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   When my husband and I got married 11 months ago today (!),  we had a bunch of Hispanic friends chip in to make up food for our reception. It was incredible: mole, short ribs, pozole... all from scratch, and by some very industrious friends. I say industrious, because I now have a new-found and very deep respect for someone who goes to all the trouble to make MOLE (pronounced moh-leh).  
   This recipe was formulated by the great chef of Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless. He made it for the recent White House State Dinner. I figure if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me!
    It has TWENTY-FIVE ingredients that make up four different purees.. then you put them together and strain it all into one rich, glorious sauce. The whole time, I was worried I had screwed it up, but it turns out I made some wonderful choices! Mine is not exactly like his: I chose different chiles, and changed the amounts of many of the ingredients. Mole is much like chili, only in the respect that everybody has their own recipe... so since I changed up the original, I'm gonna call this mine, but say it was inspired by Rick Bayless.   
   I took the first bite, and the first words out of my mouth were, "Oh. My. Gosh. This is, holy. Wow." Pretty much word for word. It was absolutely fantastic. Even my very picky step-daughter liked it. And we ate it with a side of brown rice. Ahhh... But I'll tell you this: it took about 5 hours. And I'm pooped. So whoever I do this for in the future must be someone I really love. A lot.
---Jenny

BRAISED CHICKEN IN BLACK MOLE SAUCE
3 dried ancho chiles
4 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried arbol chiles
1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces
2 1/4-inch-thick slices of white onion
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
About 2 cups rich-tasting lard or vegetable oil (for frying the chiles)
1/4 cup sesame seeds, plus a few extra for garnish
2tbsp cup pecan halves
1/4 cup unskinned or Spanish peanuts
1/4 cup unskinned almonds
About 3 cans (4-5 cups) chicken broth (canned or homemade)
3 large roma  tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 slices stale bread, toasted
pinch cloves, preferably freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
A scant teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 ripe banana
1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) finely chopped Mexican chocolate
Salt, about 1 tablespoon depending on the saltiness of the broth
Sugar, about 1/4 cup (or a little more)
1 large (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens, cut into quarters (I used 3 pounds of tenderloins)

Directions below are as indicated by Rick Bayless' White House State Dinner recipe for 
OAXACAN BLACK MOLE WITH BRAISED CHICKEN: 

1. Getting started. Pull out the stems (and attached seed pods) from the chiles, tear them open and shake or scrape out the seeds, collecting them as you go.

Now, do something that will seem very odd: scoop the seeds into an ungreased medium-size (8- to 9-inch) skillet along with the torn-up tortilla, set over medium heat, turn on an exhaust fan, open a window and toast your seeds and tortilla, shaking the pan regularly, until thoroughly burned to charcoal black, about 15 minutes. (This is very important to the flavor and color of the mole.) Now, scrape them into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse for 30 seconds or so, then transfer to a blender.

Set an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat, lay on a piece of aluminum foil, and lay the onion slices and garlic cloves on that. Roast until soft and very dark (about 5 minutes on each side of the onion slices – peel it off the foil to turn it; about 15 minutes for the garlic – turn it frequently as it roasts). Cool the garlic a bit, peel it and combine with the onion in a large bowl.

While the onion and garlic are roasting, turn on the oven to 350 degrees (for toasting nuts), return the skillet to medium heat, measure in a scant 2 cups of the lard or oil (you'll need about 1/2-inch depth), and, when hot, begin frying the chiles a couple at a time: They'll unfurl quickly, then release their aroma and piquancy (keep that exhaust on and window open) and, after about 30 seconds, have lightened in color and be well toasted (they should be crisp when cool, but not burnt smelling). Drain them well, gather them into a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure even soaking. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid.

While the chiles are soaking, toast the seeds and nuts. Spread the sesame seeds onto a baking sheet or ovenproof skillet, spread the pecans, peanuts and almonds onto another baking sheet or skillet, then set both into the oven. In about 12 minutes the sesame seeds will have toasted to a dark brown; the nuts will take slightly longer. Add all of them to the blender (reserving a few sesame seeds for garnish), along with 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and blend to as smooth a puree as you can. Transfer to a small bowl.

Without rinsing the blender, combine the green tomatoes and tomatillos with another 1/2 cup of the broth and puree. Pour into another bowl. Again, without rinsing the blender, combine the roasted onion and garlic with the toasted bread, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, banana and 3/4 cup broth. Blend to a smooth puree and pour into a small bowl.

