Monday, August 29, 2011

Quick Chicken Parmesan

If you love ordering chicken parmesan when you go out to eat at an Italian restaurant, then you are going to love this...and you'll start to look for other things on the menu to try at that restaurant. Honest. This is just that good and that easy to make.

Quick Chicken Parmesan

Serves 4

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Nonstick cooking spray
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 14 oz.)
Kosher salt
5 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (use the small holes on a box grater)
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped (1/2 oz.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the flour and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a wide, shallow dish. In a second wide, shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs with 1 Tbs. water. Put the panko in a third wide, shallow dish. Season the chicken with salt and coat each piece in the flour, tapping off the excess, then the egg, and then the panko, pressing the panko to help it adhere.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook the chicken, flipping once, until the crumbs are golden and the chicken is almost cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adding 2 Tbs. more oil for the second batch. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chicken with the Parmigiano and then top evenly with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, wipe the skillet clean and set over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/4 tsp. salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the chicken.
(To see this on go here: Chicken Parmesan - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips. Recipe by Melissa Gaman)

This is a truly excellent dish and super easy to make. To make this Tim & Jen style substitute crushed saltine crackers for panko and add some of those Topper's lightly salted crispy onions (used for salad) or the ones you use on green bean casserole. We also used a bottle of our favorite marinara sauce instead of making the quick tomato sauce.

This is a great dish to make extra of and freeze. We had a lot of chicken and went ahead and fried up a bunch of breast strips and then froze them on a baking sheet with the cheese on top. From there it was easy to wrap up and freeze for later. Later turned out to be less than a week. This was just too good to keep in the freezer! To reheat just turn the oven on and cook as directed. It may take a minute or two longer, but not much. We found this defrosted and cooked very quickly.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Steak and Blueberries

Last night we had Suzann, Bill, Linda and Steve over for dinner. It was a great group, and I planned it so I actually got a chance to sit down and enjoy my guests.

First, I set the table ahead of time and decided, since we were such a small group, to serve the meal family style. Also, I  went super easy on the appetizers, which just left the salad and corn, and lighting the candles (Tim handled the main dish) as last minute items.

Our original menu included chips and salsa and a bowl of olives to much on, but at the last minute we decided to leave them off as we had more than enough food. Instead we just opened a container of pub cheese from Trader Joes (TJ’s), some herbed goat cheese, a box of wheat thins and I sliced up the stag salami we got in London at the Borough Street Market while we were on holiday this summer. I finished that off with a plate of green and black grapes with a sprinkling of strawberries for additional color. Alternating the grapes on the plate made the fruit look nice and gave it an additional panache.

For the main event Tim cooked sirloin steaks with a new rub we found in Food Magazine and we served it with individual ramekins of the accompany steak sauce, both of which went over well. I axed the twice baked potatoes, mainly because I remembered them too late and also because we didn’t need them. There was plenty to eat with the fresh green salad (which I topped with sliced beets from TJ’s, carrots, homegrown tomatoes from a friend, red bell pepper and mushrooms) and corn on the cob. I cooked the corn in the microwave, tossing the ears whole the way they come off the plant silk and all. Two ears take about three minutes. Lastly I made fantail rolls from scratch, which we served with butter.

For dessert everyone joined me in the kitchen as I whipped up fresh whipped cream which was spread on top of the Chocolate Pavolva followed by a generous sprinkling of raspberries. I also served a blueberry and lemon marmalade infused with a hint of lavender loose form tart. The tart was my own spin off something I saw on TV and it was delicious! We offered vanilla ice cream for those that wanted it. It was a wonderful meal and a spectacular dinner because we shared great food with great friends. That’s the winning combination!


Steak Rub

1/4 cup ancho chile powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Whisk everything in a bowl. Pull steak out of refrigerator about 20 minutes before you want to grill it. Sprinkle rub on one side of steak and let sit. Grill rub side down. (Food Network Magazine June 2010, page 149)

Steak Sauce

1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving. (Food Network Magazine June 2010, page 149)

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova
(Food Network Magazine June 2010, page 140)

Blueberry Tart with Lemon Marmalade infused with Lavender

Puff Pasty
Tuberino Sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry. Once the pastry is defrosted roll it out on a very lightly dusted cutting board. Transfer pastry to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread a good amount of marmalade in the center and as far out as the blueberries will go. Mound blueberries in center. Sprinkle with a dash of tapioca and some sugar. Fold up the edges of the pastry and brush with water, sprinkling with sugar afterwards. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked. Cool.