Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dijon N’ Dill Chicken

Dijon and dill chicken. Reminiscent of the mushroom and marsala chicken my grandmother used to make in her electric skillet. She used to chop up those mushrooms and onions as I watched in amazement as she cooked the whole thing countertop, without the stove.

I eventually inherited that electric skillet from her. It came quite in handy when I moved into a rent house and was temporarily without a stove.

Ya’ll are going to love this updated version of grandma’s skillet chicken, and how easy it comes together, really, 30 minutes! The recipe features my new friend, shallots (it’s a mild onion), and mostly ingredients you probably have in your cupboard.

Alrighty, first, I like to pound my chicken out a little with the mallet, release some stress. When pounding chicken, with a mallet or a rolling pin, do so in between sheets of waxed paper to avoid flying chicken chunks across your kitchen. Experience.

What? No one else has flying chicken chunks?
Am I swinging too hard?

I also cut my chicken in half because hello, when was the last time you saw chickens with breasts that big walking around the farm?

I realized if I cut it in half, the husband thinks there’s more food! And I try to serve it on a smaller plate so it looks fuller!

…. The things you learn….

Ok, pound and cut chicken. Then salt and pepper it, and dredge it in flour, as seen above. Shake off the excess.

Now I used to think more flour would be better, but I then realized it all falls off in the pan anyways, and sometimes gets soggy. So shake off the excess.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, medium-high, until it’s almost smoking, and place all your chicken pieces in there. Cook about 5 minutes per side.

Flip! The trick to avoiding tough chicken is to only cook once per side. When you flip the chicken multiple times, that when it dries out and becomes tough.

So cook another 5-6 on this side. Cut into a piece and make sure it’s done.

When they’re finished, place all the chicken breasts on a plate and tent with foil, now comes our 5 minute sauce.

It’s GOOOOOOOD!!!!

Enter, my new friend, the shallot.

Peel said shallot.

And mince said shallot. Would ya’ll like lessons on mincing? Or do you already know how? Let me know.

I learned this trick.

I have insanely sensitive eyes to onions, even shallots. I think because they’re green, my eyes. Ha. One year my mom bought me onion goggles for Christmas. They were glorified swimming goggles marketed towards moms willing to pay too much for a kitchen gadget for their beloved daughters with sensitive eyes to chopping onions. I believe she got one picture of me in them before I conveniently uh, regifted them. Let’s hope she doesn’t post that picture in the comments below.

Back to the trick, if you mince most of the onion before cutting the “root” off, it’s supposed to not make your eyes water as much. Remind me, and next time I’ll take pictures. I don’t know how it works but it does. I know your eyes water because of the gases released by the onion, so maybe somehow, the root staying on helps that.
Got me. But it works and it’s not “Onion Goggles” so I’ll keep doing it.

Let me know your best onion tip. Please, I beg of you.

Ok, shallot is minced, oil is still in pan.

Throw the shallots in the pan, and sautee about a minute or two, until they’re softened.

 

We’re going to add 3/4 cup of chicken broth, and 3/4 cup of dry white wine. It’s one full bottle of that cheapo small bottle 4 pack at the store.

 

Pour all those liquids into the pan. Immediately the wine “deglazes” the pan, it gets up all those browned gunks of “FLAVOR” – see? Just made cleaning the pan easier! Now you’ll add wine to every dish to “deglaze” the pan.

“Hey! I’m doing dishes early, hon!”

While the wine is working, we’ll chop up a bunch of dill. We need a good 2 tablespoons. Also 3 tablespoons of butter, and a healthy 1 or 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.

After the wine sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes, turn of the heat. Whisk in your butter, and mustard, then add in the dill.

Pardon me, but is that Grey Poupon?

Yup, ‘sho is!

Season with more salt and pepper if you wish, and spoon it over your chicken!

Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Freezes great!

~Peace, Love, and Sautéing Ya’ll

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Dijon N' Dill Chicken

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour
1 package chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Directions:

Pound chicken with mallet or rolling pin. Cut in half. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in 1/2 cup flour, and shake off excess.

Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until almost smoking. Place chicken breasts in the pan, and cook about 5 - 6 minutes per side. Cut into a piece and make sure it's cooked thoroughly. Place all the cooked chicken onto a plate and tent with foil.

