Best Buttermilk Waffles

Waffle

A long week exploring National Parks. Our packs were prepared and Mystery Man and I were on our way out for a day-hike along the Yosemite Valley. First, breakfast. We sat in a dining hall that would give Harry Potter’s Hogwart’s a run for its money. The windows looked out onto slabs of granite and pristine vistas. The weather was perfect.

Waffles, among other standard breakfast fair, where placed before us and we dug in. Loading up on calories for the hike was essential since we planned on a light lunch and late dinner back here, where we started. Barley speaking to one another because the views were too much to comprehend, we ate.

Tea at Yosemite

I always save the waffle for last, like a morning dessert. Pushing the edge of my fork through its surface, my attention snapped from the rocky beauty and brought to my plate. This waffle was not the standard hotel batter from a bag. It crunched with my fork, but the interior was light and fluffy. The bite was full of flavor, a tang of buttermilk, a crunch came from an unknown source, and it was far from heavy. There was nothing artificial about it and I was intrigued. These were the best waffles I had ever had. My eyes met Mystery Man’s and he was chewing and grinning at the same time, seemingly reading my mind.

We finished up and headed out. The hike was gorgeous, and after doing a little scrambling to get to the top of Nevada Falls we settled down to take in the view and crack our packs for lunch. With our breakfasts still sustaining us, we ate little, but stayed a while for the views that changed as the clouds moved across the sky and the light played on the valleys, trees and mountains.

Yosemite

The second half of our walk joined with the John Muir Trail and while we shared our morning hike with many others, this section of the trail we found pleasantly deserted. The only sounds were of our own breath, an occasional breeze through the trees and small, scattering wildlife. Our boots crunched with every step and my mind slowly let go of the things we left back home. Jobs, commitments, adult responsibilities, they all melted away. With the clearing of my head came an idea. Crunch. The crunch of my boots reminded me of the waffle and I put the recipe together. Corn meal. That had to be what they used to get the texture. Whipped egg whites. That is how the waffles stayed light and never settled into rocks in our stomachs.

Finally returning back home, I set to work right away recreating the taste of Yosemite. Once I got it right, there was the same chew and grin combination on Mystery Man’s face. I hope your crunch into this waffle will result in a moment of release, no matter where you might be.

 

Best Buttermilk Waffles

Yields about 10 waffles, this recipe can be halved.

 

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

2 egg whites

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose four

1/4 cup corn meal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

 

Preparation:

• You will need two medium bowls, plus a stand mixer/bowl (or hand mixer) for this preparation.

• In the first medium bowl beat together the two whole eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla, set aside.

• In the second medium bowl whisk together the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk these dry ingredients to the first bowl of wet ingredients, in small amounts at a time, until incorporated with few lumps remaining. Set aside.

• In the third bowl, preferably for an electric mixer, place the two egg whites. With the whisk attachment, beat until soft peaks form.

• Carefully fold the fluffy egg whites into the batter. Try to retain the air in the foam of the egg whites and stop folding once they are just barely incorporated.

• Use this batter in your waffle iron per the manufacturer’s instructions. My waffle iron time is five minutes, exactly. Yours may differ.

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Chocolate Souffle and Espresso Creme Anglaise

I am risking something big.

Right now.

I am risking revealing something about myself that some of you might not know. I am exposing that I am spoiled. Rotten. I am confessing I am a food snob.

And spoiled.

Mystery Man and I have eaten at a five diamond restaurant in Orlando for every single anniversary. Named Victoria and Albert’s located at the Grand Floridian Re­sort at Disney World. The first year was a mistake of sorts. We were originally at Disney to skate an Inline Marathon. It happened to be scheduled during our anni­versary so we made a vacation out of it including dinner at V&A’s.

Year number two was the same story, only this time we brought friends, the mara­thon was rained out, and we scored the Chef’s Table.

“Chef’s Table?” You ask?

Literally in the kitchen. Where the Chef cooks for you.

and only you.

and comes to you and describes the dish in detail.

toasts you with Champagne.

and it is Heaven.

Year three the Marathon was no-more so we had no plans to travel to Orlando. About a week prior to our anniversary Mystery Man turned to me and asked where I would like to go, or what I would like to do for our anniversary. I playfully replied “ummm, duh. V&A’s.” He played along and said he would be game if I could find air­line tickets for a-hundred bucks.

I did.

