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Posts from the ‘Summer’ Category

Chicken Piccata


This is pure comfort food for me.

Chicken Piccata was a standard in our household when I was growing up.  Although for a while it was referred to Tonkatsu Chicken as my brothers and I preferred to dip our chicken in Tonkatsu sauce (basically a Japanese Worcestershire sauce) rather than squeezing fresh lemon over the top.  

I digress.  This is such a simple dish…and very easy to make on a weeknight as well.  Although I don’t have a crowd to feed…it was always a crowd-pleaser.  The chicken breasts I used were humongous…I probably should have cut each one in half once I had pounded them and saved half of the meat for another meal.  But it did make for some great leftovers, so I can’t complain.

Chicken Piccata

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1-2 cups of breadcrumbs (panko or regular)
2 lemons (1 sliced and 1 juiced with seeds removed)
1-2 tbsp. capers
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
2-4 tbsp. of butter
½ cup of white wine

First, place 1 chicken breast in a gallon size ziplock bag and using a meat pounder or rolling-pin, pound each breast until it is about ¼ to ½ inch thick.  This helps tenderize the meat and will help it to cook evenly and much faster.  Next, open a bottle of wine…pour yourself a glass and leave some to help deglaze the pan.

Next, ready your breading set-up.  Shallow bowls or plates with a lip on them, or even cake pans can work really well for this.

I was gifted these a few years ago and LOVE them.  They link together so you avoid the drippy egg all over the counter and they help maximize your workspace as they fit together tightly unlike round plates or bowls would.  When breading, remember wet sticks to dry and dry sticks to wet.  So start with the flour, the next pan should have the eggs lightly beaten and the last pan is for the breadcrumbs and don’t forget to season at each step.  I heavily season the chicken breast before the flour dredge and I usually season the egg with salt and pepper as well.

Next, put your pan on the heat and add some olive oil and a pat of butter…the oil has a higher smoke point and the butter helps things to brown nicely.  Once the pan is hot, gently lay the first chicken breast down.  I turn the heat up a bit at this point because as soon as you add your chicken, the pan will cool quite a bit.  If there’s room (don’t crowd the pan), add in the second chicken breast.  I turn the oven on warm (150-180º F) so I’ve got a warm place to hold the chicken while I make the sauce.

Turn the chicken breasts once the bottom side is browned handling them gently as you want to breading to stay on the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the pan once it is cooked through and the second side is browned as well – place on a plate in the oven.

Now it’s time for the sauce.  If there is a ton of oil in the pan, run a paper towel around to remove some of it without wiping up the little brown bits.  Next, throw in half of your lemon slices and some of the capers, and cook a bit as you want them to break down.  Remove the pan from the heat, and add the white wine to deglaze the pan and use a wooden spoon to get all the delicious browned bits up and incorporated into the sauce.  Add in the juice from 1 lemon, a dash of salt and pepper let all the liquids combine.  Before two much of the sauce has evaporated, add small and very cold chunks of butter to the pan and stir them in completely before adding the next chunk.  This is called mounting the sauce with butter.  The cold butter emulsifies and thickens the sauce.  Just before serving add in the rest of the capers, another few slices of lemon and the chopped parsley.  Plate the chicken, top with lemon and drizzle the sauce over and serve it with rice.

C’est Parfait!

Dinners…that don’t look much like dinner!


Have you ever had so many events and nights out that all you want to do is just veg on the couch at home?  Obviously you need to eat, but putting much effort into dinner…especially anything that would typically look like a dinner, is just way to hard.

We’ve had a lot going on this last month or so…in fact sometimes May/June tends to feel a lot like the holidays when you find yourself eating nibbles from the hors d’oeuvres tables and cookies and having perhaps a few more drinks during the week than you planned…when following an ‘eat healthy plan’ seems all but impossible.

Our solution – popcorn, apples and cheese.  My husband grew up with this meal as a Sunday night tradition.  It’s easy, feels like a treat and doesn’t require a lot of planning or shopping!