Meanwhile start your sauce. Mince one shallot, 2 T of dill. Add shallots to pan, with oil still in it. Sautee the shallot about one minute, until it's soft.

Add chicken broth and white wine. Deglaze the pan, and cook until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and whisk in butter, dijon, and finally, dill. Spoon your sauce over the chicken.

Serve with greens and rice.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gotsa Lotsa Tomatoes?

Everyone has a ton of tomatoes this time of year. I had big plans to can all these tomatoes. Big plans.

That’s all they are now is big plans.

Fortunately, I discovered a much easier method. Freezing. What was I thinking? This is so easy! Let’s go!

First, you’ll begin by doing one of two things.

One, give yourself a pat on the pat on the back for being such a fantastic gardener to earn such a harvest.

Or

Be like me and thank your in-laws for being such fantastic gardeners and giving you a whoooole bunch of tomatoes.

I love ’em, but husband hates ’em, so I needed to find a way to save ’em!

There are a multitude of ways to put up vegetables. As I said, I wanted to can. Then I remembered how hot my kitchen gets. Boo. How about freezing? Yeah!

The process I prefer here is to blanch and peel the tomatoes, then chop and freeze.

Some people just blend ’em and freeze ’em! That works too, but I sometimes find the skins get a little tough when it comes time to cook. Your preference.

Enough talkin’, let’s get to blanchin’:

Alright, begin by washing your veggies. Then, take a sharp knife and cut an “X” into the bottom.

This makes the skins slip riiiight off.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Leave the lid on, turn on the vent hood, and get that old box fan out of the garage, it’s about to get steamy in here! Only for a bit. Anyone else have a hot kitchen?! Bleeeck.

 

Place your ‘maters in the pot, put the lid on and NO PEEKING! Just let them bathe for 45 seconds. That’s it!

 

After 45 seconds, take them out, and quickly put them in an ice bath. There’s ice in there. I swear.

Well, there was. I don’t have an ice maker, just two trays. I had to deal with it.

Swirl the girls around for a minute or two.

Ahhhhhhh. They’re cooling off now.

Then the skins slip right off!

NAKED TOMATOES!!!!!!!!!!

Eeeeeeeek!

See how that “X” helped the skins come off? Just pull them off, and place all ‘maters in a bowl.

Now continue the process until all your tomatoes are naked.

I mean blanched.

Teeheeheee.

See how they still have the stems and a little peel? No worries, we’re getting there.

I got a whole big ol’ 20 pound box done in about 2 hours.

Not bad.

Beats canning.

 

Ok, you’ve got all your neked ‘maters. Now three steps left.

The tomato on the left – just slice off the top, and cut in half. Compost the top. Or feed your worms.

~Whaaaat? You don’t have a worm bin??!! You’re missing out!

Tomato two. Dig out all the seeds, and shake out the juice. Give it a loving squeeze. Don’t get crazy about it. I left a few in there for you to see. Just do a pretty good job. You could save the juice I guess and make a homemade V-8. Have you had your V-8 today?

Tomato three. Chop it up! Just a rough chop. Nothing perfect. You’re going to use it for spaghetti sauce more than likely, and no one will know the difference.

 

That’s it!! Fill up quart sized freezer bags, squeeze out the extra air, and freeze!
Use all winter long!

Now you tell me, what’s your favorite way to use your saved winter tomatoes?

~Peace, Love, and Blanching Ya’ll! 🙂

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creme Brûlée

Creme brulee is my dad’s favorite dessert; how appropriate that I make it before Father’s Day. I’m sure he could have done without me screaming from the kitchen about how cool the blow torch was.

I would also like to point out that I discovered just how difficult it is to photograph a spoon. Getting juuust the right angle as to not show ya’ll my disheveled clipped up hair and the bright pink shirt I just worked out in with a giant hole in the left armpit.

While I have your attention I suppose I should also like to take this opportunity to distract you from staring at the giant dark patch of burnt carmelized sugar on the top of my partially eaten creme brulee. The first time any woman has a blow torch in her hand can be an exhilirating one. It will take some time, and many more batches before I can harness my excitement from throwing wild flames in the kitchen. Good thing the cat was hiding.

Here we go. I’d like to take yet another moment of your time by telling you HOW ABSOLUTELY EASY THIS RECIPE WAS!!! Shared with me from Inside Nana Bread’s Head, which was brought to her from A Sweet Pea Chef, I was both amazed and pleased at how simple this recipe was!

