Okay, I had a chicken breast defrosting and some roasted veg leftovers. Dinner? Hmm. Seemed like it needed a platform, a vessel.  Pasta. I filleted the chicken and marinated in olive oil, salt and pepper and white wine. Seared it and then roasted it.

Cooked bowtie pasta, heated some marinara, nuked the roasted veg.

Pasta, veg, sauce, chicken. Out-standing.


Queso Fundido

While I am not a fan of the folks at Cook’s Illustrated, they certainly test the shit out of everything they cook to find the best possible recipe. The thing is, i don’t really like the best possible recipe. I like some ingredients, a sense of the proportions and then don’t be in my way.

But as it happened, I got a review copy of “The Best International Recipe” by Cook’s Ill and began to read it. The recipes looked like fair representations of the cuisines (Mexico, Latin America, Central Europe, France, Spain, Italy etc.).  So, WTF. I sort of decided to cook my way through it.

Mexico was the first cuisine and Queso Fundido was the first dish. Although my friend Beth called it fancy-sounding stuff, it’s just a totally overwheming flavoricious fondue with cheese, hot sausage and chiles. Call it apps for 8 or dinner for 2. At our house, it was dinner.

4 ounces chorizo, skin off, medium chop

1 poblano chile, julienned (or other moderately hot chile)

1/2 onion, sliced thin

8 ounces Queso Asadero (at a Spanish market) or Monterey Jack (NOT grated), medium dice

Tostitos Restaurant Style White Corn Tortilla Chips (the best)

Saute the chorizo in a little bit of olive oil until the fat starts to render, a minute or two, then add the chiles. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the sliced onion and cook until softened, five minutes or so.

Spread the cheese evenly over a pie plate or shallow casserole, and spread chorizo mix over the cheese. Bake in a 350 oven until the cheese is melted a little, about 10 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips and beer.

ODing, but in a good way

Because it contains the Minimalist God, I tend to overdose on the NYT food section. Sometimes it pays off, as with this plating adventure:


“… the star of the night was the kale with the fried egg on the toast. Siobhan and I had worked together on plating that one, since I’d run out of counter space. I held the bowl with the toast in midair while she scooped on the boiled kale and the placed the fried egg on top. I then used a ladle to spoon the chicken broth that the kale had cooked in over the whole thing. The result: a piece of toast soaked in broth and rich egg yolk, with the flavorful, almost chewy kale there as a textural balance. I put in too many red pepper flakes and it was still pretty sublime.”

That’s not Bittman, though, it’s Emily Weinstein, learning to cook. (Fried egg kale photo from Orangette.)

Calling all Iron Chefs

Four teams of four chefs will compete in the 3rd Annual Pennsylvania Iron Chef Competition in February at Hershey Lodge. Last year’s competition at the Hilton Harrisburg brought out the best in Exec Chef Mark Pawloski of the Yorktowne Hotel in York, who successfully defended his 2007 title.

Working with chefs David Stoltzfus of The Inn at Penn, James Batterson from the Sheraton Harrisburg – Hershey, and Michael Geary of the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Allentown, Chef Pawloski had two hours to do three courses with wine pairings.  While standard ingredients go out weeks ahead of the competition, only on the day did they learn what proteins they’d have.

The Pawloski team’s starter was a Pan-Seared Medallion of Salmon with a Roasted Sweet Corn Flan and a Carrot Ginger Nage. For the main plat, they did Stuffed Tenderloin of Beef with Goat Cheese, Roasted Bell Peppers, and Sweet Corn. Dessert came in three variations of a Honey-Sweet Corn-Saffron Ice Cream: Caramel-Glazed with a Tuille Spoon, stuffed in an Almond-Crisped Orange and Ginger Profiterole, and as a Black-Pepper Cannelloni.

This year’s competition, sponsored by the PA Tourism & Lodging Association, will be February 17 at noon during the “Sweet Success in Food & Beverage” Conference. Nine plates of each course will be prepared, one for the central viewing area and eight for the panel of judges.

The deadline for applications — letter of interest and resume — is December 12. Email to gpha@patourism.org or fax to (717) 232-8948. Chefs selected to participate will be notified by December 19.