As mentioned here, I crave salty snacks…and popcorn is one of my favorites.  In fact, I would dare say that our air popper is one of our most used small kitchen appliances.  This particular evening, I popped up 3/4 cup of popcorn, drizzled it with melted salted butter and sprinkled it with salt.  I sliced up a Gala apple and some Dubliner cheddar cheese and settled in on the couch to watch some indulgent reality TV.

It is the perfect antidote to an overly busy social calendar…and feels somewhat healthy too!

What is your go-to, quick fix, alternative-to-typical-dinner meal?

Refeshing Chopped Italian Salad


Raise your hand if you like salt…?  Yup, I see a few hands out there.

Salty or Sweet…????  I count myself in the salty category and in fact have been given various nicknames that reflect my affinity for the natural crystal, including ‘old salty’.  I would much rather snack on tortilla chips or popcorn than have a cookie.  I crave salt.  This salad is just perfect…a fresh (and a little bit salty) salad for summer with a hint of sweetness from golden raisins.

I was inspired to make this salad after dining out with my husband here and enjoying a dish very similar…we both remarked “why don’t we eat more chopped salads?”  This is, in fact, a very good question!  Salads can be tricky…I like them dressed and tossed; they can be awkward to eat if the greens aren’t cut to an appropriate size; and they can so easily be ruined by too much dressing.  The chopped salad is the answer to all of these issues.

Chopped implies a certain size…so no worries with the giant lettuce leaf sticking out the side of your mouth smearing dressing up and down your cheek.  Chopped salads also typically are chock full of ingredients going beyond greens…which makes them heartier (better as a whole meal), and more flavorful…so the need for a lot of dressing is significantly reduced.  Chopped salads are also a great way to use up leftovers…perhaps you have one baked sweet potato left and a couple crumbles of blue cheese along with some pecans…add greens and a light vinaigrette and poof – dinner.

This particular chopped salad is distinctly Italian with dry salami, black and green olives, radicchio, and feta. The saltiness is countered with golden raisins and the unexpected but totally necessary nutty component – pistachios and a good handful of Italian parsley.

Nice Chopped Italian Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 head radicchio
½ cup of golden raisins
1/3 cup of canned black olives, sliced
1/3 cup of green olives, sliced
¼ to 1/3 of a small dry salami, cubed
½ cup of pistachio meats (shells removed)
1/3 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Slice green and black olives and cube the salami.  Next, slice and chop the iceberg lettuce and radicchio and put in a large salad bowl.  Throw in all the toppings – olives, raisins, pistachios, and salami.  In a small bowl, whisk your dressing together.  I went with a very simple red wine vinaigrette which I never measure…just eyeball the amounts and always taste as you go…it consists of olive oil, red wine vinaigrette, a tiny bit of salt and some pepper – just whisk it all together before drizzling it over the salad.  Make sure to err on the side of too little dressing as you can always add more.  Once dressed, add in the feta and most of the chopped parsley, toss again and then serve up with another sprinkling of parsley and some toasty crisps.

Do you like chopped salads?  What are your favorite additions?

PS:  Don’t underestimate the importance of the raisins!!!  I’m not always a giant raisin fan…but I wouldn’t imagine eating this salad without them.

Cuban Sandwich :: Porky & Delicious!


So last week…we had some pork and later last week…we needed to eat up what little was left and what better way than to make the traditional Cuban sandwich!

According to my sources (the interwebs of course – nothing but the best for you readers!), all Cuban sandwiches contain roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese and a spread of mustard and are always served hot off the presses. Sounds like a pretty pungent sandwich, right? Wrong…it’s delicious, strongly flavored…but apparently many wrongs make a right!

Do you live near a Trader Joe’s? Good! We find that using the mini-ciabatta loaves which are only par-baked and ready to be crisped up before serving are perfect for any panini. Soft enough to let the panini press squish it a bit and grill up the outside but not so much that when you take a bite, you either get all bread or only the filling.

