Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spiced Chicken, Green Apple, Belle Chevre Goat Cheese Avocado Wrap

***There are certain foods that are worth dreaming about, and artisan cheeses certainly deserve a spot on that list.  I was recently contacted by the awesome folks at Belle Chevre Creamery, who wanted to feature my blog on their website as part of a four week series spotlighting healthy summer recipes by none other than Chef Marvin Woods.  I was so thrilled about the opportunity!

Take a look at the article HERE!

Chef Marvin Woods is an Emmy Award-Nominated television host, celebrity chef, and cookbook author.  In addition, Chef Woods was chosen as the very first chef to kick off Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign.  

Pretty amazing stuff, huh??

I was equally excited to find out that Belle Chevre Creamery, a company that has produced internationally acclaimed chevre cheeses for over 20 years, is located right here in my home-state of Alabama!  Belle Chevre has teamed up with Chef Woods to create a new e-Cookbook filled with wonderful and HEALTHY summer recipes for you to enjoy.

After one bite of Belle Chevre's goat cheese, and I am hooked.  The texture is amazingly creamy, mild, and distinct.  It's not like other chevres...It's way better!  My husband - Brad - has never really been a big fan of goat cheese, but even he loved these wraps!  

I was in disbelief.

The day after we ate these, he was still talking about them.  The tartness of the apples adds such a perfect crunch, while the avocado just sends it over the top.  And the spiced chicken - Where can I even begin?  The cinnamon, paprika and cumin spice mixture is simply incredible.  You might think that the cinnamon would give the chicken a somewhat sweet taste, but it's perfectly balanced by the other spices.  The next time that I need a quick and easy way to flavor boring ole' chicken breasts for dinner, I am going to use this spice rub...It's so yummy!

I really think you'll LOVE this fresh and healthy summer recipe.  It's absolutely perfect for a healthy lunch or easy dinner.

Bon Appetit!***

Spice mixture made of cinnamon, paprika and cumin...Yum!

Spiced Chicken, Green Apple, Belle Chevre Goat Cheese Avocado Wrap

© Recipe courtesy of Trailblazing Productions, LLC, All Rights Reserved

Serving:  Makes 2 Wraps


2 Spinach or whole wheat wraps

1 Chicken breast (butterfly chicken breast if you like), skin removed

4 tablespoons canola oil

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon smoked paprika (preferred) regular will do

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

4 ounces Belle Chevre Goat Cheese, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

½ Granny Smith apple (skinned and core removed, cut into slices)

½ Red apple (skinned and core removed, cut into slices)

½ Avocado (skin and pit removed, cut into slices)

½ Lemon cut in half and juiced (seeds removed)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine cinnamon, paprika, cumin powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken breast on a flat surface. And sprinkle with spice mixture.

Tip - If you pound out the chicken breast slightly to get an even thickness across the meat it will cook more evenly as you sauté it without overbrowning.  Just place the chicken in a baggie and pound lightly with a rolling pin to an even thickness.

Place canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Put chicken breast in the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on one side. Turn chicken over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. If need be, alternate turning chicken over on both sides until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.  Transfer the chicken breast on a plate to cool and slice into strips.

In a bowl, mix together goat cheese, cream cheese and honey. In a separate bowl add apples, avocado and a pinch of lemon juice.

Place wraps on a flat surface. Add an even amount of the cheese mixture in a straight line to the front of the wrap. Add apple and avocado slices, then chicken strips.  Take one of the wraps sides and fold it in to the middle. Roll wrap starting with the side that has the chicken mixture. Roll as tightly as you can without breaking the wrap. Serve.

Look what came in the mail!  Be sure to check out Belle Chevre's decadent breakfast cheeses - Mixed with fig, coffee, cinnamon or even honey!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Addictive Cinnamon-Fig Jam

***Fig season is a glorious thing, my friends!  For months now, I have been looking forward to getting my hands on some fresh figs.  Here in the South, figs are just starting to come into season, and I'm pretty excited about it.  Can't you tell?   :)

As it turns out, figs can be hard to find in grocery stores right now.  I had to call several stores around town before I found one that had some still in stock.  I bought 3 lbs. of the yummy fruit and headed home to make fig jam.

The recipe below is incredibly addictive.  It's great on a cracker or straight out of the jar!  One of my favorite snacks is a whole wheat cracker with a slice of good quality French Brie cheese and a dollop of fig preserves.  Mmm, Mmm!!

I tweaked amounts in the original recipe a little to suit my tastes.  I was so pleased with the way this jam turned out.  So much so, that I will only use this recipe in the future.  It's wonderfully figgy, without being overly sweet.  The cinnamon stick adds a scrumptious flavor and depth, and will make your entire home smell heavenly while it bubbles on the stove.

While reading about figs online, I discovered that there is actually a variety called the "Celeste Fig."  I knew there was a reason I loved figs so much! :)

Bon Appetit!***

Addictive Cinnamon-Fig Jam
Adapted from Eating Out Loud

1  1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 lb. fresh figs (about 20-24 figs)
zest of 1 lemon
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks (I used 1)
1/2 lemon juiced

Sort figs, using ripe figs but not cracked ones. Wash and peel if desired with a sharp knife. (Wear rubber gloves to protect hands from irritation when peeling figs.) If you do not peel figs, clean the skins by covering the washed figs with hot water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. You will get a brighter color and prettier preserves. 

Once figs are clean, add water and sugar to a pan and place on a medium heat to dissolve. 

Remove the stems from the figs and cut into quarters. Add to the sugar mixture along with lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and lemon juice. Bring the mix to a light simmer and leave the pan uncovered. Cook for about 1 hour or until the mix thickens.  

