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Unless otherwise noted, all content and photos are property of Elle @ Elle's New England Kitchen. Copyright 2008-14. All rights reserved. If you'd like to reprint an article or use a photo, please contact me for permission at ellenekitchen at gmail dot com. All photos, unless specified, have been taken by me, and if used without permission, an invoice will be forwarded to the proper business/individual. Thank you.

 

 

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Thursday
Jan242013

Traditional Chicken and Rice by Lidia Bastianich (Win the cookbook!)

Traditional Rice and Chicken - Riso alla Pitocca by Lidia Bastianich This dish just screams come in from the cold and fill your belly. It’s loaded with flavor, along with chunks of tender chicken and perfectly creamy rice. Filled with tiny bits of carrot, celery and onion, and some parmesan cheese that’s been stirred in until melty--it’s comfort food at it’s best. “Here is a dish that rivals risotto for flavor but is much simpler to make,” Lidia says about this dish.

The randomly chosen winner of the cookbook is Jen B. Congrats, Jen, and thank you to everyone that entered! 

I love Lidia Bastianich--I always have. She not only makes the most amazing Italian food, but I find her comforting. Her voice is calming to me. I want to be in her kitchen and have her talk me through making all of her recipes. Weird? Of course not! If you like more information on Lidia, check out her site, Lidia’s Italy. It’s filled with information, including recipes, a blog, Lidia’s appearance schedule, and more.

I recently received a copy of her new book, Lidia's Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees. I’m in love with this cookbook! These recipes are the ones that you’ll want to make and share with the ones you love. These aren’t over complicated dishes to make, either. There are no crazy long ingredient lists using fifteen pans to prepare and serve. They’re family style--and suitable for weeknight dinners as well as hearty Sunday dinners.

Lidia's Favorite Recipes

From the book’s dust jacket: “Lidia Bastianich—one of the most beloved chefs and authors in America—presents her most accessible and affordable cookbook to date, a gathering of the recipes that have become her go-to meals for her very own family. But these are not only Lidia’s personal favorites; this book is a love letter to her fans. Here, she is giving us the recipes for dishes that you have raved and written about over and over—the best, the most comforting, and the most delicious dishes in her repertoire.

  From the classic sauces to the delicious desserts, these recipes have been revised and updated to be more concise and clear, but just as soul-satisfying as ever. With new information about the affordability, seasonality, and nutritional value of the ingredients, this book shows there is no question why these dishes are the easiest and most enjoyable to bring to the family table for your most memorable moments. Beautifully illustrated throughout with full-color photographs, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes will give both new cooks and longtime fans something extraordinary to celebrate.”

This chicken and rice dish is a convenient one pot meal, and it’s ready quickly enough to be a weeknight meal, but also wonderful on those cold weekend afternoons and evenings. It’s also an inexpensive meal. I’m going to give you one warning, though. It’s filling! It’ll stick to your ribs, for sure. Take a serving that’s a little less than how hungry you feel, then go back for more if you think you need it. I’ve made this about five times already, and I still haven’t gotten this though my head. It’s just so tasty that I can’t help myself. It’s also husband and kid-approved, and let’s just say that it isn’t pretty when we fight about who gets the leftovers.

Traditional Rice and Chicken - Riso alla Pitocca by Lidia Bastianich

Traditional Rice and Chicken

Riso alla Pitocca by Lidia Bastianich
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup onion cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup carrot cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup celery cut into 1 inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled (I use 3, or 4 if they're smallish)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt (I use 2 teaspoons. Always better to start with less and season later!)
1 fresh bay leaf (I use 2 dried bay leaves)
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups hot chicken or turkey stock (I use Better than Bouillon, which explains why I use less salt.)
2 cups Italian short grain rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli (For great creamy risotto texture, don't substitute.)
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for passing

 

Trim any extra fat from the chicken and cut the thighs into 1 inch chunks, set aside. In a food processor, mince the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into a fine textured pestata. Not a puree, not large chunks, but in between--minced.

Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan with a lid, and set over medium high heat. (Seriously, a large pan. At least a 12 inch pan with a fairly high side, or a large saucepan. This dish grows as it cooks.) Stir in the pestata and and season with one teaspoon of the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pestata has dried.

Toss in the chicken and the bay leaf (or leaves), and sprinkle with one more teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the chicken is browning and caramelizing. Raise the heat and add the wine, stirring and deglazing the pan. Cook until the most of the wine has evaporated. While stirring, pour in the hot stock and the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to keep it bubbling gently (a nice low-ish simmer). Cook for 14-17 minutes (It's 14 for Lidia, and about 17 minutes for me.), or until the rice and chicken are fully cooked and the rice is a creamy consistency.