We literally flew in, enjoyed our dinner, and flew out the next morning. That’ll teach him.

Year four we repeated year three. Yes, I am the master at finding air fare deals.

Year five we returned with another set of friends. The Chef’s Table was again at our disposal. It. Was. Wonderful.

And then there was year six. Oh, year six.

We just had our son three months prior and the plan was to stop the V&A’s trip at year five. After all, we should really branch out, right?

Mystery Man had a conference in Ft. Lauderdale the week of our anniversary, so the little one and I were going along to relax at the sunny resort while he worked. Sounded just fine to me.

I boarded the plane, sat down, and struggled to adjust the baby and a seat belt. I settled in and took a look at the stranger sitting next to me, waiting to get a look of “oh great, I have to sit by a baby…”  I found it was no stranger. It was my Mom.

“What the….!”

She handed me a piece of paper and snatched the baby out of my arms. The paper was an itinerary for a side trip to Orlando while Grandma watched the baby. A res­ervation confirmation for V&A’s was included. Mystery Man had pulled a fast one.

The years go on and on and yet we still return to taste the chang­es in the menu, the small tweaks in recipes and the newest fads in fine dining.

But, enough about how spoiled I am because you are about to benefit, and benefit big my friends. How do you feel about making a five star restaurant dessert right in your kitchen with all the steps laid out in front of you? “Bring it on!“ You say? Fine, but I don’t ever want to hear you talking behind my back about how rotten I am.

This is a souffle that I have created with helpful tips from the Pastry Chefs I have hounded in numerous restaurants, mainly V&A’s. I have this way of asking questions, mainly about method since I can usually tinker with ingredients in my own kitchen. It’s a wonder they don’t lock their doors when they see me coming. But, lucky for you they still take our reservation.

Chocolate Soufflé

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter and sugar for preparing dishes
8 oz bittersweet chocolate – chopped (the best you can find!)
6 large eggs (separated)
1/8 t. salt
½ t. cream of tarter
¾ c. sugar (divided into ½ c. & ¼ c.)
1 t. vanilla extract or 1 T. Cointreau

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat  400 degrees. 8 1-cup soufflé ramekins and dust the bottom and sides with sugar. Cut strips of parchment paper long enough to wrap around the ramekins and two inches taller than ramekins. Make a sleeve using chef’s twine around each one. Place on a large cookie sheet.

Melt the chocolate by placing in the top of a double boiler nested over barely simmering water (not touching). Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly. (Or melt in the microwave in 30 second increments.)

BY HAND:

In a large, clean bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter with a balloon whisk until soft peaks form. Slowly add ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

OR

BY MIXER:

In a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the whip/wire attachment or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until thick and pale in color. Whisk in the remaining ½ cup of the sugar and the vanilla.

Using a rubber spatula add small amounts of the chocolate to the egg white mixture and fold until completely combined and no white streaks remain. (Stirring will deflate the whipped egg whites and will result in a heavier souffle.

Spoon into the prepared dishes until nearly level with the top of the dish. When the souffle rises the parchment sleeve prevents overflow and encourage height for a light and fluffy souffle.

Bake the soufflé until set, puffed, and the center still jiggles when the dish is gently shaken. 8-12 minutes.

Using tongs, place souffles on cool dishes, remove string and parchment paper.

Serve immediately! With Espresso Creme Anglaise.

 

Anglaise1

 

Espresso Crème Anglaise

Ingredients:

2 c. heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
½ c. sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso (Jessica’s Note – or use a double shot of straight espresso)
1/8 t. cinnamon
2 T. brandy
1 t. vanilla extract

Bring the cream to a gentle boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until slightly thickened and  lemon-colored. Slowly whisk ½ c. of the hot cream into the egg mixture – careful not to cook the eggs. Whisk in the coffee and cinnamon. In a slow, steady stream, gradually add the egg mixture to the pan of remaining hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon or reads 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Put mixture through a fine mesh strainer, if needed.  Add the brandy and vanilla and mix well. Serve with Chocolate Soufflé immediately.

Note:

To use later, press plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent skin forming. Refrigerate.

 

Guacamole

Guac

She showed up at Swing Night just about the same month as I did. Her porcelain white skin, pearly white teeth, spunky curly hair and youthful smile made for an evening of never ending dance partners. Plus, she was good, and always looked like she was having a blast without ever breaking a sweat. I admired her from a distance and our interactions were brief for weeks, until one particular night when Mystery Man  and I were working on a few steps off to the side of the dance floor.

