I love Caprese Salad and I am always looking for new creative ways to make chicken dishes.
So here is a fun combo when you take the ingredients of the Caprese Salad and marry them with a seasoned grilled chicken breast. Ladies and gentlemen I now give you one very simple and delicious chicken meal that is not only very easy to make but is very pretty to look at. It all get’s finished off with the “drizzle” of a Balsamic reduction glaze.
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut in halves)
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
1 tablespoon Garlic herb Seasoning
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Slices of Soft Fresh Mozzarella Cheese 4 (1/2 inch thick)
Mini Heirloom Tomatoes sliced in half
Bunch of Fresh Basil Leaves - Chopped
2 cups balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 500 degrees
Prepare the Balsamic Glaze Reduction
Mix balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. Let cool and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator.
Pour Olive oil into a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until a small droplet of water pops in the oil. Place seasoned chicken breasts into hot oil, fry for 2 minutes, and flip chicken.
Place skillet into the preheated oven and bake until chicken is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear, about 12 minutes. Top each chicken breast with a slice of mozzarella cheese and return to oven and bake until cheese has melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer chicken breasts to a serving platter and top each with fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes and chopped basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze reduction.
My favorite pasta of all time has to be “Carbonara”. It’s the pasta that sits very near and dear to my heart. Simple and decadent at the same time. A girlfriend of mine tell’s the story that when she served it to her boyfriend for dinner – 8 months later they where married!
Yes it’s that good…….
Iv’e had several variations of it over the years but below is the recipe that I feel captures Carbonara in the most authentic way in which it is served in Italy.
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to garnish
½ cup freshly grated pecorino
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook the guanciale until browned and crisp. Add the garlic and saute with the guanciale for a few minutes. Remove the guanciale, garlic and rendered fat from the skillet and set aside for later use.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than indicated on the package. With a ladle, scoop some of the hot water from the boiling pasta, and set aside in a small bowl. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it into a large serving bowl.
In a different bowl, beat the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmesan, pecorino and some freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in the cooled guanciale with all of the fatty delicious oil. While the pasta is still warm, quickly add the sauce to the pasta and toss very well, then add a couple of very small scoops of the reserved pasta water to help create the carbonara sauce and its unique creaminess.
Garnish the carbonara with some grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and serve.
As the years pass me by (ever so quickly) I’m often times reminded more and more about the beauty that there is to be found in “The Simplicity of things”.
Yes gone are the days of clutter and collection of stuff that was crowding my life with stress and chaos. For the last three years I have made an ernest effort to purge my life of all the excess stuff that was weighing me down. This new way of approaching a more simple life has gradually crept into my style of cooking.
It all began with my trip to Italy a year and a half ago. I spent a whole month eating my way through the cities of Parma, Florence, Como, Genoa, Garessio, Venice and Tuscany. What stood out most to me is how simple many these exquisite dishes where prepared. The most glorious meals that contained no more than 5 or 6 simple ingredients. The secret was that all of the ingredients where fresh or artisanal made.
I began to appreciate the fact that “Less is More”. What I appreciated most , was many of the dishes that I was able to taste and enjoy in the region of Toscano. Once I returned home I was eager to focus on that very fresh and simple approach to meals I would be preparing at home.
So you may wonder who could one turn to for true authentic Rustic Tuscan guidance in the Kitchen? Well my friends that’s easy it comes in the form a very true Tuscan Farmer and Cook by the name of Gabriele Corcos.
Gabriele and his adorable wife Debi Mazer are the hosts of the Cooking Channels amazing show Extra Virgin. Let me tell you this is true Rustic Tuscan Cooking at it’s best! I became a fan back in 2009 when they had a little podcast called “Under The Tuscan Gun”. Each week I would eagerly plug in earphones to my ipod and for a few hours each week I would educate myself on the cooking world of all things “Tuscan”. I was an instant fan and I was hooked.
This past March I was fortunate enough to score a reservation a tasting of a very memorable Tuscan dinner prepared by Gabriele while promoting his Porchetta Tour in Los Angeles. The event was held at the ever fabulous Mauro Cafe. Here is a peek at the menu that was served that night.
For the pesto: To the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds, olive oil, parsley, sage, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Process until smooth.
For the steak: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan and, when it shimmers, add the steaks. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove to plates and let rest for 5 minutes.
Top the steaks with a dollop of pesto and serve.
***Cook's Note: Remaining pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
“Tuscans have historically been called bean eaters, because they have often clung to staples that lasts longer, like dried beans. In Tuscan culture, nothing gets tossed out. Tuscan’s have been known to eat beans every day of the week if they need to and if it means more indulging in the round, buttery feel of Cannellini beans when they’re soft and lightly mashed, count us as being leaders, too. We love these beans, especially with rosemary and olive oil. – Gabriele Corcos
6 small zucchini (very young zucchini with few seeds) sliced in half moons
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Once hot add onions and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sauté while stirring until they are golden and soft, about 8-10 minutes more. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper, to taste.
1½ pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
½ cup vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Traditional Chicken Marsala has always been in the top 10 of my favorite Italian dishes. I recently did a little research on Marsala Wine and here is what I found:
Marsala is the west section of Sicily, the island near the foot end of Italy. In 1798 the Sicilians managed to substitute their own wines in place of the standard rum in an English naval shipment. In those seafaring days, something had to be done to wine to allow it to last the long ocean journeys. Brandy was added to allow the wine to last longer and to be more resistant to temperature changes. These brandy-dosed wines were called “fortified wines”.
Marsala Region Once the British had a taste of Marsala, demand grew quickly. In the United States during Prohibition, things became even more interesting. The typical Marsala bottles made the wine look like medicine. People found that getting Marsala was less risky than other types of wine. While not as popular now for straight drinking, Marsala is still used quite frequently as a cooking wine in Italian dishes.
I am always in search of new twists on traditional dishes. I believe this recipe for Chicken Marsala Meatballs is my new discovery of a dish that I will just have to make time and time again.
In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, milk and 1 tablespoon Marsala. Leave to soak for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, pecorino, egg, parsley, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. With your hands, gently mix together the ingredients until just combined. Form the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are beginning to brown and are just barely cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a straight-sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms are brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the ⅓ cup Marsala and stir until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve hot, garnished with grated pecorino
Years back I used to have pre conceived ideas about the cast iron skillet. I mostly though it was for Cowgirls only and Lord knows “I’m the farthest thing from a cowgirl”.
So when my husband and I where first married he brought a box into our little kitchen and there it was his bachelor cast iron skillet. I asked him “Do you really cook with this thing”? His reply was “Of course I do, you should give it a try”. So then I began trying new recipes in the Bachelor Skillet and low and behold a whole new world of deliciousness was opened up to me.
The Bachelor skillet (Along with a few new ones that have been acquired) has continued to provide many wonderful dishes for my family through out the years. You can make practically anything in it (except ice cream). Steaks, Corn Bread, Cookies, Amazing sautéed veggies, Fajitas, Chicken Marsala, Fried Chicken, Bacon, Fish and now Eggplant Parmesan.
After making my Eggplant in the skillet I think I will never go back to baking it in the casserole dish. I fell in deep love with this version of it. You will too!
2 pounds eggplant (1-2 large eggplants, depending on size)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoons black pepper
1 egg, beaten
⅓ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
⅓ cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
5 Slices fresh Mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for serving
Torn fresh Basil for Garnish
Spaghetti or other pasta, for serving, if desired
Slice eggplant crosswise into approximately ¼ inch rounds. Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 15-20 minutes. Using a clean towel or paper towels, soak up as much excess moisture as possible. Set eggplant aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes, until onions become translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer over low heat.
While sauce is simmering, place beaten egg into a shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a separate shallow bowl. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then coat with bread crumb mixture.
In a Cast Iron Skillet (12 inch), heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook eggplant in oil 10-15 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through.
Pour tomato sauce around eggplant in skillet. Lay the soft Mozzarella sliced cheese over eggplant, cover and heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil just before serving.
8 ounces crimini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
½ cup sweet Marsala wine
½ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about ¼-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don't fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.
Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.
Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving
** I usually serve this over mashed potatoes, but it can be served over pasta as well.
Prep the chicken: Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and pound the pieces until they are thin (for quick cooking) and have expanded in surface area (for more filling). Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Prep the filling: Chop the spinach and saute it with the garlic and just a drizzle of olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until just barely wilted. Combine the sauteed spinach with the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and 2-3 tablespoons of the beaten eggs. Place the remaining egg mixture in a separate shallow bowl and set aside.