Turn off the heat and drop in the butter, stirring until it's completely incorporated, then stir in the parsley and the 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Check for seasoning  now. Spoon into pasta bowls and serve immediately with additional cheese to pass around at the table.

  • As you can see, I forgot the fresh parsley. D’oh!
  • This is a great dish to make and take to a friend/family in need of some nourishing love. New parents, friends dealing with a crisis, sick friends--you get the idea.

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Giveaway!

 

Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Has generously offered to give a copy of Lidia’s Favorite Recipes to one of you! And entering is so easy…

  • Just leave a comment here. That’s it!
  • If you’d like additional entries, you can share this on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+. Leave an additional comment for each share here on this post letting me know you did.

I’ll choose the random winner (US only) on Thursday, January 31st. Good luck!

Traditional Rice and Chicken - Riso alla Pitocca by Lidia Bastianich

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Lidia's Favorite Recipes at no cost to me. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House will be providing the prize for this cookbook giveaway and will send the prize directly to the winner. I did not accept monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

 


 

Tuesday
Jan152013

Noodle Bead Bracelets in Pink, Blue and Silver

Pink and Silver Noodle Bead Bracelet

Iron Craft ‘13 Challenge #1 - Cotton

I’ve decided to join Iron Craft Challenge this year! I’ve watched Kathy, Susi and co. show off their beautiful projects and this year, Kathy asked me if it was time for me to join. After doing my Ornament Wreath a while back, I realized I’d missed crafting. So when she asked, I said yes! Every challenge has a different theme, and this first one is Cotton. We could make anything we wanted, but it had to be made with cotton.

Pink and Silver Noodle Bead Bracelet

See my new shop for these bracelets and other handmade items for sale! Click the photo below and you'll be taken directly to the shop.


I gave it some thought, and came up with these bracelets made with waxed cotton cord. I can’t sew to save my life, or crochet or knit, and these seemed like a good way to ease back into crafting. I love the bright silver noodle beads, and you can use any color cotton cord you want to personalize yours. I already have some supplies for making jewelry, though for this project, I needed everything but the tools that I have.

My local Michael’s and Hobby Lobby were out of the findings I needed to make these, and I almost panicked until I found Beadaholique!  Beadaholique.com makes it so simple! Not only do they sell everything you could ever need to make jewelry, but they also sell ready made kits that they put together. Pick a project, see the directions, and go ahead and order a kit if you like. That’s what I did for these bracelets.

Blue and Silver Noodle Bead Bracelet

You can find the directions and supply list here. I also picked up these extender chains for a little dangling action. The crystal charms are to add some sparkle and are from Hobby Lobby--a set of 4 for under $2. It was pretty simple to make these! It definitely helps to have the correct tools, so if you can spare it, the tools are pretty inexpensive at your local big chain craft stores.

  • Note that their project instructions are for a finished 6 1/2 inch bracelet. I wanted a 7 inch bracelet, so I cut my cords at 6 3/4 inches.
  • I’d also like to note that the blue cord was from Michael’s and had no measurement on it. The pink cord from the kit is 1.5 mm, and the blue one is much thinner, so I cut 10 blue cords to fit into the Barrel Cord Ends.
  • I had a little trouble getting the ends of the cords all to go easily into the Barrel Cord Ends, so I grabbed the pointy file in my kit that looks like the first one on the left in this photo to push any stray ones in. That made it simple.

I hope you’ll check out the other entries in the Iron Craft Challenge, and you can also check out the Flickr Group!

Blue and Silver Noodle Bead Bracelet



Thursday
Jan102013

Herbed Cocktail Onions and Olives

Herbed Cocktail Onions and Olives

This is one of my favorite little snacks/nibbles. It’s so simple to make, and it can be served at your most sophisticated dinner parties, or served up in a little bowl just for you while you relaxing at home with a book and a glass of wine. It transforms simple Kalamata Olives and Pickled Cocktail Onions into something that you won’t be able stop eating. Add some lightly salted mixed nuts on the side and you have perfection. I found it at the Rowes Wharf Bar in Boston.

You know those places that you can walk into from a noisy street and within seconds, be transported to a spot that’s quiet, cozy and comfortable? It almost feels like home, but there are no kids or dogs asking for your attention every five minutes. Yeah, you know what I mean!

The Rowes Wharf Bar at the Boston Harbor Hotel is one of our favorite quiet spots. Just look at it, with it’s comfy chairs, dark wood, and non-trendy atmosphere. The staff is incredible, too. They’re there to see to what you want or need, even before you know you need it--always very attentive, refilling glasses and snacks. On one occasion, there was a table of…I want to say kids, because they were so immature, but they weren’t--they were young professionals--still, old enough to know better. They were about ten of them, and they were loud, which I can live with. It’s a bar, after all. Then they had to get louder and start using miscellaneous expletives and totally embarrassing themselves. Someone must have complained (I swear it wasn’t us!), because our waitress went to their table and quickly and quietly got the situation under control. They shut the heck up and we profusely thanked her. See? They’re looking out for you!

