Friday, April 17, 2009

Orange Glazed Cornish Hens & Baked Aspargus with Balsamic

My godparents came to town last week so we invited them over for dinner, since they had not seen the new pad yet. The menu from the night:
Orange Glazed Cornish Hens
Olive Oil Garlic Couscous Quinoa
Baked Asparagus topped with Balsamic Sauce

Herb Salad
Dessert- Coffee Custard Charlotte

Starting with dessert, well don't we all like to do that?:
A couple of years ago I was watching Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee (I love her 70% ready made, 30% fresh theory and her magnificent tablescapes) and she made a seemingly easy and very beautiful looking custard charlotte...let me tell you, it is as good as it looks.

*Kitchen Tip; Don't be afraid to mix it up: I sometimes have trouble finding the ladyfingers and am not ambitious enough to make my own so if you have this problem, replace them with a layer of vanilla wagfers softened in coffee. I think it works similiarly. See the following link for the full recipe
I also had the idea to slice up sponge cake and soften the pieces with coffee and use this instead of the softened lady fingers. I haven't tried that one yet, so if you do let me know how it works out.

Now onto the hens:
I sprayed the thawed hens with Trader Joes spray olive oil (good stuff) and sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I put the 4 hens in a roasting pan, stuffed each hen with an apple wedge and a yellow onion wedge. I scattered large pieces of the rest of the onion around the hens in the pan, for flavor.

While in the oven at 350 degrees for the first 20 minutes, I made the Orange Glaze:

half cup of orange marmalade
couple of splashes of orange juice
pinch of kosher salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp of onion powder
1/4 cup melted butter to be added later

After the first 20 minutes, I brushed the hens liberally with this orange dressing and back in for 20 more minutes.
Take them out, repeat.
Leave them in on 350 degrees for ten more minutes, for a total of 50 minutes, so far.

During this ten minutes, add a fourth cup of melted butter to the remaining orange glaze.
Next, you will crank the oven up to 425 degrees for the asparagus (see below for recipe).
While heating to 425 degrees, take hens out and glaze liberally one last time with remaining glaze/butter mixture.
Once oven is heated to 425 degrees, put hens and asparagus in oven for thirteen to fifteen minutes (until asapargus is done) and viola...hens are done. I pulled mine out and let them sit for about 5 minutes.
I halved them with my handy electric carver, but this is not necessary. Don't forget to discard of the onions and apple wedges before serving.

( I must thank my Mom and Grandma Jean for this recipe. They tried it for Thanksgiving and now I use it all the time.)
As seen above, you will bake in the oven for thirteen to fifteen minutes depending on how well done you like them and how thick they are. Before putting in the oven, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the asparagus tops in a baking pan(remember to cut off the bottoms about 2/3 down the stem and discard).

Balsamic sauce:

While asparagus is in the oven, make the following sauce to top the asparagus:
fourth cup of butter
3 tbsp of soy sauce
4 tbsp of balsamic
Heat on the stove until the butter is melted; stir and set aside.
I just eyeball the balsamic and soy sauce...bring the mixture to a boil for just a second before turning off the heat.
Take asparagus out and drizzle with this sauce.

If you like asparagus you will love this; everyone I've made it for does.

Olive Oil Garlic Couscous quinoa:

Vons carries a variety of boxed couscous flavors, my favorite is the olive oil garlic.

*Kitchen Tip; Chicken Stock: Whenever I roast chicken, I reserve the bones to make stock and then freeze little containers of this homemade stock. In the stock, I use one onion, celery (preferably the middle leafy part), and usually 2 to 3 carrots, chicken bones/leftover meat, celery salt, kosher salt and a big pot of water. I boil for an hour to two hours and let it cool. When it first starts boiling the "scum" will rise to the top, so skim the scum off the top and discard. Its then ready to freeze.
*Kitchen Tip; Replace water w/ Stock: So, when I make rice, couscous, etc I always replace the water in the recipe with this homemade stock...definately an easy trick that adds a lot of flavor.

Back to the couscous...
I medium dice one carrot; add to one and half cup of chicken stock and half a cup of quinoa (I find this at the Sunflower Market in the bins).
Simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes while the hens are cooking.
Next, add the amount of chicken stock called for on the back of the couscous box to the cooked quinoa and complete the directions for the couscous.
It will only take about 5 minutes to be done at this point.
Kitchen Tip: Replace Rice w/ quinoa for health: I will post a separate blog about quinoa but this stuff is great. Your body processes it as protein, making it a great substitute for rice. I'm a fan.

Until next time....HAPPY COOKING

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