Monday, March 28, 2011

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

***Shrimp have always been one of my favorite kinds of seafood.  Growing up, I can remember always ordering fried popcorn shrimp when we went out to eat.  Those mini little pieces of yumminess were always so much fun to eat as a kid.  While my taste in shrimp dishes have become a little more refined over the years, it's hard to deny that an occasional fried shrimp isn't still delicious.

Now, if you've visited my blog before, you may know that I also love greek-inspired food.  This dish from Ina Garten is a clear choice...The roasted shrimp in this dish are perfectly accented by the feta and tomatoes.  It's a fairly easy dish that is a great remedy when you need a dish to impress your dinner guests.  They'll think you spent a lot more time in the kitchen than you actually did.  ;-)

Ina's presentation of this dish also gives it that extra special "something." Arranging the shrimp upright in a circle around the saute pan makes it so pretty.

Bon Appetit!!***

Source:  How Easy is That? by Ina Garten
Serves 4

Good olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced fennel (1 bulb)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Pernod
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds (16 to 18) shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails left on
3 ounces feta cheese, preferably Greek or French, coarsely crumbled
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (see note)
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 10- or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and garlic and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the skillet, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Arrange the shrimp artfully in one layer over the tomato mixture in the skillet. Scatter feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle evenly over the shrimp.
5. Bake the shrimp for about 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with wedges of lemon.

NOTE: To make 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs, remove the crusts from 3 to 4 slices white bread and place in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the bread is in crumbs.

Assemble the shrimp right in a 10- to 12-inch stainless-steel sauté pan, and then put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

I recommend Greek or French feta if you can find it. Usually I prefer feta cubed rather than crumbled, but here I crumble it in large pieces. Pernod is one of my secret ingredients. Whenever I cook with fennel, Pernod gives the dish just the right licorice jolt that I love. You don't know the Pernod is there, you just know that the fennel tastes wonderful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chicken Brasciole

Filled with yummy stuffing...
***There aren't many recipes that I make more than once in one week, but this recipe made its way onto our dinner table twice somehow.  This can be explained by 2 perfectly good reasons:
1.  It was delicious, of course!
2.  I ended up with lots of extra stuffing, and it was so fabulous that throwing it away would simply be a travesty! 

After all, the stuffing consists of such wonderfulness as plump golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley, lemon zest, flavorful garlic, bread, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheesy goodness.  

The chicken is butterflied and pounded out into thin pieces and then then stuffed with the stuffing.  The chicken is simmered to perfection in a white wine and tomato sauce, which all comes out finger-licking good.  

Try this soon, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Bon Appetit!***

Chicken Cutlets Brasciole
Source:  Look + Cook by Rachael Ray


  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • Handful golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 slices white sandwich bread, torn
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, a few sprigs, leaves chopped


Pour very hot tap water into a small bowl. Add raisins and plump 5 minutes.

Lightly toast nuts in a small skillet over medium low heat.

Drain raisins and pat dry. Place raisins, nuts, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, torn bread and cheese into processor and pulse into a stuffing.

Butterfly the chicken open by cutting into and across the breast but not all the way through. Pound out the cutlets and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill the breasts with stuffing, roll and secure with toothpicks.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the brasciole all over 7 to 8 minutes, remove and set aside. Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up the drippings. Stir in tomatoes and tarragon, add chicken back, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pasta with Chicken, Almonds and Creamy Mascarpone Sauce

***My friends, this is not a pasta dish for lightweights!  This is the ultimate pasta - toasted almonds, baked chicken, sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic, and fresh parsley, all coated in a creamy and decadent Mascarpone cheese sauce...O.M.G.!  It's the perfect ending to a long, hard day at work, or maybe even the perfect dish for a delicious celebration.  Serve it alongside a crusty loaf of French bread, and you'll be in business!

The sauce is lusciously thick and cheesy, and the sauteed mushrooms are perfectly sauteed   to a golden brown. The toasted almonds add just the right little crunch and the parsley adds a bit of pretty color.  

Be careful...This is one of those dishes that might just cause you to lick your plate...

Just don't get caught!  :)

Bon Appetit!***

Pasta with Chicken, Almonds and Creamy Mascarpone Sauce
Source:  Me!  :)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
6 oz Mascarpone cheese
1 cup pasta water
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the chicken breasts in an ovenproof baking dish. Drizzle the chicken with about 1-2 tbsp of the olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and bake for approximately 30 - 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the package directions.  Be sure to reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water, which will be added to the sauce later.

While the chicken is baking, begin your pasta sauce.  First, heat a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat.  Drizzle about 2 tbsp. of olive oil into the pan, along with 1 tbsp of butter.   Once pan is hot and butter is melted, add the onion and mushrooms, and saute for about 5 - 7 minutes.  Next, add the garlic and saute for a few minutes more until the onions and mushrooms are very tender and golden brown.  Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Now, add the Mascarpone cheese to the pan and stir into the other ingredients until it starts to melt.  Next, add 1 cup of the hot, reserved pasta water and stir until well combined.  Let the sauce simmer until it begins to thicken.  The starches in the pasta water will help form a nice, thick sauce!  Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, to taste.  

Once the chicken is done, cut it into bite-sized pieces while the sauce is simmering and add it all to the pot.  If the sauce becomes too thick, simply add a little more pasta water.  Add the fresh parsley (reserving some for garnish) and stir well.

Once the sauce is ready, drain the pasta and add it directly into the pot of sauce.  Next, sprinkle the almonds and grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta.  Mix everything together well, coating all the pasta with the yummy sauce.  Finish it off with a garnish of fresh parsley and more sliced almonds.  Serve hot and enjoy!