Fondue Bourguignonne

Fondue BourguignonneBoiled in Oil
Have you ever experienced hot oil hot pot? Me neither. That will be remedied this weekend. To be honest, I have done the hot broth version. But, the hot oil kinda scares me because I am that person that no matter how many precautions I take when frying something like chicken, I get burned. Not badly but enough to remember it. Maybe I should get one of those heat suits you see in the movies. You know the silver ones with the square windows in the helmets? Or maybe I should just chill out. I have been told that a time or twenty…mostly by my children.

So this weekend I will face my fears and give hot oil fondue a go. I was not aware that this was even a thing until I went fondue-crazy after Christmas. I knew about Asian hot pot, of course, but not this.

Hot oil fondue, or Fondue Bourguignonne at it is actually called, is a Swiss invention. It was the inspiration of field workers who did not have time to go back home for a meal. So, they started bringing pots of oil with them that they heated and then stuck chunks of meat in to cook. It got the name Bourguignonne from the imported French beef from Burgundy that was the most widely used.

Beef is still the most popular and most traditional meat for hot oil fondue. But, really you can use whatever meat or fish you want as well as you favorite vegetables. Just make sure the pot is stable….

There is a wealth of information on the internet about hot oil fondue if you want to dig a little deeper. This Chef’s Notes blog post was particularly helpful.

Our classic recipe is delicious. And, it can be the basis for experimenting with sauces and flavors. And, of course, a good fondue cookbook is always a good idea…

Fondue Bourguignonne Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse and The Food Network

Our basic recipe prepares the meat beautifully. And, the real star of this meal is the selection of dipping sauces. This is where you can get creative, and we recommend that you choose at least three favorites. The variations are infinite!

Some great recipes for sauces are Harissa Mayonnaise, Cilantro Sauce, and Fig Sauce. You can also stop by our Cheese Department and pick up a container of one of our house-made dipping sauces like Dixie’s Dipping Sauce or our Blue Cheese Dressing and Dip. Then we carry a variety of delicious BBQ sauces like Everett & Jones, and dipping sauces like the Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce or Mekong Ginger Sauce. Read more…

Chanterelle Mushroom and Chicken Wellington

Chanterelle Mushroom and Chicken WellingtonOn The Chopping Block
Over the weekend, my family held another Chopped competition. We did this once before and it was so much fun that the kids have been asking to do it again. And, since we didn’t have anything else to do, we switched up the teams for another round.

Since there are only four contestants to make up the teams choosing isn’t hard—except that my daughter is the ringer. Any team with her on it is going to have an advantage because she cooks on a regular basis and spends much of her time watching shows on the Food Network. Last time she was paired with her brother and they ended up making a pork bun and stir-fry dinner that took first place. That happened because my son, smartly, just went with what she said and did her bidding.

This time she was paired with her other brother. But, I was adamant that he had to actively contribute to the recipe discussion. No riding her coattails. I was pleasantly surprised at what he brought to the discussion given his penchant for eating whatever is the easiest to prepare. This is why we call him the Cereal Killer.

For this round the ingredients consisted of the following:

One whole chicken
Canterelle mushrooms
Purple sweet potatoes (a.k.a. Ube)
Blood oranges
Frozen puff pastry

Now, as someone who has been cooking for over 30 years, there are a number of recipes I could think of to make with this mix of ingredients. However, the dish that ultimately won the competition was one I never would have thought of—or, at least never would have thought my family would think of. I knew the puff pastry was going to present a challenge. I figured I would get at least one puff pastry empanada, and I was right. What I didn’t think I would get was a Wellington.

Wellington is traditionally made by wrapping puff pastry around a fillet of beef with a little fois gras and baking it. I’m simplifying things, but that’s the basic idea. It is not something I make often. In fact I don’t think I have ever made it. And, I am not entirely sure that my kids have even tasted it. So it came as a big surprise when my daughter made a chicken and mushroom Wellington for her Chopped dish. I can only assume she saw it on one of her favorite shows. Either way I was beyond impressed.

