Honey Peking Chicken With Steamed Buns

peking-chicken-with-steamed-buns

Ching Shih would probably have wanted Peking Duck rather than chicken, but these are just as good!

Honey Peking Chicken

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts, skin on

1-1/2 teaspoons five spice powder

3 slices of ginger, smashed with side of knife

3 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice wine (or dry sherry)

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

1. Using the tines of the fork, prick holes through the skin and meat of the chicken. This allows for the marinade to seep through. Combine all the rest of the ingredients and marinate the chicken breasts for up to 4 hours.

2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Drain the breasts, discard marinade, and pat the chicken very dry, especially the skin side. Heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in large oven proof fry pan on high heat. When oil is hot, place chicken, skin side down in the pan. Fry until the skin is golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. (tip: don’t move the chicken when you are frying it. just leave it alone and let it fry to crisp up) Turn skin side up and place oven proof fry pan in the oven for 15 minutes, until cooked through.

3. Remove from pan and let rest on cutting board for 10 minutes. Carefully cut the chicken breast into thin 1/2″ slices – try cutting on the diagonal to get nice, long, thin slices.

Steamed Buns

Ingredients

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for dusting work surface

2 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuit dough (7.5 ounces each)

20 parchment squares (about 4″x4″)

Directions

1. Dust work surface with the flour. Open the can of dough. Separate out the biscuits – there should be 10 in each can. Keep the dough covered loosely with plastic wrap or towel. Roll each biscuit into an oval and fold in half. Place on parchment square. Keep covered until ready to steam.

2. Steam the buns for 12 minutes. You’ll steam the buns in batches, avoid overcrowding the plate while steaming otherwise the buns will stick to each other.

To Serve

1 English or Japanese cucumber, cut into very thin julienned strips, soaked in 1 cup ice cold water, drain before serving
3 green onion stalks, cut into the thinnest possible shavings, soaked in 1 cup of ice cold water. drain before serving
1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce

To Eat

Open bun up (careful not to break it apart!), slather some Hoisin sauce, add 3 slices of chicken, a few cucumber strips, and green onion shavings. Enjoy.

Vegetarian Honey Winter Vegetable Soup

vegetarian winter veg soup

Reprinted from Salon.com

There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.

Yield:  10-12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

One 35-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 quarts water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

One 2-by-2-inch piece Parmesan rind

7 ounces butternut squash, cubed

5 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, undrained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Shaved Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Decrease the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sage, rosemary and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Add the water, soy sauce and Parmesan rind, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the squash and kale, cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the beans, honey and red wine vinegar and cook until all is heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheese rind and serve warm with shaved Parmesan.

Serve with hearty whole grain bread and a green salad.

Honey French Toast

french toast

It occurs to me that I have sadly neglected posting honey recipes for breakfast and brunch dishes. This is a serious oversight, considering honey has some of its best moments early in the day!

 I’ll begin making amends with this lovely recipe for one of my favorite dishes, Honey French Toast.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup half-and-half

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale French, Italian, brioche or challah bread

4 tablespoons butter

Directions

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour egg mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into egg mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with honey, maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

Or if you’re really feeling decadent, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey. (preferably Graeter’s ice cream!)

French Onion Soup

Julia Child French onion soup

I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten like three pigs and a goat over the past three days. I didn’t encounter a chocolate or a cookie that I didn’t want to ingest (and usually did…). The perfect medicine for overdoing it is Julia’s French Onion Soup. With a touch of honey, of course!

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) honey (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy

To finish [Gratinée]
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and honey. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac or brandy.  It’s not onion soup if you don’t!

Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the graitinéed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls.

Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.

Holidays With Honey – Sausage And Cheese Bread

sausage bread

This is perfect for snacking or an appetizer!

Yield:  1 loaf, about 14 pieces

Ingredients

1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough, recipe follows

2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 pound mild Italian sausage, remove from the casings

1 cup diced yellow onions

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 egg plus 2 teaspoons water, beaten together

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degree F, and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cornmeal onto a large baking sheet pan.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned and no pink is left, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the honey, basil and parsley, stirring to combine. Cool the sausage mixture completely.

Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of cornmeal onto a lightly floured surface and place the pizza dough on top of the cornmeal. Roll the dough into a 10 by 14-inch rectangle. Spread the cooled sausage mixture over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the sausage. Brush the 1-inch border of the dough with the egg wash. Starting at a long end, roll the dough, jelly roll-style, into a log shape, pinching the edges closed as you roll. Place the bread, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet and brush the top of the bread with the remaining egg wash.

Bake the sausage bread for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow bread to stand 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. To serve, slice the bread into 1-inch pieces and serve warm.

Basic Pizza Dough:

1 cup warm (110 degrees F) water

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon oil and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Use as directed.

Holidays With Honey – Smoked Salmon Seven Grain Bruschetta With Honey Mustard, Tomato And Dill

CCBAB111L_Smoked-Salmon-Toasts_s4x3_al

Smoked salmon is another good Winter Solstice dish.  Serve these bruschetta with the Winter Solstice cocktail!

