Sunday, December 24, 2017

Eating our way through the 2017 winter holidays

This Christmas has been marked by delicious but under-documented meals. Here are some guest-pleasing recipes from my kitchen to yours. The first and last come from my oldest cookbook, a handwritten compilation of recipes from my college suities. My New Year's Resolution is to cook from more of the recipes I own in a variety of books and on note cards collected at my bridal shower. Of course you can find all the delicious details right here.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

boneless, skinless chicken breasts
fresh basil leaves
grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chicken bouillon
2 tbsp prepared mustard
minced garlic to taste
cooking oil

1. Assemble the ingredients. Heat the oven to 350 and some oil in the pan.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into thirds. I slice off the long "flap" on the side and then cut the remaining half-heart crosswise. Try to get lumps of meat that are roughly the same volume, if different shapes. Score the long pieces lengthwise to make them more flexible and cut a pocket into the thicker chunks.

3. Stuff with a layer of prosciutto, then 1-2 basil leaves, then a generous pinch of mozzarella. Roll up the long pieces or pinch closed the pockets and secure with 2-3 toothpicks. It's okay if a little of the stuffing leaks out, but try to protect the insides as much as possible.

4. As you complete each ball-o'-chicken goodness, place in frying pan to brown on as many sides as possible. Rotate them in between securing the other pieces. When each is sufficiently browned, transfer to the baking pan.

5. Once all balls have been browned, pop them in the oven to cook a further 20 minutes. Meanwhile, add bouillon to the frying pan and scrape up all the caramelized bits. Add mustard, garlic to taste, and any remaining basil leaves or prosciutto, cut into strips. Let cook down ~5 minutes.

6. Serve with noodles, a veg, and a warning about the toothpicks to your guests!

For dessert you can offer a fruit salad and/or (almost) vegan brownies.

Fruit Salad with Cranberry Sauce

pineapple + any fruit you might have on hand
I used 1 pear and 1 apple, while the recipe suggested oranges and kiwis. Banana would also work.
1 pomegranate
bib lettuce
2 cups raw cranberries
1/3 cup water
1/2? cup juice (the recipe recommended orange, but grape is what we had)
<1 cup="" p="" sugar="">
1. Pull up something to watch on your laptop, such as a Star Wars movie, or a M*A*S*H marathon.

2. Line the serving container(s) with lettuce leaves.

3. Chop the fruit. I did not find cutting up my first pineapple as difficult as I thought it would be.

4. Retrieve the seeds from inside the pomegranate. I did find this task about as difficult as I thought it would be. Start by scoring the outside of the fruit on its six ridges. Next work your fingers into the grooves and tear the fruit open. Fill a large bowl halfway with water. Pick out the seeds while holding the segments under water. The seeds are supposed to sink and the pulpy parts float. Then skim the surface for the detritus, pour out the water, et voila, pomegranate seeds! Sprinkle on top of the fruit.

5. Boil the cranberries and water for ~5 minutes, or until the berries start to pop. Take them off the heat and mix in the juice and sugar. Let cool. Then push through a strainer, making sure to mash all the berries. You can save the skins for toast or pork chops, but the sauce you should cool in the fridge about 2 hours.

6. Dress the salad just before serving, otherwise the sauce will stain the fruit red (as demonstrated above).

(Almost) Vegan Brownies

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (vegan) chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9"x9" baking pan. If you are baking for a vegan, use something other than butter, otherwise they are (almost) vegan.

2. Mix first 3 ingredients in one bowl and the rest in another. Fold wet into dry, then add the chips. Pour into pan. Place into oven for 20-25 minutes. You know it's done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. I would rather err on the slightly undercooked side for the gooeyness.

3. Cool before slicing. Despite having no eggs, these make a really "cake-y" brownie. By the time I wrote this blog post, there were no survivors for photographic purposes.

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