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Easing into Autumn {CtBF} #EverydayDorie

 

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.

You can find my friends’ reviews at Cook the Book Fridays. : chicken here and cookies here.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and Happy Indigenous People Day to the American ones.

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Creative Crab {CtBF}

 

I’m a Maryland girl, so crab is in my blood.  I grew up on summer crab feasts, the Maryland version of a New England clambake.  Imagine a picnic table covered with newspaper and filled with whole steamed crabs coated in Old Bay Seasoning.   It’s a hands-on meal, where you crack the shells open and painstakingly pick the meat from the crabs.  The seasoning clings to your fingers, conveying a spicy burn with every bite. It’s communal and festive and delicious!

For fancier occasions, there was crab Imperial, typically restaurant fare, though my mother was known to make it on occasion.  Lump crabmeat is mixed with mayonnaise, the requisite Old Bay Seasoning, stuffed into a crab shell (or a baking dish), topped with breadcrumbs and cheese, and baked until bubbly.  What an indulgence.

And of course, life wouldn’t be complete without Maryland crab cakes.  While hardly everyday fare, crab cakes were a special occasion dinner we ate at home, the kind of thing you might pick for Mom to make for your birthday.  Crab meat is bound together with egg and mayo, and of course that Old Bay Seasoning, and formed into patties, then fried or baked.

Clearly, my relationship with crab leans towards serving it warm with Old Bay.

This week’s recipe choice for Cook the Book Fridays went in another direction.  Fennel, radish, orange, and crab salad is served cold and combines a set of flavors I’d describe more as California than Maryland.

This recipe fit perfectly into my weekly cooking schedule.  Our tradition for many years is to spend Christmas Eve with friends celebrating the Italian Feast of Seven Fishes. This year we had 10 different kinds of fish or seafood.  Typically, Howard makes a gravlax and I make mini-crab cakes.  (This year, I also brought a batch of brandade.)  Knowing I would be making this salad, I set aside some of the crab meat before I mixed up the crab cakes.

I loved the vibrant colors in the salad.  Though the fennel and crab were neutral, the rich burgundy leaves of radicchio, the pink radish skins, the green flecks of parsley, and, at least on my plate, the accents of orange segments created a festive palette.  It tasted good too.  The salad is in the “First Courses” chapter of My Paris Kitchen, but a larger portion served for lunch makes a healthy, light, yet satisfying meal after the many indulgences of December.

Howard’s plate sans orange is not as colorful, but he has his rules…

My only complaint is with the quantity of dressing.  As instructed, I tossed the crab and parsley with the dressing.  However, after I spooned the mixture over the greens and other vegetables, no dressing remained in the bowl to spoon over said greens and other vegetables, leaving them a little bit dry.  I was too lazy, but simply doubling the amount of dressing would have solved the problem.  To be sure to have some left, I’d mix half (the original amount) in with the crab and reserve the other half to drizzle over the vegetables before adding the crab mixture to the plate.

You don’t really need a recipe to make this, but you can find it on page 90 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  To see what other cooks thought of the recipe, follow their links here.

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful New Year in 2018!  Happy Cooking!