Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicken and Broccoli Pizza with Lemon Peppercorn Sauce

(I'm no longer posting on this blog - enjoy the recipe but if you want to see what I'm up to, visit me here.)

The delicious Giorgio's that J and I frequent was once a small mom and pop style pizza shop down the street from it's current location. The little pizza shop was owned by this adorable European couple who always treated us like we were old friends. It was endearing and we looked forward to seeing big smiles on their faces whenever we stopped in. But the real reason we went back time and time again was for the pizza. In particular, a chicken a broccoli pizza with a lemon peppercorn sauce. The new Giorgio's opened about 3 years ago and they don't do the same style or flavors that they used to (but still their menu is delicious) so like everything else I eat that I like, I had to replicate it!

This pizza recipe has more steps than most but it's actually pretty easy. And no, you don't actually have to cook your broccoli and onion if you end up using raw dough. I'm dough challenged, as we've discussed in an earlier blog entry, so even though I use raw dough occasionally, I'm not smooth enough to use it for an entry here. Since the precooked shells only need to cook long enough to warm the ingredients and melt the cheese, I go through some of these steps because they add a texture (blanched broccoli) and flavor (caramelized red onion) that I like. I just know if I actually used raw dough to do a pizza on my blog it'll look like crap even if it tastes good!

Serves 2 - 3


1/2 large red onion, cut in half, then sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 1/2 cups of fresh broccoli florets
2 cooked chicken breasts, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar
pre-cooked pizza crust

For the sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 lemon

Heat a medium skillet to medium with one tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, drop in the sliced red onion and stir to coat with the oil. When the onions have sweated a little, after 2 or 3 minutes or so, give another stir and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Leave alone and cook for 7-10 minutes (they will caramelize-red onions caramelize easily), checking once to make sure the heat isn't too high that the pan burns. Turn off heat and put onions aside.

While your onions are cooking, bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and drop in your broccoli florets. Cook for 2 minutes and then submerge in an ice bath (bowl of cold water with lots of ice cubes) or run continuously under cold water for a few minutes. The idea is to stop the broccoli from cooking immediately. Drain when cold and set aside.

I browned my chicken on both sides in an oiled skillet, and then added a little chicken stock, covered and simmered till it was cooked through but you can cook your chicken anyway you like.

Once your onions, broccoli, and chicken are cooked, and your cheeses grated (please grate your own-there are very few instances when pre-grated is okay! huge HUGE flavor and texture difference for the price.) it's time to make your sauce. This sauce is essentially a flavored roux. A roux is a cooked mixture of fat and flour and many sauces and gravies begin with one. Master a roux and you are halfway to making a delicious sauce.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the lemon well. Cut the lemon in half. Use a reamer or a fork to get all the juice out and reserve in a bowl. Cut each half into quarters and use your fingers to peel out the rest of the fruit, leaving you with just peel. You'll need two medium sauce pans. Put the peel and the milk and half & half in one of the sauce pans. Bring just to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat. Remove the peel and set peel aside.

In the second sauce pan, melt the butter over a low medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until the mixture is a slight caramel color (just a minute or two). Then very slowly, whisk in the half & half and milk mixture. Keep whisking once everything is incorporated. The sauce will thicken pretty quickly. Turn the heat down if it seems to thicken excessively and add extra milk if necessary. Cook like this for 5 minutes or so, or until the flour no longer tastes raw (stick your finger in there and taste!). Turn off heat and stir in the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and grind 1 teaspoon black pepper into the sauce. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons reserved lemon juice till the mixture is well blended. Take the lemon peel you set aside earlier, rinse it off (it will have cream on it) and zest it. If you don't have a citrus zester, you can usually find that your box grater has a side that works perfectly for this. You'll need less than 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest. Stir zest in to the sauce. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning. It should taste lightly like alfredo but very peppery and a little lemony.