Yield:  4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 loaf seven grain bread, sliced on diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil, to brush bread

Extra-virgin olive oil,  for drizzling

3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 to 3  tomatoes, thinly sliced

8 ounces smoked salmon, sliced paper thin

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Juice of 1 lemon

Dill fronds, for garnish

Directions

Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Brush the bread with canola oil, salt and pepper. Grill the bread until slightly charred on each side, about 30 seconds per side.

Remove the bread to a cutting board and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Combine honey and mustard in a small bowl.

Spread the bread with honey mustard and put sliced tomato on each slice of bread. Drizzle with honey mustard and top with a few slices of smoked salmon. Add another drizzle of honey mustard and top with black pepper and a sprig of dill.

Whisk together a few tablespoons of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil and drizzle over the tops. Garnish with dill fronds.

Holidays With Honey – Christmas Morning Casserole

sausage cheese strata

It probably isn’t surprising that cooking is a big part of Christmas in my family. After my children grew older, Christmas breakfast became really special. After we open presents, we sit down for a cozy meal with lots of chat and tea. It’s the best part of the day. 

We’ve had this spicy casserole for the past few years because it can be made ahead and cooked while we are opening presents. This year our darling Lucy will be able to eat some too!

photo (9)

Yield:  serves 4

Ingredients

5 Slices thickly-sliced white bread – crusts and all, buttered & cubed.

1 pound of mild sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained.

3 cups of grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

4 eggs

2 cups of milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon of hot sauce.

Directions

Spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place the bread cubes in the casserole. Evenly distribute the sausage over the bread cubes. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Combine the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, honey and hot sauce and mix well. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, remove the casserole from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter for 15 minutes while you pre-heat the over to 350. Remove the plastic wrap, place the casserole in the over and bake for 1 hour.

Holidays With Honey – Smoked Salmon And Caviar Roll Ups

salmon roll ups

I’m spending the holidays with my extended family in Chicago.  My daughter Molly’s father-in-law Vince is Italian, and we will be observing The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a traditional Italian Christmas Eve meal consisting of seven different seafood dishes. It was originally a period of abstinence to commemorate the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

This will be part of my contribution to the Feast.

Yield:  12 to 18 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup fresh cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped lemon zest

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

6 large slices smoked salmon

36 toasted bread rounds or squares

8 ounces caviar

Garnish: 36 sprigs fresh dill, sour cream

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, honey, dill, chives, and lemon zest. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the slice of salmon on a piece of plastic wrap, with the small end closest to you, on a flat surface. Season the slices of salmon with the pepper. Spread some of the cheese mixture evenly over each slice of salmon. Trim ends to make even. Then, beginning at the bottom, roll up the salmon, jelly roll style, securely, pressing to close. Wrap each salmon roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.

About 30 minutes before serving, place the salmon rolls in the freezer; this will make slicing easy.

To serve, using a chef’s knife, slice the salmon into 1/2-inch slices. Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Place the salmon on the toasted bread slices. Place some caviar on top of the salmon. Garnish with a sprig of dill and sour cream.

Holidays With Honey – Potato Zucchini Croquettes With Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

potato zucchini croquettes

Few things are more satisfying than fried potato and zucchini.  An awesome holiday appetizer!

Yield:  20 to 24 pieces

Ingredients

2 russet potatoes (about 1 pound)

1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar

1 medium zucchini

1/4 bunch chives

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 egg

Vegetable oil for shallow frying

2 cups fresh or dry bread crumbs

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce:

1 cup whole grain-style Dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

Directions

Place potatoes, in their skins, in cool water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until they can be pierced with a skewer, offer no resistance, and slides off easily. Remove from the water and cool completely.

With a table knife, remove the skin from the potatoes and grate on the large holes of a box grater, into a bowl. Also, through the small holes, grate the zucchini. Chop or slice the chives finely and add to the bowl. Add the salt and pepper, to taste, along with the egg. Combine mixture well and form into patties or a log shape.  If making a log, cut into 2-inch oval pieces. Dredge in the bread crumbs. Place on a plate until ready to cook.

In a saute pan, heat 1/4 to 1/2-inch of vegetable oil, add the croquettes, a few at a time. Don’t crowd them. Fry until the bread crumb crust begins to brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate when cooked, to drain. Repeat process with the remaining croquettes. Serve warm.

Combine the mustard and honey and serve as a dipping sauce for the croquettes.

Jalapeno Honey Corn Bread Muffins

jalapeno 2

These muffins go beautifully with the Black Bean Soup posted earlier today.

Ingredients

1 cup sifted flour

1 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground

1 tablespoon sifted baking powder

1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

2/3 cup sour cream

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 large egg

1/3 cup finely diced fresh or canned jalapenos

1/3 cup finely diced green onions or scallions

1/3 cup drained canned corn kernels

1 3/4 cups finely grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Melted butter or liquid bacon fat for greasing muffin tins

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, pepper flakes, salt and cumin, and blend well.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the sour cream, honey and milk, and blend well with a wire whisk. Beat in the melted butter and egg.

Add the liquid ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and blend well. Add the chilies, green onions, corn and cheese. Blend thoroughly.

Grease the inside of eight half-cup muffin tins. Spoon equal portions of the batter into each greased tin. The batter may be a bit higher than the top of the tins.

Place in the oven and bake 25 minutes. Ideally, these muffins are best eaten hot, fresh from the oven.

Yield:  Eight muffins