The final dishes were a Blood Orange Braised Chicken with Purple Sweet Potato Purée and Asparagus Mushroom Empanada and a Chicken and Mushroom Wellington with a Blood Orange Purple Sweet Potato Puree and Baby spinach salad with Blood Oranges and Balsamic dressing.

Both dishes were outstanding. We all agreed on that. Everyone upped their game and it was a good night of eating. Ultimately, the Wellington dish was the winner—but it was by a razor thin margin. It was the level of difficulty of making a Wellington that did it.

So, my daughter is now two for two in Chopped challenges. My husband was so closeto getting his first win. But alas, it was not meant to be. Next time, they will be paired together which should be entertaining as all get out.

Since no one used actual recipes, I adapted one from the Food Network if you would like to try making a Wellington.

Chanterelle Mushroom and Chicken Wellington
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with Lemon

Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with LemonCookin’ Up Christmas
I think it’s safe to say that we all have all been doing more cooking than ever this year. Some of it born out of necessity and some of it just out of mind-numbing boredom. On the positive side, maybe you learned a new skill. Or, even better, found a new passion for preparing your own food. To do it right though, you need the right tools.

I have always loved to cook—and I have an embarrassing collection of tools in which I create my favorite flavors. However, there are certain pieces that I use day in and day out. The workhorses if you will. These are my “stuck on a desert island” tools and there are a variety. But, if I had to choose the single most useful thing I have in my cooking arsenal it would be my 12-inch cast iron skillet.

I am fortunate to have collected a number of Le Creuset enameled pieces over the years. Their Dutch ovens are hands down the best investment you can make. But, that’s the thing, they are a rather expensive investment.

My Lodge cast iron skillet however is $25 at Target for the 12-inch. (Or you can check out the Lodge Cast Iron website for the whole line.) If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone who has just discovered cooking, this is the one. And, even better, the price is right. What if your recipient already has one? It’s never a bad idea to have two of the same or another one in a different size.

Cast iron skillets heat evenly and they hold the heat well. You can take the skillet from the stove top to the oven and not have to worry about ruining the pan. They are basically nonstick once you get a good “season” on it. They last forever if you take care of them correctly . More than any other benefit I have found is that you get much better browning with a cast iron pan than with any other.

One of my favorite recipes I use my skillet for is this one for These Canal House Style Chicken Thighs. If you already have a cast iron pan, pull it out and make this for dinner tonight. I promise it will become your new favorite. I admit I leave the preserved lemon out more often than not. Sometimes less is more. The real star of this dish is the crispy skin.

If you like the idea of cast iron as a gift, include a card with this recipe on the pan and maybe a few other favorite recipes for your recipient to try out.

Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with Lemon
Recipe adapted from Food 52 Read more…

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan Chicken

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan ChickenFall Into a New Year
I did not grow up in a Jewish household, but I have always been fascinated by the connection of food to the traditions and ceremonies of the Jewish faith. The fact that I am drawn to the same foods that are typically found in Jewish kitchens is why I found myself thumbing through recently posted Rosh Hashanah recipes looking for something new.

I consider Rosh Hashanah to be one of the first signs of Fall, at least here in California where we don’t get the temperature drop or the obvious changing of the leaves as in other places. The food for the Jewish New Year is filled with all things fall. Apples, pomegranates, and pumpkins abound for the Rosh Hashanah feast. The only problem, for me at least, is that the tie to traditional ingredients can make it difficult to find a dish that is new and interesting.

Serving a whole fish is as traditional as it gets and I found plenty of recipes for that. But, I also found myself most intrigued by the chicken recipes, probably because I don’t think of chicken as a celebratory ingredient. Chicken is a mid-week work horse for me not the centerpiece of a feast. The chicken I made over the weekend might change my mind even though it’s as easy to throw together as any Wednesday night dinner. Even better, it actually qualifies as a sheet pan recipe so clean up is a breeze.

The original recipe called for dates, but I swapped them out for prunes—mainly because I find dates to be too sweet—and I love any opportunity to throw prunes into a recipe. Feel free to try it either way. I served this with garlic mashed potatoes, but it would be equally tasty with some fluffy, fresh couscous.

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan Chicken
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…