Moving on…slice the bread and spread with mustard on both sides, we happen to be fans of this one from Sierra Nevada Brewing. We also like their beer…but that’s another post! Layer a few slices of ham on the bottom side of the sandwich, cover with slices of the roast pork.

Having only dill pickle spears in the house…which I thought too difficult to slice lengthwise, I was relegated to many little slices of the spears.

Ready for the swiss cheese, layer it on and give a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. (Remember rule #4 – season at every step! – It’ a rule…maybe not rule #4…but it’s a rule.)

Top with the other half of the bun and get it into your panini press stat…or fry pan…or whatever works for you.

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Once the cheese is melty, the bread toasty, and the filling delicious-looking…pull it off the grill and cut in half. (Also…make a giant mess for just one sandwich!)

Serve with crunchy potato chips and a pickle on the side.

Dig in (and then wish you had a little more leftover roast pork).

In lieu of additional pork…throw together another sandwich with ingredients found in your fridge!

Filled with sliced roast turkey, roasted red peppers, arugula, mozzarella cheese and some sprinklings of garlic dried Italian herbs.

I love panini night…you never know what might make it into a sandwich! Do you have a favorite filling?

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2011 Meals in Review | part one


As I’m a bit behind these days, I noticed while perusing my photos from the past year in search of a couple photos for a new year’s card to send out, how many delicious moments we had in 2011.  What follows is not only what we made, but what we enjoyed! 

The delicious moments of 2011…


January

Rosemary Sea Salt Dinner Rolls (recipe credit: Pioneer Woman)

Creamy Pheasant and Wild Rice Soup

Orechiette with Pheasant, Bacon and Spinach

Butternut Squash, Shallot and Goat Cheese Pizza

Pot Roast…good the first time, better the second…

Cumin-scented Butternut Squash with Onions and Wild Rice

Pot Roast Ravioli

Homemade Fettuccini

Boboli’s done right…!  (yes, you are correct…that is an egg cracked on top peeking out from underneath the arugula and parm!

 

February

yummm…pancakes

Delicate Scrambled Eggs with Truffle Salt

A Birthday dinner at Bouchon

Cod Brandade with Tomato Confit and Fried Sage Leaves

Frisée aux Lardons et Oeuf Poché

Croque Madame

Back at home…Cheese Soufflé

Lump Crab Cakes

Valentine’s Day Cheese Fondue

Tempura and Cold Soba Noodles

Baby Artichoke Gratin (recipe credit: latimes.com)

 

March

Fancied-Up Burgers

Seared Scallops with Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Welsh Rarebit

 

April

April brought with it a trip to Vienna for Woody’s work…

Käsekrainer – near perfect street food

Beef Tartare with all the appropriate accoutrements

Veal Medallions

Finally in the homeland…a full plate of spätzle just for me!

A celebratory meal at Meinl am Graben began with a Veal Carpaccio for Woody

Tortellini with Consommé and Crisped Prosciutto

Honestly…I can hardly remember what exactly this course entailed…but I DO remember that it  was incredibly amazing!

The third course of our prix fixe…again…perfection!

Although I can’t say the name of the place…the fare was delicious

A trip to Vienna without Viennese coffee would be a crime!

Back at home…Pacific Spiny Lobster with Fava Beans and Meyer Lemon

Grilled Cheese Invitational…who says no to that…?

Burrata with Cherry Tomatoes…there were plenty more sandwiches and a lot more cheese, but most disappeared before I could get a shot!

And of course, an annual batch of Deviled Eggs for Easter!

