Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Shrimp Bisque, Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Poached Pears with Crème Anglaise
While the holidays are always a time of reflection and of rejoicing, it might not always come at the perfect moment where we are able to enjoy it. I remember being single at a time where all I could see around me were people strolling around in couples, lovingly embraced as they picked the perfect tree, and making the loneliness that I was feeling an even more acute and real emotion. I remember having to whip up a Christmas dinner when money was scarce and I sincerely could not afford to blow my budget on one meal and therefore jeopardize my attempts to feed my family the rest of the week. I also remember Christmas day creeping up on me when I had had no time whatsoever to prepare and shop and spend an insane amount of preparation time anticipating the event. And yet, it had to happen…
If any of these situations sound familiar to you today, please remember that the real meaning of the holidays is what we carry inside of ourselves. The loneliness makes place to our caring for ourselves in the most abandoned way: we are our ultimate resource and treasure, and, although it is nice to have others help us in this journey of loving ourselves, this feeling has to stem from a genuine understanding that we are the ultimate person responsible for our own welfare. Our body, our mind and spirit are entrusted to us from beginning to end and we are worth every effort to respect them and supply them with sustaining energy, both in the physical world and in the spiritual world.
As far as the Holiday splurge, any meal at any time of the year can be made festive by utilizing everyday foods and dressing them up a bit. I remember this one time where I found a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer and made my version of Lobster bisque at a fraction of the price. The end result was mind-blowing and almost felt like when you snatch a sale item at a price so low you feel that the tag belonged to another item… This would be my appetizer of choice for a Holiday meal.
Then, an everyday item like a chicken breast gets a holiday makeover with a little extra touch and still manages to get a ton of flavor across. Brussels sprouts are an all-time favorite for me and pair well with this dish, adding robust flavors to the more mellow chicken.
Who knew that everyday food could be so elegant and yet so easily put together.
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Makes 6 servings
* 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
* 1 1/2 pound medium shrimp (about 45), peeled, deveined, shells reserved
* 2 bay leaves, divided
* 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
* 2 celery stalks, chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1/2 cup vegetable broth
* 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
* 1/4 cup brown rice
* 2 Tbsp tomato paste
* 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 3 sprigs fresh thyme
* 1/4 tsp (or more) cayenne pepper
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
* 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 bay leaf and 8 cups water. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain, discarding solids. This shrimp stock can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque in center, 3-4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pot. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove pot from heat; add the vegetable stock and the vinegar. Return the pot to medium heat and stir until almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and tomato paste; stir for 1 minute. Add shrimp stock, remaining bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Simmer uncovered until flavors meld and rice is extremely soft, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve 4 shrimp for garnish and stir the remaining shrimp into the soup. Remove the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.
Working in batches, purèe the soup in a blender until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a clean pot. Discard solids in the strainer. The soup can wait at this point until you are ready to serve. Stir in cream and reheat the bisque over medium heat. Add the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cayenne, if desired.
Mince the reserved shrimp and mix with chives in a small bowl. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the shrimp mixture in the center of large, shallow soup bowls. Ladle the bisque around garnish and serve.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Gravy
* 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
* 4 Tbsp cream cheese at room temperature
* 4 tsp dried basil
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 6 Tbsp butter, separated
* 2 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
* 8 oz cremini mushrooms
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
* Kitchen twine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting through the thickest portion of the breast in a parallel fashion so that the meat is even in thickness and can easily be rolled onto itself.
Spread one tablespoon of cream cheese evenly onto the rough side of the chicken breast (not the skin side) and sprinkle with the basil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Roll evenly the breast, tucking the sides in so you end up with a nicely packaged roll. Use the kitchen twine to secure the packages.
Melt the butter in a heavy pan and place the chicken rolls to brown on all sides. When all sides are a rich golden brown, transfer the chicken rolls to a baking sheet and place in the oven to continue to cook. Using a meat thermometer to measure the inside temperature of the rolls. They are cooked when the inside temperature has risen to 180 degrees. Remove from the oven and leave in the sheet to rest, covered with aluminum foil.
While the chicken is resting, finish the gravy. Mix 2 tablespoons of butter with the flour and reserve. Add 2 tablespoon to the pan where the chicken cooked originally and melt while scratching off the little brown residue. This will be the base of our gravy. Make sure the butter does not brown too quickly. Add the mushrooms and sautè lightly until the mushrooms have rendered all their juices and are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the mixture of butter and flour to the pan, swirl to melt and add the chicken broth. Swirl the gravy in the pan, whisking it with a wooden spoon until thickened. Correct seasoning if necessary
Remove the twine from the chicken rolls and place them onto a serving plate and pour the gravy on top of the rolls. Sprinkle fresh basil on top and serve.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
* 1 lb small Brussels sprouts
* 4 Tbsp olive oil
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Heat a wok or a heavy pan. Cut all of the Brussels sprouts in two or three slices so that they are no thicker than 1/8 of an inch. Add the oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat all sides of the pan.
Add the Brussels sprouts and toss them in a continuous manner so that they absorb the oil and start cooking. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Saute for five minutes. The outside should be a little charred but the inside should be tender on the crunchy side. Place in a serving bowl, sprinkle with the zest of the lemon, then squeeze the lemon juice over and toss.
Poached Pears with Crème Anglaise
* 6 Bartlett (or Comice) pears, peeled
* Water to cover
* 2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
* 1 cup agave syrup
* 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
* 1 lemon cut in half
* 2 cups milk
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 6 egg yolks
* 1/4 cup agave syrup
* 2 Tbsp sliced almonds
Make the Crème Anglaise a few hours ahead. Place the milk and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan and bring just to a boil.
In a medium bowl beat the yolks and agave syrup together until the mixture has thickened and is a pale yellow color.
Add approximately 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper the yolks, mixing while adding the hot milk. Then, while stirring constantly with a heat resistant spatula, add the egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk/cream mixture.
Stir mixture constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream or until you can draw a line with your finger along the back of the spoon and have the mixture leave a trail. If the mixture stays separated and leaves a distinct path without the two sides running together the cream is finished. Immediately strain the finished cream through a fine mesh strainer into the iced bowl. Add vanilla extract. Stir occasionally until cooled.
Store tightly covered for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
In a large sauce pan place the pears, vinegar, agave, lemon (squeezed), vanilla bean and water to cover the pears. Bring the mixture to a boil and lower heat to a simmer and cook pears 20 to 30 minutes depending on the ripeness of the pear (test with a fork and the pears should be tender all the way through).
Once the pears are tender, turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour in the poaching solution. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Cut the pears in half and scoop out the seeds with a melon baller. Set aside.
Place the almonds in a heavy pan and turn the heat on. Heat carefully as the almonds can darken very quickly and become bitter. Remove from the pan when they are uniformly toasted and a nice brown color.
Slice and fan out pears and spoon some crème anglaise on top and decorate with toasted almonds.