Sunday, January 20, 2013

Site Updates

So the reading list and links pages are coming along - constantly growing works in progress, but there's some substance at this point.  Check it out, let me know your thoughts.  Also, if you have some suggestions, please share!  I'm always open to new reading material (in paper or digital form).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Put a Spin on Salads

I'm a fan of salads, but I use that term very cautiously.  A bowl of greens with dressing is not a salad.  Even more so, a bowl of ground meat, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, wonton strips or tortillas is definitely not a salad.  While I'm not looking for a plethora of ingredients, I do want something complimentary, creative and inspiring.  In an effort to up my vegetable intake (and lower calories), over the next few weeks, you can expect a few new, exciting salad suggestions to help you brighten up your plate.

I think the first key to building a salad is to think seasonally.  The freshest, most delicious and least expensive vegetables are going to be what's currently in season.  Think about it, the shortest distance that an ingredient has to travel, the less cost is involved in getting it to your plate.  If farmers markets are an option in your area, I highly recommend checking one out.  You can get some incredible deals on beautiful produce and you get to support a small local business in the process.  Most towns have them from May through October so check one out this spring and make a day out of it.  If you're in the greater Boston area, check out the SoWa market every Sunday - it's an amazing collection of famers, food producers, artists and food trucks.

Watermelon Radish Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

1 finely diced shallot
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 ripe avocado, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heads of romaine (dark green outer leaves, not hearts), cut into 1/2 strips
2 watermelon radishes, thinly sliced (I recommend using a mandolin)
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

- In a small bowl, whisk together shallot, lemon and vinegar
- Gently stir in the avocado, let stand for 10 minutes
- Taste your dressing at this point and add the salt and pepper to your liking
- Whisk in the olive oil slowly to emulsify the vinaigrette
- In a large bowl, combine romaine, radish and cilantro
- Toss gently with the vinaigrette and adjust the seasoning to taste

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creative Craving Cures - New Orleans Chicken Tenders

So here's another solution to one of those fried food cravings that I work so hard to triumph over. While I can't claim my baked buffalo tenders are a perfect substitute to the deep fried version, they do hit the spot.

The inspiration for the basic flavor profile of my tenders is one that I borrowed from The Friendly Toast, a great, quirky breakfast spot with locations in Cambridge, MA and Portsmouth, NH. They have a side dish called New Orleans Fries that are absolutely to die for. Take a platter of sweet potato fries, douse them with hot sauce and brown sugar and add some sour cream on the side for dipping and in my humble opinion, you've created a really interesting, balanced flavor combination that just works. While I've also recreated the flavors with baked sweet potatoes at home, I wanted to take it a step farther and use them on a protein. I've also managed to lighten things up a bit with a few ingredient exchanges making it an overall more health conscious option.

New Orleans Chicken Tenders

1 lb of cleaned, boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
3 tablespoons of light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of Splenda brown sugar blend
1 tablespoon (or adjust to taste) tabasco sauce
1/2 cup cornflakes
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon low fat milk
2 teaspoons of ranch dressing spice mix

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken tenderloins, mayonaise, brown sugar and tabasco sauce and mix until well combined
- Allow the chicken to marinate for about 15 minutes
- In a plastic bag (I reuse vegetable bags from the market but a ziploc will also work) crush your cornflakes until they have a consistency slightly bigger than the panko
- Add panko, paprika, granulated garlic, salt and pepper to the cornflakes and shake well until all the ingredients are incorporated
- Coat each chicken tender in the breading mixture and place on a wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet, allowing about 1/2 inch of space between tenders
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of each tender reaches 165 degrees
- Serve with Greek yogurt blended with milk and ranch dressing spices for dipping

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon Countdown

A Rhode Island Tradition

If you're ever in the vicinity of Lincoln, Rhode Island, take a few minutes to stop at Hartley's Original Pork Pies on Smithfield Avenue.  The shop may look small and unassuming, but I promise you won't be disappointed.  For over 110 years, they've been creating pork, beef, meat and potato, chicken and salmon pies in traditional British style and quite frankly, walking in feels a bit like a time warp.  The collection of articles on the walls, the wood panneling, everything looks exactly as it did when I was five years old picking up pies with my grandfather.  Heck, in the last 25 years, the price of pies has gone up about a dollar which in my opinion, makes them one of the best value foodie finds out there.

