Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cornmeal and Herb Crusted Chicken Drumsticks

It breaks my heart when I hear people say that they don't like chicken drumsticks. "It's too fatty." "There's a bone in it." "It's 'dark' meat...I don't like the concept of that." ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? First excuse on the fattiness - ok, I can kind of accept that, but fat also = flavor. It's not like you're eating a stick of butter. Second excuse: a chicken was an animal. Animals have bones. You may as well eat worms if you're scared of bones. When cooking meat with bones in it you retain moisture and flavor. The third excuse....don't even get me started. Let's just stick with the scientific explanation that dark meat is dark because of myoglobin. Chickens need to run * least chickens who aren't locked up in cages* their legs need more oxygen. Myoglobin stores oxygen and that's what gives dark meat its color.

So science and being irked by non drumstick eaters aside....I obviously enjoy eating it. It's inexpensive, juicy and is incredibly flavorful. I've cooked it various different ways, but this is my first time breading and baking. Let's just say I'll definitely do it again. I found a couple recipes and didn't like any one of them so I took bits and pieces from various recipes and made it my own. All the herbs I used are fresh from my garden and the bread crumbs are from
an old hunk of bread that I put in the food processor.

8 Chicken Drumsticks
1/4 C Dijon Mustard
3 Tbs Mayonnaise
1 Tbs Worcesterchire Sauce
A Splash or two of Tobasco Sauce
1/3 C Plain Bread Crumbs
1/3 C Cornmeal
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp chili powder

1 1/4 tsp fresh Rosemary
1/4 tsp fresh Thyme
1/4 tsp fresh Oregano
1/4 tsp fresh Sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In small bowl, mix together the mustard, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce and tobasco. In another dish combine bread crumbs, cornmeal, cayenne and chili powder. Chop up the fresh herbs all together and toss it in with the dry cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture. Working with one drumstick at a time, and using your hands, spread a thin layer of the mustard/mayo mixture all over the drumstick, then put it in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure to have the whole piece of chicken covered. Arrange the breaded chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. When you poke a knife into it, the juice should come out clear (not pink). Let sit for a couple minutes (if you can wait that long - because I couldn't and ended up burning my tongue), and serve warm.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grilled Lobster w/ Garlic Herbed Butter

How do you pass up live, fresh lobster that are being sold at $7.99/lb. Simple - you just don't do it. *Thank you, Chowhounders for the food news updates!!!* Just the week before, I picked up 2 live crab off a boat in Bodega Bay ($6.99/lb), and steamed it with ginger and scallions (Here's a recipe for it from one of my fave blogs - Appetite for China). After that episode of fresh seafood - I was desperately craving lobster!!! Yumyumyumyumyumyumyumyum....=D.

Lucky for me, it was my dad's birthday - so I had a 'real' reason to splurge! - not that I needed a reason for $7.99/lb lobster. I ended up buying 3 lobsters that were just under 2 lbs each. Look - they're staring at you..saying "If you put me in boiling lemony water - I will forever hate you - but you will be forever pleased with my sweet and juicy meat, so I don't blame you."

Most people just eat the tail and the big claws, but there's actually a lot of delicious tender meat in the head and their skinny little legs, so I just decided to cook the whole damn thing - why not, right?

Lobster (in this case, 3 whole)
1 whole lemon - cut in half
1/4 Cup of Butter (1/2 a stick)
1 sprig rosemary, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Lemon wedges for serving

Boil a big pot of water and squeeze the juice of a whole lemon into it. Throw in the lemon halves for flavor. Submerge each the lobster under the boiling water for 1-1.5 minutes - until the lobster has turned orange and stops moving. =( You don't want to fully cook the lobster at this stage. If doing one lobster at a time - make sure th
e water comes back to a boil before putting in the next lobster.

After boiling, run it under cold water or submerge into a bucket of ice water to stop the cooking. Peel off the large claws and set aside to get it out of your way. Using a large knife, slice each lobster length wise using the bottom side of the lobster as a guide - in between its legs and down the middle of the tail. Clean out the guts and rinse it out a bit w/cold water. Let the water drain.

In the meantime, prepare the herbed butter. Mix the minced rosemary and garlic in with the butter and put it in the microwave until all the butter is melted (30 - 40 seconds). This allows the flavors of the garlic and rosemary to seep into the butter. Brush the garlic herb butter evenly on the open sides of the 6 lobster halves. Place cut side down onto a HOT grill for 3-4 minutes until the the meat is browned. While the halves are grilling, also place the claws on the grill - they'll take a total of 6-8 minutes to cook (3-4 minutes on each side).

Before serving, crack the shells of the claws using a mallot, and serve with lemon wedges.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cookies

This post is LONG over due. I made these cookies a couple months back after buying a bag of poppy seeds at random from a local european specialty food store. I went into the store wanting to buy something I had never purchased before since the store had so many unusual items like cured meats with weird names I had never heard of to sauces that were completely foreign to me. What I came out with was a bag of poppy seeds, a mug of mustard (yes, a mug....), and a few other little snacks.

I asked the lady at the counter what she'd make with poppy seeds and mustard, and she suggested, in a very heavy German-like accent, *I could barely understand her*....that a great recipe her mom made was to spread a thin layer of mustard all over a whole fish, stuff the inside w/ avocado and lemon, and sprinkle poppy seeds over it. Mustard Avocado & Poppy Seed Fish. It sounded great - but I wasn't in a fishy mood - that might be another post one of these days..... I'm familiar with poppy seeds in lemon poppy seed cake, muffins, I figured I'd stick to familiarity before venturing off into foreign territory. I found a recipe online for Lemon Poppy Seed cookies that sounded pretty good. I had fresh oranges to spare as well - so why not mix lemon and orange and make it my own! The came out sweet, slightly tart and deliciously cakey/chewy!

1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp lemon zest
1.5 tsp orange zest
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 Tbs orange juice
2 Tbs Poppy Seeds
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 Tbs orange juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla and blend. Add the citrus zest, poppy seeds and sour cream and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough and roll to form each cookie. Drop them onto un-greased cookie sheets - keeping the about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookes are lightly browned - about 18 minutes. Let the cookies cool before icing.

For the icing: Put powdered sugar into a bowl and mix in citrus juices until smooth. Dip the top of the cookies and let it drip before placing it down to allow it to harden.

Makes about 20 cookies