Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Healthy Chicken Stew

Chicken and Barley Stew

Like many people, I start each New Year planning to eat more healthfully. I don't always succeed, but I continue to try.

When a new issue of a food magazine arrives in my mailbox, I'll sit and flip through the pages usually thinking to myself--I must try this recipe, but then don't. However, in the case of the March 2012 issue of Food and Wine, I did. The theme was healthy eating and the pages were crammed full with  recipes using fresh fruit and veggies, high fiber grains and lots of fish and chicken. The Chicken and Barley Stew recipe caught my eye. The dish was an easy one-pot meal, inexpensive and sounded yummy. I made it and can honestly claim it tasted really satisfying. The squeeze of fresh lemon really adds some zing.

Therefore, I share and recommend the recipe from Food and Wine below:

Chicken and Barley Stew with Dill and Lemon
6 Servings
(I made just half the recipe without any problems.)

1/2 cup all- purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup oil plus 1 tablespoon (I used olive)
2 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 celery ribs, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large leek. white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 3/4 cup pearled barley
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped dill  (I didn't have any)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped tarragon1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 1/2 ounces)

1. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken in the flour, shake off the excess.

2. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high hear until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Brown the remaining chicken in 2 more tablespoons of the oil.

3. Pour off the fat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the carrots to the casserole and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Add the celery, leek and garlic and cook until starting to soften, 2 minutes. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper and the barley. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the barley starts to toast, 1 minute. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the barley is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

4.  Return the chicken to the stew; cover and simmer until cooked through and the stew has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dill and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the stew into bowls, sprinkle with the tarragon and cheese.

One serving: 508 calories, 8 grams far, 58 grams car, 10 grams fiber and 50 grams protein.
Wine Pairing suggestion : Chenin Blanc

Read this and other food blog stories on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chef Aaron Webb's Red Snapper

Chef Webb's Red Snapper
A Sunday Brunch Show Stopper

Sunday Brunch at the historic Casa Marina Hotel and Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach, Florida would not be complete without Chef Aaron Webb's dramatically presented Red Snapper.  The gorgeous flame colored fish is served whole, in a standing position, along with dipping sauce.

I had the privilege of watching Chef prepare the fish and could not believe how easy it looked. 
I am almost convinced I could try it myself, but still find it intimidating. 
Here is a look at how Chef Webb does it: 

Start with a 5 to 7 pound whole Red Snapper, scaled and de-gilled.  Leave on the tail and head. 

Gently score the fish the long way and cross ways with a sharp knife forming large diamonds.  
Do not cut through the center bone.

With virgin olive oil, pour or brush in between the scored crevices.  Season with your choices of spices:garlic powder, cumin, lemon pepper, salt and pepper.

Create a large ball from silver foil and stuff into the open base cavity of the fish so it will stand up firmly on an oiled baking sheet. 

Cook at 325 degrees for 45 minutes; rotate and then check in another 20 minutes for doneness.  
Serve with your choice of sipping sauce. 

Enjoy this fabulously moist and tasty fish along with other selections at brunch!

Read this and other food blog stories on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Baklava in Old Jaffa, Israel

The Best Ever Baklava

On my second morning in Israel, I went for a walk around Old Jaffa, just a stone's throw from Tel Aviv and my hotel. I felt excited to be in a foreign country, delighted to be shooting photos and content browsing the flea market. The market was spread along street fronts and cast upon the ground. Sellers offered five and dime trinkets and lots of old junk, but the surrounding stores had better merchandise. To me, the ancient port had an exotic, Old World type feel, unlike anything in Florida.

Around the corner I came upon the most extraordinary bakery. Abouelafia , a baklava bakery. Oh my!

I was overwhelmed by the trays and trays of intricate designs and artistic shaped baked goods. I'd never seen goodies like these before. One pan was decorated with nuts, others with colored sugar, some resembled tiny bird's nests and others were rolled. I saw balls coated in what looked like shredded wheat and triangular confections layered with pistachios and super-thin phyllo dough, and oozing honey. I cannot imagine the dedication and skill necessary to make these delicacies.

The Arabic employee said all the pastries were baklava, but I really didn't know, nor did I care. My photography friends and I purchased a few samples in order to taste the heavenly snacks.  "Indescribably delicious." Isn't that what the Keebler's elves say?  These treats were sweet, smooth, busting with flavors like cinnamon and cloves, very dense and filling. Utterly wonderful.

In doing a little research from home, I found a quote stating," Aboulafia is rumored to be the best bakery in Israel and the number one reason to visit Jaffa is arguably the food."

 An Israeli folk song describes Jaffa as possessing a “mysterious and unknown” element. I absolutely agree. 

Read this and other food blog stories on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Boudin for a Super Party

Jeff Benoit and his Mother at B & O's Kitchen

While exploring Southwest Louisiana, I found the perfect food for a Super Bowl party- Cajun boudin (boo-dah): a mixture of ground pork, rice, onion, parsley, garlic and peppers injected into natural casing. Some recipes include liver. Local Cajun, Creole and German families make it, often sell it in a small shops and vigilantly protect their secret recipe. 

Boudin balls, nugget size pieces of the sausage, would be a hit at any party, especially a manly man party! The stuff is very filling and did I mention cracklin's?  If you don't know what cracklin's are, well...forget healthy and just enjoy. 

Visit Lake Charles, the largest city in Calcasieu Parish, to drive the Boudin Trail  that runs along Interstate 10 and state highway 90. Stop to taste the differences in the culinary delight from one shop to another. Yum!

I visited into B & O Kitchen and the owner, Jeff Benoit, told me his 82-year-old grandmother still worked in the store as does his son. When hunters in the area get lucky,  Jeff cuts and packs the prize kill and makes them homemade sausage.   

If you want to drive the Boudin Trail, pick up a pamphlet at the Convention and Visitor's Bureau which explains everything--even explains how to cook it! Or simply click on this link for more information.  
At Hollier's Cajun Kitchen