Put the pizza shell on a cookie sheet or pizza stone and spread out the peppercorn lemon sauce thinly on it. Top with broccoli, red onion, and chicken. Add shredded cheddar, mozzarella and the last of the parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes and then broil for 3 or 4 minutes till cheese begins to brown. Cut into 4 -6 pieces. Serve with slices of lemon.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Chicken and Broccoli Pizza With Lemon Peppercorn Sauce on Foodista

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wines I'm loving right now: 2007 Tapena Tempranillo & others

1) 2007 Tapena Tempranillo

For an inexpensive wine ($9.99 at NH liquor stores), this tempranillo is surprisingly smooth. It's a lighter red wine. For those of you who can't handle merlots and cabernets, this tempranillo might be easier to handle. It's fruity without being sweet and while it's light enough to drink in warmer weather (62 degrees today!), it's got enough body to it to be paired with hearty ingredients like lamb and beef. Delicious-I'll be buying more.

2) 1998 Jean Noel Gagnard Santenay Clos de Tavannes 1er Cru

Mmmmmm, love on the tongue! Clos de Tavannes is a Pinot Noir grape, from the Burgundy region of France and while Pinot Noir's have been hugely popular for the last several years, I've never found them as exciting as others have. This wine was different. So delicate and soft, unlike any other wine I've ever had. The color was slightly darker than a ros'e but it had a lot less sweetness and a lot more body than a ros'e. Wonderful stuff but I can't seem to find it anywhere (I tried it at a restaurant renowned for it's wine cellar). I've found other vintages (2001 and 2000) but I am really hoping to find the 1998 somewhere. The 2001 and 2000 retail for about $25, the 1998 probably retails for $35. Jean Noel Gagnard's winery is still creating wines but I can't seem to figure out if this one if still in production. Fingers crossed.

3) 2006 Ghost Pines Winemakers Blend Chardonnay

I am not a white wine drinker. Sure, some of it is tasty but I get serious acid burps (aren't I a classy lady???) from it. So strange, you would think red would be more likely to cause that. Anyhow, I usually avoid white wine unless I stumble across something spectacular. This ended up in my hands as a gift. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have picked up a couple bottles of it since. It's smooth, dry and buttery with apple and pear flavors. No really. Sometimes they say a wine tastes like certain fruits and you drink it and say "Bullshit! It tastes like alcohol!" but no, this really has hints of fruit. It retails for about $15.99. And no acid burps. Score!!!

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prosciutto and Brie Quesadillas with Arugula and Pears in Balsamic Sauce

Friday night, I had gotten home from the gym late and J and I were starving. The kitchen was a mess still from the night before and I realized that I had forgotten to buy arugula at the store. And then I remembered that I planned to put these on the blog. I scrambled around the kitchen moving things out of the way so I could make dinner and take a few half-hearted pictures, and ended up burning one quesadilla and undercooking the other. I am the most awesome cook ever. :) At least they taste good!

These quesadillas are sweet, buttery and salty. They're also a little rich, so if I eat anything else with them it's usually something basic to balance things out, like a plain vegetable or a salad. I've been trying to come up with a salsa that complements the flavors here but the quesadillas have enough moisture on their own that it's really unnecessary. Most of the time, I just eat them "dry" or with a small dollop of sour cream. Have them for dinner or cut into small triangles and serve as an appetizer with some white wine.

Serves 2


4 flour tortillas (8 in diameter)
4 oz prosciutto
4 oz good quality brie, cut into small chunks
3 pears, sliced into long strips
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup diced onion
1 cup arugula
pinch of rosemary
non-stick spray
kosher salt
black pepper

Lay two of the tortillas on a flat surface, side by side and top each tortilla with 1/4 of the brie, 1/2 the prosciutto, and (if you aren't forgetful like me) 1/2 the arugula. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and when moderately hot add the onion, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar, honey, a pinch of rosemary, kosher salt and black pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pears and stir to coat them in the vinegar mixture. Cook for another minute.

