Béchamel sauce; 3 ways for Chicken, Pasta, or Fish

My Brother is a 20-year-old college student at the University of Utah, who, get this, likes to cook! And likes to cook with his roommates!   Between, their pow pow sessions and snowy mountain camping trips, they break out the aprons, and get dirty in the kitchen. This blogs for you, Bo. Chicken, as requested; a few different ways.

Starting with a basic Béchamel sauce, many different flavors can be achieved.  This is not the healthiest of sauces, however it is NOT coming out of a can, you know what you are putting into it, and it does not contain insane amounts of sodium, preservatives, or ingredients you can’t pronounce, so… perfect! That’s already better than most of Cooking with Sandra Lee‘s recipes.

Béchamel, 3 ways

Basic Béchamel sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heated milk
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until mixture is well blended. Gradually stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Simmer, stirring frequently, over very low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little nutmeg, if desire. Makes about 1 cup of medium thick sauce.

Mustard Sauce
Combine 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon or chive. This sauce is especially good with fish and chicken.

Herb Sauce
Add 2 teaspoon of freshly chopped herbs or 1 teaspoon of dried herbs to the Béchamel. Cook for a minute or two longer to get more flavor from the herbs. Best for Fish.

Mornay (cheese) Sauce
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese (any kind of cheese) to 1 cup hot  Béchamel. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Season with a little mustard or Worcestershire sauce to taste. Best for Chicken or Pasta.

Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

These sauces are incredible easy, and I bet you already have most of the ingredients at home.  Next time you’re trying to think of a new dinner idea, give this a shot. For best results, pair with a vegetable, such as asparagus or green beans and a buttery glass of chardonnay.

Happy Cooking, and thanks for reading, xo-G

Parmesan Artichoke Dip

Ready for another crowd pleaser? This is dangerously good, and on Superbowl Sunday, let’s be honest, eating healthy is usually not in the cards.   My mom use to make this dip for all sorts of occasions when we were kids.  Football parties,  New Years parties, family get-together’s, etc. and it has always been one of my favorite tastes. The smell of it just coming out of the oven brings back happy memories.  Whip this up in 10 minutes or less and you will find yourself the talk of the party.

Ingredients

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, peeled
40 green chilies, drained (canned is fine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place the artichoke hearts in a food processor and process until smooth. (leave a few artichoke hearts out to rough chop and add at to the mixture just before baking –texture!) Process the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, garlic and dill with the artichoke hearts until the mixture is smooth and well blended.  Stir in the chilies and chopped artichoke hearts, then transfer to a baking dish (the same dish you will be serving in so pick out something nice).
Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly brown.

Serve warm with toasted pita points or thinly sliced and toasted french bread, deeeelish! * For added flavor rub a garlic clove on the bread before toasting.

Toasted Almond and Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Crispy Prosciutto.

Easy party food. I’ll keep this short and to the point.  10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to bake and voila!

  • 20 pitted, dry, dates
  • 3 oz of good, pungent Gorgonzola cheese
  • 20 or so raw almonds, rough chopped
  • 1pkg sliced prosciutto
  • tooth picks

1. Rough chop almonds and toast them over low-med heat in a saute pan. Once they begin to brown evenly remove from heat.

2. Slice dates on one side and pull open, add a small sliver of cheese, just enough to stuff it.

3. Sprinkle a few almond pieces on top of the gorgonzola and close the date back up.

4. Roll the stuffed date in a 1″x4″ piece of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick.

5. Repeat until all dates are stuffed.

5. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes or until prosciutto looks crisp.

This small bite hits every taste bud in your mouth; salty, sweet, crispy, nutty, soft, chewy and layered with flavor.  A  really quick and tasty app for your next party!

“One of the best hors d’oeuvre I’ve ever had!”- anonymous friend

Comfort food, low-cal and super easy: Chicken Enchiladas

photo c/o myrecipes.com

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Especially easy, tasty, low-calorie Mexican food.  My mom’s been making this dish for quite sometime and it’s a favorite comfort food of mine.  However I’ve taken her recipe and found a few tricks to make it even more low-cal, protein packed and full of flavor.

Here’s what you will need to get started.

  • 9×13 baking dish
  • 2 large Chicken Breasts
  • 10 oz Frozen Chopped Spinach (thaw, drain all water) + a couple handfuls of raw spinach
  • 4 Scallions, diced. (save some for the top of the dish)
  • 4 tbsp Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 can black beans, drained (optional)
  • ½ cup Plain Fat Free Yogurt
  • 8 oz low-fat Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • ½ Tbs Salt
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 cup of onion, sauteed(do not heavily brown, this will change the white sauce color)
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced and added to onion saute
  • 1 can of Green Chiles, drained (you pick your heat!)
  • 1.5 cup of Colby Jack Cheese or Queso Fresco (again, your choice)
  • 2 pkg flour tortillas (6-8 count each)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350*F

2. Season the chicken with S&P. Sauté, let rest and cool, then pull apart (shred).

3. Combine all sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Taste to season (might need more salt or cumin depending…)

4. In your 9 x 13 dish add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom.  Filling one tortilla at a time, gently add a dollop of sauce, chicken and a few pinches of cheese, roll then layer side by side in the pan. repeat, repeat, repeat.  Disperse the remainder of the sauce on top of the enchiladas cover every inch*. Sprinkle with scallions and add cheese.

