Inga's Indulgence

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

For the Love of Cheese

Dear husband, forgive me but it seems I have fallen for another.

It was love at first bite, and the romance persisted into the dark night. For the only thing to light the way was a refrigerator lamp. Spoon in hand, I dug straight into the log like it was a slice of cheesecake; It was better.

I've always been fond of goat cheese, but Wild Blueberry Vanilla Chevre?!!

A recipe is not even necessary here. This stuff smeared on a branch would be great.

Good news to all the pregnant ladies in the house - this cheese is made from pasteurized goat's milk. So munch away.

AND they have other flavors too!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


When talk of hurricane Irene hitting the east coast began to spiral out of control, I decided to pack up my family and head out west. Within a few hours of driving just barely out of the storm's reach, my big fat New York mishpucha was fascinated at the site of cattle and corn fields. And I suddenly became nostalgic for some good all-American comfort food. So upon arriving home to thankfully find my house in one piece, I got to cooking in an attempt at celebrating life and all the positives. 

Perfect Roast Chicken with Blue Cheese Smashed Potatoes & Maple Gravy

1 whole chicken (6-8 lb)
1 large yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp mayonnaise
4 tsp chipotle in adobo (just the liquid)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp canola oil

Maple Gravy
2 tbsp chicken fat
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt

(yield: 6 servings)

Line a large shallow baking dish with aluminum foil. Spread half of the sliced onions along the bottom of the pan.

Butterfly the chicken: Turn the chicken breastside down on your cutting board, and using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Turn the chicken over and place over onions. Flatten with the palms of your hands, pushing down on the breast. Point the wings toward the legs, tucking them under the bird. Loosen the skin with your fingertips, and try to get as much of the garlic inside, all over the chicken.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, 3 tsp of the chipotle in adobo, and 1 tbsp of the maple syrup. Rub the mixture all over chicken. Top with remaining sliced onions. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine canola oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 tsp chipotle in adobo. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently brush the onions off of the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chicken in the oven. After 15 minutes, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and brush the chicken with the glaze. Continue to roast for 45-60 minutes, brushing with glaze every 15 minutes. Remove bird from oven, and let rest at least 10 minutes before serving. *Reserve chicken fat from the bottom of the pan to make gravy.

Make the gravy: Heat the chicken fat in a sauce pan over med-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes. Switch to a whisk, and pour in the chicken stock, whisking vigorously until smooth. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until thickened. Season with salt.

Serve chicken with a mountain of Blue Cheese Smashed Potatoes and a cascade of gravy. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Operation "I'm gonna eat like a king"

It's good to love yourself. That's why treating yourself on occasion is totally permissable.

I happen to be the type of gal that would rather splurge on exotic ingredients and kitchenware than on Louboutins, but that's just me. So this morning I made myself a breakfast sandwich that one could only hope to be served as their last meal. Check it out:

Toast with Caviar & Quail Eggs

(yield: 1 serving)

1 slice whole wheat or rye bread, lightly toasted
1 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 tbsp black caviar
1/2 tsp red onion, finely chopped
1 quail egg, hard boiled & sliced
truffle oil (optional)

Spread toast with creme fraiche, followed by caviar. Top with onions, quail egg slices, and a tiny drizzle of truffle oil.

I was forced to split my decadent creation with Zelli. Who knew that a one-year-old could have such an expensive palate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Decadent Hour

It's 9 pm. I just put the baby to bed. Instead of unwinding from the day's events by plopping onto my couch and watching reruns of The Real Housewives of Jersey, I can't stop thinking about the two bananas going bad in my fridge. So I grab them, and re-purpose them the best way I know how - with chocolate. Wouldn't it be grand if we could camouflage everything gone bad in life with chocolate? Bad news, we can't.
Very good news, I made Peanut Butter & Banana Brownies!

PB & B Brownies

(yield: 12 brownies)

10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup peanut butter, chunky
1 cup sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs
1 cup flour
2 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a rectangular 13" x 9" pan with butter. Line with parchment paper, and grease parchment with butter as well.

