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On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of aging high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, wealthy women) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

I’ve written up an entire blog post about this book. (It hasn’t been posted yet, but will soon.) It may be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a memoir by Pat Conroy (an author I’ve long admired). He died a year or so ago – sad, that. In order to get the most out of My Reading Life, I recommend you BUY THE HARDBACK. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s an autobiography of sorts, but not really. He never wrote one, I don’t think, and I doubt he would ever have written one as he likely didn’t believe anyone would want to read about his (sad) life. In this memoir, he chronicles the books (and the people who recommended them) that influenced his life. Starting at his mother’s knees and continuing through influential teachers and mentors and friends. One of my book clubs read it, and I devoured it, cover to cover, with little plastic flags inserted all the way through to re-read some of the prose. Pat Conroy was a fabulous writer – he studied words from a young age and used them widely and wisely throughout his writing, but better than most authors would. He adored his mother, and hated (with venom) his aviator military father who physically abused everyone in the family, including his mother. They all took it like stoic Buddhas. I’m going to have to read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of reading this book. I’ve never read it. Conroy says that book’s first page is the best first page of any book he ever read in his life. Wow. And maybe my book group is going to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Vintage Classics) too because of the chapter on that book. We might have to assign that to a 2-month or longer read. If you have friends or family who are avid readers, this would make a great gift, this book, My Reading Life. If YOU are a reader, it needs to be on your bookshelf, but in hardback, so you can go back to it and re-read his stories. It’s a series of essays, each one about a sub-section of his life. A must-have and a must-read.

Also read The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram. It was a bargain book through amazon or bookbub (e-book). Back in the Middle Ages women were forbidden to be artists. Their only place was in the home, caring for children and sewing and cooking. But the heroine in this book was taught to paint by her widowed artist-father (in secret, of course). When her father suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose and she must fend for herself. Much of the book takes place in Siena (and also San Gimignano) as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Uncategorized, on December 31st, 2016.

carolyn_and_gary2016

I don’t much like pictures of myself. Janice, a family member, took this photo of my cousin Gary and me on Christmas Day. We were staying at my son’s home near Pasadena, and I think that was just some morning coffee in my hands! My cousin is very dear to me. He’s single, lives in Northern California, and has spent Christmases with me for years and years. He’s gone back home now, but I sure enjoyed having him here for the 10 days he visited. He did a whole bunch of “honey-do” items for me since I don’t have a “honey” anymore. He’s a tech wizard, and we managed to get nearly all the items accomplished. He’s my GF (gluten-free) relative, and I made a fabulous GF angel food pumpkin cheesecake trifle for Christmas Eve and Day. You’d not have known it was GF. Recipe coming up sometime soon.

Meanwhile, I hope all of you have a lovely New Year Holiday. I’m not doing anything special, just me with my little blind kitten, Angel, who’s been a great companion for me since I got her. She now knows her way around my downstairs, knows where her litter box is, and for now she spends nights in a downstairs bathroom. I’ll introduce her to my upstairs eventually, and likely she’ll sleep with me in time. She can’t go through the night without using her litter box, so I’m not ready to have her wake me up throughout the night. Why would she wake me up, you ask? – because as a blind kitten she can’t find her way off the bed – I’ll have to train her how to do that – the same thing training her how to get up on the bed – with a footstool and a pillow for her to climb and get down on, but because she can’t see her destination, it takes repetitive training to teach her – she’s very smart, so I know she’ll get it soon enough. She’s about 11 weeks old now. Here she is curled up in the cat tree beside me at my kitchen computer. Her eyes are recessed and if you look at her straight on, you know she’s blind, but gosh, she sure has acute hearing and smell. She’s a sweet little thing – when I don’t call her Angel I call her “sweet pea.”

Posted in Uncategorized, on December 18th, 2016.

A pool of melted chocolate. Using the best baking chocolate is important when making holiday desserts.

