Monthly Archives: March 2013

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

This is a great entree to serve when hosting a larger group. It’s easy to keep warm (either on the stove or in a chafing dish) and looks great on a platter if you are going to serve buffet or family style. Of course, you can always prepare it for a casual family dinner; it’s well loved in my family. I recently served it for a friend’s birthday dinner – I didn’t realize it was one of her favorite dishes, I just know that it’s usually a winner winner when it comes to a chicken dinner. Traditional Piccata does not include artichoke hearts, but I love them, so I usually include them. I serve the Piccata with a side of pasta and marinara because that’s traditional, but I think plain pasta (particularly if it’s homemade) with a little olive oil and fresh basil is just fine because the Piccata sauce is so good. If you choose to do this, you may want to double up on the sauce ingredients. This recipe serves 4, but I almost always double it because the leftovers are always welcome.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – trimmed, and butterflied to create two thinner pieces
  • Flour (about 3/4 cup – enough for dredging)
  • 4-6 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 Stick (8 TBS.) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2+ Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock/Broth
  • 1/4 Cup Capers – drained
  • 1 Can Artichoke Hearts – Quartered (optional)
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley – Chopped
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound out to desired thickness (do not pound too thin). If chicken pieces are very large, cut in half (I prefer to serve several small pieces per person). Season chicken generously with salt and pepper and dredge in flour – shaking off any excess. Heat 5 TBS. of butter and 4 TBS. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add chicken (working in batches and adding remaining olive oil if necessary) and cook for about 2-3 minutes until browned on one side; turn chicken and cook until browned on the other side. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers to pan and bring to a boil – being sure to scrape any browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Check flavor (adjust lemon juice to your preference) and add salt and pepper as necessary. Return chicken to pan and add artichoke hearts (if using). Through March 15 129Add remaining butter to sauce and whisk in just before serving; garnish with fresh parsley.Through March 15 151

 

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Mixed Spring Green Salad with Pear Grilled Shallots and Fried Gorgonzola

Through March 15 134It seems strange to post a simple salad recipe, but this is a classy little salad that always seems to please guests. I start with good fresh spring greens; you can buy them loose, but there are pretty good mixes available in bags. You can add a variety of vegetables, but I usually include a bit of red onion (in this case I browned some shallots), some sweet grape (yellow or heirloom if possible) tomatoes and the key ingredients – pear and fried Gorgonzola bites. You can use whatever type of pears look best, but I prefer either the Bosc or Asian pears because they are crisp and flavorful. The fried Gorgonzola discs always delight guests. You can use any type of blue cheese, but I just love the Gorgonzola flavor and it’s a softer cheese, so it’s easy to form into discs. The difficulty with sharing this recipe comes with the dressing. I love a good vinaigrette and almost always dress my salads with a simple vinaigrette – the problem is that I just kind of make it up as I go along.  Sometimes I will use a flavor infused olive oil (blood orange and Meyer lemon are two of my favorites), and other times I’ll add a flavored vinegar (I just used the last of my cherry balsamic). I always use two parts oil, one part vinegar (or combination of vinegar and other citrus like lemon juice), a squeeze of Dijon mustard (equal to about 1/2 part), and salt and pepper. You can add herbs, garlic, or minced shallots as a nice addition. The key is to taste as you go and adjust accordingly. To make the Gorgonzola bites: form Gorgonzola into small balls (about the size of a large marble) and then flatten. Dunk in an egg wash (beaten egg) and then roll in Italian Bread Crumbs (you can substitute regular bread crumbs and add your own seasoning if you prefer.Through March 15 118 You can do this in advance and allow to chill in the refrigerator. Through March 15 119Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a small saute pan and heat over medium high. Fry the Gorgonzola discs until browned on both sides (turning once). Drain on paper towel and add to salad.Through March 15 132

