May 30, 2009

Home Made Chicken Fingers

I know, I know, fried food! When you have kids is not easy to keep them away from the fast food. Especially with all the commercials you have on TV. So, the one thing I do is make at home whatever they crave. They don't ask very often but when they do I always oblige.
Here they are, the chicken fingers my boys love.

Chicken breast 2 (whole)
Eggs well beaten (3 large)
Flour about 1 cup
Cornflakes crumbs 1 1/2 cups
Parmesan 1/2 cup (optional)
Salt 1 tsp (if need it, depends on personal taste)
Vegetable oil about 1/2 cup (for frying)

You will need three dishes
In first dish pour the flour.
Second one beat the eggs.
Third one mix the cornflakes crumbs with the parmesan. Some supermarkets cary cornflakes crumbs, If yours doesn't, they can be easily made from cornflakes cereal. Just put them in the food processor and pulse until they reach crumbs consistency. If a food processor is not at hand a ziplock bag and a rolling pin will do the trick, just place the cereal in the bag and roll the rolling pin over until you have crumbs. Or if you prefer breadcrumbs can be used.
I find that bread crumbs absorb more oil than the cornflakes and the end result is more soggy.

Trim chicken of all visible fat and cut in thin strips about 1/2 inch thick. Do not worry if they are not symmetrical.

If you wish and like your meat more salty,now is the time to sprinkle same salt on each side of the chicken fingers. Then one by one coat lightly with flour, then...
coat with egg, and last make sure the the chicken fingers are well coated in the cornflakes and parmesan mixture. Place them in a separate dish.
The little chef helping with the coating of the chicken fingers
When all the chicken fingers are coated it is time to heat the oil.
In a nonstick pan pour the oil. Depending on the size of the pan you might not need all the oil.
The oil should just cover the bottom of the pan and be about 5 mm deep. Keep in mind when you add the chicken it should not cover it.
Cook the chicken on medium high about 2 minutes on each side turning only once. Because the chicken fingers are not uniform some might take longer then 2 minutes a side to cook.
The chicken is done when no longer pink inside. I always make a small cut to check the thicker pieces. Cook in batches and do not over crowd the pan.
Remove from pan on a dish lined with paper towel. Do not cover to keep warm, the steam it will make them lose their crispiness.
Serve warm with your choice of side dish.In my case the order was Alfredo Fettucini.

May 29, 2009

Challah Bread.

Nothing says better" home "then the smell of fresh baked bread. I don't even have to call my boys, the moment the smell reaches them, they come one, by one waiting for whatever I'm baking, to be done.
This particular bread is a cake like bread. It's soft, has a hint of sweetness and can go from the dinner table to the breakfast one without any hesitations. And also looks pretty (and I like pretty things). Could be braided in 4 strings, 3 strings or 2. I chose 3 strings this time.

Also good to be known, challah bread that is used on Sabbath, and holidays in the jewish tradition (by Ashkenazi and most Sephardic jews), but everyone can enjoy it .
I personally found the recipe in a bread baking book and loved it. I like trying new flavors and experience foods from different cultures. The world is so divers and so is the world of food.
Why not enjoy it?

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat, set a side.

All-purpose flour 5 cups
Warm water 1 cup (105˚-115˚ F)
Active dry east 5 tsp
Large eggs 3, plus 1 egg beaten for glaze.
Sugar 1/2 cup
Salt 2 tsp
Unsalted butter at room temperature 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds or poppy seeds 1 tbsp (optional)

In large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy.

After 5 minutes stir in ( with a wooden spoon) the sugar, the 3 eggs (I like to lightly beat the eggs makes it easy to stir everything together) 4 1/2 cups of flour (from the 5 cups), the butter and the salt. Stir until the dough comes together (it will be sticky ).
This is how the dough looks.
Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes adding more flour as needed from the 1/2 cup left over from the total of 5 cups . Use minimal amount of flour, the dough will louse from stickiness by being knitted. I used about 1/2 of the 1/2 cup that was left( about 1/4 cup). When the dough is smooth and elastic place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in draft free place to rise for two hours.