The pies themselves are thick-crusted, buttery and lightly crisp with hot, steamy centers.  they're inherently English in style and it's quite obvious that the recipe hasn't changed in over a century.  Each pie is a perfectly portioned, individual treat.   

There's a white board on the counter listing what types of pies they have that day, but get there early or call in your order ahead of time.  They go fast and if you haven't tried them before, I recommend getting a "sampler" of each flavor to figure out which is your favorite.  Personally, I prefer the meat and potato but the chicken is a close second.  Also, they only accept cash so make sure to stop at the ATM first.  The pies are available frozen, but I think fresh is the only way to go if you have the option.  When I drive down from New Hampshire, I pack a freezer bag with ice packs to ensure they make it home safely. 

If you want to eat your pie like a true Rhode Islander (which in my opinion is the only way), drench it in ketchup and dig in.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Creative Craving Cures - Chinese Food

I love fried food.  There, I said it.  When I have a craving, I'm the type of person to gravitate towards french fries and onion rings as opposed to sweets.   So the other night when James said he wanted Chinese food, my willpower was about a strong as a puppy's when staring at a plate of bacon.  That being said, we started out the year resolving to avoid quite so many dinners out for the sake of convenience and didn't really want to cave five days in.  Aside from that, with training for a half marathon, pork low main and crab rangoon aren't exactly on the prescribed menu.  Solution: a home-cooked, satisfying plate of food that clocked in under 750 calories (with fried rice and scallion pancakes nonetheless).  Compared to your average Chinese buffet plate of 1500 calories plus, I'm calling my dinner a success.

We started with a sweet and spicy chicken stir-fry with red bell pepper slices, scallions, asparagus tips and a sweet chili Gochujang sauce.  Gochujang, a Korean red pepper paste, is one of my new obsessions.  Think of it as a thicker, slightly sweet, more complex version of Sriracha.  You should be able to find it any any Asian market or grocery store with a well stocked international section.  Combined with a bit of Thai sweet chili sauce, Shoyu (a fermented soy sauce), grated ginger, lime juice and black bean paste (another great Asian market find), you create a really delicious, well-balanced sauce that plays of notes of sweet, spicy, acidic, bitter and umami.  Be careful adding any additional salt to your stir-fry, as most Asian sauces have a salty component inherent to them.  The trick to keeping the dish lower in calories is to control how much fat your adding to the pan to sauté your meat and vegetables.  I cooked a pound of chicken, a whole bell pepper and about 6 stalks of asparagus in one tablespoon of sesame oil.  Yes, one tablespoon.  If you get your wok or skillet hot enough and coat the entire surface area, that really is all you ned to get a good sear on your chicken.

Next, I created a version of Szechwan cucumber salad, inspired by a dish had about five years ago at P.F. Chang's.  Peel and deseed an English cucumber and slice into bite sized segments.  In a small bowl, combine two tablespoons each of Shoyu, mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine) and rice wine vinegar.  Add a sprinkling of white and black sesame seeds and a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, pour over your cucumbers and allow them to sit for about 20 minutes (while you prepare the rest of your dinner).  

Here's where I cheated a tiny bit.  I used a frozen scallion pancake rather than creating one from scratch.  If you live near an H-Mart, their house brand is a really great approximation to restaurant-style.    In a wide bottom skillet, heat one tablespoon of peanut oil, coat the entire surface of the pan and crisp up your pancake.  James and I spit one to help keep the calorie count down on our dinner and with everything else, it was more than enough.  I like to let the pancake defrost for about 5-7 minutes before cooking because it makes the dough a bit more pliable and allows you to get the whole surface crisped evenly.  

