Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's So Fluffy!

Good evening everyone! Here's hoping tonight finds you dry and cool. The amount of rainfall we've been getting in the greater Des Moines metro is absolutely insane. Upwards of 10 inches over the past three days. I'm sure by now most of you have seen the total devastation that this flooding is causing in Ames. Maggie called Ames home for 4 years, I called Ames home (unofficially) for 1 year - it's still our favorite home away from home and it's the town where Maggie and I fell in love. Ames holds a special place in our hearts, and it's hard to see all of these familiar landmarks 8 feet under water. I can only imagine what those people who are currently living in Ames are going through. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the Ames area - or to anyone who is being forced out of their homes by this flooding. They say that this is (once again) a 100 year flood. As I recall, it's only been 2 years since our last 100 year flood. Someone needs to check their calender...

With all of these acts of nature causing such devastation and chaos, how about a little distraction in the form of cooking? Maggie took to the kitchen tonight and cooked up something that (in my honest opinion) ranks up there with some of the best dishes she has made to date. I'll turn the keyboard over to Maggie and let her share the recipe with you.

The Recipe: Chicken And Orzo Frittata
Original Recipe Found In: Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites

What You'll Need:

3/4 Cup Orzo Pasta
6 Eggs
1/3 Cup Whole Milk
1/4 Cup Creme Fraiche (Or sour cream)
2 Cooked Chicken Breasts, Cubed
4 Scallions
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley (1/8 Cup dried)
1/3 Cup Roasted Red Bell Peppers*
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

*We could only find jarred red peppers, and most of those were of the pickled variety. The non pickled versions were sweet red peppers, and we worried that would throw the flavor of the dish off. So we settled for a jar of roasted red peppers that we knew we be a little on the warm side, but we wanted to stay as close to the original ingredient as possible.

All the ingredients, ready to go! 

Hi everyone!  As Tyler described earlier, my former town of residence is now under a whole mess of water.  I am incredibly saddened that nearly all the places I know are under water/partially submerged - the coliseum that I graduated in last December has 8 feet of water in it!  Alas, I must put away my saddened feelings and begin to cook.

As I was reading the recipe, Giada lists off "2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed."  Logic kicked in here:  Okay, chicken isn't normally, how am I going to pull this one off??  Tyler suggested cubing the chicken first, then cooking in a skillet with olive oil for about 10 minutes...which is exactly what I did.  The chicken was cooked to a 'T' and tasted great on their own.

Chicken, cubed and cooking

Meanwhile, while the chicken cooked, I started to preheat my oven to 375 degrees.  I also started a pot to boil water for my orzo.  Now, I forgot to take a picture of the individual orzo pieces, but I will do my best to describe these little guys.  Orzo looks like rice, but DO NOT be fooled.  It is actually pasta and takes on the properties of whatever surrounds it.  It's a light little pasta masterpiece that I hope to use again in the future.  Once the water is boiling, cook the orzo for 8-10 minutes.  Drain and let cool slightly.

By now the chicken and orzo should both be done.  You can set both aside whilst you work on the other ingredients.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs (yes, if you read six eggs and you're eyes popped out of your head, relax, you'll need all those for the dish,) the ricotta cheese, and sour cream and mix until everything is a nice creamy mixture, slightly orangy-yellow.

Slice four scallions to about a 1/4 inch slices.  I've worked with scallions before and they are tasty little buggers, but it always bothered me that when looking at a scallion, would I use the whole thing or just the green part?  Some quick research in the kitchen lead me to find out that you can use the green section or the whole scallion, including the white portion.  I didn't want to give the dish a potentially lethal dose of onion, so I just sliced the green tops.

Scallions - tiny little pieces of tasty! 

Put your scallions, chicken, orzo, parsley, red bell peppers, salt, and pepper into your egg concoction.  Be sure to give it a good stir so that everything is well combined.  In a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish, pour your mixture in, smoothing it on top so everything is even.  Pop the dish in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is slightly brown.  Take out the dish out of the oven and let it set for five minutes.

It certainly is a colorful dish

The End Result:

The eggs really made this recipe fluffy (hence the title of tonight's blog.)  It gave all the other ingredients a nice place to stick, but also somewhat made cohesive unit.  The chicken and orzo made the flavors of the scallions and the parsley pop and gave it a real earthy flavor.  There was a slight cheesy taste, and that was thanks in part to the ricotta.  But it wasn't 'choke a horse' taste; it was a good, mild cheese flavor (who knew, me, Ms. Cheese Fanatic, liked a recipe that wasn't drowning in cheese!)  The only thing that bothered me about this recipe was the red peppers.  Now, it could have been that they were pickled and as almost a bitter flavor to them.  The recipe, I felt, could have been done without this part.  But I'm quite sure if we used fresh red pepper, the flavor would have come out completely different.

Thanks Maggie. Tonight's recipe had a very clean and simple flavor. Orzo, chicken, scallions and the red pepper were the dominant flavors in this dish, with the cheesy ricotta flavoring playing a small supporting roll. Everything blended together so well! (minus the overly strong red pepper) The dish was light, fluffy and full of flavor. All in all, a job well done by my better half.

That's all we have for you this evening. I'm back tomorrow night with another chicken recipe - this one is yet ANOTHER completely unique recipe. Stop back tomorrow evening to see what I've got cooking. Until then,


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