Cozy Dinner

May 25, 2020 | Chef Vee
chicken and potato

There's something about the potato, I can never get enough! From its many variations what's not to love. I love a super crispy, fluffy inside, golden French fry. But were not here for the fry today, nope. We are here for the heavenly mashed potato! Ever make mashed potatoes? Whip them too much and you have a gooey stringy gelatinous mess. Or just not smooth enough, full of lumps. Let me tell you a secret, restaurants use ricers to make that velvety texture we all love. But not everyone has one, so I'm going to show you my trick on making a very smooth delicious mashed potato. And you can pair with almost anything! I'm going to pair it with a simple pan seared chicken, why? Because I can make a gravy right in the pan and I love gravy over my mash!

Serves: 4 Total time: 1 hour

For the Chicken:

·4 (12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts, trimmed, skin on

·Salt and pepper

·1 tbspn paprika

·2 cloves of garlic – crushed and minced

·2 tbspn of flour

·1 tablespoon vegetable oil

·1 large shallot or red or yellow onion small mince

·3/4 cup chicken broth

·1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine

·2 sprigs fresh thyme

·3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled – for chicken

·3 lbs of potatoes roughly 5 -6 large potatoes

·Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·1 cups heavy cream

·3 tablespoons unsalted butter – for mash

·2 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley for garnish

For the chicken: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper and paprika. Dust with flour. Pat flour into chicken. Set aside.

Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. While pan is getting hot. Grab your potatoes and wash them well. Place into a large pot with water, potatoes must be submerged. Add a generous amount of salt, 2 to 3 tablespoons. Cook potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Now let's cook the chicken breasts: skin side down, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip breasts and brown lightly on second side, about 3 minutes. Flip breasts skin side down, transfer skillet to oven and finish cooking in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven (skillet handle will be hot). Transfer chicken to serving dish and allow to rest while making sauce.

For the sauce: Being careful of hot skillet. Add shallot or onions and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, no broth no worries. Mix a little bit of bouillon with water or a touch of cream, vermouth or wine, and thyme sprigs, salt and pepper, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened, about 6 minutes.

Discard thyme sprigs and stir in any accumulated chicken juices. Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time. Now our potatoes should be done. Remove from water and cool. Once they are cool enough to touch, grab a box grater and peel back some skin exposing the inside and grate - the skin will just fall no worries. No box grater - a good 'ole fork works. Use the fork as a rake going back and forth raking the potato, continue until all broken down. Add all your potatoes into a large pot on low heat and add in cream and butter, any chives go ahead throw them in. Stir until nice and smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve yourself some mash and chicken…. spoon over some gravy and enjoy!

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Penne a la Vodka

May 22, 2020 | Chef Vee

Penne ala Vodka, has to be one of my favorite pasta dishes ever! Creamy pink sauce, pasta and a good piece of bread to soak up the sauce at the end of my meal, is always a happy time. This traditional classic has some variations. I certainly have my own and I'm going to share my recipe that I've use for over 10yrs now! 

Serves: 4 Cook time: 30 minutes

  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • 2½ cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb of penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

In a large skillet over medium heat, add in oil. When hot add onion and garlic and cook, salt and pepper, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add chili flakes and let the aromatics of the chili get nice and toasty. Now gently place vodka into pan but be careful not to splatter or it will catch flame. Once into the pot let the alcohol cook out just 2 minutes or so. Now comes the heavy cream. This is going to cook another 10 minutes until nice a bubbly and the cream has reduced slightly. Now, basil and tomatoes. This will cook for 10 minutes. Stir constantly. Tomatoes will soften. With a whisk smash the whole tomatoes creating chucks. Add in parmesan cheese and cook for another 5 minutes. The sauce will become creamy and delicious. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Cook your penne pasta ahead of time and add pasta into sauce. Toss and garnish with parmesan cheese and basil. If there's any crusty bread around make sure to grab a piece. Enjoy!

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LoMein at Home!

May 21, 2020 | Chef Vee

Who's missing going out to eat dinner at your favorite weekday dinner spot? I am! One of my favorite eats is Asian. Yes, I can order delivery service. But there is nothing like a freshly prepared dish brought to you on a plate nice and hot to your table. So, what’s the next best thing? Cook at home! I love love lo mein. Noodles, vegetables and any protein of choice you just can't go wrong. Let me show you a super easy recipe and the best part is the versatility of this dish making it perfect for using what you have.

Serves: 4 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes

  • 1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ cup crimini mushroom, sliced
  • ½ cup onion, thin sliced
  • ½ cup carrot, thin sliced
  • ½ cup sugar snap peas, halved
  • 4 servings cooked egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon scallions or cilantro chopped, for garnish

In a medium bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and set aside. In a separate medium bowl combine remaining tablespoon of sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink inside, 3-4 minutes. Move all chicken pieces around the edges creating a ring. In the center of that ring add in the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook until fragrant. Just 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, and sugar snap peas. Stir fry until the vegetables are tender. About 2 -3 minutes. Add the cooked egg noodles and reserved sauce. Cook for 3 minutes, until everything is well-coated in the sauce. If you are fortunate to find authentic cooked lo mein noodles that’s great. Usually in the ethnic isles of your supermarkets you can find some sort of asain noodles like soba, chow mein or a variation of rice noodles. If you cannot find any of these good ole spaghetti works too, just follow cooking instructions on package. Use thick or thin noodles to create you're at home lo mein. Use any veggies that you have at home from peppers, fresh spinach, string beans or broccoli. Add your favorite chili's too like siracha or red chili flakes. Remember once you let the noodles soak in that sauce , taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve nice and hot and add any garnishes you may have and enjoy!

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