Wednesday, July 28, 2010

IWAD #7 - Dedicated to My Love

This week we had a Tuesday night IWAD because I had a dinner planned with some girlfriends for Monday night. I had a menu planned of "Caponata", "Veal Parmesan", "Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roasted Pepper Tomato Sauce", and "Mocha Semifreddo Terrine". The dessert, however, was changed to "Chocolate Espresso Panini's" as described below.

Starting with the "Caponata" appetizer. This is one of those appetizers in this cookbook that I wouldn't typically make because I'm not a big eggplant fan. I decided to make it anyways so I could try it. I started it yesterday around noon because it has to slow cook for 7 to 8 hours. I actually didn't think it was that bad. All of the ingredients kind of melded together and it tasted pretty good. It was different, not bad, but probably something I won't make again. Very easy though and would be great for parties!

For the entree I went with "Veal Parmesan". This is one of my husbands favorite dishes and he orders it out frequently when we eat Italian. I have tried it off of his plate, but I'm more of a Chicken Parmesan fan and I have made that before. I had no idea where I could buy veal though. When I went to my normal grocery store of course they didn't have it, but told me to go to the bigger HEB Plus because they have a meat counter and should carry it. So, Brandy and I went to the grocery store together later that night to see if they had it and they did, but we went at 11pm and the meat counter closed at 9pm. I'll have to make another trip, but that's okay at least we found it! So, I got the veal and it turned out to be pretty easy to make and was very yummy! I think my husband approved :)

The pasta I went with was "Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roasted Pepper Tomato Sauce". This too was very yummy! I got everything prepared and Brandy put it all together. It also went very good with the "Veal Parmesan". The recipe tells you how to make roasted peppers, but it also says you can substitute jarred roasted peppers and I went with the jarred kind. Not sure it makes any difference and it was easier! Very easy and yummy pasta dish!

For the dessert I was planning to make "Mocha Semifreddo Terrine". However, in order to make this recipe you need ameretti cookies. I had 3 employees looking for these cookies with me at my HEB. They also told me to try HEB Plus. Maybe I should just start going there to begin with! Well, when Brandy and I went to HEB plus at 11pm to look for veal, we looked for these cookies as well. A nice guy that worked there assisted us in our search. Unfortunately, we couldn't find them either. So, I knew of another dessert in the cookbook that all I needed was chocolate-hazelnut spread. I asked the nice guy if he had that and he showed me where it was. Next to the "Nutella" chocolate-hazelnut spread were the jellies and I noticed this jalapeno jelly that Brandy really loves, so she picks it up. So here are Brandy and I walking up the this nice Asian guy cashier at 11pm with Nutella and jalapeno jelly. He had the nerve to ask us if we had bread?! It was very funny and we all got a good laugh out of it.

Anyways, so we made "Chocolate Espresso Panini's" instead and they were delicious. I'm not sure where Nutella has been hiding from me, but wow is it good! AND...Brandy found ameretti cookies and I'll be making that other dessert soon. Unfortunately, my soux chef will be out of town and I'll be working solo for a few weeks :(


  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • Toasted Italian or French Bread slices
  1. Combine eggplant, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, salsa, oil, capers, vinegar, garlic, oregano and salt in slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  2. Stir in basil. Serve at room temperature with toasted bread.
"Veal Parmesan"

  • 1/2 cup CONTADINA Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound thin veal cutlets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can (8 ounces) CONTADINA Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
  • Addional grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Combine bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in shallow dish. Dip veal into egg; coat with crumb mixture.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add veal; cook until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Place veal on ovenproof platter; top with mozzarella cheese.
  3. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  4. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic; saute until tender.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce ansd oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Serve sauce over veal. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
"Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roasted Pepper Tomato Sauce"

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Roasted Peppers (recipe follows),* chopped
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile flakes or red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    *Or substitute 3 jarred roasted red bell peppers.
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add Roasted Peppers; cook 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, salt, oregano, chile flakes and black pepper. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes. Serve over spaghetti; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

    Roasted Peppers: Place 3 red bell peppers on a stovetop over and open flame or 4 inches from heat in broiler. Turn frequently to blacken all sides, using long-handled tongs. Transfer to a paper bag, shut the bag and set it aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour to loosen the skin. Scrape off the blackened skin with a paring knife.
"Chocolate Espresso Panini"

  • 2 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 slices rustic Italian bread
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  1. Preheat indoor grill.* Combine chocolate spread and espresso powder in small bowl; mix well. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over 1 slice bread; top with second slice.
  2. Spray sandwich lightly with cooking spray. Grill 2 to 3 minutes or until bread is golden brown.
    *Panini can also be made on the stove in a ridge grill pan or in a nonstick skillet. Cook sandwich over medium heat about 2 minutes per side.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

IWAD #6- Delicious Flowers

This week was a little different because my family and I took a trip to Chicago for the weekend and arrived back in town late Monday. With my Book Club meeting on Tuesday, we did IWAD on Wednesday. I did go shopping on Tuesday for all of the ingredients though. On them menu this week was "Margherita Panini Bites", "Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut", and "Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce". Instead of a dessert this week we made a special cocktail I'll discuss later.

