Sunday, May 31, 2009

Brunch Crepes with Pear-Pecan Filling

I forgot to take pics this morning because it was so tasty that we ate everything! Ooops ... so y'all will have to live with images of fruits & nuts:)
Crepes are not the healthiest, but I modified my recipe to add a little good stuff like wheat flour & flax ... and then filled them with fresh fruits & nuts for a fresh and flavorful breakfast.

Crepes with Pear-Pecan Filling
Crepe Batter
  • 2 Eggs + 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Flax Powder
  • 1 1/2 c LowFat Milk
  • 1/4 c Wheat Flour
  • 2/4 c White Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Almond or Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Splenda
  • pinch of salt
  • butter for greasing the pan (i have a trick to use very little)

Fruit Filling
  • 1 Pear, Ripe but crisp, I think I used a d'Anjou
  • 20-25 Pecans, I used delicious Rhew Orchards Pecans
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Brown Sugar
Make the batter first because you want to let it 'rest' for about 15 minutes before using it. Beat the eggs, then add the remaining liquid ingredients and mix. Sift in the flax and flours whisking so that you avoid lumps. Stop stirring once combined, you don't want to overmix. Let the batter rest and ideally transfer from your bowl into a container that has a spout which will make it easy to pour.

For the filling, simply dice 1/2 of the pear rougly and slice the other half into thin slices. Save the slices for assembly. Put the diced pear, all the pecans and the brown sugar into a cuisinart or blender. Blend until chunky, but not liquid.

Heat a medium sized non-stick pan on medium, maybe 4 or 5 out of 10. Take your stick of butter and just lightly pass it over the surface - the heat will get a tiny bit of butter on the pan, just enough so that the crepe browns and adds flavor but does not stick. My trick to do this well is then to put the stick of butter in the freezer between each use - that way it is easy to handle and yet deposits just a teensy bit of butter.

Pour about 2 Tbsps of batter onto the surface and tilt the pan until you've coated a surface about 6-8 inches in diameter. Cover the pan and let it cook for 2 minutes or so. It should be ready to flip either with a spatula or chef style (which I learned to do today:). Once flipped leave the lid off and cook another 30-60 seconds. Your crepe should be done ...

Slide the crepe onto a plate, put two pear slices in the center, lengthwise and cover with the chopped filling. Roll up and serve .. you may want to garnish with another slice of fruit and a whole pecan or if you are feeling saucy ... a bit of melted brown sugar with butter (I didn't do this and don't think you need it ... but would be decadent!).

Enjoy your fruit & nut filled, semi-healthy crepes!!! Fill the same crepes with a fruit filling of your choice ... or skip the splenda & extract to make savory crepes sometime. They are much easier than you think:)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Roasted Tomatoes ... mmmmm & easy!

An impromptu dinner party at my place inspired this recipe which I had once
before when my roomie and great friend Colleen cooked it during grad school ... this Saturday our friend, who shall remain nameless but disgraced, cancelled a 6 person dinner party at the last minute so I had folks to my digs instead ... we are still angry with you by the way!!!

Anyhow... I tried to remember and scanned a few recipes - then came up with this combo that resulted in a tender, juicy, crispy browned chicken that was lovely. The only thing I would change next time is cooking it breast up (oops) and probably make a pan gravy with the extra drippings.

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Roast Tomatoes (serves 4-5)
  • 1 Full Chicken, 4-5 lbs, defrosted
  • 2 packs grape tomatoes, like Cherubs or farmers market babies
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, depends on how much you like it
  • 2 Lemons, quartered
  • 4-5 Tsps Thyme
  • 3-4 Tbsps Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
This was the first time I have ever roasted a whole bird, so needless to say I was a little intimidated. It turns out not to be all that scary in fact ... the worst part was getting the weird bits (read gizzards) out of the bum. Uck. But I used tongs and it wasn't all that bad:))) So, get the stuff out of your bird and toss that - cuz I don't do exotic dishes with that stuff. Total time for a bird this size, including brining is about 3 hours. I put it in the oven at 6:15 with the intention of eating at 8:30 ... allowing 2 hours in the oven + a 15 minute rest. Was a bit too long ... but gives you a guide for planning.

Fill a pot of water, large enough to submerge the whole chicken, with warm water and about 4-5 tsps of sea salt or coarsley ground salt. Brine the chicken in this mixture for 1-2 hours. Less if you don't have time, but the key to brining is that the chicken retains moisture longer and ends up being super juicy.

While the chicken brines, make whatever sides you are preparing and get the rest of the ingredients set up. Mix up the Thyme, Olive Oil and about 2-3 tsps each salt & pepper in a ramekin. Quarter the lemons and halve about half of the grape tomatoes. Crush and chop the garlic. Grease a roasting pang or 2-inch deep baking vessel. Preheat the oven to 425.

Once the chicken is brined, take it out, pat it dry with paper towel and then coat it in the oil & herb mixture. Use your hands, it is way more effecient than a brush. Place the chicken, breast up, in the roasting pan. Put some of the thyme mixture and about 1/4 of the garlic into the cavity, followed by one of your quartered lemons. Tie the feet together with twine - FYI - I didn't this time as I had no twine and guess what - nothing. Nothing bad happened - maybe it would have been even better if I had ... but no biggie if you dont.

Surround the chicken with all the tomatoes, garlic and any remaining oil/herb mixture. Squeeze the lemon quarters and then place them in the pan as well. Put that bird in the oven and you're off to the races!

For a 4-5 pound bird, you'll need about an hour and 40 minutes. Ideally, you'll cook it at 425 for the first 20-30 minutes and then turn it down to about 350 for the remaining cooking time. If you remember, try to check the bird and baste it with the pan juices once or twice during cooking. I only did it once - and being a bird novice, I don't have a baster - I just spooned some liquid back over the bird. Have a meat thermometer handy to test it - you want 170-180 for the thickest part of the bird. I cooked mine a bit too long and was closer to 190 when we took it out but it was still fantastic. The tomatoes will turn out roasted with some charred and some more juicy - but very very sweet and complementary to the garlic & chicken.

Once the bird is cooked to temperature, remove it from the oven, cover it in foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving. It'll still be plenty hot and very tasty. In the meantime, you can take some of the pan juices and simmer them down with some white wine and a roux or thickening agent like cornstarch to make a killer sauce. I didn't do this and we had a lighter but scrumptious meal. Saturday I served this with roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes and a salad. But it'll go with just about anything.

Once you've kicked the bird, use the leftovers to cook down in some water for chicken stock or a mean chicken soup ... which I am doing tonight.

Enjoy and thanks again Coll!!!