Friday, October 8, 2010

Mustard Chicken with Creamy Polenta

I cannot tell you the last time I had chicken with a side of starch. It used to be our staple and I haven't bought chicken for almost a year so I figured it was time to use the breasts that were in our deep freeze :) This recipe was soooo good! The chicken had such great flavor and the polenta was to die for! I had no idea just adding mascarpone and corn kernels would make such a difference! Luke and I were fighting over who got to eat it for lunch.

6 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, pressed
6 large chicken thighs with skin and bones
Olive oil

5 cups water
1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 3 large ears)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Special equipment: Small metal turkey-lacing pins

Ingredient info:
Polenta is sold at some supermarkets and at natural foods stores and Italian markets. If unavailable, substitute an equal amount of regular yellow cornmeal and cook about half as long. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese that's available at many supermarkets and at Italian markets.
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For chicken:
Whisk onions, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in medium bowl to blend. Using fingertips and leaving 1 side still attached, loosen skin on each chicken thigh. Lift skin flap on each and fold back. Spoon half of mustard seasoning atop thighs, dividing equally; spread to cover meat. Fold skin flap over to enclose seasoning and secure skin with metal pin. Sprinkle thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Turn thighs, skin side up, and spread remaining mustard seasoning over skin. Transfer to small baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Chicken can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Preheat oven to 250°F. Brush grill rack generously with olive oil grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning chicken occasionally and moving to cooler spot on grill if browning too quickly, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer grilled chicken to another baking sheet; keep warm in oven while preparing polenta.

For polenta:
Bring 5 cups water to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta, then 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until polenta is tender, thick, and creamy, whisking often and adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, 25 to 30 minutes. Add corn kernels and cook, stirring constantly, until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in mascarpone cheese. Season polenta to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon polenta onto each of 6 plates. Top with grilled chicken and serve.

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender Peaches

Another fabulous peach dessert! I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of floral stuff...most flowery perfumes, air fresheners, etc. just make me sick and in my food? Forget it. But THIS was outstanding! The lavender complemented the peach flavor just perfectly and I enjoyed pretty much the entire recipe singlehandedly. :) Word to the wise: don't serve it with the lavender syrup, or at least not more than a tablespoon or so. I ate my first serving with a bunch of syrup on it and it was way too sweet. FYI! Enjoy!

• 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• 1 large egg
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup sour cream

Lavender Syrup and Peaches
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 3 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
• 4 medium firm but ripe peaches, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch metal loaf pan. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess. Sift 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl;scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for lavender syrup). Using an electric mixer, beat sugar mixture until fluffy. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla extract; beat until mixture is pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Beat in sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 56-58 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out, then turn top side up. Cook completely.

Lavender Syrup and Peaches
Combine 2 1/4 cups water, sugar, lavender and reserved vanilla bean in a saucepan. Boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep 10 minutes. Strain syrup into medium bowl; discard lavender. Pour 2 tablespoons lavender syrup into small bowl; reserve for whipped cream. Cover and chill. Return remaining syrup to same saucepan; add peaches and lemon juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes. Transfer peaches to bowl.

Boil syrup in pan until reduced to 1 cup, 12 to 14 minutes. Pour over peaches. Chill uncovered 2 hours.

Beat cream and 2 tablespoons reserved syrup in medium bowl to soft peaks. Slice cake. Serve with peaches, syrup, and cream.

Fresh Peach Pie with Cream Cheese Crust!

So, not a lot of healthy eating for us this week...I went through a package of butter, a pint of cream and we ate meat twice but let me tell you, we had some great tasting stuff! And those of you with an indulgent streak, like me, will benefit :) Here is one of the amazing peach desserts I made with our box of fresh peaches this week. I actually only chilled it for like 30 minutes at the end but my peaches and cream were already cold, so it held together OK. Divine!
P.S. This is the best-tasting pie crust in the WORLD!!

Cream cheese crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Peach filling:
  • 9 ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
To make crust: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and stir to mix. Set aside. With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add vanilla and almond extracts and stir to blend. Add sugar and stir until well blended. Add flour mixture, and blend thoroughly. Do not overmix.

With lightly floured hands, form dough into a flat round. Wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to handle, about 1 hour (dough will be slightly sticky).

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out into a 12-inch round, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Roll dough up onto rolling pin, then place in a 2-inch-deep, 9-inch pie pan. Press dough lightly into bottom and sides of pan. Trim excess dough. Using a fork, press edges of dough down on lip of pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes or overnight before baking.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake crust until light brown and puffy, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

To make filling: In the meantime, peel, pit, and slice peaches. Mix with 1/2 cup sugar and spread evenly over prepared crust. Whip cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff. Top peaches with whipped cream and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 8 hours.