Saturday, February 13, 2010

Supremes de Volaille a la Milanaise, or Chicken Breasts Rolled in Parmesan and Fresh Bread Crumbs

Chicken Breasts Rolled In Parmesan and Fresh Bread Crumbs

4 Supremes (boned breasts from two fryers) –
¼ tsp. salt and a big pinch of pepper
1 c. flour spread on an 8 inch plate
1 egg , 1/8 tsp salt and ½ tsp olive oil beaten together in an 8 inch soup plate
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan  and ½ cup fine white, fresh bread crumbs mixed together in an 8 inch dish

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper
One at a time roll them in the flour and shake off the excess
Dip in beaten egg
Then roll in the cheese and bread crumbs, patting them in place with the flat of a knife
Lay the chicken breasts on waxed paper and allow cheese and bread crumbs to set for 10 to 15 minutes or several hours.

Sauté on both sides in clarified butter until resilient to the pressure of your finger.

Julia suggests serving with brown butter sauce, but the button mushrooms in the grocery store looked so good I couldn't resist, so I used the mushroom and cream sauce from Julia's recipe for Sauteed Chicken With Mushrooms and Cream

 Saute the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter, remove to a plate when finished browning

Add the 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the sides and bottom to incorporate all the seasoning into the liquid. Deglaze until the alcohol has burned off

Add cream and mushrooms to the deglazing sauce and incorporate; boil down rapidly for a minute or two, or until the sauce starts to thicken

Add the chicken and baste with the sauce and mushrooms
Cover and simmer 2-3 minutes to bring chicken back up to a hot temperature
Season again if necessary with salt and pepper

The other beautiful veggies in the produce aisle were the Brussells Sprouts, so I did Julia's braised brussels sprouts with butter, and added some diced pancetta (I know - not French, but yummy!), and I cut the sprouts in half.

1 1/2 quarts blanched brussels sprouts (partially cooked)
Salt and pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons melted butter
2 oz pancetta
A round of lightly buttered waxed paper

Arrange the blanched brussels sprouts heads up in the casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and then with the melted butter.

Lay the waxed paper over the brussels sprouts. Cover and heat on top of the stove until vegetables begin to sizzle, then place in the middle level of preheated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender and well impregnated with butter. Serve as soon as possible.

All in all quite a good dinner! The  chicken was tender but crispy even with the creamy mushroom sauce which was so savory!

Wish I had taken a better picture!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Julia Child's Coq Au Vin

Who knew chicken could taste so good? Oh yeah, Julia did.

Here it is....then I'll tell you how I did it

A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of lean bacon
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12-24 brown-braised onions
1/2 pound sauteed mushrooms
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
Sprigs of fresh parsley


Remove the rind of bacon and cut into lardons (rectangles 1/4 inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry. (I used Smithfield "Pork side meat" which was unsmoked bacon w/ pepper, didn't boil)

Sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned (temperature 260 degrees for an electric skillet). Remove to a side dish. (My son said this is the only way anyone sohould ever cook bacon)

Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole (360 degrees for the electric skillet).

Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly (300 degrees) for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.

Uncover and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside. (Ooh - Fun!)

Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is
pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. ( I ended up using a gravy separator, there was a lot of fat!) Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf.

Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (beurre manié). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.

Brown-Braised Onions:
12 to 24 small white onions, peeled (or double the amount if you want
to use tiny frozen peeled raw onions)*
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

* If neither frozen nor fresh pearl onions are available, substitute one large onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces. (Do not use jarred pearl onions, which will turn mushy and disintegrate into the sauce.)

While chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water, bring water back to the boil, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain. Cool onions in ice water. Shave off the two ends (root and stem ends) of each onion, peel carefully, and pierce a deep cross in the root end with a small knife (to keep onions whole during cooking).

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add parboiled onions, and toss for several minutes until lightly browned (this will be a patchy brown). Add water to halfway up onions and add 1/4 to1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover pan and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are tender when pierce with a knife.

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small,
sliced or quartered if large
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Prepare mushrooms. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil; when bubbling hot, toss in mushrooms and saute over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

I did the mushrooms and onions first - and I'm glad I did, it took a long time to peel all those little onions.

Not the prettiest dish I've ever made but it sure was good!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Making a Mess for the weekend

I grew up as an only child in New York City, with a dad who was a prosecutor, and a mom who couln't cook a darn thing. She didn't like to  - it was such a chore for her. Fortunately, we lived in New York City, and with my dad working downtown, we would often meet him after work, and go out to dinner at one of the City's wonderful eateries. This would happen several night's a week. Other nights, however, I have memories of a frozen piece of Mrs Pauls fillet of flounder on a metal pan with a bit of milk, and a slice of onion on top. I also remember English muffin pizza - a spoon of tomato sauce, and a slice of indiviually wrapped american cheese popped into the toaster oven. I did not omit seasonings, there were none. All this led me to believe that good food was in resturants and bad food was at home. I knew no different.

