Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baking and cooking again!

It took me sometime (in fact days) to recover from our last trip. I felt tired to do my weekly house-chore on Monday, let alone try out new recipes. So we didn't have anything interesting till tonight.

I wanted to make something with chicken breast, with a twist. So I decided on a recipe from Giada's Everyday Italian -- Chicken Saltimbocca.Saltimbocca means "leap in the mouth", as in the dish is so nice that it will just leap into your mouth. Sounds good for dinner? The process was a bit tedious, definitely not my usual quick and easy stirfry dish....but in the spirit to try something new everyday, I dived right in and got my hands dirty..

Chicken Saltimbocca

6 (3-ounce) chicken cutlets, pounded to evenly flatten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place the chicken cutlets flat on the work surface. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay 1 slice of prosciutto atop each chicken cutlet.

Squeeze the frozen spinach to remove the excess water. Season the spinach with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss the spinach with 1 tablespoon of oil to coat.

Arrange an even, thin layer of spinach atop the prosciutto slices. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over each. Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each chicken cutlet as for a jellyroll. Secure with a toothpick.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Add the chicken broth and lemon juice, and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Simmer the cooking liquid over high heat until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove toothpicks from the chicken. Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken and serve immediately.

We thought it was a nice alternative to our usual chicken stirfry. I like the idea of stuffing spinach in the chicken breasts. It is one of those simple, but look impressive recipe. Taste wise? Sad to say, it's so so only...Ok, at least, I tried.

For the whole day, I have been binge-ing my "Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies". I must have eaten 7/8 cookies for breakfast and lunch and snacks. I baked these yesterday night, following the recipe from America's Test Kitchen. The host sounded authoritative and seems to know what he was talking about. So I proceeded, following the recipe to the T, eventhough I have a thousand and one questions at the back of my mind.

As it turned out, I managed to get the desired texture, i.e crispy on the edge and chewy in the center. But the taste was a bit different from what I have made before. Probably because of the nutmeg used. OCT said it smelt like Indian food.....The recipe that I made before called for cinnamon, vanilla and sometime maple syrup. This supposedly "Ultimate" recipe used none.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter(1/2 pound), softened but still firm
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raisins

1. Adjust oven racks to low and middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
2. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together, then stir them into butter-sugar mixture with wooden spoon or large rubber spatula. Stir in oats and raisins.
3. Form dough into sixteen to twenty 2-inch balls, placing each dough round onto one of two parchment paper–covered, large cookie sheets. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. (Halfway during baking, turn cookie sheets from front to back and also switch them from top to bottom.) Slide cookies on parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

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