Tag Archives: cream

A Few Of My Favorite Things

As we enter week 9 of self-sheltering, it’s interesting to learn what ingredients in your pantry you find absolutely necessary. Of course we all need an assortment of canned and frozen vegetables when fresh are not available, along with flour, yeast, pasta, rice, beans and an assortment of dried herbs and spices. I can’t live without, garlic, onions, olive oil and olives; but the one thing that surprised me to be near the top of my list was ‘capers’. I use them in so many ways, from chicken salad, pasta dishes, pizza, potato salad, to top fish, deviled eggs, and fresh relishes.

I buy them in 32 ounce jars from our local Mediterranean grocery store. They simply pack a punch, adding texture and tanginess when added to a variety of recipes. Capers have long been a favorite in the Mediterranean region. They are well-known for being a star ingredient in Italian, French and Spanish recipes.

One of the easiest and tastiest dishes you can make with capers is Chicken Piccata. The sauce is a combination of creamy, tart and lemony and is wonderful served with rice or pasta and comes together quickly. The chicken breasts are lightly breaded and pan-fried which assures that you control the cooking time so they stay moist. Two halved and butterflied breasts will easily feed four.

SILKY CHICKEN PICCATA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces of linguine
  • 2 large chicken breasts, butterflied and halved
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (3-4 garlic cloves), grated on a micro planer
  • 1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed

img_6367

img_6380

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Boil salted water and cook 12 ounces of linguine according to package directions. Drain and lightly toss with a little olive oil.
  2. After butterflying your chicken breasts, let them rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Mix together flour, salt and pepper to taste in a zip lock bag. Add chicken breast pieces and shake to distribute flour.
  3. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet on medium high. Add chicken pieces to skillet. Sear chicken, undisturbed until brown on the bottom, about 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook opposite side until golden brown. You may need to adjust heat a little lower, for an additional 4-5 minutes (internal temperature should be 165 degrees). Remove from heat and tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add garlic to pan (add a little olive oil if necessary). Saute until slightly golden. Add 1 1/4 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, while scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Allow stock to simmer till reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  5. Whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon of stock with cornstarch, add to skillet along with lemon juice and zest. Allow to simmer until thickened slightly then remove from heat.
  6. Stir in butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces back into sauce to reheat for 3 minutes.
  7. To serve, place a portion of pasta in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, then sauce. Sprinkle capers and parsley on top.

Serves 4

“We can do no great things…only small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa

img_6369-1

 

Smooth As Silk

Val and I are not big dessert eaters; but there are occasions when it seems just right.  I love a good fruit pie or tart; and would never turn down a homemade scone or brownie.  But what will really get my attention is something that the texture alone is worth the calories.  I love Creme Brule or Pots de Creme; but the real deal is a flan.  It is always something I look for on a dessert menu; yet I have never attempted one at home.  Well, I’m happy to say, “No more!”  It is surprisingly easy to make and looks so beautiful on a platter surrounded by berries.  This can be made in a loaf pan or a 1 quart souffle dish.  You can even divide the recipe into 4 individual ramekins.  For our purposes today I will stick to a loaf pan.

One of the important things to remember is that you do have to make it at least one day ahead.  I actually prefer two days, as I find it easier to unmold and is beautifully creamy yet firm.   I also enjoy putting a tablespoon of Bourbon in it.  This adds a deep, rich element.  This optional however.  If you decide no on the Bourbon, add an additional 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cups cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 5 egg yolks (I use farm fresh eggs from the farmers market)
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

img_5205

img_5207

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar and 1/4 cup water until sugar is completely moistened.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until the mixture begin to turn golden.  At this step gently swirl the pan, and continue to cook until the mixture looks like the color of honey.  Remove the pan from the heat and continue swirling until the sugar turns an amber color, about 20 seconds more.  Carefully swirl in 2 tablespoons warm tap water until incorporated.  Be careful as your mixture will bubble and steam.
  3. Pour caramel into an 8-1/2 x 4 1/2 -inch loaf pan (or whatever vessel you have decided to use);  Do not scrape out the saucepan.  Your caramel will solidify in the loaf pan after you pour it (it’s supposed to).  It will soften up again as it bakes.  Set the loaf pan aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks until combine.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, half-and-half, Bourbon, vanilla and salt and whisk until incorporated.  Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over an other bowl (you will be surprised when you see your bits of egg).  We do this to guarantee that your flan will have the ideal texture.  Pour the strained custard into your loaf pan over the set caramel.  Cover the loaf pan tightly with aluminum foil.
  5. Place the loaf pan in the center of a high-sided roasting pan to make a water bath or bain marie.  Place the nested pans in the oven; then, using a tea kettle or pitcher, pour hot water around the loaf pan until it reaches about halfway up the side of the loaf pan.  Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the custard is set around the edges but still a bit jiggly in the center.  The custard continues to cook as it sets completely.  Carefully remove the pans from the oven,  Remove the foil and leave the flan in the water bath for 1 hour to cool.
  6. Remove the loaf pan from the water bath and wipe dry.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 4 days.
  7. To unmold flan, carefully slide a sharp knife around the edges of the pan.  Invert on a platter with a raised rim (to hold your liquid caramel), by holding it upside down, then turn your platter over.  If your flan doesn’t release immediately, let sit for a minute or two.  Once the flan is released remove your loaf pan, and with a silicone spatula, scrape the residual caramel onto the platter.  Arrange berries around the flan.  Slice flan, adding sauce and berries around each slice.  Leftovers (if there are any) can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Serves 8-10

 

img_5214

“Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first!”  –Jacques Torres