Recipes

Chef’s Corner: The Best Fried Chicken (Ever!) [Recipe]

by Alaya

As the chef’s wife, I am in the unique position of taste-testing the dishes that come out of his kitchen. This classic-with-a-twist fried chicken is one of my favorites!

Gourmet comfort food? It might seem like an oxymoron, but once you try it, you realize it’s the best of both worlds: your favorite familiar foods elevated to the next level in flavor and presentation. And that’s exactly what this dish represents.

This dish starts with perfectly fried chicken: juicy, tender with crisp-battered skin. (Lip-smacking, finger licking – even with this elevated version, you’ll want to lick your fingers clean and that’s okay with us!)

The added punch of unexpected flavors (tangy pickled vegetables, mellow blueberry sauce, and a sweet/nutty corn flour pancake) turns this fried chicken from a familiar favorite into a dish with bold personality.

This is a great meal for a dinner party or family gathering. The warm, familiar feeling of a home-cooked meal is amplified by the addition of a delicate and distinctive collection of bold flavors, making it the perfect meal to share with loved ones.

See for yourself… the recipe has several steps and components, but don’t let that overwhelm you! It’s hardly as elaborate as it seems, and the results are well worth the small bit of extra effort.

The Best Fried Chicken (Ever!) – Serves 8
with Pickled Vegetables, Cornmeal Pancakes & Savory Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

For the Brine:

  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 ounces flat leaf parsley
  • 4-5 springs of thyme
  • 2 ounces honey
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 ounces kosher salt
  • 3 quarts water

For Frying the Chicken:

  • One 2 ½ -to 3-pound chicken
  • Chicken brine, cold (recipe to follow)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 2 T onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the Pickled Vegetables:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch on a bias
  • 2 english cucumbers, sliced ¼ inch on a bias
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 6 ounces granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 small diced chile peppers

For the Cornmeal Pancakes

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup grana padano cheese, grated (you can substitute parmesan cheese)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme, chopped

For the Savory Blueberry Sauce:

  • 2 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • 2 pints fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Procedure

Brining the Chicken

  1. In a large pot combine chicken brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cool, and then refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Break the chicken down into wings, thighs, drumsticks and breasts (save the carcass for more chicken stock), and cut the breast in equal halves.
  3. Place the chicken in the brine for 24 hours. When ready to use, remove from brine and rinse under cold water.

Pickling the Vegetables

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the vegetables, into a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the pickling liquid to boil, prepare your vegetables and place in a large canning jar big enough to hold the vegetables and the liquid.
  3. Pour the boiled liquid over the vegetables and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate pickled vegetables for up to one month.

Making the Cornmeal Pancakes

  1. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion until translucent, remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and allow to cool.
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk and the egg yolks, fold in the cooled onion-cheese mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  4. When ready to fry the pancakes, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into the existing batter, fold in the chopped herbs.
  5. Ladle into a heated skillet 2 ounces of cornmeal batter, flip when ready, keep warm until ready to use.

Making the Blueberry Sauce

  1. In a large pot on the stove begin reducing the chicken stock until reduced to 2 cups
  2. Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan on the stove and add the blueberries, when they start to burst, drizzle in the honey and allow it to simmer. Add the lemon juice and then add the reduced chicken stock.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, season to taste with salt and black pepper. Keep sauce warm until ready to use.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer again when ready to use and swirl in the butter until it is dissolved. Taste again for seasoning.

Frying the Chicken

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the canola oil to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients together and then split into 2 different bowls. Add buttermilk to a third bowl.
  3. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk, and then into the next seasoned flour.
  4. Place the chicken in hot oil for 2 minutes and then begin moving the chicken around to fry evenly for a total of 10-12 minutes, until chicken is dark golden and cooked thoroughly.
  5. On a plate, place a cornmeal pancake, a dark piece and a white piece of chicken on top, drape the pickled vegetables on the side and drizzle the blueberry sauce lightly over the chicken. Enjoy!

Chef’s Corner: Tempura Battered Summer Vegetables with a Ponzu Dipping Sauce [Recipe]

Chef Cholly’s has another delightful summertime appetizer for us this month: a summer vegetable tempura paired with a light and flavorful ponzu dipping sauce. Delicious!

