Life right now is a tipping onto the busy side with a 20 page paper due in a couple weeks along wth a couple cakes I need to make, blog work, and other every day home stuff that needs to be taken care of, like errands and getting dinner on the table.
Now, I do most of the cooking around here, and probably for a good reason, but it gets pretty darn tiring to spend a day in the kitchen only to come home and spend the evening in there, too. I appreciate a good frozen pizza, but I can't live off the stuff forever, so quick, simple meals are always a very welcome sight.
This recipe for Chicken in a Creamy Chive Sauce is not only mouthwateringly delicious, but it's quick and easy. You can serve with a side of mashed potatoes or rice with a nice steamed vegetable on the side, like broccoli.
What you'll need:
Fold plastic wrap over chicken breast (to avoid splatters) and flatten with a heavy rolling pin or mallet to approximately 1 cm thickness. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and coat with flour. Heat a frying pan and add a tablespoon of oil. Brown your chicken breast, and remove from pan.
Add another tablespoon of oil, and add diced shallots. Sweat shallots 1-2 minutes until translucent. Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour into the pan and stir. Cook for approximately 1 minute. While stirring, add white wine and chicken stock, mixing the flour into the liquid until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil. Return chicken to the pan, reduce heat, and simmer approximately 6-10 minutes, until chicken is finished cooking.
Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in chives at the end.
And there you have it! A quick chicken dinner with sour cream and chives. Serve with a side of buttery mashed potatoes or fluffy rice and some steamed broccoli for a balanced meal.
FInd, share and print a copy of the recipe here.
Making Potato Stock
Start by washing and drying the potatoes. Cut a line down the middle of the potato about a centimeter or so, but don't cut the potato in half. Next, toss your potatoes in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake them at 220°C (425°F) for 25 minutes. When the potatoes are done, place them into a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them sit at room temperature, and set your timer for 2 hours. Read a book, catch up on that show you like, or take a nap. It'll be a while..
Strain the potato stock through a fine sieve. Cover stock and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Unfortunately, the potatoes themselves were all soggy, so I had to throw them out.
Make a Potato Gel
When you're ready to spend an entire day drying chips in the oven, take 2 cups of your stock (about 500 ml) and whisk in 4 tablespoons of potato starch. Cook on medium heat and bring to a boil, until your mixture turns to a gel. Remember to keep whisking the starch as soon as it's added to the stock, or you'll end up with a lump at the bottom of your pot..
The next step can be done a couple different ways. The creator of the recipe simply spread the goop out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. The mixture should be no thicker than 3mm thick. When dried, he broke the starch sheet into irregular shapes resembling glass shards to be fried.
Instructable contributor Imnopeas claims to have "improved the recipe" simply by adding the gel to a squeeze bottle to squirt out perfect potato chip shapes. This same person also stated in the beginning of the instructional post that "potato chips are boring". Excuse me, what?. Madness! Do what feels right. I had tons of gel, so I used both methods. I did one sheet with oblong goo, and one with total goo coverage.
Dry. Dry. Dry.
The gel needs to completely dehydrate in the oven. The creator states that they should be in the oven at 57°C (135°F) for 2 hours until completely dry. Instructables, however, states that they should dry for 8-10 hours or overnight. The chips I made certainly weren't dry in two hours and still had the consistency of rubbery Jell-O. For me, it took a good 5 hours to get the chips completely dry to peel them from the paper.
Fry Those Babies Up
After an eternity, you can finally fry your chips. Bring oil up to 175°C (350°F). Fry your chips until clear and crispy, and drain on paper towl. There's a teensy problem with the chips being clear, though. You can't see them in the oil, and it results in a lot of fishing around. Use a basket if you can, else giggle to yourself as your snack dissapears in the oil. After a dusting of salt, enjoy your rediculous time-consuming snack!! Yum!
These glass chips are undeniably fun and could add a touch of new age elegance and the modernity of molecular gastronomy. These chips are cool. But are they worth it?