The Charleston basic was proving difficult for me and my frustration level had hit an all time high. I secretly wondered why I was even trying, why I cared so much, and why I shouldn’t just leave and find some other hobby. But, he was being kind and offering tips, so I couldn’t just up and go without seeming very rude. So there I was struggling through it. Then Spunky Girl walked up. She watched for a minute.

“Oh, you mean like this?” she chirped, and banged out the step right then and there.

There are times in life when you make a choice.

For a split second I considered gathering my things, muttering something like “go ahead you two, knock yourselves out” and leaving, never to return.

I am so glad that split second came and went, and I stayed put. That was seventeen years ago. Spunky Girl became my Homey and together we have danced miles on the same floors (including the Charleston), met our husbands, graduated, started careers and had our children. My admiration for her started on the dance floor and continues to this day.

She likes to bring this Guacamole to our gatherings. I hope you have Homey you can share it with, too.
Guacamole
Ingredients:
3-4 very ripe avocados
1 small to medium red onion, finely diced
1 Anaheim chile, finely diced
1 lime, squeezed, (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 lemon, squeezed (about 1 tablespoon)
cilantro to taste (about 1 tablespoon, chopped)
salt to taste
tortilla chips

Preparation:
•    Slice the avocados all the way around and pull apart. Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor. Reserve the pits.
•    Add diced onion and chile.
•    Give the food processor two one-second pulses.
•    Add the lime juice, lemon juice and cilantro.
•    Pulse the food processor in one-second increments until the guacamole is the texture you prefer.
•    Remove from bowl with rubber spatula into a serving dish. Add the pits to the guacamole (this keeps it from turning brown so quickly).
•     Adjust cilantro to taste.
•    Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes:
This also can be made by hand in a large mortar and pestle set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Style Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread

I can’t help it. I am a sucker for garlic bread. When I was a kid it was a big deal to go a ‘fancy’ restaurant. Not only was Red Lobster or The Olive Garden a good forty five minute drive, but the money just wasn’t there for us to enjoy such things regularly. There is a side of my family that gatherings were not the norm and although Grandma Louise had a healthy appreciation for good food, a cook she was not. So, her birthday usually meant a trip to The City for her celebration – and these eateries always had a bread basket.

I would try to recreate the garlic breads at home, but the ingredients we had on hand at the farmhouse (Nickel’s White Sandwich Bread and garlic powder) where less than sufficient, so I stuck to the good stuff under the linen napkins whenever I had the chance.

In 1999 Mystery Man and I were on the last leg of a road trip from Atlanta when the topic of discussion turned to food, as it did often.  I admitted my life long obsession with garlic bread and he eagerly suggested we hurry to Cincinnati so I could try LaRosa’s Pizzaria garlic bread.  Both of our eyes turned to the clock on my dash board. Calculating the miles per hour, I quickly determined we could make it before they closed. If we hurried.

I pushed that little gold Saturn sedan to it’s limits, and we slid into the bright red booth with big grins and minutes to spare.

____________________________

Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, my passion for garlic bread was kicked to the curb for a short while. But, where there is a will, there is a way. You can use this same method on a ‘normal’ loaf of Italian bread from your local grocer, or go gluten free like me.

CHEESY GARLIC BREAD
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

5 cloves garlic , grated
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon Table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 gluten free baguette  (18- to 20-inch), sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2 cups cheese (shredded Italian blend)

Preparation:

  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small nonstick skillet, saute garlic, 1 tablespoon butter, and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until straw colored, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Mix hot garlic, remaining butter, salt, and pepper in bowl and spread on cut sides of  bread.
  • Sandwich bread back together and wrap loaf in foil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Carefully unwrap bread and place halves, buttered sides up, on baking sheet.
  • Bake until just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set oven to broil.
  • Sprinkle bread with cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Let cool for five minutes.
  • Transfer bread to cutting board with cheese side facing down. Cut into pieces.

Notes:

Serrated bread knives can pull off the cheesy crust. To prevent this, place
the slightly cooled garlic bread cheese side down on a cutting board. Slice through the crust
(rather than the cheese) first – this will keep the cheese in place.

