Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Before the week gets away from me, as it did last week, I'm offering up a fresh fruit cobbler that's destined to become our signature summer indulgence. Tyler sure racked up the points with this incredible dessert. If you're not familiar with Tyler Florence Fridays, please be sure to visit the weekly round up done by Deb (Kahaki Kitchen), Natasha (Living in the Kitchen with Puppies), and Megan (My Baking Adventures) at the TFF site to see what all the Tyler devotees have been up to that week. Each week, one of the entries is selected to be featured on Tyler's own blog .

Being third generation Italian on the maternal branch of the family tree and second generation Italian on the paternal branch, I grew up with certain food preferences that were almost surely inbred. I swoon when I smell pizza and have yet to meet a salami I didn't like. There's no denying the influence of my Napolitan heritage. I've been known to eat fresh cherries until I have a stomach ache and can honestly say that the fresh fruits and veggies that hit the farmers' markets this time of year are one of the top 3 things I like best about summer. That and being stubborn mark me as half Calabrese. A trip to the farmers' market this Sunday yielded some beautiful, fresh peaches. Left to soften for 2 days, they were crying out to be used in something memorable. Enter Tyler's bourbon peach cobbler.

I've been afraid to buy a cast iron skillet for the past 20 years, as long as I've had a ceramic top stove. They may be easy to clean, but my fervent wish is to have a gas stove and an electric oven in my next--and probably last--house. However, since I use my LeCreuset Dutch oven all the time, I decided I was reliable enough to be careful and so bought the 10 inch cast iron skillet that Tyler calls for in this recipe.

The cobbler is a cinch to make, but one taste will assure you that no one will care about anything but gobbling it up so they can have seconds. It was hard to eat dinner; both Larry and I wanted to cut to dessert, but reason prevailed. Rest assured that I will be making this with blueberries, apples, pears...you get the picture.

If you don't love Tyler already, you will after one spoonful of this dessert. It's that good!

6 - 8 servings
8 peaches, peeled and sliced (6-8 cups)
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tbs corn starch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
16 tbs (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add the peaches, bourbon, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon and mix well to coat the peaches evenly. Set aside.

Prepare the dumplings: into a bowl, sift the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut 12 tbs of the butter into smaller pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your hands and work it until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Pour in the cream and mix just until the dough comes together. Don't overwork the dough; it should be sticky, but manageable.

In a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 4 tbs butter. Add the peaches and cook gently about 5 minutes. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the warm peaches. There can be gaps; the dough will puff up and spread out as it bakes. Brush the top of the dumplings with some heavy cream and sprinkle sugar over that. Put it into the oven on a baking sheet to catch any spills. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling.

Try not to burn your mouth sneaking a taste! Vanilla ice cream will put it over the top.

Monday, July 27, 2009


No, I have not gone over to the dark side. The familiar glass or plastic jar with the yellow and blue label isn't what I'm talking about here. I thought it was about time to break out my new Atlas pasta roller--I gave one away about 20 years ago when I bought a pasta machine, but have discovered that I much prefer to make my pasta by hand--no food processor and no slick machine. The new one I bought is more of a Cadillac than the one I had, and I doubt if I'll be buying any fresh pasta sheets at my local Italian deli anytime soon. About the hardest thing about making pasta by hand is cleaning the rollers afterward.

The entry for "ragu" in the food dictionary at Epicurious.com states: "A staple of northern Italy's Bologna, ragu is a meat sauce that is typically served with pasta. Though different than the French RAGOUT, both are derived from the verb ragoƻter , which means 'to stimulate the appetite.' Ragu usually contains ground beef, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, white wine and seasonings." Not to put too fine a point on it, this ragu contained pork spareribs and a good Sicilian red wine. A look in the freezer revealed 4 cooked sweet sausage; the refrigerator held about 3/4 pound of rare, grilled chuck steak. It all went into the pot. The fragrance from this sauce, which contains no garlic by the way, is impossible to describe other than to say it will make your mouth water and probably cause you to move up your dinnertime.

I love kneading dough and, since I generally take Saturdays and Sundays off from my regular workout routines, kneading this egg dough for 10 minutes was a great upper body workout. You can really work up a sweat! If you're not into making your own pasta, just make the ragu and substitute a good fresh pasta. I really wanted to make pappardelle, a very wide (almost the width of a lasagna noodle) pasta, but Larry likes very thin pasta. The fettuccine was a compromise.

