits for the top. :)

Skillet pot pie

For mine, I made the filling (chicken, onion, celery, carrot, peas, corn, with a sauce made from chicken broth, white wine, and heavy cream), then topped it with the uncooked biscuits and stuck the skillet in the oven. I wanted the biscuits to soak up some of the sauce as they baked, which added about 20 minutes or so on to the total time. It reheats very well, and the presence of LOTS of vegetables makes up for the heavy cream... at least, that's what I told myself. This was definitely a winner: one-pot meals RULE, and this one had a lot of flavor.