Chicken Piccata

Image

We were dance partners first. For three years. He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend – our dancing together was nothing but that, and a good time. The local Lindy Hop teach­ers had given us all the material they had, and we sucked the knowledge out of all of our peers. We wanted more. This only meant one thing. Travel.

We heard about a clinic in Atlanta. National instructors, hours upon hours of dancing crammed into one weekend, it was close enough to drive, and Mystery Man had friends in the area who would put us up for a few days.

Paul and Cindy were friends when he was an inline skating instructor years ago. “Hey man! Good to see you. Dude, lets gear up and go for a trip around the park”. That is pretty much the first thing out of Paul’s mouth.

These people not only did a little inline skating, they lived it. It was their business. The garage did not hold a car, a lawn mower, a tool bench or anything else a normal person would have. It held hundreds of skates, pads, helmets, and two full leg plaster casts hung on the wall like trophies. Cindy took me in and fitted me with gear. We piled into the truck and went off to the park.

Now, I had been on skates before. The kind with four wheels NOT in a straight line. On a nice smooth hard surface. With music. Flashing lights. And a railing around the outside of the rink. No biggie. I can do this. This inline thing can’t be that much dif­ferent.

The beginning was good. I was upright. The street was level. Everyone was having a good time. It was a beautiful afternoon, not too hot for Atlanta. Cindy hung back with me to give me some pointers. Picking up speed I was getting a little wobbly and uncomfortable, but still holding my own. Until the hill. A steep cliff, really. One that lemmings would run off of and never see the likes of their family again. I hurled myself uncontrollably down the slope and then I committed the number one sin of beginner skater. I stood straight up. Locking my knees and flailing my arms, I was done. Jessica, meet street. Street, meet Jessica.

I learned a new word that day, besides the general skate talk. ‘Road rash’. All the way up my thigh’s backside and stopping right around the bootie area. It also said hello to my elbow. Luckily the padding warded off the asphalt to some degree, but my arm still showed quite a war wound.

Coming to my rescue, Cindy immediately jumped into skating coach mode. Helping me up, brushing me off, and assessing the damage. Determining right away that I was done for the day, she helped my wobbly, bleeding behind to the truck. The guys would skate home.

The next morning started a full day’s worth of dance instruction. I woke up in the guest room and rummaged through my suitcase. A skirt was in order for the day – I couldn’t imagine pants rubbing on the wound, even if it was covered. I needed fresh bandages, so I finished getting dressed and wondered out into the house looking for Cindy to help me out.

Cindy wasn’t there. Paul wasn’t there. They left hours before us for a skate marathon. Crap. Now what?

I shyly approached my totally platonic dance partner. This was not going to be good. These bandages were way, way, up the leg. He agreed to help me out. I spent next several minutes bent at the waist, lifting up my skirt, with him on his knees trying his best to place the gauze. A perfect gentleman about it, I was soon fixed up and we went on our way.

Paul and Cindy continue to open their house to us without question. Whether we are passing through for one night or in town for a week-long conference, they are always eager to lend us a place and a home cooked meal. The evenings on their patio with good food, wine and stories are ones to remember, even if some memories include the term ‘road rash’.

This is one of my favorites that Cindy was generous enough to share with me. I make it on a regular basis and hope you will, too.

I did finally conquer inline skating. This is me at the Deluth Inline Marathon (right) and the Disney Inline Half Marathon (left).

ImageImage

Chicken Picatta

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for a gluten free meal, use corn starch)

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken broth

3 tablespoons capers (rinsed)

1 lemon (peeled, seeds removed and sliced very thin)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons parsley

Preparation:

• Slice chicken in half lengthwise to make two thin cutlets each. (Place on cutting board and press down on breasts with one hand while horizon­tally cutting the chicken with a sharp knife.) You should have 4-6 cutlets.

• Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap (or into a plastic bag) and pound with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer to an even 1/4 inch thickness.

• Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet (12”) over medium-high heat until it shimmers.

• Pat chicken dry with paper towels.

• Salt and pepper chicken on both sides.

• Coat with flour on both sides, shake off excess.

• Place cutlets in the heated skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink in the center, it should be slightly browned.

• Remove chicken from pan and cover with foil. Set aside.

• Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet and add garlic. Saute’ for about one minute.

• Add wine and broth wine. Whisk or stir to incorporate the garlic and loosen any bits from the skillet. Bring to a simmer and reduce by about half.

