Sunday, December 29, 2019

Yotam Ottolenghi's Seeded Chicken Schnitzel

Once a year I go through my spice cabinets. Today was the day and let me tell ya, there was a lot of ridiculousness going on in that cabinet: THREE huge jars of paprika, THREE jars of cajun seasoning, and FOUR jars of various sesame seeds. Why was I thinking?

To remedy this issue, I've made a list of the spices I have on hand and took a photo to store on my phone. My hope is that I will remember to reference this photo before buying any addition spices. Otherwise, the cabinet may explode.

Now, in all seriousness, it is imperative that I use up all these sesame seeds. I remembered Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for Seeded Chicken Schnitzel and decided today was the day.

Not only does his seeded breadcrumb chicken look absolutely delicious, but it also uses SIX tablespoons of white sesame seeds and TWO tablespoons of black sesame seeds. That is about one and a half jars of sesame seeds, friends! Woohoo! Plus it uses panko, sunflower seeds, coriander seeds, as well as cayenne, and turmeric. All of which I had little bits of that needed using up.

It's worth noting that you should use coriander seeds, not ground coriander. You will be rewarded with the most heady citrusy aroma while crushing them up in a mortar and pestle. It's intoxicating.

This is a beautiful breading, folks. Just look at all the gorgeous color and texture. It's flavorful (you can really taste the coriander, as well as the seeds) and so very crunchy with so many different textures. This is lovely with a squeeze of lemon on top, but would also be nice with aioli or some kind of dipping sauce.

Ottolenghi says, "If you get hooked on this simple supper dish- and I believe the chances are pretty good - make an extra batch of the seed and breadcrumb mix. It keeps well in an airtight container for about 1 month and is really useful to have on hand. It works as well on strips of white fish or sticks of butternut squash as it does on the chicken."

Seeded Chicken Schnitzel
Adapted from Simple
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4-8

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each piece cut 
into 3 long strips (1.5 pounds)*
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
salt and black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/3 cups panko crumbs
6 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
4-1/2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 7 tablespoons or more sunflower oil, for frying
1 lemon, quartered, to serve

*Notes: I used chicken tenderloins that I pounded thin in place of chicken breast. This recipe makes quite a bit of breadcrumb mixture. You could almost cut the breadcrumb mixture in half and/or make the whole batch and save half, using only what's needed. I ended up throwing away about one and a half cups breadcrumb mixture because it had been with the raw chicken and couldn't be used again.

Place the meat between two bits of plastic wrap, then, one at a time, gently flatten them with a rolling pin; they should end up about 1/2 inch thick (or alternatively place the meat in a plastic bag).

In a medium bowl, mix the flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper.

Put the eggs into a second bowl.

In a third bowl, mix the panko, both sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Dip each bit of chicken into the flour and gently shake off the excess. Now dip it into the egg, then into the seed mix, to coat well. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Put enough oil into a large frying pan to rise 1/4 inch up the sides and place over low to medium heat.  Once hot, add the chicken in batches and fry for 5-6 minutes total, turning after 2-1/2 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate while you continue with the remaining batch and serve hot, with wedges of lemon alongside.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Tessa's Omeleta {American-Style}

Early this year I tried Tessa's Omeleta Horiatiki with potato, feta, and oregano. Needless to say, this omeleta has some of my all-time favorite ingredients: egg, potato, and feta. I instantly fell in love. Tessa's recipe went right to my favorites list for the year.

This time of year is full of reflection and I feel a great amount of comfort & joy in recipes that are loved so well they become part of my regular rotation.

This time of year is also as busy as can be and I find a great amount of comfort & joy in recipes that are easy to make, yet delicious.

This time of year is also the time I go COMPLETELY out of my way to stay out of the store. So, it is with the GREATEST amount of comfort & joy that some version of this recipe can be made with ingredients found at home.

This time of year is also for Christmas vacation, sleeping in, and enjoying LOTS of leisurely breakfasts, my all-time favorite meal.

So, on day 2 of my 16-day Christmas vacation, I raided the fridge and came up with this Christmasy version of Tessa's Omeleta, keeping the potato crust (because that is a must) and adding some steamed broccoli for the green, some chopped cooked bacon for the red, and some good ol' American cheddar cheese to bring it all together.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4

1/8 cup olive oil
1 small potato, peeled, cut into 1/8 inches rounds
3 eggs, scrambled
steamed chopped broccoli
couple pieces chopped cooked bacon
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Note: This recipe is halved to make a personal pan sized frittata.

