here and there

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Baked Cornflake Crusted Chicken

I love forwarding some of the food blogs as an email to my family, but I especially love the feedback I get from the email.

The last one I sent was regarding a blog on Baked Cornflake Crusted Chicken Strips by Home Cooking Adventure 

This blog brought back many memories of dinner at my Mom's place. 

A recipe from the past.. One for you to make
Grandmother used to make this but with chicken pieces.  You guys loved it especially Sean.  Nice touch to add parsley to the cornflakes, but grandmother never added salt to the crushed cornflakes.  I prefer cornflakes to that Panko crumbs! To the egg, she add a bit of milk not oil, and dotted a bit of butter to the top of the cornflake topping before popping into the oven 

In fact , the ladies used to parboil chicken pieces to make stock for Chicken soup before breading and baking the chicken for Fall suppers or weddings. 
I just made this two weeks ago.  So awesome!  I seem to remember having this almost every week for a while, non?  I didn't add extra butter though.  

I  don't think you need to add butter as I don't.  Seems to me that grandmother put the pieces on a rack as there is more fat using chicken pieces.. it is a delicious recipe! 

You loved it and it was something Grandmother made for you guys!

The idea of boiling them for stock flavour prior to cooking is genius though - you'd let them cool and the cook time would be shorter which would keep the cornflakes from getting soft on the bottom.

The Chef in the Vietnamese restaurant use to do this for that mystery dish that MaryAn loved.. She poached the chicken for the Curry Chicken dish and used the broth for her soups and the chicken for that dish!  I remember the chicken was always bland looking!

My Mom use to make this often and one of the dishes the boys remember her making for them. It is a delicious combination of chicken and cornflakes.. of course all the chicken pieces were used for this dish! 

This dish was also popular at fall suppers and weddings.. I'm sure they served this dish at our family reunion.  

BUT.. there was one difference, they precooked the chicken in water first.. The beginning of chicken stock! 

Then they would coat the chicken in an egg wash, then cornflakes, dots of butters on the meat and finish baking them in the oven until golden brown!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pyrohy.. Ukrainian dumpling

While in Northern Manitoba, I made pyrohy for my  brother and used the following recipe
for the dough.  Everyone has their favourite recipe, but I have found that this recipe of 4 ingredients that my Mom used is the best.  Each one of my Aunts has their favourite dough recipe with some variation, using some thing in the recipe to make a soft dough, from sour cream, baking powder, eggs to different temperatures of water.  I have found that I have been most successful using very hot water and by letting the dough rest!  Everyone agrees that the dough must sit to relax!

4 cups of flour
1 3/4 cups of hot water.. I think I used 2 cups!
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of oil.. in this case it was olive oil

Mix everything together and let rest covered for about 1/2 hour.

This recipe made 90 pyrohy for me, but it depends how thin you roll the dough out.

Divide your dough in half, cover the rest of the dough so it will not dry out.  Sprinkle flour on your working area and roll out the dough.  There are cutters you can use, but a glass will work just as well.

Near the end of my Mom's cooking career, she wondered why she had routinely cut out circles when 3 inch squares were more efficient and less time consuming! The shape would still be a triangle

My Mom's  filling was very traditional.. in the spring, she only used dry cottage cheese and dill, the rest of the time, she used cottage cheese and potatoes.. The sauerkraut that you buy needs to be washed to reduce the acidity, then squeeze it so it is dry.. you can also fry up the cabbage with some finely chopped onions.

If your filling is too wet, it is difficult to work with.

My brother enjoyed the filling very much in this batch of pyrohy.. He thought they were the best I have made.  I think because of the ricotta cheese which is very light and sweet tasting, thus the ricotta is closer in taste to homemade cottage cheese.  I used a container of creamed cottage cheese, a container of ricotta cheese and 4 medium potatoes.  The potatoes are first boiled and then mashed. 

Now here is a nice twist that one may want to try as a filling, sweet potatoes and cheese. 

The importance of pinching these dumpling securely is necessary so you don't lose your filling in the boiling water.  I usually line up the formed dumplings on a clean tea towel, which may need to be floured, depending on how moist your dough is.   Then I will again check the dumplings by pinching the sides again before placing them to freeze on a cookie sheet

In the above picture,  I freeze the dumplings on a floured saran covered cookie sheet and then repackaged in Ziplock Bags.  The Dumplings can also be cooked at this time, but after making about 7dozen of these babies, Im usually  ready to pack it in..

If pre cooking the dumplings in salted water, you need to have melted butter ready to toss the dumplings so they don't stick.  When cool they can be packaged in Ziplock bags to freeze.

My aunt pre cooks the dumplings before freezing them and then reheats them by boiling them again.

My other aunt, also pre cooks them before freezing but microwaves them to reheat. This she says is does by watching the dumplings very closing.  My other aunt felt that microwaving the pyrohy made them tough!

To test taste your dumplings, you can also just fry the uncooked dumpling in oil.. Much like the Gyoza or Japanese pot stickers!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lava Cake, A Canadian Love Affair

The theme for the Canadian Food Experience this month is a Canadian 
Love Affair! 

Initially, my thought was that since it was February, the theme would be on Valentines and with this all the delightful memories as young child and all the excitement of preparing for Valentines's day.  In school, the classrooms were all decorated with red hearts.  Everyone was given two large pieces of red construction paper with a heart outlined on the paper.  The hearts were cut out and personalized than either stapled together or bond together with yarn to form a pocket that would hold all the Valentines from classmates. 

Every student would exchange Valentine cards that were cut out of a huge Hallmark Booklet with an assortment of Valentines along with envelopes that also needed to be cut out.  Great care was taken in picking out just the right saying on the cards for different classmates. 

Valentine Heart people

Valentine cards for the grandparents!

Art classes before Valentines had students making Valentines cards out of red construction paper, trimmed with ribbons and paper doilies for parents and grandparents.  When my son competed internationally in Biathlon, he found out Valentines was not a tradition in many countries.  He had great fun running a Valentine poetry contest on Valentine's day in Poland.  Can you guess what the prize might be? 

Making valentine treats for school

My Mom's favorite Valentine gift was a crotched pineapple design to form a cushion trimmed with folded satin ribbon.  How I wish she had made me one of these beauties!

Pineapple Valentine Cushion

While in Puerto Rico on Valentine Day in San Jose.     All the store windows were decorated for Valentine's day with street venders selling valentine balloons, red baskets filled with chocolates, teddy bears and/or flowers.  Old San Jose was buzzing with families lined up for all the restaurants.  San Jose celebrated Valentines day as a religious holiday and family day.   In the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph located in old city, the congregation was invited up to the round altar under the skylight dome.   Although the mass was in Spanish, my husband and I followed the congregation and were given a church blessing of love- in English, after the priest asked us, where we were from!

As I reflect on this month's topic for the Canadian Food Experience and the direction it might take me.  A love affair that is Canadian! 

Love affair is defined as either an intimate sexual relationship or episode between lovers or a strong enthusiasm.  Thoughts of intimate dinners with oozing chocolate desserts address the love affair part but the part of Canadian stands out for me. 

To mind comes my Mom and Dad's love affair with being Canadian.  In spite of my parents being first generation Canadians, English was not their first language.  In fact, they were punished and strapped with a leather belt if they spoke their own language in the school yard.  English was not only to be spoken on the school grounds but also to and from their home on their walk from the school.  Mom spoke of road monitors that would report to the teacher anyone that did not comply to this rule.  

Yet, my parents embraced Canadian ways and were most proud to be Canadian first!

Ethnic food was something that was made for feast day such as Christmas and Easter but generally speaking food served were local products from one's garden and farm.  Meat and potatoes  with vegetables  were the norm.  Ingredients used were seasonal.  One remembers well the first crop of lettuce, radishes, onions and spinach.  Raspberries and rhubarb  were another sign of spring that  ended up in pies.  That first taste of honey in the spring from the dandelion blooms.  Some of the tastes are not as wonderful as is that taste of milk in the spring! Yuck!  

  I grew up eating food that where greatly influenced by Le Cordon Bleu trained chef and nutritionist, a Felician sister my mom worked for in the hospital kitchen.  Only recently do I appreciate the expertise of my Mom's cooking that was so greatly influenced by French Cooking at a very young age.   

Nellie mixing up a lemon pie filling in a bain-marie
My recipe is one that I came across only recently but have wooed those that I have prepared this winter for birthdays and celebration.  To me, valentines is a celebration of family but mainly loving life, self and those around us! 

This recipe is perfect to make for a dinner party, for those you love or just for yourself!!  The storage of uncooked batter in the refrigerator makes it perfect for one's self indulgence!

Microwave Lava Cake

One Brownie Mix
2 eggs
1/4 c oil
1/4 c water

Follow the recipe on the back of the Brownie Mix, but use an extra egg for the batter and you can also use rum as the liquid in place of water. 

Prepare the custard cups or  canning jars.   The wide mouth jam jars work well!

Pour in about 1/2 cup of cake mix into each prepared dish.  Stack two pieces of chocolate together and push the chocolate into the centre of the batter, making sure the chocolate is covered. 

Bake one cake in a Microwave for one minute at full power.  Cooking times will vary depending on your microwave.  In my Panasonic microwave, 2 cakes cook at full power for 1 1/2 minutes.   When I cooked 2 cakes for 2 minutes, the cakes were not as moist as I would have liked them to be.

These cakes can be decorated in many ways.  With vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream and fresh fruit.  The end of the Butterscotch sauce that was made for the Christmas Pudding was used in the below picture!  

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time, covered and refrigerated up to a week. How perfect if you are using jars as you can easily use the lids from the jars.   Do remove from the refrigerator to warm up to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.

Happy Valentines to all the bloggers for the Canadian Food Experience and my wonderful family!