The bar snack at Rowes Wharf Bar is this mix of little onions and olives, served alongside mixed nuts. You think it won’t be anything special, but oh, it’s a bit briny from the olives and onions, salty, crunchy--and they'll just keep replenishing your supply! The olives are velvety and the onions give you that little pop--I could go on and on about it, but I’ll just give you the recipe. Oh, how did I get the recipe? I emailed the concierge at the hotel, and she asked the chef. He was kind enough to share and I’m forever grateful!

Herbed Cocktail Onions and Olives

Herbed Cocktail Onions and Olives

Chef Daniel Bruce, Boston Harbor Hotel
  
2 cups Pitted Kalamata Olives
2 cups Pickled Cocktail Onions
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs,including Parsley, Basil, Thyme and Chives
Salted Mixed Nuts (to serve alongside)

Drain the olives and onions, and put them in a bowl with the vinaigrette and herbs, then toss to incorporate everything.

Store in a covered container and refrigerate for at least four hours so the flavors can mingle.

Serve with nuts and your favorite beverages.

  • The balsamic vinaigrette mellows the onions and olives and takes the edge off so they’re a bit more pleasant on the taste buds, and not so sharp. So even if you think the olives and onions will be strong and overpowering, they’re not.

See the archway in the middle of this picture? The hotel entrance where the bar is located is just to the left of the archway. When you’re done at the bar, you can head out this back way and walk along Boston’s Harborwalk at Rowes Wharf. It’s just beautiful with all of the boats docked and the fresh ocean breeze--and the views are spectacular!

Herbed Cocktail Onions and Olives



Thursday
Jan032013

Simple Tomato Soup (Campbell’s Copycat)

Simple Tomato Soup (Campbell’s Copycat)

It’s cold today. COLD. Twenty degrees F, to be exact. It’s soup weather! Last night when I served this, it was six degrees, and “felt like” eighty gazillion below zero(that last fact has not been verified by anyone but me). And what’s more comforting and hearty than tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side? Well, I’m sure everyone has their favorite, but for me, this one’s right up there at the top of the list! My family loves Campbell’s Tomato Soup, but I haven’t bought any in a long time because it has high fructose corn syrup. No one needs that. So I grabbed some stuff and made my own.

Looking at the ingredients on the CS can, you’ll see tomato puree, water, HFCS, wheat flour, salt, vegetable oil, flavoring, ascorbic acid and citric acid. Not hard to duplicate, but that soup has that certain something, doesn’t it? I dropped the flour, salt and oil, and the two acids. “Flavoring” came in the use of vegetable stock instead of water, and a bit of garlic powder, because garlic makes everything better. What you’re left with is a velvety soup with hints of vegetables, and that telltale hint of sweet that you get from the corn syrup they use.

Penguins love tomato soup, did you know? But they'd probably ask for a grilled fish sandwich instead.

Give it a taste after you add the butter, and I’m pretty sure you won’t need salt--I didn’t need any. If you find it too velvety, add another 1/2 cup of broth, and up to 1/2 cup more if you feel you want it thinner. I’m biased, of course, but I thought it was perfect as is. Our grilled cheese sandwiches were simply Black Forest ham, sharp cheddar and thinly sliced tomatoes. A match made in comfort food heaven!

Simple Tomato Soup (Campbell's Copycat)

Simple Tomato Soup (Campbell's Copycat)

Makes just about 9 cups (2 1/4 quarts)

1 (26 oz) box of Pomi Strained Tomatoes (you can use a 28 oz can if you can't find Pomi)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
5 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter

In a medium soup pot, heat the strained tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, garlic powder and sugar over low- medium heat. Stir occasionally to make sure that the tomato paste and sugar are dissolving.

When the paste and sugar are incorporated, add the butter and stir till melted. Serve in mugs with grilled cheese sandwiches and some kind of cheesy cracker, because that's the law.

Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Simple Tomato Soup (Campbell's Copycat)



Friday
Dec072012

Whole Wheat Brownies you’ll actually love!

Decadent Whole Wheat Brownies

Who doesn’t love brownies? I guess there may be one or two of you out there. For the rest of you that do love them, keep reading. I’ve made them with finely stone-ground whole wheat pastry flour and your kids/family/friends are never going to tell the difference.

We all want to eat healthier, and I think the easiest way to do that is by making small changes that add up. Once you start making small changes, they have a way of snowballing. Before you know it, good things are happening all over the place!

