Monday, April 27, 2009

Electric Rotisserie – Your New Best KMH

Some girls go gaga over the newest JimmyChoo shoes. Some guys go ape over their latest fantasy football trades, but when it comes to a new kitchen doohickey, we foodies put fashion AND sports on the back burner! My friends, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite acronym: your next “kitchen must have” or (KMH). These days mine is Cuisinart’s Electric Rotisserie! It’s a new countertop cooker that turns out exceptionally juicy, evenly roasted foods by rotating them on a vertical spit. If you want to lock in flavor and juices while draining away unwanted fat and grease, this is your KHM!

This rotisserie is equipped with a programmable touch-pad control, LCD readout and auto-shutoff. Removable, easy-to-clean chrome inserts reflect heat as the rotisserie turns, providing the most consistent cooking temperature possible. Five preset oven temperature settings – ranging from 325°F to 450°F – and a three-hour countdown timer offer pinpoint heat control.

Whew! Am I done cheerleading for this particular KMH? Not by a long shot! The rotisserie chamber’s generous size accommodates food as large as an 8-lb. roast; its brushed-stainless-steel exterior complements any kitchen decor and, thanks to a non-stick interior, easily wipes clean. Accessories include a recipe book, an eight-piece skewer set, a roasting rack, a poultry tower, a multipurpose basket and a drip tray. And, he best part? It’s all dishwasher safe!

My fellow foodie friend, Lucy, recently purchased this electric rotisserie and gave it a test drive. Her rating is ***** five-stars!! My first question to Lucy was, is the appliance light enough to move around? Not many of us have enough counter space to display the unit when it is not in use, necessitating storage space in a closet or under a counter. Lucy’s response, “Yes, it’s easy to move. I can store in on a shelf and bring it out when needed.” Just to make absolutely, positively sure, I went to my local Williams-Sonoma store and, without messing up their stunning display, lifted the unit to find that it is, indeed, light weight!

On the day of the “test drive” Lucy picked up a 7 pound chicken and headed back home to give it a go. To begin, she injected the chicken with a mixture of herbs, lemon juice and melted butter. Per the instructions that came with the oven, she tied the chicken’s legs together and placed it onto the rack. She then brushed the outside of the chicken with the remaining melted butter and sprinkled it with a dash of herbs. Into the rotisserie goes the chicken. She closed the door, set the temperature and 1 ½ hours later, out came THE most delicious roasted chicken! Lucy was sure to note that she cooked the chicken at 325 degrees instead of the recommended 400 degrees. She used a thermometer to determine doneness. Next time, she plans to cook the chicken at the higher temperature. Lucy raves that the cleanup was a breeze, as promised and confides that her next project will be a beef roast. (Let’s see if we can wrangle an invitation to dinner for that one!!)

Before I get cookin’ on my next dinner, I’ll leave you with the good news: although the new, electric rotisserie is pricy, retailing at $365, it sells for $199.95 on Amazon and at If you have an outdoor grill with a rotisserie attachment, you can achieve a similar result. Another option is to use a non-stick vertical roaster in the oven (there is also grilling king, Steven Raichlen’s, beer can version, designed for the outdoor grill). Place the injected, seasoned chicken onto the roaster and into a roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place the chicken into the oven. Reduce the temperature to 375 and cook the chicken until a thermometer reaches the desired amount of doneness (about 185 degrees).

Whether using your new rotisserie oven, your outdoor grill, your indoor oven or a combination of all, the recipe for Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter from my book Fresh Traditions will get you well on your way to a yummy chicken supper – one to share with family and friends.

Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

An upright roaster is a great tool to use when roasting chicken. The chicken sits up and browns evenly on all sides. Stuffing the cavity of the chicken with orange segments keeps it extra moist.

½ cup organic butter, room temperature (1 stick)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 (4 to 5-pound) free range certified 100% organic chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 whole orange, cut into wedges
½ cup sherry

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix together the softened butter with the herbs. Use your hands to cover the chicken with the herb butter. (Use your fingers to gently loosen the skin and place some of the butter between the skin and the meat.) Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place the orange sections into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken onto an upright roaster (or on a rack) in a roasting pan. Pour the sherry over the chicken.

Place the chicken into the oven. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
Bake until the skin is crisp and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes per pound.