 

May

Fried Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese

Onion & Bacon Tart

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini

Another birthday was cause for a trip to the Los Olivos region, some wine tasting and of course a meal or two…

Bistro Burger

Spring Vegetable Pot Roast

Ebelskivers

Savory Lentil Salad

House guests meant a trip to the Original LA Farmer’s Market and an Oyster Po’ Boy

June

Chicken Garlic Sausage & Swiss Chard Flatbread

Potato Salad – Two Ways

Poppyseed Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone Frosting

Part two coming soon…

Indian Summer Tomatoes! (and what to do with them…)


I’m back.  Or at least I’m trying.  Life got in the way these past two months…though I can’t quite pin it down to one thing.  There were house guests, school starting again, typical work stresses, trying to actually have a vacation, last-minute chaperoning of an outdoor ed trip, and life in general.

As I was looking through all the photos that have accumulated over the last two months…a significant portion of the dishes include tomatoes.  Let’s review, shall we!

A lovely typical caprese with fresh tomatoes, basil from the garden, peppery and buttery olive oil, sea salt, fresh black pepper and of course fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar!

Then there was the tomato and zucchini herb tart with gruyere…

We can’t forget the late summer farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes…

…and the burrata, oversized buttered croutons and herbed vinaigrette that took these tomatoes from summer treat to inspirational dish!

Although only garnished with tomatoes…this dish seemed to be in line with the others…

Zucchini, onion and pasilla pepper omelet with goat cheese and herbs!

I sit currently near an open window with blue skies and plenty of sunshine, which means is slightly hard to imagine that the rest of the country is slowly slipping past the height of fall and right into that season the follows autumn (and must not be named yet).  With a radio report of record October snows in the east…I promise, I’ll try to get my fall on out here in SoCal!  I feel the pull of seasons, but when it’s still 80° outside, it’s hard to consciously turn the oven on and roast things, or make soups, or even bake.  The nights are becoming increasingly cool…I even brought out a down comforter for the bed…as lows are in the high 40’s.  (don’t laugh)

I’ve got a few more posts to come and the motivation and inspiration to get back into the kitchen is creeping back!  How is your fall going?  Anybody else still enjoying the last few tomatoes of summer?

Summer Colds & T’mater’s


Summer colds.  I’ve got nothing good to say about them.

Let’s move on, shall we!?!  Let’s talk TOMATOES!

This is what is growing on my back patio as we speak…soaking in the sunshine and the heat of the day and always asking for a little more water at the end of the day with slightly droopy leaves.  Actually, the tomato plants look about how I feel after a full day of work…droopy, tired and like they could use a stiff cold drink!  Ha!

I can hardly contain my excitement for these guys as they’ve grown throughout the summer.  I look upon them lovingly and fiercely scold Cleo when I see her sniffing and about to mouth a delicious adolescent tomato who still needs a few more weeks on the vine to fulfill its full potential.

These are MY first tomato plants and about a week after planting them, I realized and remembered one of the great joys of summer.  The smell of tomato plants.  Not tomatoes.  The smell that is left on your hands after you reach in and fondle the branches for them to be supported by the tomato cage.  It is distinctly summer.  A smell not available at other times of the year.  A smell that cannot be recreated.  It takes me back to digging in the garden as a child and eating carrots straight from the ground, and learning about where food comes from.

Simple pleasures of summer!

What are your quintessential summer foods or smells?  What takes you back?

Dinner Last Week :: Roasted Asparagus & Beets with Goat Cheese


Perfect summer evening food!

Trim the asparagus, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 10 minutes at 425º.  I like to roast my beets.  Give ‘em a quick wash, pierce a few times with a sharp knife and then wrap in foil – as a bonus you can drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Roast in a 375º oven for 25 minutes to an hour depending on the size and quantity of beets.  Smaller and fewer, shorter amount of time.  Let them cool once they are done and then the skin should slip off, or you can use a knife to peel off the skin.

Quarter, drizzle with olive oil and/or vinegar and top with fresh goat cheese.  Serve with crusty bread!

eatery 1025 :: You Should Go To There!


Utah… a culinary wonderland! (?)  Yep…I just used Utah and culinary in the same sentence!  I do this not out of foolishness…but because I actually know!  Of course, I could spend at least an hour or two telling you all about the secret spots, my new faves, the good ‘ole standby’s, the uniquely Utah locales, and of course where to find the best beer…nope…I’m just going to tell you about one little place that is well-deserving of your attention!  eatery 1025.  

