Me, Myself and I

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Remember this meal?  From here and here.  It’s an oldie but goodie.  Quick, delicious and complete.   This was dinner on Tuesday night.  Last night got busy and before I knew it, 7:00 rolled around and I was standing in the kitchen with no plan.  But in the fridge I had some chicken pieces left over from Tuesday’s dinner, tomato sauce  and mozzarella leftover from Saturday’s homemade pizzas.

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And there it was,  chicken parmesan.

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While it baked I cut up some zucchini and put it on a sheet pan to roast with the chicken.  It took all of 5 minutes to assemble and 15 minutes to bake.  I threw together a quick salad and dinner was done.

As I ate, I thanked my Saturday and Tuesday self.  They made the unorganized  Thursday self look so pulled together.  It’s really nice when we work as a team.  Now, I’m off to talk to Friday Andra about her blog writing.  She really needs to step up her game.

Better the second time around chicken parmesan

6 pieces of panéed chicken breasts, preferably leftover

6 oz. of fresh mozzarella

2 cups of Tomato sauce

1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread the bottom of a medium-sized baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.  Lay chicken in a single layer over the sauce.  Spread remaining sauce over chicken pieces.  Lay mozzarella slices over the chicken and sauce.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and browned just slightly.

Serve with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan sprinkled over the top.

No food processors were dirtied in the making of this tart

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The tomato tart will replace our usual weekly quiche this summer.  Because tomatoes are so good right now?  Yes. But, also because my family has asked for a break from quiche for a while.  I came home the other night to find them picketing in the driveway  and chanting, “Hear us roar, real men don’t eat quiche, anymore”.  Fine, I’ll make a tart.

Like our current tween set who think they have discovered things like Journey, the Rubik’s cube and Pac-Man, I have made a discovery of my own. I have created a one bowl tart/quiche crust that works even better than the food processor method. Having never been completely successful in turning out a crust with sheets of thin, crispy, buttery, and flaky layers, the solution  came to me as I stood over the sink washing the food processor bowl.  No matter how cool my ingredients were when they started out, the quick spin in the food processor was melting the butter.

Speaking in absolutes is never a good idea.  But, there are a few exceptions, like we can never be too rich, too thin or too close to the end of the GYN table, (scootch, scootch). It took me awhile to figure out  that the crust ingredients can never be too cold.  I’ve watched enough Food Network to know that the thin, buttery layers in a crust are created from the steam that is formed when the cold pieces of butter melt causing the layers of dough to puff up.   Starting with frozen butter, grating it quickly on the big holes of a box grater and mixing by hand was my solution and the result was exactly what I had hoped for.  Can you see the layers?

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It was a hit all around.    Apparently, real men do eat tarts.

P.S.  I can’t take credit for the idea that you can never be too close to the end of the GYN table.   That gem came from my sister!

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Tomato Tart 

1 recipe for Andra’s new and improved crust recipe

1 head of garlic

2 large tomatoes

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

8 oz. of buffalo or fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds

1/4 cup fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450°.  Cut off the narrow end of the head of garlic.  Wrap it in foil and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until fragrant.  Remove from the oven and let it sit in the foil until it is cool enough to handle.  Lower the oven temperature to 400°.

Roll out the dough into a circle about 1/8” thick and place into a 10” tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing it around the corners and removing any overhang.  Place the crust into the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Squeeze the roasted garlic out of it’s papery skin and spread with an offset spatula onto the base of the chilled crust.   Sprinkle with half of the parmesan cheese and then lay tomatoes over the crust so that they are not overlapping.  Lay slices of mozzarella over the tomatoes and then sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tart and bake for 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has started to brown slightly.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Top with fresh basil and serve.

Andra’s New and Improved Crust

1 stick of butter

1 1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 large pinch of salt

6 tablespoons of ice water

Place a stick of butter and a glass of ice water in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Grate the butter into the dry ingredients, sprinkle the iced water into the bowl and then quickly work to combine everything just until it holds together in a ball.  You should still see pieces of butter in the dough. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be refrigerated for two days or frozen for up to two months.

Farewell Tea Party

Last week, we had a farewell tea party for my girls and their New Jersey besties.

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We started with an amuse-bouche of sweet popcorn in condiment bowls and then had cucumber sandwiches and white chocolate fondue.  Next time, no fondue forks.  Those things are sharp and everyone just dips fruit directly into the barely warm chocolate anyway.

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My helper setting the table:

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Every civilized tea party has handwritten place settings.  (If Kate Middleton uses any of the names above, there will be another, much larger consolidated tea party and baby shower.  If Kim Kardashian uses any of them, we’re going to Canada.)

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A great time was had by all.

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– Catherine

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chinese Ketchup and Garlic Soy Broccoli

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Last night I made Ina’s Broccoli with Garlic and Soy Sauce with a  simple rice pilaf and grilled pork tenderloin.  The tenderloin was one of those peppercorn packaged ones, which I shouldn’t admit that I like as much as I do.  They’re so easy and I did make two of the three components for dinner last night from scratch, so I feel no guilt about it.

The broccoli was delicious, but I think next time I’ll roast the broccoli instead of blanching it.  The ratio of garlic and soy were perfect; I’m a little upset this is Ina’s recipe, it seems so obvious that I wish I had come up with it.  I did use less crushed red pepper than the recipe called for and my husband and I just added more at the table.  The adults got hoisin drizzled over our pork; the kids each got little ramekins of “Chinese Ketchup” (hoisin) for dipping.

– Catherine

Corn Chowder

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Last night I made Andra’s Corn Chowder for the first time this year.  Now that corn season has officially started and we can buy it from farmstands by the side of the road, this will replace roast chicken as our new weekly staple.  It is so easy and so good.  Steeping the rosemary is key.  Last night I didn’t use any chicken stock (because the movers come in 18 days and buying any pantry staple items at this point would be crazy) and it was just as good.  I used four ears of fresh white corn.

– Catherine

My Version of Andra’s Corn Chowder

1/2 cup of chopped peppered bacon

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced

2 cups of water

2 cups of milk

1 cup of cream

4-6 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob

Sprig of fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Render the bacon in the bottom of a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sauté the pepper, onion, celery and garlic until softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the potatoes, milk and cream and boil until the potatoes have softened about 8 – 10 minutes.  Add the corn and simmer for 10 minutes.  Blend the soup with an immersion blender to help thicken the soup but not completely puree the soup.  You should still see lots of red pepper and corn.  Turn the soup down to a simmer, drop in the rosemary and let the soup simmer and thicken, about 20 minutes.  Remove the rosemary and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with extra crisped bacon and shredded cheese.  Pass cayenne pepper or hot smoked paprika at the table.

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