Although fried, the light tempura batter keeps this vegetable appetizer fresh and crisp and the zesty ponzu dipping sauce adds an Asian twist – perfect for a hot summer day.

When making it at home, you can use the summer veggies Chef Cholly has listed below, or get creative and work with what is abundant locally for you this time of year.

Looking for a wine to pair with it? Lisa, our Sous Chef and Sommelier recommends this pick:

 

2009 SOUVERAIN CHARDONNAY, SONOMA COUNTY
This Chardonnay introduces itself with clean aromas of citrus, apples, butter and oak spice. The palate is dominated by pronounced flavors of tropical fruits, brown baking spices, butter and toast. (Source: souverain.com)

 

Recipe: Tempura Battered Summer Vegetables
with a Ponzu Dipping Sauce

serves 4 as an appetizer

Tempura Battered Summer Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 16 asparagus spears
  • 20 green beans
  • 4 medium chanterelle or hen of the wood mushrooms
  • 2 cups of oil for frying
  • Tempura batter (recipe to follow)
  • Ponzu dipping sauce (recipe to follow)

Procedure:

  1. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry the squash and zucchini and slice ¼ inch thick, trim asparagus and green beans, and brush any debris that may be on the mushrooms.
  3. Using one variety of vegetable at a time, dredge in the tempura batter enough to make one layer of veggies in the skillet. Allow excess batter to drip off briefly. Fry on both sides until crisp and golden. Remove to a pan lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Keep the pan in a pre-heated oven to keep veggies hot. Continue with each vegetable variety until all are fried.
  4. Arrange the veggies evenly on 4 plates and serve with warm ponzu sauce on the side for dipping.

Tempura Batter

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups cake or pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ¼ cups sparkling water or beer

Procedure

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. When ready to use, add the sparkling water or beer and whisk until incorporated. The batter is ready to use.

Ponzu Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. soy sauce
  • 2 oz. lemon Juice
  • 2 oz. chicken stock
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger root
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup diced tomato

Procedure

  1. Combine the soy sauce, lemon juice, chicken stock, olive oil, ginger root, and black pepper in a small pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the other ingredients. Serve warm.


Chef’s Corner: Naranjillo Spanish Appetizer [Recipe]

Today is Chef Cholly’s birthday, and to celebrate we’re sharing the recipe for his Naranjillos (or “Little Oranges.”)

Guests get a hand at making these small golden delights each week in Chef Cholly’s Friday afternoon cooking class. They are then served as an appetizer before the Friday-night meal – a continuation of our Spanish-themed Friday lunch. (Think: aromatic paella, cool and zesty gazpacho, nutty chickpea salad…)

These are a twist on the Italian arancini (also meaning “little orange.”) They get their name from their size, shape, and the deep golden hue they acquire in the frying process. In Chef Cholly’s Spanish version, the saffron-infused paella-style rice imparts an extra hit of gold. Breaded, fried, and filled with a tangy Spanish sheep cheese, these “little oranges” are a real treat!

Perfect as an appetizer, these “little oranges” always snatched up and enjoyed thoroughly. The best part? They’re easy to make! Kids are great at shaping the rice balls, making them a great family cooking activity. (Just watch those small hands near the hot oil!)

Start with Chef Cholly’s recipe below. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using different ingredients. Pair chorizo or olives with the Manchego to punch-up the Spanish theme. Ground meat, mozzarella, marinara, and peas will give you an Italian classic. You might even try a curried version with potatoes and peas to capture the flavors of India. (You can skip the saffron with these.) The possibilities are endless!