Photo: Consumer Reports

I read about this on another website (I think it was Eat Your Books). It was a link to a site at Consumer Reports where you can read just about everything you’d ever want to know about baking chocolate. It’s a great resource – one I should print out or at least save to my computer. Here’s the link:

http://www.consumerreports.org/holiday-food/best-baking-chocolate/

Posted in Uncategorized, on December 6th, 2016.

angel_dec4_2016

I have a new kitten – isn’t that just the cutest photo?

Not that all of you keep track, but I had a cat, Oliver, for about 1 1/2 years. He was a good cat until a few months ago when he started biting me. Badly. Not just a friendly, playful nip. I had to make a very hard decision about him after he bit me so badly I had to go on antibiotics because my arm swelled up with infection. I tried training him with suggestions I read on the ‘net  – I could tell when he was going to leap and bite – his eyes dilated and he got into a stance to leap (and bite). He began to view my right arm as a predator, for some reason. I don’t know what was wrong with him – I never abused him or anything like that. But he had to go. It was heart-breaking – truly it was. I cried about it, but knew that no one else should adopt him if he had “issues.”

My thought was that  I wasn’t going to have another cat for awhile. Then, a few days ago I had a kind of a hard day – my house is all decorated for Christmas – I had Christmas carols playing – I felt cozy and warm inside, especially since I had the fireplace on too, and I just felt very lonely. And very sad. And I was grieving over my husband and my little Oliver too. Then out of the blue I got a phone call the next day from a friend who had known Oliver and what had happened. He called me about this little kitten. She was found on the side of the street, cold, wet (it was raining) and she couldn’t figure out how to get from the gutter up onto the curb. What her story is, we don’t know. But she wasn’t at all frightened of people. Her hearing, of course, is acute. The vet says she was likely born blind. I went online and read what I could about blind cats and it says they adapt extremely well – with suggestions like not moving furniture around too much, and they can’t ever go outside. Well, I couldn’t do that anyway, because I live in coyote country, and this little muffin would be a coyote’s snack in a minute.

The family who found her took the photo at top. How could you NOT love this little thing. She’s tiny, though she’s about 7-8 weeks old. She’s figured out in a little over a day and a half how to navigate around my downstairs (LR, DR, FM, kitchen). I’ve kept other doors closed so as not to confuse her. As I write this, she’s still trying to learn where her litter box is – since I’m not sure she does, I’m ever-vigilant to waltz her down the hall to her box on a regular basis. What I am is tired – because she’s like having a toddler in the house. But she’s sweet and the vet, today, says she’s fine and should have a happy life.

Posted in Uncategorized, on November 7th, 2016.

cooks_vote

Posted in Uncategorized, on June 30th, 2016.

spoon_tomatoes

 

My friend Darlene grows wonderful tomatoes every summer. She shared a little batch of these tiny guys. Aren’t they beautiful? They taste like sugar!

Posted in Uncategorized, on April 26th, 2016.

My friend Darci told me about Pinterest about 3-4 years ago, I’m guessing it was. And I’ve been hooked ever since. My gosh, you could just get lost following links and finding new and different boards, everything from home décor, DIY projects, travel photos and obviously, FOOD. I’ve been posting some of my blog post pictures on Pinterest for a couple of years. Most of the time I pay little attention to what, amongst my own recipes/posts/pictures are being re-pinned, but the other day I decided to really look. I get an email every day informing me what items have been re-pinned, but to add them all up is very interesting. So, I thought I’d share with you the most popular pins.

The one that has created the most re-pins is:

I call them French Hamburgers. It’s a Julia Child recipe, and as I explained in my post, back in 2007, that these are a family favorite, one of my favorites, and even worthy of a company meal. You don’t serve them with hamburger buns – this is a much more formal kind of burger – it has a luscious wine/butter sauce poured over it, and you eat it kind of like a meatloaf, I suppose, but you do cook it in a skillet, just like a hamburger.

This recipe, as I write it up today, has been re-pinned several thousand times. That’s a LOT! I think. If you’ve never made these, you’re depriving yourself of a treat. Do buy good ground meat.

The next recipe that gets re-pinned a lot, is this salad dressing:

lime_cilantro_salad_dressing

This dressing, Lime Cilantro Dressing, was posted in 2013, from a new cookbook I’d been given. As I recall, I was making a very Southwestern type meal for guests, and thought this dressing sounded so different, and good.

