Pepping up Winter Cooking

Here and Now's resident chef Kathy Gunst has suggestions for ways to pep up late winter cuisine with ingredients like lime, ginger, and coconut milk that she says add a lot of value for not a lot of money.

(Kathy Gunst) Roasted brussel sprouts
(Kathy Gunst) Roasted brussel sprouts
(Kathy Gunst) Winter salad
(Kathy Gunst) Winter salad

Kathy Gunst’s Braised Chicken with Ginger, Scallions, and Coconut Milk

Serve with whole wheat couscous, rice, brown rice, or orzo.

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, cut into thin julienne sticks
6 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, ends trimmed
1 cup chicken broth
One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Liberally season the chicken with the salt and pepper and sauté about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Be careful not to crowd the skillet; brown the chicken in batches, adding more oil if necessary. Remove the chicken (it will still be raw in the center) to a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil over moderate heat. Add the garlic and chopped ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ginger sticks and scallions and cook 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and let simmer, being sure to scrape up any bits of chicken clinging to the bottom of the skillet. Add the coconut milk and the lime zest and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the browned chicken, cover, and let cook on low heat for about 10  minutes. Flip the chicken over, stir the sauce, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear and there is no sign of pink. Taste the sauce for seasoning and serve hot over cous cous or rice. Serves 4 to 6.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Roasted in a hot oven with pancetta (Italian bacon), Brussels sprouts caramelize into an entirely new (suddenly desirable) vegetable.

1 1/4 pounds medium Brussels sprouts
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces thick-sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Using a small, sharp knife, trim the ends from the Brussels sprouts and tear off the loose outer layer of leaves. Place the sprouts in a baking dish. Drizzle the oil over the sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Sprinkle the pancetta over the top of the sprouts and roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring the vegetables halfway through baking, until the sprouts are browned and just tender when tested in the center with a small, sharp knife, and the pancetta is cooked.
Serves 4 to 6.

Winter Salad

This salad combines beautiful colors, textures and flavors using ingredients that are readily available all winter long.

The Salad:
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 ½ cups walnut halves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About ¼ cup honey
4 cups baby spinach
1 fresh fennel bulb (save the fronds on top for the vinaigrette)
2 tangerines, peeled, cut into sections, with each section cut into thirds
The Lime-Fennel Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 1 tablespoon fennel fronds (the top fronds that resemble fresh dill), chopped
Juice from 1 large lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
About 5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl, mix the mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the lime juice and vinegar and stir well. Add 5 tablespoons olive oil and whisk or stir; taste and add the additional oil if needed. Add the fennel fronds. The dressing will keep, covered and refrigerated, for several days.

Make the salad: Melt the butter and oil over moderate heat in a medium-sized skillet. When the butter is hot add the walnuts and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the honey, stirring well to make sure the walnuts are coated all over. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the honey is coated on all the nuts. Remove the nuts to a sheet of foil or a plate and separate them to make sure they don’t clump together; let cool. The nuts will keep in a tightly sealed jar or bag for about a week.

Place the spinach in a large salad bowl. Remove the core and the top from the fennel bulb and cut the bulb into very thin slices. Place the fennel slices on top of the spinach in the center of the bowl. Scatter the tangerine sections on top of the salad and place any or all of the walnuts along the outside of the bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad just before serving, or serve it alongside and let everyone dress their own salad. Serves 4 to 6.

This program aired on March 11, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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