Decadent Whole Wheat Brownies

This recipe is for Hodgson Mill’s “Have a Grain Holiday” recipe contest. The idea is to chuck the white four for a change and get that whole wheat in there. It’s  not as difficult as it seems. Last year, I did a Whole Wheat Whisky Gingerbread. My daughter still talks about that one--she loved it, whole wheat flour and all!

I’ve taken the white flour out of these brownies and brought in the whole wheat pastry flour as a replacement. Now, does this make these 100% healthy? No, of course not--they’re still brownies. And it’s the holidays, so we all indulge somewhat. The brownies, even with whole wheat flour, are so rich, dark and fudgy, that no one would ever guess the change that was made. Go ahead and try these, you won’t believe how decadent they are!

__________________________________________________________________________

Click here and enter to win one of 50 Baker’s Holiday Gift Packs, including whole wheat flours, baking mixes, and more from Hodgson Mill, valued at $85!

Added bonus: Click here to get a coupon for $1.00 off any 5 pound flour or cornmeal from Hodgson Mill!

__________________________________________________________________________

I also have $25 worth of assorted Hodgson Mill products to give away to one of you! Hodgson Mill uses grains that are of the highest grade, produced domestically wherever available, and purchased in the United States. They use only stoneground milling to ensure, unlike other mills, that their products contain the entire nutritional benefit of the grain. And Hodgson Mill has a commitment to solar and wind power at our mill and an award-winning recycling program.

How could you not love all of that? See below to enter!

______________________________________________________

Decadent Whole Wheat Brownies

Decadent Whole Wheat Brownies

Makes a 9"x13" pan

This makes a lot--good for holiday parties, potlucks, etc. The mini chocolate chips I use are Ghirardelli, in a 10 oz bag. You're dividing it into 3 and 7 oz portions in this recipe. In case you’re wondering, these got big thumbs up all around.

To make the Christmas decorations, I simply used candy melts from the candy making section at any craft store. Melt them, pour into a zip top bag and snip a small corner off the bag. SMALL. Make your shapes on parchment paper or foil, and set aside to cool. I stuck them on the brownies using a simple ganache, and I'll include the recipe below. I free handed the decorations, as you can clearly tell, ha! They give the brownies a nice, old-school homey look. Yeah, that's what I'm going with! You can also just dust with a small amount of powdered sugar for that “snowed on” look.

3 (1-oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate
3 tbsp cocoa (I use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
3 tbsp canola oil
3 oz of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 tbsp espresso powder or instant coffee
1 tbsp Raspberry Liqueur, optional
5 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 tsp salt
7 oz (remaining chips from the bag) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, and lightly grease the foil.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the unsweetened chocolate squares, cocoa and oil, the 3 oz of mini chips, the butter, the espresso powder or instant coffee, and raspberry liqueur, if using--and melt over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

While that's all melting, start the next step. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. This is where a stand mixer comes in handy, but a hand mixer will also do the job.

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl, along with the flour and salt. Mix until just blended, and then stir in the remaining 7 oz of chocolate chips. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. That's right, 20 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on your work surface a few times to release air bubbles.

Bake for 25-27 minutes. The top should be shiny and the sides should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let them cool completely before cutting! To cut, lift them out of the pan using the edges of the foil. Cut into squares, decorate if you wish, and store in an airtight container.

Ganache Recipe

1/2 cup heavy cream
7 oz bittersweet chocolate
pinch of salt
1 tbsp raspberry liqueur, optional

Put the chocolate in a bowl, add the pinch of salt and liqueur, if using. Set aside.

Set the cream over low-medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat gently until small bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan. Don’t let it boil.

Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let this sit for 2-3 minutes, and then using a rubber spatula, gently stir the cream into the chocolate. Doing this gently prevents any air bubbles in the ganache.

To attach the decorations, put the ganache into a plastic zip top bag and seal. Snip off a tiny corner of the bag, and gently add a dollop of ganache to the center of each brownie. Set the decoration right on top of the ganache, and let them sit for a while to set up. Store any leftover ganache in the fridge, and then you can eat it with a spoon. That’s what I’m doing with it!

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To enter the giveaway for $25 of assorted Hodgson Mill products:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what kind of recipe you’d like to make with Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour. Use a valid email address so you can be reached.

Optional Entries:

2. Tweet about this giveaway and leave another comment here telling me that you did.

3. Share this on Facebook and again, leave another comment on this post letting me know.

I’ll choose a winner next Friday, December 14th. The winner will have 48 hours to get back to me or I’ll choose another name. Good luck!

Don’t forget to go and enter to win one of 50 Gift Packs full of assorted Hodgson Mill products!

 Decadent Whole Wheat Brownies



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