Saturday, August 29, 2020

Limoncello

I thought limoncello would use lots of my lemons, but at this time of year my lemons are so large that I only used five to make my batch of limoncello. This recipe only uses the lemon peel or zest, so there's lots of juice left to make lemonade.

Ingredients:

2- 750 ml bottle Vodka
1 cup of lemon peel, from 5 very large or 12 small lemons
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

Directions:

Wash the lemons, using a vegetable scrubber to make sure the skin is very clean. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest from the lemons. Use only the yellow part of the zest. The white part, also called the pith, is bitter. Pour the vodka and the cup of lemon peel into a large glass container. Set aside in a cool place for 1 month. The vodka will turn a nice yellow color during this time. Make a simple syrup by stirring the sugar and water together in a saucepan and bringing to a simmer. Let simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Cook, then add the syrup to the vodka and lemon peel mixture, along with the second bottle of vodka. Let sit another month. Strain the lemon peel from the vodka mixture. You've now got limoncello! Keep the limoncello in the refrigerator or freezer and drink very cold.


Stealthy Cooking Tip: I like to use a vodka that I already like to drink. My personal favorites are Reyka and Stolichnaya. However, use any kind that you like!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Chicken Marsala


Chicken Marsala was my mom's favorite dish. She would see it on a menu at any restaurant, and she never looked any farther. She would order it every time. I never made it at home until a few days ago … in her memory. She passed away last month, so from now on when you see foods from my mom, you'll be seeing them as I remember her and cook with love. While cooking this, I admit that I wondered why I didn't do this when she was alive? But, I cook away, happily butterflying a chicken breast and swirling butter into a skillet, and am simply glad, in fact filled with joy, that I'm honoring her by doing it now. Writing about it, that's another thing. I find the tears flowing and the heart aching, as I recall not only how much she would have enjoyed my version of a dish, but how she would have written about it. She journaled every night, and it would certainly have been in her journal entry. She also wrote poetry. Poems even made unannounced, spontaneous appearances in her journals. Would something like chicken marsala have been worthy of a poem? I have boxes of her writings to go through. So, I'll find out if she ever wrote a poem about food. I hope so. It would be nice to see the intersection of poetry and food. Writing was her thing, cooking is mine. Here's my version of chicken marsala … here's to you, mom!

Ingredients: 

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
2 chicken breasts, butterflied
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten free flour)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms, bella or shiitake
1 shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup Marsala or Pinot Noir
1 Tbs fresh thyme
1 tsp butter

Directions: 

Heat the teaspoon of olive oil and butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them in half horizontally. If they are thick, pound them with a mallet to make them flat. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts and shake to coat them. Shake off the extra flour mixture. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until they are nice and brown. Remove them from the skillet and set aside. Heat the additional teaspoon of olive oil and butter in the skillet. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced to half, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and continue to cook until the chicken is warm, about another 3 minutes. Swirl in the last teaspoon of butter. Serve and enjoy. 

Serves 4 

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Cooking a loved one's favorite foods is a great way to honor them. Food has so many memories for me - and I think it does for everyone. Enjoy your families favorites! As you can tell, this recipe omits the cream that is in many versions of chicken marsala - my mom didn't like cream, so I omitted it here.