Saturday, February 21, 2009

WFT Chicken Sandwhich

There comes a time in a man's life when he is trying to use up what food he has left in his fridge. This can lead to many a dreadful concoction, but maybe, just maybe if the conditions are right, a truly inspired dish may emerge.

I would like to think of last Tuesday night as one of these fated occurrences. With some chicken breasts, a little spinach, and a few strips of bacon. I had made the best sandwich I've had all year.

So first I started with the chicken breasts, a little salt and pepper, and decided to stuff them with some spinach. I heated my oven to about 400 degrees and cooked the spinach in a pan over medium heat. To the spinach I added some Parmesan cheese, olive oil, black pepper and garlic powder to add a lil' bit of tasty. Once to almost the consistency of creamed spinach I slid the spinach into the chicken breasts which already met with the business end of my chefs knife.

Now I know the saying that anything is better if wrapped in bacon is a bit silly. But man, do I love some bacon. Soooo, I wrapped the chicken in a few strips of bacon that I had left over in the fridge. Then I threw those babies and the dish on whence they sat into the oven for maybe 25 minutes. Once they came out I drained off most of the juices that came off, slide one between two pieces of bread and went to town.

And that's all he cooked.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Choc Pud Cake

Dear Friends,

I have a confession to make. I committed the cardinal sin of baking on Friday: I started dumping ingredients in a bowl without reading through the recipe first. My attempt to double the recipe exacerbated this error. The goal was to make a chocolate pudding cake to bring to my friend Dean's "Champagne and Chocolate" cocktail party. As the picture below suggests, this is the kind of dessert that hits the sweet spot when still warm and smothered in melting vanilla ice cream. It's a classic American dessert that I believe has been around since the 1950s - think an old fashioned molten chocolate cake.

I think the critical error I made was to sift all of the cocoa powder (4/3 cups as I was making a double recipe) with the flour. In my defense, the 1/3 cup the recipe says to sift with the flour is 2/3 cup when doubled, which is the amount in the ingredients list. I swear it made sense to me at the time. :) I realized the error I had made before I put the cake in the oven, but I had only given myself enough time to make the recipe once so that the cake would be warm when I brought it to the party. I decided to plunge ahead, hoping for the best. The resulting "mud," as one guest called it was not quite what I had in mind. The goal is to have a brownie-like top layer floating on a thick pudding. The mess I created didn't have these distinct layers. Judging from the pictures on the website where I found the recipe, however, a perfect execution of the recipe might not have a distinct demarcation. I'll provide the recipe I attempted, which was featured on the Martha Stewart Show at one point, as well as the Pillsbury recipe my brother and I grew up making (which does have more distinct layers if memory serves). Hopefully you all will have more luck if you take on this treacherous treat.

Martha Stewart Recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small chunks

1) Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, sift together flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla; add to flour mixture. Stir batter until just combined. Spread batter evenly into an 8 cup shallow baking dish. Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 1/3 cup cocoa powder, brown sugar, and boiling water. Pour liquid evenly over batter, do not mix. Distribute chocolate chunks into batter. Bake until a tooth pick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with crumbs adhering to it, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Pillsbury Recipe

1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons melted shortening or oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1¾ cups hot water

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine first 9 ingredients. Mix at medium speed until well blended. Spread in ungreased 8 or 9-inch square pan. In small bowl, combine brown sugar, ¼ cup cocoa and hot water; pour over batter. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until cake is set. Serve warm or cool, topped with cream or whipped cream.

Happy cooking!