Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicken Piccata

The first episode of last season's Top Chef was a competition to reinvent a classic dish. Chicken Piccata was one of those dishes and while this recipe doesn't reinvent anything I still think it could have held up against over-salted shrimp scampi! We make this fairly frequently. It's really not too pasta heavy and it makes for great leftovers.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces linguine
3 packed cups loose baby spinach (about 5 ounces), torn into pieces
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Season cutlets with salt and pepper, then dip into flour, turning to coat; shake off excess.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook until lightly browned and opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken (reserve skillet for sauce).

3. Meanwhile, cook linguine in boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Add spinach, and stir until submerged. Drain pasta mixture and return to pot. Toss with 1 tablespoon butter; season generously with salt and pepper. Add some reserved pasta water if necessary. Cover to keep warm.

4. Into skillet, pour wine and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring to loosen browned bits, until liquid has reduced to 1/3 cup, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; swirl in 2 remaining tablespoons butter until melted. (For a smoother sauce, strain through a fine-mesh sieve, if desired.) Add capers, and season with salt and pepper. Divide chicken and linguine among four serving plates; top chicken with sauce.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ultrafast Avocado Soup

Yay! Another recipe to put in the "don't want to ever make again" file!

I've been reading/watching Mark Bittman's recipes and blogs from the New York Times now for almost a year and I think this is the first recipe I've actually tried. The recipe is so easy that in his video blog he didn't even need speak. I thought, "This recipe is for me!"

I sure wish I had actually read the recipe. Maybe that would have helped? Because when I made it it was way too thick and rich. Now that I see his written recipe I realize maybe I didn't add enough milk? Regardless, I won't be trying this again soon. BUT, the shrimp skewers were fine and on sale pre-prepared for $1.50/skewer at WF it was quite the bargain. Too bad a few shrimp don't make for a filling meal.

Recipe: Ultrafast Avocado Soup

Time: 10 minutes, plus chilling
About 2 cups chopped ripe avocado flesh (3 or 4 small avocados)
3 cups milk, preferably whole
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
A handful or more of small cooked shrimp
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

1. Put chopped avocado in a blender. Add half the milk, a large pinch of salt and a small pinch of cayenne; process to a purée. Add remaining milk and purée, then chill for up to 6 hours if you have time (press a piece of plastic wrap to surface of soup so it does not discolor).

2. Add lime juice, taste, then adjust seasoning, if necessary. Garnish with shrimp and parsley or cilantro, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.