After 2 hours the dough is ready. Turn it on a clean surface and punch down (fancy word for gently pressing on the dough to help expel the air)
Divide the dough into three equal parts cutting with a sharp knife. The dough is very soft so handle with care.
Starting from the middle roll gently each part into a rope about the length of the baking pan.
To braid the bread. Pinch together the ends in one side, then very gently cross the rope closer to you over the middle one, then the one further from you over the one you just crossed. Now repeat until you get at the end. Pinch the 3 ropes together and tuck under.
Very careful lift the bread and place it on the baking sheet . Cover with a clean towel let rise for a further 45 to 60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
Now the bread is ready for the glaze and to be sprinkled with the seeds (if used).
Bake in a preheated oven of 350˚ F for 30 to 35 minutes. The bread is ready when is golden brown and sounds hallow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Cut after is completely cool, if you can wait that long.

Bread on Foodista

May 28, 2009

Marble Brownies

I like pretty things, and this marble brownies look pretty. Not just look pretty but are very tasty as well. They are soft and melt in your mouth and the cream cheese used for the marble effect is orange flavored. You really have to try it to understand. This recipe is one of the many chocolate based recipes in the Golden Book Of Chocolate.


For the brownies

Semisweet chocolate dark 8 oz
Butter 1/4 cup
Granulated sugar 3/4 cup
Pure vanilla extract 2 tsp
2 Large eggs lightly beaten with 2 cold tbsp of water
All-purpose flour 1/2 cup.

For the cream cheese mixture:

Cream cheese soften 1 cup (1 package, I used light philadelphia cream cheese)
Granulated sugar 1/4 cup
Finely grated orange zest 2 tbsp
Freshly squeezed orange juice 3 tbsp (the juice from a medium orange)
Cornstarch 1 tsp
Large egg 1

Butter and line with parchment paper a 9 inch square pan. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

I usually start with the cream cheese mixture but doesn't really matter witch one you start with.

Beat the cream cheese with the sugar on high speed until creamy.
Add the orange zest, orange juice and cornstarch beat until combined. Add the egg and beat until blended.
For the brownies.
Melt the chocolate and the butter in a double broiler over just simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Set aside to cool.
When just warm stir in the sugar and vanilla

Stir in the eggs and the flour, mixing with a spoon until combined.
Pour the chocolate mixture in the prepared pan.
With a wooden spoon or a plastic spoon drop table spoons of cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie mixture.
Using a sharp knife with a long blade swirl the mixture, to create the marble effect. There is no rule on how much to swirl around. I like more cream cheese on top so this is how it looks.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are slightly risen and the center is set. The toothpick test doesn't work in this case because the brownies are more wet then your usual mixture.
Cool in the pan completely , cut into squares.
Don't do what I did. Alex (my 5 year old) couldn't wait for the brownies to cool completely so I had to cut them wile still very warm. The cut is not as neat as it should be (but they taste just as good).

May 27, 2009

Thumb Print Cookies

My son Brandon was home from school today so we got to spend some time together. Our favorite place is the kitchen, everybody in the house gravitates towards it.
He offered to help with cooking , so i offered to make his favorite cookies in return. We used to make those together when he was younger (he's 14 years old now) so it brought back lots of "do you remember when?" It was a great day.

So here they are Brandon's favorite cookies.


All- purpose flour 1 3/4 cups
Baking powder 1/2 tsp
Fine salt 1/2 tsp
Unsalted butter 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature
Superfine sugar (or if not available granulated sugar it's fine) 2/3 cup
and a little more for rolling
Large egg 1
Pure vanilla extract 1 tsp
Raspberry gem about 1/3 cup

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
In a different mixing bowl beat together the butter with the sugar on medium speed until creamy and light (about 5 minutes)

Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until just combined, lower the speed and beat the dry ingredients in two additions until just incorporated.
Using a small ice cream scoop or even a teaspoon, scoop the cookie dough in one inch balls ,and roll in sugar.
Place space well apart on baking sheet. With your thumb make "prints" in the middle of the cookies. I like to use a 1/4 measuring spoon, the prints are more uniform and I use the same measuring spoon to feel the cookies with gem.
The cookies should be placed well apart.
Bake for 15 minutes switching the positions (rotate the pans, the one in the top goes on the bottom and the one on the bottom on top) at half time. That will insure uniform backing.
And enjoy with a cup of tea and a " do you remeber when" trip.

Asparagus and Artichoke Sauté with Smoked Tofu and Tarragon Vinaigrette

Today was a wet cloudy day and with rain on and off. Boring day as my son Brandon pointed to me every 10 or 15 minutes. So we did something to shake the boredom. Cooking and baking is always fun. I have to thank him for all the pots, pans and all the mixing bowls he washed today.
This recipe that I made today is a Giada de Laurentiis original which I adapted to my taste.