Well yes and no. Unless you have someone to seriously impress, or have a couple days on your hands just to babysit potato goo, which many of us don't, then these chips aren't really worth the effort. Sure, they're crispy and salty and taste slightly of potato, but they lack that satisfying feeling you get from eating chips, still with 100% guilt. It's more like eating a salty piece of plastic, where the texture reminded me of gelatine sheets.
My first attempts to fry these chips actually was a failure. The gel wasn't quite dry enough and the oil was a bit too hot, resulting in glass that bubbled and puffed up. To be honest, the "failure chips" have a better crunch, flavour, and texture than the "good" chips.
The final word on these chips is that they would look really great to wow at a party or atop a beautiful plate of food as garnish, but as a viable snack, which these were never meant to be, I wouldn't bother. Even as garnish, the glass chips are a bit extreme, and time consuming. I worked two days on finishing them. Now I can say I've tried it, and it certainly works as shown, but now I just want to relax on the sofa with a good movie eating real potato chips.
Hey there! In Part 9 of the Vegas series, I talked about watching both pin up girls and dolphins frolicking around. This post, I'll be talking about our final meal in Las Vegas before leaving steamy, sunny Sin City for the greyness that is Denmark.
If you're a bit lost in the series, and you want to read about my Las Vegas vacation from the beginning, you can start from the beginning here.
Our final day in Las Vegas was mostly a relaxing one with a single goal in mind: Go to M&Ms World and buy custom candies. Yes, that's a thing! M&Ms World is a 4 floor candy heaven with absolutely every m&m-related item you could possibly think of, including candy, blankets, clothing, movies, and even jeweled cufflinks.
On the third floor, we found the custom candy machine. The process is fairly simple. Choose up to 4 m&m to write your own message or choose from a pre-determined set of graphics. Unfortunately, there are only 2 font choices: regular or comic sans. You get a ticket, which you deliver to the cashier to choose your container size and payment. I chose the smallest size, which is about the size of a styrofoam coffee cup and contains about 2 handfuls of candy at $20.
The next step is the fun part. You take your cup to the m&m wall to personally choose the colours you want printed. When your cup is full, you pour the candies into the machine, insert your cup into the holder, and watch the magic as the machine spits out personalized m&ms in all your favourite colours! Voila! Overpriced candies that are 100% you. In fact, I couldn't bring myself to eat them when we got home, and I ended up pouring them into a glass sphere as decoration on our tv stand.
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As a little sweet treat before dinner, we stopped into Hershey's World's "The Chocolate Bar" in New York, New York for some chocolate-themed martinis. I couldn't pass up the opportunity! I went for a "Death by Chocolate" while my husband settled for a "Raspberry Chocolate Martini", complete with Hershey's Kiss "olives". These drinks are not only extremely sweet, but they pack a huge boozey kick!
On to our final dinner in Las Vegas, Nevada. My first choice of the Michelin Star Picasso in Bellagio didn't work out as planned since they were closed on that particular evening, so we instead chose Fiamma Trattoria and Bar in MGM Grand. A trattoria is an italian-style mid-range eating establishment with focus on regional food.
Despite our very casual attire, we were ushered in and given a place by the front of the restaurant, which would be the equivalent to a window seat. Excluding the hostesses, the waitstaff at Fiamma are extremely friendly, down-to-earth people. Our waiter chatted and joked with us, and seemed to have a genuine love for his work, and he was very good at it. As a starter, we ordered a shared antipasti platter, which included an assortment of meats, cheeses and breads, all of which tasted lovely. What I can best recommend, though, is Fiamma's tomato butter which had a deep tomato flavour that added a slight sourness to that oily butter.
