October 01, 2009
A couple weeks ago, family from out of town converged upon our Big Red House, and I decided to trot out an oldie but a goodie that I only prepare on special occasions. A good friend from my grade school and college days introduced me to this recipe. He was always experimenting with different recipes, and this one 'stuck'. The original version was entitled simply 'Brandied Chicken Breasts', but my friend knew what it really was: Chicken to Impress Women.
Here's how much this recipe impresses women:
My friend had made it for a bunch of us during our senior year in college, and the dinner party included my then girlfriend, who I ended up dating for another two or three years after graduation. During those post-college years, I made this recipe for her twice -- once for a small dinner party on a very cold New Year's Eve in Ithaca, NY, and once for a romantic dinner for just the two of us in New York City. I went all out: a candle-lit dinner with just the right wine, fresh bakery French bread, etc. (Sadly, it was to be our last formal meal together. Ever.)
I remember each time I've made this recipe; it is that distinctive. Those two times I made it for her, even more so.
Five years or so after our relationship dissolved like the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, I spoke with her for one last time. Surely, I said, there must be something positive you remember from our days together. Of course there was, she replied.
"I'll always remember Chicken to Impress Women."
"Really?" I asked. "I only made it for you twice."
"You made it for me? No, Peter made it that one time back on Charles Street."
So. The one good thing she could think of from our years together was the first time she had tasted Chicken to Impress Women. Made by my roommate. That one time on Charles Street.
Some day I'll find a recipe along the lines of "Fillet Mignon to Save a Relationship". In the meantime, I present my only slightly modified version of...
Chicken to Impress Women
Take four or six chicken breasts and rub them with brandy.
Let them stand for about 10 minutes, basking in all that brandied glory, and then season with salt, pepper, and marjoram.
Put six tablespoons of butter into a big pan, and melt.
Saute the chicken over medium heat, 8 minutes to a side (check to make sure that they are cooked all the way through). Remove chicken to a heated dish and keep warm -- I find the oven is an excellent place to keep the chicken at this stage, and if the chicken is quite cooked all the way through, you can leave the broiler on while you execute the rest of the recipe.
Add a half cup of dry sherry to the butter that remains in the pan. Simmer over low heat until half the liquid evaporates.
Beat 2 cups (that's one pint) of heavy cream with 4 egg yolks, then add this to the pan, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Keep stirring, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with shredded Swiss cheese and fine buttered crumbs. Broil until the cheese just starts to brown.
I recommend fresh French bread and salad for sides. Occasionally, I've served this over white rice (cooked in white wine rather than water).
As a side note, I'll mention that I've made this for other people (not just her), and it has *always* been favorably received. And to the extent that my former paramour only remembered the time my roommate prepared it, and not the two later times that I'd cooked it for her, I'll simply say that as hard as she worked at forgetting everything about me and us, when it comes to Chicken to Impress Women...
You always remember the first time.
May 30, 2005
One of my favorite restaurants anywhere is Typhoon!, located in the great Northwest.
They have a menu item called "Beef & Grape", which is quite simply out of this world. If you are ever in Portland or Seattle and have the chance, you should give it a try.
That said, I have attempted to recreate a similar recipe on my own at home. While I'll never be as great a chef as the folks at Typhoon, you might find my attempt interesting, nonetheless. This is for people who enjoy a little bit of spice.
First prepare a marinade using:
1/4 cup Fish Sauce
1 T (or more) lime juice
4 to 6 cloves of fresh garlic
6 Thai Chiles, sliced fine
1 dash of hot sesame oil (or Mongolian fire oil)
1 one-and-a-half pound flank steak
Score it on each side and marinate it for an hour or so in a glass pan (get the marinade on both sides).
When you're ready to cook, you'll broil the steak in the glass pan, 7 minutes on each side (we're shooting for medium rare here).
While the steak is broiling, put some romaine lettuce and spinach leaves on each plate, and slice up a whole bunch of grapes, length-wise.
When the steak is done, slice it into thin strips, and place the strips over the lettuce/spinach beds. Then, put a handful of grape-halves (per plate) over the steak. Finally, there will probably be some marinade/drippings in the pan; take a spoonful and pour it on top.
