Monday, March 24, 2008

Taste test

Alexis: I love Giada di Laurentis. She's got great Italian recipes from all over the country and they are delicious and not that difficult to make. For dinner, I tried her saltimbocca (chicken instead of veal) and recreated Lil Frankie's roasted eggplant with sea salt and chili oil.

Chicken Saltimbocca
Alexis: Pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts until they are flattened - not too much, just enough so that they aren't too bulky. Layer a thin slice of lemon, fresh sage leaf and prosciutto on top. You have to make sure the lemon slice is very thin, so that it can cook through. In a frying pan, heat some olive oil. Place the meat prosciutto side down and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until prosciutto has cooked through. Carefully flip them over and continue to cook on the other side another 3 minutes or so.

To make the sauce, use the drippings in the pan and add crushed tomatoes, low sodium chicken broth, and dry white wine. Cook until reduced, then add heavy cream and fresh black pepper. Sprinkle with freshly julienned sage and spoon on top of the chicken.

I also wanted to try steak, so we each had one chicken and one steak piece. I think the steak was too strong for the flavors here, which is probably why she used veal in the first place. But I'm not such a huge fan of veal - it just tastes weird.

Alex: While the Saltimbocca was a very good meal, I think this was a case of the idea looked better than the final result. I guess I expected something a lot more flavorful with the Prosciutto and the sauce, but it actually came out a little bland and the lemon overpowered the dish. What would make this even better, any ideas???

Alexis: Probably thinner slices of lemon and letting the sauce reduce more - there's a lot of flavor in it. Also, contrary to popular belief, a lot of Italian cooking is lighter in flavor than what most people are used to. The theme of the show was cooking from Naples, which uses a lot of lemons and is therefore more delicate in flavor.

Roasted Eggplant
Alexis: When we ate brunch at Lil Frankie's a few weeks ago Laurea ordered this for the table as an appetizer. I love roasted vegetables. When I recreated this at home, it was just as good.

First I made my own chili oil - I tried looking for red chilis but all I could find were serrano peppers. I sliced those up and chopped some garlic, then added them to some warmed olive oil. It wasn't as spicy as I wanted so I also added crushed red pepper to the mix.

To roast the eggplant - are you ready? Preheat the oven to 350. Poke a medium eggplant a couple times with a fork - a couple holes in the top are plenty. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Bake it for 30-40 minutes. You will be able to smell it when it's done, and the skin will look a little wrinkly. Let it rest about 5 minutes on a plate.

To serve - cut it open lengthwise and then slice it up. No need to be careful. You can eat the skin or not, it's up to you. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with sea salt. So simple and delicious - I could eat this pretty often. Like say, tonight!

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