Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chicken Fingers for Adults

 Panko Chicken Fingers with Hoisin Sauce

When we last visited our grandkids, they were served chicken fingers in case they didn't like the meal which was corned beef.  Two out of three chose the chicken fingers.

Have to admit I was a little bit jealous of the simplicity of their meal.   They got to eat with their fingers and have fun dipping them in the ketchup.

So, while Tom was traveling this week, I made some for myself.  A grown up version.
Panko crumbs make them extra crispy on the outside and the buttermilk egg batter make them moist on the inside.

They are really good!

Chicken Fingers

1.5 lbs chicken tenders
1 egg
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper
Panko bread crumbs -- about 1 1/2 cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add a non-stick cooling rack to a baking sheet.
Mix together the egg, buttermilk, and Dijon mustard.
Add a little salt and pepper.
Lightly salt the chicken tenders --- dip them, then coat them in the panko crumbs.
Place them on the non-stick rack.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
Until well browned.
Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.  I chose hoisin sauce, which I thinned with a little water and heated up in the microwave.  You could use ketchup, BBQ sauce or make a honey Dijon sauce.

They freeze and reheat well.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maple Syrup the Old-fashioned Way

After a long snowy winter, the temperature has been fluctuating enough for the sap in the maple trees to start to run and it is time to make maple syrup.  

This weekend is Maple Weekend for the NYS growers.  Here's a link to their map if you want to visit a sugar shack:

One of my most popular blog posts has been: Why is Real Maple Syrup so Expensive?  

The answer is due to the cost of collecting and boiling down the sap into syrup.  

It takes about 60 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!

I have a very old New York State teachers guide --- that's where I found this photo --  it was published in 1904  --- and it talks about the "old days"  --- before they had modern buckets.  They used to use wooden buckets. 

Galvanized metal buckets were new technology in 1904!

Maple Syrup Pipeline
I wonder what they would think 110 years later about the plastic tubing that runs from the trees directly to the maple house.  


Monday, March 24, 2014

Veal Marsala

Veal Marsala
We are seeing veal in the grocery store this time of year, so on Sunday,  I made Veal Marsala for Tom, as a treat, before he left town to see his parents.  I've made veal marsala over the years.  I don't really have a recipe, but I'll show you how I do it.
The main flavoring agent is Marsala wine.  It is a specific flavor ---kind of like a port wine--- and not expensive to buy.  There are two versions:  dry and sweet.  Either works well.

It is a beautiful gold color, and when combined with the brown bits from pan-frying the veal, you get a beautiful rich sauce.  

Veal Marsala

thinly sliced veal (or chicken)
a tub of mushrooms -- the older the better, for flavor
Marsala wine --- about a cup
butter --  1 to 2 T.
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Place a plate in it to warm up.  This is key.  You will need to keep the meat warm while you cook the mushrooms and make the sauce.
Get all of your ingredients out.  You will need to move quickly and be organized.  If you are making vegetables or rice or pasta to go with it, then get them going , i.e., cook them simultaneously so everything arrives at the table at the same time and hot.  I usually make French green beans because I know they take about 12 minutes to cook and I can stretch them to 15 minutes if needed by lowering the heat.
Importantly, pat the meat dry on both sides.   Place some flour on a sheet of wax paper or wide plate, like a pie plate.  Season the meat and the flour with a little salt and pepper.  Not too much.
In a large fry pan,  add olive oil and a little butter until very hot.
Dredge the meat in flour and shake off the excess and then place in the hot pan.  Do the dredging just before you place it in the pan or I think your coating will be gummy, if you don't.

Don't overcrowd the meat.  Do it in batches -- 2 or 3 at a time.
Do them in batches and place in warm oven.  Only takes about a minute per side.
Do you second batch.  Don't overcook but be sure to get them browned.  Otherwise they will taste like raw flour.
Then, add a cup of Marsala to the pan -- avoid catching the alcohol on fire as you do -- you can shut off the flame underneath or remove the pan from the stove while you add the Marsala
and scrape up all of the brown bits from pan-frying the meat.
Add the mushrooms, and season with salt -- just a little
then cook down for about 5-10 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and the sauce turns glossy.
You can add a little more butter if you want.   Remove the meat from the oven, and add your veggie to each plate.
Then pour the sauce over the meat. 

If you aren't a veal fan, then you can use chicken instead. Place small slices of chicken breast between sheets of wax paper and pound them uber thin.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Golden Raisin Cinnamon Pecan Bread

Golden Raisin Cinnamon Pecan Bread  
--coming out of the oven

If you have been following the blog, you know that I have been making no-knead bread regularly and have been trying different combinations. Some with more success than others.

This one takes a little more skill than the basic no-knead bread but is well worth the effort.

You just need to be gentle with the dough --- and don't add too much flour to it when it feels like it is out of control ---or the bread will be tough.

Golden Raisin Cinnamon Pecan Bread
(from Jim Lahey No-Knead My Bread cookbook)

400 grams (3 cups) bread flour
1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
pinch freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups cool water (55 - 65 degrees)

Measure out all of the dry ingredients in to a medium mixing bowl.
Stir them together until everything is evenly mixed.
Measure out 1 1/2 cups of water at 55 to 65 degrees.
Add the water to  the dry ingredients and mix.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for 12 - 18 hours.  (overnight)
Scoop out the dough onto a floured surface.
Gently pull all of the corners together until you form a ball then turn it over.  Add a little flour if needed but not too much.
In a clean tea towel, generously flour it (and use cornmeal if you wish) to keep the dough from sticking to the cloth.  Then place the dough ball in the center of the floured towel and loosely cover it.
Let the dough rise until it has doubled --- about 1 - 2 hours.  You can test it to see if it is ready by poking it with your fingernail.  If it leaves a dent then it is ready.  If it bounces back, let it continue to rise.
Half an hour before the end of the rise, place your clean double oven with the lid in the center of the oven and turn it on to 475 degrees.  Then pull it out and carefully place the dough in the pot.  Cover it and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Uncover it and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until it is chestnut brown.
Remove it from the oven and the pot and let it cool completely on a rack.
Here's how it will look when you slice into it.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Success! How to keep your cakes from sticking by Jeanne

Jeanne is celebrating her success --- she found a formula to keep her cakes from sticking to the pans:

I baked a cake tonight and it didn’t stick!  Yahoo…I’ve been playing around with this homemade cake release….I started with making only ¼ of the recipe

 Homemade Cake Release
·      1 cup flour
·      1 cup shortening
·      1 cup oil (I used canola)

1.   Place all ingredients in medium bowl and whisk well by hand. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
2.   Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
3.   When ready to use:
4.   Dip a pastry brush into mixture and spread over bottom and sides of cake pan


Friday, March 14, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pretzel Treats

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pretzel Treats

These treats are fun to make!  The hardest part is unwrapping all of the Rolos.  They taste like turtles.

Rolo Treats

toasted whole pecans
parchment paper for the baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unwrap all of the Rolos.  And count how many you have in total.
Toast enough whole halves of pecans to match the number of rolos.  Let cool.
Line up enough pretzels to match the number of Rolos you still have left after being unable to resist a few.
Place them in the center of the pretzels.
Bake in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes or just until you see the Rolos start to melt.

Remove them from the oven and then place the pecan halves on top and press down on each pecan.  We learned you have to press in the center.
Don't use the bottom side of the pecan, like above.  Use the pretty side.

Let them cool.

Bet you can't eat just one!