Friday, October 31, 2014

Creamy Deluxe Lemony Chicken Piccata with Easy Steamed Baby Potatoes


Chicken piccata is one of my absolute favorite take-away dishes to order when we want a lazy night in. My only qualm was that I always felt like I needed more texture and definitely more lemony zing to the sauce rather than the usual buttery, drippy stuff. So, I decided to play around with adding some special ingredients like shallot and mushroom and then turning up the lemon power by adding lemon zest and lots of lemon juice! I also liked the idea of the sauce being a bit creamier and a couple dolups of buttermilk stirred in at the last minute was perfect. 

A was also surprised by how relatively easy it was to make as it was my first time ever. I would suggest getting all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before starting so that the process is a breeze.

Ingredients: 

4 chicken boneless free-range chicken breast
Salt pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter

5 mushrooms sliced
1 shallot minced
1 cup chicken stalk
1/2 cup lemon juice (about two lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon 
2 tbs capers
1/3 cup light buttermilk or light sour cream
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

2 lbs baby potatoes washed 
Seasoning salt

Preheat your oven to low, it will be needed later to keep the chicken warm. For the potatoes, in a medium pot bring to boil 1 inch of water that's been seasoned with a generous amount of seasoning salt. Place the potatoes in the pot and cover. Set a timer for 25 minutes and turn off heat when timer is up but don't left the lid!
Meanwhile, pound out each chicken breast using a rolling pin. Sprinkle salt and pepper over each side of the tenderised chicken breasts then dredge each side with the flour. In a large frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil on high. When butter is fully melted, lay 2 of the floured breasts into the hot pan. Let fry for about 3 minutes then flip and repeat. When both sides are golden brown, remove from pan and set in a foil lined baking dish. Repeat this with the next 2 chicken breasts. Place all cooked chicken breasts into the warm oven, uncovered, while you make the sauce.

 Using the same unwashed large frying pan the chicken was fried in, add the mushrooms and shallots and sauté on high for 2 minutes or till soft. Pour in the chicken stalk and lemon juice and stir. Now add the capers, lemon zest and buttermilk or sour cream. Stir constantly for 3 minutes then turn off heat. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and serve each breast and steamed potatoes with the sauce ladled over the top. Garnish with the chopped parsley and voila! 



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spiced Pumpkin tiramisu

I was never really a huge fan of tiramisu till recently when traveling through Italy and it was literally everywhere you looked. I even had a superb tiramisu from a roadside gas station! Needless to say, I became an addict. It's a perfect pick-me-up dessert and involves zero baking! Just slap it together and put it in the refrigerator. There's also no pressure to make it look perfect which is relaxing.

My version is great for this time of year. It involves pumpkin which is all the rage for the autumn season. And then there's the accompanying pumpkin spices that'll make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. If you aren't keen on either of these ingredients you can amend them and have yourself a classic tiramisu which will still be spectacular. Now, get your mixing bowls out and get ready to party!

{{ this dessert isn't recommended for children or pregnant women. Also, I recommend using fresh organic eggs for this recipe but if you are still uncomfortable using raw eggs you can substitute with another cup of whipping cream or pasteurised egg whites from the carton though the result will not be as creamy and thick }}

Serves 12

Ingredients:

4 eggs, separated, yolks in one large bowl, whites in another large bowl
3/5 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup rum (I used captain Morgan)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
3 Tbs instant coffee mixed with 1 cup hot water
2 packages of lady fingers or sponge fingers (approx. 60 fingers)
3 Tbs instant coffee for dusting
1 dark chocolate bar grated finely 
First, with an electric hand beater, beat egg yolks and sugar together. Fold in mascarpone, rum, pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice then beat all together till well mixed. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form then fold into the pumpkin mascarpone mixture. Rinse egg white bowl out and use to whip the whipping cream into stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into the pumpkin mascarpone mixture and stir till well mixed then place into refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 
When mixture is nice and chilled, remove from refrigerator and prepare for layering the tiramisu. In a deep 13x9 inch ungreased cake pan, place lady fingers into a single layer on the bottom. Using a spoon, splash half the prepared instant coffee evenly over the lady fingers.
Now spread half the chilled pumpkin mascarpone mixture evenly over coffee soaked lady fingers. Repeat this layering once more then dust the top with instant coffee powder then with the grated dark chocolate and you are finished! 
It's best to keep your tiramisu refrigerated for at least 2 hours so that the flavors have a chance to come together. Trust me it's worth the wait! Enjoy! 

Phylicia J.J. 







Sunday, October 12, 2014

Italian Medicine: Roast Chicken, vegetable and tortellini soup

This may be the easiest soup recipe I've ever posted. And thank goodness because it's perfect for those down and out sicky times when you can barely lift a finger to do even most average task. Plus, it's chock full of healthy ingredients that will help you get back in order. Did you know there is actual scientific evidence as to why chicken soup fights off a nasty flu or cold?! Read this article for the geeky details: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117888

Now, back to this recipe. I thought I'd add something a little different to the usual chicken soup blah and being half Italian AND just having been back from a 6 week Italian road trip, I was inspired to go down the, well, Italian route. The best part is, everything I put in this soup can be bought pre-made at any grocery store and all you have to do is throw the ingredients in a slow cooker on high or a big soup pot on the stove on medium. Also, you don't have to be sniffling or coughing to enjoy this soup. It's a delight for anyone at any time!

Ingredients:

2 cans chopped tomato with garlic and herbs added
3 chicken stock pots dissolved in 5 cups hot water
3 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken from deli counter
2 celery stalks sliced
2 medium carrots sliced
1  cups okra sliced
1/2 large zucchini sliced and quartered 

1 package refrigerated tortellinis (flavor of your choice)

Add the first 5 ingredients to your heated slow cooker or pot and stir till well mixed to make the broth. Now pull apart the rotisserie chicken into large chunks discarding the skin and carcass but keeping the leg bones. Place chicken pieces and leg bones into the broth. Stir in all the vegetables. Let stew for a good 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Now add the tortellinis and let cook for 5 minutes. If you plan on having leftovers, boil the tortellinis separately and add a few to each bowl as needed. Enjoy!