Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grilled Wings

One of my favorite restaurants in the twin cities, Khan's Mongolian Barbeque, has these really great chicken wings. I've wanted to try to replicate them for years but could never find a copycat recipe for the marinade. Finally, at the suggestion of my husband, I decided to just look through my fridge and pantry and try to come up with a similar combination. We grilled them, and they were fantastic, but I'm sure they would be great baked or fried, too.

Grilled Chicken Wings
Serves 2-3
Prep Time - 5 minutes
Inactive time - at least 2 hrs
Cook Time - 10-12 minutes

10-12 chicken wings
4 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP teriyaki sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients, soy sauce through pepper in a zip-lock bag. Add chicken wings and make sure the marinade coats them all. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hrs.

Preheat the grill and cook the wings about for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Serve as either an appetizer or a main course.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Amaretto Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. I also really love almond flavored desserts. So, put the two together and you'll get something really great, right? If you answered yes, you'd be correct.

After searching through a few online recipes and it seemed most simply replaced vanilla with almond extract and/or amaretto, so I decided to give it a shot. This was easily one of my favorite cheesecakes I've ever made. It's rich and creamy and has a nice subtle almond flavor. It's the perfect ending to a really great meal.

Almond Cheesecake
Serves 8-16
Prep Time - 20 minutes
Bake Time - 1 hr
Cool Time - 2 hrs

1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
3 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs, at room temperature.
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp amaretto (optional - if left out, add an additional 1/2 tsp almond extract)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Before starting, wrap your springform pan tightly with foil.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the springform pan.

In another bowl, beat together cream cheese with sweetened condensed milk. Add eggs, almond extract, and amaretto and beat until just combined.

Pour into the springform pan. Put the springform pan in a larger pan (I use my turkey roaster because it has a roasting rack inside). Put the pan in the oven and prepare the water bath, with the pan in the oven and the oven rack pulled out, by pouring 4-6 cups water, or about 1/4-1/2 inch water, into the roaster.

Bake for 1 hr, or until the cheesecake is almost set, but still jiggly in the middle. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for another 15-30 minutes until it is fully set. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 1-2 hrs. Refrigerate for at least an hour, up to overnight.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Grilled Pizza

Have you ever grilled a pizza? And I don't mean getting one of those grilled pizza pans from Papa Murphy's; I mean actually putting the crust on your grill and actually cooking the pizza on the grill. If not, you should. I know, I know, the thought of putting raw pizza dough directly on the grill is scary, but you can do it. I'll be there with you.

Grilled Pizza

Grilling a pizza is a quick process, so before you begin, make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go and outside at the grillside. So, if you're using veggies, get those chopped up and on a platter or bowl. If you're using toppings, get those ready too. If you're making sauce, get that ready, too. Having this all ready and at the grill before you get started cooking it will help you tremendously.

Heat your grill to 350 degrees.

Roll out your favorite pizza crust on a lightly floured surface. Don't worry about it being particularly pretty or organized. What matters is that it's about 1/4-1/2" thick. Put that crust on the back of a cookie sheet (or a pizza peel, if you have one) and take it out to the grill. You can use any crust you want, but I used this one from Mario Batali and it worked great.

Make sure the grate on your grill is well-oiled. Put the pizza directly on top of the grill. Trust me - it won't fall through. Cook for about a minute or two and then flip it over. Immediately after you flip, add your toppings. You should do this quickly to make sure your pizza doesn't burn.

After your toppings are added, cook for another minute or two. Remove from the grill. Let sit for a couple minutes before cutting. Your pizza will have a nice grill flavor, and will also have a great crunch like woodfire pizzas.

Coq au Vin

Who would've thought that when I was looking for meals that would use up all the ingredients in my refrigerator/freezer before moving to a new house, coq au vin would be what I made? I know, I was shocked, too. I had every single ingredient just waiting to be used.

For some reason, coq au vin always intimidated me a little. I really don't know why. I think it's the name. I was really surprised to find that while it took a bit of prep time, making it was super simple. It made my kitchen smell great and it was delicious.

Coq au Vin
Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence & Julia Child
Serves 3-4
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook Time - 1 1/2 hrs

5-6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 whole chicken, butchered
salt & pepper
1/4 cup brandy or cognac (optional)
3 cups dry red wine (I used Chianti)
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1-2 TBSP tomato paste (optional)
fresh parsley, for garnish

Cut the bacon into 1" chunks. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add about a tsp of butter or oil to the bottom of the pot and add bacon. Let the fat render out until the bacon is crisp. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, season the chicken on all sides with salt & pepper. If you like, skin the chicken before seasoning. Add the chicken to the pot and brown on all sides (about 3 min per side). Add the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pan. Saute for about 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add brandy. With a long match or one of those grill lighters, ignite the brandy. The flames should die down within a minute. When the flames are out, return the pan to the heat.

Add the wine and chicken stock to the pot and stir. Add the herbs and stir till well combined. Cover and let simmer for an hour. Remove the lid and let simmer for about 15 minutes. If you would like the sauce a bit thicker, whisk in 1-2 TBSP of tomato paste. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Swirl in 1-2 TBSP of butter to also help with thickening and give the sauce a nice shine.

Garnish with fresh parsley and the reserved bacon. Serve alongside your favorite starch.

**Traditional coq au vin includes mushrooms. We do not like mushrooms, so I completely omitted them. If you're into mushrooms, add two cups of sliced mushrooms at the same time you add the veggies.