Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Panna Cotta

I've made panna cotta many times, but for some reason I've never made chocolate panna cotta. Well why not? It's so easy, so rewarding and decadently chocolate.  This is very simple recipe for whenever you are craving a chocolate dessert but don't have time for cupcakes or cake.  It's all about the gelatin and basically is foolproof to set properly.  I made some raspberry sauce a couple weeks ago that I canned (it was supposed to be raspberry jam, so it didn't turn out quite right.  However, raspberry sauce is great with chocolate and I was able to put some to good use to top the panna cotta.

Sasha's Chocolate Panna Cotta (makes 6) based on this recipe from Epicurious
1 cup skim milk
3 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 cups heavy whipping cream
5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract

Spray six glass custard cups or individual sized souffle ramekins with Pam or canola oil. Pour milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Stir cream and sugar in saucepan over medium high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and take off heat.  Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and evenly combined.  Combine the chocolate mixture with the gelatin/milk mixture and stir in the vanilla. Make sure the mixture is evenly combined by blending in a blender, but do not overmix.  Divide in the six cups and chill 24 hours.  To plate, cut around the outside and flip over. It's panna cotta!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Pecan Chicken with Spiced Apple Chutney

I've now made this chicken dish several times, and it is always a hit.  It serves nicely with chutney, one of my all time favorite types of sauces.  As a kid, I first learned to make chutney from a book from a long-gone restaurant in Ithaca, NY, called Chutney, Relishes and Tablesauces, By Jay Solomon - a great book on the subject.  The key to a good chutney is always the same - getting it to jam to just the right consistency by using a combination of brown sugar and vinegar, while lovingly simmering the mixture.  They have a combined acidic and sweet taste, and are also perfect for preserving for that reason.  The first time I made this dish, I served it with mango chutney.   This time, I tried out a great new recipe for spiced apple chutney from my new Preserving cookbook, by Sheri Brooks Vinton, Put Em' Up.   The spiced apple chutney was delicious and  perfect for the start of fall apple season here in New York.

Sasha's Pecan Crusted Chicken
three or four skinless and boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup ground pecans
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp pasilla chile powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs
canola oil for breading

To prepare the chicken, pulverize the pecans in a food processor, or chop them finely in a nut chopper if you prefer more texture.  I've done it both ways.  Combine with the bread crumbs and spices.  Coat the chicken with the two eggs (scrambled) and then dip in the breadcrumb/pecan/spice mixture.  Cook in canola oil until browned, and then finish in the oven to cook through.

Spiced Apple Chutney (from Vinton's recipe)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
4 apples, cored and peeled (use local New York apples for the best result, in my opinion!)
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup raisons
1 T freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 T mustard seed
2 T mild curry powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt

Pour the vinegar into a large saucepan and dice the apples, adding them to the pot as you go to prevent browning. Add the brown sugar, onions, raisons, ginger and garlic and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the mustard seed, curry, allspice and salt, and simmer for an additional fifteen minutes.

Photo of the same pecan chicken recipe from when i made it with mango chutney over the summer

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