No tempering eggs! Tempering eggs refers to the process of pouring a small amount of hot ingredients into your cooled ingredients to slooowwwllyy bring the temperature up, thus not cooking your eggs in the bowl and create what I lovingly referred to as a child as “rubber bands” in my mom’s chocolate pudding. Congealed cooked eggs = no bueno.

Alrighty, let’s get started:

Upon the advice of Nana Bread, I doubled the recipe. I was sure my dad would love it, and I still had a lot of eggs to use from my visit to Jenn’s farm. Notice those beautiful bright yolks!

So, I gently whisked TEN egg yolks with 1 cup of sugar.

I saved all those beautiful shells for the compost pile. It’s hard to tell, but the shell at about 10 o’clock was a beautiful blue green from an Auracana chicken. Sometimes different chickens lay smaller eggs, so I might have to add an extra or two. Crazy what life must have been like for our grandmothers.

Then you’ll you need 4 cups of heavy cream. The good stuff. Don’t feel bad, it’s for Dad.

Alright folks. THIS is why Nana Bread must be mentioned again. She actually sent me a thank you gift when she won my giveaway!!! She has also been an ENORMOUS source of inspiration for ideas about my blog. What can I say? Texans are special.

She sent me vanilla bean paste. I can’t believe I have never seen this stuff! It’s GLORIOUS! It’s at your local grocer, right next to the vanilla bean extract. As she said, for cakes, vanilla extract is fine. But for custards, or homemade ice cream (!!!!) this stuff shines! So – hats off to Nana Bread!! Waahooooo 😀

Look at all those perfect black specks! After you whisk your yolks and sugar, use the same amount of paste as you would extract, so 3 tsp. it was! This stuff keeps right in the cupboard, so no more will I have to buy expensive whole beans and try slicing them to scrape out their seeds. Life is good.

Pour in your 4 cups of  cream, and stir gently. Be careful not to stir quickly or you’ll incorporate unwanted extra air.

That’s it! That’s the end! Time to bake the puppies! Pour them in your ramekins. Since I doubled the recipe, this made 6 ramekins, and my ramekins are Dad sized ramekins, I believe they are 9 oz each. That’s a “Hungry Man’s” creme brulee!

Place the ramekins in a baking dish, and fill with hot water until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  This helps your custards/cheesecakes/etc. to cook more evenly.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You notice they’re done if you stick a knife in one (the one you’ll eat, not your dad’s) and it comes out almost clean. Not too liquidy, but not curdled and overbaked.

Once done, you have a few options:

  • Eat plain, warm or cold, which is really how my dad likes it, but HELLO I had a blow torch to play with!
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on each one and place under the broiler for a few minutes.
  • TORCH ‘EM!

I chose the latter. So fun, so fun. Ya’ll need to get one. They have them at Bed Bath and Beyond ($20), and you’ll need a butane can, found at home depot, $5.

BEAUTIFUL custard! I LOVE the crunchy carmelized topping.
Happy Father’s Day Dad! Love ya!

And for my final Father’s Day tribute, my mom made me tweet in to Jimmy Fallon. Apparently he asked viewers to tweet in and share funny quirks that they love about their dad, followed by the hashtag #thatsmydad. He then read some on-air.

My favorites were:

~ He refers to his email as his “website.” #thatsmydad

and

~ He wears blue jeans on the treadmill. #thatsmydad

So here’s mine. Happy, Mom?

~Every time he belches (it’s often), he says “IOWA.”

#thatsmydad.

Try it. You’ll feel smarter.

Love,

Dinki. (that’s what he always called me. shhhh.)

~Peace, Love, and Torching!

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Creme Brûlée

Ingredients:

10 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 cups of heavy cream
3 tsp. vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract

Directions:

Whisk egg yolks and sugar.
Add cream, and whisk gently. Be sure not to over mix.
Add vanilla bean extract or paste.
Pour into six 9 oz. ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish, and pour enough hot water into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. The water bath will help the custard to bake evenly.
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Custard is done when knife inserted comes out almost clean.
Eat plain (warm or cold), or cool and sprinkle with 1 T of sugar and broil, or torch it.
You may garnish with berries, mint, or chocolate. Wouldn't a raspberry drizzle be gooood??