Finally, without rinsing the blender, scoop in half of the chiles, measure in 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid, blend to a smooth puree, then pour into another bowl. Repeat with the remaining chiles and another 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.

2. From four purees to mole. In a very large (8- to 9-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela), heat 3 tablespoons of the lard or oil (some of what you used for the chiles is fine) and set over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the tomato puree and stir and scrape (a flat-sided wooden spatula works well here) for 15 to 20 minutes until reduced, thick as tomato paste, and very dark (it'll be the color of cinnamon stick and may be sticking to the pot in places). Add the nut puree and continue the stirring and scraping until reduced, thick and dark again (this time it'll be the color of black olive paste), about 8 minutes. Then, as you guessed it, add the banana-spice puree and stir and scrape for another 7 or 8 minutes as the whole thing simmers back down to a thick mass about the same color it was before you added this one.

Add the chile puree, stir well and let reduce over medium-low heat until very thick and almost black, about 30 minutes, stirring regularly (but, thankfully, not constantly). Stir in the remaining 7 cups of broth, the chocolate and avocado leaves (if you have them), partially cover and simmer gently for about an hour, for all the flavors to come together. Season with salt and sugar (remembering that this is quite a sweet mole and that sugar helps balance the dark, toasty flavors). Remove the avocado leaves.

In batches in a loosely covered blender, puree the sauce until as smooth as possible, then pass through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl. (You must do this. Leaving the "pulp" in makes the sauce bitter.)

3. Finishing the dish. Return the mole to the same pot and heat it to a simmer. Nestle the leg-and-thigh quarters of the chicken into the bubbling black liquid, partially cover and time 15 minutes, then nestle in the breast quarters, partially cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

With a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken pieces and transfer them to a large warm platter. Spoon a generous amount of the mole over and around them, sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds and set triumphantly before your lucky guests.

Advance Preparation: The mole can be completed through Step 2 several days ahead (it gets better, in fact); cover and refrigerate. Completele Step 3 shortly before serving.

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   This idea came in stages. I knew I wanted to make a taco seasoning that used cocoa powder, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to make with it (besides the obvious). Then, I was talking to a friend who offered the idea of chocolate dipped jalapenos. I was immediately intrigued by that idea, and knew that I wanted to try it.
 After a little more thinking on it, I decided to combine both the taco seasoning and the jalapenos, and this was the result.  

---Karly


COCOA-SEASONED CHICKEN NACHOS WITH 
CHOCOLATE DIPPED JALAPENOS
Taco Seasoning:
2 teaspoons Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Nachos:
1 cup shredded, cooked chicken
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
Olive oil
2-4 tablespoons beer
Chips
Nacho toppings: shredded cheese, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, hot sauce, etc.

Chocolate-Dipped Jalapenos:
2 ounces dark chocolate
3-5 jalapenos, sliced in half, lengthwise, and seeded

     Mix all of the taco seasoning ingredients together, then melt dark chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Drop jalapeno pieces into melted chocolate and stir to coat, then place on wax paper to allow chocolate cool. Refrigerate if desired.
     Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add chicken and taco seasoning. Stir to coat the chicken, then add beer and stir until it absorbs into the chicken, about 2-3 minutes. Top your chips with the chicken, nacho toppings of choice, and chocolate-dipped jalapeno pieces.
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     I knew I wanted to do something different for my chocolate week main dish, but I had no idea what that would be. To get a little inspiration, I did an internet search on using chocolate in savory dishes. There were tons of fascinating information. One thing I learned is that many Italian cooks use chocolate in their savory dishes; one popular dish is pumpkin ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce with grated chocolate on top. It sounded interesting, and immediately I thought of my pumpkin sage cream sauce that I put on pasta.  I decided to make that, add a hint of cocoa powder to it, and top it with both grated chocolate and Romano cheese. The chocolate is very, very subtle in this dish; it adds a nice depth of flavor and richness without being overtly chocolate. It’s a wonderful fall dish with an interesting twist. Try it tonight!

---Karly


PASTA WITH COCOA PUMPKIN SAGE CREAM SAUCE

1 cup pumpkin puree (see note at end of recipe)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Salt and pepper
1 ½ - 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
½ - 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Freshly grated Romano cheese, for garnish
Grated bittersweet chocolate, for garnish

   Cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions until it is al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, make your sauce.  
   In a large skillet, combine the pumpkin puree and heavy cream over medium-high heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and let the sauce come to a simmer. Once it’s started to simmer, turn the heat down a bit and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes to thicken slightly. Stir in the chicken and sage and cook for another minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.  
   Serve over the pasta and top with chopped parsley, grated Romano cheese, and grated bittersweet chocolate.