You can use a potato-masher towards the end of cooking to help mash up the figs.  This will give you more of a spreadable consistency.  

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exquisite Blueberry Tart - A Taste of Paris!

I am so excited to share this recipe for an exquisitely delicious Blueberry Tart with you all.  One bite of this dessert transported me right back to the boulangeries in Paris, France, with their shelves and shelves of gorgeous tarts and other expertly-made decadent desserts.  Each one beckoning you to try a bite!  But wait...They are almost too pretty to eat!

A pic from our trip to Paris in 2009...This boulangerie was right down the street from our hotel.

Check out those gorgeous tarts!  Don't you want one?

The flavor of this Blueberry Tart is exceptional...I'm at a loss of words to even describe it to you!  Between the fresh orange zest, vanilla beans and nutmeg...I am speechless!

Suzanne and Maranne made this tart for me while they were here a few weeks ago.  I knew something special was in the works with one look into the kitchen.  They were hard at work kneading, mixing and stirring.  I was so impressed with the job they did!  They used fresh blueberries from the farmer's market, which just made the flavor even more vibrant.

There's a reason this tart is so amazing.  We found this recipe over on Zoe Bakes, and Zoe says:  "The tart shell and pastry cream are from Linda Dannenberg’s Paris Boulangerie-Pâtisserie. Linda got the pastry cream recipe from Stohrer, the oldest pâtisserie in Paris. The tart shell (pâte sablée) is from Gérard Mulot, another Paris favorite." 

Be sure to visit Zoe's blog...She's got some really great step-by-step photos for each part of the recipe.

If you make one tart this year, make sure it's this one!  This tart gets 5 stars in my book!
Bon Appetit!!!***


Check out those vanilla beans and orange zest in the pastry cream!

Blueberry Tart
Adapted from:  Zoe Bakes

Tart Shell:
1 3/4 sticks (200 g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (90 g) confectioners sugar
1 large egg beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground almonds 

To make the crust:  
This makes a very soft/sticky dough, which makes it more difficult to work with. It is well worth the little bit of extra effort. 

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and make sure it is well blended. Add the salt and vanilla, mix until incorporated. Add the flour and almond meal, mix together until there are no more dry patches of flour.

Divide the dough into two equal disks and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour. If you are only making one tart then freeze the other packet of dough for the next time you want a treat in a hurry.

Take one disk of dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. This will soften the dough just enough so that it won’t crack when you are rolling it out.

Roll it out (preferably on a silpat or other silicon baking sheet) until it is about 1/16″ thick and the right size to fit into a 9-inch tart pan.

If the dough is very sticky and will not easily peel off of the silpat, throw the silpat and dough right into the freezer for about 5 minutes.  When you remove the silpat/dough from the freezer you should be able to peel the dough easily.

Place the silpat/dough over the tart pan and gently peel the silpat away.  If the dough is frozen, give it a minute to become supple, then you will need to push the dough down into the pan, it might crack a bit, but don’t worry!  You can just press it back together.

Using a knife or metal spatula trim off the excess dough from the pan.

Preheat your oven to 350° and place the tart pan in the freezer while you wait for the oven to heat up.  Once the oven is up to temperature, take the tart shell out of the freezer and line with foil.  Fill the foil with beans and/or pie weights.

Bake the shell for 25 minutes with the pie weights. Lift the foil/weights out of the shell and continue baking until the tart shell is golden brown, about 10 more minutes.

Cool the shell on a cooling rack while you prepare the fillings for the tart. 

Pastry cream:
1 cup milk (doesn’t seem to matter what kind)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
Zest from 1/4 orange
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon crème fraîche (optional) 

To Make the Pastry Cream:
Bring the milk, 1/8 cup of the sugar, butter, salt and vanilla bean to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan.

Remove from heat.

Whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/8 cup of sugar. Add the egg yolks to the cornstarch and mix into a smooth paste.

Slowly, and in small amounts, whisk a little of the hot milk into a the egg mixture. This is called tempering the eggs, which you need to do to get them to the same temperature of the hot milk in the pan, so they won’t curdle.

Once the egg mixture is warm to the touch, pour it back into the milk in the pan.

Return the custard to the stove and bring to a boil, whisking continuously for 2 to 3 minutes. The pastry cream will thicken almost immediately but it is important to cook out the starch so that it isn’t grainy and so your pastry cream won’t separate. (separating pastry cream is when the liquid releases from the cream, easily prevented by cooking for 2-3 minutes!)  

When the pastry cream is done it will be smooth and glossy.  

Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Set the container in the freezer for 15 minutes (this cools down the eggs quickly) and then refrigerate for up to a few days.
Stir the chilled pastry cream to make it spreadable and add the zest, nutmeg and crème fraîche. Fill the prepared tart shell with the pastry cream.

Blueberry filling 
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
scant 1/2 cup raspberry or blueberry juice 
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water.
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt 

Prepare the blueberry filling:
If you are using wild blueberries, put them in a bowl of cold water so that the leaves and small hard berries will float to the top, where you can easily remove them. Pick the stems off and drain the water.

In a medium sauce pan, bring 1/2 cup of the blueberries, the juice and sugar to a boil.  While vigorously whisking add the cornstarch slurry to the pot. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and salt.

Continue to cook and whisk until the mixture is very thick and glossy, about 2 minutes. 

Remove from heat.  Quickly fold in the fresh blueberries.  Quickly add the berries to the tart shell, on top of the pastry cream. Spread them into an even layer.  Chill until set, about an hour.

Serve as is or with a dollop of crème fraîche.