Of course, as I got older and went to other peoples homes, I found out that bad food at home was not always the case. I even got a friend's mom's meatloaf recipe and brought it home hopeful for improvement, but I was not rewarded. Somehow it tasted like any other meatloaf that had been attempted before. Ground beef in a loaf pan, black on top with grease bubbling up around the sides.

So when I grew up and got married, I learned many, many things. My husband and I lived just outside Washington, DC - another place of many wonderful resturants, and we went to as many as we could. In sharp contrast to my own family, my husband was the youngest of eight children, and we used to spend a lot of time at his dad's house. The TV was always on, and only on one channel - PBS. On Saturday afternoons, while visiting with my now very large family, we would watch the real cooking shows - the ones before food network, and fancy camera angles, and Man vs. Food. There was, first and foremost Julia, there was Jacques, and then there was the Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr), Justin Wilson ( I gaur-an-tee), Nathalie Dupree, Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith), and Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook. I was mesmerized, and inspired - could I do that? - they make it look so easy. So I tried the easy stuff, and slowly increased my skill level, and one Christmas actually cooked a whole dinner for my husbands family! And it was good, too!

So that brings me to this Christmas, over a beautiful prime rib my sister-in-law had made, she and my husband got around to talking about "Mom's Mess". Well, I was certainly confused, but soon came to find out that it was a meal - a meal of ground beef and elbow macaroni. Comfort food. I had never heard of such a thing.
But then a had a flash in my mind of a conversation I had with a neighbor many years ago. She was cooking something that looked to me like a meat sauce, but with elbow macaroni in it. I asked her what it was, and she said "goulash", that her mom had made for her for dinner. I remember being confused, and really concerned, that, having gone to high school on NYC's upper east side, I had eaten "Hugarian Goulash" (the only goulash I knew) many times - but I seemed to remember that tomatoes (especially canned) were taboo, and that elbow noodles certainly were not involved in the versions I had tried. I let it go.

Now when I googled ground beef and elbow macaroni I see that many people have termed this a "goulash", or "American Chop Suey" or school cafateria "Hamburger Macaroni" (oh what I missed going to private school & bringing a lunchbox with a cheese sandwich in it!).

Well, several days after learning about "Mom's Mess", my husband was feeling under the weather, so I called my sister-in-law, and got the recipe for "Mess". My husband ate it with vigor, said it wasn't exact - but it was pretty darn close!

As a nurse administrator I have the assignment of working every third weekend. This is my weekend, and in order to avoid crappy chinese takeout, this will be my meal for the weekend (and leftover Braciole).

So here is my rendition of Mess:
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 lb elbow macaroni (or any short cut pasta)
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 lg onion, finely diced
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls Worcestershire
1 Tbl "Steak Dust"
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp thyme
2 packets dried bullion (or crushed cubes)
1 can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes or 2 cans (14 1/2oz) petite diced tomatoes
1/2 C beef stock
Salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Start with the usual suspects, carrot onion and celery and sautee in butter until soft but not browned.

 Add the meat, and a tsp of salt, and cook until all the pink is gone. 

Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire, steak dust, garlic powder, thyme, and dried bullion, and bring to a simmer, adding additional water if necessary. Test for seasoning - and add another tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper if needed. Simmer uuncovered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni until just al dente, and set aside.

To finish up, add the macaroni to the meat mixture, and about 1/2 C of beef stock if it's dry, and let the noodles absorb the rest of the liquid. Taste for seasonings. Enjoy.

Now I have it and have made this my own. If anyone knows why this lovely, homey, tasty dish that the rest of the planet has known about, has been kept from me for all these years - please tell me why!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Comfort Food

I wish I knew my Italian grandmother. I do not because I was adopted. Don't get me wrong, I had two wonderful grandmothers growing up, and my parents that adopted me - wouldn't change them for anything - but I knew my birth-mother was Italian so sometimes I do wish I had all those great family recipes.
That being said, I know it's in my blood, there's no doubt about that. When I look through Julia Child's books, I get very nervous. Those techniques do not come naturally to me. But I can taste andy dish in an Italian resurant, and go home and duplicate it - maybe even make it better. So, today I made my oldest son's favorite meal : Beef Braciole

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's Braciole recipe.

1 flank steak (1 1/2 lbs) pounded flat as you can
Fontina cheese
3 c Tomato Sauce (recipe will be first)
1 1/2 cups of croutons or bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 eggs
1/2 c parmesan

First, the tomato sauce
Of the many site I have visited, and sauces I have tried - this is the best, and I will give him the full credit, as it is that good: 

This is a great site! All his recipes I have tried are delicious & so are his pictures and attention to details!

OK, now for the Braciole

Pound out the meat as thin as you can - until you can't pound anymore - or as in my case today, until the men watching football told me I was too noisy!

Salt generously with salt & pepper, and grab your prosciutto and fontina

and cover the surface of the meat with them

Then roll it up as tight as you can!