Starting off with the appetizer "Margherita Panini Bites". This was a delicious appetizer, although I'm not quite sure I consider it an appetizer. You could totally just make these Panini sandwiches for lunch all on their own. Essentially it's a regular panini that you cut into appetizer portions. Easy, good, and best of all I had no problem finding any ingredients!

For the entree I made "Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut". Let me start by telling you that this was pretty far out of my comfort zone because I do not typically even like fish. However, I have dedicated myself to making everything in this cookbook and will have to encounter it at some point. The recipe calls for red snapper or halibut. I went to the grocery store that I use most often because I know where everything is. After shopping for a few other items on my list I made my way to the seafood counter. I asked the lady if they had red snapper. She said they are out, but could special order me some for $20/ thank you. So, I asked if they had halibut and they did, but it was frozen and not fresh. I decided that I would look elsewhere and if I didn't find anything I could go back and get the frozen halibut. Brandy tried to find it, but wound up buying the frozen halibut anyways.

So, I'm ready to cook my first fish ever! I was pretty nervous about it because the recipe tells you to brown in a frying pan and then place it in the oven in the frying pan. I had never done this before, but I've seen many people do it on The Food Network. I really felt like a professional chef doing that part :) The fish turned out perfectly and tasted pretty good as well (even for a non-fish lover). Not sure how red snapper would have tasted differently, but the halibut worked just fine.

On to the "Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce". I decided to let Brandy take a stab at this one while I was handling the fish because I had already made gnocchi a few years ago. I really enjoy gnocchi and order it out frequently at restaurants (it's always a toss up between gnocchi and risotto for me). As I've mentioned before, I kind of feel the need to watch over Brandy as she is cooking with me because she is somewhat careless in the kitchen. My first inclination that this may not go well was when she asked me what part of the egg was the yolk. I should have taken a picture of how she was forming the gnocchi. She made the dough and then essentially was laying it out into rows and cutting it into 2" squares...really Brandy! Come to find out that she had never even had gnocchi before and had no idea what it should look like. She claims she was doing what the recipe said. The recipe says to roll it "into 3/4 to 1" wide rope" and "cut each rope into 1" pieces", but I've had gnocchi before and she was definitely not making it right. Anyways it was a learning experience and I showed her how to do it  how I thought was correct based on my prior experiences with it. Unfortunately, my water would not boil on the stove and the gnocchi probably didn't cook properly and was kind of doughy and not very appetizing, but it wasn't bad either. Just okay.

Then for the yummy cocktail! While in Chicago my husband (Mark) and I went out to a bar called The Crimson Lounge. Very nice romantic lounge night club. When I was trying to decide what to drink the bartender recommended a "St Germain Cocktail". I said, "Sure, why not?" Well, I wound up having 4 that night because they were so good! St Germain tastes somewhat like passion fruit, lemon, and pear liqeuor...delicious by itself. I found out that it is actually made from the Elderflower blossoms! Delicious flowers!

"Margherita Panini Bites"

  • 1 loaf (16 ounces) ciabatta or crusty Italian bread, cut into 16 (1/2 inch) slices
  • 8 teaspoons pesto
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 24 thin slices plum tomato (about 3 tomatoes)
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Spread 1 side of 8 slices bread evenly with pesto. Top with basil, mozzarella cheese, tomato and remaining bread. Brush both sides of sandwiches with oil. Grill 5 minutes or until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces. Serve warm.
"Prosciutto-Wrapped Snapper"
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 skinless red snapper or halibut fillets (6-7 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 large fresh sage leaves
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup dry marsala wine
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine 1 tablespoon oil and garlic in small bowl; brush over fish fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay 2 sage leaves on each fillet. Wrap 2 slices prosciutto around fish to enclose sage leaves; tuck in ends of prosciutto.
  3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets, sage side down; cook 3-4 minutes or until prosciutto is crisp. Carefully turn fish. Transfer skillet to oven; bake 8 to 10 minutes or until fish is opaque in center.
  4. Transfer fish to serving plates; keep warm. Pour wine into skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Stir constantly 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture has reduced by half. Drizzle over fish.
"Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce"

