Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Chicken Parmesan

I made this classic Italian dish with my husband a couple weeks ago.  It's surprisingly the first time I made chicken parmesan, and it came out really well.  They key, I think, was breading it with a mixture of parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs.  The exterior was nice and crispy and cheesy too.  I used fresh mozzarella and put it under the broiler to finish off the chicken.  This was a pretty east dish to make, the most involved part being making your own pasta sauce.  It requires a little coordination, but the great result is totally worth it.

Sasha's Chicken Parmesan
Package of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans organic whole tomatoes
1 T fresh oregano
1/2 T fresh thyme
1 onion, diced
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
four cloves of garlic, diced
sliced mozzarella cheese

Mix the panko and parmesan cheese.  Season the eggs with salt and pepper, and beat.  Coat the chicken in the egg and cover with the bread crumb mixture.  Pan fry on all sides until browned in about three tablespoons of canola oil.  Then bake in the oven to ensure that the chicken is cooked through.  Top with sliced mozzarella and place under the broiler for about two minutes.  Serve by placing the chicken on top of the pasta and sauce.

To make the sauce, saute the chopped onion for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic and saute another two minutes.  Blend the tomatoes until smooth in a blender and add the tomatoes.  Add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil, then simmer about twenty minutes until the sauce reaches the right consistency - smooth and flavorful, but not too runny.  Add the balsamic vinegar after cooking is complete.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Devil's Food Caramel Cupcakes

I made these delicious cupcakes straight out of the Magnolia Bakery cookbook and they were delicious.  The frosting is a light caramel frosting that gets its flavor from brown sugar, rather than from a complex caramelization process.  The Devil's Food chocolate batter results in a light and delicious cupcake.  The recipe in the cookbook makes two dozen, but I cut it in half and made just one which was plenty for our purposes.  I haven't been baking much the past couple weeks but these were a hit.  Tomorrow, I'll turn my focus back to pies, and I'll be making a banana cream pie.  I recently stocked up on my canning supplies and purchased a new Martha Stewart pie book at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg, as spring nears - time for fun fruit canning and pies on the horizon.  I can't wait for the first rhubarb jam and strawberry rhubarb pie of the season.  I'm also itching for ramps to be in season already too!

Magnolia Bakery's Devil's Food Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting (from this cookbook)
recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes (I recommend halving)
2 cups cake flour
1 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (I used two when I halved the other ingredients)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting (here's the half recipe, sufficient for 1 dozen)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 T dark corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Now to make the cupcakes, combine the dry ingredients for the cupcakes in a bowl.  Cream the butter with the two sugars in the mixer and add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine.  Slowly alternate adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients and then add in the vanilla.  Beat until smooth and combined.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 25 minutes or so at 325 until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Beat together the butter and sugars for the frosting and slowly beat in the milk, corn syrup and vanilla.  It should take a good 3 or 4 minutes to get a creamy, smooth frosting when beating in your stand mixer at high speed. 

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