Servings: 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 to 60 minutes

Sources and Substitutions
Choose a humanely raised chicken that is free of hormones and antibiotics for the most healthful results. Check out for more information.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chicken Teriyaki with Golden Cauliflower

I simply hate to throw away food – so I don’t! I’m constantly inventing new dishes to serve my family, using ingredients salvaged from the back of the fridge’s vegetable drawer (in this case the cauliflower, last piece of ginger and lonely lemon). If you have time in the morning, you can marinate the chicken and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. Serve with some rice, pasta or a bit of cooked polenta to make this a family favorite!

2 boneless, skinless, double chicken breasts, cut in half, 4 portions
¼ cup prepared teriyaki sauce
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 1 tablespoon
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, veins removed, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1 medium head “golden” cauliflower cut into florets, about 3 cups
½ cup home made vegetable broth, or prepared low sodium vegetable broth
½ large lemon juiced, about 2 tablespoons
Zest of 1 medium lemon, about 2 teaspoons
Freshly ground pepper

Place the chicken into a shallow dish. Cover with teriyaki sauce. Stir in the garlic and ginger. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove the chicken breast from the marinade and place into the pan. Cook until golden on one side, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and cook until golden on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil and keep warm.

Add the onion, pepper and cauliflower to the pan. Cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Pour in the vegetable broth and add the chicken breasts back into the pan. Simmer until the vegetables are soft, and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with lemon juice, lemon zest and freshly ground pepper.

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Sources and Substitutions
Golden cauliflower is one of the new varieties of veggies that are rapidly making their way to your grocer’s shelf (like those purple potatoes or white carrots). The flavor of the veggie is basically the same and you can substitute with what ever you can find that looks most fresh!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April Showers Bring - A New Baby!

I recently hosted a ladies luncheon and shower honoring my best friend , Doreen’s expectant daughter. Her baby boy is due in May and will be Doreen’s first grandchild. A tale of new beginnings like this one inspired us (my co-hostess was another best pal) to create a backyard Spring tableau. The setting was my South Florida back deck, newly planted with flowering vegetation and young hibiscus. With springtime in mind, I designed tablescapes meant to come alive: there were whimsical watering pitcher sculptures, sunflowers and brightly colored linens. The guests’ favors (multi-colored flower pots stuffed with fresh bouquets) were integrated into the tablescape for a blooming-centerpiece effect. The outcome was stunning.

I chose a menu that featured old and new. A simple array of home made chips and flatbreads were the foundation of the appy table. Caramelized onion dip (a sort of kicked-up Lipton’s Onion Soup Dip!!) was just perfect for white potato chip dipping. Home made sweet potato chips plunged into “a really rich blue cheese dip” and thyme infused flatbreads surrounded my “Not Your Mama’s Guacamole” guac. It was really yummy!!
Luncheon plates featured a bowl of ice cold gazpacho soup, a tart filled with smoked cheese, caramelized onions, crisp bacon and spinach, as well as my favorite girly (because it’s so delicate) salad of mixed greens, strawberries and brie cheese. A platter of assorted home baked goodies was passed around (and around) each table until it was time to open gifts.

The theme of the shower was “Bed Time Stories”. Each guest was asked to bring her favorite sleepy-time story book for the new mom to read to baby. We hostesses sent personalized book plates with the invitations, so that each guest could inscribe a special note inside her book. We also arranged for a hand-painted book shelf to hold the treasures. Each story unwrapped memories of special times shared with sons, daughters and grandchildren. It was a wonderful way to get ready for a new baby, who is sure to be as well-read as he is well-loved!!

Mesclun Salad with Brie Cheese, Candied Almonds, Fresh Sweet Cherries and Ginger Sesame Dressing

The variety of ingredients in this fresh salad are a visual splendor! The burst of flavor in each bite will make this dish a family favorite!

For the almonds
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
4 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 cup

For the dressing
Juice of 1 large orange, about 1/3 cup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and minced, about 1 teaspoon
Zest of 1 medium lime, about 1 to 2 teaspoons
2-inch piece fresh Ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
A pinch of sea salt and a grind of fresh pepper

For the salad
8 ounces mesclun salad mix, about 10 to 12 cups torn
8 ounces fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved, about 1 cup
8 ounces brie cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes

Heat the brown sugar and butter in a non stick fry pan over medium heat. Add the almonds. Use a spatula to coat the almonds in the sugar mixture. Cook until just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour onto parchment paper and cool to room temperature.