This is a Thai-styled dish unlike your usual Thai restaurant fare. I'm still experimenting with the ingredients (I'm going to use more lime next time), but this combination seems to work quite nicely.
Let me know how you like it.
May 04, 2005
Had some friends over a couple of weekends ago to show off the new house and the new baby, when one of our guests asked for my jambalaya recipe. "I posted it on my website, so you can get it from there," I said. But I had misremembered. So here it is, for the first time.
This recipe originally came to me by way of a good friend during our college years. I have no idea where he got it. He was a master at trying out new recipes and fine tuning them by using his housemates (including me) as guinea pigs.
Over the years, I've made a few modifications to the recipe, myself. In general, my cooking is not known for its subtlety (whereas my friend's is). What follows is a very basic, easy-to-follow recipe for a spicy, hearty rice-based dish full of flavor, meat & veggies, and kick:
In a big pot (I use a 5 quart cast iron kettle, and it *just barely* holds everything), saute:
1 big white Onion (chopped coursely)
2 Green Peppers (ditto)
6 Cloves (or more) Pressed Garlic
4 Ribs Celery
6 Green onions
(I usually throw a few dashes of hot sesame oil into the kettle as part of my saute ritual)
1 big can (20 oz) of Tomatoes (squished)
3 and 1/2 cups chicken broth (I sometimes use chicken bouillon made with white wine)
and cook for a bit.
1 pound polish sausage (I prefer the precooked, all-beef style. You may also use Andouille sausage, as is tradition.)
1 cup cubed ham (whatever. I chop up a big ham steak.)
a chicken breast or two (or shrimp, or whatever. One pound. -- see note below)
and cook a while more.
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
4t tobasco (I sometimes double this)
and cook 20 minutes
Add 2 cups rice (I use jasmine rice)
Cook 25 minutes
And that's it! Enjoy!
***Lately, for the chicken, I've taken to cutting up the chicken and cooking it in a separate pan in Allegro Hot & Spicy marinade, and then just dumping it all into the kettle. Very, very tasty.
November 16, 2004
Here's a quick and easy recipe that has become a bit of a signature piece for me over the years. It's got great flavor, great presentation, provides a hearty entree, and takes very little time to prepare. This is a recipe I've modified from one that I learned way back during my time in grad school. It is:
Allan's World Famous Garlic Ginger Flank Steak
First, you make the marinade. Combine:
* 1/2 cup dark soy sauce (none of this "lite" crap)
* 1/2 teaspoonful (or so) of spicy hot sesame oil (Mongolian Fire Oil will do, too)
* 1/2 bulb of garlic, which you will crush fresh with your own press (none of this pre-crushed nonsense)
* A few tablespoonfuls of diced ginger. Dice it as fine as you can manage manually; don't crush it to a pulp with a machine
That's it. That's the marinade. If you're any good at peeling and mincing the garlic, you can have this whipped up in ten minutes or less.
Next, take the meat:
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. flank steak
Score the flank steak on both sides with a knife. Put it in a glass pan, and mash half of the marinade into one side. Flip it over, and mash the rest of the marinade into the other side.
Let stand for anywhere from a half hour to a few hours. I've occasionally allowed a steak to marinate in the fridge for a couple of days, but the maximum benefit appears to be hit after one day. Three hours is actually very effective.
Okay, so you've prepared the marinade, and you've prepared the steak. Now, when you're about ready to eat, you can either fire up the grill or turn your oven on to the "Broil" setting. Broil (or grill) for seven minutes. Flip the steak over. Broil (or grill) it for another seven minutes.
Ta-da! You now have a perfectly cooked, medium-rare flank steak that will be oh-so-tender and oh-so-tasty.
Cut the steak against the grain into strips and serve.
Serve with garlic bread, salad (romaine-lettuce works particularly well), and optionally a pasta side-dish. And if you're so inclined, a good red wine, naturally.
Try cutting the garlic fine with a knife instead of using a garlic press. Produces a different flavor, and brings out the ginger. (This is Paulette's prefered variation.)
Try smoking with hickory wood chips on your grill or on a smoker. The hickory does mute the garlic flavor a bit, but it all works quite well together.
