Saturday, January 12, 2013

The best meals I've ever cooked

Off schedule, I know, but I have to give a ringing endorsement for our new cookbook, Smitten Kitchen.  It was a Christmas present from the mother in law to the wife.  We have cooked 4 dinners and a dessert out of this book, and each one was freakin' amazing!  Between the breaded chicken with salad and homemade dressing, the eggplant calzone, and tonight's butternut squash galette, I now have 3 new favorite foods to add to my list.  They aren't easy (these 3 all took upwards of an hour and a half to prepare), but they're well worth the extra time.  The instructions were very detailed, so as long as you have the ingredients and the equipment, anyone can put these dishes together.

Honestly, a couple of the dishes sounded questionable to me, but Katie put them on the list to try.  The eggplant calzone was nothing more than roasted eggplant slices in a blend of 3 cheeses wrapped in a homemade dough.  I usually like meat, onions, etc. in my pizzas, but the unique blend of cheeses and the dough recipe made the dish, and the roasted eggplant was plenty enough flavor to spice it up.  Similarly, the galette is made up of roasted butternut squash (cubed) with caramelized onions, cheese, and herbs wrapped in a homemade dough.  Vegetarian dishes aren't usually my thing, but I just might be a convert!

Still, the breaded chicken was the first (and still my favorite) recipe to cook from this book.  The chicken was just butterflied breasts dipped in flour, then a mustard and lemon marinade, then panko bread crumbs.  But as simple as this sounds, the dish was made in the details.  The butterflied chicken was to be pounded (not tenderized) between plastic down to 1/4 inch, and after the breaded chicken was prepared it was refrigerated for 1-2 hours to let the breading set tight to the chicken.  And as great as chicken was, the fennel & arugula salad with homemade mustard and lemon dressing topping the chicken was the perfect complement.

I feel bad not detailing the other 2 recipes we tried, but I already have to change my shirt from all the drooling.  Believe me, they were great!  I'm considering pulling a Julie & Julia thing with this book, so you can look forward to more raving about this book in the weeks to come.

The authors are the same folks that write the blog at  Check 'em out, you won't regret it!


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