Spray a 9 or 10 inch skillet with non-stick spray and heat to medium. Place one of the tortillas (with the brie & prosciutto) you set aside earlier in the skillet. Top with 5 or 6 of the pear slices and a little of the vinegar sauce. Top with another 1/4 of the brie and cover with a tortilla. Cook for two minutes and flip gently with a large spatula (the bottom tortilla will be crispy so it will be easy to flip). Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes and remove. Cool. Follow the instructions in this paragraph again to make the second quesadilla. Cool and then cut both in half or quarters.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lasagna like Mom's

My mom made the best lasagna. I didn't think it was all that exciting at the time (I did not like tomato sauce as a kid), but as I got older and tried other lasagnas, whether homemade or in a restaurant, I came to realize that her's had something special about it and it wasn't just the love and energy that went into feeding our large family. Mom's tasted so good because she started off by making a slow simmered meat sauce. You just don't get the same flavor from a jar or from making a quick, meatless marinara (sure, they have their time and place but lasagna isn't one of them!).

Mom's recipes don't include how much of each ingredient to put in. And rarely did she bother to write instructions other than "cook all day on the stove". It's a little frustrating when trying to make something of hers for the first time, but it also makes me laugh because now that I make up a lot of my own recipes, I'm finding it's hard for me to write down exactly how much of something I'm using, because I just toss a handful or a pinch of something into the pot and cook until it tastes good like she did. So, here, I take her original ingredient "list" for lasagna and have added real measurements, directions, as well as plenty of my own substitutions and I think I've come up with something that tastes almost like my mom really did cook it on the stove all day. The best part is that you can eat off it all week and you'll have a ton of extra meat sauce to freeze for another meal.


Serves 6 - 8

*feel free to substitute turkey or chicken for the pork sausage and ground beef. It'll taste just as good for less calories!*

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb hot Italian pork sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves minced garlic, separated
2 large cans whole tomatoes
1 large can tomato puree
1 small can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 egg
1 large container part-skim ricotta
2 tablespoons dried parsley, or 1/4 cup fresh
6oz fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 thinly sliced
1/2 -3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
9 lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional kosher salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until there is no more pink. Remove the meat and drain the liquid/fat over a bowl. Put about 1/4 cup of the beef and pork fat back in the pot and cook the onion and green pepper for 3-4 minutes, then add the 3 of the cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Next add the meat back in, all your tomato products (2 cans whole tomatoes, 1 can puree, 1 can paste), the bay leaves, sugar, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. 2 1/2 hours will give you a thicker sauce, which means a firmer lasagna. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. The whole tomatoes should have broken down. If they are still mostly whole, take a potato masher and break up a little.

While the sauce is simmering, in a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Mix in the ricotta, last clove of minced garlic, parsley, cubed mozzarella, half the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. (I always use fresh mozzarella and grate my own parmesan. I think pre-grated and shredded cheeses are too dry and lose a lot of their flavor. Buying it whole and cutting/shredding yourself is more work and costs a little more, but the flavor is stronger so you'll actually end up using less.)

When your sauce is almost ready to use, heat a large pot full of water to boiling. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook your noodles for about a minute less than the box directions say to. Drain and spread out on a couple of kitchen towels. Cover with a damp towel.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pour a large ladle full of sauce in a 9 x 13 pan (9x11 is okay too, but you may need to trim your noodles to fit them), and spread out. Now layer 3 noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1 or 2 ladles of sauce, 3 noodles, 1/3 ricotta, sauce, 3 noodles, the last 1/3 ricotta mixture and another ladle or two of sauce. Press down after each layer of noodles. Top with the thinly sliced mozzarella, tearing with your hands if needed, and the rest of the parmesan cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn the broiler to 500, leave the oven door open slightly and brown the top of the lasagna for 3 or 4 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes (The longer it sits, the easier it will be to remove from the pan). Serve with some crusty bread and a salad.
All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Black Bean, Guacamole and Chicken Wraps

This isn't so much a recipe or cooking so much as food assembly! This is one of my go-to meals when I'm too exhausted to cook or it's too hot out to cook. It's certainly not too hot out today but we finally had some "warmer" weather today so I was in the mood for something lighter. It's a pretty healthy wrap but is still rich enough to be satisfying.


