Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Amazing Chevre Crostini

I was at Food Pyramid yesterday and espied a variety of goat cheeses.   I settled for Ile de France’s Le Chèvre. This cheese is made from the rich milk of grass-fed goats grazing in the Rhône Alps. It rated highest in overall quality in the 2008 ChefBest Awards for its texture, flavor intensity and aroma.  Its natural sour, salty and sweet notes make it wonderfully unique.

I enjoyed it in pasta and mixed greens salad but it is fantastic too as an appetizer.  With such a superior ingredient, I asked myself--what is the best way to use it? My principle has always been: simple is best --enhance it...don't mask or overwhelm the flavour.  I decided to make Ile de France’s Le Chèvre the star!  My Chevre Crostini has three basic ingredients: Ile de France® Le Chèvre, Thai basil leaves and smoked paprika oil.  Chevre Crostini is one of the deceptively simple but very delectable appetizers I’ve made--- the flavor combination is amazing!!


4 baguette slices or 2 slices honey whole wheat bread, cut into 4 pieces
Ile de France® Le Chèvre
a sprig of Thai basil, finely slivered
smoked Spanish paprika oil*

Lightly brush the baguette slices or wheat bread with oil and lightly toast them on a hot grill pan for a minute on both sides.  Spread goat cheese on each toast.  Add finely slivered Thai basil (this imparts a delicious licorice note) and drizzle with smoke Spanish paprika oil.  Serve and enjoy these goat cheese crostini!

*Smoked paprika oil is made by heating 1/2 c canola oil in a pot, adding smoked Spanish paprika to it and turning off the heat so the paprika does not burn. It is important to use the best quality Spanish paprika you can get.  The one I used is the best paprika there is!!!  It’s from The Spice House, a mom and pop Chicago operation by Tom and Patty Erd.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fried Chicken with Watercress Apple Salad in Ginger Miso Dressing

Lately, I've been rediscovering the simplicity and beauty of flavoring meats by placing them in brine.  I remember my grandma never breaded her fried chicken.  She would brine chicken thighs for 2 hours then rinse them briefly.  After patting them dry, she fried the chicken in a skillet till they were golden brown and cooked through. They don't become soggy even a day later.  I tried her method but I let the chicken sit in the fridge overnight instead of 2 hours. When my son had a taste of the fried chicken, he declared that it was one of  the best fried chicken he's had! It was a first time for him-- fried chicken without any breading!  Paired with watercress apple salad, it's a keeper.

Here is grandma's easy fried chicken that I served with watercress salad with ginger miso dressing:

4 chicken thighs
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup water
canola oil for frying
1 bunch of watercress
1 apple, cut into wedges
1 tsp ginger (you can add more if you wish)
2-3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp miso
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
soy sauce

Combine the salt, water, pepper and chicken in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge overnight. Next day, rinse the chicken pieces briefly and pat dry.   Place canola oil in a cast iron skillet and set over medium heat.  When the oil is hot enough, add the chicken and cover the skillet.  Fry the chicken till cooked through.  Serve with watercress apple salad with ginger miso dressing and soy sauce on the side if you wish.

To prepare ginger miso dressing, combine ginger, miso, rice vinegar, sugar, and chicken stock. You can adjust the ratio of sugar to vinegar to suit your taste. Combine watercress and apple wedges and drizzle dressing over it.