Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hearty Quinoa, Chicken, and Butternut Squash Stew

Yesterday I posted a couple of alternative recipes for Thanksgiving.  Here is another one.  This is very good, easy to do, low sodium, low in carbohydrates and high in protein.  I wish I had noted where I got the recipe.  I would be glad to give credit where credit is due.

 Hearty Quinoa Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew


  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Bring broth to a simmer in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and lower heat to a simmer. Cook chicken, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through; transfer to a plate.
  • Pour broth into a large bowl and set aside. Wipe out pot.
  • Add oil, onion, and salt to pot and cook over medium heat until onion softens and is starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in cumin, coriander, curry powder, and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add cayenne, diced tomatoes, reserved broth, and butternut squash. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Add quinoa and simmer another 10–15 minutes until the quinoa turns translucent.
  • Meanwhile, shred chicken.
  • Add shredded chicken to pot, and heat through.
  • Stir in parsley

When we made this I modified the recipe some and included a garnish of Queso Fresco, fresh cilantro and avocado (see picture below).  The cilantro and  avocado went well.  The queso when combined with the spicing was a little sweet.  Beware of the cayenne.  If you like spice it is okay.  But, if your tolerance of spice is low, reduce the amount by 1/2.  You can always add more in if you like.

Well, I hope you enjoy.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Bon Appetit Ya'll
Chef Leslie Bartosh

Monday, November 25, 2013

Alternative Thanksgiving idea

Sometimes even a small turkey is a little too big for a household.  And of course some people just don't like turkey. So, here are a couple of alternative dishes for you.
First, one with no picture.  Sorry.  This one is very easy and very good!  A combination that I really like.

Supremes aux Fines Herbs
Yield: 4 servings

4 ea                  Boneless, skinless, chicken breast
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 tsp                Shallots, finely minced
Wine, white, dry, as needed
Chicken stock, as needed
12 oz               Cream
4 tsp                Herbs, mixed, chopped, (chervil, tarragon, parsley, chives)

Butter pan, and evenly distribute shallots on bottom.
Season chicken breast and place on shallots.
Add equal amounts of white wine and chicken stock to come half way up the chicken breast.
Bring to simmer on stove top, cover with buttered parchment paper, place in 325° oven to finish cooking.
Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
Reduce the cuisson (the poaching liquid) to sec. (technically sec = dry; but you can't go totally dry because the pan will burn, so almost dry and syrupy.)
Add heavy cream and herbs.
Reduce to nappé (sauce consistency, coats the back of a spoon)
Adjust seasoning.
Sauce the chicken.

Notes: Some herbs, like tarragon, release their flavor readily.  You can easily make this dish with just tarragon.  You can also make it with the combination of basil and tomato, which also does quite well.  Or if spices are more to your liking, think about using no herbs but using paprika or even curry powder instead.

Now here is one with a picture: :-).  This one is a little more work but, easily done in an hour or so.
Here you see the recipe accompanied by rice pilaf and steamed broccoli, but the choices are endless.  The rice pilaf and broccoli would also go well with the first recipe.

Supremes A’lestragon
Yield: 4 servings

4 ea                  Boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Flour, as needed
4 tsp                Shallots, minced
8 oz                 Wine, white, dry
8 oz                 Chicken velouté
4 oz                 Cream
2 tsp                Tarragon

Dry the chicken breasts thoroughly (skin on or off) and dredge in flour.
Cook chicken according to the principles of sauteing in clarified butter.
Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
Degrease pan and sauté shallots until they are translucent.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine, add tarragon and reduce until au sec.
Add the velouté and cream.
Reduce to Nappe.(remember sauce consistency, coat the back of a spoon.)
Adjust seasoning.
Typically we want people to see our work (the beautiful golden brown of the chicken breast) so we place the sauce around the chicken breast instead of on top.

Well, I hope this gives you some alternatives if you need them.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Bon Appetit Ya'll
Chef Leslie Bartosh

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turkey Tips and More to Keep your Thanksgiving Holiday Safe and Happy

The following tips will help keep your turkey safe to eat.

1. If you are using a frozen turkey, allow ample time for it to thaw in your refrigerator.
A twelve pound turkey can take up to four days to thaw in the refrigerator. The time required for your turkey to thaw is dependent on how big it is and the temperature your refrigerator is operating at.

2. Do not thaw your turkey at room temperature. Doing so, allows the exterior of the turkey to get hot enough to support microbial growth while the interior is still frozen solid.

3. If you discover your turkey has not thawed sufficiently in the refrigerator, you may use the following method to help it along:

Put your turkey into a clean sink or container and fill it with cold water (hopefully your sink/container is deep enough for the turkey to be fully covered; if not, turn the turkey over periodically). Leave the turkey in the water for 20 minutes and then drain. Repeat as needed.

4. Be sure to cook your turkey to appropriate temperature; 165˚ F. Use a calibrated stem thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should run clear.

If you suffer from the dreaded dry turkey syndrome you may wish to brine your turkey.

Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup sugar and ½ cup kosher salt in a large pan and bring to a boil.
When the sugar and salt are dissolved turn off the heat allow the brine to cool to room temperature (Please do not put the hot brine directly into your refrigerator.  It will raise the temperature to unsafe levels while cooling.  for the same reason, you want the brine to be at least room temperature before you put the turkey in it.). Place your thawed turkey in a container large enough to hold it and cover with cooled brine.
Place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
When you are ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine.
Dry the turkey with paper towels.
Season and cook your turkey as normal.


