Friday, March 24, 2017

ChezCindy: Roasted Fish in Parchment Packets

Roasting fish in parchment paper packets is fast, fresh and easy.  Learning this method of cooking offers great flexibility as you can use any flakey white fish you prefer, such as cod or halibut, and a choice of vegetables.  Be sure to have plenty of good crusty bread on hand to sop up all of the juices that gather in the parchment pack.

Parchment Packet Roasted Fish
serves 4
4-6oz portions of skinless white flakey fish, cod or halibut
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
2 shallots
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 ears of corn
4 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons dry white wine
fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley or cilantro
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place 4 sheets of parchment paper (approximately 16"x12" in size) on a work surface.  Thinly slice the zucchini, squash and shallots.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Cut the corn off the cob.

Divide the zucchini, squash and shallot slices among the 4 sheets of parchment, arranging on one end of the paper, placing the slices into a thin layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil.  Place one portion of fish on top of the sliced vegetables.  Scatter the tomato halves and the cut corn around the fish.  Drizzle each fish with the remaining oil; sprinkling the fish and vegetables with salt and pepper.  Place a 1/2 tablespoon of butter onto the top of each fish.  Add a 1/2 tablespoons of fresh herbs to each packet.  Fold the parchment paper over the fish and vegetables.  Begin crimping around the edges of the paper.  The paper will begin to resemble a half-moon shape.  As you get to the final crimp, carefully pour 1 tablespoon of white wine into each packet.  Crimp the last edge to seal.
Place the sealed packets onto 2 large rimmed baking sheets - 2 packets of fish per baking sheet.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.  This is where you'll want to toast some bread, ready for sopping up the juices.  Place one packet onto 4 separate plates.  Carefully cut open the top of each packet (steam will escape), keeping the fish and vegetables resting inside of the packet with it's juices.  Serve as a full meal and enjoy.

A note on parchment paper:  I always have pre-cut half-sheet parchment paper on hand that I order from King Arthur Flour.  They offer it in packages of 100 sheets.  It stores well and can be used when lining half-sheet pans for baking and cooking as demonstrated here.  They also have a great selection of 8 and 9 inch round parchment paper.  So easy to use when baking cakes. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ChezCindy: Simple & Delicious Grilled Cheese

Always a classic pairing, toasty grilled cheese sandwich and comforting tomato soup.  Nothing fancy, just the best ingredients to elevate this to a gourmet meal.  I used a blend of cheeses for flavor and melting, and great sandwich bread from the local bakery.  I made my favorite tomato soup with the recipe from a restaurant in Yountville, California, Bistro Jeanty.  Simple and satisfying.

Process for Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Use your favorite blend of cheese.  I used cheddar, fontina and Swiss.  Grate the cheese and combine.

Generously spread real butter on one side of each slice of sandwich bread.  Generously pile the shredded cheese onto one slice of bread; top with the other slice.  Place the buttered sandwich onto the griddle over medium high heat.  Allow the first side to brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Flip over to toast on side two.  

Remove the sandwich to a cutting board to cool for several minutes.  Cut in half diagonally.    Serve with your favorite soup. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

ChezCindy: Roast Turkey Kale Caesar Sandwich

This sandwich came together with various odds and ends I had available.  It turned out so delicious, I had to take a picture of it.  I had beautiful whole grain bread from Beehive Bakery; baby kale from Bird Haven Farms; left-over roast  turkey breast and my homemade mayo.  I chopped the kale; massaged in some olive oil and kosher salt.  Added lemon juice and parmesan cheese for quick Caesar-style salad greens.  That alone is a good start to lunch.  A double layer of kale, plus roast turkey and mayo on toasted whole grain bread.  One word...YUM. 

List of ingredients and the process:
Whole grain bread
Roast turkey breast
Homemade mayonnaise*
Baby kale leaves
Olive oil
Lemon Juice
Kosher salt
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Chop the kale leaves into ribbons; massage a small amount of olive oil into the kale (roughly 1 teaspoon to 2 cups of kale) with a sprinkle of kosher salt.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the kale (roughly 1/2 teaspoon per 2 cups of kale); sprinkle in the parmesan cheese.

Toast the bread.  Spread each slice with mayo.  Place a large handful of kale salad onto the first slice of toast.  Layer on slices of roast turkey.  Add a second handful of kale salad; top with the second slice of bread.  Enjoy. 

* Link to my easy homemade mayonnaise.   Homemade Mayo

Sunday, March 5, 2017

ChezCindy: The Magic of Homemade Mayo

Making homemade mayonnaise does not require an immersion blender...but it is a whole lot easier if you do.  Hand-whisking is traditional and takes a bit of finesse.  However, the immersion method takes less than a minute and works like magic. 
Once you taste homemade mayo, you will be spoiled against any of the store-bought brands.  Try this on your next sandwich.  Heavy on the mayo please. 

Easy Homemade Mayonnaise
Working with a tall, slender container that will hold at least 2 cups, add in order, 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 egg, and then 2 cups of canola oil.  I use a blend of canola (1 3/4 cups) and olive oil (1/4 cup).    

Lower the immersion blender into the container so that it sits at the bottom.  Puree for 5 seconds, then slowly pull the blender up swirling and incorporating the oil until emulsified, roughly 25 seconds.  

Store the mayonnaise in a glass jar with a tight lid.  The mayo keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

As one could easily guess, I have many kitchen tools and gadgets.  My newest favorite that I have fallen for is my KitchenAid Deluxe immersion blender.  I recently needed to purchase a new immersion blender as my old one lost its grip to blend.  Thus, a new shiny toy for me to play with.  This KitchenAid model came with several blending attachments and extra containers in which to blend.  And I like the power it provides.