Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday Night Dinners

It's been awhile, and this time I'm hoping to be a little more diligent in my posting. I'm not really a foodie, but more of a fatty. I just like to eat. Sometimes I still think about becoming a line cook in my spare time, but realized that the real enjoyment in cooking is sharing that experience with the people I love, whether it's learning new dishes from my mother, being a breakfast slave for my sister, and most recently, cooking Sunday night dinners with my fiance, Joe.

Two of my favorites over the past couple of weekends (and how to put them together!):

Chicken Parmesan and Wheat Noodles
Ok, this one requires special equipment, but ever since we discovered fresh homemade pasta, it's hard to justify not taking the time to make it!

I used this recipe to make the pasta: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/whole-wheat-pasta/
To it, I added about 1 Tbsp of Herb de Provence to the flour before I beat the eggs in. If you mix it in a stand-mixer, there's a chance that it won't come together right away. Once the egg seems to have been mixed into the flour, you'll have to knead it by hand to get it to come together. And don't skip the part where you let it rest, or else the gluten strands won't form correctly.

To make the chicken parmesan first pound out some chicken breast until it's about 1/2 an inch thick. As you pound it out, try to make it uniform so the chicken will cook evenly. Season the chicken with some salt and pepper. To coat, first dip it into some flour, then dip it into an egg wash (a beaten egg + 1 T water), and finally dip it into a mixture of regular bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning (I'd go 2:2:1 on the bread crumbs to panko to parmesan mixture). Turn your oven to broil and then pre-heat an oven-safe pan with a little (2 T) olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, pan fry your coated chicken, flipping when each side gets golden brown. When the second side is almost done, top with some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese (to your liking) and stick it in your oven to broil until the cheese gets bubbly and slightly brown.

If you want to go real intense, go ahead and make your own sauce, it tastes so much better than the jarred stuff, but that's a post for another day (or you can check out one of my earlier posts for a recipe).

Another favorite was...
Tapas Night

This is a great meal to make together because each person can make a different component!

Bacon wrapped Dates stuffed with Manchego Cheese: This is exactly what it sounds like. Slice open a dried date and stuff it with Manchego cheese. Then wrap a piece of bacon around it, secure it with a toothpick, and bake in the over at 350°F until the bacon  has rendered some of it's fat and is browned (to your liking!)

Patatas Bravas: After searching far and wide- this is recipe I ended up going with: http://www.spain-recipes.com/patatas-bravas.html

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp): I have my own method for this, which is probably a bit non-traditional, but I like it. I line an oval ramekin with thin slices of garlic. I place my peeled shrimp on top so that they're touching, but no overlapping. Then I drizzle it with white wine and olive oil and sprinkle some more thinly sliced garlic on top. I let it bake in the oven at 350°F until they're just cooked (I start checking after about 10 minutes) and sprinkle them with some fresh lemon juice and paprika when they come out of the oven. They're super garlicky and super delicious!

Tapas are delicious, but sometimes it's kind of pain to make it for two people (because there are so many ingredients). So I put forth this idea: Tapas parties. We should have parties where everyone tries to make a Spanish tapas. Then we all get together and it's like we're at our favorite Spanish restaurant ordering a multitude of tapas. Everyone wins.

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