In a blender combine the orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar
Sesame oil, mustard, garlic, lime zest, grated ginger and cilantro. Pulse to emulsify. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Add the sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper. Pulse just to combine.

Place the lettuce, cherries and brie cheese into a large bowl. Add the almonds. Pour enough dressing over the salad to just moisten the leaves.

Yield: Enough salad for 8 as a first course and 4 lunch sized portions
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 3 to 5 minutes to cook the almonds

Sources and Substitutions
Fresh cherries are the best for this recipe. If they are not in season, you can substitute with strawberries, red grapes, or blood orange sections.

Chilled Gazpacho Soup

This soup is so very refreshing when served straight from the refrigerator and into a simp0le, white bowl. You can make it days in advance of a party and you can use any combination of veggies that you have on hand.

6 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced into ½-inch pieces, about 4 to 5 cups
1 large (green, yellow or red) bell pepper, seeded, veins removed, diced into ½-inch pieces, about 1 cup
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces, about 1 cup
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded, veins removed, diced, about ½ cup
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced, (about 1 teaspoon)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons all natural granulated sugar
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 quart home made chicken broth, or low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce
4 (1-inch thick) slices white wheat bread, crust removed, processed into about 2 cups coarse crumbs
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place the cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno pepper and garlic into a large bowl. (I use a deep stock pot for this.) Add the white wine vinegar and granulated sugar. Pour in the diced tomatoes, chicken broth and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and as much hot sauce as you like! Stir in the bread crumbs.

For a really slushy soup, transfer several ladles of the soup to a food processor, or blender, and pulse to emulsify. Pour the emulsified soup back into the bowl. Stir and continue until you have emulsified about half of the soup.

Stir in the fresh cilantro. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator to chill for at least several hours until very cold.

Servings: This makes a big batch of soup – plenty for a crowd.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Spinach, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart

Is it a quiche or is it a tart? By definition, a tart is a sweet pastry dish with an open top. A quiche is made from pastry too, and looks like a finished pie; it gets its texture from and egg and milk based custard. We break a few barriers here and prepare a savory tart with a layer of custard. It’s the perfect dish for a brunch or outdoor luncheon, because you can bake it in advance and serve it the next day at room temperature.

1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust
½ pound nitrate-free bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound fresh spinach leaves, about 4 cups (or substitute with 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed)
1 teaspoon dried Herbs de Provence
4 ounces smoked Gruyere cheese, grated, about 1/2 cup
4 extra large organic eggs
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Unroll the pie crust and press into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Bake until the pie crust is golden, about 9 to 12 minutes. Set the baked pie crust aside.

Cook the bacon in a skillet, over medium high heat, until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Carefully pour off the fat left in the pan.

Heat the olive oil and butter in the same pan, over medium high heat. Cook the onion in the pan until soft, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. The diced onion should be golden and slightly syrupy.

Cook the spinach in the pan until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence and set the cooked spinach aside.

Carefully slide the baked tart shell onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon onto the bottom of the baked tart shell. Cover the bacon with grated cheese. Cover the cheese with the caramelized onion. Spread the spinach over the top. Whisk together the eggs and cream and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Carefully pour this mixture over the ingredients in the tart. Place the baking sheet holding the tart into the oven. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is golden, about 30 minutes.

At this point, you can cool the tart to room temperature. Carefully wrap the tart in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Two hours before you are ready to serve, remove the tart from the fridge and bring to room temperature. For a warm tart, you can place it into a warming drawer on the medium-low setting for 1 hour.

Remove the side portion of the tart pan. Cut the tart into wedges as serve.

Servings: 6 to 8
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: about 30 to 40 minutes

Sources and Substitutions
You can purchase smoked Fontina cheese from the deli counter of your grocery store. If it is not available, substitute with grated aged English cheddar or Gruyere cheese.

Of course, in place of refrigerated pastry dough, you can make your own pastry for this tart. In case you need a recipe, this is one of my favorites:

1 ¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

Place the flour, salt, and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the container, no more than 10 pulses. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
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