Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Retro Cooking..... We liked it then so how come we don't make it anymore?

Remember the "good old days"? Sure you do! But I was trying to recall last night old recipes that we had liked so much but nobody prepares anymore so I could take advantage of some chicken thighs and grapes. I didn't recall the name of the dish so I started googleing..... low and behold, lots of old timey dishes started popping up that were known as "Classics" then, used to be on  all the best menus yet have disappeared completely. Why?

Sure, food tastes change, new food trends take over and the food industry comes up with "new spins" on food that take us in other directions from what we're used to. Life has gotten more hectic, there's less time to make meals and there's more processed food than ever and sometimes, even for entertaining, it's easier to just pop in to your local Sam's or Costco and purchase a box of appetizers to serve for a party than to actually make them yourself..... I get it. But does that mean we don't like the foods we used to love? Of course not! We've just forgotten about them but they're still as amazing as they ever were..... so why not try to bring them back?

Same goes for drinks, while new ones are "created", the old ones are passed over yet they were pretty good, remember? I'm sure you can tell me of some "cocktails" you used to enjoy way back then, right? So I say let's take a trip down memory lane and bring back these "oldies but goodies", ok?

I'll start with the use for the chicken I mentioned which I finally remembered was called "Chicken Veronique". It was grand! Dinner was amazing, it was easy and gave our Monday night the feeling of a special Midnight Supper. Want to try it? Here's the recipe:

CHICKEN VERONIQUE: Easy preparation that guarantees sophisticated flavors while making a budget and healthy dish. The sauce is great!

1 Tbs. olive oil
4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
1-1/2 cups red or green seedless grapes
2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
Half a 750-ml bottle white wine, your choice
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried, crumbled
1 cup mushrooms, your choice, chopped if large
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a 7- to 8-quart enameled Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, sear the chicken, turning once, until golden-brown, 10 to 12 minutes per batch. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl.

When all the chicken is browned, pour off all but 2 Tbs. of fat. Add the grapes and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. They'll get golden brown and roasted. Transfer the grapes to a small bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the wine reduces by almost half, about 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Add the broth and sprinkle with thyme. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the chicken is very tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.

Raise the heat to medium high and boil the liquid until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 10-12 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the cornstarch, then whisk the cream mixture into the sauce. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan along with the mushrooms. Simmer gently over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through. Stir in the reserved grapes. The chicken skin will be soft—remove it prior to serving, if desired.
NOTE: You could also do this with chicken cutlets which have been pounded flat or even veal or pork. Just dredge lightly in flour with salt and pepper and then cook in some butter. Reserve while you make the sauce and pour on the sauce when you're ready to serve.
STEAK DIANE: Here's another classic that you don't see often.... great flavors and sure to impress!

2 6-ounce filet mignons
1/8 teaspoon salt & pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 shallots
1 lemon
Fresh chives
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon brandy
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely minced

 Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the steaks to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare meat. Move the steaks from the skillet to covered serving plates to keep them warm.

 Finely mince the shallots. Juice the lemon. Finely chop the chives. Add 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons shallots, and the mustard to the drippings in the skillet (still over medium heat). Cook for only 1 minute.

 Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chives, and the Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the brandy to the mixture and pour immediately over the steaks. Garnish the steaks by sprinkling them with 1 tablespoon minced parsley.
NOTE: Of course you can use other cuts of meat for this recipe to make it budget friendly, if it's not such a tender cut then cook very quickly so it will not get tough. Butter can be substituted by olive oil or margarine; shallots by onions; chives by green onions, any mustard will do and you can use any liquor you have on hand that you like too. Peas & carrots can be cooked along with the onions if desired.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU: Another classic that's worth bringing back, your family will love it!

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 slices Swiss cheese, Gruyere or your choice
6 slices ham or Prosciutto
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I prefer to use Panko bread crumbs), your choice
1 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons butter (you can use half butter or margarine and half olive oil)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I use 2% milk instead)

Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick, they should be 1/2-1/4 thick so you can roll them up but be careful to not pierce them. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks.

Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces. I prefer to use some egg wash and then roll in Panko breadcrumbs for a crunchier coating.  Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. I then place the breaded in a baking pan with PAM, in the over at 350F for about 20-25 minutes to finish cooking while I make the sauce since I don't like the chicken to get soggy.

Add the wine and bouillon to the same pan.  Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.

BAKED ALASKA: A real showstopper whenever it's made and it's not as hard as you think! The directions have you make a chocolate cake to use as the base but you can make a box cake or a store bought one and cut to size. Choose any combination of ice cream and cake that you prefer too. Very fun to make!!!! This recipe is from Martha Stewart and I've been using it for years, changing it so much that it's been done in hundreds of ways and always enjoyed!

6 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 pints pistachio ice cream, slightly softened
1 1/2 pints cherry ice cream or berry sorbet, slightly softened

Swiss Meringue
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Attach to mixer. Whisk on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture is cool, about 10 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Use immediately.

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and the egg yolks in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; whisk, on medium speed, until pale yellow and thick, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla, and fold in melted chocolate just to combine. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites and pinch of salt in bowl of electric mixer; whip, on medium speed, until frothy. Add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff. Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Carefully pour batter out into prepared cake pan. Bake until cake is set and top is dull, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack.

Spray a 5-cup-capacity metal bowl with cooking spray; line with plastic. Pack base of bowl with pistachio ice cream; layer cherry ice cream over pistachio, then finish with another layer of pistachio ice cream (or layer ice creams and sorbets as you desire). Pack firmly, cover surface with plastic wrap, and place in freezer. Freeze until ice cream is very hard, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours in advance.

Place cake on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Remove ice cream from the freezer, and invert bowl over cake. Keep the ice cream covered with plastic wrap, and return ice-cream cake to the freezer.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a star tip, with meringue; pipe onto ice cream in a decorative fashion, or spoon meringue over ice cream and swirl with a rubber spatula. If ice cream starts to soften, return cake to freezer for 15 minutes. Place in oven, and bake until meringue just starts to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve immediately.

I really hope you will try these, they're worth bringing back. Don't let the process of the Baked Alaska scare you out of trying it, go ahead, it's easier than you think and even if it's not perfect, the results are awesome! These dishes are perfect for company due to their WOW factor but are easy enough to make any day of the week, plus they're adaptable enough to use with budget friendly ingredients so there's no reason not to make them anytime at all!

Let me know if you have any questions but most of all, cooking is fun and it's the only pastime where you can eat your results! Another thing, the more you practice, the better you get and the more creative it makes you and that's amazing! Enjoy!

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