I should have cooked half the pasta and saved the other half (in the refrigerator, wrapped well, it will last for a couple of weeks). The recipe yields much more than the 1 lb that was stated in the Williams-Sonoma cookbook, Essentials of Italian.

Pork Ragu
1 1/2 lb meaty pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 - 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, squeezed by hand

Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ribs and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides (15-20 minutes). Transfer the ribs to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and golden (about 10 minutes). Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits (1 minute). Cook for 1 minute to burn off the alcohol. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Return the ribs to the Dutch oven, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat comes away easily from the bone and is very tender.

While the ribs simmer in the sauce, make the pasta.

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough
12 1/2 oz (2 1/2 cups) unbleached, all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs
2 tsp olive oil

To make the pasta by hand, I use a silicone mat as my surface. I place the flour on the mat, make a well into which I crack the eggs and add the oil. Using my fingers, I work the dough until it takes on a shaggy appearance. As soon as it comes together in a ball, I begin kneading. It generally takes 10 minutes to get the right consistency, after which I cover it with a large overturned bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes.

When the dough has rested, cut it into 4 - 6 pieces and follow the directions for your particular pasta roller to roll it out to 1/16th of an inch, then cut into the desired shape. Lay the pasta out on a tablecloth and let dry for at least 1 hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 tbs of salt. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook, stirring, until al dente, 1 or 2 minutes should do it. Drain, add to the ragu, and toss. Sprinkle with cheese and toss again.

To Finish the Ragu:
Use a slotted spoon to remove the ribs from the sauce and let cool slightly. Use 2 forks to remove the meat from the bone and shred it. Return the meat to the pan and cook, uncovered, over low heat, until the sauce thickens, another 15-30 minutes.
I was very happy with how thin I was able to roll out the pasta with very little effort. The last time I made pasta by hand, I used a rolling pin to roll it out and it was very time consuming. I used a brush that is designed to take the silks off corn to clean the pasta roller, but am going to look for a long-handled brush. While there's no denying that it makes a mess of the kitchen, I will be making handmade pasta again very soon. It's worth the clean up. It looked so beautiful and tasted so incredibly light.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


When I want to get something on the table quickly, I often turn to shrimp. They are a wonderful canvas for so many cuisines. I usually buy medium sized ones, but once in a while, I like to get the really large prawns. I had

a package of fresh mushroom ravioli in the refrigerator and thought
that a grilled shrimp would be the
perfect protein. Having just watched
Hell's Kitchen, on which there was a
challenge for the contestants to clean
and devein as many shrimp as possible in 5 minutes, I thought I'd have to see how long it took me to do a pound (and what they looked like when I was done). I'm proud to say that I was able clean and devein the whole pound in under 15 minutes (and they didn't look too bad, either). Of course, if Gordon Ramsey were standing there throwing the "F bomb" at me and making cruel comments, I probably would have gotten a whole lot less done. I don't mind his profanity--it's just words--but his name-calling is quite unattractive. I don't think he's really a bad fellow; but on that show, he's like your worst nightmare.

Anyway, this is a simple preparation for shrimp. To sauce the pasta, I simply heated 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and drizzled it over the shrimp and ravioli.

Serves 2 - 4
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tbs minced garlic
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper in a non-reactive bowl and add the shrimp. Toss and cover. Let stand for just 30 minutes.

Heat a grill pan and grill the shrimp about 2 minutes on each side--until they are opaque.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


If you've only eaten calzone at a pizzeria, you may think that ricotta and mozzarella are the only fillings used in this "inside out" pizza-like treat. In fact, I never order calzones at the local pizzeria because I find this filling bland and unimaginative. Whether you love to make your pizza dough from scratch, as I do, or you buy it from your local pizza joint--almost all of them will sell it to you--or the supermarket, you have to try different meats and vegetables and condiments for this wonderful treat. About the only caveat is to keep your filling somewhat dry so that you don't end up with a soggy crust.

Thanks to my usual habit of making too much food for company, I had quite a lot of grilled Italian sweet sausage that I had frozen from our Fourth of July BBQ. I decided that calzones and a large green salad were just what the weather called for, so I whipped up a batch of pizza dough before I went grocery shopping. I had the sausage defrosting in the refrigerator and all that was left was to pick up a few red peppers at the supermarket.