Using the leftover peanut oil from the scallion pancake and keeping the pan hot, add one cup of brown rice and 2 tablespoons of ponzu sauce.  Sauté the rice for about five minutes to crisp up the grains and serve under your stir-fry.  

To round out the meal, I made a quick green salad of bibb lettuce and romaine hearts topped with a carrot ginger vinaigrette.  I actually broke one of my cardinal rules and used a store bought salad dressing (the horror), but I do have to give a shout out to Wafu dressings and sauces.  At 35 calories per tablespoon with no preservatives or artificial sweeteners, I honestly can't complain.  It's a great approximation to the ginger dressing served in Japanese restaurants.  

There you have it - a satisfying, craving curing plate of food that clocks in around 750 calories and prevents the Chinese buffet bender.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tenderloin Toasts

This dish was inspired by a menu item at MT's Local in Nashua.  James and I used to frequent their bar and the tenderloin toasts were one of our "go to" appetizers... until they were taken off the menu.  [Insert sad face here].  After our comment cards and emails requesting that they bring them back have turned up fruitless, I've opted to recreate them at home.  Although I haven't perfected their recipe in perfect form, I do think my version came out quite tasty.  The best way to describe them, is a crunchy, thinly sliced baguette topped with ground tenderloin and literally baked to the bread resulting in a delicious, crunchy bite.

The steak sauce can be kept in your refrigerator for up to a month, so don't be afraid to make a full sized batch.  You can also opt to cut the recipe in half and you'll get about what you would use on one batch of the toasts.  Serve it on the side in a ramekin for dipping.

Tenderloin Toasts

1 baguette-style loaf of dense bread (you want to be able to slice it as thinly as possible and light, fluffy bread tends to fall apart; another option is to use a 2 day old French baguette)
1 lb tenderloin tips
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic (depending on size)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning

- Preheat oven to 375
- Slice bread as thinly as possible (ideally 1/2 inch thick pieces)
- In a large skillet, sear off the tenderloin tips to a medium rare temperature and transfer to a food processor
- In the rendered beef fat, sauté the onions and garlic for 8-10 minutes or until translucent and transfer to the food processor
- Add eggs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and spices
- Pulse on high speed to combine the ingredients into a thick, chunky paste
- Spread each piece of toast with an ample amount of paste and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the meat mixture has hardened to the toasts
- Serve warm or keep in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 4 days (reheat for 7-10 minutes in the oven to serve)

Steak Sauce

1 cup canned tomato puree
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
5-6 garlic cloves (depending on size)
1/4 apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

- Combine all ingredients in a food processor on high speed until combined
- Strain the mixture though a fine mesh sieve to remove any larger bits
- Simmer in a sauce pan over medium heat for 20 minutes
- Store in a glass jar, refrigerated, for up to a month

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sweet Potato & Chicken Chili

I'm a huge fan of my slow cooker.  If you don't have one, get one.  My Rival Crock Pot was a gift from my mother when I was in college and I think my initial thought "what the heck do I do with this?", but the thing is still going strong ten years later (it pains me to write that).  Seriously though, if you live an active lifestyle, and lets face it - most of us don't have 4-5 hours to watch a pot on the stove - a slow cooker is an invaluable tool.  Today, James and I went snowboarding and were able to come home to a fantastic dinner with no fuss.

On a quick side note, slow cooker liners are among the greatest inventions ever.  Think about how much food gets baked onto the stoneware pot inside over 7+ hours of cooking.  The liner makes clean up incredibly easy.  A box of six costs under $2.50 and I consider it a great time saving investment.  

Tonight's chili was not only delicious, but incredibly health conscious.   About a cup and a half serving clocks in under 200 calories, leaving you a little leeway to add some tortilla chips for texture.  Also with ten grams of protein and four grams of fiber, you can feel good about what you're eating.  