Despite having decided on our mains before being seated, our waiter hit us with the specials, which quickly changed both our minds. A creamy bay scallop risotto with freshly shaved Italian white truffle. Now, normally "special" on a restaurant menu means "we have ingredients we need to get used up, so let's make something to use it up". The temptation of truffle, which we actually haven't officially eaten before, won out. We received a beautiful plate with a rich and creamy risotto with a light sprinkling of herbs and perfectly cooked bay scallops that melted on the tongue. The truffle was shaved generously over the top of the large portion of food, giving a delightfully nutty flavour to the dish, a dish I coudln't for the life of me finish eating else I would have burst at the seams.
To drink on the side, I chose a pear cocktail while my husband chose a Riesling wine. Since water tastes so much of chlorine in Las Vegas, we opted for bottled, and were kindly given the option of sparkling or still water, where I chose sparkling and my husband chose still. We received not just ordinary water, but a liter of Pellegrino water for me, and a liter of Fiji water for my husband, complete with its own bottle holder at a whopping $8 a bottle.
While the meal was quite expensive, being nearly the same price as a Michelin Star establishment, the food truly was excellent and prepared with care and passion. The staff were knowledgeable and friendly, making our experience comfortable and fun. The only change I could ever have wanted would be slightly more lighting in the restaurant. The restaurant and decor are lovely, modern, and rich with nuances of cream, brown, orange and gold, but it's a bit hard to see when the lights are so dim.
And with that final, extravagant, yet tasty meal, we said goodbye to Las Vegas. It was exciting, frightening, quirky and charming all at once. It's the city that's always on the go, and where you can find anything your heart desires...if you have the money for it. I loved Las Vegas, and I hope to make it back one day, but I'll definitely be staying in a more centralized hotel for safety reasons. We didn't see everything, and there are new things popping up all the time in Vegas, so there'll be plenty of new things to experience next time.
This is the last post in the Vegas Adventures series, and probably the last big vacation for a while. I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did. Remember that you can like me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Leave a like or a comment to tell me what you thought, or suggest new content for the future.
Until next time, Stay Chefy!
In previous posts, I talked about how to make and use stocks, and about different soup types. Today, I'll be talking about sauces.
Sauces are the common thread that tie a dish together, adding bags of flavour and moisture to what could otherwise be a dry or bland mouthful. In the early 20th century, French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, referred to by press as "The King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings", modernized sauces in classic French cuisine into what we now call "The Mother Sauces".
Also called a White Sauce, bechamel sauce is simple to make, since it doesn't require stock. It is simply milk that has been thickened with a roux. Roux is made by cooking equal parts of butter and flour together, and added to sauces and brought to a boil.
A velouté sauce is simple, like a bechamel, but uses stock from unroasted bones instead of milk. A roux is used to thicken the stock to be used for soups, such as my mushroom velouté, or a variety of sauces, such as:
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Or Spanish Sauce. Despite the name, it doesn't have much to do with Spain. The story, as told by Escoffier Online, is that at the wedding of Louis XIII to Anne, the Spanish cooks insisted on putting Spanish tomatoes onto the gravy for a more well-rounded flavour. The sauce was a hit, and the rest is history.
Espagnole is a brown sauce flavoured with tomato and brown roux. A brown roux is made from animal fat and flour, then roasted in the oven. The fat comes skimming the top of stock made from roasted beef bones. One part fat to two parts flour is combined and spread into a baking sheet and baked at 140-150°C (285-300°F) for 1-1.5 hours.
Hollandaise is probably the most well-known of the mother sauces, not only for its use in the popular Eggs Benedict, but for its reputation for being finicky. Hollandaise, like mayonnaise, is an emulsion. Egg yolks, which contain water, mixed with oil by itself would separate. When acid (lemon, vinegar) is added together with the whisking motion, the mixture is able to blend more freely and stabilize. For a more sciency explanation of what an emulsion is, and how it works, you can check out Stella Culinary's explanation here. Hollandaise is the basis for:
The best tip I can give for making hollandaise/bearnaise sauce is that all the ingredients should be the same temperature when you combine them for the highest chance of them sticking together without splitting. Find a great recipe for hollandaise here.
