Fig and Grape Pie

We are enjoying an abundance of fresh grapes right now in Santa Monica, a true wealth of varieties including ones such as the beautiful, translucent Chasselas Dore (below), “the grape you see in old Dutch Master paintings,” that I have never seen or heard of before.  More often than not, I am moved to cook with ingredients that have an unusual name or pedigree or appearance . . . . however with grapes I also love and will eat a bunch without batting an eyelash of the plain old supermarket variety. Read More

Kyoho Grape and Cucumber Relish

Kyoho Grapes (1 of 1)

Kyoho grapes are softer than your average supermarket grape that is available year round, and more prone to damage.  At best they will last a week before fermentation sets in.  They are a Concord cross and have a wonderful, heady, jammy aroma.  While they have seeds and I normally shy away from seeded grapes, when I first sampled the kyoho this week at my favorite farmer’s market I was so smitten I bought some, not caring that I would spend a bit of time slicing and seeding them. Read More

How To Cook a Perfect Chicken Paillard

I love the paillard.  It’s easy to prepare, cook and eat.  Kids love them.

The word paillard refers to a piece of meat pounded thin.  You can make a paillard into satay pieces, a crispy milanesa, or you can stuff and roll the meat with your choice of filing.  Paillard-ing works with pork, turkey, beef, and chicken.

My favorite benefit of paillard-ing is that thinning the meat gives the appearance of stretching serving quantity. If you cut a pounded out breast in half lengthwise, each person can get a decent looking piece of chicken.  Your pocketbook will thank you, especially if you buy a chicken from the farmers market, which can be much more expensive than supermarket varieties.

Here are my rules for cooking the perfect chicken paillard:

1.  Find a happy chicken.

6033285529_395cc91bdd_z

Often I have to do two rounds of food shopping — one with my husband and one without, because farmers market prices astound him.  But trust me, food sold at farmers markets is worth the cost.  It tastes so much better that you won’t need as much quantity.  So on your next trip to the farmer’s market, buy a chicken, or some chicken pieces.

2.  Prepare your paillard with a knife before pounding it.

(Photos courtesy Don Reid at Serious Eats)

3.  Pound to even thinness.  Be gentle, you don’t want your chicken to turn to liquid.

6378327067_1c819cf8a3_z

4.  Brine.  Soak your paillard overnight (or, if you prefer, you can brine the chicken breasts before you cut and pound them) in a mixture of equal parts salt and sugar, as well as other seasonings and aromatics to your liking.  I use lemon, garlic, parsley and thyme.

5528191533_60c74c1888_b

5.  Coat in egg wash and Panko Breadcrumbs.  Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs and they’re like heavy snowflakes.  They’re the bomb! I seasoned my panko with salt, parsley and thyme, and a few gratings of parmesan cheese.

5648857713_9ea199b812_z

5.  At this point you can either bake or pan fry your paillards.  I prefer pan frying.  Simply heat your preferred fat in a saucepan over medium high heat, add paillard and cook for about 3 minutes per side.  Serve with freshly ground black pepper and lemon wedges.

IMG_5362

 

What’s your favorite way to cook chicken breasts?  Please let me know in the comments below!

Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

IMG_5011

I did it, I made homemade ice cream.  Really wiped me out but it was worth it.  I wanted to share the recipe with you, that I adapted from Woodridge Homestead blog, which posted a peach ice cream recipe using a hand crank machine that reminded me of the peach ice cream my mom used to make in the summers.  I can still remember the little wooden barrel sitting on our back porch humming away.

I must say, homemade ice cream just far surpasses any Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s or other $10 per pint gourmet artisan ice cream you can buy at the store.  It must be the sweat and tears, but it really is more fresh, sweet and delicious.

I decided on the fruits because I made a blueberry rhubarb jam to take with me as little gifts for my friends I’ll be meeting later this week in northern California.  I’m heading out on my road trip right now, stay tuned for the story!

Ingredients

For the Blueberry Jam

1 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh rhubarb

3 tbsp water

1/4 cup sugar

3 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp corn starch

For the Crumble
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tsp butter, melted
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the Vanilla Ice Cream Base
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Blueberry Rhubarb Jam:
In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the blueberries, rhubarb, water and sugar. Stir and cook for 10 minutes, gently pushing the berries against the sides of the pan to release juices. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch, then stir into the blueberry mixture. Cook until the blueberry sauce begins to thicken, then remove from heat and bring to room temperature.

For the Crumble:
Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine the quick oats, brown sugar, melted butter, flour, chopped nuts, and cinnamon, stir together.
Spread the oat mixture onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the oats are golden brown. Let cool, and set aside.

For the Ice Cream Base:
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/4 cups sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add 3 cups of heavy cream and 1 1/2 tbsp of vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
Pour into the base of your ice cream maker and let churn for 25-30 minutes, until soft serve consistency.
Once the ice cream is ready scoop it into a large bowl and add 1 1/2 – 2 cups of the blueberry compote (reserving the rest for a sauce), gently fold in the blueberries. DO NOT OVER STIR.
Break up the oat crumble mixture into small pieces and add it to the ice cream, fold it in gently.
Pour into a freezer proof pan (I used my 9″x5″ bread loaf pan), and place in the freezer for 3-4 hours or until desired consistency.
Serve with the extra blueberry sauce on top if desired.
Enjoy!

5 Star Notebook Dinners (Fried Chicken)

This fried chicken was so good my husband said, “Sue, this is just sooo good, you need to write this dinner down and keep it in a notebook . . . . otherwise I’m afraid you’ll forget to make it again.  And put the pork cheek ravioli in there too.”  So I’m keeping certain dinner recipes in a “notebook” page on this blog.  They’ll be recipes that won taste buds in my house over in a major way, ones to make again and again.  First up:  Fried Chicken.

Today I visited the Jimenez Farms stall at our Farmers Market and asked for some chicken breasts.  Since my husband doesn’t like bones or skin, I requested boneless and skinless breasts.  You’ll never believe what I got:  1 whole boneless, skinless breast weighing in at over 2 lbs!!!!  Normally when frying chicken I like to make more of a milanese (pounded breast or cutlet) so that the coating doesn’t burn while the inside is cooking.  If the chicken piece is very thick, chances are my coating will burn in order to get the meat fully cooked.  In order to avoid this catastrophe, I poached the ginormous breasts first for 7 minutes, cooled, then coated for frying.  When the coating was browned, I finished the breasts in the oven to make sure they were indeed fully cooked.  Worked like a charm.

Here’s the Recipe:

1.  Soak the chicken in 2 cups of buttermilk for 8 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.  I added a dried red chopped jalapeño.  Why not?

IMG_08612.  Poach the breasts in enough water or chicken broth to cover, for 7 minutes.

3.  In one bowl place two eggs.  I added a couple of drops of siracha and coconut aminoes (or use soy sauce).  In another bowl place a cup of flour mixed with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp. baking soda.

4.  After chicken has cooled, dip in flour, egg mixture, then flour again.  Let sit on a wire rack for a few minutes.

IMG_4695

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Heat up fat of choice (I used good old lard, about 1/4 cup) in a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Before adding breasts, lower to medium heat.  Add chicken and cook until nicely browned on both sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.

IMG_4696

6.  Transfer chicken on wire rack to a cookie sheet and place in a 375 degree oven until done, approximately 20 minutes for gigantic breasts, and probably about 10-15 for regular sized breasts.  I always reserve one breast for testing and cut into it during the cooking to gage doneness.

7.  I like to fry up some herbs and scatter on top of the chicken when finished.

IMG_4705

Serve with Pickles. Yes, pickles.

 

IMG_4697

 

Baking Therapy: Focaccia with Pink Lemonade Blueberries, Fresh Ginger & Grey Salt

2014-05-28 08.26.16

It’s been a blue week, so I went into baking therapy. When I saw these blushing “pink lemonade” blueberries at my Wednesday Farmer’s Market, they immediately cheered me up.

A few weeks ago one of my favorite bloggers, the sweetly pensive Margherita at La Petit Casserole, made a focaccia with milk and ginger that sounded so homey, comforting and simple.   I used her recipe, adapted it to a loaf pan, added semolina and cornmeal to the dough recipe, and garnished with pink lemonade blueberries, white peach and wild green sour plums on top.  The adaptation yielded a denser, coarser, and drier loaf, not a true focaccia, but a delicious toasting bread that is made for buttering.

2014-05-29 07.45.51

After Rise; Ready to Go Into Oven

2014-05-29 08.31.17

Out of the Oven & Cooling

2014-05-29 08.31.24

I feel better already, don’t you?

Ingredients:

220 ml of milk

20 ml of warm milk for the yeast

200 gr. of all purpose flour

100 g semolina flour

100 g cornmeal

10 gr. fresh yeast

60 ml. walnut oil

1 teaspoon of honey

1 cup blueberries, or mixture of blueberries and other fruit of your choice

1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger plus 1 Tbps grated ginger for garnish

12 gr. of salt

coarse salt and olive oil to garnish

Instructions:

  • Mix flour, honey, oil, ginger and milk together;
  • Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and then mix with flour;
  • Knead for 5-7 minutes by hand or with a stand mixer, first with mix paddle, then with dough hook, then add the salt and mix again a few minutes;
  • Leave the dough in the bowl for 1 hour and a half, covered in a warm spot
  • Oil your hands (the dough will be really humid) and transfer the dough in an oiled loaf pan
  • Spread the dough with your fingers, drizzle blueberries and other fruit of choice over top, pour more oil on top and some salt;
  • Let it rest for 1 hour again in a warm spot
  • Preheat oven to 350 °, bake the focaccia for 35 minutes

This recipe is submitted for Fiesta Friday #18, a wonderful food blogging event I am grateful to be a part of.  Thank you also to all of the judges and co-participants, and congratulations to my co-winners Milk and Bun and Giraffes Can Bake in this month’s first Fiesta Friday Challenge utilizing herbs and yeast.  Have a wonderful weekend, all!