• Stir in capers and lemon slices. Return to boil and add butter and parsley.

• Add chicken back into the skillet and warm through.

• Serve over your favorite pasta.

Note: Cooking for two? Reduce the amount of chicken by half. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written. Freeze half of the sauce for a fast and easy weeknight dinner (just thaw sauce, brown chicken and serve over pasta!)

7 Ingredient Artichoke Dip

Art Dip

While it is cool to say we have posh British friends, that is not the reason we are friends with R & S at all. Ok, I take that back, some of the reasons have to do with their British-ness, but I am quite certain we would still be friends regardless of their birth country.  It all started roughly ten years ago when Mr. and Mrs. Air Force were being PCS’d (moved, in military terms) to England. Mr. Air Force learned there was a Royal Air Force chap within his offices who he should seek out for advice.

R & S agreed to give them tips on fitting in across the pond and Mr. & Mrs. Air Force returned the favor by introducing them to Swing Dancing.

Enter Mystery Man and I – fellow Swing Dancers of Mr. & Mrs. Air Force for years.

Our first impression of R & S was they were a little shy and to be honest, we had trouble understanding them at times with their accents and British colloquialisms. These things did not prevent us from getting to know them. We found it very interesting to be in their company and enjoyed learning about their culture and teaching them how to Swing Dance.

Mystery Man and R share a passion for technology and can talk for hours about hardware, software, apps…. S and I enjoy a bit of gardening, recipe sharing and can talk on and on about kitchen crockery and gadgets. But with all that in common, I think the real reason we are such great friends is because they are some of the most genuine people I know. Giving. Gentle.

Most Friday evenings they come over to our house for after dinner drinks and a chat, but only after my two children climb on them like jungle gyms, demand books to be read and are given the mandatory high-fives in all directions before bed time. My babies squeal with glee when I announce it Uncle R and Aunt S are coming over. R & S don’t have children of their own, but they have embraced ours with all the love they could ever give.

___

This is one of the many recipes S has shared with me and it continues to be a favorite for parties. I will typically throw it together a day in advance then transfer it to a small crock pot for the gathering. It can be served with crackers, a nice rye bread, tortilla chips or what ever your heart desires.

_DSC0137Art Dip2

7 Ingredient Artichoke Dip
Ingredients
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
8 oz feta cheese (crumbled)
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup and 2 oz Parmesan cheese (I use Parmesan or Romano)
2 oz jar pimentos
1 large garlic clove (minced)
pinch black pepper
Preparation
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees
• Combine all ingredients and place in a 9” baking dish.
• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Serve hot, or transfer to a small crock pot on low for more lengthy parties.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

gumbo

At the age of nineteen I had climbed the retail ladder and accepted a Store Manager position at the educational/developmental toy store where I had worked since graduating high school. Even though I was a full time student at University, I jumped on the chance because it meant full benefits and a nice raise.

One of the first things I needed to do was hire more staff, and finding morning and day-time (quality) applicants was a challenge to say the least. Then one day a lovely lady named Jennifer walked in.

She had two boys who just started all-day schooling, and she was looking for a little job to keep her busy during those hours. Perfect. I hired her on the spot. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

Jennifer was the hardest worker. Always looking for something to do, even on the slowest days, and thriving on the busy hum of retail during the holiday months. I trusted her with all my heart and we became fast friends, even though our age difference was nearly ten years and I was neither married or a mother. I looked up to her. She had a great family, a wonderful husband and the most genuinely thoughtful and mindful boys.

I was in a very different place than her. I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment, worked forty-plus hours a week, took three college courses and dated a new guy about every six months, all the while finding time to hone my hobby of swing dancing a few evenings a week.

At the store, early morning cleaning and stocking lent itself to open conversation. We talked about life, love and family quite a bit and one particular day I was in a lurch over a boy. I looked at Jennifer and recalled her wonderful husband, children and family. I wondered how it all came into place so easily for them. So I asked.

Her response was far from ‘motherly’ which I so appreciated. She was a little matter-of-fact, and said ‘you will just know’. She expand on that a bit, and I soon realized this boy wasn’t the Ultimate Love.

A year later.

I asked her the same question.

She asked if I was talking about my dance partner. I said yes. She smirked and said ‘I think you know’.

…and I did.

Jennifer gave me this recipe and it is one of the first things I made for Mystery Man.