Olive oil 2 tbsp
Shallot large finely minced 1
Clove garlic finely minced 1
Mushrooms sliced 8 ounces
Asparagus sliced into 3-inch pieces 1 bunch
Package frozen artichokes harts (thawed ) 1 (8 ounce)
Sweet cherry tomatoes halved 1/2 pint
Salt 1/2 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper 1/4 tsp
Smoked tofu cubed 1/2 cup (optional)

Tarragon Vinaigrette:
Olive oil 6 tbsp
White wine vinegar 3 tbsp
Chopped fresh tarragon leaves 2 tbs
Salt 1/2 tsp
Freshly ground pepper 1/4 tsp

To Sauté the vegetables:
Warm the oil in large skillet over medium heat add the minced shallot and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes until tender.

Add the mushrooms and cook stirring often for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden.
Add the asparagus and the artichokes harts and cook for another 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
Turn of the heat and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper.
For the vinaigrette:
Put all the ingredients together into a jar with tight lid and shake well. Pour over the sautéed vegetables and toss gently. If using tofu, just sprinkle over.
You can add cubed ham or any other combination you like.

May 26, 2009

Salmon Loaf With Tzatzicki Sauce

This is a quick and delicious way to have something warm for lunch, served with steamed wild rice and steamed vegetables, or could be served as an appetizer.

Can of salmon, drained skin and round bones removed. 2x 7 1/2 oz ( 2 x 213 g)
Large eggs fork-beaten 2
Dry breadcrumbs 2 cups (500 ml)
Finely chopped green onion 1/2 cup (125 ml)
Lemon juice 2 tbsp (30 ml)
Milk 1/2 cup (125 ml)
Salt 1/4 tsp (1 ml)
Dill weed 1/4 tsp (1 ml)

Tzatzicki sauce ( optional)

Balcanic style yogurt 2 cups (500 ml)
English cucumber (peeled, shredded and drained) 1/2 cup (125 ml)
Garlic chopped 1 clove
Mint chopped 1 tbsp (15 ml)
Dill chopped 1 tbsp (15 ml)
Lemon juice 1 tbsp (15 ml)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salmon loaf:

In a medium bowl mix the first 8 ingredients.
Grease a 8 x 4 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Mix all the ingredients well and packed them in the greased pan. Bake in the preheated oven of 350˚F for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes invert on a cutting board.
For the tzatzicki sauce:

Set a strainer over a bowl, making sure the strainer does not touch the bottom. Pour yogurt in the stainer, place in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or over night.
Remove the yogurt from strainer, discard the liquid. Put the yogurt in a bowl add the ingredients listed and blend with a hand blender, or in a food processor .

Tzatzicki sauce is a favorite in our house, from fish to chicken to dipping with fresh made pita.
No sauce could be more versatile.

Little Chef's Macaroni And Chesse.

My son Alexander (a.k.a. Little Chef), loves macaroni and cheese, actually he loves anything that's cheese. If possible he would have grilled cheese sandwich with macaroni and cheese.
So, today he asked for macaroni and cheese for lunch and I obliged. Here is Little chef's creamy macaroni and cheese.


Elbow macaroni 2 cups (500 ml)
Light cream (10%) 1 1/2 cups (350 ml)
Flour (all purpose) 1 1/2 tbsp
Grated medium (or sharp ) cheddar cheese 2 1/4 cups (560 ml)
Dry mustard 1 tsp (5 ml)
Salt 1/2 tsp (or to suit your taste) (2 ml)

Pepper 1/8 tsp (0.5 ml)
Paprika for sprinkle

Cook macaroni in salted boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes until macaroni are tender but firm. Drain well and place in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan gradually whisk cream into flour.

Stir until smooth. Heat over medium heat stirring constantly, until thickened.
Remove from the heat.

Stir in cheese, dry mustard, salt and pepper.
Mix well until cheese is melted. Pour over macaroni and combine well.
Pour into ungreased casserole, sprinkle with paprika, cover and bake into preheated oven of 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. If you like a "crust" over your macaroni bake it for 10 more minutes uncovered.
Serve with your favorite sandwich, or with ham, or any other combination you like..... even grilled cheese sandwich.

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