Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Chocolate Pizza and Peanut Butter Wings

I usually post food reviews over on the gadget and review blog, but I haven't been doing as much cooking as usual, and food is food, so ...

I'll be posting a few reviews here, and maybe even some roundups, if the mood strikes.

The yummies that came to me this time (at no cost to me) were from the Chocolate Pizza Company. No surprise, they make chocolate pizzas, which are large round disks of chocolate covered with fun candies and decorations and stuff.

You can get pizzas with standard greetings, no greetings, or custom greetings. There are a lot of options for candies and decorations, too. I didn't see any pepperoni, but I did see peanut butter cups and white chocolate drizzle.

They sent me a slice of their snowflake pizza, which had white snowflake sprinkles along with red and green coated chocolate candies. That slice was actually a really nice size for me, so I'm glad they didn't send a whole pizza. I mean, a whole pizza would be fun for a family or a party or an office ... but a slice was just enough for me.

The peanut butter wings, on the other hand.

Oh my.

They're rippled potato chips, coated with peanut butter, then dipped in either milk or dark chocolate. Let me say that again.

Oh my.

Where have these things been all my life?

So here's the deal. You buy some for every family member's stockings, and maybe you hang up some stockings for people who don't actually exist. Like, you could hang a stocking for the TV or the refrigerator. Or the cat. Or that spider that's living in the basement.

Then, when everyone is busy with their other presents, you raid the stockings and swipe all the peanut butter wings for yourself. Hide them in a safe place. Eat them when no one is looking. If people notice their wings are missing, you just look innocent and say they flew away.

Or, I don't know, maybe just buy a couple of the big tins and everyone's happy.
Yum

Monday, November 5, 2018

Braised Chicken with Peppers and Tomatoes (Poulet Basquaise)

No, I haven't decided to make the blog bilingual or French. But this recipe is from a French cookbook. If your first thought about a French cookbook is that it's likely to be haughty, fussy, long-cooking, and insanely time-consuming, you might want to think again.

Sure, there are foods that ought to cook a long time, but this time the book is Instantly French by Ann Mah, and it's all about cooking French food in an electric pressure cooker. You know, like an Instant Pot. This time I'm cooking in my Breville Fast and Slow, but the brand shouldn't matter when you're making these recipes.

Like many books (and other things) that show up here, I got this book straight from the publisher at no cost to me. But let's not let that get in the way of dinner, okay?

The book is nicely arranged by categories, and I'll have to admit that I got stuck in the Chicken section. I love chicken cooked in the instant pot, and the recipes all sounded good. And homey. I picked the tomato and pepper recipe because I had almost everything I needed to make it, so it wasn't going to require a big list at the grocery store. Basically, I needed the chicken.

This was super simple. The prep took me about 30 minutes, if we're counting prep as the time before the pressure is put on.

I multi-tasked a bit during prep time. I had the chicken browning while I was cutting the peppers and onions, and I had everything else measured and ready to go before it was time to add them.

Then I cleaned up the kitchen and unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher while the vegetables were sauteing. So it's not like it was 30 minutes of actual kitchen work. Just 30 minutes before pressure was on and I could walk away completely.

On the other end of the recipe, my pressure cooker actually has a "reduce" button, so I used that instead of the saute button. I let it go on its own for the beginning of the reducing time and just checked on it and stirred when there was less liquid in the pot. The ingredients really don't require stirring - you just want to make sure that food doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot where it could burn.

Braised Chicken with Peppers and Tomatoes (Poulet Basquaise) 
Adapted from Instantly French By Ann Mah

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 5 ounces each)
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound red bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch slices (for me, this was 2 large peppers)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, lightly crushed by hand
1/2 teaspoon sugar, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette or sweet paprika, plus more as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cooked long-grain rise, for serving

Using the saute function, heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker. Dry the thighs with paper towels and add them to the pressure cooker. Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 7-8 minutes. You might want to do this in batches, since it's unlikely they'll all fit at the same time.

Remove the chicken and place on a plate or in a bowl. Juices will collect, so make sure the container will accommodate that.

Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. (Since my cooker has a nonstick pot, there was no scraping needed.) Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off the saute function.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, and piment to the pressure cooker. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juices, nestling the chicken skin-side down. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. (You might want to quickly hand-wash the plate or bowl to use it again when you're reducing the liquid at the end of cooking time.)

Release the steam manually, then transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving the juice and vegetables in the pot. Using the saute function (or, as I did, the reduce function), bring the cooking liquid to a boil. Cook, stirring as needed (you just want to make sure the food doesn't stick and burn), until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more sugar, salt, piment, and/or black pepper, as needed.

Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juiced from the plate nestling it into the sauce, and let it heat through for serving.

Serve with long-grain white rice.
Yum

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Savory French Toast from Home Made Christmas #AbramsDinnerParty

Whoop, whoop, another fun (and free) book for my participation in the Abrams Dinner Party.

This time the book is Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven. When I saw the title, I thought it might be about making Christmas food gifts.

Nope, this is about food you might serve during the holidays.

There are plenty of dinner ideas, along with sides and desserts, but I got stuck on the idea of making the savory French toast. I mean, I like plain French toast, and I generally don't make it super-sweet (although I do love it with maple syrup) but this sent the savory meter all the way over to the no-way-is-this-sweet side.

The recipe includes mustard, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and cheese. So, if you happen to like savory breakfasts, you'd like it. But I had it for lunch. Because it seemed to make sense.

The best thing about this recipe is that it opens the door for all kinds of savory variations. I mean, I wouldn't make it with anchovies, but you could change the cheese, add more heat, or add some herbs and spices. It's not completely unlimited, because the ingredients would have to be able to either soak into the bread or stick to the outside. But it could be fun to fiddle with.

This called for a salad of fresh herbs on the side, but I skipped that and just had the French toast. And while this is meant to be savory, I can see how a tart jelly or jam could work with this. Probably not maple syrup, but something fruity. Maybe even cranberry sauce, hmmmm?

I also didn't cut the bread into shapes with a cookie cutter. Cutting the bread into triangles after cooking was as fancy as I wanted to be. But yeah, for a holiday breakfast, they'd be fun cut into shapes.

Wentelteefjes, or Savory French Toast (the Dutch version)
Adapted from Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven

4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A few drops of Tabasco sauce
6-8 slices of good-quality white bread
Butter, for frying

Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, and mustard until foamy, then stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, a little Tabasco, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. (You can do this the night before, if you want to save a little time, and save yourself from early morning measuring.)

Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl.

Place two slices of bread in the bowl - or really, as many as you can fit at one time, whether it's one or 4 - and let the bread soak for a minute or two.

Heat a nonstick frying pan on medium heat, with a small pat of butter. Cook the bread slices for about 2 minutes per side, until they're golden brown. Let them drain on paper towels as you continue cooking the rest of the sliced.

Sprinkle with a little extra cheese and serve with a green herb salad.
Yum