March 13, 2009

More good company

I really only like to cook. I LOVE to bake but cooking is just something I enjoy at times and do daily because, well, that's what I do. So imagine my delight when Samantha, one of Will's coworkers and her significant other, Barry, came over last night to cook dinner for us! Ah!!Lovely!!!

Sadly, they are leaving for Cincinnati next week and this is only the first time we've been able to get together outside of work functions, but we had a great GREAT time cooking and eating and chatting with them as the sleet fell outside. They generously allowed me to print the recipe here and I'll also add one for the dessert I made for afters (I forgot to take a photo of the dinner last night so you'll have to make do with the dessert, which I had again for breakfast this morning....hey, it's just eggs and strawberries and milk....and lots of sugar....and ok, whipping cream, not milk, but that still counts...right?)

Chicken Breasts Arrabiata

1 T olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped ( I believe it was a red onion, bnut I could be wrong)
1/4 cup pepperoncini, seeded, rinsed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 T balsamic Vinegar
1 T tomato paste
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepper, onion, pepperoncini, garlic, basil, pepper and salt. Cook, stirring for 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, vinegar and tomato paste, increase the heat and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the chicken, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook 15 minutes. Serve over pasta.

This was delicious, just the right amount of heat from the peppers and the chicken was very tender and juicy. definitely one to add to the recipe books!

Mini Pavlovas

I used Ina Garten's recipe for Pavlova's here but made individual circles, piped with a pastry bag.

  • 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 6 four inch circles on the paper, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)

Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pipe the meringue into the circles, starting in the middle and working out, making the edge slightly higher than the rest. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

I served these with strawberries cut in quarters lengthwise dressed with some sugar and a few drops of good balsamic vinegar. This sat in the fridge for a few hours before serving, then I topped them with slightly sweetened whipped cream. I also made some lemon curd and had mine with lemon and the whipped cream, just because I've been hankering after some lemon curd since I made the Blood Orange Curd Tart.