Friday, December 25, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Complexity Syrup

Simple syrup = 1 cup sugar + 1 cup water.

Complex syrup = see below.

It's complex but incredibly simple. This is a variation on the syrup used in the LME Poached Pear recipe but is likely more versatile.

Reason being is that you start with a sweet(er) wine.

I used this as a base for some whip cream tossed with strawberries. Quarter your berries and whip up the cream just before you get stiff peaks - you want to avoid stiff peaks here. Add about a TBS of Complex Syrup per ½ cup of cream whipped and gently mix in. Toss in the berries and you have a fantastic dessert. You can also use this:

- On other fruits
- As a sub for balsamic vinegar in salads
- On a cheese plate to complement heavy, stinky cheeses

3 cups red, sweet dessert wine (Port, etc.)
1 cup cold water
3 TBS honey
1 bay leaf
6 cloves
1 TBS whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 TSP fresh ground nutmeg

Add all the ingredients to a small pot and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Once there, reduce heat to medium and gently boil until the contents have half evaporated.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into another pot. Bring back to a boil like before, then reduce to medium.

Once the liquid is nearly 80% reduced, keep an eye on it as it may erupt out of the pot. If this is happening, it means you're almost done so turn down the heat to medium-low. Reduce further until it's almost all foamy. When you remove it from the heat you should have a syrup left, and only about 3 TBS.

Cool prior to use. A little goes a long way too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Greco Chicken Sandwich

Left over chicken. What to do with it?

My mother always turned it into chicken salad which, to this day, I'm not fond of. But my buddy Jim brought some precooked chicken over to us from Canales Brothers Deli (I was a bit under the weather) and I made some pita sandwiches out of them the next night.

The problem with the pita is that bites aren't universal. You get a bite of this, bite of that, and on a rare occasion a bite of the whole thing. This is not a complaint, but rather an observation. I'm a whole kind'a bite kind'a guy. Hence the beauty of the sandwich.

Here's what I did. It's quick, easy, and damned tasty. Also pretty healthy when you think about it. This makes enough for two sandwiches.

1 half a large, boneless chicken breast, precooked (salt, pepper, garlic)
2 Roma tomatoes, each sliced into about 5 slices.
½ a cucumber, peeled and thick sliced (same dimensions as tomatoes)
2 kosher dill pickles, sliced lengthwise into 4 strips
Feta (your choice)
4 TBS Greek style yogurt (I used non-fat Fage Total)
1 TSP Herbs de Provence
2 demi baguettes (from Bonaparte Breads via Wagshal's) or hard, crusty sub rolls.
Extra virgin olive oil
Optional: pitted kalamata olives

In a small dipping bowl, add 1 TBS of boiling water into the Herbs de Provence. Let rest for five minutes. Mix the herbs into the yogurt.

Cut the chicken into long, thin strips. Drizzle with about 1 TBS of olive oil and let sit for about 5 minutes. Preheat a skillet to medium.

Cut your bread lenghtwise and toast to a nice, crisp brown. While toasting, quickly sear the chicken in the pan to just warm it up; you do not want to brown it. Add more oil to the pan if necessary.

On the bottom bread slice spread a generous amount (about 1½ TBS) of the yogurt-herb mix. Layer some chicken slices, feta to your liking, pickle slices, cucumbers, tomatoes, and drizzle with a little olive oil. On the top sandwich half spread about a TBS of humus or more. Add a few pitted olives, if desired. Place the top on and spike the sandwich with long picks to hold it together.

Cut n' serve.