   NOTE:  I use fresh pumpkin puree whenever I can.  Take one small pie pumpkin, lop of the top, cut it in half and remove the seeds (don’t throw them away, they are fantastic toasted in the oven).  Cut the pumpkin into medium size chunks, put it on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Bake it at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until it is easily pierced with a fork.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle it.  Pull of the pumpkin rind (it should peel right off) and put the pumpkin pieces into a food processor and puree it; if you need to, add a little water to get the consistency you want.  The pumpkin puree freezes nicely for a couple of months, so you could roast several pumpkins, make puree, and freeze it in one cup increments for later use.  If you don’t make fresh, and want to use canned pumpkin, make sure you buy pure pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling.

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CHOCOLATE MINT MARSHMALLOWS

butter or oil for greasing
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 box unflavored gelatin (3 tbsp)
1/2 cup very cold water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown rice syrup or corn syrup
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon mint extract (you can use vanilla if you don't want mint)

1. Grease the inside of a 9″ x 9″ baking pan. In a bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa powder until well blended. Coat the inside of the greased baking pan with 1/4 cup of the sugar and cocoa, reserving the remaining amount for coating the finished chocolate marshmallows.

2. Pour the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle gelatin onto the surface of the water. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and boiling water. Mix until completely dissolved. Set aside.

4. In a saucepan, preferably ceramic, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, warm water, and kosher salt. Stir over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Turn heat up to medium-high and continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. The sugar will bubble up, but if you’ve got it in a pot with high sides, it shouldn’t boil over. If it threatens to escape, remove the pot from the heat for a few seconds and stir the contents before returning to burner.

5. Once the sugar reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat. Immediately pour into gelatin and beat with a stand mixer using the whisk attachment until it becomes white, light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. You can use an electric hand beater, but it will take longer to fluff up, about 15-20 minutes. If you use a hand beater, be aware that the fluff will try to crawl up the beaters in its attempt to make a mess. Once done, the marshmallow fluff will have nearly tripled in bulk. Add mint extract and beat until well integrated into the fluff.

6. Gently fold the dissolved chocolate into the marshmallows using a spatula. Do not over-mix — fold only five or six times.

7. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until they reach stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the mix, but don't over-mix. Mix just until you can no longer see any egg whites.

8. Pour marshmallow mix into the prepared pan. Sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar mixture onto the top to completely cover the marshmallows, and leave to sit about 4-5 hours, uncovered, to stiffen up.

9. Once the marshmallows are firm, you can cut them into 1″ x 1″ squares. Toss them  in a bowl of the remaining cocoa/powdered sugar mix.  You can also use cookie cutters to cut out the marshmallows, as pictured.

These keep for up to 3 weeks.

HOT VANILLA
1-1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
(makes 2 servings)

Heat milk until almost boiling. Add vanilla and honey, stir well. Add marshmallows!

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   Squeeeeeee, it's CHOCOLATE WEEK!!!! I know you guys have been waiting for this, so we're going to try to make it really fun!
   A few days ago, my husband and step-son were complaining that I don't cook enough Southern food, so here's my answer to that! I've had this Southern treat, maybe only twice in my life, so it was about time I revisit it... Whoa, so yummy, but definitely a once in a while thing. Very rich! Enjoy!
--- Jenny

FLUFFIEST BISCUITS EVER:
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

   Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   
   In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a fork (or your fingers) rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. 
   Turn dough (still pretty sticky) onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits and place on a baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform leftover scraps, and continue to cut the rest of the biscuits. Try to knead as little as possible.
   Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

CHOCOLATE GRAVY:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk

Melt the butter in skillet over medium heat. Add cocoa and flour and stir until it forms a paste. Add sugar and milk (even better if the milk is warmed first), stirring constantly until thick.
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When Jenny posted on our Facebook page that it was Pecan Week here on Kitchen Psycho, someone mentioned in their response that homemade chocolate turtles would be good, and that was the inspiration for my recipe.  I decided to take turtles one step further and make turtle dessert bars.  Now, there are lots of recipes online for turtle dessert bars, but I didn’t look at any of them, I simply used three of my favorite recipes: shortbread, homemade salted caramel, and chocolate ganache.  They turned out great!  Make some this weekend.