February 02, 2003
A friend of mine wrote to me: [...] Anyhow, I was also wondering if you would share your beef on weck recipe; I would like to try to make it this winter sometime and don't want to wait until we get together again.
Guess what I'm making for dinner tonight. :-)
Since I typed up the recipe for my friend, I may as well share it with all y'all while I'm at it. The term "beef on weck" comes from a popular dish in Buffalo: steamed roast beef on a kimmelweck roll. Kimmelweck is a Polish roll with salt and caraway seeds baked into the top. It's hard to find 'weck outside of Buffalo. Over the years, my recipe has changed quite a bit, so this doesn't resemble the Buffalo-style sandwich as much as it used to. Still, I think it's pretty good.
Allan's World Famous Beef on Weck
There are four easy steps. This is sooooo easy to make.
Step 1: heat beef broth* to boiling; let simmer
* Whenever I can, I use fresh au jus from the deli counter, but they don't do that kind of thing here in the northwest. I don't know why. In Buffalo, the au jus is *free* when you buy a pound of roast beef. Anyway, when I don't get fresh au jus, I just buy Franco-American Beef Gravy and add a half part water to each part gravy. I usually get three small cans (10 oz.), throw the contents into a big pot, then fill each can half-way up with water and toss that in, too. Don't add water to fresh au jus; that's just for cutting the gravy. :-)
Once the beef broth or gravy or au jus is boiling, we move on to...
Step 2: Throw in some spices; let simmer for a bit
I always throw in a handful of crushed red pepper.
I then throw in either a handful of rosemary, a handful of freshly chopped cilantro, or both. (Today, I'm doing both.)
Optional: There is this fine marinade called Allegro Hot & Spice Marinade that you should be able to find at your local grocery store. A little bit of this adds a nice little kick to the sauce. I don't measure how much I add, but it's probably about a quarter of a cup; definitely no more than that, possibly less.
Step 3: Throw in a pound of sliced roast beef; let simmer some more
I don't just throw in the whole pound at once, I add each slice one at a time. I don't know if this actually makes it taste better, but I *think* it does. Never underestimate the power of psychology. At this point, you're going to want to let it simmer for quite a while. At least an hour or two to get the best flavor.
Step 4: Put on buns; eat
If at all possible, I get genuine kimmelweck rolls like you get in Buffalo, but that's not very common where I currently live. Kaiser rolls (or hard rolls, bulky rolls, soft rolls, or whatever they call them where you live) work just fine.
That's all there is to it. To recap, here are the ingredients:
* beef broth (either fresh au jus *or* 30 to 40 oz. of Franco American gravy cut with 50% water)
* crushed red pepper
* rosemary and/or fresh cilantro
* optional: Allegro hot & spicy marinade
* one pound of sliced roast beef
November 26, 2000
Never underestimate the power of chocolate pudding.
7/8 cup white sugar
2 1/2T corn starch
1/8t salt (ie, a pinch)
2/3 cup Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Ghirardelli's double chocolate chips
1 square Baker's unsweetened chocolate
2 cups milk
2t vanilla extract (mexican vanilla, if at all possible)
Mix egg and milk in a bowl thoroughly.
In a non-stick pot, combine sugar, corn starch, and salt. and mix thoroughly.
Add milk, egg, chocolate to pot and stir. Note: the sugar will not dissolve (yet).
Apply heat... between medium & medium high.
Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla and stir some more.
Serve and eat hot with a biiig glass of milk. Makes 4 very huge servings, or 6 normal servings.
*Try Ghirardelli's milk-chocolate instead of double chocolate chips.
*for Vanilla pudding, delete chocolate and increase corn starch to 3T.
*Quality of vanilla is very important, so get the good stuff. Mexican vanilla is the best, if you happen to know anyone who's been to Mexico lately.
*You might also try adding a pinch of cinnamon (if you're not using Mexican vanilla, that is. We think that might be the secret ingredient of Mexican vanilla, but we're not certain).
Special thanks to Alan Erickson, who taught me his recipe.
Copyright (c)1998 - 2010 by Allan Rousselle. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed, all reservations righted, all right, already.
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