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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Easy Lemon Chicken

This year’s Thanksgiving may be a vivid memory, but just in case, let me remind you,
1.    What you said:  Wow, this Thanksgiving was so special! What you meant: Please leave now. This ain’t an overnight.
2.    What you said: Everyone have enough to eat?  What you meant: Think your socks will still fit?
3.    What you said: We should do this more often. What you meant: Let’s schedule it at your house, during the next ice storm in hell!
After Thanksgiving, did your talking scale tell you, one at a time please? I understand your agony and I’ve come to your rescue.  You need something healthy, but satisfying. I have a very easy solution that will slash that hunger, cut those calories and won’t make you a kitchen slave.  Matter of fact, it’s called Easy Lemon Chicken.
First, let’s get this straight.  Easy doesn’t mean this recipe is bland or lacking in a certain amount of style, or complexity of flavor.  What it does mean is you can put it together in a matter of minutes, yet it gets flipped in the oven and comes out making you look like an accomplished chef.  It’ll also boost your ego and please your guests.  Did I say ‘please? Your guests will rise from the table to applaud as you take a bow.  Only your wife will look aghast and begin the interrogation, “Don’t lie to me!  Where did you buy this?”
Of course you’ve learned by now to simply swallow the bitter bile of matrimonial outrage and permit your guests to embrace you with a kiss on both cheeks. For the good-looking females, depending on your courage and the size of their husbands, it is permissible to suggest a deep and lingering kiss on the lips.
Yes, this recipe is that good.  And, no your wife is probably not that bad and will be content to damn you with faint praise. “It’s ok” and mildly suggest kissing guests on the lips will result in a massive head injury.
So, how do you make this wondrous dish?

Easy Lemon Chicken

4 Half chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 Lemon, juice and several wide peelings of the rind, finely chopped
1/3 Cup all purpose flour
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon paprika
¼ Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup Chicken broth
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Cup white wine

Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
Putting it together:
Squeeze the lemon over the chicken breasts until al the juice is squeezed out.
Combine the flour, salt and paprika in a plastic bag, put the chicken in and toss until the chicken is coated.
Put the vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the chicken breasts until they are just golden brown on both sides.
Don't’ worry that they’re not cooked through.  Keep reading!
Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle on the finely chopped lemon rind.  Mix the sugar, broth and wine together and pour it over the chicken.
Slide the baking dish in the oven and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes.
Set your timer and don’t you dare overcook this dish!
I served the lemon chicken with chunked, unpeeled potatoes, tossed in vegetable oil, salt and pepper, microwaved to soften, then browned in the oven.
Also, Brussels sprouts, salted, peppered, coated in vegetable oil and browned in the oven.

Now you’ve got a decision to make.  Remember, you only used one cup of wine for the recipe…so do you drink the rest yourself or offer some to your guests?  I hate decisions like this.  But, these folks look like beer drinkers and beer is cheap. Hummmm…. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

There’s Something About London

I’ve been going to London for decades, and yet I’m always thrilled at the prospect and thrilled when I get there.  How can that be?  Once you’ve seen it, you’re seen it, right?  Not quite.  Once you’ve seen it, you’ve fallen in love with the architecture, the history, nights at the theater, days and nights at the pubs, the outrageously priced cocktails at the Savoy’s American Bar, martinis made at the table in Duke’s Bar at the Duke Hotel.  

Indian food.  China town. 

Perhaps it’s Fortnum and Mason, the most elegant grocery store in the world, or next door at Hatchards, London’s oldest bookstore.  Maybe it was standing in front of Buckingham Palace and viewing the most famous military parade in the world, the every popular Changing of the Guard.

It may be walking into Floris perfumery and being overwhelmed by scents of every variety, including the famous #89, the mythical James Bond’s favorite, or, stepping into the incomparable Food Court at Harrod’s.

So many more astonishing things I’ve done. A visit to Fuller’s Brewery and its thirst quenching tasting room.  A Scotland versus England World Cup preliminary match at Wembley Stadium.  

Getting a tour of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Seeing the Rosetta Stone and Elgin Marbles at the British Museum.  Going to an open night of The Producers and having Mel Brooks take the stage for a hilarious, impromptu chat.

Before you start your day, pick out a spot for a full English breakfast.  Ever had a full English breakfast?  What’s that?  Oh, how I’d like to see the child-like wonder in your eyes.

