Imitation Equals Flattery

I hate it when Mario Batali knocks off my recipes! Awhile ago I made a delicious chicken dish and last month in Food & Wine Magazine there’s Mario totally taking credit for it. I knew I should have posted it sooner…

Our recipes are slightly different since Mario uses asparagus and we opted for spinach. I also made mine in bite-size pieces. This serves two purposes; I don’t have to give the boys knives (bad idea) and the one bite portion makes it less likely they will pick it apart to remove offensive greenery. Everyone loved this the first time round, so I’m cooking it again, this time with basil.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it tastes just as good deconstructed as it does assembled. So if life (your children…) get in the way and you have to abandon the assembly part you can just throw it all in the pan at once. It’s just as tasty although not as pretty. And of course the green parts will definitely get picked out!

Chicken Saltimbocca Bites

(adapted by Mario Batali and then readapted by House of Bedlam)

Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Salt & pepper

10-12 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin

Basil, one bunch

2-3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. capers (optional)

 

Method

Step 1: Begin by preparing your assembly line of chicken, prosciutto, basil and flour. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks and season with salt and pepper. Stack slices of prosciutto and cut into 1” strips. Tear off basil leaves and discard tough stalks. Place flour in a shallow dish.

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Step 2: Place a basil leaf around the chicken and then wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Dredge in the flour and shake off any excess. Repeat until chicken is all wrapped or your children start yelling for your help with something. If this happens not to worry, see note below on deconstructing this recipe.

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Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. In small batches add wrapped chicken to pan (seam side down) and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until chicken is just cooked through and prosciutto is crispy. Transfer chicken to a paper towel lined plate or baking rack.

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Step 4: Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan, and cook down for a few minutes, then whisk in butter and add capers. Drizzle sauce over the chicken bites and enjoy!

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Deconstructing: Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add the chicken pieces to the flour and shake off any excess. Add to pan along with strips of prosciutto and basil. Let cook for about 5-6 minutes until chicken is cooked through and basil is wilted. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Follow Step 4 above, and add chicken back to pan to cook for a minute in the sauce.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Disgusting! April Fool’s! I love it”

Liam (age 5): “There’s bacon in this guys! I like the crispy parts”

Dylan (age 5): “Can you bake more for bread for this?

No matter which way you cook it this dish is a success. Buon Appetito!

And in case you were wondering, no, I didn’t bake the bread…

 

 

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

If you happen to be stuck indoors because a Polar Vortex has descended and it’s seven degrees outside, and your garage door breaks so you can’t leave the house until the repair guys come, and school just announced a 2-hour delay, making it futile to bring your kids to school for the remaining 15 minutes, then I have a great activity for you to try.

Make your own sun dried tomatoes! Besides tomatoes, a little oil and salt, all this requires is that you are home for four or five hours while they bake in the oven. Your reward will be a batch of the sweetest, tangiest, tomatoes which will taste 100% better than the leathery store-bought ones. Trust me, these are definitely worth the effort.

And hopefully by the time the tomatoes are done the temperature will have risen to at least two digits. The kids will still be home from school for the day but thinking about all the mouth-watering dishes you can add these tomatoes to will surely boost your spirits. Okay, that’s a stretch, but since the garage door will certainly be fixed at least you can get out of the house!

How To Make Your Own Sun-Dried Tomatoes

2 lbs of Campari or plum tomatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice tomatoes in half and toss with the olive oil.

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Spread them out cut side up on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and place in oven.

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Bake until the tomatoes are slightly charred, at least 4 hours. If you have more time, you can bake these even longer but I prefer to have a little juiciness left to them.

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Tomatoes can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. Store them in a glass container and add some more olive oil. They are great tossed in a salad and the tomato infused oil can be used to make salad dressing.

Now that you have invested all this time in these beautiful, flavorful tomatoes, here is a great recipe to make using them:

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Ingredients

1-cup sun-dried tomatoes (see above)

1/2-cup fresh basil leaves

1/4-cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4-cup blanched slivered almonds

1 clove garlic

1/4-cup olive oil

Squeeze of fresh lemon (optional)

Salt & pepper

Note: Pine nuts are traditionally used in a pesto but are very expensive. Almonds are a great substitute and give this pesto a slightly crunchy texture.

In a food processor, blend the tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese, almonds and garlic to a chunky paste. Scrape down sides; add olive oil, lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until oil is blended.

Serve with chips or toss with some fresh pasta. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is: 

Matthew (age 6): “It’s just too much of one flavor…”

Liam (age 4): “I like the chips!”

Dylan (age 4): “I will only lick it once”

This might be a better sell with the girls in our weekly Mah Jongg game. But at least I got one taste and a lick!

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BBQ in BKLYN

Last week we took a road trip to Brooklyn for a BBQ.  After two years on a waiting list my good friend had scored the impossible – a 2BDRM 2BATH apartment with an outdoor space!  A rarity in New York where outdoor spaces usually comprise of fire escapes or tar rooftops. This was a genuine deck; big enough for a patio table, chaise lounge AND grill.

