The Science Nerd

Kitchen Experiments

Scotch Eggs

February 7, 2012

In honor of Gayle’s Scottish heritage, we occasionally have Scotch Eggs for dinner.  Although, as usual, we have made some changes  to recipes I’ve found in order to suit us.

scotch egg2

The eggs wrapped in sausage were originally made to be food on the go.  Something farmers could take with them out to the fields and have a substantial lunch that could be carried in their pockets.  We eat them hot, and forgo the mustard sauce that you often see.

Here is my recipe:

4 eggs – hard boiled and peeled

1 lb sausage (I sometimes use spicy sausage, sometimes mild and I have even been known to go crazy and mix the two)

scotch egg

Encase each egg with 1/4 of the sausage.  Place on a roasting pan and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes.

And that’s it! Very easy, and very tasty. If you don’t have a roasting pan, you can use anything that will keep the eggs out of the grease that drips from the sausage.

I usually serve the eggs with green beans and mac & cheese, but your side dishes can be anything that sounds good to you.  The eggs can also be served sliced or cut into quarters as finger food at a party.

 

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Armadillo Potatoes

January 29, 2012

For the past 6 days I have been fighting a cold.  And the cold has been winning.  I haven’t had the energy to do much besides sleep, cough and blow my nose.  Which means there has been a lot of eating out and pizza ordering.

Potato?

So tonight, for something different, we ate at home.  Our meal was simple, but good – and very easy!  We had salad, steak and “Armadillo Potatoes” The recipe for the steak came from theKitchn, and was super easy.  I found some horseradish sauce in the fridge, and we had that with the steaks which was a nice addition.  The potato recipe was

or Armadillo?

found on Pinterest and I decided to give it a try.  I took two baking potatoes, washed them thoroughly and then cut thin slices almost all the way through each potato.  I drizzled them with olive oil, added salt and pepper and some grated parmesan cheese.  Then baked them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Gayle commented that they looked like armadillos, therefore they will now be called armadillo potatoes (at least at our house).

Again, I had trouble getting my steaks cooked enough.  They were a bit rare for our tastes, but the flavor was good.  I think that I’m worried that I will over cook them and so I err in the other direction.  I even used the meat thermometer this time….think I”ll have to work on my placement with that.

On another note, if you haven’t yet succumbed to Pinterest, you really should check it out.  You can get all sorts of great ideas and organize and categorize them to your hearts content.  Let me know and I can send you an invitation.  But be careful, it can be addicting!

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Happy National Pie Day

January 23, 2012

For National Pie Day, I decided to go all out and fix two different pies.  The first was Individual Chicken Pot Pies for dinner and the second was a Chocolate Silk Pie for dessert.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

The pot pie came from a recipe here.  One thing I learned while searching for a chicken pot pie recipe is that there are as many different recipes as there are people.  So, if this one is missing things that you would like, or has things that you don’t, it’s easy to add or subtract items to personalize your dinner.

Ingredients
• 5-6 sheets phyllo dough
• 1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
• 2 tbsp. salted butter
• 1 chicken stock cube
• 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 2 1/4 cups whole milk
• 1/2 cup peas (frozen or canned)
• 2 cups cooked chicken
• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Place the potatoes in a saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender but not soft. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the chicken stock cube. Use a wooden spoon to break up the cube. When the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth, add the flour, stirring to form a smooth paste. Cook over low heat for a minute. Remove from the heat and add the milk, stirring constantly. When the mixture is smooth, cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the cooked potatoes, peas, and chicken, and season with pepper. Spoon into ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Create tops by layering 5-6 layers of phyllo dough with cooking spray, oil or melted butter between each layer.  Using a pizza cutter, scissors ro a knife, cut circles the same size as your ramekins from the layers of  dough.  Place on top of ramekins that have been filled with chicken mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the filling is hot and the crust is golden brown.

They turned out really good.  I ended up cooking the potatoes too long, they were somewhat mushy, so I will cook them less next time.  I also will add more pepper, the filling was a bit bland.  I had enough filling to fill 4 10-oz ramekins, but we only ate two.  The other two will be lunch someday soon.

 

Chocolate Silk Pie

The second course of our Pie Day meal was a Chocolate Silk Pie.  It was incredibly easy to make, and very tasty.

Ingredients
• 8-10 sheets phyllo dough
• 1 box chocolate pudding

• 1 1/4 cups whole milk
• 1 8-oz container of Cool Whip

Directions

Preheat oven to 450F.

Layer 8-10 sheets of phyllo dough, spraying cooking spray in between each layer.  Place the layers in a pie plate, cut off the excess around the edges.  Place in oven and cook for 4-6 minutes or until crust is light brown.  Allow to cool.

Combine pudding and milk and mix well.  Place 1/2 the pudding  in the pie plate containing the crust.

Mix the remaining pudding with 1/2 the Cool Whip and layer on top of pudding.

Layer remaining Cool Whip on top of pie.  Sprinkle with cocoa powder, or chocolate shavings, or chocolate chips, or whatever suits you.  (I used dark chocolate cocoa powder)

Chill for at least three hours.

We were very happy with the results of both the National Pie day experiments.  I can easily see them becoming a part of the rotation.

 

 

 

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Steak au Poivre

January 16, 2012

Gayle has been wanting to have this dish for a long time.  Yesterday I decided it was time.  So, after obtaining the necessary ingredients and searching for the sherry, I got to cooking.  My recipe was combined from a few places – mainly here and here.

This is my take on Steak au Poivre:

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    • 2  6-8 oz. steaks about one inch thick or less
    • Olive oil as needed
    • Salt to taste
    • 1/4 cup sherry
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/4 heavy cream

METHOD

1. Sprinkle salt generously over both sides of the steaks and let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan over high heat.  When the oil begins to smoke, take the pan off the heat. Press peppercorns into steaks and place in the hot pan. Return the pan to the heat and turn the heat down to medium-high. Sear, without moving the steaks, for at least 4 minutes.

3. Once the steak is done, remove the meat to a baking sheet. Tent with aluminum foil and let the steak rest while you are preparing the sauce.

4. Make the sauce. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sherry and as it boils, deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge all the browned bits. Once the sherry is almost cooked away, add the water and turn the heat to high. Boil the sauce down until there’s a noticeable trail when you drag a spoon through the center of it (4-5 minutes).

5.  Pour in the heavy cream and resume boiling. Again, boil down until you can make that telltale trail from the spoon.

6.  Pour the sauce over the steaks right when you serve.

I also made Parmesan cheese mashed potatoes by adding 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese to my mashed potatoes.

Everyone really loved this one – including Wrigley!  Although, he didn’t get to eat much.  The only complaint that we both had was that the steak was not cooked enough, and that was my fault.  We will definitely be trying this one again.  We might switch up the alcohol we use – we’ve heard cognac or bourbon work well.  Stay tuned for updates!

 

 

 

 

 

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Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

January 11, 2012

I have attempted Chicken & Dumplings on two separate occasions, and neither time turned out that great.  In fact, they were both pretty awful.  So, I was a bit trepidatious about trying a third time.  But, as they say, “Third time’s a charm.”

The recipe I worked with was found on BubbleCrumb.com.  I made a few changes, but not many.  Here’s my take on Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings:

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of celery soup (I didn’t have cream of chicken soup)
1 can chicken broth
1/2 onion diced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 cup milk
1 can Grands Jr. flaky refrigerator biscuits

 

 

Directions:
Place chicken in crock pot
Add butter, cream of *WHATEVER* soup, chicken broth, and onion
Cook on high for 4 hours
Remove chicken and break into pieces with a fork, return to crock pot
Put cornstarch in a bowl and mix with milk, add to crock pot and stir well
Cut each biscuit into fourths and place in pot
Cook an additional 30 minutes

 

Notes:

 

I used Cream of Celery soup, but next time I will stick to Cream of Chicken.  The celery flavor didn’t quite fit with our idea of Chicken & Dumplings.  I also will dice the onion very fine.  The pieces were too large and didn’t blend in well.  I added the cornstarch to thicken the broth, but if you wanted your dish more like soup, you could leave it out.  You could also add in whatever you wanted to make it yours – mushrooms, peas, corn, etc.

 

This dish will also be put in the rotation.  It was easy and tasted great.  It was especially good on this rainy blustery day.

 

UPDATE (2/16/12) – We had this for dinner again and I made some changes, check them out here.

 

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Anything wrapped in bacon is great. But stuff it with blue cheese (or any cheese, for that matter)as well, and it becomes downright divine! Tonight’s dinner did not disappoint. The recipe was a slight variation on Rachel Ray’s recipe found here. Since I didn’t have spinach or arugula, here is how the prep went for me:

Ingredients
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in half
Black pepper
4 to 5 ounces blue cheese crumbles
4 slices bacon
1 large potato
Salt
1 can french cut green beans
1 cup chicken stock

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Using a small sharp knife cut into the thick end of the chicken and make an incision reaching 2/3 the way down the breast. Loosen up the incision with your fingers to make a hole. Season the chicken with pepper. Stuff chicken breasts with blue cheese. Spiral-wrap the breasts with the bacon tightly to cover the meat evenly. Place chicken on a nonstick baking sheet and roast 20 to 22 minutes until bacon is crispy and chicken is firm. I also placed a meat thermometer in one of the breasts and removed the chicken when the internal temperature was 175 degrees F. (I think 165 F is the recommended temperature, but it didn’t hurt anything to cook them a bit longer.)

I also peeled and diced my potato, then cooked the pieces in the chicken broth for some additional flavor. The can of beans was opened, the beans put in a saucepan, a tablespoon of oil was added and they were cooked until done.

The meal was a huge hit. Everything tasted great, and the prep was not too difficult. We will definitely be having this one again.

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