Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers

A while ago, I made Chicken Parmesan burgers and they were fantastic. So, when I saw this recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu burgers, I had high hopes. They did not disappoint. In fact, I think I may have liked them better.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers
Recipe by Rachael Ray, adapted
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 15 minutes

2 tsp olive oil
4 slices deli ham or Canadian bacon
1.25 lb ground chicken breast
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp grill seasoning (or salt & pepper)
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices deli cheese (I used Muenster)
4 Kaiser rolls, toasted
garlic mayonnaise

Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat and place the oil in the pan.

Combine the chicken, paprika, poultry seasoning, grill seasoning, shallot, and garlic. Form the meat into 4 patties.

Put the patties into the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Top the patties with the ham and the cheese.

Put under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.

Put the mayo on the buns and then top the burger with any other desired condiments.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Pie

I'm not the biggest fan of fruit pies. Unless it is an apple or rhubarb pie with a crumbly top, you can forget about it. Yes, this means that I do not like cherry or blueberry pie. I do not like any fruit pie that has a lattice or a regular pie crust on the top. I know that might take a while to process.

I do, however, love my grandmother's fresh peach pie. And it's not surprising - it's not baked, it has a graham cracker crust, and is served cold. Plus, the main ingredient is peaches, which I love.

One of my favorite things about this pie is that it requires absolutely no cooking. Sure, I feel a little Sandra Lee-ish when I make it, but I really don't care. If you want to make your own graham cracker crust and your own whipped cream to make this a bit more home-made, I'm sure it would be absolutely delicious. I'm sure I'll get around to trying it that way one day, too.

Grandma's Peach Pie
Cook & Prep Time - less than 10 minutes

4-6 peaches or nectarines (depending on size)
1 tub cool whip
1 jar marshmallow fluff
1 pre-made graham cracker crust

In a medium bowl, stir the marshmallow fluff and cool whip until well combined.

Cut up the peaches, and remove the skins, and place the slices into the bowl with the cool whip mixture. Stir until the peaches are coated.

Pour the peaches into the graham cracker crust and let refrigerate for at least an hour.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken & Chips

When I was in law school, I did a summer study abroad program in London. I think I survived almost entirely on chicken & chips and sandwiches from Pret-a-Manger. Basically, chicken & chips is the English version of chicken tenders and fries, but with a subtly-flavored, airy, crunchy breading. The secret to a great breading is to use beer as your liquid. If you don't, your breading will take on an entirely different texture. If you've never had chicken & chips before, I urge you to try this recipe straight away. And if you have had them, this recipe is sure to cure any craving you're having.

Chicken & Chips
Recipe by Ann Burrell, adapted
Serves 2-4
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook Time - 20 min

3 quarts peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide sticks
1-2 lbs chicken tenders, or chicken breasts cut into wide strips
2 cups flour
2 tsp Old Bay seafood seasoning
1 tsp baking soda
Kosher salt
1 bottle cold beer

Heat the oil to 325 degrees F in a large deep, pot over medium heat. Regulate the temperature with a candy thermometer. (We used our deep fryer for this so there was no need for the thermometer). Keep the potato sticks in a bowl of water to prevent browning before frying. Remove to paper towels and dry well before placing in oil. (Drying is critical to help get the perfect texture). Fry the potatoes until they are cooked through and tender but have no color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be sure the fries have plenty of room and gently swish them around as they are cooking, so do this in batches, if necessary. Remove them from the oil and put them immediately on a paper towel lined baking sheet to absorb any excess grease.

Raise the temperature of your oil to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, seafood seasoning, baking soda and pinch of salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and gently stir in the cold beer. Mix until just combined.

Dip the chicken tenders in the batter mixture and coat generously. When adding the chicken to the oil, dip about 1/3 to 1/2 of the tender into the oil and swoosh it around for a second to allow the batter to start puffing and then gently slide it into the oil all the way.

Fry the chicken until they are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes turning the chicken over during the cooking time. Again, do this in batches if necessary to prevent over-crowding.

When the chicken is done, remove from the oil and put immediately on paper towels to blot the excess oil.

Working in batches, fry the fries a second time at 375 degrees F, until they are golden brown and crispy, a couple minutes. Remove them from the oil, immediately put them on paper towels and toss with kosher salt. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and serve with the fries.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Croque Monsieur

When I was in France about 10 years ago, I was first introduced to the Croque Monsieur and couldn't get enough. It's a simple enough sandwich - basically a grilled ham & cheese. I've had several different ones throughout the years at French restaurants in my area, and while good, nothing really compared to the sandwiches I had in France. So, when I found this Ina Garten recipe, I had a hunch it would be good. And Ina didn't let me down. It was everything I remembered the sandwich being.

Croque Monsieur
Recipe from Ina Garten, adapted
Serves 2
Prep Time - 5-10 min
Cook Time - 25 min

2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
2 cups hot milk (not skim)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch nutmeg
6 oz grated Gruyere cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 slices white bread (thicker is generally better)
mustard (we used regular but Dijon is traditional
4-6 slices deli ham

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat and add the flour and stir till combined. Stir constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and add the salt, pepper, 1/2 cup of Gruyere, and the Parmesan. Whisk until combined and set aside.

Toast the bread by placing it on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn over each slice and bake for another 2 minutes.

Lightly brush two of the slices with mustard. Add about 2 slices of ham to each (maybe 3 if your bread is thick. Put a couple tablespoons of the cheese sauce on top of the ham and sprinkle with the grated Gruyere (about 1/4 of the total remaining on each). Top with another piece of toasted bread.

Slather the tops of the bread with the cheese sauce and then put the remaining Gruyere at the top (NOTE - You will have cheese sauce left over. I used my leftovers to make a really delicious mac & cheese). Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and bake for another 3 minutes. Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pronto Pups

If you are a Minnesotan, or you know a Minnesotan, or if you've ever been to the Minnesota State Fair, chances are you know what a pronto pup is. And you probably have very strong feelings about them. Basically, a pronto pup is like a corn dog, but with one major difference. It uses a wheat batter instead of a cornmeal batter. This makes it better.

A couple of years ago my husband wrote a nice, long description about the differences between a corn dog and a pronto pup on his blog, which he has apparently decided to no longer update. He wrote: "For those who don’t know (i.e. non-Minnesotans), the pronto-pup is basically a corndog but the hotdog is dipped into a wheat-based batter rather than a corn-based batter. It is far and away better than the corndog, although many a riot has been started at the fairgrounds over just this issue. Naturally corn-dog people are wrong, but they just don’t listen to reason. It’s a similar argument as to which stand has the best mini-donuts. Some people say Tiny Tim, and the right people say Tom Thumb."

We decided to try to re-create them one day and I think we came really close. Of course, this won't alleviate the need to start out the day with a pronto pup every time we go to the state fair. I know it's not feasible for most of my readers to ever get to the Minnesota State Fair (a.k.a. "The Great Minnesota Get-Together") but if you ever find yourself in Minnesota sometime during the 12 days before Labor Day, try to make it out to the Fairgrounds on Snelling Ave. in St. Paul.

Pronto Pups

3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup, plus 3 TBSP milk
canola oil, for frying
hot dogs
wooden skewers

Soak your skewers in water for about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients slowly. When finished, it should be about the consistency of pancake batter. Maybe a little thicker.

Heat the oil to 375 degrees F.

Pour the batter into a cake pan or something else shallow.

Put the hot dogs on the skewers and coat with the batter and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.