Sunday, 25 March 2012

Swiss Style Cutlet

 I often find visiting restaurants inspirational and later try to make the same meals at home. Usually it takes a few attempts, this time with a stroke of luck I got it right at first go. Funny thing about this meal is that I had it at the restaurant serving Polish cuisine, yet the dish was called "Swiss Style Cutlet"... I'm not entirely sure about the connection to Swiss cuisine, but it tastes great, plus it's easy and relatively quick to make, so does the origin really matter?

To make the cutlet you need:

A doubke chicken breast
A few slices of tinend pineapple
A few slices of cheese
Salt, pepper, oregano, a pinch of chili powder to season
A bit of cranberry sauce

Wash the chicken breast and dry it with kitchen roll. Cut off any spare bits and beat it gently with a mullet. Season with spices, put pineapple slices on top and put into the oven pre-heated to about 160C (I amke it in a fan oven) for about 40 minutes. Then place cheese on top and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes. When cheese melts the dish is ready to serve. Today we had it in a healthy version (served on a salad) and 'fast food version' -served with chips. Needless to say, both were delicious!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Involtini di Pollo



The meal we had today is an attempt to copy a dish I first tried in one of the Italian restaurants in our district. I am extremely picky as far as food is concerned, and pretty merciless when evaluating Italian restaurants. I've heard a few times that Italian food is 'the blandest' ever, sadly it was the opinion of people who know the "Italian" food merely from Italian restaurants. And those, if located outside Italy rarely can do the food justice. Luckily, we live in a 'posh" area (haha), people like to pose and splash money around, which usually is either quite entertaining, or simply sad, but on the positive side there are a few places serving decent food, including two (!) Italian restaurants. 
The first time I tried the dish in question I actually just tried somebody else's meal and ended up devouring half of their food! As it sometimes happens, the meal that looks nothing-special in the menu turns out to be a masterpiece combination of scent and flavours - perfect texture, seasoning, completed with a few drops of strong olive oil...... mmmmmmmmm... Mouth watering!
The preparation though, as it often is in the case of Italian meals, is amazingly easy! (I guess I'd be shun by all the Italians for daring say that!)
Below are the ingredients and cooking instruction for a filling, two-course meal for two 
We started the meal with a modified version of a starter copied from another Italian restaurant - bread / pizza dough balls. This time I stuffed the balls with ricotta cheese, the taste wasn't perhaps very strong, but the the texture was pleasantly different, quite an interesting little change. 

For bread balls you need:

0.5 large cup of plain, all purpose flour (or more, if the mixture is too sticky)
a pinch of dried yeast
a pinch of salt
a dash of olive oil
lukewarm water or milk
about 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

In large bowl mix all the ingredients and add water or milk, start kneading. Initially when they begin to mist the mixture will be quite sticky, but should improve after a bit of kneading. If it doesn't, add more flour. Knead the mixture until smooth and playable, splash more olive oil on top, cover the bowl with a tea towel and put in a warm place for 30 minutes or so. The dough should grow - ideally double the volume, but not always. After it's grown, knead it for a few more minutes and tear large bits of the dough flatten them in your hands and place a little ricotta in the middle, then close all the edges and roll the ball in your hands to smooth the surface. Place in the pre-heated to 180C oven and bake them until golden. I served them with green pesto (basil based pesto), red pesto (tomato based pesto), a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yummy! 


The main meal takes:

1 double chicken breast
1 tablespoon of basil pesto
5-6 dried tomatoes
a bit of gorgonzola cheese 
a few fresh basil leaves
a few slices of prosciutto ham

Cut the breast in half, spread pesto inside, cover with basil leaves, place Gorgonzola and dried tomatoes on top, roll the breast and wrap a slice or two of prosciuto around it, so as it is sealed and cheese won;t leak during baking. Place the breasts on a baking tray lined with olive oil and out it to pre-heated oven ( I used 170C hot fan-oven) for about 40 minutes.  This time I served it with gnocchi as a side dish. 



