Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chicken Piccata

Ive just noticed that I have been posting alot of chicken and spinach recipes variations.  What can I say, I enjoy them both. So here is another.  Although, if it makes me look any better, I do not usually serve this with spinach. However, we needed a veggie so this was my choice. 

Chicken Piccata = classic italian.  Am I Italian? No, but I think this is a worthy enough version to deamed authentic.  Yes,  it is that good  every time. The trick is making your chicken thin. In fact, the cutlet pictured is pushing the limits but it was still delicious.  Over time and by using a variety of techniques, I have found the fastest and cheapest way to get the chicken thin was by slicing whole chicken breasts.  Pre-cut chicken cutlets are waste of money for the amount of chicken. And besides the noise and mess of pounding chicken, it just takes too much time. So, in the idea of butterflying a chicken breast, I just cut the poultry to the desired thickness.  Some may not call this the "professional" way but Im not a chef and this way works for me. 

By the way, if someone mentions to you that they do not like capers, make this dish anyway and urge them to retry.  Most people have just not had them the right way and this recipe will change their mind. Case in point, Mr. F. He used to pick out capers and turned away from dishes with this ingredient.  My answer to his problem was making this recipe.  Capers are not a common ingredient in childhood dishes; thus, at the first opportunity for tasting, they are tried on their own or with some sort of seafood.  At least this is my belief, everyone has their own excuses but I would still give it a try.

If you want to make this dish extra special, try making fresh pasta.  It goes perfectly with the lightness of the poultry, capers, and lemon sauce, mmmmmmm.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hamantaschen


Its Purim time! And what do Jewish people do best but make food reminiscent of biblical stories and symbols. I have to tell you, in my many years at temple sunday-school, I didnt really pay attention to Purim.  I thought of it as a Jewish Halloween with minimal costume choices: Esther, Haman, and whats the other guy?  Anyway, Haman, he's the important one b/c he had the cookie; hence, Hamantaschen.

For my non-jewish friends, if anyone asks you, Haman was bad guy and he had a 3-pointed hat. Thus, his hat has been turned into this cookie. At least, I think I got it right.  As I said before, I didnt really listen in sunday school. Without this cookie, I dont know where I would be.

Now alot of traditionalists probably wouldnt deem my recipe authentic.  I didnt make the dough from scratch.  Again, I cheated and used a boxed cake mix but if you tasted them, you would never have known.  As for the filling, I did go with the usual poppyseed (which also happens to be my favorite), apricot preserves, and chocolate.  Anything can pretty much work for a filling but its the technique that you have to master.

Yes, unfortunately, there is a technique to making perfect shaped Hamantaschen.  The most common problem people have is getting the edges to stick together. Some recipes tell you not to pinch the sides; others say the opposite.  I am a pincher and its b/c the dough isnt cream cheese based  like so many other recipes.  Personally, I reserve that dough for rugellah (which is AMAZING) but I will leave that for another post.  And because I can pinch the sides of this dough, I also think its the reason it can withstand a variety of fillings.

Have fun and go crazy, Haman did (at least I think so)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tarragon Chicken Salad


Everyone needs a good chicken salad recipe and this one is mine.  Traditionally, Im a fan of grapes and pecans but I've learned that a large percentage of people do not like to mix sweet and savory.  Strange I know.  In fact, Mr. F happens to be one of these strange individuals.  So to avoid making myself  a whole bowl of chicken salad and then eating it all myself, I have developed this delicious alternative.

Trust me, you cant go wrong with this one. Its fast, easy and delicious.  For goodness sake, its chicken salad. Who doesnt love chicken salad?

For an even tastier dish, try this chicken salad on toasted baguettes topped with a small slice of melted cheese.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan


In the spirit of having more meatless weeknight dinners, I have been trying to incorporate more hearty vegetables into a main meal.  First up, an eggplant parmesan. While most recipes for this dish call for the eggplant to be fried, I have opted for a baked variation.  Paired with a homemade marinade and a mix of mozzerella and parmesan cheeses, I would have say that the meal was a success.

My only problem: maybe I should have made more for leftovers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meatloaf with BBQ Glaze


Meatloaf, just the name doesnt sound appealing.  Who was the first person to think...hmm, I'm going to take a pound of ground meat, mush in some other ingredients, mold it, then bake it. YUM!!!

Meatloaf was never something that was included in our family dinners and I never ordered it at restaurants.

However, a few years ago, I decided to give it a try and I've been hooked ever since.  I wont tell you that I haven't had my meatloaf blunders.  In fact, I've been through them all: meatloaf that was too wet, too dry, falls apart, bland, the list continues.  Today, I feel that I have conquered the secret to a perfect loaf: carrots.  Now, you will have to trust me on this one but it truly makes a difference.

But through all my trials, the one consistant disappointment was the glaze.  Ketchup just wasnt hitting the spot.  Something needed to be done, and I had just the idea!

A BBQ sauce changed the dish.  With a ketchup base and a few standard additions, the glaze was set.  I have later learned to make extra sauce, due to the request and inhalation by Mr. F.  Of course, you cannot have meatloaf without a green veggie and a side of mac n' cheese.  Can you say comfort food?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake


Ok, I am extremely proud of this cake but this is no ordinary cake.  This cake had to meet several requirements to be labeled a "birthday" cake for my mother.  Requirements? Yes and once you read them, you might understand why I am so proud.
Here they are as follows:
1.  Chocolate.  Not a sprinkle or a dusting or a layer of chocolate, the cake must contain at least 90% chocolate.  The other 10% might include some sort of fruit (apricot or passion fruit) or other additional element.
2.  No premade or boxed ingredients.  While this was technically not stated, it never even occurred to my mother that I could have bought a box of Betty Crocker but she knows and EXPECTS more than that.
3.  Rich and Decadent.  A simple chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting would not go over very well. For those that have never met the mother of Fork1, she is the queen of  the patisserie and I have been lucky enough to particpate in quite a few tastings.  Thus, I had a pretty good idea of her likes and dislikes.
5.  No lowfat ingredients or cutting corners of any kind.  This wasnt just a requirement, it was pounded into my planning as I was told by both brothers the seriousness of such a crime.
6. Soft.  After dental work, no chunks or hard ingredients were allowed.  I didnt know the degree of required softness but I figured I could alter any dish to meet my needs.
 So what kind of dessert would fulfull such high expectations?  My first thought: a mousse.  Easy, rich, chocolately, and my mother loved it.  But was that special enough for a birthday? No.  After researching several sites, and recipes, I came across a recipe labeled "My Kind of Chocolate Birthday Cake". Was this site reading my mind?!?! 2 layers of flourless chocolate hazelnut cake with 2 layers of chocolate mousse, all topped with a chocolate ganache. It was PERFECT...well, almost.

 To meet my needed specifications, a few alterations had to be made.  First, the recipe called for chopped hazelnuts, however, to meet requirement 6, I had to grind them.  Overall, they gave the cake a smoother consistency.  Next, while grated orange peel was incorporated into the cake layers, the peel usually doesnt go over very well in my family and it was well...orange, not apricot or passion fruit.  This was easily remedied by adding apricot preserves to the second layer of cake. Now,  it was perfect and I had only 5 1/2 hrs in which to make it.

In the end, it took me all day to make and it took my family only 10 min to inhale.  Did my mom enjoy it?  Well,  after 2 pieces and an empty plate, I would say so.





Monday, February 15, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke White Pizza




If you are like us, a pizza night is reserved for one evening on the weekend.  Of course, there are the usual toppings of pepperoni and cheese or onions, mushrooms,you name it.  We have even tried a BBQ pork pizza...let's just say that was NOT my favorite but we have since made vast improvement in our topping choices. So going on the spinach or vegetarian pizza theme, a white pizza variant was on the horizon.

Let's be honest, a pizza is not hard to make.  However, having the right ingredients and a pizza stone are a must! 

You may be thinking, what is a white pizza?  Some may deem it to be cheese and topping.  I however, love a base sauce; therefore, I created a garlic white pizza sauce.  Topped with mozzarella, spinach, and artichokes, the white sauce makes the pizza simply awesome!  Now for the honesty, I do not make my own pizza dough.  Not because I am lazy or do not know how, but my local grocer sells the best, fresh pizza dough every day...thus, I have no need to make it myself.  It comes out perfect everytime.  

Now all this pizza talk had made me hungry.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spinach, Mushroom, and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche



Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner, a quiche can satisfy your taste buds at any point during the day.  So light and versatile, it can be paired with a salad for a perfect meal.  I have used the same master quiche recipe for years, adding everything under the sun to it (bacon, ham, onions, broccoli, zucchini, goat cheese, etc.)  But tonight I decided to add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms. And let's be honest, I love to cook but after  day at work, Im not making a homemade pie shell. Therefore, I use frozen. However if you do have the energy, go for it!

You may think, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms? Let me put it this way, according to Mr. F,  "it's the best quiche you have ever made".  That has sealed the deal for future reproductions of this particular recipe. But whatever your add-in cravings are, have fun and experiment.

Favorite Tomato Bisque

People usually have a love/hate relationship with tomato soup.  For the most part, an individuals only experience with it is through our childhood favorite brand, Campbells.  While it still can hit the spot during that rainy day in February every other leap year, the condensed can of tomato flavored red stuff just doesnt do it for me anymore. Up until this recipe, I found the best Tomato Bisque at The Loop.  For those unfamiliar with their bisque, I now compare all others to this standard of tastiness.

But Im not here to rave about another soup recipe, Im here to tell you that I found it...EUREKA...the perfect recipe !  I have found the secret ingredient! A Tomato Bisque that hits the spot in all the right places. To top it off, this recipe is easy and fast to make.  In fact, so many people request it, that I just had to post it here for you. 

Hmmm, secret ingredient you say.  Well, are you ready...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies



Do I even need to ask if you love red velvet? 
There is just something unexplainable about this colorful cake of deliciousness that makes you go mmmmmmm. So you can naturally guess what happened when Fork2 and I found the original cookie recipe from Bakerella. Our only problem was with the cream center, which was a cream cheese frosting.  Now, while we do enjoy cream cheese frosting, its usually very sweet, WAY too sweet for our taste buds.  But, before we get into how we altered the cream center, let us give the secret to forming perfectly sized cookies every time.  wait for it...wait for it.... it's a melon baller!  A 1.5 inch melon baller to be exact. Just make sure you scoop an even number of cookies or else who will be missing the other half of this delectable sandwich.
Please note, these are red velvet cookies, not whoopie pies so a little flatter and crispier than a cake.  These cookies are so easy to make, we almost feel like we've cheated.  You'll see why in the recipe.
So now that the cookie part is covered, how did we find the perfect variation on a cream cheese frosting that would pair with the red velvet?  First thought: cut down on the amount of sugar. Done. Easy.  Secondly, we found that the cream cheese was now soo overpowering that the center wasn't so much of a "fluff" as a paste.  This would not do. Solution: Marshmallow fluff.
Now do we have your attention???  Enough talking, bet you are ready for the recipe.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps



In the mood for healthy & fast dinner, I chose this asian chicken dish. I however, added the Bibb lettuce for wrapping and shredded carrot garnishment. One word: Delicious!
Given I like food spicy, I though the chicken contained the perfect amount of cayenne pepper .Next time, in addition to the carrots, I would add cellophane noodles and a little chili oil. One herb I wholeheartedly dislike is CILANTRO...ugh!!!
It overpowers everything, so I left it out and we never missed it.
Overall: super simple and super yummy. Yummy, is that a true culinary term?


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cake Doughnuts



Being accident prone, I dot not trust myself to use a pot of bubbling oil. I am simply not ready for that journey to tempt fate, maybe with the help of Fork2. But not today... no, these confections of cake-deliciousness are baked. Baked to pure perfection with the help of a handy-dandy doughnut baking tin. Similar to a muffin-tin, these can be found at most baking stores.
Covered while still warm in a cinnamon-sugar mixture, these puppies are even better the next morning, served with a cup of coffee. Not as heavy or greasy as a regular doughnut, this recipe is similar to a breakfast muffin. Mmmmmmm doughnuts....


BLT Pasta Salad




To be honest, I am super picky about pasta salads and Fork2 is an even pickier eater! I can count more pasta salads that I don't like over those that I do. This would fall on the "do" list. I've adapted this recipe, altering some of the ingredients on the dressing.
Extremely easy to make and even easier to alter should you want to change the ingredients around. For instance, Mr. F doesnt like tomatoes but love loves red bell pepper. I hate red bell pepper and really like tomatoes and since I made the salad... you can guess the rest. Hence the name "BLT", the salad consists of bacon, green onion (the "L" for all intents and purposes), and tomatoes:


Brown Sugar Cookies



While I'm usually not impressed by sugar cookies and find them plain, boring, and well just "vanilla", I have to say this recipe for Brown Sugar cookies has me craving more. The yummy toasted butter flavor leaves these melting in your mouth.
However, this test run was not without its problems to say the least. I followed the initial recipe to the tee; yet, looking back, I think I know where I strayed.
I have forgotten one of the cardinal rules of baking: fresh ingredients! To be more specific, my baking powder was a few months past its expiration. I wasnt about to run to the store for just one ingredient; yet, it turned out to be my ultimate downfall. All the amazing flavors were there but the cookies were flat, really flat. More or less, I would call these lace cookies.
While a little time consuming, I am not about to re-make these today but perhaps in the near future. You have to try these!


A Blog is Born!

Fork 1 and Fork 2 here... Ready to share and discuss our adventures in cooking. Some maybe fantastic and others, well...leave something to be desired.
So you may ask... whats with the title of your blog? Well, after much thought and contemplation, Fork 2 and I were stumped in the creativity department. We went to the next logical place, Mr. F's 1&2. Lets just say the current title is the "tamest" out of all the suggestions. Now, we are off and running.
Enjoy!
 
back to top