January 2013

mustard chicken milanesa

Pound anything thin, coat it in bread crumbs and then pan fry it, and it’s sure to be pretty good. This chicken milanesa is better than good. Mustard, garlic, herbs and lemon zest are mixed in with the egg wash to really transform the flavor of the chicken. Instead of a being a one note dish—that one note being the glorious taste of fried food—this dish has nice depth. And as a bonus, that added depth doesn’t make it any more difficult to prepare.

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One year ago:  Tabbouleh Salad with Chicken Shish Kebab
Two years ago: Jordan’s Review of Bar Tartine & More Brownies

Mustard Chicken Milanesa, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
2 – 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you could also use chicken breast, but we’re thigh people)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons smooth dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 lemon, zested
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for frying (we use safflower)

With a sharp knife, trim any dangling bits off the chicken thighs. The chicken thighs I used had little chicken bits hanging off which I cut off, seasoned and also battered and fried turning them into real life chicken nuggets. If you’re using chicken breasts, butterfly your chicken breasts and slice them all the way through so you have two thin slices per breast.

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With a meat pounder or a rolling pin, pound the chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the flour on one plate and the bread crumbs on another. In a small bowl, mix the egg, mustard, garlic, herbs and lemon zest. Dredge each piece of chicken lightly in flour, then heavily in the egg mixture, then generously in the bread crumbs. Place them on the baking sheet in a single layer and cover them in plastic wrap.

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Refrigerate for an hour or up to a day. The refrigeration prevents the coating from coming off when you fry it and it totally works. I thank Deb for this incredibly helpful and effective tip.

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Preheat your oven to warm. Pour 1/2″ of oil in a fry pan. Heat it over medium high heat. Cook the chicken, about 3 – 4 minutes on the first side and 2 – 3 minutes on the second side. The little chicken nuggets will cook even faster – about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and let drain briefly on paper towels. Place in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining chicken. Serve warm with lemon wedges, plus something green for good measure.

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-Emily

heavenly cheesy buns

I’ll just put this out there up front, you should probably make these cheesy buns this weekend. Eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or for all three!)—you won’t be disappointed.  Imagine the puffy dough of a perfect cinnamon roll and then swap the sweet cinnamon filling for sharp cheddar cheese and onion. Yep, pretty much perfect. And, I’ve even got a secret to share so you can have them for brunch without even waking up at an ungodly hour.

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One year ago: Best Chocolate Pudding
Two years ago: Ad Hoc at Home Brownies 

Sharp Cheddar Cheesy Buns, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
For the dough
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (or one 7 g packet) of instant yeast
1 cup milk (if you want the dough to rise easier, warm the milk to about 100 degrees)
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to lukewarm

For the filling 
1/2 cup grated white onion (about half an onion)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (you could substitute swiss, provolone, mozzarella or use a mixture)
2 teaspoons fresh dill, minced (you could also use 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme or rosemary)
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper

First make the dough. You can make the dough the night before you plan to serve the rolls for convenience’s sake, but you can also make it the day of if you plan to serve them for dinner. They take about 5 hours in total, but most of that is rising time.

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Combine the flour, salt, pepper and sugar in a large bowl, preferably the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. In a medium bowl, whisk the yeast in the milk until it dissolves. Add the melted butter into the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and mix them together with the paddle attachment or a wooden spoon until a shaggy ball forms.

Switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on low speed for about five minutes, until the dough is smooth and a slightly sticky ball has formed. You can also do this by hand on a lightly floured counter.

Place the dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in your off oven and let it rise until doubled, about two hours. I find that my house is too cold for yeasted bread doughs to rise well without putting them in my oven with my pilot light to keep them warm. If it is warm in your house, you can just leave the dough on the counter and appreciate your insulation.

While the dough is rising, make the filling. Combine grated onion, cheese, dill, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Line the bottom of a 9″x 13″ baking dish or two 9″ round baking pans with parchment paper.

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After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll it into a 12″ x 16″ rectangle. With the long edge facing you, spread the filling in an even layer, leaving a 1/2″ margin on the far edge. Roll the dough tightly and seal the far end. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half, then cut each half into thirds, then cut each third in half. You should have 12 rolls. Space them evenly in the baking dish, leaving room around each roll for it to expand.

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Let the rolls rise in an off oven for another two hours, until doubled again. Alternately, you can cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to cook the next day.

One hour before you want to serve the rolls, remove them from the fridge. Place them in an off oven. Fill a dish below the rolls with boiling water. Let them rise for 30 minutes, until puffy. Remove the rolls from the oven.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Brush the tops of the rolls with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and bubble. Serve immediately. Don’t worry, they won’t last long.

-Emily

granola-coated nuts

I made these nuts as a topping for ice cream, but they would be pretty good topping just about anything. Crunchy, toasty and slightly sweet with just a hint of salt—they incapsulate all of the best parts of granola. Go get yourself some nuts and whip these up. You won’t regret it.

1.17.13-8

One year ago: To Cook a Crab
Two years ago: Sage Grilled Cheese

Granola-Coated Walnuts and Pecans, from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup pepitas, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a few pinches of kosher or sea salt
1 egg white
2 teaspoons water
4 cups walnuts and/or pecans (I did a combo)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with tinfoil.

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In a food processor, process oats, coconut, pepitas, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until well chopped. Don’t overprocess though; it shouldn’t be powdery.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg white and water together. Toss the nuts in the egg white mixture. Pour the granola mixture into the bowl of nuts. Use your hands to gently stir to coat all of the nuts.

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Pour onto the baking sheets and spread into a single layer. No need to separate the nuts apart – you can do that after baking. Pour any granola mixture that didn’t adhere to the nuts over the top of them.  Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, tossing once while cooking, until the nuts are nice and toasty. Let cool and then break larger chunks apart.

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Top your ice cream with them, or your yogurt, or your oatmeal or just eat them plain—these are pretty much irresistible, hence the double batch.

-Emily

meatloaf

Posted on January 8, 2013

Both Jordan and I were craving meatloaf last week. It had been years since we’d had it, I’d never made it, and so we decided to give it a go. For this meatloaf, we used an Italian meatball sandwich recipe as our inspiration. It was topped with a simple tomato sauce, instead of the more traditional American loaf topped with ketchup. We liked it, but you could easily swap the marinara for a combo of ketchup, sugar and worcestershire sauce. Because this recipe makes a two-pound loaf, we recommend you share it with friends.

12.18.12-8

One Year Ago: Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Two Years Ago: Ricotta Gnocchi

Meatloaf, adapted from Tartine Bread

For the meatloaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
a few tablespoons of assorted fresh herbs (I used mostly parsley with a bit of thyme and oregano thrown in)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil over low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat.

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In a large bowl, mix onion and garlic mixture with the ground beef, pork, eggs, milk, cheese, wine, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, red pepper flake and herbs. Mix well so all the ingredients are evenly distributed. At this point, I like to pinch off a bit of the meat and fry it up quickly in a pan to test for seasoning. If you need more salt after testing, add a bit more.

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Press the meat mixture into a loaf pan or shape into a loaf form and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees. You could also use the same mixture to make meatballs. Shape them into 1.5-inch balls and then bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could simmer the meatballs in a tomato sauce for 30 minutes. I’d serve them with pasta or rice.

For the tomato sauce
1 – 16 oz can of whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste

While the meat is cooking, you can make a quick tomato sauce to go with it. I basically just tossed all the ingredients into a sauce pan, let it simmer for 30 minutes partially-covered and then pureed it. When you take the meat from the oven, let it rest for five minutes then cut into 1/2″ slices. Spoon the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and enjoy!

Jordan suggested that for our next meatloaf we cook it on a baking sheet and pour the tomato sauce over it before baking so the sauce cooks into the meat and caramelizes along with it. Sounds promising. We’ll report back.

-Emily

french onion soup

Posted on January 4, 2013

A while back, we made Julia Child’s french onion soup. It was delicious, but a serious undertaking. First you make a beef stock, then you caramelize onions for a few hours, and then you make the soup. This recipe is less time intensive and uses homemade chicken stock instead of beef, which I usually have on hand. (Whole roasted chickens make up a rather large portion of our meat consumption and their little frozen carcases become stock about once a month). This soup turned out beautifully and while I don’t know if it is better than Julia’s, it’s certainly just as good.

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One Year Ago: Mock Porchetta
Two Years Ago: Nonnie’s Carrot Cake

French Onion Soup, from Tartine Bread
6 large yellow onions, cut into slices
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon duck fat (use another tablespoon of butter if you don’t have duck fat)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups rich chicken stock
4 slices day old bread
5 oz gruyère cheese, grated

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Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Combine onions, cream, butter, duck fat and salt in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat so that the onions and cream are at a slow boil. Spread the onions over the bottom of the pot and cook, without stirring, until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir the onions and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze. Continue cooking the onions without stirring for another 10 minutes, until they brown again. Add another 1/2 cup of wine and scrape the bottom. Repeat this process two more times, until the soup takes on a deep caramel color.

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While you’re caramelizing the onions, toast the bread. Spread the bread in an even layer on a baking sheet and toast until dry and brittle. About 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the broth is well flavored by the onions, about 15 minutes. Season with more salt if needed.

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Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls, float a piece or two of toasted bread on each serving and top with the grated gruyere cheese. Put the bowls on a baking sheet and carefully put the sheet into the oven. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and caramelized, about 20 – 30 minutes.

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This soup is delicious—simple and satisfying. I wholeheartedly recommend you bake the soup for 20 minutes with the cheesy crouton on top, instead of just topping the soup with a piece of cheesy bread. Something magical happens when you bake the soup and bread together for a while, you don’t want to miss out on it.

-Emily