The calzones went together very quickly; baked in under 15 minutes; and, were delicious as is or with a side of sauce (just like Jack Spratt and his wife, Larry likes his calzone with sauce; I like mine dry). The wonderful crusty dough was the perfect housing for the chopped Italian sausage; the salty pecorino romano cheese contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the fried peppers. I can't wait to try a few more combinations in the future--I'm thinking broccoli rabe and shredded pork with a balsamic reduction or chopped chicken with pesto and gorgonzola. What combinations can you suggest for my next calzone session?

For the dough:
2 pkg. active dry yeast
4 - 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp sea salt
olive oil

For the filling:
2 tbs olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
sea salt
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed and meat crumbled
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
1 egg beaten with 1 tbs water

To make the dough:
Pour 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt, mix until combined. Add the remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, continuing to mix until all of the flour is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Knead the dough with the hook until the dough is soft and smooth but not sticky, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, divide into 6 portions, then shape each into a ball. Rub each ball with oil and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Place the balls on the baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

OR, shape the dough into a large round, coat with olive oil, place in a large zippered bag, and place in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake the pizzas, remove the dough from the bag and divide into 6 balls. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.

To make the filling:
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pepper slices and a teaspoon of salt and cook until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage meat, red pepper flakes, and cook until the meat is browned. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F about 30 minutes before baking. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly flour your work surface.

To make the calzone:
Place 1 of the dough balls on the work surface. Flatten into a disk. Turn the disk over and sprinkle with additional flour, and, using your hands, stretch and work the dough into an 8-inch round.

Place one-sixth of the filling in the center of the dough round and sprinkle with one-sixth of the cheese.Lightly brush the edges of the circle with the egg mixture, then fold the dough in half over the filling. Crimp the edges with a fork.

Repeat with the remaining 5 dough balls and transfer to the baking sheet. Cut 2-3 vents in each calzone, then brush all over with the egg mixture.

Bake on the bottom rack of the oven until the crust is crisp and golen, about 12 minutes. Serve at once. I don't know how these would freeze since the leftovers were designated for the next day's lunch.
What a great alternative to pizza! I have to think outside the box and come up with a good Mexican, Chinese, and French calzone. Feel free to send me any suggestions for a future post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Deb (Kahaki Kitchen), Natasha (Living in the Kitchen with Puppies), and Megan (My Baking Adventures) have given us one more reason to love Fridays. That's the day they post a round up at Tyler Florence Fridays, a blog for devotees of Tyler Florence, to showcase which of his dishes they've been cooking. I usually spend Saturday through Thursday mulling over what I want to contribute to this weekly celebration. For some reason, my thoughts this week kept coming back to the use of herbs in my cooking. I have to admit that some of my thoughts began to take on a bit of a psychological bent.
If you were an herb, which herb would you be? Were you voted "Most Popular" in high school? Maybe you'd be basil. Are you a well-rounded person? Perhaps parsley best represents your personality. Are you a bit shy or mellow, someone others think of as laid back? Chives might be the herb you relate to best. As for me, I'm all about pizzazz. My fiery Italian temper immediately calls to mind rocket, best known as arugula. Yes, I'd have to say arugula is the herb that I would be. With that in mind, I decided to treat myself to a special little pre-birthday lunch. Flipping through the pages of my copy of Stirring the Pot, I jumped on Tyler's Grilled Brie and Tomato on Crusty Bread. I had bought a lovely baguette and some rocket at a local farmers' market and had a piece of brie just waiting in the wings. I've made pesto with any number of herbs, so an arugula pesto sounded like a terrific variation.

My special lunch went together very quickly and I have a good-sized jar of pesto leftover to enjoy, perhaps in a pasta or maybe a chicken entree.

Arugula Pesto
4 cups arugula
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 baguette, thick bias-cut slices (I sliced in half and used half for one portion)
extra virgin olive oil
ripe tomato, sliced
1/2 lb brie, sliced thin

For the arugula pesto:
In a food processor combine the arugula, basil, garlic, and pine nuts and process until the mixture becomes a smooth puree. With the motor running, slowly pour the 1/2 cup of oil through the feed tube until you get a spreadable consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill to medium OR, do as I did and use the broiler. Drizzle the bread slices with oil and grill about 1 minute per side. Remove bread from the grill and spread each slice with some of the pesto. Add a layer of sliced tomato and some brie. Grill until the cheese melts and the bread is nicely toasted.
Turning 60 is a huge milestone. Being able to enjoy a glass of Corvo and a lovely, toasty adult version of grilled cheese is one of the upsides of getting older.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


TGIF, which also means TFF (Tyler Florence Fridays). If you're new to TFF, you're in for a treat. It's the day our hosts, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen; Natasha of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies; and, Megan of My Baking Adventures do a round up of what a few of us Tyler devotees have been cooking this week. Please visit the link for Tyler Florence Fridays to see for yourselves why we love Tyler.
At last, the Hammonton, New Jersey blueberries have hit the local supermarkets. I bought a large container of them last weekend to make my flag cake, then froze the leftovers. Speaking of leftovers, Larry was happy to learn that aside from some packages of hamburgers and hot dogs that we vacuum sealed and one portion of a 3-cheese lasagna I made recently, we have used up our cache of leftovers. Because of our "heat and eat" week, it was a no-brainer to make a dessert for Tyler Florence Fridays. I was pleased to find on the Food Network website, a very simple blueberry cheesecake bar.

When the health benefits of blueberries became news a few years ago, I couldn't have been more delighted. Blueberries may very well be the perfect fruit. They make a container of Greek yogurt taste like dessert. They perk up a bowl of oatmeal more than any other addition I can think of. Toss a handful of frozen blueberries into your breakfast smoothie and you're set until lunch. They made Ina's cream cheese buttercream icing taste even more delicious (if that's even possible) and were a wonderful topping for last Sunday's Swedish pancakes. Today they are starring in Tyler's super-easy, super-fast, super-scrumptious cheesecake bars.

Be sure to follow the instructions for preparing the pan so you can just lift them out in one piece to cool. I love lemon, so the zest and juice of 2 lemons was just right for me. Most of the reviews for this dessert were positive, though a few people noted they didn't like the amount of citrus flavor. I'm guessing they used bottled lemon juice and not fresh. I found the citrus amount a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the cream cheese and sugar mixture.

For the base:
butter, for greasing
2 tbs sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

For the base:
Grease the bottom of a 9X9 inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon, and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven 12 minutes, until golden. Set aside to cool.

For the filling:
Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. If should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and cover with blueberris. They will sink slightly, but still will be half exposed--as the cake bakes, they will sink a little more and break down.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from the pan using the parchment lining and slice as desired. Dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I'm not really a breakfast person. I eat breakfast, but it isn't my favorite meal of the day, so I tend to eat the same couple of things. One morning it's Greek yogurt with lowfat granola and fruit, another morning it's an egg white and turkey sausage sandwich on an Arnold thin. Once in a while it's a high fiber English muffin with some WW cream cheese. Not exciting, but nourishing and calorie conscious.

Then I got the August/September 2009 issue of Food Network magazine and on page 77 was a breakfast (dessert) worth swooning over: Swedish pancakes. Pemit me a bit of a cakewalk here to say that I am mostly quite impressed with this new magazine. While there are some "filler" pages that I could live without--and please spare me another hamburger recipe--for the most part there's a good balance of easy, intermediate, and more complex recipes as well as a showcasing of some to die for foodie products.

Back to those Swedish pancakes. Larry could not believe that after all the cooking and cleaning I did for our Fourth of July BBQ that I was up for making these crepes. I was and we were both delighted with the results. I'll admit I ate four of them topped with a blueberry and strawberry topping dusted with confectioners' sugar. Oh, my, they were light and buttery and airy and slippery and just sweet enough and, did I mention buttery?

Of course, as always happens when I make crepes, it isn't until you get to the 8th or 9th one that the pan is truly seasoned and they just brown perfectly. That's okay because when you fold them, a multitude of sins can be hidden. I save the 4 in the fridge for tomorrow. I have some Bing cherries that will make an incredible topping.

Makes 12 pancakes
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Confectioners' sugar, maple syrup, and/or fruit toppings

Melt 4 tbs butter in an 10 inch nonstick skillet (I used 8 ") Combine the flour, milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a blender and process until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Warm the same skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water bounces and sizzles.

Add 1 tsp butter, turn to coat the pan with the melted butter.

Pour in a scant 1/3 cup (I used 1/4 cup) batter and quickly swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Cook until the pancake sets, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (DO NOT RUSH THIS STEP). Using a rubber spatula, carefully lift the pancake by the edges and flip. Cook until golden on the other side, 15-30 seconds.