The only really important thing to remember is that is must be used within 24 hours, as the fresh cilantro doesn’t hold up well in a dressing. As we know, cilantro wilts when it gets wet, and even though it’s suspended in a dressing, it also dissolves, sort of.

This picture has been re-pinned about 1400 times, as I write this, anyway, and somebody re-pins it almost every day.

 

 

And another one that’s also extremely popular is:

mashed-potatoes-crockpot

If you stabilize mashed potatoes with cream cheese, they’ll keep at low heat for a long, long time. That’s why this recipe for Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes works so well. It’s was a regular on my Thanksgiving Day menu for years and years. Since my DH passed away, I usually go to one of my kids’ home for that day and I bring vegetables or dessert. If I ever need a whole bunch of mashed potatoes for a gathering, though, this is my go-to recipe that I posted back in 2007. It’s been re-pinned several hundred times.

 

Another favorite on Pinterest is this concoction:

Supposedly, this recipe comes from Rachael Ray. I got it at a cooking class many years ago, and even just now I searched amongst Rachael Ray’s recipes online, and it’s not there. So, who knows the origin. At any rate, it’s a cross between a soup and a stew. It’s thick. It’s easy peasy – ground beef and some pasta with a creamy sauce (from cream cheese added in at the end) and tomatoes and kidney beans. You can throw it together in no time flat. My mouth is watering . . .

Beef & Cheese Macaroni Stoup

This recipe hasn’t been re-pinned all that many times (like the ones above), but enough to make me notice!

If you’re not a regular on Pinterest, you might want to check it out. It’s fun. Addicting. Very interesting. Start your own “board,” and you save things to it, kind of like your own bulletin board at home, but it’s online. Create categories that suit your interests (like hobbies, reading, travel, etc.). I have a board for Zentangles (an art form) and yesterday I must have pinned 20 new Zentangle art pieces to my own board. You can visit other people’s boards, and you can “follow” specific people on boards also. It’s all about the pictures!

Posted in Uncategorized, on December 11th, 2015.

cookie_baking

On Monday, the 3 of us spent nearly all day baking Christmas cookies. What cookies, you ask? Read below.

Looks like I was the only one holding the glass of champagne and cassis we decided to share. Another friend, Sandy, stopped by with a bottle of champagne (thanks, Sandy). Sandy took the picture of us. Cherrie and I both made some of the cookie dough ahead of time so we had a leg up on the long day of baking. Here’s what we made – all recipes you can find here on my blog:

choc-alond-saltine-toffee

Chocolate Almond Saltine Toffee – seems like this cookie/candy thing made with saltine crackers, caramel, chocolate and almonds has made the rounds for several years now. It’s such a winner of a recipe. I particularly like these because they’re sweet, salty, crunch and chocolate all at the same time. Love the texture. I’m not much of a fan of chocolate or caramel, but this. Oh yes, love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on the list of cookies were Cranberry Noels. They’re a slice and bake type – a sugar cookie type with chopped dried cranberries inside, formed into long rolls, then gently rolled in unsweetened shredded coconut. They’re chilled for several hours or overnight, sliced and baked. One of my favorites, and I even make them at other times of the year than Christmas.

 

 

These are just the best Ginger Cookies – a recipe from my friend Ann N. They’re crispy and crunchy and very easy. They flatten out all by themselves in the oven – all you do is roll them, press them down with a fork and bake. Great with a cup of coffee, I can attest.

 

 

 

 

mex_wedding_cookies_sugaring

Mexican Wedding Cookies – the picture at left looks like they’re beige. No – I must have taken the photo under ambient light, not under my good lighting. So, they’re traditional and coated in powdered sugar that gets all over you and everything. But, they’re oh-so good. A must every Christmas.

viennese_choc_walnut_bars

Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars. What can I say – good and chocolatey, but not like fudge. It’s more like a thick cake on top then topped with another thin layer of icing, then chocolate and nuts.  It’s a Maida Heatter recipe if that gives you any clue as to how perfect these are. I hadn’t made these for several years, but I’m glad we did. I’ve had one piece two mornings in a row with my coffee.

baked_apricot_rosemary_bars

Baked Apricot Rosemary Bars – the filling does have to cook for awhile (dried apricots, white wine, sugar, honey, brandy and salt) then it’s whizzed up in the blender. It is spread on top of the baked shortbread type layer (that contains the fresh chopped rosemary) and topped with crumbs, then baked.