The best feature, aside from the grill, was ample space for our kids to run around while my friends and I could enjoy some wine and cheese, and an actual conversation. My kids were almost as thrilled as I was.

We had to endure two hours of traffic to get to there. The amount of times three children can say “Mommy, are we there yet?” during a ride of that duration is truly mind-boggling. But we eventually saw the sign that we had arrived:

hype

My friend had just purchased her grill and we were christening it that night. Dinner was hamburgers and flank steak pinwheels stuffed with spinach and cheese. The boys were excited about the hamburgers, but I was eager to taste the flank steak pinwheels. They were so delicious I decided to recreate it this week with a different stuffing, as I was still thinking about them.

On the trek home, the boys fell fast asleep; snug in their PJ’s – dreaming of who knows what – And I enjoyed a quiet, traffic-free, ride home.

oyveysignb

Flank Steak

Ingredients:

1 (1 1/2 or 2-pound) flank steak, butterflied *

4 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced, (about 6-8 slices)

4 oz. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (6 slices)

1 roasted red pepper, cut in strips

15 fresh basil leaves

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

* Have your butcher butterfly the steak. The meat dept. at any supermarket will do this.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the steak on a flat surface; cut side up, with the grain of the meat running from left to right. Season the top of steak with salt and pepper. Then layer the surface with the prosciutto slices, next top with the mozzarella cheese. Add the strips of peppers and top with a layer of basil leaves.

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Tightly roll the flank steak around the filling (steak should be rolled parallel to the grain). Using kitchen string, tie the roll every two inches or so. Season the roll all around with salt and pepper.

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In a large ovenproof skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, sear each side of the roll, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.

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Once the steak is seared on all sides, place the skillet in the oven and bake the steak for about 30 minutes until desired doneness.

Transfer the steak from the skillet to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into individual rolls.

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Note 1: 125-130 degrees internal temperature is medium rare; which is best for this type of steak. You will need a meat thermometer for this recipe.

Note 2: Normally I would try this on the grill but it was pouring rain that night. Cooking this in the oven was easy, but way more clean up.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Not bad – works for me… I like this basil”

Liam (age 4): “I knew this lunch would be bad!”

Dylan (age 4): “Basil makes it yucky but I like the ham so much”

Secretly, I was hoping they wouldn’t eat it so there would be lots of leftovers. This came out even better than I had expected – YUM! 

“Little boys don’t eat salad”

Last week, our salad experiment was kind of a bust. So this week I am taking my big sister’s advice, which means I can blame her if it goes awry! Her suggestion was to make a version of panzanella salad.

A panzanella is essentially a salad of stale bread, tomatoes and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. That is the base of it and other ingredients can be added to make it more of a meal.  I am going to include mozzarella cheese, roasted peppers and some prosciutto. A salad with cheese and bread – might just work!

Don’t have any stale bread? Not a problem. I had some pancetta bread, fresh from a trip to Arthur Avenue (the Bronx’s “Little Italy”), which I cut into bite size pieces and toasted. Any bread will do, just make sure it is the consistency of a crouton. I also crisped up the prosciutto and crumbled it to mimic bacon bits. For the tomatoes I used the smallest, sweetest variety I could find and since I had lots of salty ingredients, I went with a honey Dijon dressing for some sweetness.

This is such a simple salad to prepare and extremely easy to manipulate according to different tastes. I think I covered all the bases so let’s get to the tasting!

Mozzarella Panzanella Salad

Ingredients:

6 thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto

1 cup stale bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 roasted red pepper, diced into bite size pieces

1 roasted yellow pepper, diced into bite size pieces

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 lemon

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp honey

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread prosciutto slices on a baking sheet and bake in oven approximately 15-18 minutes. Let cool and crumble into small pieces. (Can be done ahead – refrigerate in airtight container)

If you are starting with fresh bread, place bread on a baking sheet and bake in oven with prosciutto, approximately 10 minutes, until toasted. Let cool before adding to salad. (Can be done ahead- store in airtight container)

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Combine the bread, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and proscuitto crumble in a large mixing bowl.

For the dressing whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Use about 3 Tbsp of the dressing to drizzle over the salad and refrigerate the rest. You can keep the dressing for several weeks, just shake well before serving.

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Lastly, sprinkle the fresh basil over the top of the panzanella and serve!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 5): “I don’t like the peppers but cheese, bread and bacon, THUMBS UP!

Liam (age 3): “This salad makes me mad”

Dylan (age 3): “Little boys don’t eat salad!” “I like the sauce you made but the salad part tastes like a leaf – yuck”

Okay, I confess, I did promise a cookie for dessert if they tried the salad. But amazingly enough, once they did eat some they seemed to genuinely enjoy it. Even Liam, although he would NEVER admit it!

The leftovers

The leftovers