2 large chicken breasts, slightly pounded
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pinch of kosher salt & black peper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
3 cups green leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup diced red or sweet onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 large whole wheat wraps
1/2 - 3/4 cup hot salsa
* you may need 4-8 toothpicks

For the Guacamole

2 medium sized avocados, peeled, pit removed, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
the juice from 1/2 a lime

Serves 4

Preheat a grill pan to medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, and then baste the grill pan with olive oil (or non-stick spray). Place the chicken breasts on the grill and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side (depending on thickness).

While the chicken cooks, mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork or potato masher. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the minced garlic, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, and 1/4 tsps each of salt and pepper. Take the chicken off the grill and let cool while you chop your tomatoes, lettuce, onion, bell peppers, and cheese (if you haven't already). Slice chicken or cut into cubes. Stir a small handful of your chopped tomatoes into your guacamole.

Spread the a few tablespoons of guacamole around your wrap, leaving the outer 1 inch dry. Place small amounts (1 - 2 tablespoons of each) of beans, chicken, peppers, cheese, lettuce, onion and tomatoes in a straight line down the center of the wrap, except for an inch or two on each end. I emphasize "small" because I'm notorious for thinking I'm using only a little amount but often end up with a wrap that can't close itself. Less is more! Top the filling the center with salsa.

Turn the wrap so that the center filling runs from left to right (rather than up and down) and fold up each end. Hold the end folds with your fingers as you use your thumbs to lift up the part of the wrap closest to you up and start rolling. Do your best to keep the ends tucked in. When it's half rolled up, move your thumbs from the flaps to help you roll the rest up tightly. The wrap seam should end up plate side down. Put one hand on top of the wrap to steady, firmly and cut in half on a slight angle (angling the cut helps the filling to stay in a little better). Secure the bottom of the wrap with tooth picks if needed.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Homemade Chicken Soup

Mom frequently made big pots of soup when we were kids and I hated them all. It wasn't that her cooking was bad, it's because she'd make things like "Carcass Soup" (also known as Turkey or Chicken Soup). I thought it was so gross that she'd boil a leftover bird carcass on the stove for hours and then expected us to eat it. And the word "carcass" added an extra level of disgust. When I started making my own soups and used store-bought broths and stocks, I couldn't get the flavor I wanted no matter what herb or spice I added. I finally decided to make a batch with help from a carcass and I was amazed at how much richer the flavor was. I can't make Chicken Soup without it anymore. Even though it's March, winter still has a pretty strong hold on New England so I'm sure this won't be the last pot of soup of the season.

This recipe is a little time consuming so I recommend making it over the course of two nights or trying it out on a weekend when you have several hours you'll be at home. Oh and I'm FINALLY posting a recipe that is dairy-free. Aren't you proud?


1 4-6 lb whole chicken or chicken carcass* see note below
6-8 cups of water
7 carrots, 4 peeled, sliced, 3 cut in half
6 celery stalks, 3 sliced, 3 cut in half
2 1/2 large onions, 1 diced, 1 1/2 unpeeled and cut into quarters
8 garlic cloves, 2 minced, 6 unpeeled, smashed with knife once
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons dried dill
4 teaspoons dried thyme
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon ground savory (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large split chicken breast halves
olive oil for basting and cooking onions
1 1/2 cups pasta or egg noodles
2 teaspoons vinegar based hot sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet and baste the skin with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes. Put aside and let cool.

