Friday, December 27, 2013

Almond Chicken Fingers

I first made this over 30 years ago for my husband, and while he ate it, he said he didn't care for it, and not to make it again for him.

I didn't listen to him, and I made it again, for Tapas this month.   And guess what, they were eaten and enjoyed.  So much for listening to him. Sheesh.
Almond Chicken Fingers


Just kidding.

I had such great plans for Tapas Night this month, (and yes I know I'm writing about it a few days late, but Christmas and Boxing Day got in the way).

I had some Andouille Sausage, some chicken, and some lovely bacon.  And I thought, hmm, I could wrap a piece of chicken in the bacon with a piece of Andouille Sausage, brush it with a nice sauce and broil it and then serve it for Tapas.  Luckily for me, I did a dry run a couple of days before, and while the concept was great, the execution was not. In other words, it didn't make the cut. 

That's when I remembered the Almond Fingers I'd made all those years ago.    

And so that's what I did.   And they were good.   Of course, because I was making it for a crowd I did up the amounts a tad, but it's all good.    Oh, and I made it Gluten Free as well.   (Just one more pat on the back for me).  Come to think of it, if you're eating Atkins, this would work for you as well.  hmmmm

Almond Chicken Fingers

2 tbsp. Butter, melted
1/2 cup ground/chopped almonds
1/4 cup bread crumbs ( I used Besan Flour aka Chickpea Flour)
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. chicken, cut into strips

Melt butter, dip chicken in butter then in almond mixture and bake in a 500 deg. oven for 10 minutes.
Serve with a Sweet and Sour sauce and or a Mango Chutney.

That was the basics, but here's how I did it.

First off, I made some almond flour, well, I used my little nut chopper to make some coarsely chopped nuts, then put them in a little food processor and processed them some more.   I needed to make a coarse almond flour. 

I then added some Besan Flour (chickpea flour) in place of bread crumbs, the cayenne and salt.

  I put that aside while I cut up the chicken.   I'd thawed it in the fridge overnight and it was still a little frozen when I took it out.

 So much easier to cut up that way.  I cut each breast into three cutlets, then made 4 strips out of each cutlet. 

Put them aside, while I melted the butter.   You didn't think you were going to get away without any fat here, did you? 

Boneless, skinless breasts don't have any fat, and dry out in a flash if you don't treat them right.    And I also upped the amount I made, basically I tripled the recipe, mainly because I was feeding a crowd.   And when you are baking the chicken, don't crowd the pan, you want some space around each piece of chicken for it to cook evenly.  
Dipped the chicken strips in the butter, and then into the almond mixture, before laying them on a greased pan.
Baked them for 12 minutes, and then turned the broiler on high for just another minute or so, because they weren't browned enough.  And I would have taken a picture of them when they came out of the oven, but my guests had started arriving so I had to hurry up and visit.
Almond Chicken Fingers

These disappeared rapidly, and I got some lovely feedback on them.   I will make them again, but I think I would do it just a tad differently next time.   But when I do make them again, I will post what I did here.   Maybe make the chicken into cutlets, and then coat them, hmmm, so many possibilities...




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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yorkshire Puddings

As you may have surmised by now, I like to cook.  And I also like to keep trying to get a recipe just right.  Or keep trying new ones, until I find the perfect recipe.  And by gum, I think I done it.   Found the perfect recipe for Yorkshire Puddings. 
Yorkshire Puddings

I love my Yorkies, really I do, but up til now my attempts have been a hit and miss affair.  I get recipes from friends, and they swear by them, I make them once and they turn out OK, but the next time I make it, it flops.  And while I may eat the 'hockey puck Yorkshire puds' I still want giant, towering, light, airy, crisp puddings.  Something I can ladle my gravy over, something I can butter a little later on and eat as a snack.
Yorkshire Puddings


Just for fun I googled recipes yet again, and this time I found 'THE RECIPE' here , at a place called British Food on About.com.

I made them according to the instructions, in the morning, thinking if they turned out like little hard biscuits, I was out two eggs and a little time.  But they didn't.

I did twiddle with the recipe, just a teeny bit, but that's because I had already cracked two eggs.  I then proceeded with the recipe instructions and they turned out so well.  
Yorkshire Puddings
I was a very happy cook at this point.   I promptly inhaled two of them, and I called them breakfast.

