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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Parmesan Chicken

This is an outstanding, flavorful, and simple chicken recipe. I have no idea why it took me so long to make it, but I'm very glad I finally did (I made it for the first time 4 weeks ago and have made it 3 times since then.. its that good). It is an Ina Garten recipe from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa: Family Style and I have adapted it slightly. Serves 4.

4 (~8oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated/ground parmesan (or more if you want)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 lemon, halved and seeded

Take each chicken breast and pound until it is ~1/2-inch thick, using a meat mallet or a rolling pin. Cut each breast in half (you will have 8 thin chicken tenders). 

Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper in a dinner plate and set aside. Whisk together the eggs and 1 tablespoon of water in a dinner plate and set aside. Finally, mix together the breadcrumbs and the parmesan together in a dinner plate and set aside. 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and once hot, add half the olive oil and butter. Dredge each side of each chicken breast first in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture, lightly patting the breadcrumbs to help them adhere. Place in the hot pan and let sizzle away. Sprinkle a little more salt on top, if you think it needs it, and squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto each cutlet as it is cooking. Once lightly browned, flip and cook on the other side- these do not take long to cook. Remove chicken from pan, add more olive oil and butter as needed and keep frying the chicken. 

Serve with a light salad of mixed greens. Mmmm-mmm-mmm. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blackberry Gin Fizz

I first saw this recipe earlier this month in the August 2012 issue of Bon Appetit. I drooled over the picture and recipe and then forgot about it until last week when Smitten Kitchen made and posted her version... beat me to the punch. It was good timing, though, because my folks were in town this weekend and I thought this was the perfect occasion to try a new cocktail.

And ohhh boy. Let me tell you about this cocktail. It is to die for. It goes down so easily that you can literally chug it, the way you'd take a bottle of lemonade from the fridge on a hot day and down the entire thing in 3 huge gulps. You will find yourself making another batch before you're even halfway finished with the first batch, because god-forbid you have to wait 5 minutes between tastes. Just do yourselves a favor and make this.

Serves 8.
Or 4 people twice.
Or 2 people four times.

5-oz. ripe & juicy blackberries
4 ripe & juicy strawberries OR 10 ripe & juicy raspberries OR another yummy fruit
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups gin
2 cups club soda
basil leaves

Using a food processor (or immersion blender) puree the berries and sugar until smooth. Let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a strainer set over a bowl to separate the fruit juice from the seeds; discard seeds. You should have about 3/4+ cup of berry juice.

In a large pitcher combine the berry juice, lime juice, and gin and stir well. Pour equal amounts in the bottom of each glass, add a handful of ice cubes, stir again, then top with equal amounts of club soda. Give it a quick and light stir and top with a basil leaf or two. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Soft Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Dip

Each week I invite my girlfriends over to my house and we watch/criticize/laugh at the current episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad. Its serious trash and we seriously love it. Some weeks I feel like making a particularly yummy snack (more than just opening up a bag of chips) and this was one of those weeks. Overall, the recipe was very good. The dough was salty and ever-so-slightly-sweet  and it made a TON- the six of us didn't come close to finishing them off... and all six of us can put a hurtin' on some food. Pretzel recipe adapted from Alton Brown.

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoon instant/quick yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour (~4 1/2 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Kosher salt

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, yeast, sugar, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and 4 tablespoons of melted butter; mix on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium and knead dough until its smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl (somewhere between 3-5 minutes). Remove dough from bowl and transfer to a large well-oiled boil. Cover with plastic wrap tightly and set in your oven with the light on (but no heat!). Let rise just shy of an hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Once dough has finished rising, remove from oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot (the baking soda will cause the water to fizz, but make sure it reaches a true boil- 212 degrees F). 

Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 24-inch rope then slice each rope into 1-inch pieces. Place a lightly damp towel over cut pretzel pieces so they don't dry out. 

Using a slotted spoon, place a handful of the pretzel bites into the boiling water and boil for ~30 seconds, flipping them around a few times. Remove using the slotted spoon, drain as best you can, and place on the baking sheets. Continue until all pretzels are done boiling. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle generously with more salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 10-12 minutes. Serve warm with cheese sauce or marinara. OR, if you want to make sweet pretzel bites, toss with a cinnamon-sugar mixture instead of more salt. 

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 ounced diced green chiles
8 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together, stirring for about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, whisking to combine. Pop in the garlic, jalapeno, and diced green chiles and cook about 15 minutes, until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add the cheese and cayenne and taste for heat, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spicy Green Tomato Soup with Shrimp

This is another recipe from chef Ben Barker at the restaurant formerly known as Magnolia Grill (RIP). Yet another awesome soup that can be served hot or cold, which is a nice option for the serious heat-wave that we're experiencing. I've adapted it ever-so-slightly. Serves 8; soup base freezes beautifully.

4 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 (scant) cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalepenos, stemmed and sliced, with seeds
4 green poblano/pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 small cans fire-roasted diced green chiles
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 pounds firm green tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons lemon juice
a few dashes of tabasco, to taste
salt & pepper

2 whole red tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
garlic powder, paprika, salt & pepper
4 ounces cooked pancetta (from above)
1 cup sour cream, thinned with 2 tablespoons milk

Heat the pancetta and oil in large soup pot over medium heat until the fat is rendered from the pancetta and its nice and crispy. Remove the pancetta, reserve for later. Add the onions to the hot oil and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic, jalepenos, poblano/pasillas, diced green chiles, and bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes soften. Remove the bay leaves, add the basil, and puree in a blender or food processor in batches. Put soup back in the large pot, add lemon juice, tabasco, and salt to taste. Keep warm if serving hot, or let cool and refrigerate if serving cold.

To make the garnish....
Bring a medium pot of water to boil and drop the whole tomatoes in for 10-30 seconds. Remove and immediately submerge in ice water to cool. After a minute or so, remove the tomatoes from the ice water and peel off the skin. Dice the tomatoes (removing the seeds and juice) and reserve for the soup topping.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season the shrimps with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper and cook in the skillet. Remove from heat and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Once soup is ready to be served, place mounds of the shrimp in the center of a bowl, ladle the soup around the shrimp, and sprinkle the tops with pancetta and tomatoes. Finally, drizzle a bit of the sour cream on top... serve and enjoy!