Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pork Chops...Ain't That Swell

Most college students definitely know how to cook two things: pasta and chicken. My friend Bird (nickname) has told me about his love/hate relationship with chicken. He's tired of it, yet continues to buy it because what else is he going to replace it with. It's too easy not to cook...

However, pork chops are really easy to make and you can still do a quick pan sear like your chicken. One of my favorite meals my mom always made was pork chops with a side of apple sauce. My sister always imitated the Brady Bunch episode when Peter said "Pork chops and apple sauce...ain't that swell" in his attempted Humphry Bogart voice. She had that nailed down by the time she was 5.  

Check it out at 1:07

So yesterday, I successfully made a pork chop, but instead of apple sauce...I substituted it for a light rosemary-vinegar sauce. 

When I look for recipes, I try to look for simplicity. This means you don't want to pick a recipe with about a thousand ingredients. If you're cooking for one- cutting all of that in half really doesn't create the desired result. 

Pork Chops With 
Rosemary-Vinegar Sauce 




Ingredients- (can be cut in half)
4 large boneless pork loin chops (about 5 ounces each)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup whipping cream
4 teaspoons raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar


Directions

  1. Sprinkle pork on both sides with 3/4 teaspoon rosemary, salt and pepper. Coat with flour; shake off excess. 
  2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; saute until beginning to color, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic
  3. Add pork to skillet and saute until brown and cooked through about 7-10 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer pork to plate. Tent with foil to keep warm 
  4. Add chicken broth, white wine, cream, vinegar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon rosemary to skillet. Boil until sauce thickens enough to coat back of spoon, stirring often, about 10 minutes. 
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour any collected pork juices from plate into skillet. Spoon sauce over pork and serve 






So there you have it- Mom worthy pork chops in 5 easy steps!

Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Only Sauce: Parmesan Chicken Fingers

The other night, I was going to attempt what I thought was a simple recipe in my Barefoot Contessa Paris book. I talked to my mom and told her I was making asparagus with hollandaise sauce and a simple pan-seared chicken breast. There was silence on the other end- and then- "are you sure your ready for that?" Sure why not- it seemed simple enough. Throw some ingredients in the food processor and you're good to go.

I would learn later that hollandaise sauce is not easy... at all. My mom says it's a hard sauce to make because sometimes it doesn't emulsify (or blend). I think my first problem was that I was trying to cut the recipe in half. The recipe calls for 3 lbs of asparagus and I was only making less than a half pound. Cooking for 1 or 2 is obviously difficult for large portion recipes. I put the ingredients (lemon, eggs, salt, cayenne pepper) in the food processor and it turned into a really BRIGHT yellow sticky mixture. I had hoped when I added the melted butter it would turn into the creamy-yellow perfect sauce in the picture. However as much as I wished, it still retained its intense yellow hue. I decided to try it- and unfortunately it was inedible with a very overpowering salty buttery taste. Oops!

Just when I thought I was going to throw down my oven mitt for the night, I calmed down and reminded myself it's only sauce. So what could I do with some blanched asparagus and a chicken breast?

Side note- Blanching asparagus is putting it in a bowl of ice cold water after they are finished cooking in the boiling pot of water. This stops the asparagus from cooking and allows it to still keep its tender crisp texture.

I just ditched the sauce besides my mom usually just puts olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasons with a little salt and pepper and serves. I determined I could still make a blog-worthy meal by spicing up the chicken.

Parmesan chicken fingers is one of my favorite (as well as my friends) recipes that my mom passed down to me. You just cut the chicken into slices, coat them in your breaded mixture and throw them in the over for 20 minutes. I also add red pepper flakes to give it a little bit of a kick.

Note: If you are not grating your own imported parmesan cheese to save money (like me!)- it still works if you use the bagged grated parmesan like Sargento's (which can give you stick-like shreds). DON'T USE PARMESAN IN THE GREEN CAN- that's too powdery. However, I like to pulse this cheese through my food processor once or twice. The smaller the better. It sticks to the chicken more effectively as well as it fuses with the rest of the breaded mixture nicely once in the oven. If you don't, the long shreds will singe and get crusty- but the chicken will still be fine.

Parmesan Chicken Fingers



Ingredients (Cut recipe in half if you just have one chicken breast)

  • 1 -2 pounds chicken breasts thinly sliced or chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
Directions


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and dry chicken. If using chicken breasts, slice chicken into strips about 1" wide and 1/2" thick. Set aside.
2. In a medium shallow bowl, combine Panko and Italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes if desired.
3. In a separate medium sized bowl, beat egg with milk until smooth and creamy.
4. Dip chicken pieces in milk/egg mixture and then coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking dish. Do not overlap chicken pieces. Spray with canola or olive oil before baking.
5. Bake chicken in the oven for 18-20 minutes turning over chicken pieces halfway and both sides are golden brown. Serve immediately.

If serving at a later time, allow chicken to cool completely before storing in refrigerator.



Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flying Solo: Lemon Chicken with Croutons

I have made a roasted chicken before, but that was by my mother's side. I was so freaked out that I didn't even pick it up- let alone clean and stuff it.


However, I really wanted to use my new cookbook, Barefoot in Paris and I had found a good recipe I needed to try.  So last night I did the unthinkable and faced my fears. Not only did I pick up the chicken, I stuck my hand inside of it, took out the ACTUAL giblets, and stuffed it. 


Yes,giblets usually come in little bags so you don't have to actually touch them anymore. However, I had to resort to old school, when some of the giblets fell out of the bag and into the sink as well as slipped back down into the bird.  


I closed my eyes, psyched out a couple time as well as screamed during these multiple attempts to retrieve the loose giblets. Luckily no neighbors were bothered in the process. After the "ews", "breathe mags" and"omg, omg, omg", I survived and tossed the giblets into the trash and washed my hands A LOT. 