Recipe: Naranjillo (Little Oranges) – makes 20


Ingredients:

  • 
½ pound semi-soft Manchego cheese – diced into 1 /2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups bomba rice 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, simmering
  • 
15 threads of saffron
  • 
½ cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • 
Pepper
  • Flour for dusting
  • 
4 eggs
  • Fine panko bread crumbs (or fine regular bread crumbs)
    (Make regular breadcrumbs fine by pulsing them in a food processor
.)
  • Oil for frying (Canola, peanut, or other high-temp oil)

Procedure:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium-high on the stove and add olive oil, then add rice and “toast” the rice in the skillet until it is almost translucent (10Mins.). Add the saffron, let the oils run and then add the stock (or water), salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook the rice until all the water is absorbed and the rice is over-cooked but still maintains its shape (mostly). Transfer to a flat pan to cool.
  3. In the meantime, gather your flour, bread crumbs and eggs (crack and beat the eggs), and place each in its own pan, bowl or container.
  4. Go back to the cheese and rice, take a piece of cheese and “wrap” rice around it to form a rice ball (with Manchego cheese in the middle). The rice should be sticky from over cooking and shape into a ball nicely.
  5. When all balls have been formed, dust the rice balls in seasoned flour, then dip in egg and finally into bread crumbs. Make sure rice balls are evenly coated.
  6. Cover and refrigerate the Naranjillo until cool and ready to use.
  7. Heat oil in a tall-sided pan (or use a fry daddy!) to 350 degrees F/(177 degrees C). Drop the Naranjillo into the oil for 1 -2 minutes until golden and heated through.
  8. Drain over paper towel and let cool a few minutes before eating so as not to burn the roof of your mouth! Enjoy!


Empanada Filling

Chef Matt also updated his Empanada filling recipe to make it more user friendly.

Makes: 25

Ingredients:

6- 6 oz. chicken breasts

½ – cup dry rib rub

1-Large yellow onion medium diced

1-Cup of toasted and rough chopped pistachios

Salt and pepper to taste

3- oz- olive oil

2- oz- butter

 

  1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and slowly caramelize the onions on very low heat for about 2 hours.
  2. Rub down all the chicken breast with the olive oil and rib rub then grill of the chicken breasts to medium well.
  3. Once chicken has cooled cut it to medium dice and mix in the caramelized onions and pistachios. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and begin filling your empanadas.

 

Depending on how much filling you use in each one you may have less or more so play with your amounts to get the right amount of filling for the amount of dough.

Sweet empanadas are great also that you can make with some diced apples caramelized with butter, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. When you make sweeter ones you can add baking spices to the dough as well and a little brown sugar.

These can be really good served warm with vanilla ice cream.

 

Empanada Dough

Chef Matt has updated his Empanda Dough recipe to make it more usable. Enjoy!

Makes: around 50(varies on the thickness of the dough and size of cutter)

Ingredients:

4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

½ to 2 cups – water

1-Egg blended with 2 ounces of milk

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.
  5. On a floured surfaced roll out the dough to 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness.
  6. Cut out the dough with a 4 to 5 inch pastry cutter, brush ½ of the dough with the egg milk mixture add in your filling ( about 1 ½ tbsp.) then fold over the dough and seal up the empanada.
  7. Once all of the empanadas are done egg wash the top side and bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown.

This recipe can be easily cut in half or quartered to make the amount you need.

Buttermilk biscuits

Makes: 4 dozen

Ingredients:

20 oz. -all purpose flour

16 oz. – cake flour

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. – baking powder

2 tsp. – baking soda

4 tsp. – sugar

2 tsp. – salt

1-lb. butter

3 cups- buttermilk

4- oz.- yogurt

1- Set the oven to 350 F then medium dice the butter and break it up with your hands.

2- Mix together all of the dry ingredients then sift; Cut in the butter with your hands until all of the butter is in small flakes.

3- Add in the butter milk and the yogurt then mix until fully combined.

4- Roll out the dough to about an inch thickness then punch out the biscuits with a pastry cutter of your desired thickness.

5- Place the biscuits on an un-greased cookie sheet about a ½ inch apart and bake until the tops are golden brown, then cool for about five minutes or serve hot

Sausage gravy

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. – bacon fat

1- finely minced shallot

3 tbsp. – all purpose flour

¾ lbs. – breakfast sausage

1 tsp. – sugar

1/8 tsp. – smoked paprika

whole milk as needed

salt and pepper to taste

1- Heat a medium sized sauce pot on the stove then add in bacon fat, melt down then add in the sausage. Once the sausage is almost cooked and broken up add in the shallot and cook until translucent.

