Duxelles!

YAY I finally made duxelles! I don’t know why I thought this was so cool but I’ve had duxelles in a variety of ways, especially in soups and on toasts. I love that Cooking Light included them in their 3 Little Secrets of Big Flavors section that also includes chicken glace and shrimp butter. These three are French culinary tricks, or astuces, to add depth of flavor to a dish.   Duxelles are super savory and are an awesome little additon to a variety of dishes due to their herbacious and mushroom (read: earthtastic) flavor.

I chose the Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks because it sounded amazing and I thought it would be fitting since we have an Artic blast hitting Austin right now. Why not celebrate artic cold temperatures with Artic something or other? I went to Whole Foods Market and alas they do not carry Artic Char. Turns out their purveyor couldn’t meet their Quality Standards requirements. Love it, and thank you Whole Foods for having those standards in the first place. I went with salmon which was a tasty equivalent choice and headed home.

Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks (Photo by David Prince)

The duxelles were amazingly easy to make and oh so delicious even on their own. I also sauteed some Yukon Gold potatoes in olive oil and dashed with salt and red pepper. I placed the duxelles, potatoes, leeks and salmon in a baking dish at 400 degrees and voila! mes amis, dinner was ready. Oh, I did finish the dish off with a dash of a lemon slice (David sliced it up the fancy way) and some more olive oil.

I vageuly remember eating this because I might have inhaled it. Savory, lucious layers of earthy flavor that all worked beautifully together on the plate.  Amore!

P.S. Did I call Auburn or what? ;)

Miso Happy!

This month’s At the Market section of the January Bon Appetit focuses on Miso. To be honest, I only know miso from the traditional soup you get at Japanese restaurants, so I was very intrigued to learn more about the mysterious miso. First, what the heck is it exactly? According to Bon Appetit: Miso is fermented paste with a bold, salty flavor. Most of the miso sold in the U.S. is made from soybeans and rice or barley, but it can also be made from brown rice, millet, garbanzo beans, and other beans.  It’s also a source of Umami or Savory, aka the fifth flavor, along with Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter.  We tried naming the four last night and it was like listing the seven dwarfs, you always manage to forget one no matter how easy it is! If you want an in-depth look at what Umami is, check out the UMAMI Information Center  (UIC).  Hi yeah, UIC? If you ever need a taste-tester call me, mean it!  Also, miso comes in three colors on a range of taste intensity from mellow white, a little bit stronger yellow and the kapow version, red. Naturally, I gravitated towards the red version.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apricot-Miso Glaze (Photo by Kenji Toma)

This Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apricot-Miso Glaze was well, just genius. You can find miso here in Austin at Whole Foods Market and I got mine for $8. A little pricey but considering the fact that it lasts up to a year in the fridge and now I would like to dollop it on my cereal, I consider it a good investment. I loved the flavors of the sauce: apricot preserves, red miso, Champagne vinegar, orange peel and garlic clove. You slather it on the tenderloin, roast, roast, roast, slather, slather, roast, roast and then let the tenderloin set. While the juices redistribute, you finish off the sauce with simple chicken broth to give it a silky texture and pour all over your pork. I took one bite and might have let out an expletive. This was heavenly and so simple to make. I served on the side with some garlic and soy sauce wok-seared baby bok choy. See, see, I’m still being healthy!

I realize purchasing miso might steer you clear of this dish but lambs, have I ever led you down the wrong path? Oy, I hope  not. If you are up for something adventurous give this dish the chance it deserves. I for one know I’m going to experiment more with my red miso. Maybe next time, salmon!

Kids Night!

Looking over my blog I realized, gosh darnit, we eat pretty well around these parts. Lamb the other night, Moroccan dates another. I was feeling a little too fancy for my own pants and decided to take it back a notch. Nothing can make me feel like a kid again than crunchy chicken fingers with a dipping sauce and creamy mac and cheese. I grew up in a house with a home cooked meal every night (thanks Mom!) with fun food items like these to look forward to when I came home from school. Something about this simple combo just made me giggle like a little Emily again.

I chose these Pan-Fried Chicken Fingers with Spicy Dipping Sauce and the Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Mac and Cheese both from Cooking Light plus some adult grape juice aka a nice bottle of a 2008 Cols Du Vents Corbieres to go along with. Trust me it just sounds fancy, it was on sale for $9.00 at Whole Foods Market! 

I also like Cooking Light’s comparison of regular chicken fingers versus their creation:

OLD WAY
703 calories per serving
1,000 milligrams sodium
10.7 grams saturated fat
Deep-fried in lard
Drowning in sauce
Greasy, heavy coating

OUR WAY
414 calories per serving
495 milligrams sodium
1.5 grams saturated fat
Pan-seared in canola oil
Just enough spicy mayo sauce
Light, crispy, crunchy

Pan-Fried Chicken Finger with Spicy Dipping Sauce (Photo by John Autry)

Dude, the sodium and saturated fat difference alone should be enough to convince you to give these a try. I couldn’t find the recommended Kashi brand cereal at our HEB so I winged it and grabbed Grape-Nuts Flakes cereal. YUM! This cereal made a delicious sweet crust for the chicken. I pan-fried two minutes per side as instructed but had to chunk the whole batch into the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees to finish them off as they were still pink inside. After that though? Awesome chicken fingers with a crispy, crunchy crust and not greasy just like they say plus the chicken was still juicy. I heart this sauce. It was so simple but y’all it is a spicy little fireball so watch out and lower the amount of Sriracha if you are not a heat seeker. Of course I loved it’s spicy kick.

The mac and cheese. Nom, nom, nom. I omitted the chicken from the recipe because well that’s too much poultry for one night. Also, I decided to use turkey bacon and used three slices instead of regular bacon and only using one slice. I can’t help it, I love bacon or bacon flavor in anything! Otherwise I followed this to the letter and it turned out perfectly. I especially loved the ranch flavor of this dish. With the onion and garlic powder and fresh dill, it just zinged and zanged but without all of the calories of a true ranch dressing.

After dinner, bellies full but not too much, we sat down and watched Zombieland. This was David’s first time seeing the film and my second. My goodness I love this movie. I think every single line of Woody Harrelson’s is an excellent one-liner. My favorite…? Here you go. We have leftovers for lunch today and I’m thinking about making a chicken tender salad with the Pioneer Woman’s – don’t you just heart her?! – homemade ranch dressing with the remaining mac and cheese on the side.

Update! Leftover chicken fingers on top of mixed greens with above mentioned ranch dressing and mac and cheese – SUPER LUNCH!