Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm a Master Baker

Well... maybe not just quite yet, but sometimes I think that perhaps I should consider a pastry career. Although I'm not a big fan of sweets (I'd much rather have a steak than a cupcake), I've found that I rather enjoy making desserts and have a fairly decent knack for them. The pastry world appears much more precise and not as rushed as the savory, both of which appeal to certain parts of my personality. I also feel as if I'm working on an art project much more than actually making food while preparing desserts. (Side note: I someday want to have a room in my home dedicated to arts and crafts.)


This post showcases a classic genoise cake that I made back in Level 2 at the FCI. I believe the word my chef instructor used to describe it was "elegant," and I think I must agree. The cake is moistened with coffee extract, frosted with a hazelnut flavored French buttercream, covered on the sides with crushed almonds and cake crumbs, and dusted with cocoa powder. (Ignore the plastic wrap and aluminum foil - it was eleven-something at night and my brain wasn't at full capacity when I took this picture.)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets


It must be some remnant of my inner child breaking through the facade of my so-called "adulthood," but I can't resist a good chicken nugget. This fried, salty, meaty morsel of flavor in a bite-sized package is what dreams are made of. I try to limit my indulgences, but unfortunately I moved to an apartment with a McDonald's only a block away... This means there are often late night stops at the golden arches on my way home after a late night out on the town (you know what I'm talking about). Admittedly I'm not ashamed to let someone else make my food for me, but the great thing about chicken nuggets is that they are simple to make on your own too! Plus there will be no doubt about exactly what part of the chicken you're eating or if any preservatives have been added - everything also just tastes better when you make it from scratch.

Ingredients:
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into nugget sized pieces
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • plain breadcrumbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • oil for frying

Procedure:
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Combine equal parts bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dredge the chicken in the Parmesan/breadcrumb mixture and pan-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve. (I'm a big fan of ranch dressing for a dipping sauce in case you want a suggestion.)

























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Monday, January 16, 2012

Fried Chicken and Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese


a.k.a. gluttony in a bowl with the addition of broccoli to make you feel not so bad.

This meal is the result of combining thinking outside the box (creativity/ingenuity) with using what's inside the box (hello refrigerator). This way of thinking and cooking can sometimes lead to very delicious occurrences. 

Like any other normal human being, I sometimes buy a family-sized order of fried chicken to take home and eat off of for a couple of days (that is normal, right?). However, by the time I get to the last couple of pieces then I'm usually chickened out and in need of something different to fill my ever-hungry belly. I've written before about the great vessel macaroni and cheese can be for adding other ingredients and this is yet another great example. Enter broccoli and leftover drumsticks. And if adding fried chicken to macaroni and cheese wasn't enough calories for your system then just you wait! I (un)fortunately was also out of milk and was forced to use heavy cream instead. (Woe is me...)

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp butter (plus more for cooking the broccoli)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 quart of heavy cream
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 2 cups (or so) of shredded cheddar cheese (plus extra for top)
  • 2 drumsticks of fried chicken picked off the bone and chopped (mine were from Popeyes)
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 cups (or so) of uncooked macaroni
  • bread crumbs
  • Parmesan cheese
Procedure:
  • Cut the broccoli into florets and chop the stems. Add to a large skillet with enough water to come halfway up the broccoli along with salt, pepper, and a couple tablespoons of butter. Put on a medium/medium-high flame, cover, and cook until tender. Drain.
  • Cook the pasta per instructions in a large pot of salted water and drain.
  • Melt the 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan and add the flour. Whisk together and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the heavy cream and continue to cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir in the cheddar cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • Combine the broccoli, noodles, chicken, and cheese sauce and pour into your baking dish. Top with a combination of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven until bubbly and golden brown (approximately 15-20 minutes).
  • Set your alarm for the next morning to go for a run and burn off some of those extra calories gained from this meal.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Orange Chicken Stir Fry

Having a food blog and now being in culinary school I frequently get asked the question, "So when are you going to cook for me?" by friends, acquaintances, and a few people I've never even met before. Often times they say it in a joking manner, but I know they're dead serious and are picking a date in their mind for when it will happen. (Yes, I'm talking about you __________.) Whenever I do find the time to cook for others, I tend to make something easy by sticking to a good 'ole one pot meal such as a pasta dish or the stir fry in this post. It's much easier on the cook, and there's the added bonus of less pots and pans to clean when it's all said and done. On occasion I may decide to make some elaborate, multi-dish extravaganza (whenever I have time), but mostly I prefer to keep it simple.

Ingredients:
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • ground ginger
  • cinnamon
  • red pepper flakes
  • teriyaki sauce
  • vegetable oil
  • sugar snap peas
  • orange marmalade
  • white rice
  • black sesame seeds

Procedure:
  1. Dice the chicken and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. In a bowl or plastic bag, add enough teriyaki sauce to coat and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  2. In a wok (or whatever skillet you may have on hand), add a drizzle of vegetable oil and saute the chicken.
  3. When the chicken is about 2/3 of the way done, add in the peas and continue to saute.
  4. Throw in a few spoonfuls of orange marmalade and a few more dashes of teriyaki sauce. Taste and adjust.
  5. Serve over white rice and garnish with black sesame seeds.