Gnocchi: 

I used half the amount of ingredients form the recipe, and still it made plenty enough for another dinner! Good job we both enjoyed the gnocchi and had another Italian style meal penciled in for the next day. I guess we can just assume that the amounts I give below serve 4, as long as it is a side dish. 

0.5 kilo potatoes
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan  
1 egg yoke
70 gram of plain all purpose flour (or more - depending on the consistency, if the dough is sticky keep on adding more flour until it is possible to roll it and form gnocchi)

Boil the potatoes and mash them well - they need to be really smooth, otherwise there will be lumps in our gnocchi. Cool the potatoes until really cold. Then mix the mash with Parmesan, egg yoke, and flour. Knead well until the dough is not sticky and you can roll it and form gnocchi.  
Divide the dough into 4 or 5 parts, out the first part on a floured surface (you may also want to rub some flour onto your hands - not necessary, but makes life easier). Roll a dough to form a long string about 1.5 cm thick. Cut off or tear off bits about 1.5 cm long. Roll them a birth in your fingers and press the middle of each gnocchi with a thumb so as it gets concave. You may also fold the outside "lips" inside. Boil a large pan of salted water, add a tablespoon of cooking oil or olive oil so as the gnocchi don't stick together and put the gnocchi in. Boil until they come up to the surface. When you take them out, don't pile them, as they stick like crazy! :)
When the chicken and gnocchi are ready serve them with olives, sprinkle with olive oil, dried sage, oregano, and grated Parmesan. Enjoy!



Saturday, 17 March 2012

My Divine Cheese Cake

Gosh, it's been a while since I last posted something here, I got snowed under work :( Meanwhile the real snow has melted, and this weekend we're enjoying really springy weather - sunny and nearly 20C outside!
I've made my beloved dew cheesecake, as it's too early for fresh fruit dessert, and this one tastes like ice-cream so I decided it will do as the first spring dessert!
I could say that making it this time round was a bit of an adventure, as electricity decided it was time to start turning itself on and of, just as I was in the middle of baking and whisking egg whites! All in all, though the cake turned out great and tasted delicious as usual, so there's only a small bit left for dessert tomorrow. Guess that's good? ;-)

To make a big cheese cake you need:

For the base:
2 large cups of flour
0.5 large cup of sugar
2 egg yokes
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons of baking powder
0.5 tub of margarine (125 g)

Mix all ingredients and knead until smooth. Then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Cheese mix:

1 kilo of smooth and creamy cottage cheese
1 large cup of sugar
0.5 large cup of cooking oil
2 large cups of milk (0.5 litre)
1 pack of vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
4 egg yokes
2 packs of vanilla sugar

Mix all ingredients with a mixer until they combine into a smooth mixture. It will be very runny, but this is what we want.

Line baking tray with silver paper or baking paper, and make sure the sides are covered, in order not to let the cheese mix leak. Take the base mix out of the fridge and place it on a baking tray (I use a large, round base - 24 cm in diameter). Make the base smooth and equal, you can prick it all over with a for to prevent it from getting 'humpy". Pour the cheese mix on top and place it in the oven pre-heated to 150C (I bake it in a fan oven). Bake for about 60-75 minutes - until it's getting golden on top. It will still be "shaky" at that point, but that's OK. When the top begins to turn golden prepare the meringue.

Meringue top:

6 egg whites
1 large cup of sugar

Whisk the whites until smooth and stiff (so as you can turn the pan upside-down and the mixture inside won't move). Keep on whisking and gradually add sugar. When all sugar is added and the mixture is smooth and stiff place it on top of the cake and bake it all until the meringue is golden (otherwise you won't get the dew).

Take the cake out, wait until it cools down and taste it! When it's properly cool, sugar dew should be dripping off the meringue while cutting. I dare say its absolutely divine!