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

Rhubarb is one of the delights of Spring, and I always try to incorporate it into Easter dinner. Last year I made Rhubarb Tarts, so I had to come up with something different this year. I’m spending some time on the other side of the state in a small Lake Michigan town. As is tradition, I always bring my ice cream maker when I come over this way. I probably could have made straight rhubarb ice cream, but I decided it was easier to just alter my strawberry ice cream recipe to include rhubarb. I was very happy with the result and will be making this ice cream until fresh rhubarb is no longer available.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 Stalks of Fresh Rhubarb- washed, stems removed, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 Pint Fresh Strawberries (1.5 Cups)
  • 1.5 Cups Sugar
  • 1.5 Cups of Heavy Cream
  • 1.5 Cups of Half and Half*
  • 4 Egg Yolks

*You can use fat free half and half if you want to save a few fat calories.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add rhubarb and 1/2 cup of sugar to a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10o minutes until rhubarb is tender. In the meantime, put strawberries in a medium bowl and add remaining cup of sugar – toss until sugar is incorporated. Drain water from cooked rhubarb and add warm rhubarb to strawberry and sugar mixture – toss again and pour mixture into a blender. Strawberries and RhubarbBlend strawberry rhubarb mixture until pureed- set aside. Pureed FruitAdd heavy cream to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Heat half and half to just below a boil. In the meantime, beat egg yolks in a medium bowl. Temper the egg yolks by adding hot half and half to bowl of yolks one large spoonful at a time – whisking constantly. Continue this process until the temperature of the egg yolks is close to the temperature of the remaining half and half. Pour egg yolk mixture into saucepan with remaining half and half and heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon.  Heat the custardPosition a mesh strainer or sieve over the bowl of heavy cream and pour yolk mixture through strainer into cream – discard any solids left in strainer. Position bowl over an ice bath and add pureed strawberry rhubarb to cream mixture allow to cool completely (place in refrigerator if necessary). Add Fruit PureeWhen mixture is chilled, add to ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer’s instructions. Churn in Ice Cream MakerServe plain, over pound cake, or drizzled with strawberry ginger sauce.

Mini Easter Eggs

Mini Easter Eggs (Dyed Quail Eggs)

Mini Easter Eggs (Dyed Quail Eggs)

Now that my kids are teenagers, they are no longer interested in decorating Easter eggs. I love Easter eggs, and, in my opinion, they are a necessity to a well decorated Easter table. For last year’s table I used my favorite Araucana eggs on my table; they are nature’s Easter eggs. This year I decided it would be fun to try to use my second favorite type of eggs – quail eggs. They are little tiny speckled eggs and are beautiful in their natural state, but I decided it would be fun to try to dye them. I love the results. I used a simple dye made from food coloring, warm water, and vinegar. I didn’t get too crazy with different colors, but I’m sure there are many more possibilities. I experimented with different shades by leaving the eggs in the dye for different amounts of time; for the more pastel shades, shorter soaks work well, but for really deep, luxurious colors, let the eggs soak for a couple of minutes. The greatest challenge with these Easter eggs is finding a quail egg supplier. Most Asian grocery stores carry quail eggs, and you could try specialty/gourmet stores or a Whole Foods. I hard boiled the quail eggs because I hate the process of blowing eggs – I always feel that I’m going to burst a blood vessel in my brain. If you use raw or hard boiled eggs, remember to keep the eggs refrigerated until you are ready to use them to decorate.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Quail Eggs- hard boiled or blown out
  • Food Coloring
  • White Vinegar
  • Water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Set out enough small bowls for however many colors you want to use (remember you can adjust colors by adjusting the amount of soaking time). For each color combine 1 Cup of Hot Water with 1/4 Cup of White Vinegar. Add food coloring until desired color is reached. Listed below are the colors that I used along with the number of drops of food coloring for each.Thru March 20 141