While the chicken is roasting, put the carcass in a large pot (at least 5 or 6 quarts) and fill the pot with water except for the last two or three inches. Turn the burner on medium high and bring to a simmer. While you are heating the pot, throw in the celery and carrots that were cut in half (3 each), the quartered onions and the 6 cloves of smashed garlic. Next, add 1 tablespoon of dried dill, 2 teaspoons of thyme, 1 tablespoon of parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Lower the heat if it starts to overflow. A lot of the water will evaporate so feel free to add a few extra cups as it cooks.

Turn off the heat and strain all liquid through a fine sieve into a container, pressing any extra liquid out of the carcass and the vegetables. Discard everything but the strained liquid. Let the stock cool and then put in the fridge for a few hours. While your stock is cooling, remove the meat from your roasted chicken breasts and cut into cubes or shred if that's what you like. Put the chicken aside.

The entire bowl will have become almost solid with a layer of yellow fat on top. Skim off the fat with a spoon and discard. Don't be too grossed out that the stock is thick and gelatinous-this is actually desirable in a stock. The gelatin is a result of the breakdown of cartilage, joints, and calcium released from the bones. Yes, kind of disgusting but gelatin repairs cartilage in our own bodies (how many of us have creaky knees from years of running and/or being overweight?) and can calm an angry digestive system because it is easy to digest. Chicken soup truly is the miracle food it's reputation claims and not just an old wives tale.

Heat a little olive oil in the same pot (or a clean one if you do this over the course of two days) and saute the diced onions for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the two minced garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute. Remove both the onion and garlic to a plate and add the stock to the pot and warm up to a gentle simmer. Now it's time to add your additional herbs: 2 teaspoons of dill, two teaspoons of thyme, two teaspoons of dried parsley, 1 teaspoon of ground savory and the hot sauce (if you are using it), 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary and the cayenne pepper. Stir and let cook for 10 minutes. Next, add the noodles, sliced celery and carrots and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until the noodles are tender. Last, stir in your cubed chicken and add more salt and pepper to taste (if you ended up with a lot of liquid stock, you will need quite a bit more salt).

Serve with lots of crusty bread.

* I'll buy a whole chicken and cook it as part of dinner. Once dinner is over and I've picked off all the meat, I'll then start cooking the carcass. If you don't have time to do it all in one night, you can put the carcass in the refrigerator and tackle it the next day.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

When J and I were first dating, I didn't cook. Cans of soup, stir-fry's with arbitrary spices tossed in, salads and nachos were the norm for me. As our relationship progressed, I was spending more and more weekends at his place and we couldn't afford to go out to eat every night so we started to learn to cook together. Not everything came out great the first time we made it but every attempt got a little better than the one before and soon we had 3 or 4 staples we made well, regularly. Even though our confidence grew cooking together, when it came to cooking something alone I had the phenomenal ability to ruin almost anything. After we returned from a camping trip in Lake George, NY, I took Monday off and J had to go back to work so I decided to plan and cook a dinner all by myself. A non red-meat eater at the time, I decided I'd make steak and a salad. Well the steak turned out a little rubbery but the salad became an instant fall favorite for both of us (yes, I realize it's March). And it's filling enough to be eaten alone or with just a piece of crusty bread.


Salad - Serves 4

8 cups mixed salad greens, washed
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 apple diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
kosher salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil (or 1 tbsp fresh)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and toss the cubed butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a few shakes of cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender, stirring at least once while cooking.

While the squash is cooking, make the vinaigrette. I use equal parts vinegar and oil but feel free to use less of one and more of the other if that's what you like. Look for a balsamic vinegar that is aged at least a couple of years and thick. It will cost a little more but the difference in taste is discernible. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, pepper, garlic, salt and basil and then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture emulsifies. You can also do this in a food processor if you want the flavors to blend deeply.

Toss the greens in a large bowl with the vinaigrette and divide equally among 4 plates. Top each with 1 tablespoon walnuts, cranberries and gorgonzola, 1/4 of the apple pieces and a large handful of the butternut squash.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley