food

SHE EATS MEAT: Chicken with Prosciutto, Asiago, and Sage

Hey, look!  Still not dead, just had a bit of a crazy week.

In other news, I would like my Time Turner to work how the books say it should.  Why?  So I have time to do my damn laundry.  That’s all I want.

I didn’t really have the time for it, but last week I did my duty as a type O+ and dropped a pint of blood for the good folks at the Red Cross.**  I schedule an appointment to go every eight weeks (..because you can’t go any sooner) and now I have a little blood donation posse that I’m a part of.  We race to fill up blood bags, because we’re sick and twisted individuals.  And then we bust each others balls about bleeding slowly over Keebler cookies, because why not.

**(For those of you who get the heebie jeebies about blood donation– I used to, too, and then I actually went and found out its really not as uncomfortable as you think.  Honestly, the hemoglobin test is the most painful part– and they don’t actually like when you watch the draw itself, so chances are you won’t face being grossed out by watching your lifeblood flow out a tiny tube.  So unless you have a serious needle phobia or are ineligible, why not go make an appointment?  Save lives, man.)  </psa>

The last time I went was right before my dizziness spells started, so I figured I’d refuel this time with something a little more balanced– what better time to start the pre-NOLA meat re-integration!  For dinner, I fixed myself something that’s really pretty simple, but reeeally good: chicken with prosciutto and sage.

Spoilers: prosciutto is delicious.  And cooking the chicken breast prosciutto-side down first means you’ve got a little bit of rendered pork chilling in the pan for when you flip the bird– instant delicious crust on the bottom as well.  I like to use a softer cheese with a lower melting point (fontina is the best, but I’ve done it with mildly soft cheddar, gouda, and I think Dubliner, once (akjg;latey I love cheeses from the Isles).  Also, this goes without saying but fresh sage is the best– it gets a little bit crisp under the prosciutto, not unlike a kale chip.

But, you know.  Sage.

Sage chips?  Do we want to make that a thing?

I digress.  Like I said, the recipe is super simple– if you can put things on a piece of chicken and cook it without setting the world on fire, you’re golden.  I paired mine with cabbage cooked with onions and fennel– another one of those super simple things that tastes like heaven.

Funny how that works.

Chicken with Prosciutto, Asiago, and Sage

Chicken with Prosciutto, Asiago, and Sage

Yield: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless, skinless, chicken breast
  • 3 slices good-quality prosciutto
  • 6 thin slices good Asiago cheese, or your preference
  • 3 large sage leaves (can substitute dried)
  • 2 T olive oil, for cooking

Cooking Directions

  1. Start by filleting the breast: hold your palm flat against the top and slice horizontally into three relatively equal fillets. Make sure you keep your knife as straight as possible and try to avoid sawing– if you keep your blade sharp, you should be able to get through the breast cleanly without much resistance.
  2. Season all three breasts lightly with salt and pepper. On the top side, place your sage leaves (one per; dust lightly with dried sage if using); follow with enough cheese to cover the meat and finish with the prosciutto slices.
  3. Heat your oil over medium-high heat in a good cast-iron skillet (if you don’t have one, you should probably invest– they’re not that expensive, and I promise they’re worth it).
  4. When the oil starts to shimmer, lay the breasts in the pan prosciutto-side down. Reduce the heat to just below medium and cook until the edges of the side facing up just start to turn white.
  5. Flip the breasts over carefully (use a metal spatula to dislodge anything that’s really stuck, and turn with tongs) and continue to cook about four minutes more (or until cooked through– could be longer on thicker cuts). Serve with a little more grated cheese on top, if desired.

What does the Stomach Say?

Right now, the answer is “blech”, or one of its variant forms.  I don’t even want to drink my coffee, and now its two hours old and probably freezing and this is just– well, pretty much a travesty.

But since its my own fault I can’t really complain– I can just gripe a little, explain, and get on to the sort of good part.

I might’ve mentioned this before, but: my bestie and I are going to New Orleans in April to celebrate our own awesomeness/my birthday and mostly because we can.  SUPER excited.  Most of our conversations somehow make it back to NOLA these days, and inevitably end with both of us squeeing into a text message.  And I know I COULD go through an entire four-day stint in Louisiana and not eat any meat, but…

….that just doesn’t seem right to me.

And so, after many months now of proud veg livin’, I’m breaking down and starting on the road to meat eating.  (Temporarily.)  This morning was foray one, which is why my stomach is grumbling, but I have a month and a half so I THINK I can make it happen.  Especially because my stomach is usually a trooper.

Ready for the fun part?

Even though I’ll still be eating mostly meatless, this leaves room for me to post recipes with meat.  YES!  MEAT!

And it also means I can eat corned beef on St Patricks day.  (Which is AWESOME.)

Sound off in the comments!  Veg folk, have you ever had a reason to bring meat back?  Veg and non alike, what would you be craving if you were in my shoes?

Holy Technical Tuesday: Perfect Poached Eggs

Hey look!  A blog feature!

Welcome to Holy Technical Tuesday, where I tackle various cooking endeavours that some people might find daunting because they’re “precise” or “finicky” or “easy to mess up”.

Pfft.

Today we’re tackling egg poaching.  Now, I know poaching an egg isn’t really that hard, but I was quite frankly surprised by the amount of people I know who are completely undone by it.

I don’t get it.  Its not even that scary, as far as scary food techniques go!  Its just simmering water and a vortex!  Easy peasy.

But whatever.  I’ll walk you through it, and show you the light.  Because putting poached eggs on everything you eat ever is actually the greatest way to eat everything ever (mostly).  And then you can throw out these stupid things because seriously, they don’t fucking work.

Step One: put some water on.

CRANK IT

CRANK IT

You’ll want to crank it so it’ll get to the right heat fast.  Let that baby bubble.

Step Two: crack an egg.

Farm fresh is much better, but we can't all own a trio of chickens.  Don't worry, I have extras.

Farm fresh is much better, but we can’t all own a trio of chickens. Don’t worry, I have extras.

Into a ramekin, if you please.

Step Three: start the vortex.

Right about here is where you’ll want to turn the water down to a simmer.  Then, with your implement of choice (I like a fork) start swirling the water to make a little whirlpool in the middle.  

….

Here comes the big one.  You ready?

Step Four: pour in the egg.

Careful, now.

Careful, now.

Keep your whirlpool going until the egg hits the water, and pour low into the center of the pan.  From there you’ll want to take a slotted serving spoon (or some variation thereof) and sort of nudge the water around the egg to keep it swirling/keep the white chilling out around the yolk.  In about four minutes, BAM!  You’ll have a poached egg.  Pull it out with the same slotted spoon you were nudging whites with earlier and dry (I generally just SUPER GENTLY go at it with a paper towel, keeping it on the spoon; I’ve never had good luck with moving it onto paper towel before dumping it on my food.

Presto!  Egg poaching made easy.  Go forth, friends, and enjoy.

Okay I'm boring and just ate it on toast but it was still delicious, alright?

Okay I’m boring and just ate it on toast but it was still delicious, alright?

Got any requests for next week’s HTT?

 

*horrible photography brought to you by…my phone and terrible lighting.

Meatless Family: in which Mama and I Meet the Sandwich Gods

True story: I sent my mother a link to this sandwich last Monday.  Her reply was to yell at me for making her hungry, and then continue to bitch about how good it looked (first world problems if I’ve ever heard them) through half of dinner that night.

Egg in the Basket Grilled Cheese

Yes, that is a Bon Temps Hawks pint glass in the background. Buy yourself one and fill it up with Sam Adam’s Cold Snap and you too can be as cool as I am.

I think she was mostly disappointed that she saw it on her break (by which time she was already hungry) and then was sadly disappointed by the food available to her on said break (because, airport). Hell, she was better off than me, though– I had to make do with almonds and my own tears of food-lust.

Naturally we had a clear choice for this week’s installment of my family’s meatless foray– which is, pretty understandably, going better without my dad’s company at dinner (sorry, dad!).  When I floated the idea of actually making these for Monday, for example, mama countered with “well, we’ll have to save some for when he gets home from work!” Not a problem, mama.  He’ll just eat a burger when he gets home, because that’s his go-to and he’ll be happier than a pig in shit.

She didn’t disagree.

BREAD MASSACRE

BREAD MASSACRE

The only disappointing thing about these sandwiches is that asparagus isn’t in season yet, and the only stalks we could find were thick and woody-looking.  But roasting them helps soften them up a little, and also makes them delicious and that is all I think you should ever do with asparagus.  Except for maybe grilling them.  Or putting them on pizzas or in pastas or frittatas or — okay basically, just eat asparagus all the time.

Its good for you.

Getting my fry-on.

Getting my fry-on.

Interesting fact: January 20th, the night we actually ate this, is apparently National Cheese Lovers Day.  Seems appropriate.

Check out the recipe for yourself at Cooking Stoned.  Trust me, you’ll never want to eat anything else as long as you live.

Meatless Family: Pasta alla Primavera

It worked, at least on my mother; Meatless Monday is officially in effect in my house.

MU. HA. HA.

The qualifier for meals without meat on the homestead are usually a) substantial stomach-filler from other things like starch and b) suitable alternative protein.  This usually means I am stuck making my family quiche and serving potatoes on the side.  This is, admittedly, a pretty dismal lot in life.

But tonight its just me and the mamabear for dinner, since the sister is out at work and the dad is staying late; we can eat our early dinner in peace and fortify it for the ravenous father later in the evening.

Hoo-rah.

We’ve both been in a fresh-kick, my mother and I, so she picked up some eggplant and zucchini and, oddly, some out-of-season grape tomatoes this week at the store.  Turning them into a primavera was my idea, largely based in my current lust for springtime.  And that’s the beauty of primavera; it translates to spring pasta, so if the flavors and feelings are evoked you’re pretty much home free.

Prepwork.

Prepwork.

Even if it is still winter, you can still have the pasta of spring.  Just don’t go outside, because the snow has a nasty way of shattering the illusion.

Pasta alla Primavera | NGL

Pasta alla Primavera

Ingredients

  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 4 garlic cloves, roasted
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut to half-inch cubes
  • 2 zucchini, cut to half-inch cubes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli rabe, chopped fairly small
  • 4 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • zest of one lemon
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • basil or parsley, fresh if you have it available
  1. Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Angel hair will take 4 minutes to reach al dente.  Drop pasta accordingly.
  2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium until just shimmering. Squeeze your pre-roasted garlic cloves into the pan, then when that starts to get fragrant add the rest of the cubed vegetables. Let them cook about three to four minutes, then add the rabe plus a quarter to a half cup of pasta water and cover.
  3. After about two or three minutes, uncover and add the tomatoes and mushrooms, along with the lemon zest. Cook about two minutes longer. Add spice to taste, then toss with the pasta and grated cheese, adding more pasta water or oil as needed.

The Sad but True Story of B’s Veg Bowls

I really, really love to cook.  I do.  I love to cook by myself, I love to cook for other people (because I am secretly your nonna in disguise).  I just love being in kitchens and throwing ingredients together into fabulous combinations.

Since I stopped eating meat last September, I’ve been pretty much on my own for making meals– which is fine.  I’m a-okay with cooking my own food of my own devices.  But the sad truth is that because I work a nine-to-five and have to squeeze in making my own dinner before my mom takes over the kitchen to make dinner for the rest of my family, I’m in a position of get in-get out-get fed.  Which means nine days out of ten I’m throwing vegetables into a pan, tossing them with some quinoa and some kind of protein, and chowing down on delicious sadness.

Case in point: Sunday dinner.

Case in point: Sunday dinner.

Not that there’s anything wrong with bowls of vegetables and quinoa.  They’re delicious.  Try it sometime if you don’t believe me.  Vegetables are awesome when they get to shout out their own flavor profiles.

But one of my New Year’s goals is hopefully going to fix my little food rut.  Once a week I want to make it a priority to cook one meal that doesn’t involve pillaging the contents of the vegetable drawer in a manic culinary frenzy.

So I coerced my mom (also known as: asked) if we could do Family Meatless Monday.  That way I get one guaranteed evening of cooking something “legitimate” per week, and I get to enlighten my family about the fact that hey, veg dishes are tasty too.

Snarky backlash from my father is to be expected.  Y’all should be excited to hear about it.