  • Blue: 10 Drops of Blue Food Coloring
  • Green: 8 Drops of Green Food Coloring
  • Red/Pink: 4 Drops of Red Food Coloring
  • Yellow: 5 Drops of Yellow Food Coloring
  • Aqua: 4 Drops of Green and 4 Drops of Blue Food Coloring
  • Orange: 4 Drops of Red and 3 Drops of Yellow Food Coloring
  • Purple/Lavender: 4 Drops of Blue and 3 Drops of Red Food Coloring

Thru March 20 143Thru March 20 155

Cinnamon Scones

scone icing 006I’ve been encouraging friends to help me out with my blog by guest blogging and sharing some of their favorite recipes. It always sounds great to everyone, but no one has ever followed through – until now! My brother and sister-in-law are visiting, and my sister-in-law is a great cook and an even more accomplished baker. She made these cinnamon scones for us on her first morning here; I told her she could move in. I am really not a huge fan of cinnamon, and I am very particular about my scones. I’ve had scones that could be used as a weapon to knock out a home intruder. These scones, however, were lovely. They’re not too crumbly and have that wonderful buttery, creaminess that is characteristic of a good authentic scone. You can make these scones with or without the icing. They are very easy to make, but I did learn that it can be difficult to find the cinnamon chips. Hersheys and King Arthur both make the chips, but you have to find a place that carries them or order them on-line. Trust me, however, it’s worth the effort. (16 small or 8 large scones).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 TBS. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Chilled Unsalted Butter – cut into chunks
  • 1 Cup Cinnamon Chips
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream

For the Honey Cinnamon Icing:

  • 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • 1/8 Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Milk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Thru March 20 006Stir in the cinnamon chip and use a fork to mix in cream. Gather dough into a ball and knead slightly, just until a nice cohesive ball is formed; don’t overwork. Cut ball in half to form two equal sized balls (if making large scones, skip this step). Thru March 20 017Put dough on a work surface and pat into 3/4 inch round discs. Cut dough into 8 equal sized triangles (pie shaped). Thru March 20 020Place cut scones on greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on size of scones). Allow to cool completely and drizzle with icing (if using).scone icing 001

Iced Cinnamon Scones

Iced Cinnamon Scones

 

Chicken Lemon Rice Soup (Avgolemono)

Chicken Lemon Rice Soup

Chicken Lemon Rice Soup

This soup is a family favorite. My son orders it every time we go to one of our local Greek restaurants, but my daughter, who has very discerning taste, is often skeptical whether it will be “the real kind.” I really should make this more often, because it’s so easy and uses ingredients that I always have on hand. You can adjust the amount of lemon that you include to suit your own taste, but we like it pretty lemony, and that’s what this recipe reflects. I also add bits of shredded chicken (often rotisserie chicken), particularly when I am serving the soup as the main part of the meal, although I think it a worthy addition, the chicken is not traditional. If you happen to be hosting your Greek mother-in-law and want to impress her, don’t add the chicken. Last night we enjoyed the soup as a starter which was followed by lamb burgers; it made for a nice weeknight meal. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I had guests, but this recipe is really easy to follow without pictures.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Uncooked White Rice
  • 4 Eggs
  • Juice of 3 Lemons
  • 1 Cup Shredded Chicken Meat
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chopped Parsley (optional – garnish)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add chicken broth to a medium stockpot and bring to a boil. Add rice, stir, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat until rice is al dente (about 15-18 minutes) or nearly fully cooked. In a medium sized glass or non-reactive bowl, beat 4 eggs; add lemon juice to bowl and beat until incorporated. Using a ladle, slowly add hot chicken broth to bowl of beaten eggs, whisking the entire time. Repeat this several times until the egg mixture reaches nearly the temperature as the chicken broth. This is prevents the eggs from cooking too quickly and becoming scrambled. Once the egg mixture is thoroughly heated, add it to the stockpot with the remaining chicken broth and rice. Add shredded chicken, if using. Taste for lemoniness, and add more lemon juice if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.Through March 18 017