2- After cooking in the shallot add in the flour a bit at a time along with the paprika and sugar until a wet sand consistency is achieved. Roux should in general be about equal parts flour and fat.

3- Once the roux is cooked for a minute or 2 add in milk a bit at a time adjusting consistency as the gravy thickens. Cook the gravy on low heat for at least 10 minutes adding more milk as needed. I add the pepper and salt at the end so the pepper does not become too spicy and it is easier to gauge.

Grilled peach jalapeno bbq sauce

Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

½ – peach seeded quartered and grilled

2-shallot small diced

2-clove of garlic minced

½ cup- white balsamic vinegar

¼ cup- rum

2-tbsp. – honey

½ – vanilla bean split and seeded

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with rum, flame off, then add the balsamic vinegar, honey, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.

 

Jalapeno sweet and tangy sauce

Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

1-shallot small diced

1-clove of garlic minced

1-tsp. – cilantro rough chop

½ cup.-Sherry vinegar

¼ cup- tequila

2-tbsp. – honey

1tsp. – toasted cumin

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with tequila, flame off, then add the cilantro, sherry vinegar, honey, toasted cumin, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.

 

Soy Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

4-shallots minced

6-cloves of garlic crushed

2inch chunk- fresh ginger

2cups- soy sauce

1cup- teriyaki

1cup- red wine vinegar

1cup- orange juice

½ cup- rice wine vinegar

½ cup- lime juice

2 tbsp- Dijon mustard

2 tbsp- honey

2tbsp- tahini

2 tbsp- sirachi

3cups- vegetable oil

4cups- sesame oil

2tsp- red pepper flakes

2tsp- granulated garlic

1cup- sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. 1. Mix together the first 13 ingredients down to the line above the vegetable oil
  2. 2. Blend the ingredients until the mixture is homogenized, then slowly add in the vegetable oil first then the sesame oil.
  3. 3. Add in the rest of the ingredients then adjust the seasoning.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups- A. p. flour

½ tsp. – Baking Soda

½ tsp- baking powder

1 tsp. – salt

½ lb. – unsalted butter

7 oz. – light brown sugar

1 cup – crunchy peanut butter

2 large – eggs

2 tsp. – vanilla

1 cup – dry roasted salted peanuts ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs.

  1. Heat your oven to 350 Degrees F. Line 2 baking dishes with parchment paper, and coat them with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together, and set aside.
  3. Whip the butter, and add sugar until fluffy. Add the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
  4. Ad the dry ingredients in at slow speed, then finally the peanuts.
  5. Roll the dough into 2-in. balls, then place them on a baking sheet 2 ½ in. apart. Press each ball twice with a dinner fork, to make a crisscross design.
  6. Bake in the oven till slightly brown on the edges, about 10 min. Cool down for about 3 minutes
  7.  IF you want add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips to the recipe.

Italian dressing & grilled romaine

Ingredients:

1 oz.- balsamic vinegar

1 oz.- sherry vinegar

1 oz.- champagne vinegar

1 oz.- red wine vinegar

1 tbsp.- honey

1 tsp.- Dijon mustard

1 shallot- finely minced

3- cloves garlic minced

¼ – cup divina brand roasted tomatoes preserved in oil

2- tbsp- fresh basil

1- tbsp- fresh oregano

1 tsp.- Italian seasoning mix

8 oz. extra vigin olive oil

4 oz. – oil from preserved tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients and let set for at least 2 hours for flavors to combine. Pulsing a few times in a blender works as well.
  2. Toss the romaine lettuce with the dressing and a little salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain off excess dressing in a perforated pan, grill on a broiler cut side down, flip then remove from the grill after another 20 seconds.

I serve this salad with roman style grilled artichokes, pecorino cheese with truffles or tallegio and some sort of toasted nut. Candied pumpkin seeds have been my personal favorite and the tallegio would be my cheese of choice as well.

