Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Whipped Ricotta & Leek Crostini

By: The Food Hunter

Leeks, though a member of the onion family, are not as pungent in taste. They have a sweet flavor which pairs well with rich ingredients. The most important thing to remember when using leeks is to make sure you clean them thoroughly. It's recommended that you slice them in half and submerge them in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes, before giving them a final rinse.

Thin sliced toasted bread topped with whipped ricotta and sauteed leeks is one of my favorite appetizers. The flavors go amazingly well together. And although it might look and sound fancy it is relatively easy to prepare.

Whipped Ricotta & Leek Crostini

crusty bread, sliced thin and toasted
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, split lengthwise and soaked in cold water to remove dirt
1 cup chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 ounces fresh ricotta cheese

Combine leeks, chicken broth and 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove leeks from pot and let cool, reserving broth for soup. Slice leeks into thin ribbons and transfer to a small bowl. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.

In the meantime add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil to ricotta cheese and whip together. Spread toasted bread with ricotta cheese and top with leek mixture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Chicken Breast Stuffed With Prosciutto Pears and Brie

By: The Food Hunter

Stuffing boneless chicken breast with your favorite ingredients is an easy way to turn an ordinary meal into something special. I found the recipe below on SkinnyTaste.com and let me tell you it's spectacular. I added a side of broccolini to round-out the meal, but you can pair it with just about any vegetable.

Family and friends are sure to be impressed specially when you tell them that it took just under an hour to get this delicious stuffed chicken dinner on the table.

Chicken Breast Stuffed With Prosciutto Pears and Brie
serves 2

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil
2 slices prosciutto, chopped
2 sage leaves, chopped
1 medium pear, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 oz Brie, skin removed, sliced thin
1/4 cup baby arugula

Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees.

Slice a pocket into the side of the chicken breast lengthwise to create a pocket for stuffing. Season the inside and outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet of medium heat, add the oil and proscuitto; saute 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sage and pear, season with a pinch of salt and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the arugula. Set aside to cool a few minutes.

Divide the stuffing and fill each breast with the pear filling and brie. Cut cooking twine and tie the chicken breast closed with 3 pieces for each.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and add some olive oil. Carefully sear the outside of the chicken on all sides except where the stuffing is until golden brown.

Set the chicken cut side up and place the skillet in the oven (if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet place in a baking pan). Cover the skillet tightly with foil and cook 23 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with your favorite vegetable side-dish. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Happiness In Our New Kitchen

By: The Food Hunter

In order for me to support my writing activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to products on this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with what I believe in and that would be of value to my readers. 

After years of looking at homes for sale in and around Phoenix, and not finding anything that felt right, a new construction home seemed like the perfect idea. We contracted with Taylor Morrison Homes back in October of 2017, and spent the next 6 months waiting for our new home to be finished. During this time I was able to find and secure many products to help create our dream kitchen.

Our new kitchen space is truly a mix of some of our favorite items! From the extra-tall, flat-front, maple cabinets with fun drawer organizers, to the white quartz counters and black slate appliances, this room is everything I've always wished for.

I absolutely love my new porcelain tile floors, but when it comes to extended comfort while cooking, nothing beats the  Gel Pro Elite Mat .  I've tried various other kitchen mats over the years and none have provided the comfort and support that the Gel Pro mat provides. With so many colors and patterns to choose from Gel Pro mats are an ideal solution for your kitchen or for that matter any room in your house. I love this anti-fatigue mat so much that I recently added one to my laundry room.

****If you're a fan of "new kitchen" products be sure and visit my instagram where I am currently giving away a Gel Pro Elite Mat****
Choosing our appliances was easy, I love the smudge-proof sleek look of the black slate and the professional chef inspired features of the GE Café™series.  The double oven gas range and convection microwave allows me 3 cooking options for those larger meals we often cook. The edge-to edge six burner cook-top with a tri-ring burner gives me lots of options for searing, frying and sautéing. I'm looking forward to exploring all the chef connect and WiFi features of this appliance line.

Having an ample amount of counter space in our kitchen is very important to us. The new space allows for various meal-prep areas throughout. Some of the most-used items in my kitchen, are my Boos Block cutting board(s). These 2 1/4 inch thick chopping blocks sit on my counter (one by the range and one by the sink) and are readily available for serious meal-prep sessions.