 ---Karly

 TURTLE DESSERT BARS

For the shortbread:
2 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
½ cup brown sugar
2-3 cups flour
 
For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (if you use salted, omit the salt in the recipe)
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt (if using regular salt, you might want to add a little less)
1 ½ -2 cups pecans, chopped
 
For the ganache:
4 ounces dark chocolate (I used 60% cacao), chopped
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
 
First, make your shortbread.  Put the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, and beat until creamed together well.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a regular hand mixer. Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the flour; start with 2 cups and add more if needed.  Mix until the mixture looks like fine crumbs, then, with your hands, mix together until a dough forms.  Push the dough into a square baking dish (I used a 9 x 9) and bake the shortbread on 350 degrees until it’s light golden brown on top, about 25-30 minutes.  Once the shortbread is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool completely in the pan.
 
While the shortbread is in the oven, make the caramel.  Put the sugar in a dry, medium-sized saucepan.  Turn on the heat to medium-high and let the sugar melt.  Once the sugar is melted and has turned a nice dark golden brown, turn off the heat and add the butter and heavy cream and stir until the butter is melted and all ingredients are well combined.  Be careful because the mixture will bubble up quite a bit!  Stir in the salt and chopped pecans.  Let it sit and room temperature and cool while the shortbread finishes baking and cools.

Once the shortbread is completely cool, pour the caramel mixture all over the top of the shortbread and spread evenly.  Now, you will make your ganache.  Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl, and heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just starts to simmer.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined.  Stir in the vanilla.  Let the ganache cool for about 15 minutes, then pour over the caramel layer.  Cover the bars and put In the refrigerator for at least 2 hours so that they can set.  Once they have set, cut and enjoy!!

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   Whoa, hold your horses, everyone! This one was pretty tasty, if I must say so myself! 
   My husband came up with the idea of stuffing a pork chop, (or was it stuffing AND pork chops? Sometimes, I don't listen very well...!), and since we all must have something green on our plates, I decided on a pesto. Spinach and Pecans, along with garlic and olive oil, so it's a dairy-free version for those of you are concerned...
   Then, I figured that it looked kind of boring... that poor lonely pork chop filled with pesto... So to make it truly a PECAN WEEK dish, I thought of a Balsamic Vinegar and Pecan Reduction to drizzle on top. And you can't do THAT without yummy goat cheese! 
Turned out really nice, alongside some wild rice with sauteed leeks. This was a super easy meal, so even though it might look like a lot, it's NOT! It took me about 30 minutes! Make it for dinner!
---Jenny

PESTO-STUFFED PORK CHOPS WITH BALSAMIC PECAN REDUCTION

2 thick-cut pork chops
4 tbsp pesto (recipe follows)
1-2 oz goat cheese
Balsamic Pecan Reduction (recipe follows)

Slice into pork chop with a meat-cutting knife to make as large a pocket as you can without completely cutting though the pork chop. Stuff with pesto. Over medium heat, pan-sear pork chops in a little olive oil about 8-10 minutes on each side.  Top with cheese and reduction.

Spinach and Pecan Pesto
1/4 cup pecans
2-3 cups spinach
1 large clove garlic
3-4 tbsp olive oil

Blend pecans in a food processor until crumby. Add spinach and process again. Add garlic, and, while processing, stream in the olive oil until desired consistency. (It should be fairly thick, not runny, or else all it taste like is olive oil...)

Balsamic Pecan Reduction
about a 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsp honey
1/4 cup pecans

In a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, reduce ingredients to a syrup. (about 10-15 mins) Drizzle over main dish.

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For a long, long, time, my opinion of Brussels sprouts was not a very nice one.  I didn’t like them when I was a kid, and that stuck with me as I got older.  Several years ago, I started seeing various recipes for caramelized Brussels sprouts and roasted Brussels sprouts, and they actually looked good…not like the mushy, bland things that I remembered.  I decided to be a grown up and try them, and it turns out, I don’t just like Brussels sprouts, I love them!  When you buy them fresh and cook them until they’re crisp tender, they are absolutely divine.   Originally, I was going to do a green bean recipe for my side this week, but the other day, I saw some beautiful Brussels sprouts at the store, and thought that it was time to do my part to give them a better reputation.  I have several different ways of preparing them, but for me, it is essential that they are crisp-tender, and I find that the best way to get that result is to pan sear them.  Recently, I had seen a Balsamic glaze recipe that I decided to tweak a bit, and I knew that it would be fantastic with the Brussels sprouts.  And for the finishing touch, I decided to add some prosciutto to them and top them with toasted pecans.  I promise that these are seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, slightly sweet, slightly sour, slightly salty…it’s a fantastic combination.  Even if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you should try these; my seven year old son even loved them, so I consider this recipe a huge success.  Make them tonight!