I am not the first to take notice…and will not be the last.  Due to my lack to photography skills…I have borrowed a photo from the Salt lake Tribune as my attempts hardly did justice to the beauty of the chilled beet and cucumber soup!

(photo courtesy of Francisco Kjolseth/Salt Lake Tribune)

There is just one little quirky thing about eatery 1025…it’s technically in Bountiful.  Don’t let this stop you…it is worth the trip…right off the freeway…no big deal…it’s closer Alta and Snowbird!

The self-describe their menu as clean with seasonal ingredients.  I would agree although I’d throw in a splash of creativity, a slight lean towards gluten-free and vegetarian and a knack for taking dishes found on many menus and making them unique and extraordinary.  Executive Chef, Chelsa Best and Sous Chef, Liam Connelly have put their all into this little place and expanding the gastronomic horizons of Bountiful!  (and they have a tiny kitchen – having worked in kitchens, I know the challenges of tight spaces…you’ve got to have some happiness in the kitchen if you want your food to have love…which it does!)

Blah, blah, blah…get on to the good stuff…

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Sampling of side dishes:  honey-glazed carrots, rosemary fingerlings and curried cauliflower

Caesar Salad – parmesan frico, hearts of romaine, chopped hard-boiled egg, grilled red onions, crouton fingers, and last…and my favorite…fried capers!

Zucchini ribbons with chicken sausage and ricotta salata – no noodles here, just zucchini.  Fresh and brilliant!

Can you tell that we ordered many things…

Sweet pea spinach salad with caramelized onions, pine nuts and topped with salmon

Grilled ham and cheese with mustard and caramelized onions on sourdough

You can’t go wrong with a traditional and nicely grilled cheese sandwich

Chicken gyro on fresh pita

The space is bright and inviting mimicking the character of the dishes.  Currently they are serving breakfast (go for the oatmeal brûlée!) and lunch and will hopefully be serving dinner this fall.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without a sweet nibble…and truthfully, despite the bursting-at-the-seams feeling in my stomach…I could have squeezed in at least two more of these…they were that good!

Vanilla cupcakes with fresh strawberry mascarpone frosting!

(do you want to know a secret…?  these cupcakes are gluten-free!  I am not usually a fan of gluten-free…and I would not have known…delicious and made fresh daily on site!  Shhhhhh…don’t tell anyone!)

Overall, the menu is filled with options to satisfy both traditional and eccentric tastes while not overreaching.

What they do…they are doing well.

You Should Go To There!

eatery1025 •1025 South 500 West • Bountiful, Utah • 84010

**I may or may not know and or be related to the sous chef.  This in no way affected my overwhelmingly positive and delicious experience!  :-)

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté


Que faites-vous La Fête National? 

Although we were a day late in celebrations…we imbibed with France in mind.  Enter the Lillet-based Liberté cocktailWe’ve been inspired to purchase some eccentric liquors lately (and by we…I mean, the husband!) and have been mixing many a summer cocktail.  Bastille Day or the day the French stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French Revolution seemed reason enough to celebrate! Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn.

Lillet is an aperitif wine containing 85% Bordeaux wines and 15% macerated liquors.  It is also considered a tonic wine as it does contain quinine from one of the liquors included in the blend.  It has strong citrus  and floral notes!

Liberté Cocktail (by Nicole Cloutier and Jacqueline Patterson for Lillet, used with permission)
makes one cocktail

3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Hendrick’s gin
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters (we used Urban Moonshine’s Organic Citrus Bitters)
garnish: orange peel

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of orange peel, twisted over the drink to release its essential oils.  (No oranges on hand, but thank goodness we have a Meyer lemon tree…the peel worked perfectly!)

We served our early summer evening cocktails with smoked salmon and caper spread from our favorite South Pas restaurant and market.

C’est Parfait!

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