While it's imperative to have a quality cutting board, in order to protect your knives, it's equally important to house them in a premium block. The one I like most is the Wüsthof ® 25-Slot Knife Block. This extra large storage unit has slots for my various knives and my kitchen scissors.

On our counter you'll also find our new Kohler Lift Dish Rack. The rack is great for drying those items that don't go in the dishwasher. It also easily collapses so it can be stored out of sight when we have company.

Getting a new kitchen was a good reason to add some updated pieces to my current cookware collection. I can't wait to cook a meal in this 12.75 inch French Covered Skillet from Anolon. The professional look and large size makes it ideal for cooking a variety of dishes. (more on this pan and a giveaway coming soon)

Fully stocking a new kitchen with gourmet kitchen products can be fun, easy and very beneficial to the home cook. I hope this post has inspired you to add some new kitchen tools to your collection.

****Don't forget to head over to instagram now and enter the second "new kitchen" product giveaway and check back often for others!!****

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Braised Pork Belly With Fennel & Cabbage Salad

By: The Food Hunter

It probably has never crossed your mind but trust me when I tell you that pork belly and cabbage go together like peanut butter and jelly. Add some sliced fennel to the mix and you will have a drool worthy meal for sure. The recipe below, created by Mario Batali, proves this point.

Though the recipe has a lot of ingredients, it's not super hard to make and so worth the effort! Give it a try; you won't be disappointed.

Braised Pork Belly With Fennel & Cabbage Salad
(recipe by Mario Batali)

1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Fennel (toasted and ground)
3 tablespoons Salt
3 tablespoons Rosemary (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the rub ingredients and very thoroughly mix. Using a sharp knife, score a 1-inch grid pattern into the fat of the pork belly. Rub the pork belly all over with the spice mixture.

2 pounds Pork Belly (skin removed)
2 Carrots (peeled; cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
3 stalks Celery (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1/2 Red Onion (sliced)
2 Fennel Stalks (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon Fennel Seeds
1 bottle Beer
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sear the pork, fat side down, until brown and crispy. Flip pork and add the carrots, celery, red onion, fennel, fennel seeds, and beer and season with salt. Bring to a boil, transfer to 350 degree F oven and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

1 small head Napa Cabbage (shredded)
1/2 Red Onion (sliced)
1 bulb Fennel (thinly sliced on a mandolin)
1/4 cup Mint (chopped)
1/4 cup Basil Leaves (chopped)
1 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 tablespoons Fennel Honey (see below)
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and freshly ground Pepper

In a large bowl, combine the napa cabbage, red onion, fennel, mint, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of fennel honey, and apple cider vinegar. Toss thoroughly to coat and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

1 tablespoon toasted Fennel Seeds
1/3 cup Honey

Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds in a small sauté pan. Once fragrant, add the honey, and cook over low heat for 2 minutes to allow flavors to come together.

Once pork belly has finished cooking, brush with the remaining fennel honey, and slice to serve. Serve the pork belly over the fennel salad.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Baked Pasta In A Pork Ragu

  By: The Food Hunter

A classic Italian meal loaded with pork and kicked-up a notch with crushed red pepper. This dish serves 8 people and can easily be made in advance. It's the kind of meal you want to make when friends come over for dinner because it's guaranteed to be loved by all.

Baked Pasta In A Pork Ragu

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta,diced
2 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
6 large fresh thyme sprigs
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped
1 1/4 pounds pasta
8-10 ounces of coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until browned and crispy. Transfer cooked pancetta, using a slotted spoon, to a bowl.

Season pork with salt and pepper. Add half of pork to the skillet you used for the pancetta; sauté until brown, about 7 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the pancetta. Repeat with remaining pork.

Add sausage to same pan. Sauté about 5 minutes, breaking up with back of a wooden spoon.

Add carrots, celery, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add pancetta and pork with any accumulated juices and boil 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and juice. Cover and cook until pork is very tender, adjusting heat as needed to maintain gentle simmer and stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

Uncover and spoon off fat from surface of sauce. Coarsely shred pork. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil a 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish or other 4-quart baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta and mix into sauce. Transfer to prepared dish and sprinkle both cheeses over top. Bake until heated through and golden, about 20 minutes.