We had a really fun day – Jackie and Cherrie both kept the kitchen sink clean by washing several batches of cookie sheets, mixing bowls and utensils. I almost took a picture of my kitchen floor to show you what it looked like. Not a pretty sight. My cleaning gals came the next day so I just left it all there and they cleaned it up.

Posted in Uncategorized, on November 23rd, 2015.

mushroom_bacon_pork_tenderloin

You know you’ve been to a Phillis Carey class when the title of the recipe is almost as long as the recipe itself. Well, not really, but she does get teased about her titles sometimes. She doesn’t want you to be at all confused about what’s in the dish, so she puts all the important stuff in the title.

I think pork tenderloin is one of the new “darlings” of the foodie and entertaining circuit. It’s lean – and sometimes almost tasteless if you don’t do something to it. But it’s versatile. In this recipe the pork is kind of sliced to open it up a little bit and then pounded out flatter, so it’s big enough to enclose a filling. You will have made a bacon and crimini mushroom filling which gets rolled up inside the pork. Because the pork is lean and not strong on flavor, you want the filling to be bold (in this case with bacon, mushrooms, both umami flavors).

Phillis made a really flavorful sauce with shallots, vermouth, chicken broth, Dijon mustard, fresh thyme and crème fraîche. It’s a fairly thin sauce (as you can see on the plate in the picture). You can cook it down some, if desired, to make it a bit thicker. You could add a tiny bit of flour to the shallots and butter if you want to have the sauce thicken up a bit. I might do that next time. It would be wonderful with rice or mashed potatoes – to soak up that great sauce.

What’s really nice is this makes a pretty presentation – you can’t quite see the filling in the photo as the shallot sauce is covering it up. So this would make a great company meal. I usually can feed 3 people from a Costco pork tenderloin. If it’s smaller (as in regular grocery store types) then you may only feed 2 or 2 1/2 people. This recipe uses 2 pork tenderloins and it feeds 6 people. Because of the filling and the sauce (and the other sides) you may be able to stretch it a little bit. All depends on how hungry your family or guests happen to be.

The rolled up and tied pork is browned briefly in a skillet, then it finishes in the oven for just 15-20 minutes. This isn’t a 30-minute meal – sorry! You can make the sauce while the pork is baking, though, so it’s not much more than a 30-minute prep  and cooking time.

What’s GOOD: makes a really attractive company meal. If you’re into doing a filling for a weeknight family meal, it’s not all that hard or time consuming, and the pork cooks in no time flat (15-20 minutes in the oven plus browning time). It looks pretty and the mushroom and bacon filling is really, really good.

What’s NOT: only the time it takes to make the filling and the sauce. And fill and tie up the pork.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click link to open)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Mushroom and Bacon Stuffed and Rolled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard, Thyme Creme Fraiche Sauce

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, 10/15
Serving Size: 6

PORK:
4 slices bacon — chopped
8 ounces crimini mushrooms — thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic — finely chopped
1 tablespoon bread crumbs — plain, dry
6 tablespoons fresh parsley — chopped (divided use)
2 whole pork tenderloins — 1-1 1/4 pounds each
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
SAUCE:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots — chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine — or vermouth
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme — chopped