Here's the recipe I used.   And I got a dozen lovely, tasty, airy puddings out of it.

Basically you use equal measurements of each of the three main ingredients. 

2 eggs (I've been using Jumbo eggs lately cause they've been so inexpensive) cracked into a measuring cup.
I get a half cup of eggs from the two Jumbo eggs.
1/2 cup milk (equal amount of milk to egg)
1/2 cup all purpose flour  (equal amount of flour to egg)
Pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and milk together, really well, or use a hand beater.   Let this sit for about 20 minutes and then sift the flour into the egg/milk batter, beating very well, until it resembles a thick cream.  If you happen to get any lumps in there, just sieve them out.   Set the batter aside for a minimum of 30 minutes or several hours if you can.  I think the ones I baked later on in the day rose higher. 
Prepare the pan.  I used a 12 hole muffin pan, but if you have a pop over pan, use that.  Or you can also use a good sturdy roasting pan as well.    Put a pea sized piece of lard or shortening into each hole, if using a muffin tin, then place the pan into a very hot oven, 425-450 deg., until the oil is smoking hot.  But don't burn it.  This really just takes a couple of minutes.

And here's my newest tip of the week, or maybe it should be the hint of the year.  Really, it is that good.  And one I wish I'd thought of myself. 

One of the main tricks of making sure that Yorkshire Pudding rise is not letting the pan with the hot fat in it cool down.  So, you keep the pan in the oven, and hope you don't let out too much heat as you're pouring the batter in.  Then you hurry up and shut the door, and cross your fingers you're not going to pull out hockey pucks.
Yorkshire Puddings
Here's the hint/tip/LIGHTBULB over the head. 
Turn on a large element on top of the stove, doesn't have to be on a high temp, then place your pan on top of that as you're pouring the batter into the cups/pan.  No loss of heat.

Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, just til they are all puffed up and golden.  

Yorkshire Puddings

Serve them alongside a lovely rib roast, or a nice roast chicken or gee, I might just make some for myself, just because.

They were the perfect accompaniment to the Standing Rib Roast.

I hope your Christmas was a good one.  I know we ate well on Christmas eve at our house.   My guests brought a wonderful assortment of vegetable side dishes as well as some desserts.  And there are no pictures of that because, I wanted to sit down and enjoy their company.  

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Glædelig jul and Christmas Memories, part two

Christmas Memories, continued...

Our Christmas tree was always real, and was put up on Christmas Eve, and I look back and wonder about that one.  Cause Mom was in the kitchen cooking, and I and my sibs were supposed to help, but we also helped Dad with decorating the tree.   The chaos of that day, wow.     How she survived?, semi sane I will never know.  Not only was there a meal to prepare, we had the tree to decorate, and any last minute wrapping to take care of, not to mention, we had to dress and make ourselves ready.  

:Let me share a Christmas Eve with you here, or at least my memories of our Christmas Eve. 

The tree was put up, and decorated.  Any presents we'd bought and wrapped were put under it in anticipation.  

Mom had a duck or a goose in the oven, made the Danish way, stuffed with prunes and apples.  The aroma wafted through the house, and your mouth watered in anticipation.

Well, mine did.

My sisters and I helped Mom with peeling the potatoes, and preparing the various side dishes.   Early in the day Mom made a Citron Fromage for dessert and it was given pride of place in the fridge, because it had to set up for dessert.
Citron Fromage

We always had Risengrød, Mom would start it early on, and then the pot would be wrapped up in a down comforter to finish cooking.  I think it was done that way because there literally was no more room on top of the stove for it to finish cooking.   But also it requires a lot of stirring, so that it doesn't burn or scorch, and by wrapping it in a blanket, it was easier on the cook, and it finished steaming away, happily, in the dark.  (and I will be sharing the recipe for that soon).

When the dinner was ready to be served the Risengrød (Rice Porridge)  would be brought in, and we would all get a small bowl.   An almond was always hidden in the Risengrød and the lucky recipient of the almond would get a Marzipan pig as a prize or a box of After Eight mints. (depending on your age)  As my nieces and nephews got a little older, two almonds would be hidden in the risengrød, and it was really kind of funny, how one of the children usually got the almond.  The other one would be random.  And you weren't allowed to eat the almond until after you had proven you'd gotten it.

