I’m hooked, not only on East of Eden (maybe 1/3 of the way through now), but also on the newish TLC show, Take Home Chef. Has anyone else seen this show? Here, it’s on from 5:00 – 5:30, and again from 5:30 – 6:00 on weeknights. So yeah, I’m kind of glued to the TV from 5 – 6 each evening.
The premise of the show is that a cute blonde Australian chef named Curtis Stone (maybe from the Flintstones?) picks up someone at the grocery store (usually Whole Foods or another upscale store, and 9 times out of 10, the someone is a young woman, and she is always pretty), plans are made for a menu with that person, he buys the groceries, and they go home to cook a gourmet meal. Then the spouse/significant other/roommate/friend/whomever comes home to a surprise dinner.
I like the chef’s personality. He’s always kind of flirting with the women (sometimes REALLY flirting), and he’s always nervous, almost scared of being beat up when the husband/whomever comes home. He seems to genuinely like people. Finding out he’s an A-Hole would be like finding out Rachael Ray is an A-Hole (which I have on good authority, she pretty much is. Muh). It’s fun to see him work with their lifestyle – I’ve seen him work with vegetarians (yummy fondue…mmmm), kosher Jews, severe food allergies, etc.
The other night, I was watching Take Home Chef, and they made a dish that looked pretty manageable, and really yummy, so I decided to try it. He made Cajun crusted chicken with Creole mashed potatoes. Mmmm. Sounds good.Â But he didn’t serveÂ a veggie with it, unless a potato counts, which it doesn’t.Â So I was thinking of veggies to go with it, and I came up with a fruit instead, becauseÂ a few days ago, I was watching Barefoot Contessa, and she made a roasted tomato basil soup. She made an offhand comment that you could have the roasted tomatoes as a vegetable side dish, rather than going on and making them into a soup. I’m a sucker for a good tomato, and this time of year, it’s nice to hear of a treat that makes winter blah tomatoes taste sweet and summery. So, I made the chicken, potatoes, and tomatoes for dinner. Everything was yummy. Go for it.
Cajun Crusted Chicken with Creole Mashed Potatoes
Four 6- to 7-ounce/180- to 200-g boneless chicken breasts (with the skin on) (We only had legs/thigh quarters, so I used that. Yummy.)
6 tablespoons/50 g Cajun spice blend (including cayenne pepper, dried thyme, garlic powder and paprika) (J’s note…he mixed this himself, but since they don’t give the proportions of one to the other, I bought a pre-made Cajun blend)
4 russet potatoes (about 3 pounds/1.36 g total), peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons/30 ml olive oil
4 andouille sausages (about 13 ounces/369 g total), sliced thinly into rounds
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
1 cup/286 ml chicken stock, warmed
1/2 cup/10 g chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dusting
To marinate the chicken:
Using a large sharp knife, score 3 slits over the tops of the chicken breasts. Rub the chicken breasts all over with the Cajun spices and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To prepare the potatoes:
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes for 25 minutes or until soft. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to steam dry in the colander for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon/15 ml of oil in a heavy large sautÃ© pan over medium-high heat.
Add the sausages and fry until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausages to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, shallots and garlic to the same pan, and sautÃ© for 8 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the shallots are golden.
Add the potatoes and half of the chicken stock to the pepper mixture and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, coarsely mashing the potatoes with the back of the spoon. Stir in the parsley, cooked sausage and the remaining chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
To cook the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 375Â°F/190Â°C. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon/15 ml of oil in a very large oven-proof sautÃ© pan over high heat. Be sure the pan is large enough so that the chicken breasts do not touch each other. This will allow them to brown nicely. If you don’t have a pan large enough to fit all the chicken breasts without crowding them, use 2 large pans and divide the oil and chicken between the pans.
Dust both sides of the chicken breasts with a little flour and place them in the pan skin side down. Cook for 2 minutes or until the chicken skin is crisp and golden. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the chicken for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts over and return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into thick slices. Mound the potatoes on 4 dinner plates. Arrange the chicken slices alongside the potatoes. Drizzle the pan juices from the chicken around the chicken and potatoes and serve.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
(J’s NOTE: I stopped here…roasted the tomatoes at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. I topped them with a bit of shredded Parmesan and basil. YUM!)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.