Note*covering the entire dish will prevent burning, drying or, or unpleasant, rock hard, tortilla sections.

Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes

Easy, peasy!  Serve with Mexican rice and margaritas for best results.

Ole!

Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast

I’m on a soup kick and this Indian summer that’s been in Boston for the last 8 days is driving me crazy.  Hellooo Mother Nature,  I’ve put most of my summer duds away and the AC is out of the window, so could you please change the leaves, turn down the temps and make it fall already!   There is a rumor it’s coming. The ever-so-non-accurate Dylan Dreyer (our local Boston meteorologist who cares more about her Banana Republic outfit than accurate forecasting) is predicting fall like temps and rain this weekend so I hope she’s right.  Sunday sounds like it’s going to be rainy with a high of 61/ low of 47, so it will be a perfect day to try and replicate Sel de la Terre’s Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast. HOLY CRAP, this was pure taste bud ecstasy.  If you don’t like cheese,  stop reading.  If you don’t like beer, stop following me all together.

This past Sunday, Dan picked me up from the airport and took me to a place he’d been wanting to try out, Sel de la Terre on the Wharf.   A bottle of wine, some apps… it was a perfect Sunday evening. We started with their Petit Gouters; (bread accompaniments)  Balsamic roasted shallots and garlic confit, french olives, and an Eggplant-goat cheese puree with toasted walnuts.  We were starving but not blown away; they were however, nice little nibbles to start with.   I like to ease into meals, I like to take my time, and I like to take in the flavors while enjoying my company.  I’m the slow eater, pain-in-the-ass servers do not like to wait on, but I’m polite and I also order bottles that I most often tip you on, so whatever.  Since I like to take my time and enjoy a night out to dinner, I’m often frowned upon by management as I do not provide them the burn and turn rate they’d like.  I’m also not often an entree orderer because I get full fast and then wind up being the jerk who’s taken two bites of her meal. I’ve parted ways with entrees for sometime now. I’m all about small plates, taste variety, and eating until I’m 80% full, so I can go out that night, duh!

Because I gravitate towards  small bites, apps and soups, I am a firm believer that if you have good soup, everything else on your menu will be good.  It’s hard to make a good soup.  It requires an enormous amount of time to carefully simmer a stock to the right taste and in a big enough batch. Soups, in some cases also require a lot of straining, which in large volumes isn’t easy! Having the right consistency, flavor profile and depth of flavor can also be tricky.   If you make a soup from scratch (not one poured out of a Cisco bag), you more often than not care about what you are cooking, take pride in your culinary skills, and have the chops to give me hope for the rest of your menu. This may be a biased opinion, but out of all the soup I have had in my life, I can think of one other that is memorable and a favorite: The Sherwood Inn’s French Onion.

Sel de la Terre’s  Biere-gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast, described as ecstasy above. is. just. that.  It is a creamy, clean, perfectly seasoned puree of cheesy goodness with a pale ale finish.  After the first spoon full I had an instant vision of my feet up, in ski gear, next to a fire after a few beers, with this soup in hand.   It was amazing and for a moment it felt like real fall. I’ve been scouring the internet for a recipe remotely similar and after a few twitter convo’s back and forth with someone who updates the @SeldelaTerre feed we are now in negotiation for the real recipe. If I don’t get it, I think I am going to try a version of the following:

  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle ale such Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada or Harpoon pale ale
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb grated Gruyère
  • 4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled  (optional)

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander. Get the dirt out!

Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.

Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf.

To make the beer foam you need:

  • 1 Cold pale ale beer
  • Immersion Blender
  • 1 gram of Lecithin

In a cup, combine 1/2 of the cold beer, sprinkle in the lecithin, and blend with the immersion blender.  The foam will begin to form and the lecithin acts as a stabilizer, keeping the foam intact.   Drink the rest of the beer.

Dollop the foam on top of the soup and serve with grilled sourdough points drizzled with truffle oil.

If you decided to try this out, I hope you like it.  I plan to give it a shot this weekend, so I cannot attest to the complete accuracy nor amazingness that this recipe may or may not offer.  It does however sound very close to the flavors I enjoyed. As a side note, I would strain the soup and serve it as a creamy, fluid, puree without the vegetable chunks.  Good luck!

Thanks for reading! xo-G