14 March 2009

Dessert Pizza Pi!!!

I know it's late, but even the stragglers must celebrate Pi Day!

Dessert Pizza Pi a la Melandon

If you can't tell by the picture, this is a quick, easy, fun and delicious dessert. In short, we bought ready-made Trader Joe's pizza dough (plain, not garlic, unless you're feeling really adventurous) and a bag of mixed frozen berries available at any supermarket's frozen food section (out of the whole bag we only used about a handful). The rest of the stuff was things we already had lying around: a banana, some strawberries, granulated and powdered sugar, cream cheese, cinnamon, and corn starch.

To start, preheat your oven to 450F. Spread out the dough on a foiled baking sheet and sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar on it. Once the oven is ready, bake it for 10 minutes. You don't want the crust to be too crispy or crunchy or else the texture won't go so well with the toppings.

While that bakes, you can put the bananas (sliced) into the oven in a glass dish, separated and dusted with the cinnamon sugar. About 6 minutes will leave you with tasty caramelized treats.

Boil the berries in a medium saucepan with a little water and sugar, and once it starts to boil add small amounts of corn starch. The consistency we were going for was a light syrup.

The "sauce" of the pizza was a cream cheese frosting which we got by mixing 3 parts cream cheese to 2 parts sugar (or at whatever ratio tastes the best for you).

After spreading the sauce, the chopped strawberries and our blue-collar berry compote were added. As a finishing touch, the caramelized banana slices were arranged in the shape of the world's most infamous irrational number.


10 February 2009

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

Today's post breaks the silence with a kick of flavor from the Northeastern US...

You see, Mel and I were recently up in NYC to brave the cold while Orange County suffered a heatwave. Of all the delicious things we ate, we didn't even think to seek out a good pretzel cart! This came as a shock to us once we realized it since even out here in the West, one of our favorite quick snacks is a soft pretzel dabbed in a little spicy brown mustard.

Anyway, to make up for it, I made Pretzel-Crusted Chicken, one of my favorites to make. Being a pretzel fanatic myself, when I heard the list of ingredients for this dish, I was convinced there was no dish more perfect. On top of that it's super quick too; only 15 minutes of work and 30 minutes of baking.

If you've ever had a fresh pretzel with a little mustard, you know the kind of comfort these little guys will conjure up. Instantly working together to bring you the edgy nasal-y flavor of the northeastern streets.

Have a look for yourself:

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine magazine

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

1/2 lb. pretzels
1/2 c. canola/vegetable oil
1/2 c. whole grain mustard
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. water
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
6 chicken breast halves


Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Crush your pretzels to a coarse consistency. You're gonna have to pull out your food processor eventually so it might as well be now. You should end up with some big chunks and a lot of fine crumbs, but you'll quickly learn to cope with the pretzels and their unique attributes.

Wipe that sucker down and process the canola oil, water, vinegar, and both mustards until it is adequately smooth.

Then pour half of the mixture into a shallow bowl and coat the chicken breasts. Here's where it gets messy: dredge the chicken with the pretzel crumbs, which will, if you're like me and have the finesse of a steamroller, undoubtedly cover the fingers of both of your hands. Don't be afraid to really press the chicken down into the pretzel crumbs.

To Bake:

Transfer to a rack above a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes or until completely cooked through.

To Serve:

Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining mustard as dressing.

Recommended as a sidedish to this entree, is a good garlicky green veggie.

(Nota bene: for a good, crisp crust make sure you use thick, hard pretzels like the sourdough or handmade type)