Friday, November 4, 2011

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Red Quinoa and Vegetables

This recipe definitely exceeded my expectations.  I made very few changes to the recipe.  The only thing I changed was the red bell pepper.  Instead of a red bell pepper, I used an orange bell pepper.  I like the taste of the orange and yellow peppers better than the red.  I don't know why exactly, but I do.  I was not familiar with lemongrass until I started reading this recipe.  I found the lemongrass that I bought at Wegmans (of course) in the produce section.  But weeks later, I also found it at Martin's in the herb section.  You know, where they have the small containers of fresh herbs.  The stalks of lemongrass were cut up and put into a plastic clamshell.  Now I know where to find it!  I have never eaten red quinoa before.  I've heard that it is even better than the regular quinoa, so I was looking forward to trying it.  I agree that it is better than the regular.  It has a "nuttier" flavor.  I like both, though.  You can sometimes find Red Quinoa in the organic section of your grocery store.  It is a grain that is very high in protein.  The other ingredient that you may not be familiar with is fresh ginger.  If you want to buy fresh ginger in advance, just cut it into 1 inch sections and freeze it.  I also read that you can peel it before you freeze it.  I peeled it afterwards.  It is a little easier to peel when it is slightly frozen.  This recipe has a bunch of really rich deep flavors going on that are just delicious. 

SELF | July 2009
Chef Akasha Richmond

Chef and owner Akasha Richmond creates local, seasonal, organic dishs for green-chic celebs. This high-protein favorite fuels stars in need of mega energy on-set.
Yield: Serves 4
3 medium shallots, roughly chopped
2 stalks fresh lemongrass (tough outer leaves removed)
1 piece ginger (about 1 1/2 inches), peeled
1/4 cup plus 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
3/4 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or stock)
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 pound fresh sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Marinade: Puree shallots, lemongrass, ginger, 1/4 cup oil, lime juice, tamari, sugar, sea salt, pepper, and coriander in a blender until smooth. Place chicken in a baking dish and spoon on marinade, rubbing it on all sides. Cover; chill 1/2 to 2 hours. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook quinoa until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until quinoa absorbs liquid, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit, covered, until ready to serve. Heat a grill pan or skillet over high heat; coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken, turning once, for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning once, until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove chicken; let rest two minutes. Slice each breast on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sugar peas and peppers until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add mint and toss. Divide quinoa among 4 plates. Top each with 1 sliced chicken breast and 1/4 of the vegetables.

The Creative Cook

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chocolate Ricotta Pound Cake

I had a hankering for some chocolate cake on Monday, which happened to be Halloween.  I think it was a backlash from all the non-chocolate desserts I have been baking lately.  This recipe looked interesting to me on a few levels.  I had some left-over ricotta in my fridge.  I also wanted some chocolate.  But mainly, the recipe looked like it could be delicious.  It turned out that I did not have quite enough ricotta for this recipe so I opened a half package of cream cheese that had been sitting in my cheese drawer for a few days and used that up as well.  I probably shouldn't do stuff like that but I can't help it.  I have the need to use what is in my fridge.  So, sue me!  At first, when D tried the cake he said it had a "funny taste".  In fact, he said, all my recent cakes and baked goods have it.  I realized that it is the "eggie" taste that comes from pound cakes.  When you use more than two eggs in a recipe, they tend to have that taste.  The next day, the cake tastes great.  My mom loved it.  She praised it to the heavens.  And this is from a woman who does not really love chocolate all that much.  So try this cake if it appeals to you or if you have some extra ricotta in your fridge that needs to be used up.  I didn't have the Dutch processed chocolate, so I used a substitute of 3 tablespoons of regular chocolate with 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda as recommended on many websites.  It seems to work just fine.  

Chocolate Ricotta Pound Cake
makes one 6-cup fluted cake mold

4-1/2 Tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or 3 Tbsp Dutch-processed + 1-1/2 Tbsp black cocoa)
4 Tbs boiling water
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups All-Purpose flour (~220 grams)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
13 Tbs butter, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta (300 grams)
1 cup sugar (210 grams)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour the cake mold.  Set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and boiling water until thoroughly combined.  Let cool to room temperature.
3. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.  Set aside.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
5. In a mixer bowl, cream together on medium to medium high the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add the egg mixture and dry ingredients in three stages, alternating wet and dry.  Mix until combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes total.  About twenty minutes into baking, cover the cake with a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil.  Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven and let cool, turning the cake out onto a wire rack after about ten minutes.  Let cool completely.  Top with a light dusting of powdered sugar.


The Creative Cook