Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cornflake Chicken and Plum Cobbler

I made two recipes on Friday night that were new to me and were truly outstanding, so I would like to share them with you.

Cornflake Chicken

My husband and I both love chicken. I have recently discovered that frying chicken in oil dries out the chicken on the inside, but frying it in lard allows it to stay moist and juicy. Many people get squeamish at the idea of lard in their food, but I feel fine with it so long as I am very careful about portion sizes. I believe that one or two servings of chicken cooked in lard is ok, so long as I also have my two or three servings of fruits and veggies. Also, the cornflake coating on the outside of the chicken helps keep the lard out of the chicken. When I rinsed out the pan all of the lard I had used was still in the pan. This is certainly not the case when I cook chicken in oil. Chicken cooked in oil actually tastes oily to me. This chicken tastes moist and simple – just like chicken should taste. The cornflakes don’t add much to the flavor if you crush them finely enough.

Here is my adapted cornflake chicken recipe. I found the original recipe at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cornflake-Fried-Chicken-242835. This recipe can be gluten-free with the right brand of corn flakes. I paired this chicken with fresh, juicy oranges and some light butter pasta. Again, I am very careful about portion control, lest I go overboard on the saturated fats or the carbs.


Preparation:
none

Approx. Cooking Time:
30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups cornflakes
Approx. 1 cup lard

Directions:
Cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces, at least as small as your palm. Pound the chicken to about 1/2-inch thick. Set chicken aside. Mix egg with milk in a wide, shallow bowl. Set aside. Crush cornflakes to super fine consistency and pour into a separate wide, shallow bowl. Melt lard in a large saucepan. Dip chicken in milk/egg mixture, then cornflakes, and put in the hot pan. Cover the chicken and fry on medium-high until done, flipping as necessary.

Plum Cobbler

As I was cooking I found some very overripe plums and decided that I needed to cook them up for dessert. Fruit desserts are one of my favorites because it helps me get those five servings of fruits and vegetables in without much hassle. I also don’t like wasting fruit when it’s too overripe to eat. I consider fruit desserts using fresh fruit to be healthy for us because they provide both fiber and vitamins without too much added sugar (I tend to shy away from recipes that taste more like sugar than fruit). They’re certainly much healthier than the cookies my husband loves so much. Making the plums into a cobbler seemed the natural choice, but how do I find the perfect recipe?

I am so tired of cobblers that are composed of dry, wilted fruit topped with a completely unrelated crunchy, sugary topping. When I eat those I feel as if I’m eating two different desserts, not one. Every other bite I get overwhelmed with a bite of pure caramelized sugar. I find it very difficult to find a cobbler recipe that is not sickeningly sweet or unhealthy because of the added sugar, and usually just decreasing the sugar doesn’t do the trick. After mulling this over a bit last summer I found a cobbler recipe that combined peaches with apricots (http://southernfood.about.com/od/cobblers/r/bl30418i.htm).

I didn’t have apricots, so I decided to substitute some very tart plums that I like to call “plumicots” (I don’t know their real name). The key to this recipe is that you add a bit of sugar to the juice of the fruit and pour that on top of the fruit before adding the crust. This spread the sugar around evenly but also softened the tartness of the plums. The plums were the dominant flavor here, and the sweet peaches stayed quietly in the background. It was delicious. Because I loved that recipe so much, I decided to try it again, but with just normal plums this time, and no peaches. It turned out spectacularly.


Preparation:
none

Approx. Cooking Time:
45 minutes

Ingredients:

Approx. 5-9 ripe plums, sliced into medium-sized pieces, with the juice reserved separately
2 T. cornstarch
1 T. butter
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
CRUST:
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 T. butter, softened
1 egg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a square baking dish and add the chopped up fruit (without the reserved juice). Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and reserved plum juice together in a saucepan. If there is not enough plum juice for the mixture to be a liquid, add water in small amounts just until the sugar and cornstarch are in a bit of liquid. Heat the mixture on medium, stirring constantly, until it boils gently and thickens. Remove from the heat and add butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pour over fruit.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ingredients for the crust and blend well. Spoon the batter in small spoonfuls over the fruit and juice and spread out if necessary so that it covers most of the fruit. Bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until the crust is just beginning to turn a light brown.

Desserts are my specialty, and I was lucky to have made such a successful main course and dessert in the same night. Chicken can be quite boring if overcooked, but the beauty of chicken is that it pairs well with almost any combination of flavors. Because my husband is such a carnivore and wants his meal to have meat in it, I’m sure I will have many more chicken recipes to share soon.

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My Picky Husband

Are you frustrated by gourmet recipes that contain a huge list of ingredients, some of which you’ve never heard of? Do you find yourself mentally scratching out things that your picky eater can’t (or won’t) eat, until you feel you’re down to almost nothing? Do you feel like you can never cook something that your loved ones truly enjoy, and is healthy too? Then read on, because this blog is for you.

I am married to a man with Asperger’s. Asperger’s disorder is on the autism spectrum, and is often characterized by certain personality traits. I think of Asperger’s as “Nutty Professor Syndrome.” My husband is brilliant, disorganized, insightful, logical, and sensitive. By sensitive I mean that all five of his senses are heightened and he is easily overstimulated. Powerful sensations such as loud noises or the smell of alcohol can make him uncomfortable or even sick. Certain tastes or smells which others might not enjoy but don’t mind too much, such as over-ripe fruit, become absolutely foul and abhorrent to him. Because of his hypersensitivity, there is a very long list of ingredients that my husband cannot tolerate, even in the smallest amounts. He can even tell if these ingredients are puréed and quietly snuck into a dish. His immutable taste buds have certainly made my work in the kitchen a bit more difficult.

My husband’s pickiness challenges me to cook in a new way, and he gives me constant feedback. Oftentimes he will say the dish tastes wonderful, but have I ever thought of sauteing the shrimp first before I add them to the sauce? Or adding the garlic after the tomatoes? Or adding the vegetables to the sauce instead of serving them on the side? Or trying a different brand of pasta, a different fat content in the milk? Most of the time I try his suggestion the dish improves. His sensitivity allows him to discern and appreciate the smallest changes in taste and smell, and as such, the distance between good food and delicious food is very large indeed. He is a true gourmand, and one of the most appreciative eaters I have ever met. I often feel that something truly delicious much taste even more delicious to him.

Over our three years of marriage I have become very adept at boiling down even the most complicated recipes to suit his particular tastes. Every ingredient has a purpose, and their combined tastes blend together into something powerful and multi-faceted, but never conflicting with itself. One day it struck me that others – people living with kids who are picky eaters, or with someone who is otherwise hypersensitive, or even people who don’t have time to buy 15 ingredients for every dish – might benefit from learning my minimalist style of cooking. Thus this blog was born.

On this blog I will post recipes and try to describe the essential flavors of the dish. Not all of my recipes are easy or quick, but many are. Some days I love spending 3 or 4 hours in the kitchen, but I know that many people don’t. I will try to vary what I post and label each recipe with approximate preparation (if any) and cooking time. The common theme of my dishes is that they each emphasize one flavor, or one flavor combination, that most people will find appealing. Every dish will also contain vegetables or fruits or be easily paired with them. Finally, most of my recipes will contain 7 or fewer ingredients, to make it easier for anyone cooking for a picky eater who has a list of no-fly foods.

My husband and I love eating. I hope you do too, although I realize that cooking for a picky eater can be difficult. I hope that this blog removes some of the stress from cooking for yourself and your loved ones. Bon Appétit!

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