Gumbo

Ingredients:
1/4 cups olive oil
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons* Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium green pepper
1/2 cup green onion tops, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
12 oz Adelle’s Cajan Style Andouille Sausage, chopped into bite- sized pieces (see prep notes)
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces (see prep notes)
8-10 cups water
4 cups cooked white rice (I use Jasmine Rice, two cups dry = four+ cups cooked)

*Jennifer uses 1/4 cup seasoning. This is too spicy for our family. If you can handle it, go for it!

Preparation:

• Place the chicken in the freezer and chop all the vegetables and set aside.

• Heat a large dutch oven/stock pot over medium-low and cover the bottom with olive oil. Using a flat edged spatula (metal or wooden, not plastic!) stir flour into oil constantly until flour is balled and turns to a medium to dark brown color. A burnt popcorn smell is common.

• Turn the heat to high and whisk in five cups of water. Add creole seasoning and black pepper. 3-5 more cups of water and whisk – this should be a thin gravy with no lumps.

• Turn heat down to medium-low and add green pepper, celery, parsley, onions. Let this cook for 8-10 minutes while you chop the sausage and chicken.

• Add sausage and chicken to pot and bring to a boil for one minute.

• Turn heat down to very low and cook for a minimum of three hours. Add more water if needed and add more creole if desired.

• Serve over white rice (do not mix rice into gumbo)

Notes:

This can be transferred to a crock pot and left on low all day. The secret to good gumbo – do not add anything else!

Gumbo freezes well. Place frozen block in a heavy pan and heat gently.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parm

Sometimes there is not a story. Let’s face it, we all have to eat and if I had to have a story for all the food that goes in my belly, well, I would not be eating on a regular basis. For me, not eating is not an option. If my husband* has learned anything in our relationship he knows if he keeps me warm, rested, and my belly full, there is not much else I could ever ask for. He even made this known while we attended a pre-marital workshop years ago. The others in the group laughed – they thought he was kidding. We gave each other a knowing look, and with that we breezed through the rest of the class.

I saw this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen and made it for two reasons. I was hungry and had the right ingredients hanging out in my fridge. It is one of our favorites, and over the years I have made some changes (yes, I even try to improve upon their recipes). It can be a weeknight meal with some simple boiled and oiled pasta and your favorite veg, or you can go all out and impress guests with homemade Spaghetti Sauce (post coming soon!) that has been simmering on the stove most of the day.

Make plenty, because slicing this on an angle and piling on a nice ciabatta makes for a tasty lunch the next day.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

*I will be referring to my husband as Mystery Man from now on… post coming on that, too.

 

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:

2 – 8 Ounce Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour plus 1 Tablespoon

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated on the smallest holes of a box grater, or use a micro plane)

3 Large Egg Whites

1 Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated on the largest holes of a box grater)

1 Cup Romano Cheese (grated on the largest holes of a box grater)

4 Teaspoons Olive Oil

 

Preparation:

• Place chicken in freezer for about 15 minutes. Until firm, but not frozen.

• Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 200 degrees.

• Set up a line of three pie pans or bowls with large surface areas.

• In pan number one, whisk together 1/4 cup flour and ¼ cup micro-grated parmesan cheese.

• In pan number two whisk egg whites until slightly foamy.

• In pan number three combine 1 cup Parmesan, 1 cup Romano and remaining tablespoon flour.

• Remove chicken from freezer and slice in half lengthwise to make two thin cutlets. (Place on cutting board and press down on breasts with one hand while horizon­tally cutting the chicken with a sharp knife.) You should have 4 cutlets.

• Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap (or into a plastic bag) and pound with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer to an even 1/4 inch thickness.

• Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet (12”) over medium-high heat until it shimmers.

• Place a rimmed baking sheet, seated with a wire rack, nearby.

• Using tongs, work down the line of your prepared pie pans, and work with one piece of chicken at a time.

• Coat with flour on both sides, shake off excess.

• Coat evenly with egg white mixture on both sides and let excess run off.

• Press both sides gently into Parmesan/Romano mixture

• Place 2 cutlets in the heated skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.

• Flip chicken over and cook for another 3 minutes, until golden brown and no longer pink in the center.

• Remove chicken from pan and place on baking sheet with wire rack. Keep warm in pre-heated oven.

• Wipe the pan out with a paper towel. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and repeat the cooking process until all cutlets are done.