In a double boiler set over low heat, melt 8 oz of the chocolate chips along with butter and peanut butter. Once mixture is melted, remove from heat, and mix in the sugar. Continue to whisk constantly while adding the bananas, followed by the eggs.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and the remaining 2 oz of chocolate chips. Whisk well to remove any lumps. Gradually add flour mixture into chocolate mixture, whisking just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Bake 20-22 minutes. Let brownies cool in pan for at least 10 minutes, before cutting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rubbed the Right Way

It doesn't take much to make good roast chicken, and it doesn't take much to make bad roast chicken.

The foolproof way doesn't entail a lot of work, just a few simple steps...

#1 Keep the skin on. As tempted as you are to pull it off, don't. This is not the place to do it. Skin is what great roast chicken is all about. It's what keeps the juices in. It's what gives your mouth a textural and flavorful orgasm upon taking that first bite.

#2 Marinate, marinate, marinate! Just do it. Even if all you can afford is an hour, do it anyway. Ideally the chicken should hang out with its aromatics and flavorings for a few hours, maybe even overnight. This really develops the flavor. Oh, and don't forget to throw some onions into the party. The more the merrier.

#3 Start in a HOT oven. Your oven must be preheated and at a pretty high temperature (at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit) when the chicken goes in, if you want to achieve beautifully browned and crisp skin.

#4 Baste. Brush the chicken with fat every 15 minutes. Whether you're making a whole bird or parts, basting helps to keep the chicken moist on the inside and nice and golden on the outside. Any sort of fat will do - oil, melted butter, or even the very juices that the chicken lets out.

Lime & Cilantro Rubbed Drumsticks
(yield: 4 servings)

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
zest of 2 limes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper, to taste

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Place the drumsticks and onions into a large bowl. Pour half of the cilantro mixture over chicken, and reserve the remaining half for basting. Rub the chicken all over with the mixture, making sure to get it under the skin as well. Season with the spices, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably 4-6 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil. Scatter the onions across the sheet pan to form a bed for the chicken to rest on. Place the drumsticks over the onions, making sure not to overcrowd them. Season generously with salt & pepper, and place into hot oven.

Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit after 15 minutes, and baste with the reserved cilantro lime mixture. Roast for an additional 30-40 minutes, basting twice more in the process.
Slather whatever remains of the cilantro lime mixture over the roasted drumsticks, and serve.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quench It!

Real thirst is not a state of mind, but cravings for sugary, nutrient-free drinks may be just that.

Tired of constantly diluting concentrated, sugar-laden drinks with water in an attempt to avoid excess sugar and calories, I set out to create my own beverage. This beverage was to be as beneficial and replenishing to the body as good ole H2O, but less blah. Similarly, I needed something to keep up with my baby's evolving tastebuds and inevitable need for color and sugar. So I turned to the most natural source I could find - fruit.

Fruit Water

4 quarts cold water
1 cup strawberries, hulled & diced
1 grannysmith apple, peeled & diced
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dried cherries

Place everything into a large pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Once cool, you may transfer to a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator.

(yield: 1 gallon)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blue Cheese Smashed Potatoes

1 lb baby Yukon Gold potatoes
3 tbsp Blue Cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 scallions, chopped

Place potatoes into a medium pot, and top with cold water. Bring to a boil, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, 13-15 minutes. Drain.

While potatoes are still hot, combine with Blue Cheese and sour cream using a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper, and mix in the scallions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Soups On

Sometimes soup  is enough.

Lifting your spirits and warming your insides, soup is powerful stuff. That's why I think we should have more of it in our lives.

Here's a candidate with balls, literally. It's a meal in itself...

Spicy Mexican Meatball Soup

(yield: 6-7 servings)

1/2 lb ground beef chuck
1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

2 tbsp canola oil
1 small carrot, small dice
1/2 of a medium red onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 tbsp chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
3 Idaho potatoes, diced into medium cubes
1, 15 oz can white beans

Make the meatballs: Combine all ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl. Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. The mixture should make about 20 meatballs. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a large, heavy pot with canola oil, and sweat carrots and onions over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cilantro and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add tomato puree, chipotles in adobo, spices, stock, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and add the potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes, and gently add the meatballs into the soup along with beans. Simmer for another 20 minutes.