Some of these sauces are far more difficult to master than others, like the hollandaise sauces, but with practice and patience you can pack loads of flavour and moisture into any dish with just one good sauce.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There's nothing quite like the scent of freshly-baked bread to get your mouth watering, especially on a weekend where you just want to take it easy. That's why these rolls are great, because you can prepare the dough the night before, and let them rise overnight in the fridge while you sleep your work week away (if you're so lucky to have weekends off).
I'm lucky enough to have weekends free while attending culinary school right now, and having a nice, freshly-baked roll and some cheese or jam for breakfast is something special for my husband and I. I don't always have the time to make bread, though, and I'm not fortunate enough to own a stand mixer (they cost half as much as a car here, I swear!!).
So those of you with a mixer, this recipe is going to be a little extra easy for you! Hurra!
The dough is fairly straightforward, with yeast, water, white and wheat flours, oats, honey, salt and oil. Mix up the ingredients, and knead until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Store your dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge overnight, and take out about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes before use to warm up the dough and let the yeast wake up again. The cold dough will be a stiff lump.
When you're ready to bake, form your dough into balls and allow to rise another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200°C (392°F). If you like chewier rolls, and you don't own a combi-oven with steam, put an oven-safe bowl of water into the bottom of your oven while warming. When it's boiling, it releases steam to produce chewier crust on your rolls. If you want perfectly round rolls, cup your hand into a "C" shape and roll a piece of dough counter clockwise on your counter top. I formed mine into more if a square shape.
The roll itself it slightly fluffy, with a denser structure with the addition of oats and wheat flour. The result if a flavourful, chewy roll that's also very filling. Considering we slept in until about 11 am, the bread serves as breakfast and lunch both! Perfect!
In my post entitled "All about Stocks", I explain about the different types of stocks that are the foundation for great soups and flavourful sauces. This post elevates stock to a new level and focuses on soups.
Whether a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, or a comforting, creamy bowl of potato soup that seems to coat our ribs like a fuzzy sweater, soups are a fantastic comfort food that almost everyone loves to eat. In french tradition, soups are broken up into 2 groups: Clear Soups and Thick Soups. Any soup that doesn't fit snugly into these two categories are lumped into a third category called specialty/national.
Clear soups are based on stock that hasn't been thickened, such as a good, old-fashioned chicken noodle soup. The clear soup category can be broken down as follows:
A thick soup is soup that has been...well...thickened. Whether using a thickening agent, or a puree to make it thick, these soups are the easier to make, requiring less fine knifework and lots of room for error. The types of thick soups are:
Specialty or National Soups
I've been pretty busy since culinary school started up again. It can be pretty hard to juggle classes, studies, cooking and writing for the blog and home life while still getting in some decent meals, as many of you well know. Now, don't get me wrong, frozen pizzas are cheesy, frosty heroes on days where I just can't stand to be in a kitchen anymore, but sometimes I just need some quick and easy meals for busy weeknights.
I started making this recipe years ago when my husband traveled for conferences, and I needed meals for one. The tender pasta is combined with tangy tapenade, a paste made of ground black olives, capers, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Add chunks of creamy fresh mozzarella cheese, and the sweetness of roasted cherry tomatoes sprinkled with thyme, and you have yourself a well-balanced, delicious pasta that takes no time to make.
This pasta balances salty, sour, bitter and sweet in one tasty, filling bowl of awesome. Eat alone, or serve with a side of chewy italian bread with lots of butter.