A 12 pound turkey will take about 1 ½ - 1 ¾ gallons of brine.
Remember it must be thawed and refrigerated at a temperature below 39˚ F.
Brining flushes out some blood and helps the bird retain water so you will hopefully wind up with a juicy turkey.
You may also wish to flavor the brine by:
adding some fresh squeezed orange juice as a part of the water required
add orange halves to the brine when you bring it to a boil
you may also add any other herb or aromatic you desire to the brine when bringing it to a boil.

Need further assistance with your turkey or other holiday cooking projects?
You may wish to access the following sources of help:

Reynolds Turkey Tips Line
(800) 745-4000 Open through December 31, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Butterball Turkey Talk Line
(800) BUTTERBALL (800-288-8373) Available November 1 through December 28, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST; Thanksgiving Day, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST; Nov. 24 to Dec. 25, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.

Honeysuckle White
(800) 810-6325 Recorded answers to frequently asked turkey preparation questions.  24 hours a day.

Crisco Pie Hotline
(877) 367-7438 toll-free. Provides answers the most common questions about baking pies for novice bakers as well as offering tips that will benefit the most seasoned baker. The hotline also offers the option for callers to connect to a live pie expert for pie baking guidance. Hours: 9 - 7 EST except for: Nov. 16 - 25 (8am - 8pm EST) and Dec. 14 - 23 (8am - 8pm EST).

Foster Farms
Online primer on cooking turkey.  http://www.fosterfarms.com/cooking/turkey/index.asp

Perdue Chicken
(800) 473-7383 Available weekdays year-round (except the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m Eastern Time. Thanksgiving week: Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Wednesday 9am to 7 pm EST, Thanksgiving Day, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m EST.
Friday, closed.

Shady Brook Farms Turkey Line
(888) 723-4468. Available 24-hours, 7 days-a-week, automated messages by famous chefs and winemakers, through Jan. 1.

Empire Kosher
(800) 367-4734. Year-round Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m EST. Closed on Jewish and secular holidays.

Land O' Lakes Holiday Bakeline
(800) 782-9606 Available through Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, CST, 7 days a week.

Betty Crocker
(888) ASK-BETTY (888-275-2388) Open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST weekdays; staffed year-round.

Campbell's Soups Holiday Leftovers Hotline
(888) 453-3868 Open the day after Thanksgiving through December 31 for questions on leftovers; otherwise there are recorded recipes which can be faxed to you.

Fleischmann's Yeast Baker's Help Line
(800) 777-4959 Weekdays, 9am to 4pm CST, year round advice for bread bakers.

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line
(800) 637-8537 Year-round baking help, plus recipes, from 10am to 6pm.

Ocean Spray
(800) 662-3263. Staffed year-round, weekdays (open Thanksgiving Day; but not Christmas Day, New Year's Day and other major holidays) 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., EST.

King Arthur Flour
800 827 6836. Staffed year round. Need help with a substitution or pan size? Trying to work your way through a new recipe? Can’t get your bread to rise? We have professionals standing by on our Baking Hotline to offer FREE information and advice for home bakers. Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am to 9:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)

NY Times Thanksgiving Hotline: http://projects.nytimes.com/qa/events/thanksgiving-help-line

Just in Time for Thanksgiving, the McCromick Lookbook:   http://t.co/GZwWTYm880

I hope you find this information helpful.

Bon Appetit Ya'll
Chef Leslie Bartosh

Monday, November 11, 2013

Recipe Testing

One of the fun aspects of my job is the occasional off the job recipe test.  I recently ran across a new recipe for pita bread that I wanted to try.  So this weekend I did just that.  It came out great with some minor modification.
I liked the bread so much that I made a recipe from our International Cuisine class to go with it; Moroccan Kebobs.  I served the kebobs on a bed of couscous made with nuts and dried fruit.
And in the interest of full disclosure, I accompanied the kebobs with cilantro leaves, sliced cucumber, sliced jalapeno pepper, sliced radish and pickled onion.
It all went together quite well and was a great meal to end the weekend with.

Here are a couple of pictures and the recipes.  I hope you enjoy.

Moroccan Kebabs
Yield: 4 servings

¼ cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons kuzbara
2 cloves garlic crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon tumeric
2 pounds lean tender beef, 1 inch cubes
2 tomatoes cut into wedges

Combine all marinade ingredients and toss the beef in the marinade to coat thoroughly.  Set aside for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Thread the meat onto skewers, alternating with the tomato wedges, and grill.

Kuzbara is cilantro.  Kuzbara khadra is coriander.  Coriander is the seed.  Cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant.  The seeds and the leaves each have a distinctive and different flavor.

If you use wooden skewers, like I did, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.  Soaking the skewers keeps them from burning.

Pita Bread
Yield: 12 pieces

17.637 oz flour, unbleached, whole wheat or mixture
4 T powdered milk
4 T sugar
4 T oil
1 T yeast
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 ½ c water

Place all ingredients in bowl and beat for 10 minutes to form soft dough.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size about an hour
Divide into 12 and roll each to 7.75 – 8 inches  round
Preheat oven 550 degrees with baking surface inside.
Place the flat bread on the baking surface.
They should be puffy in one minute.
Do not bake more than one minute

I made a ½ recipe using the following flour mixture:  6.6 oz all purpose flour and 2.2oz whole wheat.  I had to add 1.5 oz all purpose flour to get the dough to where it was not too sticky to handle and work.
I used an upside down cookie sheet to cook the breads on.  It did not require any oil or corn meal etc to keep the breads from sticking.

Until next time:
Bon appetit ya'll
Chef Leslie Bartosh