There's also a lot of flexibility with the recipe.  You can substitute ground beef or turkey (just remember to adjust your nutrition information).  I've also made it before with black beans and vegetable stock in lieu of chicken for a vegetarian option.  The measurements of spices in the recipe are also geared toward a slightly spicier chili, you can adjust to fit your taste.  

This is also a great leftovers recipe.  I think the flavors in chili get better over the second or third day.  The follow recipe yields about 10 servings.  

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

1 small yellow onion
1 shallot
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 jalapeño 
1/2 tablespoon olive oil 
1 pound ground chicken 
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
6 plum tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes (go with whichever option looks fresher at the market)
1 can diced tomatoes (if San Marzanos are an option, I highly recommend them) 
1/2 cup quinoa 
1 12 oz bottle of ale or wheat beer 
1 cup chicken stock 
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar 
1/4 cup torn cilantro leaves 
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Adobo seasoning 
3 tablespoons dried chipotle seasoning
2 tablespoons dried ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons epazote seasoning 
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
a few dashes of tabasco sauce (optional, to taste)
plain nonfat Greek yogurt (to garnish)
diced avocado (to garnish)
fresh cilantro sprigs (to garnish) 

- In a large skillet, heat your olive oil 
- Add diced onion, shallot, garlic and jalapeño and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent
- Add the chicken and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the chicken browns
- Add salt, pepper and seasonings (this is your seasoning for the whole pot of chili, so I don't recommend tasting it at this point)
- Dice sweet potatoes, plum tomatoes, quinoa and cilantro and layer into your slow cooker
- Add chicken mixture to the slow cooker
- Pour canned tomatoes, beer, chicken stock and sherry vinegar into the slow cooker 
- Stir the ingredients gently to incorporate everything
- Cook on high for 7 hours or on low for 10 hours
- Adjust spices and salt to your taste
- Add tabasco sauce, if desired and garnish each serving with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a few chunks of diced avocado and a fresh cilantro sprig 

If you're looking for a fantastic tortilla chip to compliment your chili, try Xochitl Totopos de Maiz (that's pronounced so cheel if you're asking for them).  They're lightly salty and incredibly thin, which can be hard to find it a store-bought chip.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Perfect Pork Belly with Chicharones

Pork belly needs to be revered as the greatest cut of pig [possibly meat] known to man kind.  The richness of the meat, the marbling of the fat and the thick skin all meld together into this amazing, mouthwatering bite.  I mean, it's the base for bacon - can you really go wrong?  There are however numerous applications beyond smoking to enjoy this great cut of meat.  I want to teach you a very simple, cured and roasted method that gives you juicy, tender meat and a crispy chicharones (pig skin).

Roasted Pork Belly with Chicharones

2 lbs pork bell (skin on)
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons dried mustard seed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- Score the skin of your pork belly 3-4 times in each direction, making X marks across the top
- Cover the skin completely with a thin layer of kosher salt and allow to sit, uncovered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  The idea is to draw all of the moisture out of the skin.

- Once your pork has cured, wash off the excess salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and move the oven rack as high as possible to get close to the heat source
- Rub the bottom side (the meat) with thyme, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper
- Place in a shallow baking dish and place in the oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pork belly
- Once your internal temperature has reached 145 degrees, remove and serve
- The skin should have a hard crackle to it

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Eggs & Bacon" - Thomas Keller Style

Contrary to my standard posting style, I'm going to start this post with a picture and then tell you about how amazing the dish is.  

Isn't is the most gorgeous amuse bouche ever?  This was my first attempt at a recipe from Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook and with a few adaptations, I was able to really make it my own.  On New Year's Eve, James and I chose not to go out and brave the insanity of amateur night, but rather cook a delectable meal at home and open a killer bottle of champagne.  In our 6-course tasting menu, this was our first and I must say, I am still incredibly proud of how well they came out.  The original recipe was for a truffled egg custard with veal ragout and chive chips.  The chips involved microplane thin potatoes, fried together with chives between them and although they appeared to be quite beautiful, my mandolin doesn't quite slice that thinly and they really just looked like a bitch to make.  In lieu, I opted for a crispy prosciutto chip which conveniently gave me the "eggs and bacon" concept.  