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (3 or 4 large)
  • 2/3 to 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ntmeg (optional)
  • 1 jar (about 24 ounces) marinara sauce, heated
  • Chopped fresh basil (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pierce potatoes several times with fork. Bake 1 hour or until soft.
  2. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; cool slightly. Scoop pulp from skins into medium bowl; discard skins. Mash potatoes until smooth. Add 1/3 cup flour, egg yolk, salt and nutmeg, if desired; mix well to form dough.
  3. Turn out dough onto well-floured surface. Knead in enough or remaining flour to form smooth dough that is not sticky. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion with hands on lightly floured surface into 3/4 to 1-inch-wide rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces; gently press thumb into center of each piece to make indentation. Space gnocchi slightly apart on lightly floured kitchen towel to prevent them from sticking together.
  4. Bring 4 quarts salted water to a gentle boil in Dutch oven over high heat. To test gnocchi cooking time, drop several into water; cook 1 minute or until they float to surface. Remove from water with slotted spoon and taste for doneness. Cook remaining gnocchi in batches, removing with slotted spoon to warm serving dish.
  5. Top with marinara sauce and serve immediately. Sprinkle with basil, if desired.
"St-Germain Cocktail"

  • 2 parts Brut Champagne or Dry Sparkling Wine
  • 1 1/2 parts St-Germain
  • 2 parts Sparkling Water or Club Soda
  1. Fill a tall collins glass with ice.
  2. Add Champagne first, then St-Germain, then Club Soda. Stir Completely.
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist, making sure to squeeze essential oils into the glass.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

IWAD #5 - Fancy Nancy

This week was a little different. I had an appointment Monday, so IWAD was going to have to be changed to either Sunday or Tuesday for this week. On Sunday we decided to go ahead and do it. So I went shopping to buy all of the ingredients for the appetizer "Marinated Antipasto", the main course of "Classic Fettuccine Alfredo" and "Shrimp Scampi", and the dessert "Nancy's Tiramisu".

First was the "Marinated Antipasto"...pretty self explanatory. There was nothing special about it (except the mozzarella cheese balls). For people that like olives, quartered artichokes, and tomatoes this is probably a very good appetizer, but for me who likes none of those it was blah. It is very easy though and would be a great appetizer for parties.

The main course included two of my very favorite Italian foods: "Shrimp Scampi" and "Classic Fettucini Alfredo". Of course I cannot go shopping for these meals without encountering some problems. First of all, my HEB didn't have any peeled and deveined shrimp. The lady says "we're completely out right now". Hmmm...Do you have any frozen? She replies "Nope, we're all out". Um, does that mean that all HEB's are out right now. "No". Um...Can you call them for me? "Oh, sure, would you like me too?" Okay, now I'm not exactly the most patient person as many people can attest, but really?! This lady was driving me crazy! Anyways, I left my shopping cart of groceries at that HEB and went to another one nearby that had the damn shrimp.

So, shrimp...check! Now, where the hell do I find clarified butter for the fettuccini? In the cookbook it does say how to make clarified butter, but surely they sell it at the grocery store pre-clarified? Nope, it turns out they don't, or I'm blind and the HEB employees didn't know what they were talking about. With that said, I took a stab at making clarified butter with the margarine I had on hand and I guess margarine won't clarify? Hell if I know, but I'm not really sure if it mattered in the recipe anyways. We used unclarified margarine. Both the "Shrimp Scampi" and the "Classic Fettuccine Alfredo" turned out pretty delicious!

And then...the dessert! "Nancy's Tiramisu"! Well, I don't typically order dessert out at Italian restaurants unless I'm pregnant and can't have wine with my dinner, which I consider my dessert. And when you are pregnant you can't have Tiramisu anyways because it has alcohol in it. Therefore, I have probably tried Tiramsu once or twice. Now, Tiramisu is a multistep process and takes a little bit of time and patience, but it is really not that hard to make. It did help, however, to have both Brandy and I making it together. While I combined the egg yolk and sugar and double boiled the mixture for 10 minutes, Brandy was busy beating the whipping cream "to soft peaks". One thing I would have done ahead of time in hindsight was to make the espresso so it could be chilled. I do have an espresso machine, but it hasn't been working right so I bought some instant espresso. I was very worried about this because I don't like instant coffee at all and I wondered how this would taste. (I even thought about going into Starbucks to ask them for 1 3/4 cups of espresso...what would they have thought of that?!) Anyways, the brand I bought was "Medaglia D'Oro" Instant Espresso Coffee. We made it, added some ice to it, then put it in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.