1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet, until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Pour off all but 2 T. of bacon fat; add mushrooms, about 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste; cook until mushrooms are soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute. Remove from heat and stir in breadcrumbs and all but 2 T. of the parsley. Let cool. (Can be made ahead.)
2. Trim pork of all fat and silverskin. With rounded side of pork down, make a long slit lengthwise down the center to open it up like a book. Do not cut all the way through. Lay a piece of plastic wrap and pound pork with a meat pounder (flat side) until the meat is about 3/8″ thick, starting from the middle and working outward. Spread the cooled mushroom mixture over the pork. Fold the narrower ends in about an inch or so, then starting with a long side, tightly roll up each tenderloin. Tie with kitchen twine in about 5 places to hold the roll together.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork and brown well on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total time. Remove pork to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until internal meat temperature reaches 150°F. Remove pork to a carving board and let rest, tented with foil, for about 10 minutes. Remove strings and cut across (straight) in about 1-inch thick rounds.
4. While pork is roasting prepare the sauce. In the skillet used to brown the pork melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Whisk together the creme fraiche, mustard and thyme in a small bowl. Add to the broth and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer and reduce down until the sauce thickens and barely coats a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over the pork slices and garnish with the reserved parsley. Note: if you prefer a sauce that is thicker, add about 2 teaspoons of flour to the shallot and butter mixture, cook it for about a minute over low heat, then continue with the recipe.
Per Serving: 267 Calories; 17g Fat (59.7% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 75mg Cholesterol; 275mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Uncategorized, on November 11th, 2015.

oven_fried_chicken_prosciutto_cheese

Not exactly quick, but not hard, either. In any case it’s delicious and worth making.

My friend Cherrie and I were finally able to find another class we could take with our favorite cooking teacher, Phillis Carey. Since the cooking school in San Diego closed some months ago – the one we attended often, Phillis is trying to find new venues to teach. But she’s always taught classes in other places and one is in Orange County, about once a month. (The downside is that the class is in a very cramped little space, hard, folding chairs, with a tray on our laps – i.e., not ideal.) This class was about Italian cooking at home.

Phillis is the queen of chicken breast cooking. She’s written an entire cookbook about it (her website is the only way to purchase it). And she continues to develop new and better ways to eat chicken. I don’t know about you, but I eat a lot of chicken and I love new/better ideas of ways to cook it. This one is worthy of a company meal – I might not go to the trouble just for a meal on my own.

The idea behind the oven fried part is that you lay the chicken breast (coated in eggs and bread crumbs) into a very little pool of hot oil in a rimmed pan and it sort of “fries.” How? Well, first you make a long, deep cut in the center of the boneless, skinless chicken breast half and open it up like a book. You don’t cut all the way through. Anyway, you fill the chicken breast (more on that in the next paragraph) and fold it together. Kind of squeezing it so it sticks together. Meanwhile, you will have heated the oven to 425° F. That’s HOT. Then you use a older, less attractive rimmed baking sheet (one that you don’t care how it looks and how the oil will mark it) and you heat olive oil (a tablespoon of oil per chicken breast) in that pan in the oven. When Phillis demonstrated this, after she put the baking sheet of oil into the oven to heat – it took about 4 minutes. It was smoking. That’s what it’s supposed to do. If you used canola oil (with a higher flash point) it wouldn’t smoke, and you can do that. It’s just that olive oil will give you a bit more flavor (more Italian, obviously). In the interim you will have coated the chicken breasts (dipped in beaten eggs and then a breadcrumb mixture that contains some Parm) and once the oil is smoking hot, you pull the oven rack out and gently – very gently – lay the chicken breasts, smooth side down (first) – in the hot oil. It will sizzle. If it doesn’t sizzle, then the oil didn’t get hot enough. That’s what creates the crust – you can see how beautiful it is in the photo at top. The chicken is baked in that hot oven for 7 minutes, then the breasts are turned over and baked another 6-8 minutes and they’re done. When the cheese (she used Fontina – a good melting cheese) begins to ooze out of the edges of the chicken you know it’s done. And you can serve it immediately, while it’s still hot as a pistol.

The filling – well, you could improvise if you wanted to. If you don’t like basil, use a different herb (fresh, though). If you don’t like Fontina, use Provolone or what you have on hand. A soft cheese, though, but not Jack or cheddar (tasteless). If you don’t like sun-dried tomatoes (these are the oil packed ones, drained) use fresh, but oven dried roasted tomatoes. Don’t use regular dried tomatoes – they’d be too firm even if you reconstituted them. And don’t use fresh tomatoes as they would give off too much liquid (would steam the chicken and you’d lose the whole point of the oven frying technique). She used prosciutto. You could use pancetta, but it won’t have the smoky flavor of prosciutto. But do remember that both of those Italian deli meats are salty. Use it judiciously.