Egg Custards

8 Large Fresh Eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream 
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of white truffle oil
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

- Start by washing your eggs and gently scrubbing the shells
- Take a serrated knife to the bottom of each each egg, tapping until a solid crack forms and then slicing off the end in the cleanest cut possible
- Remove the inner membrane from the shells and return them to the carton (cut off the top, as you only need to bottom part) 
-Preheat oven to 275 degrees
- Reserve 2 eggs for the custard and the remaining six can be used for any other culinary task
- In a heavy bottomed pan, bring the milk and cream to a boil
- Transfer milk mixture to a blender and start to blend on low speed, slowly increasing to avoid splatters
- Add the eggs, truffle oil, salt and pepper and continue blending for about 30 seconds or until well incorporated
- Transfer mixture to a pitcher and slowly pour into each of the egg shells, filling them about 2/3 full
- Take a 4" deep baking dish and fill it about half way with water
- Place the eggs (in the carton) into the water, allowing the carton to become saturated and sink to the bottom of the pan
- Cover with a pot lid large enough to rest on the sides of the pan 
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the custard sets
- The custards can remain in the warm water for up to 2 hours after cooking

Veal Ragout

1/3 cup veal stock or demi glace
1/4 teaspoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon of black truffle oil

- Heat veal stock and fish sauce in a small sauce pan
- Once the stock has reduced by about 1/3 its original volume, add the butter and truffle oil

Prosciutto Chips

4 slices of Prosciutto di Parma or San Danielle (Parma will be a bit milder and San Danielle will have a bit more bite)

- Tear each slice in half and bake on a piece of tin foil until crisp, about 12 minutes in a 275 degree oven (the pieces do not need to lay flat, I like to fold them a bit to give them some curves and ripples once they've baked)

-Assemble all components and garnish with diced chives.  


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Green Harissa - "I put that $#!* on everything"

This dip/sauce/spread/whatever you want to call it is just simply so fantastic, it inspired me to to coin a popular advertising campaign.  There are literally countless uses for this stuff; so far, I've used it as a base for seared scallops, on turkey sandwiches, as a pretzel dip, as a veggie dip and in lettuce wraps.  The flavor profile starts on a light, refreshing note and ends with just a touch of heat.  I think it would be awesome on steak or a pork loin as well.   It's a great way to add a punch of flavor without a lot of extra calories.  Also, the recipe couldn't be any easier!

Green Harissa

1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
1 cup chopped spinach
2 garlic cloves
1/2 jalapeño (if you like a lot of heat, leave the seeds in, if not, remove them)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- Combine all ingredients in a food process and pulse on high until well combined into a paste
- Store in an airtight container for up to a 10 days

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Raw Cashew Milk

Once again in the spirit of starting the year off on a positive note, I wanted to share a delicious treat that you can concoct to help you along with any cleanse or clean eating plan.  Did you know that cashews have one of the lowest fat contents of any nut and they're packed with iron, copper and magnesium?  On top of that, the fat they do contain is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which has been known to improve cardiovascular health and help prevent diabetes.

Now that you've read my pitch for the cashew, let's talk about why I love them so much - they're delicious.  Cashews have a mild sweetness that I find really enjoyable without being overbearing or cloying.  I'm also a fan of almond milk, but I think the added benefits of cashews definitely make this a beverage worth trying.

Raw Cashew Milk
1 cup raw cashews
3 cups water
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or the scrapings of one bean)

- Combine water and cashews in a blender and mix at high speed until the liquid takes a thin, milk-like consistency
- Add agave, cinnamon and vanilla and blend for an additional 30 seconds on high
- Strain the liquid into a bottle (optional - if you're okay with a bit of texture, you can skip this step) and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week
- This should yield just under a quart

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Detox Water - Starting the New Year Off Clean

First, I'm putting a caveat on this entry - this is not intended to be a crash diet, a la "The Master Cleanse."  This is meant to be consumed with food [food with with high nutritional content, drinking it with a Big Mac won't really do a whole lot for you].