Heat the oil in a small 6" or 8" inch nonstick skillet. Add the potato rounds and fry gently on both sides until golden (but not too crisp) and completely cooked through. Salt and pepper lightly. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using. 

If you have a broiler, preheat it now. Pour the eggs into the skillet, shuffling gently so that they can leak down and around the potatoes. Add the broccoli, bacon, and cheese and cover with a lid until the eggs are set throughout but still runny on top. Keep an eye on the heat to ensure that the bottom doesn't burn but forms a golden crust. Take the lid off and place the skillet 4 inchesor so under the broiler. When the omeleta is no longer runny, remove from the heat and leave it with the lid on for a couple minutes. Loosen the edges and slide it out of the skillet onto a serving plate. Serve hot, with a grind of black pepper, to taste.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ina Garten's Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread can be a tricky thing. The dough tends to be a crumbly mess and takes quite a bit of finesse. I've tried my hand at shortbread half a dozen times with various results.

This time around I read up on some tips. Proper shortbread is a few simple ingredients: butter, flour, sugar, salt, and maybe vanilla. The first ingredient, butter, is the most prominent ingredient and it holds a fair amount of moisture. One of the secrets to achieving the desired crumbly texture and sweet flavor is to allow the dough to dry out, or rest. Chilling, or resting, the dough allows the moisture from the butter to evaporate, and with less water in the dough, the sugar concentrates. Since the dough is comprised of only three essential ingredients, this is a crucial step to ensure that all the flavors stand out.

Also, I didn't want to overwork the dough and have tough, hard cookies so I took a slightly different approach than Ina. I didn't use my stand mixer because I feel like I tend to overmix with it. Instead, I used my hand mixer until the dough started to come together and then I used my hands to warm up the butter in the dough and help everything come together.  This was a successful approach and the dough came together quickly with the warmth from my hands. Our hands are our best tools, and since the first recorded recipe for shortbread was printed in Scotland in 1736, I'm positive this is the way to go.

Ina calls for you to shape the freshly mixed dough into a flat disk and chill. For the life of me, I can't understand this step. First, it's entirely unnecessary and second, it has you kneading the tar out of the dough, essentially overworking it. Why not shape the dough into a rectangular log so that when you remove the chilled dough you can simply slice it and bake it? So I did it my way.

When I went to slice the dough  I was worried that it would crumble apart. It did not. It sliced like a dream and baked up the most beautiful shortbread cookies I've ever made! This is a fabulous recipe! The cookies themselves are GINORMOUS, but have the perfect texture and flavor, especially with the added chocolate. This is going to be my new go-to shortbread recipe. The only thing I might do differently next time is experiment with making them smaller. These cookies as written are about 2 inches wide and one inch thick. Too big, even for a sweets lover.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe by Ina Garten
Makes 20-24

3/4 pounds butter, at room temperature (3 sticks butter)
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6-7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer as I did), mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat dish (or skip a step and shape the dough into a rectangular shaped log so that you can immediately slice the cookies once the dough has chilled). Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. 

Roll the dough 1/2" thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter (or do things much simpler by following my directions above, making a log with the dough and slicing the dough into cookies once chilled). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet (I used parchment) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were done in 20 minutes), until the edges begin to brown. You do not want to overcook these cookies so check frequently and pay close attention! Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature.

When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it is completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.

Dunk the cookies or drizzle the cookies as you wish, with as much chocolate as you like. I was afraid the cookies would crumble when I dunked mine (my chocolate was quite thick) so I used a spoon to coat the cookies. This is where you can be creative and put a small amount of chocolate or coat them entirely in chocolate. Have fun with it! Make it your own!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Giada's Sausage and Broccoli Pizza

You ever notice how you can make something 20 or 30 times, the same exact way, and yet it turns out differently from time to time? This happens to me frequently. I've made a lot of pizzas. They always turn out good. Then I made this pizza, the same way I always do, and it turned out extra fabulous!

Beautiful golden-brown crust rising up perfectly around the edges with lots of bubbles (I love bubbles on pizza crust), cheese perfectly melted, just the right amount of toppings, and a little bit of oil on top (some people like to blot that oil on top, not me - that's good flavor right there).

I was marveling at the pizza as I pulled it out of the oven. How in the world did the pizza turn out so well? I'll confess: I didn't even want to make the pizza so it definitely was not made with love. I also used the same ingredients as I usually do. So, what gives?