Assemble the chicken: Oil the bottom of a large baking dish and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place one piece of chicken on a flat working surface. Put a spoonful of ricotta-spinach filling right in the middle and roll the chicken up so that the edges meet to form a “seam”.
Dip the entire chicken roll in the beaten egg mixture, and then roll it in the breadcrumbs. Place in a baking dish, seam side down. Repeat for the remaining 7 pieces of chicken. Bake for 25 minutes.
Finishing touches: After 25 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through (white on the inside) and browned on the top. Cover the chicken with the marinara sauce and slices of fresh Mozzarella. Bake for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melting. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
I love the “Pounding Process” of the chicken- It’s helps relieve a lot of stress……lol
After pounding all these lil “Chicks” I feel like a new woman now on the the filling.
Little Dom’s is one of my favorite places to eat in Los Feliz. They put out quality Italian fare from pasta to pizzas to seasonal dishes. The food is great and the lunch menu is affordable. The main reason I go to Little Dom’s is the cute interiors and great sidewalk seating. On a pleasant LA afternoon, nothing is nicer than having a leisurely meal outside. The waiters and waitresses are friendly and never try to rush you.
If you are going to have dinner at Little Dom’s, make sure to reserve a table in the back room. It’s classic old Hollywood atmosphere is wonderful.
I recommend you start with the rice balls.They are moist and just wonderful dipped in marinara. Other yummy “Must Haves”:
Tuscan Kale Salad
Pizza (A must) their crust is the thinnest I’ve seen in LA. I usually order mine with Arugula , Prosciutto and Parmesan Shavings.
Author: Frances & Edward Mayes- Authors of- The Tuscan Sun Cookbook
Recipe type: Dinner
5 Yellow or Red Peppers
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cups (1 Pound) Whole Milk Ricotta
½ Fresh Basil Leaves, Torn, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary or 1½ Teaspoons Dried
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves or 1½ Teaspoons Dried
½ finely sliced Green Onions
1 handful for Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
A handful of Fresh Breadcrumbs, Crisped in a Little Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Heat the grill or turn the gas flame on the stove on high.
Since the peppers on the grill or on the stovetop. I sent them down right on the stoves flame and keep turning them with the tongs. In about 10 minutes, the peppers should char all over, but don't cook them so long that they turn length. Cool and medium bowl, and then slide off the burned skin. Cut in half and cleaning out the ribs and seeds. Grab inside and out with olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 350°F
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, green onions, parsley, salt and pepper. Beat in the eggs and parmigiano. Fill the peppers with the mixture. Line a 9 x 13" baking dish with parchment and arrange the peppers. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the ricotta is set to the touch.
Garnish with Basil Leaves and Homemade Breadcrumbs - Drizzle with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil before serving.
There have always been two things that make me crazy happy in life (food wise)
I can’t think of a time in my life when I ever felt that “I’ve had enough pasta”. The truth is I could never get enough. Pasta is fun, it comes in so many variations, flavors , shapes and sizes. Add all the selections of sauces that can be made that enhance your pasta experience , you can very well have a different pasta feast every day for weeks on end.
But being that all of us women have busy loaded schedules we need to many times find something quick and easy to put together. This pasta dish is one that I have made many times over. You can add your own twist to it too. If you have hearty eaters at home add some grilled chicken breasts or some cooked Italian sausage to it. Happy Eating!
1 Box Rigatoni Pasta (Barilla is my favorite brand)
4 Tablespoons Butter
½ whole Large Onion, Finely Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 jar (15.5 Ounces) Roasted Red Peppers, Drained And Roughly Chopped
1 cup Chicken Broth
½ teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
½ cup Heavy Cream (more To Taste)
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Shavings (more For Serving)
Chopped Fresh Basil
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the chopped red peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until hot.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Carefully transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or blender. Place on the lid and puree the pepper mixture until totally blended (there will still be some texture to the peppers.)
Heat the other 2 tablespoon butter back to the skillet over medium heat. Pour the pepper puree back into the skillet. Add the broth, salt, and pepper, and stir until heated. Splash in the cream and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if you need to.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil, then stir it together to coat the pasta.
Serve in bowls with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkling of Basil on top.