If you like this recipe and would like to see more, feel free to leave a comment! You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
In Part 8 of our Las Vegas Adventures, we ate the trendy Cosmopolitan's Wicked Spoon buffet, which was a bit of a let down in comparison to the hype and price. The night picked up, though, when we watched Pin Up! at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. The show features Clare Sinclair, Playboy's 2011 playmate of the year accompanied by a slew of talented singers, dancers and musicians. The show is inspired by classic pin-up girls and calendars from the 40s, 50s, and 60s and took us on a musical adventure through the 12 months of the year. Simply put, the show was flirty, fun and well-done. The singer had an amazing voice and band could rival any big band out there. The only drawback to the show is the sheer amount of star Clare Sinclair. Her costars were clearly professional dancers, musicians and singers, while she hopped around and wiggled her bottom a bit. She twirls nipple tassles like a boss, though! As a final note: the show may be 18+, but there is no real nudity involved, unless you're deeply offended by corsets and strategic placement of flowers, fans and stickers over nipples.
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The following days in Las Vegas took us to several destinations. We had lunch at Harrah's Fulton Street Food Hall where my husband was served melted plastic enchiladas, so avoid the laminated packaging being heated in the back of this establishment. Afterward, we visited the Mirage and the Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden to watch dolphins frolicking and big cats stretching and sleeping. While it was fun watching the dolphins playing with their toys and doing flips (the big cats were just lazy, sleepy fluffballs) the price is quite steep at 20 dollars for a single adult ticket.
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The following days in Las Vegas included a delicious dinner at Umami Burger (you can read about the BurGR vs Umami Burger post here), a helicopter ride high over the city and Hoover Dam, indoor shark reefs, and yet another acrobatic, high-flying Cirque du Soleil show with Ka.
Now, bagels are kind of expensive to buy where I am, and they're just not that good. They're dry, rubbery, and crumble way too easily. No matter how much cream cheese you load onto them as glue, they remain a crumbly, dry ring of disappointment.
Bagels are also an uncommon thing where I live, so there aren't exactly rows of them at the local bakery. They're found in the frozen food sections, for the most. One day I had one of those cravings that turns a person into a crazed, obsessed, hangry beast, and I decided to make my own darn bagels! My favourite: Everything bagels. Basically, it's an onion bagel with sesame and poppy seeds on top. Pair that with a good garlicky cream cheese and I'm just in heaven! A close second would have to be cinnamon raisin bagels with loads of juicy sweet raisins and a kick of cinnamon, with just a hint of earthy sweetness from the use of malt sirup.
A plain bagel recipe is pretty straightforward. Instead of regular flour, look for a gluten flour or a tipo00 flour. More gluten means a stretchier, more elastic doug that will get that shiny, beautiful chewy crust when finished. The recipe is as follows:
The method for rolling bagels is up for debate, but I don't really give a hoot about traditional methods for rolling bagels, as long as it ends up in my mouth. I simply rolled my dough into a ball, then stuck a finger through the middle, then stretched out the hole by rolling the dough around my fingers a bit before leaving them to rise for 10 minutes.
Instead of posting a hundred variations of the exact same recipe, I chose instead to write additions you can make to this standard, plain bagel recipe to make any bagel flavour you want to under the Plain Bagel Recipe. Plain bagels are great on their own, and to add flavouring, you only have to add more ingredients to your base dough, providing the ingredient isn't too wet. They also freeze very well. Just cut them in half before freezing to make thawing and toasting a breeze.
If you just have to roll it out like a New York pro, you can see how it's done in the video below:
What is a Stock?
Stocks play a very important part in the culinary world as the basis for soups, sauces and more. A well-made stock can pack your dishes with a punch of rich, deep flavour that sets it far apart from watery stocks and store-bought granules, and it's easier than you might think.
Stocks (or fond in french) is one of the foundations of professional cooking, whether simmering tender chicken and noodles for a comforting bowl of soup, or want a thick, rich sauce for your meat and potatoes. Stocks are essential, and important to get as much flavour our of your ingredients as possible.
A stock is an essence created by simmering ingredients in water for a long period of time to draw out the flavours. There are many stock varieties all over the world, but for now, I will stick with the basic four types of stock:
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Hey there! My name is Lea, and I'm a Canadian Culinary student trying to survive chef life in Denmark. I want to share my journey, and some great food and experiences with others. I believe that anyone can be quite chefy!