After the Risengrød, the rest of the meal would be served, and there was always much laughter and joy.  The smaller children would hurry up and eat, hoping to hurry the adults along.  But it never worked.  We would have dessert, a wonderful Citron Fromage, and then the table would be cleared and the dishes done.   Trust me on this, that was the hardest part of the evening.  We knew those presents under the tree were just waiting impatiently for us to open them.  

The torture continued.  Just kidding.  

After everything had been cleared up, we all gathered around the tree, joined hands and sang Christmas carols as we circled the tree.  We sang some English carols and some in Danish and I still love the Danish songs. 
Højt for træets grønne top,  (High on the trees green top, rough translation)
På loftet sidder nissen med sin julegrød  (In the loft sits the Nisse with his Christmas pudding)
and  Glade jul, dejlige jul   (Silent Night, Holy Night, you're probably familiar with that one)
and there were probably more Danish ones, but those are the ones I remember. 

And after that interminable time of singing, well, when you're a kid, any song is too long if it's keeping you from the presents.    It was time to get our presents.   Mom was the designated reader of tags, and Dad would hand them to the recipient, or they would take turns.  The youngest would get their presents first, then the adults in turns, and finally Mom and Dad would open their presents.
After all that, a pot of coffee would be made and the Christmas cookies would be brought in and we'd all just sit and visit and enjoy each others' company.

I hope you've had a great Christmas,
 

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Glædelig jul and some Christmas Memories

I was just sitting at the table trying to put together one of these hearts.  I try to put one or two together each Christmas, I don't want to forget how to do it.  They are part of a kit I was given a few years ago by one of my sibs.  Luckily for me they are already cut out, all I have to do is put them together.    And I started thinking and remembering...

My dad and the patience he had with us as our little fingers tried so hard to make the hearts.  We would cut them out so carefully, and then weave them together and the cuts weren't always straight nor was the weaving all that great.

I'm a bit of a pack rat and I kept some of the ones I made as a child.










As well as some of the more elaborate hearts Dad and Mom made.  




Just a few of the hearts.
As you can see by the unevenness, this was cut out by hand. 

And I remember getting the 'right' kind of paper, either through a family member sending them to us from Denmark or being able to buy it locally, and the excitement of being able to make the hearts.
Very, very simple.  Two cuts,and voila!


 I got my pre-cut one finished, and hung on the tree. As you can see, I kinda 'munched' it a little.

You can also hide candies and other assorted goodies in the hearts, and let the kiddo's find them.   




You can see some of the hearts here on the tree. 


And it started me thinking, just how incredibly lucky I am.  Most of my memories of Christmas are positive.   I never had to worry about either one of my parents drinking and not coming home, or having to hide if they had too much to drink and got mean.  I never had to wonder if we would have Christmas dinner, it was always there.   And while there may have been short tempers from time to time, they were short-lived and quickly forgotten.   There was always something special under the tree for us. Nothing too elaborate, but something we could use or like.
This was the year of the Red Cowboy Boots.  I loved those boots.    And as you can see, there are hearts on this tree as well.   I also remember the year I got three Nancy Drew books, those are two of my most memorable Christmas'.  Of course I did get into trouble cause I had to read those books right away.  By the way I still have them, but the boots, they're but a distant, wonderful memory. 


Now you will have to excuse me, I need to go and make the Risengrød so I can feed the Nisse tonight.  

They can get downright nasty if you don't feed them on Christmas Eve.   And we don't need any tricks played on us this coming year.


MERRY CHRISTMAS...   Please have a safe and joyful day. 




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Monday, December 23, 2013

Snowmen.... and Deviled Eggs

I had fun the other day in the kitchen.   I made Snowmen, and some Deviled Eggs.

I have fun most days when it comes to cooking something new.
 I was going to join the ladies for our Friday night get together, and since we were doing a present exchange and it was so close to Christmas, I decided to make a universal favourite.

Deviled Eggs.  I mean, what's not to like about them?   And here's where the fun part came in, I made a decoration out of some of the eggs.

I made Snowmen.    Yup, little Snowmen, from the hard cooked eggs.   And they were so cute, and easy to make.   Oh and the deviled eggs tasted pretty good as well.
Snowmen and Deviled Eggs

I just made the basic deviled egg recipe, mashed the yolks, added mayo, mustard, a little Israeli Paprika, and a couple of chopped gherkins to the mixture, piped them out into the egg whites using a cupcake decorating tip, then sprinkled a little more paprika on top.  