I texted my mom, "Seriously, I died a little inside." Mom texted back, "Well the chicken died too."
"Tim and I having some kitchen fun" 

After the giblet incident, everything else ran smoothly. I even had a little bit of fun and named my bird, "Tim". I cleaned, seasoned the bird with kosher salt and pepper, and stuffed it with lemons. Then I proceeded to put "Tim" in the oven for the next hour and twenty minutes while I worked on some homework.


The homemade croutons were the best part. Especially when they were soaked in the gravy-like sauce that was produced as the chicken cooked. Start the croutons, as soon as you pull the bird out of the oven and cover it with the foil. 


Note: The recipe calls for a 5 to 6 lb chicken, which is way too much for just myself. So I was lucky and found a 3 lb chicken on sale at the grocery store this week. Even now, I have a TON of leftovers (not that I can complain). Also, cut the ingredients in half for a smaller chicken. I only used a tablespoon of butter and one lemon was plenty! 


Be very careful with raw chicken. Constantly wash your hands, work surface, knives, or anything else that touches the chicken. 

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. 
  3. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
  4. Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
  6. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm
Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-chicken-with-croutons-recipe/index.html

Bon Appetite! 
Chef Maggie





Monday, January 10, 2011

The Big 1000!: Apple Cake

Just wanted to take a minute to thank you for your support in my cooking adventures! I just hit OVER 1,000 clicks and it wouldn't be possible without all your help!

I just got back to school yesterday, and unfortunately I am in need of a major grocery shopping trip. So today, I wanted to dedicate this post to my mom, who is the most amazing and inspiring woman I know. She is the cook that I continually push myself to be. I try to live by her kitchen life lessons: almost anything can be fixed with patience, TAKE YOUR TIME and you don't need fancy ingredients to make a delicious meal.

My mom has continually encouraged me to keep posting. To keep writing. To keep taking pictures. She has also been my editor(trust me- there have been some rough editing sessions!) and my biggest fan at the same time.

Ever since I started these adventures, I have connected on a whole new level with my mom. Whether it's fixing my curdled alfredo sauce, teaching me how to can, figuring out cooking classes we want to take this summer with my sister or putting ice on my burnt hand, she has been by my side and oven every step of the way.

Thanks Mom for everything. I think Dad really likes being our taste tester.


(Mom, Dad, and I on my 21st birthday)

So here's my Mom and I's Apple Cake.

Apple Cake


Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 large egg1 1/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and coat with the bread crumbs.
2. Toss together the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Set aside.
3.Peel and core the apples, then slice one apple into 16 wedges. Combine the cinnamon and
1/3 cup of the sugar mixture in a medium bowl. Add the apple wedges and toss to coat. Roughly dice the remaining apple.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the remaining sugar mixture on medium speed until light, fluffy, and lemon colored, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the half-and-half, and mix until combined. Fold the diced apple into the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange 14 of the apple wedges fanned along the outer edge of the pan and place the 2 remaining wedges in the center.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is golden brown.
6. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a small offset spatula around the edges to release the cake from the pan and remove the spring form. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, then cut into 12 wedges.
Source: House Beautiful: Marcus Samuelsson Apple Cake

Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie

Apple Cake on FoodistaApple Cake


Friday, January 7, 2011

Girls Night In with Sarah^2: Palmiers

After surviving wisdom teeth surgery, making christmas cookies, receiving my first kitchen battle wounds from burning my hand (only second degree) when trying to cook dinner the eve before christmas eve, but still having a great Christmas with my family and a happy new year, as well as just returning from a week in Vegas- I have had a jam packed winter break. blahhhh- run on sentence.

However, during my time chained to the couch and watching countless hours of Food Network channel, inspired me to try a new recipe asap. I have been missing Paris terribly, ever since I got to go on a weekend trip during my summer abroad in London. So you can imagine my excitement as I watched the Barefoot Contessa in Paris Special as well as receiving her Parisian cook book from Santa! I decided that it would be a good way to start my french cooking exploration by starting out small.

Palmiers, often known as elephant ears are often a dessert. However, Ina figured out how to make this special treat into a savory appetizer.

I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot when I had a date with two of my best friends from high school, Sarah... and Sarah. You could call it a Sarah^2 date. My menu was straightforward- the palmiers first with my fettucini alfredo (Which I have made about a thousand times).

The palmiers were very fast and easy- but made a serious upgrade to girls night. The end result makes them look fancy and complicated- but really it only took about 5 minutes to make and then the oven does the rest of the work.

Notes: Make sure to keep the puff pastry in the freezer until an hour before you are ready to use it. This affects the way the pastry rises in the oven.

The recipe also calls for pine nuts- which I didn't use. However, my mom and I decided to add some small pieces of prosciutto- which really gave it an appetizing kick.


(Before rolling the palmiers into a tube-like shape, and then slicing)


The Sarahs' and I caught up about school, life, love and everything in between. We talked about the beginning of my kitchen adventure and how it was also decided that maybe this cooking thing was a very good benefit to our friendship as well. Love you girls and thanks for all the support! I'm excited to see where my kitchen will take me this year!

Savory Palmiers
Ingredients
  • 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted
  • ¼ cup prepared pesto, store bought or homemade
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained (i just used a bottle from Trader Joe's)
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • Kosher salt
Directions
  1. Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it’s 9½ x 11½ inches. Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the sundried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. (this is when I added slices of prosciutto)
  2. Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again towards the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Repeat the entire instructions for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Once cooled- cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry in ¼ inch thick slices and place them face up 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
voila!


http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=98&S=0

Enjoy!



Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie