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.

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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.

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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.

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Serve with Pickles. Yes, pickles.

 

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Loquat Follow Up: Tart and Fritters

Yesterday I was brainstorming how to use up the rest of our loquat harvest, Read More

The “Fig Sue” Historical Posset; and things your history book didn’t teach you

Do you remember your grade school history?

George Washington and his cherry tree, the Mayflower, making construction paper hats, that kind of thing . . . but did anybody tell you that John Adams began each day with a tankard of hard cider, that the Mayflower was loaded with barrels of beer, or that after the war, Washington traded his sword for a whiskey still?

That’s because traditional histories don’t usually mention that our colonial forefathers (and mothers) swam in a sea of booze from breakfast till bedtime. Whether they were working, fighting, traveling, writing . . early Americans were often tipsy—perhaps rationalized by the belief that fermented drinks were safer than water. Back in the day, the day didn’t begin until after a “dram” of bitters or “stiffener” of beer.

Due to this boozelust, early Americans came up with an amusing variety of pseudo-cocktails from their pantry of ale, cider, rum, milk, cream, sugar, molasses, eggs, spices and citrus. You may have noticed that some of these drinks —such a “shrubs” and meads are making a comeback in bars and restaurants.

Let’s talk about the posset, because I recently bought one at one of my favorite neighborhood eateries.

Citrus Posset from Huckleberry Cafe

Citrus Posset from Huckleberry Cafe

You may know it as a custard or pudding type dessert as pictured above   but . . . .

A posset was originally a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a cold and flu remedy and was more of a drink than a mousse. Lady Macbeth used a poisoned posset to knock out the guards outside Duncan’s quarters. These days a posset is a cold set dessert loosely based on the drink, containing cream and lemon.

As I was researching the posset I came upon a version called a “Fig Sue” which, given that it is Good Friday, and given the other facts/terms/wordplay as described below, is the indisputable choice for birgerbird’s Fiesta Friday #12 dish.

Fig Sue was a bread posset once served on Good Friday in some parts of the English Lake District. It was made with ale, bread, figs, treacle and nutmeg. I love bread, love figs, love treacle (molasses); used to but don’t anymore love ale. The figs were meant to represent the Crucifix, which was traditionally thought to have been made with the wood of a fig tree. Fig Sue was traditionally served from a ‘piggin’ or ‘bicker.’ I love that word ‘piggin’ and Lord knows I can love to ‘bicker.’

To make the drink, milk was heated to a boil, then mixed with wine or ale which curdled it, and the mixture was usually spiced.

A well made posset was said to have three different layers. The uppermost, known as ‘the grace’ was a snowy foam or aereated crust. In the middle was a smooth spicy custard and at the bottom a pungent alcoholic liquid. The grace and the custard were enthusiastically consumed as ‘spoonmeat’ and the sack-rich liquid below drunk through the ‘pipe’ or spout of the posset pot.

Foaming Posset

Foaming Posset; Photo by Ivan Day

I decided to make a traditional Fig Sue recipe that I found on the internet on some godforsaken ancient parish township newsletter column, which included a library of recipes.  It tastes like . . . Christmas pudding smoothie?  Yes, Christmas pudding smoothie.

This mixture of sourdough bread, ale (I used a belgian “sour ale”), sweet cream, figs, molasses, rum and nutmeg  . . . served hot . . . truly surprised me with its deliciousness.  It’s a tummy full, but if you’ve fasted for Good Friday, you can drink it as your dinner and it will satisfy . . . and probably transition you to dreamland.

Sourdough Bread Cooking Gently in Ale

Sourdough Bread Cooking Gently in Ale

Blended

Blended

Tall and Small

Tall and Small

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Here’s the Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 pint strong ale

1/2 cup cream

2 Tbps butter

3 slices bread

6 dried figs

1 Tbsp molasses

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 Tbsp rum

Instructions:

Cook bread gently in ale with figs, molasses, brown sugar, nutmeg and rum for about 10 minutes.  Transfer to blender with butter and blend until smooth, thinning out with water if necessary.

Drink Up!

 

Sweet Avocado

In college I had a good tennis team friend, Harriet, who used to eat mashed up avocado with banana, sugar and milk.  She was half Filipino and grew up in Kuwait.  She did not know the savory application of the Avocado, only the sweet.  I had never known any sweet recipes for Avocado, only savory.  But I tasted her bowl one day after a long hot tennis and track session, and boy was it good!

The Avocado fruit is commonly used in Asia to make sweet shakes or “smoothies.”  In Indonesia, it is called “Jus Alkapat” and involves avocado, condensed milk, ice cubes and . . . . . chocolate syrup or . . . coffee!!!!!; in the Phillipenes the drink is made with avocado, ice, milk and sugar; the Vietnamese version, Sinh to Bo (Butter Fruit Shake), is made with avocado, milk, sugar, ice and condensed sweetened milk; in Brazil I actually had such a shake made with avocado, milk, sugar and ice.

Since I am still on soft and liquid foods due to my recent tooth extraction, I am on the search for different ways to be in post-operative compliance.  I got tired of ice cream and yogurt after a few days.  Well, not really.  But I needed more variety.  And as you all know, one of the wonderful features of the internet is that it has a vast sub-universe of food information and recipes.  I first made a standard Vietnamese version, and I could not believe how incredibly delicious it was.  Wow. But I thought it wouldn’t lack anything if I didn’t add all of the sugar, so I opted for a sweet tomato and date relish.

Here is my own version of a sweet avocado drink:

Ingredients:

1 large ripe avocado

Ripe Avocado

Ripe Avocado

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (if you don’t do dairy, simply use coconut milk or coconut cream thinned out with a bit of water)

1 cup ice

1 date, chopped

2 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Quartered Sun Golds & Medjool Date

Quartered Sun Golds & Medjool Date

A handful of nasturtiums or other edible flowers

1/4 tsp grey salt

Instructions:

Place the avocado, milk, salt and ice in a blender and blend for 30 seconds on medium speed.  Pour into a glass and top with date and tomato.  Rim glass with flowers.  Drink up!

Ready to Drink

Ready to Drink

In a Mason Jar, Ready to Go to Work

In a Mason Jar, Ready to Go to Work

 

 

 

Pea & Shoot Soup with Green Almond Garnish

This week at the Farmer’s Market I was intrigued by green almonds.  I’ve never had green almonds, nor read about them.  Upon sampling, I decided that their grassy, young flavor tanged up with some preserved lemons and chile would make a nice garnish for sweet pea soup.

Pure Pea SoupFresh English Peas won’t be around for much longer and since I’m still nursing a healing mouth and eating soft foods, I made Pea Soup.  I used a simple recipe from Daniel Boulud, added more peas and shoots in place of the fava beans, and finished the soup with my own embellishments:  crisped bacon, a thick tangle of pea shoots and sunflower sprouts, and a green (raw, unshelled) almond relish.

Here’s the Recipe:

Ingredients:

8 slices of bacon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced

5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken or veggie broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound pea shoots and sunflower shoots

1/2 pound sugar snap peas

1 lb fresh shelled English Peas, plus 1/2 cup more peas

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 cup heavy cream

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 lb green almonds

1 preserved lemon

1 red fresno chili

Instructions:

In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate. Pour off the fat in the pot.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and leek and snap peas, cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bacon and rosemary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add half the shoots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain. Add the peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture. Transfer the soup and the remaining broth to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool.

In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and garlic to a boil. Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.

Blanch 1/2 cup peas in boiling water for about 1/5 minutes and shock into ice water.  Set aside.

Chop green almonds, preserved lemon and chile.  Set aside.

Scatter rim of bowls with shoots.  Ladle the chilled soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream. Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl, top with a small portion of blanched peas, add a spoonful of the almond garnish, and serve.

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Sweating the Onion, Leek, Peas and Snap PeasSweating the Onion, Leek, Peas and Snap Peas
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After pureeing I like to add more pepper and a drizzle of olive oilAfter pureeing I like to add more pep
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The Green Almond GarnishThe Green Almond Garnish
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Super Fresh Soup
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Mulberry Pancakes Mike-style

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Mike-style is kind of hard to describe with one word so I’ll give a little illustration. My chosen adjectives carry a somewhat negative connotation (heavy-handed, overdone, excessive) and I’m trying to change my perception. After all, we all have our unique style, right? Aren’t we all, after all, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights including the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness??  Aren’t the most unusual of our eccentrics often endearing???  Perhaps you can contribute your ideas for a proper descriptor for Mike-style.
Here’s the illustration:  Okay, so let’s say you prepare a homemade strawberry galette, with homemade dough and using the berries you grow in your back yard. It needs no embellishment because the individual elements are so pure and flavorful.
So you bring it to the table and he takes a bite and says, “Oh my gosh this is SOOOO good! WOW!”
Quietly he gets up from the table and says “I’ll be right back.”
And then he comes back with some sliced strawberries on top and some strawberry jam. It’s Smuckers from a couple years ago, but, well, there it is.
Then shyly he says, “You don’t mind if I run a quick errand, do you . . . I’ll be right back!!!”
And he returns with some strawberry ice cream. Now the galette’s got fresh strawberries on top, some jam, and ice cream. Now his galette is Mike-style.
Since it’s Mike’s Birthday I’m trying to cover all my bases with this pancake creation.  The mulberries are fresh and uber-seasonal.  They are a unique and delicious berry delicious as is.  However, if you add them into the batter, they warm up a bit and “bleed,” along with their flavor, ever so subtly into the pancake.  Then, if you throw a few in a pan with some water & cornstarch, you can create a “quick jam.”  You might even puree a few berries with some softened butter to melt over the pancakes.  See what I mean?
Since you may not wish to venture into Mike-style, I offer only the recipe for the pancakes.  I use a mix of homemade buttermilk (but of course store bought is very good), eggs, baking soda, rye flour, polenta, ricotta and lemon zest.
Here’s the Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese, drained for at least 1/2 hr
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sale
3 Tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle
1 cup fresh mulberries
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
Instructions:
Mix all ingredients together LIGHTLY, except 1/2 cup mulberries and the lemon zest.  I like to also add a couple of tablespoons of my sourdough starter to the batter, so if you keep a starter, add a little bit into the batter.  Let sit in a bowl overnight.
Bubbling Up Pancake Mix
Bubbling Up Pancake Mix
Adding the Little Mulberries
Adding the Little Mulberries
Heat griddle to 375 degrees.  Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Of course if you don’t have a griddle, just proceed as you normally do with a non-stick or cast iron or other pan when making pancakes.  Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter onto griddle (or pan). Wipe off excess.
Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
Cooking Up
Cooking Up
Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in a 175 degree oven. Serve warm with maple syrup, butter, and fresh mulberries.
Tall Stack, Mike-style
Tall Stack, Mike-style
Bacon Makes a Nice Addition to a Birthday Meal!
Bacon Makes a Nice Addition to a Birthday Meal!
The Pursuit of Happiness -- Complete!
The Pursuit of Happiness — Complete!