Empanada dough

Ingredients:

4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

1 ½ to 2 cups – water

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From the bottomless cookie jar:

Makes: enough to feed a ranch

Ingredients

6 3/4 cups- all-purpose flour

3 tsp. – baking soda

3 tsp. – salt

1 ½ – lb. unsalted butter at room temp.

2 ¼ cups- granulated sugar

2 ¼ cups- light brown sugar

6- Eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

3 cup- semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Set an oven to 350 degrees F., and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars until well blended and lightened in color.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and blend until fully incorporated.
  4. Mix together all the dry ingredients, and mix into the batter on low speed, then add in the chocolate chips.
  5. Make sure to cool down the batter for about an hour before scooping out and baking.
  6. To make the white chocolate chip macadamia replace the cup of chocolate with a cup of crushed macadamia and a cup of white chocolate chips.

Blondies

Makes: ½ sheet tray

Ingredients

3 cups- all purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. salt

¾ lb. butter

3 cups- brown sugar

4- Eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

2 cups- chocolate chips

1 cup- chopped pecans

  1. Let the butter set at room temperature for about a half hour, then cream it together with the sugar until it is light in color. Add in the eggs one at a time until it is fully incorporated along with the vanilla.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients into the mixture on slow speed, and then add in the chocolate chips, and pecans.
  3. Spread out the mixture on a well greased ½ sheet pan lined with parchment, and well greased.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees, until golden brown, then cool, cut, and enjoy.

 

Poblano butternut squash soup

Ingredients:

1- Bunch celery

4-small carrots

1- Yellow onion

3- cloves garlic

1- butternut squash

3tbsp. olive oil

4 shallots- rough chop

3- poblano chilies roasted

½ cup- tequila

1-cup cream

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup- fresh cilantro

1-cup Cotija or parmesan cheese

1 gal- vegetable stock or water

Method:

1- Rough chop 1/2 celery, butternut squash, 2 carrots and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast off the vegetables in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned.

2- Meanwhile take the rest of the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and shallots, and process in a food processor until it is finely chopped. Sweat off the chopped vegetables in the olive oil until the onions turn translucent; add in the roasted peppers and cook for another two minutes. Deglaze the mix with tequilla, and add in the other roasted vegetables

3- Bring the mixture to a boil, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour, and then puree it with an immersion blender. Add the cream to the mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

4- Add in the fresh cilantro and Cotija cheese.

5- Let the cheese melt slightly and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. This soup can be frozen for an exrended period of time then thawed out and reheated.

Grilled Romaine Salad

It’s summertime and we’ve been loving this salad! Bring back a little bit of your Colorado ranch vacation with this salad and a nice glass of wine on a warm evening.

Makes:
Ingredients:
1 oz.- balsamice vinegar
1 oz.- sherry vinegar
1 oz.- champagne vinegar
1 oz.- red wine vinegar
1 tbsp.- honey
1 tsp.- Dijon mustard
1 shallot- finely minced
3- cloves garlic minced
¼ – cup divina brand roasted tomatoes preserved in oil
2- tbsp- fresh basil
1- tbsp- fresh oregano
1 tsp.- Italian seasoning mix
8 oz. extra vigin olive oil
4 oz. – oil from preserved tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
1. Mix together all of the ingredients and let set for at least 2 hours for flavors to combine. Pulsing a few times in a blender works as well.
2. Toss the romaine lettuce with the dressing and a little salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain off excess dressing in a perforated pan, grill on a broiler cut side down, flip then remove from the grill after another 20 seconds.

I serve this salad with roman style grilled artichokes, Pecorino cheese with truffles or tallegio and some sort of toasted nut. Candied pumpkin seeds have been my personal; favorite and the tallegio would be my cheese of choice as well.

Banana Crunch Muffins

As I was searching around for a healthy treat to send into school for a kiddo’s birthday, Chef Matt handed me this recipe. Our winter guest ranch guests enjoy these fresh from the over, sitting in front of the fireplace. Our summer guest ranch guests find these out on the breakfast ride most of the time. Enjoy!