---Karly

PAN SEARED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BALSAMIC GLAZE, PROSCIUTTO, AND PECANS
1-1½ pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, dark leaves removed, and cut into quarters
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter (4 Tablespoons)
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Pecans, toasted and chopped

     Heat about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the Brussels sprouts and spread out to be in a single layer.  Salt and pepper them, and let them sit without stirring for 4 minutes or so, you want them to brown nicely on the side that’s down in the oil.  After 4 minutes, add the shallots and stir everything around a bit and cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Take them out of the pan and set aside.

     Wipe your skillet out, put the sugar in the pan in an even layer and heat over medium heat.  Let it sit over the heat, shaking occasionally, until it starts to melt and then brown slightly.  Once the liquid sugar has browned, add the butter and let it melt while stirring.  After the butter melts, add the wine and vinegar and turn up the heat slightly.  Let it come to a simmer, then reduce the heat a bit, and let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes; it will reduce down a bit and get syrupy.  Stir it a little while cooking so that it doesn’t burn.  Take the mixture off the heat, add the Brussels sprouts and prosciutto to the pan and stir well to combine.  Top with toasted pecans.

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Last week, when we were doing cornmeal and I made the corn muffins, I was craving Southern comfort food. I decided to do a different spin on a traditional country fried chicken with cream gravy.  I used chicken cutlets and breaded them with ground pecans and panko breadcrumbs mixed together.  Then, I made a cream gravy, but added chopped pecans to it at the end.  The result was a nice twist on a Southern classic.  Try it tonight!

 ---Karly

PECAN CHICKEN CUTLETS WITH PECAN CREAM GRAVY
4 chicken cutlets
All-purpose flour
1 egg whisked with a splash of milk
2 handfuls of pecans, ground (grind in blender or food processor)
2 handfuls of panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Canola oil

For the gravy:

2 Tablespoons of drippings and oil from the cooked chicken
2 Tablespoons flour
¾ cup chicken stock
¾ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 handfuls of pecans, coarsely chopped
 
Put about ½ inch of oil in a skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Get out three bowls and set up an assembly line: in one bowl, put some all-purpose flour, in the next put the egg whisked with a splash of milk, and in the third put the pecans and panko mixed together.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  When the oil spits after a drop of water is put in it, it’s hot enough.  Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then dredge in the pecan mixture.  Fry them in the hot oil for about 5-7 minutes per side (depends on the thickness of the chicken), until they are golden and cooked through.  Remember, when in doubt, use a meat thermometer!!
 
To make the gravy, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings.  Whisk in the flour, and cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the stock and milk and let come to a bubble, then turn down the heat.  Simmer until thickened to the consistency you prefer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped pecans.  Serve the chicken cutlets covered with gravy.

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   Flan (Pronounced "flahn") is a Latin dessert made in Spain , as well as Mexico and South American countries. Well, I have never made flan, but I've tasted the homemade version before, and it is velvety and smooth and gorgeous! So I decided to give it a shot. One thing: the recipe calls for a 9"-round baking pan... Well, I used smaller ramekins, so the baking time was less. So keep that mind if that's what you decide.
   End result? Such a nice idea to incorporate the orange. Very subtle. And it pairs well with the cinnamon in the pecans. A nice crunch with the smooth texture of the flan... oohhmmm, nom, nom, nom!
--- Jenny

ORANGE-INFUSED FLAN WITH CANDIED PECANS
Flan:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp fresh orange peel
3 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
juice of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp vanilla extract

   Preheat oven to 350. Keep your baking dish(es) in the oven so they are warm when you are ready to bake. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt sugar until dissolved. As you wait for the sugar to melt, mix eggs, milks, orange juice and vanilla together. Add orange peel to dissolved sugar and stir well for about 20 seconds to let flavor release. 
   Pour dissolved sugar in baking dish, coating sides, too. Now pour egg mixture in and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for an hour. (For smaller dishes, it may only take 20 minutes. You must watch them to gauge doneness)To serve: cool completely, then invert onto plate and garnish with candied pecans (recipe follows).

Candied Pecans
1 cup pecan halves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
glass of ice water

   Spread pecans on a baking sheet with oil, mixing to coat. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. Combine the cinnamon, salt, water and vanilla in a saucepan and cook at medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Test the doneness of this "candy", drop a small amount in a glass of ice water. If it drops as a little ball (not a string), it's ready. Add pecans and stir to coat completely. Turn out onto wax paper and separate with a fork.

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