Posted by betsy
Fall is settling in. Along with cooler weather, an urge to cook more hearty meals accompanies the seasonal change. Summer’s been all about grilling and salads, raw vegetable plates and tomato tarts of all shapes and sizes. Cooler nights are getting me in the mood for pots of soup, baked potatoes, winter squash, and Brussels sprouts.
This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays , Chicken and Salad Milanese Style from Everyday Dorie, is the perfect transitional dish. Chicken breasts are pounded into thin cutlets, breaded and pan-fried. The chicken is served topped with a zesty salad with a lemony dressing. Delicious! And simple too!
What’s the deal with chickens these days? The recipe calls for 4-5-ounce breasts. That’s skinless and boneless already. I bought a package of the smallest looking breasts I could find. Three skinless and boneless breasts weighed in at 1.75 pounds. That’s over half a pound each, nearly double. I solved the problem by cutting each one in half crosswise before pounding, but I also sympathized with the chicken carrying all that extra weight.
I haven’t pounded meat into cutlets in a while and was a little overzealous. Dorie said that at the restaurant where she orders a similar dish, the chicken is pounded as thin as a record (remember vinyl?) so I didn’t hold back. Unfortunately. a few pieces were so thin that when I tried to peel them off the parchment, the meat shredded. Oops!
The cutlets were double-breaded and then set on a rack to dry for an hour or so until it was time to make dinner. In the meantime, there’s time to whip up a salad. When I was ready to eat, it only took a few minutes on each side to panfry the cutlets. Hot chicken was topped with salad.
I am happy to be reminded that chicken cutlets are easy and fast to make. So many other toppings would work as a change from salad for a versatile weeknight meal.
I also made Dorie’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies a few weeks back. Mixed results on the cookies. The batter was so easy to stir together because it uses melted butter instead of solid sticks. I cut back a bit on the chocolate, using about three-quarters of the amount. It was looking like the volume of chocolate would be equal to the remaining ingredients, so I stopped chopping. As it turned out, Howard thought they weren’t chocolatey enough. The cookies were also HUGE, much more like the size you buy in a bakery than the size I would make at home.
As recommended, I chilled the dough overnight. I baked two trays of cookies at the same time. It was interesting that pan on the upper shelf didn’t spread nearly as much as the one on the bottom. I preferred the ones that didn’t spread as much, so I’d suggest baking just one pan at a time, on the upper shelf.
Overall, I liked these cookies well enough. The addition of oatmeal made for a chewier texture and slightly nutty flavor. It’s only fair to tell you that chocolate chip cookies aren’t my #1 favorite type of cookie. I hope you’ll still be my friend.
Both recipes are worth trying out. They are found in Everyday Dorie: chicken on page 109 and chocolate chip cookies on page 246.
Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and Happy Indigenous People Day to the American ones.
Posted by betsy
Duck fat: The liquid gold byproduct of Howard’s duck confit. Decadent vehicle for frying potatoes.
Here’s a new one to add. Fat to use for cookies. What? Cookies, you say?
The recipe on deck this week for Cook the Book Fridays is Duck Fat Cookies or sablés à graisse de canard, if you want to sound more elegant. In reading the notes accompanying this recipe in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, It wasn’t clear to me whether these cookies are actually made in southwest France where residents eat lots of duck fat or if these were just inspired by those customs.
Most of the ingredient list reminded me of the Victorian currant cookies that I sometimes make at holiday time. Currants are steeped in brandy to plump them up before mixing them into a shortbread-like cookie dough. However Victorian currant cookies don’t include any duck fat. In Duck Fat Cookies, more than half of the fat is duck fat. Interesting….
The dough came together easily in the stand mixer. The texture of the dough was very tender. The dough was divided and shaped into logs and chilled. Refrigerator cookies, one of my favorite inventions! I baked one log, freezing the other for another time. My cookies never really browned, even lightly, though I baked them extra time. I should have used a slightly higher oven temperature.
The cookies were wonderfully sandy, earning their name of sables. However, the taste was rather odd. I used duck fat leftover from Howard’s homemade duck confit, and I could taste the residual spices used to flavor the duck. In contrast with the sweet dough and the dried fruit, the savory spices were jarring. The first thing that came to my mind was the memory of a similar contrast in Salted Olive Crisps, where olives dotted a sweetish dough. I’m thinking savory additions, such as olives and nuts, would make a better combination with the duck fat dough.
To see how the others from Cook the Book Fridays made out, check out their links here. To try them yourself, you can find the recipe on page 297 in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.
The highlight of my week, and maybe the whole summer, was a daytrip we took to Duxbury, Massachusetts for a tour of Island Creek Oyster Farm. We booked the tour back in April when there was no way we’d know the weather would be picture perfect. We enjoyed a two-hour tour that included a visit to the hatchery where over 20 million oysters were seeded this season and a boat ride in Duxbury Bay to see where the oysters are farmed. The culmination of the afternoon was enjoying unlimited oysters at the new raw bar after our tour. Howard and I ate 4 dozen each. It was a fabulous day!