Next step, dip the ladyfingers into the espresso/brandy mixture (we didn't use grappa) and place in casserole dish. (On a side note, HEB does carry ladyfingers at the refrigerated bakery section of the store). It even tells you to do it quickly because the ladyfingers dissolve quickly. Well, I attempted it first. Failed. It completely fell apart and disentegrated. Okay, try number on fork...dip...same result. Brandy insisted on taking a stab at it too...quite literally :) She thought she'd try to do it very quickly and for visual purposes imagine someone very large doing a cannon bomb off of a diving board. Yep, those poor little ladyfingers were forced right into that espresso/brandy mixture and made a huge mess. It was quite funny though (and Brandy got her try...glad I didn't give in and let her try to separate the egg yolks from the whites too). So, forget dipping them. We layered them in the dish and poured half of the espresso over them, then after layering (as in the directions) we did it again.

As it turns out, maybe whoever Nancy is has a great Tiramisu recipe, and it tasted delicious, but she could have made it easier from the get go if she would have just told us to layer them and pour rather than dip.

"Marinated Antipasto"

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 ounces small balls or cubes fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup drained pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh basil leaves
  • Lettuce leaves
  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Add tomatoes, artichokes, mozzarella cheese, olives and basil; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  2. Line platter with lettuce. Arrange tomato mixture ofver lettuce; serve at room temperature.
"Classic Fettuccine Alfredo"

  • 12 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Generous dash white pepper
  • Generous dash ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  1. Cook past according to package directions. Drain well; cover and keep warm in saucepan.
  2. Meanwhile, heat cream and butter in large heavy skillet over medium-low heat until butter melts and mixture bubbles, stirring frequently. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in Parmesan cheese until well blended and smooth. Return to heat until cheese is melted, if necessary. (Do not let sauce bubble or cheese will become lumpy and tough.)
  3. Pour sacue over past. Cook and stir over low heat 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce thickens and pasta is evenly coated. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
"Shrimp Scampi"

  • 1/3 cup clarified butter (see Tip)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Lemon wedges (optional)
  1. Heat clarified butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until softened but not brown. Add shrimp, green onions, wine and lemon juice; cook 2 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add parsley; season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
  • Tip- To clarify butter, melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Skim off the white foam that forms on top, then strain the clear butter through cheesecloth. Discard cheesecloth and the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Clarified butter will keep, covered, in the refrigerator fur up to 2 months.
"Nancy's Tiramisu"

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 3/4 cups whipping cream, beaten to soft peaks
  • 1 3/4 cups cold espresso or strong brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 3 tablespoons grappa (optional)
  • 4 packages (3 ounces each) ladyfingers
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Beat egg yolks and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale yellow. Place in top of double boiler over simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, 10 minutes. Combine yolk mixture and mascarpone cheese in large bowl; beat with electric mixer at low wpeed until well blended and fluffy. Fold in whipped cream. Set aside.
  2. Combine espresso, brandy and grappa, if desired, in medium bowl. Dip ladyfingers individually into espresso mixture and arrange side by side in single layer in 13x9-inch baking dish. (Dip ladyfingers into mixture quickly or they will absorb too much liquid and fall apart.)
  3. Spread half of mascarpone mixture evenly over ladyfinger layer. Sift 1 tablespoon cocoa over mascarpone layer. Repeat with another layer of 24 ladyfingers dipped in espresso mixture. Cover with remaining mascarpone mixture. Sift remaining 1 tablespoon cocoa over top. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

IWAD #4 - Read, Re-Read, and Re-Re-Read Labels!

Last night dinner started off with "Asiago Toasts". All I can say about this is DELICIOUS! It's a pretty basic recipe, but I think using fresh herbs in cooking makes a very big difference in the taste. I don't typically use many fresh herbs in my daily cooking, except for the pre-minced garlic in a jar (that's fresh isn't it?). This particular recipe gives the option of using fresh or dried oregano, and optional parsley. I think the outcome of this dish was so good because these were both included fresh. One thing I was wondering while making this was how to measure fresh herbs. When it asks for 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano leaves does that measurement mean pre-chopped or post-chopped because there is a big difference. I have decided that it means post-chopped, meaning you chop up the herbs then measure how much you need.