Then I had fun. 

I'd hard cooked 3 jumbo eggs and 3 medium eggs, peeled them and set them aside.

 I then got a carrot, peeled it and made cut coins out of it.  I used part of the carrot to cut little teeny 'noses' for the snowmen.


  I also took a black olive out of my marinated olives, and used it.  Luckily I had a jar in the fridge, but if you're going somewhere either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and are bringing deviled eggs and olives you can have fun like this as well.

Take the large egg and cut a slice off of the bottom and then another slice off of the top.    Place it aside.  Then you take the medium egg, and cut a slice off of the large end.  Put that aside.

Snowmen and Deviled Eggs


Snowmen and Deviled Eggs

Snowmen and Deviled Eggs




 Get a skewer, and cut it to fit the length of the stacked eggs.  You will then use the pointed end of the skewer and push it through the stacked carrot coins, and then place it through the body of the eggs.   Decorate the eggs with the carrot noses and olives.  I used the blunt end of the skewer that I'd cut off to poke holes in the smaller egg for the 'buttons and eyes' which I'd cut out of the single olive.  I did eat the rest of the olive, and the egg slices I cut off, made a nice sandwich.  But you could also mash them up and put them in with the yolks for the deviled eggs. 


After you assemble them, just put them in the dish you're serving the eggs in and VOILA, a really cute, seasonal decoration.  And it's edible as well.
Snowmen and Deviled Eggs

Snowmen and Deviled Eggs
And to transport them, I just laid them on their sides, and took them with me.  You can put a can of drained black olives around their bases as well if you like, but I did not want to take anything away from them.
Snowmen and Deviled Eggs



These were a hit, by the way, just too darn cute for words. 

Now, go have some fun with your food. 

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tapas for December

We had our final Tapas Night for the year last night, and as usual, it was well attended and there was a lot of great food brought, and enjoyed. 

We also did a fun Grinch or Dirty Santa gift exchange, which I think is just the most fun ever.   I love seeing what people bring and fight steal from each other.   I've noticed that wine is always a popular item, and there were a few bottles floating around last night.   We had everything from a car wash kit to a Christmas tree ornament and lots of fun stuff in between. 

But this blog is about food, so without further ado, or more hyperbole, here's the rundown.

Sliced Lunch meats with some Ciabatta Rolls











Almond Chicken Fingers with Sweet and Sour Sauce and Mango Chutney.   I'll be sharing this recipe later on, well, within the next day or so. 

 Fruit, and if you notice the little Santa toothpick holder, well, he was in the spirit of the occasion last night.
 Ambrosia.  Yum. 
 Chicken Tagine, a dish I'd never had before, and so appreciated being able to try.   
 Appetizers, and very good.  Look how pretty, I just love seeing how people serve their food.

 Cranberry Salsa, a little different take on regular old cranberries.
 Guacamole, you just can't go wrong with that.













 There was this pretty pink stuff.  Sorry, I didn't get a chance to taste it.    And I thought I'd not taken its picture either, but somehow got the picture in the wrong folder.  But that bowl shape is to die for.  I like unusual dishes.
 Fruit salad, tastes great.



 This was tasty as well.  












Taco casserole.  A fun dish, and it was popular.



 A rather blurry shot of some meatballs, (sorry)













 
This was fun and different, a nice spread with all kinds of cool veggies on it. 










Cuban Black Beans and Rice,  I have some of this residing in my fridge right now, and will be eating it shortly.  









And then there were the desserts: 
We had everything from cookies, to cake to pie to rum balls to eclairs.   I think they can all speak for themselves.  But just in case, I decided to label them as well.

 Cookies
 Rum balls.   Love those guys
 Brunekager  I did take some better pictures, but you'll have to go and read all about how to make Brunekager to see them. 
 Chocolate Cake and some lovely fresh Pecans.  (we do live in the south you know, and there are always Pecans here. 
 Pumpkin Pie
Eclairs and Cream Puffs. 













And I have to say, if you go home hungry from my house on a Tapas Night, it's your fault.

I think a good time was had by all, I know I had fun, and now I'm going to go and relax, wash a couple of wine glasses and remember some of the conversations I had last night.  

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