I know, I know, it’s been a while! I am taking two accelerated classes right now, one being Humanistic Traditions, and the other, Theory of Creative Writing. I am loving my writing class, and my professor is amazing. I’ve written more creative stories in these past weeks than I have in high school. I find myself writing about topics deeper than I had ever imagined. Characters dealing with conflicts which are both intriguing, and outside of my comfort zone.
That being said, I made this for dinner a while ago—and I mean weeks ago— I am finally going to post the recipe and photo.
I found this book in a thrift store a few years ago, and I am sad to say I have never dove into the book until today. “I’m Just Here For The Food” was one of Alton Brown’s first cookbooks. Written over twelve years ago, Alton explores the cuisine with illustrations, scientific analogies, and of course, his likable humor.
Believe it or not, Chicken Piccata is actually a braised dish. Originating in Italy, Piccata means “sharp” , referring to the sharp and tangy caper sauce which accompanies the chicken. The chicken is pan-fried to create a crisp exterior, then finished by simmering in a sauce. When I was younger, my grandfather used to make this dish all the time for me.
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
Freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging plus 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 scallions, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweet vermouth, sherry or white wine
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and lightly crushed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 lemon, sliced thinly
Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, on a sheet of plastic wrap; fold the wrap over to cover. Using the mallet, pound each breast to uniform thickness of 1/4-inch. Season the chicken liberally with the salt and pepper, dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.
In a heavy skillet just big enough to hold all the chicken, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. When the oil and butter stop sizzling, add the chicken and cook, turning once, until just brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate. Pour off any grease from the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of butter.
Add the onion to the skillet and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and the scallions and saute 1 more minute. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the flour over the vegetables and toss to combine.
Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and lemon juice. Add the capers and toss to combine. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and reduce heat to low, simmering until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. The sauce should cling to the meat.
Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve on warm platter garnished with the parsley and lemon slices.
Recipe inspired by “I’m Just Here For The Food”
“Then maybe I’ll be able to snatch a pebble from Julia Child’s hand” – Alton Brown
This weekend has been filled with an abundance of Vitamin-C. Determined to place this year, I entered my recipe Blood Orange Loaf Cake into a local Citrus and Celery Cook-off. Our town is famous for growing both citrus and celery. Among the 30 other contestants, the smell of orange was overwhelming as you walked into the booth. Last year, I entered a citrus BBQ Chicken and rice dish and was discouraged to see one contestant walk away with for different prizes. I studied the other entries and decided that this year was going to be different.
My first round of recipe testing started out a month ago. I was at the local farmers market and saw red navels. These oranges were somewhat red, but were very sweet, unlike its blood counter parts. The cake was flavorful and held a good crumb, but lacked that citrus twang it needed.
Round two ensued after I found large blood oranges at the store. This time the cake was more flavorful, but it was still not as red as I thought it should be.
I went to the store a week later and found miniature blood oranges with deep crimson red segments. I took this round three orange and made the cakes for the competition. Unfortunately the reaction between the butter and the deep red caused a chemical reaction; green cakes. I was too far into the game to find a solution. If anyone asked, I would say it represented…something.
I was beyond excited when my neighbor said he wanted to enter. He started taking cooking classes in school, and would talk about his day when I tutored him. He made a citrus apple linzer torte to represent his german heritage. As the youngest cook in the “above 12” category, I think he did a fantastic job.
Today after dropping my dish off to be judged, I walked around the fair and indulged in spinning raffle wheels. Who doesn’t love a free water bottle, or a shirt?
In the afternoon the winners were announced. I won third place in the Citrus division and was elated. I plan on entering again next year. That first prize will be mine eventually! Till then, I’ll be looking for interesting citrus recipes.
Blood Orange Loaf Cake
For the cake:
¾ cup cake flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp. grated blood orange zest
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the syrup:
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed blood orange juice
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp. freshly squeezed blood orange juice
For the candied orange slices:
1 blood orange, preferably organic
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, combine and sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, orange zest and orange juice. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the melted butter. On low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until combined. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, again just until incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F. Continue baking 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan at least 15-20 minutes.
Turn the cake out of the pan and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. To make the orange syrup, combine the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, cooking just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Poke the top of the warm cake all over with a toothpick or skewer and pour the orange syrup over the top.
To make the candied orange slices, wash and dry the orange thoroughly. Cut the orange in half lengthwise, then use a sharp serrated knife to make very thin slices of orange. Poke out any seeds in the slices with a toothpick. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange slices to the mixture so that they are in a single layer (none overlapping), reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer about 20 minutes, turning the slices at least once so both sides are candied. Remove from the heat. Store in a container with the syrup until ready to use.
When the cake is completely cool, combine the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and whisk to blend until smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed with additional juice or confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and garnish with the candied orange slices. Let stand briefly until the glaze sets. Slice and serve.
Recipe inspired from Annie’s Eats