Monday, May 26, 2014

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bites and Pimento Drop Biscuits

Day 72

Comfort food is becoming a bit of a running theme here, isn’t it? Today’s recipe does not veer from this trend, I’m proud to report. 

For part of our Easter vacation, Tate and I spent a few days visiting my father on the farm. While there, we were invited to my Aunt Bettye and Uncle Frank’s house for ice cream and Bettye’s spectacular caramel cake. Every bite was savored, as I’ll never turn away from anything Bettye makes. We spent quite a while pouring over recipe books, and Bettye recommended the fried chicken and pimento biscuits that I’m showcasing here. 

The really nice part of the fried chicken is that it’s boneless and all white meat. It’s important to remember that boneless chicken is always a little tougher and drier, but in some ways it’s a great deal easier to fry and serve. That being said, this recipe minimizes the tough and dry result. The biscuits pair nicely with the chicken, leaving your meal wanting only for a side of greens.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography,  2014


Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bites

1 Tbsp. ground red pepper
1½ teaspoons ground chipotle chile pepper
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
2 pounds skinned and boned chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
3 bread slices, toasted
1 cup all-purpose flour
Peanut oil

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl; reserve half of spice mixture. Cut chicken into 1-2 inch pieces. Place chicken in a medium bowl, and toss with remaining spice mixture until coated. Stir in buttermilk; cover and chill 24 hours.
2. Tear bread into pieces, and place in a food processor with reserved spice mixture. Process until mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in flour. Remove chicken pieces from buttermilk, discarding buttermilk. Dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture.
3. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 350°. Fry chicken, in batches, 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until golden brown and done. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Pimento Drop Biscuits 
1½ cups Bisquick Baking Mix 
½ cup whole milk (a little extra if too goopy)
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes 
¼ cup (1- 2-ounce jar) chopped pimento, drained 
¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese 

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. In a large bowl, combine baking mix, milk and parsley flakes. Stir in undrained pimento and cheddar cheese. Drop by tablespoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet to form 16 biscuits. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Place baking sheets on a wire rack and let set for 5 minutes.

Original recipes (before modifications) found at following links: 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cake

Day 71

The older I get, the more I firmly stand by the conviction that we don’t need a special occasion to make—and eat— a cake. After all, special occasions are sometimes few and far between. 

Each year, for our family birthdays, I bake any cake requested by the birthday person. Nick, my stepson, is always the easiest; he likes a simple Butterfinger cake that is truly a no-fail recipe. Doug generally chooses a chocolate layer cake with cream cheese icing or a cheesecake, both of which are fairly easy and low-key.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2014
Tate, my daughter, isn’t a big fan of desserts (Yes, she IS my daughter but I can’t explain that one!) so her choices vary, but they are usually some variation of a yellow cake and a chocolate topping. Ali, my stepdaughter, prefers that I choose something different each year based on the ingredients I know to be her favorites. All in all, I have no tough customers when birthdays roll around. 

That being said, when my birthday arrives, I also get to request a cake that my husband makes for me. It’s only fair to say that I am a tough customer, unlike my family members. Doug really doesn’t enjoy cooking, but to his credit, he always goes above and beyond by making exactly what I request to the best of his ability. Every year, I begin saving recipes a year in advance, and I try to choose something that will be both challenging and rewarding. Last year, I requested a blackberry cobbler with homemade buttermilk ice cream, and the year before, I wanted a super moist and full-flavored coconut cake with at least two layers. I believe the year before that was a giant Napoleon. For my next birthday, I think I want a flourless chocolate cake with a raspberry coulis. We’ll see if I change my mind before October, though.

Today’s cake—sans special occasion— is made with buttermilk, and it is perfect anytime. I covered mine in toasted coconut rather than the chocolate shavings that were in the Family Circle cover photo, where I first saw the recipe. The tang of the buttermilk coupled with the bittersweetness of the chocolate chips makes for a winning dessert. The only concern I have is that this cake is very easy to over-bake, and we all know that over-baking means dryness. I’ve made it several times, and I even used the entire egg rather than only egg whites in one version. That works too. Even the icing for this cake is a nice change; no butter, just heavy cream, sugar, and melted chocolate. 

Whatever you occasion, you’re sure to love this dessert! Happy Mother’s Day, 2014 to all of the wonderful moms out there; I hope you get pampered all day!

Chocolate Chip Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½  teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup  plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 egg whites
¾ cup buttermilk
1 bag (12 ounces) mini chocolate chips
1 1/3  cups confectioners sugar
2/3  cup heavy cream
Chocolate curls, to garnish (optional) OR Toasted coconut

 Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat two 8 x 2-inch straight-sided round cake pans with nonstick spray; line bottom of pan with waxed paper. Coat waxed paper with spray. Set aside until batter is ready.

 Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

 With mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar in bowl until light. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition. Stir in 2/3 cup of the mini chips. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Spread level.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 37 to 39 minutes, or until cakes spring back when pressed. Cool in pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert cakes; remove pans and paper. Turn right side up; cool completely.

Place remaining chips (1-1/3 cups) in a glass bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds and stir. Heat 45 seconds more; stir until smooth. Set aside. In large bowl, beat together confectioners sugar and heavy cream until blended, 1 minute. Beat in half of the melted chocolate, then remainder. Beat 1 minute, until shiny, smooth and good spreading consistency, scraping down bowl halfway through.

Place one cake layer on a pedestal or platter. Spread with 2/3 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer. Spread side and top of cake with remaining frosting (if frosting becomes stiff, use warm spatula to spread). Garnish with chocolate curls.

Original recipe from Family Circle magazine, also at this link: 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pistachio Goat Cheese Pops

Day 70

Today’s recipe is a bit unconventional, and it is best served as an attractive and tasty salad accompaniment or with crackers and red wine. Using skewers for each goat cheese pop is optional for presentation, of course. An hors d’oeuvre party is the perfect place to debut this recipe if you’re so inclined. 
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2014

If you love the flavors of goat cheese and fruit, you’ll appreciate this. The original recipe for Goat Cheese Nut Pops was from Prevention magazine, December 2013, although my recipe has been doctored a bit for flavor. 

Pistachio Goat Cheese Pops

8 oz. goat cheese
1- 5 oz. bag dried cranberries, chopped
4 tbs. cream cheese
1 ½ cups chopped pistachios 
2 tsp. pink peppercorns, crushed (optional) OR 2 tsp. black peppercorns, crushed
10-12 decorative skewers

Mix together goat cheese, cranberries, and cream cheese until thoroughly combined. (Your hands or a large fork works best.) 

Refrigerate mixture for 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile, on a large plate or in a large shallow bowl, mix pistachios and peppercorns. Take cheese mixture from refrigerator and roll into 10-12 balls (depending on the size you prefer and the number of skewers you have, the number of balls might be adjusted). Roll each ball in the pistachio-peppercorn mixture to coat well. Place back in refrigerator at least 3 hours until ready to serve. Just before presentation, insert skewers and present on a large serving platter. 

Bon App├ętit!