So, you lay on a nice big leaf of basil on the open chicken breast “book.” Stack the filling on one side. Then you add the prosciutto. I’ve added into the recipe to cut it up in bite-sized pieces before laying it in the chicken. Phillis just laid a slice on the breast, but prosciutto kind of shreds when you try to cut it, so I think cut into pieces makes it easier to cut and eat it. Then the well-drained sun-dried tomatoes are added. I’d cut those up in small pieces also. THEN, you divide up the cheese and kind of cup it in your palm and place it on top of the filling. The other chicken breast half is laid over, pulled slightly and you press down (to compress the cheese) and so the edges of the chicken stick together. If you really wanted to do it right, brush the outer edge of the chicken with a bit of the beaten egg (used in the coating) to seal the edges. But it’s not really necessary to do that step.

The nice thing is that you can stuff the chicken a day ahead (covered, in the refrigerator). And you can coat the chicken an hour ahead (and refrigerate). So if you’re having guests, everything is ready except heating the oil and baking them. See? Easy, really. And it makes a beautiful presentation. That top turns a perfect golden brown.

Now, just a note about the CHICKEN. I buy my chicken breasts at Costco, and they’re big honkin’ breasts. Those are just too big for this recipe. So either buy smaller breasts (ideally about 6 ounces per serving), or if you use the big, big breasts, cut off the tender (you’ll do that anyway) and cut off some of the outer edges so you do end up with about a 6-ounce portion. If you were to use a bigger breast it will take longer to cook through and unless you’re feeding football players, they won’t eat it all. The chicken is very rich and filling.

What’s GOOD: the flavors are wonderful – very Italian for sure. I loved the crispy crust. I loved the oozing Fontina cheese in it. The flavor boost from the sun dried tomatoes was lovely. When I make it I will be sprinkling on just a tiny little bit of salt ONLY on the outside edges (where the prosciutto isn’t), as whatever chicken doesn’t have any filling needs just a hint of salt. It’s a beautiful presentation – serve on a platter if you want to with a sprinkling of Italian parsley and a few whole stems for color. The chicken is very rich, and is high in calorie with all those goodies in it and the oil it’s cooked in, too.

What’s NOT: only that it does take a bit of prep. But it’s not hard to do. Just a bit of time. The chicken probably won’t be great as leftovers. You’ll not be able to get the crispy crust the 2nd time around, so plan to eat it at the first sitting, if possible!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Oven-Fried Parm-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto and Cheese Filling

Recipe By: From a Phillis Carey cooking class, 9/2015
Serving Size: 4

4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast halves
4 slices prosciutto — chopped
4 large basil leaves
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed — drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese — grated (or use Provolone)
CRUMB MIXTURE:
3/4 cup dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated (or Pecorino)
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley — minced
COATING and BAKING:
2 large eggs — lightly beaten with 1 T. water
1/4 cup olive oil — for the baking sheet
1/4 cup Italian parsley — chopped (garnish)

1. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing in half, horizontally, but not all the way through; just open it like a book. Lay on the prosciutto, a basil leaf and a tablespoon of the sun dried tomatoes on one side of the opened breast. Divide the cheese among the pieces, then fold top side over the filling. Press together firmly and try to seal the edges (chicken meat against chicken meat). May be refrigerated at this point up to a day ahead.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine the bread crumbs, Parm cheese and parsley on a shallow plate. Dip the chicken bundles in the egg mixture (keeping the edges together so they don’t open up) and then in the breadcrumbs, coating well. (At this point the chicken can be chilled for up to an hour.)
3. Once oven is at temperature, pour the olive oil (approx 1 T. per chicken breast) into a rimmed large baking sheet. Use an “old” one as the oil and the baking may discolor the pan. Place pan in the oven to heat – about 3-4 minutes. It will be VERY hot and the olive oil may be smoking slightly. Add the chicken, top side down and bake for 7 minutes. Turn the chicken over (very carefully) and continue baking another 6-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. The chicken is done when the cheesy mixture begins to ooze out of the seam. If you are baking more than 4 of these, use a separate oven and another baking sheet to roast the chicken. If you have a convection oven that has a convection/bake cycle, use that, same temp and same amount of time. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
4. It is best to use smaller chicken breasts for this – don’t include the chicken tender. If you buy very large breasts, trim some of the edges (and use for something else) to bring the size down to about 6-7 ounces per breast.
Per Serving: 983 Calories; 51g Fat (47.9% calories from fat); 107g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 380mg Cholesterol; 6745mg Sodium.

