Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cornbread and Fig Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

Do you ever wish you had 34 hours in a day instead of 24? I have been feeling that way this entire year! I have hardly cooked anything, let alone tried out new recipes (hence the lack of newness on my blog) and am really bummed about it. I have been working a lot and quite frankly when I get home I’m ready to go to bed! Even this last week on my day off I went on a scavenger hunt in my freezer and discovered a batch of alfredo sauce, so I just boiled some pasta and dinner was served. That was pretty darn fancy compared to my meals as of late, but I thought it might be a little crazy to post “leftovers from my freezer” as a blog entry. Hopefully I can figure out a better schedule and get inspired in the kitchen again. I have tons of recipes on the back burner I’m dying to try so I really do need to hit up the grocery store and start cooking.

Ok, now on to the exciting part of this entry, the stuffed Cornish game hens. I was watching the Food Network and saw Tyler make these delightful treats and decided to whip them up for a dinner party that I had forever ago. The stuffing is a very nice combination of sweet and savory because it is made with cornbread, figs, and sausage, so you really get a nice hit of flavor from all these different ingredients. I tried the glaze that he used, which is quite a bit of work to be honest and think next time I make this dish I will simply coat the hens with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary.

Cornbread & Fig Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

1 1/2 Cups Dried Figs, pitted and roughly chopped

1/4 Cup Honey

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

3 Cups Warm Water

1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

Salt & Pepper


2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Small Onion, Minced

1 Tablespoon Rosemary Leaves

1 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage

2 Tablespoons Flour

1 8x8 Inch Pan Cornbread

1 Cup Rehydrated Figs, Chopped



1 Egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup Heavy Cream

1/2Cup Chicken Stock

4 Cornish Game Hens, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each

4 Tablespoons Butter, softened

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Begin by re-hydrating the figs. In a large mixing bowl add the figs, honey, lemon juice and cover with warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 to 25 minutes until the figs are tender and soft. Strain the figs and reserve the liquid - as this will be the base for the glaze.

To make the stuffing, heat a little extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat and gently sauté the onions with rosemary. Add the sweet Italian sausage and continue to sauté until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. When done, scrape it all into a large mixing bowl, add the cornbread pieces and figs and season well with salt and pepper. Give it a good toss until it's well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and stock, and pour that over the cornbread. Stir the stuffing together and set it aside while you work on the hens.

Wash and clean the birds. Season the cavities with salt and pepper and fill with stuffing. Dot the top of each bird with butter and season with salt and pepper. Lay out on a roasting tray and pop into the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. While they are roasting, set the fig liquid over medium-high heat and add balsamic and butter. Reduce until syrupy and baste the birds with 10 minutes to go. When done, an instant-read thermometer should registers 160 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gary’s Tomato Soup

I had this soup at my friend Val & Gary’s house and immediately fell in love. I knew I had to have the recipe so I could re-create this masterpiece at home. It has the best flavor of any tomato soup I have ever had and a perfect thick creamy consistency you would never get from a store-bought soup. I know its summer and soup is the last thing you’re thinking of eating, but being in Portland we get a rainy chilly day once in a while even during the hottest parts of the year. I’m going to make this soup every time that happens and fix myself a nice grilled cheese to go along side. I know is seems strange to add pesto and parmesan to the soup, but it really adds a ton of flavor and finishes off the soup perfectly. Thanks for sharing your amazing recipe Gary!

Gary’s Tomato Soup

2 28-Ounce Cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (Muir Glen brand is always good)
½ Stick Unsalted Butter
1 Small Onion, finely diced
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper
Pesto & Parmesan Cheese, For Garnish

Drain the diced tomatoes in a strainer collecting the water/juice in a bowl. Push down with a large spoon to get them as dry as possible. Add water to the collected juice to make a total of 3 cups of reserved juice.
Melt butter in a 5 quart stock pot; add onion and sauté until just browning over medium low heat. Add the drained tomatoes, light brown sugar and tomato paste, cook for about 15-20 minutes to dry out and caramelize the tomatoes without burning them so they are a deep, dark red color.
Mix in the all purpose flour and cook for a minute or so to incorporate. Add chicken or vegetable broth and the reserved 3 cups of tomato juices, scraping the bottom of the bowl to release the browned tomato bits. Then add the cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat, uncover, and carefully blend in the pot with a stick blender until as smooth as you like. Stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream. Turn heat back on and heat soup back to simmer then turn heat off.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of basil pesto and a sprinkle of parmesan.