Chicken Parmesan

by Marisa Olsen in , , , , , ,

I'm trying to cook in more at The Saffron Kitchen despite the temptation of trying every possible restaurant in downtown Jersey City. I was in the mood for comfort food and decided to take a stab at Chicken Parmesan. Not sure if it's the most authentic approach, but I gave it a shot. The chicken came out tender and crispy. I highly recommend using panko crumbs rather than traditional bread crumbs.  I was also generous with the cheese and tomato sauce (surprise, surprise).

Chicken Parmesan
Serves two

1 lb of thinly sliced chicken breasts
2 eggs
1/2 cup of panko crumbs
1 cup of tomato sauce (I made Marcella's Tomato Sauce III)
1 cup of ricotta
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
parmesan for finishing
Safflower oil

Prepare your tomato sauce. I made Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce III: a can of San Marzano tomatoes, one stick of butter, half of a peeled onion, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Simmer for 45 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal. It's that easy. 

Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of Safflower oil. While the oil heats gather two bowls. Whisk the two eggs in one bowl and place the panko in the other
Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Dip the breasts into the whisked egg and then into the panko crumbs.

Once the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook five minutes on each side. The panko crumbs create a nice crispy crust on the chicken.
While the chicken is sautéing, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
Once the chicken is sauteed, remove from heat. Spoon some tomato sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the chicken breasts,  ricotta,  the rest of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parsley.
Bake for 25 minutes. Add a bit more parsley and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Serve with a Caesar salad (I also made Julia Child's Mushrooms with Butter), and a baguette. Tada!

Christening The Saffron Kitchen: Butternut Squash Lasagna

by Marisa Olsen in , , , , , ,

So all in all, our move across the Hudson River went fairly smoothly. We moved into a new building called The Saffron, so I'm pleased to present my first home-cooked meal in The Saffron Kitchen. To christen my kitchen, I chose a butternut squash lasagna served with a simple green salad, and a whole wheat baguette from my local bread store.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Serves four

1 butternut squash
1 cup of ricotta
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of ground thyme
1/2 or so package of lasagna noodles (I used six)
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 450. Peel the butternut squash, then cut the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and slice the squash into half moons. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
While the squash is roasting, place a pot of water on the stove top to boil. Once the water is boiling, add in the lasagna noodles. Cook until al dente. 

While you're waiting for the water to bowl, in a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and eggs to make a filling mixture. Add thyme, salt, and pepper. 
Now you're ready to assemble. Coat a lasagna pan (I used a 9 x 9") with olive oil and add a layer of lasagna noodles. Then add the squash, a layer of the filling, and mozzerella. Create as many layers as desired.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with greens and some toasty bread. 

Our Honeymoon Part I: Italian Culinary Highlights of Rome, Alghero, and Positano

by Marisa Olsen in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We have returned from an incredibly delicious honeymoon filled with beautiful sites, culinary endeavors, and local wines. We traveled to Rome, Sardinia, Pompeii, Positano, Capri, and Paris.  Each city had so many delicacies and I spent much of my time ooh-ing and aah-ing over the smallest bite. I consumed so many memorable meals that I could write a new blog to cover all of the food I tasted. Instead, I will devote two blog postings to the trip: one to Italy and the other to France.
In Rome, we stuck with the basics: pasta, pizza bianca, cappuccinos, and gelato.  One of our most memorable dinners was at Campana. I had the fettucine with cream and black truffles. As you can imagine, this dish was incredibly decadent. I never have had such amazing truffles in my life. Every bite enlivened my senses. Make sure to get your share of truffles next time you're in Italy.
For lunches, we explored the sinuous streets and found two restaurants that we loved. 
One was Il Bocaro, a tiny restaurant situated on a cobblestoned alley. We stuffed our faces with homemade burrata like we've never tasted and rigatoni with crispy sage, bacon, and Parmesan cheese (let me know if you have a recipe for this dish as I need to recreate it). 
We also explored the Jewish district, which had interesting food.  We feasted on eggplant Parmesan and fried artichokes prepared in a Jewish style at the famous Giggettos.  
I have never tasted fried artichokes like these. The artichokes were the perfect balance of crunchiness and saltiness. Every leaf was a pleasure to consume.
In Alghero, Sardinia, we dined on local seafood. One of our most memorable meals was at Il Pavone, where I had an amazing sea bass served in a gratin style with crispy potatoes and fresh local spinach. Every bite was fantastic and you could certainly taste the freshness of the fish that was caught earlier that day.  Even my husband said it was one of the best seafood dishes of his life.
In Positano, we went to Lo Guarracino, a pizzeria that came highly recommended by friends. We sat on a cliff that over looked the sea. For 12E we sipped on a liter of local red wine while we gobbled down a 14E pizza topped with mozzarella, caramelized red onions, and local ham. The pizza was so delicious that we actually considered returning for dinner, instead we went to Next2, which featured local farm food. During our stay, we also ate sublime bruschetta with toasted bread that was rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with local Italian tomatoes and mozzarella. 
And that wraps up my Italian culinary highlights. If anyone is going to Italy soon, please let me know as I have many restaurant recommendations. Stay tuned for a Paris post!