Posted in Uncategorized, on October 10th, 2015.

Hopefully all of you read Food52 already, that huge website, with contributors in legions, that covers the broadest possible spectrum related to food and the home. Amanda Sims did a piece recently about “Food Apps We ‘WISH’ Existed.” Certainly it’s tongue-in-cheek, but if nothing else it will give you a laugh. Here’s the link to the actual article. They invited commenters to add more (I’ve not included those).

Coffeeinate: an app that allows you to order a coffee from your favorite barista, pay for it through the app, then walk into the coffee shop and have it waiting to swipe off the counter.

The Fennel Detector: an app that saves you from eating foods you loathe (or are “allergic” to). Hold your phone over any food to scan for contaminant (like fennel) so you don’t mistakenly eat it. Settings allow you to customize for testing widely disliked foods such as cilantro and gluten.

Shop Map: maps out the shortest route to what you need in the grocery store based on your inputted grocery list. Saves time and feelings of insanity as you go back to the same aisle five times for different things.

One Dumpling: an app that delivers you just 1 dumpling, wherever you are, for when you’re not very hungry but sill want a dumpling; sister app One Scallion Pancake does the same for scallion pancakes. [Food52 originates from New York, and Chinese take-out is a daily staple.]

Lineo: choose any restaurant, coffee shop, or Trader Joe’s well-priced grocery store in your vicinity and view the status of the line or the average time of the current wait, without calling and speaking to someone who is going to lie to you anyway.

Chooser: an app for helping you decide what recipe to make from a cookbook. Open the app and see how many people have made which recipes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (and what their results were!) so that it’s easier to choose!

The Secret Spotter: an app that tells you when you’re getting close to a hard-to-find, locals-only, word-of-mouth type place that never shows up in the right spot on a map (imagine a kind motherly voice telling you excitedly: “You’re getting warmer! Even warmer!”)

Hotty: turns your phone into a tiny heater that will keep your coffee warm for longer; doubles as a hand-warmer on cold days (and that will make you feel less bad about holding onto your phone even when it’s in your pocket because you’re so attached to it).

The Spice: an app that will keep track of all of your spices so that you don’t end up with 3 bottles of cinnamon and 5 bottles of red pepper flakes because you always think you’re out.

Dubious Rewards: this app chooses a workout for you and then suggests a beer to drink afterwards (since experts say that beer is a good recovery drink).

Pantreater: an app that would tell you which recipes from a cookbook you could make based on the ingredients you already have in your house.

You Cheap: app that tells you where to find [an] TK item (okay, mostly breakfast cereal) on sale at grocery stores. As in, where can I get the $3.99 box of Puffins as opposed to the $5.99 supermarket price?

Avocadwoes: scan in a picture of an avocado and this app will tell you if it has any brown spots, is perfect for consumption, needs 2 days and 1 1/2 hours to ripen, or is better off pickled. Can be set, alternatively, to tell you when certain produce will go bad.

Road Food: the show, in app form—oh wait that’s in production (yay!).

Eat it Anyway: an app that encourages you when you try something new in the kitchen: “That looks right, of course you were supposed to fold it that way!” “No, no, that’s great, I like the charred bits!”

Slimdr: dating apps that show ONLY the people who are in the same restaurant or bar as you. So: That guy across the room? Let technology help you with that.

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