Banana crunch muffins
Makes: 2 dozen
Ingredients:
10 oz. – All Purpose Flour (roughly 2 cups)
1 tbsp. -baking powder
½ tsp. – salt
1- Egg
1 cup – sugar
2 oz. – butter melted
1 ¼ cups – sour cream
1 ½ cups – chopped bananas
¼ cup- granola
¼ – cup- toasted pecan pieces
1/8 cup- coarse sugar
1. Arrange 2 dozen muffin papers in a muffin tin and spray with baking spray
2. Mix together the melted butter, 1 tsp. – vanilla, sour cream, and eggs until homogeneous in a stand mixer. Add in the sugar mixing until all ingredients are blended
3. Sift together the dry ingredients, and add into the mix on low speed, then add in the bananas, granola, and pecans.
4. Scoop into greased muffin papers, sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake at 350 F until golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen

Depending on the size of the muffin tins and the oven muffins may take a little longer than it does for us so there really is not a specific time. How many you get will vary slightly also. I use a 2 0z. Cookie scoop for the size tins we have here at the dude ranch. I start out setting the timer for about 7 minutes, checking with a tooth pick when the tops brown up, and then baking longer if necessary.

If you want to tweak the recipe and make it your own you can use different kinds of extract, fruit or nut. Sometimes I will do the same recipe with fresh apricots and pistachios. The possibilities are endless.

Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk

From Chef Matt’s recipe book, enjoy!

Ingredients:
1- Bunch celery
4- Carrots
2 tbsp. minced ginger
1- Yellow onion
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 shallots- rough chop
3 tbsp. sesame oil
¼ cup- rice wine
½ cup- sake
2- 8 oz. cans coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup- fresh cilantro
1 cup- green onion tops
1 gal- vegetable stock or water

1- Rough chop 1/2 celery and 2 carrots, and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast off the vegetables in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned.
2- Meanwhile take the rest of the celery, carrots, onion, and shallots, and process in a food processor until it is finely chopped. Sweat off the chopped vegetables in the olive oil and sesame oil until the onions turn translucent; add in the roasted vegetables and cook for another two minutes. Deglaze the mix with the rice wine and sake, and add in the ginger, and veg. stock.
3- Bring the mixture to a boil, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour, and then puree it with an immersion blender. Strain the soup through a medium strainer, and return to the stove.
4- Bring the mix to a boil again, and thicken it with a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry if needed. Pour in the coconut milk, green onion, and cilantro, then adjust the seasoning and serve.

Chef Robert’s much loved 7 Layer Bars

(1 * 8”x12”x2” pan)

Ingredients:

1. 1 cup unsalted butter, soft
2. 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3. 2 eggs
4. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
5. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6. 1 tsp. baking soda
7. 1 tsp. salt
8. 3 cups dry oatmeal
9. 12 ounces chocolate chips
10. 11 ounces sweetened condensed milk

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.
4. Sift together the dry ingredients (except oatmeal) and add to egg and butter mixture, mix until just combined.
5. Add oatmeal and combine, do not over mix.
6. Line a 8”x12”x2” cake pan with foil and press approximately 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of pan.
7. Combine the chocolate chips and condensed milk and pour over crust.
8. Top with remaining crust mixture, press down and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and cool on a rack until completely cool.

Easy Chocolate Truffles

One of the most requested recipes from our kitchen is for the Chocolate Truffles. Chef Matt makes these often times to use for pairing with some of the red wines during his weekly wine tasting.

Ingredients:

* 2/3 cup heavy cream
* 2 Tbs. honey
* 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
* 2 Tbs. liquor of your choice (optional)
* Cocoa powder or powdered sugar for dusting

Method:

1. In sauce pan over low heat bring cream and honey to boil.

2. Whilst cream is heating place the chocolate in a food processor. If you do not have one, simply add chocolate to boiling cream and stir until smooth.

3. Once the cream comes to a boil, turn on the food processor and add the cream in a steady stream until chocolate is smooth.

4. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until set.

5. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or foil and scoop mixture with a 1″ ice cream scoop or teaspoon. Form ball shapes and chill until firm. 1-2 hours.

6. Roll truffles in cocoa or powdered sugar until well coated, crushed pistachios, pecans or melted chocolate can also be used. Refrigerate for 2 weeks or freeze for 2 months.