For the main entree we had "Chicken Piccata" with "Risotto alla Milanese". As I always do on Monday mornings I went grocery shopping for all of the ingredients that I didn't have on hand. There were only a couple of things I needed to pick up including saffron. I have never used saffron before, but I have seen it used on TV cooking shows. I searched the spice aisle at HEB and couldn't find it. I asked an employee for help and he couldn't find it either. We went to the fresh herbs and asked another employee there and he said it was in the spice aisle so we went back. He found it for us...$15! I debated on it and decided I couldn't skip out on something that was a key ingredient in this risotto (plus there was a $1 off coupon...still crazy, I know).

So, Brandy started on the risotto and I started on the chicken. Some things you must know is that Brandy is not a very organized person and we don't necessarily agree on everything in the kitchen. Since I had already made a risotto I thought it would be good for her to take a stab at it too. She doesn't read directions very carefully and even though I had told her that I had already heated the chicken stock for her on the stove she grabbed the can I was supposed to use to make the sauce for the chicken. I saw her just in time and she had only used 1/4 cup of my chicken stock, so no harm done because I only needed 3/4 cup. For some reason I was thinking the can held 1 cup instead of the 2 cups it actually holds.

Brandy continued the monotonous stirring and adding more broth to the risotto and I was working on the chicken. After cooking the chicken in the pan you add the garlic, then the flour/salt/pepper mixture, then you add the chicken stock and lemon juice. For some reason I thought I only had 3/4 cup of stock left in the can and added the whole 1 3/4 cups of chicken stock and lemon juice to the pan. Why didn't I read the label again?! I ruined it!! That's what I thought anyways. I decided to add another tablespoon of flour because I have done this before when trying to make gravy thicker. You must whisk it like a mad woman though to break up the flour chunks. I am still devastated thinking that I totally ruined it and Brandy (being the calm person she is) suggested we just double up on everything else that goes into it. So we added another tablespoon of lemon juice and doubled up on the capers (2 tablespoons), but left the parsley at 2 tablespoons. Well, I'm not sure what it would have tasted like if it were by the recipe, but this "Chicken Piccata" turned out delicious! The risotto turned out okay, but was pretty salty (and we didn't add any additional salt/pepper at the end). I'm not even sure what the saffron did for the dish, if anything. I'm thinking it would have been better if we used low sodium chicken stock to cut back on the saltiness.

For dessert was the bread pudding. The recipe is actually "Panetonne Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce". I have come to find out that panetonne bread is only available during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do plan to make this again when I can find some of this bread, but after a lot of searching I gave up and decided I would just use some french bread instead. That was probably a big mistake for this recipe. The bread pudding was okay at best. I have made bread pudding before that is much better than this one was, but like I said, it may be much better with the correct bread being used.

On a side note, I did purchase a frozen Vanilla Pound Cake and plan to try the "Limoncello Strawberry Dessert" out again soon!

"Asiago Toasts"

  • 1/3 cup HELLMANN'S or BEST FOODS Mayonnaise Dressing with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Hellmann's Low Fat version)
  • 1 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (I used Asiago)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  • 1/2 French baguette, cut into 18 slices
  1. In small bowl, combine all ingredients except baguette.
  2. On baking sheet, arrange baguette slices in a single layer; spread cheese mixture. Broil until cheese is melted and golden, about 3 minutes.
"Chicken Piccata"

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Reserve 1 tablespoon flour mixture.
  2. Pound chicken between weaxed paper to 1/2-inch thickness. (I buy the thin chicken breasts so you don't have to do this). Coat chicken with remaining flour mixture, shaking off excess.
  3. Heat oil and butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 to 5 minutes per side or until no longer pink in center. Transfer to serving platter; cover loosely with foil.
  4. Add garlic to same skillet; cook and stir 1 minute. Add reserved flour mixture; cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth and lemon juice; cook 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. (I recommend using a whisk for stirring) Stir in parsley and capers; spoon sauce over chicken.
"Risotto alla Milanese"

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 generous pinch saffron threads, ground to a powder
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Bring broth to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.
  2. Heat butter and oil in deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot; cook and stir 30 seconds or just until beginning to brown.
  3. Add rice; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until edges of rice become translucent. Add wine and saffron; cook and stir until wine evaporates.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup broth, stirring constantly until broth is absorbed. Repeat until all broth is used. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
"Panetonne Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce"

  • 1/2 (2 pound) loaf panetonne bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (8 cups)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Caramel ice cream topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 11x7-inch baking dish.
  2. Arrange bread cubes in dish. Combine eggs and sugar in large bowl; whisk in half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour mixture over bread, pressing down to moisten top. Let stand 15 minutes.
  3. Bake 40-45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with caramel topping.