While I'm not sure why it turned out so well I can only hope that I can get the same results again because this pizza was INSANELY DELICIOUS! Golden brown pizza crust with my favorite Rao's sauce, spicy Italian sausage, broccoli, melty mozzarella, nutty Parmesan, topped off with red pepper flakes, fresh torn basil, and marinated garlic and olives. There's just a little bit of everything going on here. It's pizza perfection. The perfect treat for enjoying while we trim the Christmas tree.

Sausage and Broccoli Pizza
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
One 28-ounce can tomato paste*
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed*
1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons flour
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
1 cup Parmesan
red pepper flakes, to taste
Optional: Marinated olives and garlic, for topping*

Notes: I only used about 1/2 to 1/3 pound of sausage. This recipe calls for making a homemade pizza sauce. I love Rao's pizza sauce so I used that. I also added marinated black and green olives and marinated garlic from the olive bar at my local Whole Foods.

In a medium bowl, combine the basil, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the salt and tomato puree. Stir together until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow flavors to marry. (Or, alternatively, buy your favorite jarred pizza sauce - I used Rao's and I love it. My all-time favorite).

Preheat the oven to 500F. Place a rack on the highest level and also on the lowest level (you will be switching starting the pizza on the bottom rack and moving to the upper rack).

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sausage and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon to form bite-size pieces, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli to the pan and stir to mix with the sausage. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. 

Dust an upside-down rimmed baking sheet with the flour. Gently stretch the pizza dough and place it on the dusted tray. Continue to stretch out to 1/4" thick, leaving it a little thicker around the edges. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the dough and top with the sausage and broccoli.  Spread the sausage and broccoli around evenly and top with torn pieces of mozzarella, filling in the holes and distributing evenly. Then top with the Parmesan. If using the marinated garlic, as I did, scatter it over the pizza. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, if you wish.

Place the into the oven on the bottom rack first. You really want to cook the bottom of the pizza first. Bake for about 5-6 minutes. Then switch the pizza to the upper rack and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Top the pizza with more Parmesan, torn basil, and marinated olives, if you wish. The olives really brighten up the dish and lend a fresh zingy flavor.

Tree Trimming Treats @ IHCC

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Deviled Eggs

We love to have deviled eggs on just about any holiday. Fourth of July, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other get together. Everyone usually loves them and they are always the first thing to disappear.

My Mom used to make the very best deviled eggs. The problem is I can't find her recipe and I don't remember how she made them. I know she used mayonnaise, chopped pickle, a little pickle juice, and some paprika, but I can't quite master it.

So now I'm on the hunt for the very best deviled eggs.  I've tried a few recipes and so far none have come close.

I knew Ruth's version wouldn't be like my Mom's, but I still wanted to give it a try. Ruth's version is different than most in that it calls for 6 eggs, 1/4 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon Dijon, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I was really drawn to her use of cayenne pepper, and since we love spicy food, I was really hoping for some deliciously spiced deviled eggs with a kick.

Turns out Ruth's eggs are good, but not great. Upon tasting the filling, I found myself adding more mayonnaise. As a lover of all mustards, I thought the Dijon would be a welcome touch, but upon tasting immediately learned that regular yellow mustard was the way to go as far as deviled eggs are concerned. Mostly though, I thought the cayenne would be more prominent, or at the very least lend a slightly spicy kick, but alas I couldn't detect any heat either.

Deviled eggs seem quite simple, but I've found that everyone likes them a different way and they can, therefore, be quite hard to get just right. I'm still on the search for the perfect recipe.

Do you have a favorite deviled egg recipe?

Deviled Eggs
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Makes 12

6 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" star tip or plastic bag with the corner snipped

Start by boiling your eggs however you like. I like to place my eggs in a pan, cover with water, bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, shut off the heat, leave the pan on the burner and let them stay for 10 minutes. Then I immerse the eggs in cold water for about 30 minutes.

Ruth says to put eggs in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, cover with cold water by 1-1/2 inches, partially cover pan, and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low, cover completely, and cook eggs for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes.  Then transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water and let stand for 30 minutes; drain.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and mash in a bowl with a fork (I like to blend all the filling ingredients in a bowl with my hand mixer).  Add mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne and stir with fork until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill pastry bag, if using, with yolk mixture and pipe (or spoon) into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and chives, if desired.