Friday, March 13, 2015

Chicken by Chef (Your Name Here) - Simple Saturday


 This is one of my GO-TO chicken techniques and I proudly and quietly pass it on to my readers. Take it and run, let your "cook flag" fly, create all kinds of different tastes and combinations with no fear.  

Your imagination is the main ingredient with this recipe and it makes the most tender White Meat Chicken Breast you'll ever eat.

Here is the list of ingredients, so you can prepare, then read below for the step-by-step guide with pictures:

* 2 Boneless White Meat Chicken Breasts (or up to 4)
* Salt & Pepper for seasoning
* 2 Tablespoons of your chosen Flavor Paste, whatever you have on hand or want to use for your recipe (see below for examples.)
* 2 Tablespoons of your chosen Flavor Sauce (see below for examples.)
* 1 Teaspoon of Seasoning (see below for examples)

***
Here's the technique - it's really simple, just read through once so you can get the whole picture:

1) Place rectangle sheets of foil on a baking pan. Fold up each corner of the foil sheets to create little trays (I made two for the picture, but I've made as many as 4 on a large baking sheet*.)
2) Drizzle Olive oil into each foil tray, and place into the oven on 375F.  Let the oil heat up as the oven preheats (it's important to let the oil get hot in prep for the chicken.)

3) Once the oven is preheated and the oil is too, place a chicken breast on each foil tray (if you're using chicken with skin, place skin side down first onto the hot oil).

4) On each chicken add two items:

A) A flavoring paste (ie, whole grain mustard, ketchup, peanut butter, cream cheese, sour cream, almond butter,tomato paste, homemade jam- look into your refrigerator or pantry and create!
 B) A flavoring sauce that agrees with the paste you used  (ie, honey with the mustard, soy sauce with the ketchup for a barbecue flavor, lemon grass with the peanut butter for a Thai accent, Lemon juice with the cream cheese or sour cream for a hint of German or Belgium, Coconut milk with the almond butter, Balsamic vinegar with the jam, etc..
 (examples include: peanut butter, lemon grass with soy sauce- Garam Massala, lime, with yogurt- Homemade jam, balsamic with red pepper flakes.) 
 
5) Place the baking sheet into the oven for 8 minutes.
After 8 minutes, flip each piece of chicken over and maybe spoon some of the flavorings in the pan onto the chicken pieces.
 
6) Now, add 1 tsp of seasoning to enhance your recipe so far: ie. tarragon, chives, lemon grass, paprika, brown sugar, sesame seeds, capers, red pepper flakes, etc. Ask yourself which one would balance the flavors you've already created. Place back in the oven, continue to bake for another 8 minutes.
 
7) Open the oven, quickly turn each chicken breast over, mixing in the juices. Push it back into the oven, close the door and TURN THE OVEN OFF. Let it cook with the oven off for 8 more minutes.

Remove the pan and place the chicken breasts on a board to settle.
*Note about cooking times**
If you cook more than two chicken breasts at a time, add a minute more to each round of cooking.  So, if you cook 3 pieces of chicken make the cooking times 9,9 and 9 minutes.**

For a sauce or gravy: Mmmm~
While the cooked chicken rests, place the baking pan over the stove top on Medium and continue to cook each packet of sauce/gravy, stirring each one til thickened. If too dry, add a drizzle of wine or spirits, stock or for a creamy sauce add milk or half and half.  For a richer sauce, whisk in a Tablespoon of butter as the sauce is cooling. Try something different for each sauce.

It takes more time to tell you how to make this, then it takes to cook it; so I hope you'll try this style. 

My family LOVES this because it gives everyone a chance to play and to have different tastes. The flavors meld together well overnight, so it's very delicious chilled.

Serve one recipe for dinner tonight, save the other for a salad tomorrow or sandwiches for guests or low points nibbling.

PLUS** you can create several different global flavors in ONE PAN - ONE TIME COOKING. It makes pleasing picky eaters a breeze. It makes preparing a few meals at one time extremely fast and easy.
The ideas are limitless. But, Shhh, let's keep it between us and your closest friends, ok?
(Whole Grain Mustard, Honey and Tarragon)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SBRISOLONA is an "EASY TO MAKE" Italian Crumble Cookie Tart

I'm really not kidding about the "easy to make" part.  The whole Sbrisolona Crumble Cookie Tart can be put together in a food processor in a few minutes, then pressed into a pan and baked. Done.
In years gone by, in it's original city of Mantua, Italy, this was known as a "Tart of Three Cups". 

It used 1 cup of Corn Meal, 1 cup of Wheat Flour and 1 cup of sugar.

The name comes from the Italian word, Sbriciolare  - to crumble.  Along the way it has been tweaked by many, including ShowFood Chef.  
 
The wonderful part of the Sbrisolona that has not been changed, even by the finest pastry chefs, is the crumbly nature and spirit of friendship.  This cookie tart is to be broken in pieces and shared by friends and family.  Sure, you can slice it- but why bother.  It's so fun to break off a piece and pass it along without ever having to stop your chatting.  Okay, maybe that last part was just about me.
Sbrisolona is perfect with tea or coffee in the morning, afternoon or even as a late night "under a book light with a glass of wine" snack.  Yeah, that last part was definitely about me.

Last note: As good as it taste fresh out of the oven, the flavors and texture are even better the next day. 

SBRISOLONA  (Crumbly) Italian Cookie Tart: Traditionally this is shared with friends who break pieces off to eat with tea or wine.
#Recipe:
1+1/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Corn Meal
1/2 c Sugar
1 tsp Orange Zest
1/2 c Butter (cold, cubed)
1/3 c Almonds (toasted)
1/3 c Walnuts (toasted)
1/3 c Dried Cheeries
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1 egg
1) In a food processor, add Flour, Corn meal, sugar and zest- pulse 10 times.
2) Add butter- pulse 10 times
3) Add almonds, walnuts and Cheeries - pulse about 5 times.
4) Add Almond extract and egg- pulse til combined and mixture holds together when squeezed in hand (add a Tbls of water if too dry)
5) Empty contents into a tart pan with removable bottom. Press evenly around the bottom and sides. (Garnish with a few whole almonds)
6) Bake in preheated 350f for 15 mins, then reduce to 300f for about 10-15 more mins.
Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Create Your Own Box Of Chocolates -


Sometimes the best way to say, 
“I Love You” is to just say it.
...
However, adding chocolate 
could help. 
 
You can create your own chocolates with a few steps that are so easy, even a toddler will enjoy making a family treat.
 
The choices of what you add to your chocolates can be unique and simple... 
...or as evolved and inventive as you prefer.   
 
In fact, why not make a party of the whole event?

Recipe: Choosy Chocolates
(makes about 12-15 chocolates, but the recipe can be increased as needed)

1 cup Chocolate pieces:
preferably a very good quality with high cacao and less sugar content.

One or Several choices according to your preference:
shredded coconut, dried fruit pieces, nuts, pretzel pieces, candied fruits, pine nuts, pepitas, salt crystals, flavored sugars, broken candy pieces, organic edible herbs and flowers, etc.

 1)   Gently melt the chocolate your favorite way: double boiler, microwave slowly, etc.

 2)   Spoon small dollops onto a parchment or silicon covered baking or cookie sheet pan. Use the spoon to create other shapes if you like, ie. a heart.

 3)   Sprinkle your toppings as desired, but leave mostly chocolate showing.
 4)  Allow to sit until cooled and hardened (if you have tempered your chocolate you can put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to speed the process.)

If life is like a box of chocolates, why not create your own choices!