Tie it up with cooking twine

Here's a tutorial if you need it - it takes some practice

Then, heat up a skillet with some olive oil and sear meat on all sides

Then put three cups of sauce in a baking dish, add the meat, and cover with foil. Put in a 325 degree oven for at least 1 1/2 hrs or up to 3 hrs. serve with pasta and enjoy!

And add a glass of chianti of course!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Morning Shenanigans

I have wanted empinadas for some time now - a few weeks or so, and saw a great recipe on the blog "The Bitten Word" - those guys cook up some great stuff - for pork empinadas with thyme - and I thought to myself that well, I have some leftover pork, and some leftover scalloped potatoes and some generic pie crust dough in the fridge - well... let's see what I can do.

Really no measurements, no way to tell how much I used. Maybe about 2 cups of leftover pork loin that was stuffed with bacon & some herbs with some yummy pork gravy started out with the brown gravy like I make for the meatloaf, then added the pork juices, and some white wine. i shredded all that up with two forks. Easy. The I used maybe one cup of leftover Scalloped potatoes and onion with swiss cheese & cream - and cooked it all together.

So far, so good. while thats working, I rolled out the Safeway brand pie crust a little thinner and used a 2" round cutter - by the way 1 refrigerated pie crust makes 22 2" rounds, in case anyone needed to know.  

Then about a tablespoon of the mixture on each one and fold them over.

In the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes and viola! empanadas. Had a bunch of mixture left over - now in the freezer. Could have made more with the other pie crust, but I think I'll make a quiche tomorrow. If I do use the rest of the mixture for more empinadas, I think I'd add about half a can of diced tomatoes. They were tasty, but a bit dry. I think the tomatoes would make them perfect!

Friday, January 15, 2010

You may wonder why I have started a blog....

There are many other things I should be doing, and many others that I need to do, but somehow I was just drawn to do a blog. I don’t know if anyone will ever read it I don’t know how long I’ll do it. I have not told anyone that I am doing it, and I don’t know much about it, but here it is.
As ridiculous as it sounds I was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia. Please, do not think I am going to do a marathon cook-off or anything, but I never realized how accessible blogging was or how many cooking resources there are within the thousands of foodie blogs I have searched - at least as compared to the standard recipe sites. (However, at some point I will make Lobster Thermador!)

I made recipe books in the form of scrapbooks for my family this year for Christmas and they were really appreciated, and I had fun doing it! As I was writing out my recipes, and taking food pictures, I realized that it was another way for me to be creative, and hey - the stuff just looks and tastes good!

I think this will allow me to become more inspired to do some great things in the kitchen and share with more than just my husband and 2 teenage boys who really do love to eat. I get a real sense of satisfaction when there is silence at the dinner table, and all I hear is the clanking of utensils, and chewing. Is that strange? I don’t know.
It happened the other night with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn. The poor dogs didn’t even get any leftovers except for some gravy remnants left on the plate. My 14 year old took a huge dollop of potatoes, a big ladle of corn, cut up a thick slice of the meatloaf, put that on top, and added about ¾ cup of gravy on top. He ate it all, and then did it two more times. Wow. That makes me happy.

So, here it is:

Riekee’s Meatloaf & Gravy
2 Lbs Ground beef
1 Package onion soup mix
1 egg
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup tomato sauce
2 packets instant beef broth
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped parsley (or dried)
½ cup breadcrumbs or enough to hold everything together

I mix all the wet ingredients with a whisk, and then add to that the dry ingredients except for the breadcrumbs. I then incorporate the meat without working it too much. I used to really mix it a lot, but after all the hours of food network I have watched, I have found this not to be the correct way, and I definitely had had better results – “less is more”.

Then I put in just enough breadcrumbs to hold it together, shape it into a loaf & bake it at 350 for 1 hour.

2 tbls finely chopped onion
3 tbls butter
3 tbls flour
1 can beef stock
2 tsp “Better than Bullion” beef base
Freshly cracked black pepper

The juices that the meatloaf puts off is almost all fat & not worth putting into the gravy. I guess you could put the beef broth into a gravy separator, and then add the meatloaf juices if you must, but I don’t feel that this gravy is lacking anything.

Sautee the onion in the butter until soft, but not browned. Add the flour and cook about 10 minutes. Slowly add the beef broth and beef base, and whisk until blended completely.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

OK, here goes my first blog post this soup is adapted from Julia Child's recipe & is just wonderful!

Potato Leek Soup

6 Large Potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 Large Leeks, washed and coarsely chopped
½ cup finely chopped Onion
¼ cup finely chopped carrot
¼ cup finely chopped celery
2 Tbls butter
6 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup heavy cream
Water to cover if needed
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

          Sautee the onion, carrot and celery in the butter until softened, but not browned. Add the leeks and potatoes, and cover with chicken stock and additional water if necessary. Add a tsp of salt & half a tsp of freshly ground pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 1 hour.
          Remove pot from heat, and puree as much as desired (I use an immersion blender). Add the cream and stir, and check seasonings.

Serve immediately, or chill & you have Vichyssoise!