Without a doubt, London is a never-ending string of pleasures and surprises.
Samuel Johnson was spot on when he wrote, “A man who is tired of London is tired of life.”

And when you walk the streets of London, it’s a tour through English and European history.  View the Magna Carta in the British Library and learn what it really says, or look at handwritten Beatles’ lyrics.

A Beatles’ fan?  When you walk down Seville Row, that famous street of ‘bespoke’ tailoring, check out the rooftop (from ground level) where the Beatles played their last concert. Listen for the echoes of 1969.

It just may be you’re a literature lover.  Charles Dickens. George Orwell. Will Shakespeare.  All lived or worked here and you can follow in their tracks.  More modern?  J.K. Rowling. Julian Barnes. Ian McEwan. Jeffery Archer. Ian Fleming.

Do your own research. Find out where they lived and worked before you go. Or sign up for a fabulous walking tour that matches your fancy.

Don’t forget the unforgetable London markets. Boroughs Market, to mention just one of many. I ate the best oysters of my life there.  It’s a place where the fish mongers have done their own fishing and the ice cream shops make their own ice cream.  Meats roast over open fire pits and savory crepes come fresh off the hot plate.  Cheeses come direct from the farms. Come hungry and don’t miss the nearby pubs.  Huge hint:  NEVER pass up a pub.

Dozens of historic pubs.  The Mayflower, where the famous ship of that name first sailed. The Grenadier.  The Lamb and Flag, also known as the Bucket of Blood.  Wonderful pubs go on and on, and so will you! Another hint:  Always go for the hand pulled ‘real’ ale.

And after you’ve been to London a few dozen times, don’t even begin to say you know London. How about shops that have been there since the 17th Century? Greenwich, the home of time and distance?

My advice:  Plan on going to London for a week a year, for the rest of your life.  Still, that will not be enough time.  But, I keep trying… By the way, did you know that Karl Marx is buried at the Highgate Cemetery in London?       Just asking….

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

White Chicken Chili

Ok, before I begin with the recipe, I must mention one of my two faithful readers who informed me real chili is not cooked with beans or onion.  This reader also confessed to not eating food beginning with the letter B, such as beans, bread, boa constrictors, or black-footed ferrets.

In the effort to be all things to all people, I declare and proclaim that in the heart of the matter, my faithful reader is correct.  According to my copy of Texas the Beautiful Cookbook, real chili, which can only mean Texas Chili, is not cooked with beans or onions. Those are added later by fearless iconoclasts who don’t care what people think and are willing to accept spiteful scorn.

HUGE HINT: You can make this chili using just the chicken and seasonings and chicken broth.  I promise it will taste good.  In the event it does not taste good, I will send you the name and address of the person on whom your righteous wrath should descend.  

If you’re giving up the beans and onion, but still need a little more sustenance in your chili, add some hominy. Not grits.  If you can’t stand the milk or cream the recipe calls for, don’t add it.

For normal people, and by that I mean people like yours truly, who are either trustworthy, brave, honest, or decent – pick any one -, I offer this White Chicken Chili recipe.

White Chicken Chili

1 Tablespoon olive oil, either virgin, extra virgin, or well used, but still cute, cuddly and warm olive oil.
½ Onion, diced
½ Jalapeño, diced, or to taste
1½ Pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Clove of garlic, minced
3 Teaspoons (or more) chili powder
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
1 Teaspoon smoked paprika
4 Tablespoons Masa
1¼ Teaspoons salt
¼ Teaspoon or more, Cayenne pepper
1½ Cups frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
2 15oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed
4 Cups chicken broth
¼ Cup heavy cream or half and half or whole milk

For garnish:  chopped cilantro, grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado

To accompany:  freshly fried corn tortilla chips:  Cut up packaged corn tortillas, fry them in oil at 350ºF, drain them on a paper towel and add salt.

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil, then add the onion and jalapeños and cook until the onion is wilted. 

Add the chicken and cook until it is cooked through.

Add the garlic and spices and mix until the chicken is coated.

Add the corn, beans, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

Use a dough cutter or the back of a wide spoon to smash some of the beans to make a thicker chili.  Mix in the cream or milk.

Before you serve the chili, don’t forget the garnish!