Transfer to a plate (or foil lined baking sheet) and keep warm in the oven while making the others.

Repeat with the remaining butter and batter to make 12 pancakes.

To serve:
Fold in quarters or roll and serve with fruit topping* and a dusting of confectioners' sugar.

*I took a cup of fresh blueberries and a cup of sliced, fresh strawberries and mixed them with 1/3 cup granulated sugar, then heated over low heat for about 10 minutes until they reduced somewhat.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today is a day to celebrate our freedoms and give thanks for those who serve our country and keep us safe. We may grumble about taxes and politicians--not always in that order--but we still live in the land of the free.

It's a grand ole' flag...flag cake, that is. The Barefoot Contessa has done it again with an incredible recipe that produced an "ah" worthy cake. Perusing the Food Network website for some inspiration for our Fourth of July barbecue, I decided to make just one dessert, a half sheet cake, to go with the brownies and chocolate chip cookies that my sister was going to bake and bring. Ina has a great video so the cake is a no-brainer.

How someone can misplace a half sheet cake pan is beyond me. More than likely I brought a dessert to a celebration and never remembered to take the pan. A trip to Michael's and $20 got me another Wilton pan.

While Ina's recipe is marked intermediate, it was a piece of cake (boo! I know; puns are the lowest form of humor) to put together. Good thing Fourth of July comes only once a year because over a pound and a half of butter as well as a pound and a half of cream cheese went into this celebration. But it DOES have lots of fruit on it, so it must be healthy, right?

Serves 20 - 24
For the cake:
2 1/4 sticks (18 tbs) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda

For the icing:
4 sticks (1 lb) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese at room temperature
1 lb confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

To assemble:
2 half-pints blueberries
3 half-pints raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour an 18 X 13 X 1 1/2 inch sheet pan

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag in the icing with a toothpick, then fill in the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

Serve the cake right in the pan.

Hooray for the red, white, and blue!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


It's Tyler Florence Fridays again and, if you haven't already done so, check out this site to see what everyone's cooking. It's guaranteed to make your mouth water. Think about joining us next week. "Rules" are on the site.

I deliberately used the Americanized spelling of this dish to distinguish it from the chicken parmigiana that I typically make. As much as I love Tyler--and long to be featured on his blog--I must be honest with those who stop by The Food of Love and report that this dish was not a hit at "ye old log cabin." Larry seldom offers anything other than praise for the food I place before him. I have to agree with him on this one: the sauce, while not bad, was simply forgettable. Though we both love kalamata olives, neither of us thought they enhanced the taste of the sauce in any way. Straining the canned tomatoes left a "dry" sauce that wouldn't even coat the spaghetti. If, however, you think that the bitter, briny taste of kalamatas would put your chicken parmesan over the top, by all means give it a try. As I recall from my high school French, "A chacun son gout." (rough translation: to each, his own)

As for the chicken cutlets, Tyler didn't deviate from the typical method of preparing them: dredge in seasoned flour, dip in an egg wash, coat with bread crumbs, and saute in olive oil.

Serves 4
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 bunch (8 sprigs) fresh basil, leaves only
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 - 28 oz cans whole, San Marzano tomatoes, drained and hand crushed
pinch sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 lbs total)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbs water
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1- 8 oz ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, drained
parmesan cheese
1 lb spaghetti

In a large saute pan, heat a 2-count of oil (about 2 tbs) over medium heat. When the oil is hot and hazy, add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and cook until soft and fragrant (5 minutes). Hand tear half of the basil leaves. Add the olives and basil. Carefully add the tomatoes and cook and stir about 15 minutes until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper, lower the heat, cover and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Set chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound the chicken breasts until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Dredge with flour, dip in the beaten egg with water mixture, then in bread crumbs.

In a large ovenproof saute pan, heat a 3-count of oil until hot, then saute the cutlets 4 minutes on each side, until golden and crusty.

Set aside 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Bake about 15 minutes until bubbly. (I could not stand the thought of baking the chicken in all this oil. I removed the cutlets and baked in a 9X13 inch casserole.)

Cook the spaghettii, toss with the reserved sauce, and top with the remaining basil leaves, which you can shred.
Sorry, Tyler, we had to give this recipe a "5." You are most welcome to stop by the cabin anytime and I'll share the family recipe for sauce.