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way, let's get back to my detox water.  If you like tart flavors like I do, you may actually think it tastes pretty good, which I consider to be a definite plus in consuming anything.  It makes a great accompaniment to any cleanse and being the time of year that many of us are looking for a fresh start, I wanted to share my recipe.

Detoxifying Cleanse Water

2 liters filtered water
1 meyer lemon
1 inch of peeled, grated ginger root
2 slices of peeled cucumber
10 torn mint leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

- Cut your lemon in half, reserve three thin slices and squeeze the remainder of the lemon
- In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and allow to steep for a minimum of six hours [preferably overnight]

Maplebrook Farms Ricotta

I never thought I’d be raving about ricotta cheese.  It’s the bland, curdy mush that you layer into lasagna or stuffed shells, right?  Wrong.  Say farewell to the mass produced tubs of white paste and give a superior product a try.  Maple Brook Farms Hand Dipped, Whole Milk Ricotta is so rich, creamy and flavorful, I have to resist eating it straight with a spoon [no, I’m not kidding].  Actually, this ricotta is delicious on a slice of crusty French bread with a little bit of honey and some marcona almonds.  Not how you’d typically think of eating ricotta cheese, is it?  Another fantastic use – whisk a tablespoon into a egg whites with a  bit of fresh thyme for a light, fluffy texture. 

Maplebrook Farm [] is a boutique cheese producer out of Bennington, Vermont that specializes in mozzarella, burrata, ricotta and feta.  While I’ve yet to try their other varieties, I’m willing to venture that they’re just as spectacular.  Cheese making is truly an art form and I’ve found that smaller producers really do show the care and finesse necessary to create a product worth of regard.  Also, I like supporting small businesses. 

Their website gives a great list of retailers that carry their products so check it out and make your next lasagna something to truly rave about, if you don’t eat all the ricotta first.   

Football Fare with a Touch of Class

I know I’ve blogged about my skillet chicken pot pies in the past, but after a little tweaking, I think the recipe has improved over the years and I’d like to take a moment to share some of my updates and changes.  Skillet pot pies have become somewhat of a football staple in our house.  Important games typically warrant chicken and puffed pastry.  I’m a huge fan of good “pub food” and I think it’s a huge improvement over the typical wings and chips you associate with game day fare.  [No insult meant to wings and chips – unless there’s Velveeta involved, then insult is fully intended.]

Skillet Chicken Pot Pies

1 lb chicken tenderloins, cleaned and diced into 1” pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves freshly minced garlic
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1 tablespoons dried smoked perri perri pepper (ground)
1 tablespoon Ambrosia Garden Blend (or Italian Herb Blend)
½ cup freshly pressed carrot juice (you can also use bottled if you don't have a juicer)
½ cup lager (I used Sam Adams)
1 ½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 sheet of frozen puffed pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon milk
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large skillet,  season the chicken with salt, pepper and perri perri pepper flakes and sear off the chicken until it’s about ¾ of the way cooked
- Transfer the chicken to your skillets (or any shallow baking dish)
- Add olive oil to the pan and sweat the shallot, garlic and celery for 8-10 minutes or until translucent
- Transfer the shallot mixture to the skillets (or baking dish) over the chicken
- Deglaze the skillet with lager and carrot juice, allow to reduce by 10% in volume
- Add chicken stock, her blend, salt and pepper and bring to a boil
- Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and gently sprinkle the cornstarch across the top of the mixture to avoid clumping
- Whisk in the cornstarch and add the cream
- Allow the liquid to continue to reduce in volume by another 10%
- Pour over the chicken in your skillets (or baking dish)
- Slice the puffed pastry into strips and lay across the top
- Brush each strip with a bit of milk and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown