Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Update on Sustainability post...

After much thought, Michael and I purchased a half share with our local CSA.  I'm up for the culinary challenge.  Stay tuned in June for weekly creations. It'll be like Iron Chef in my kitchen...only with multiple secret, unknown ingredients.  And no competitors.  Ok, it won't be like Iron Chef at all, but Michael will still bite into a green pepper and reveal our basket full of surprises.

Oh, and the half share comes with eggs.  So key.

Monday, March 22, 2010

RECIPE: Light Eggplant Parmesan

The other night I was in the mood for Eggplant Parmesan AND Chicken Parmesan.

As a compromise, I made Parmesan crusted chicken cutlets with a light eggplant side.  The doc has ordered that I cut my carb intake so here's a carb conscious way to enjoy some Italian comfort food.  I broil the eggplant instead of breading it and use no sugar added tomato sauce (which tastes better anyway). The eggplant dish is inspired from a recipe I read in Bon Apetit a while back, but I simplified it to cut it down to 2-3 servings and ingredients that are on hand.  Also, allow yourself about an hour of prep time because removing the moisture from the eggplant takes some waiting.  Who said you can't have your eggplant and your chicken too?

Light Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 2-3 with leftovers (bump it up with 2 eggplants)

1 large purple eggplant, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 jar no sugar added tomato sauce (Colivata makes a good one so does Whole Foods)
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into coins
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 15 oz container of part skim Ricotta
1 egg, beaten
1/2 package frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
8 or so basil leaves

The Eggplant

Salt the eggplant slices with course salt and line a colander with the slices, layering them as you go.  Be careful not to over salt.  Allow to drain for 30-60 minutes.  Rub excess salt off/dry with paper towel.

Adjust the oven rack to the top position and preheat the broiler.  Brush both sides of each slice of eggplant with olive oil or spray with olive oil spray, and lay flat on a baking sheet.  Broil each side, about 4 minutes each side.  Set aside and cool.  Keep oven on, but heat to 350 degrees.

The Filling

In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg, 3/4 of the Ricotta cheese in the container, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and the spinach.


In a small casserole dish, spray with olive oil spray and spread half of the sauce on the bottom.  Take one slice of eggplant and place a spoonful of filling in the middle.  Roll width wise (short side in) and place seam side down in the dish.  Repeat and line side by side in the casserole dish.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the rolled eggplants.  On each roll, place a basil lead and a mozzarella coin.  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  (below, right before the oven)

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until the cheese is bubbly and brown.  Pair with the chicken recipe below.  Or don't.  It's your world, I just cook in it!

RECIPE: Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Serves 3-4

1/2 cup flour mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper  
1 egg beaten
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the can. I take shredded parm and grate in a small food processor)
2-3 chicken breasts sliced into cutlets (See note)
Olive oil

Coat each cutlet with flour mixture (in a shallow dish or put flour mixture in a plastic bag to evenly coat) shake well to take off excess flour, dip in the egg, then coat both sides with the grated Parmesan until well covered.

Cook both sides of cutlet in hot olive oil until cooked through.   I use a non-stick for this one.  Outside should become golden with some brown edges. These cutlets should be thin...so cooking time isn't that long.  165 degrees on the meat thermometer for chicken.

Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt if desired.

The crust is so very crispy and cheesy.  I don't like breaded cutlets because they are often greasy and soggy...but these come out perfect each time. This chicken goes great with just about anything.   I pair it with steamed veggies.  Or sometimes over pasta with fresh parsley and a flavored olive oil.  You can even make it the base for a quick chicken parm...after draining just melt some cheese over it in the oven and serve it with some pasta and marinara.  Sometimes I put it on a bun for a "fried" chicken sandwich.  You can also change up the flour mixture to flavor it up a little more.  Or..instead of chicken, I've used tilapia fillets.  They work great too.  Go with it.
Note: Start with the chicken breast flat on a cutting board, slice parallel to the board carefully through the thickest section and open like a book. This should create two halves.  Separate) Or you can pound them thin.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

RECIPE: Olive a Whiskey Old Fashioned

I stumbled upon this Midwestern gem in the hotel bar inside the Radisson in LaCrosse, WI so I can only take credit for my cute name for this cocktail.  Michael has always been a huge fan of the Old Fashioned, and according to him and every other Wisconsinite I met on my trip out there, you can’t find a decent Old Fashioned anywhere on either coast.  Well then.  Today I do not bring you cheese, or beer, or cured meats from the fly-over state (is that offensive?)…I bring you the Whiskey Old Fashioned with a little something special.

Olive a Whiskey Old Fashioned

1.5-2oz of Seagrams Seven Whiskey
1 sugar packet (or cube, or eyeball a little more than a teaspoon and a half)
1 small orange slice (the equivalent to about a 1/16 of a large orange)
3-4 dashes of bitters
1 maraschino cherry
Splash of soda water
Splash of Squirt lemon lime (soooo Midwestern)
2 olives for garnish

In an empty rocks glass add orange slice, sugar and cherry.  Add 3-4 dashes of bitters.  Splash in a bit of soda water to activate the bitters.  Muddle well.  Fill with booze, ice and top off with a little Squirt.  Garnish with 2 olive.

An olive you ask?  It equalizes the bitters and the sweetness I was told.  And they were absolutely right.  Cheers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Restaurants "Unleashed" Week

Here's a second chance at Restaurant Week.  RAMW (Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington) has released a list of restaurants participating in effort to make up for lost business due to the Snowtorious 2010.  Sorry I'm getting this to you late, but you still have some time, and these look like some good deals: