Monday, April 27, 2015

Crisp Chicken Cutlets

"April Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). Free and easy theme, we get to cook and select any recipes from any of IHCC's past and present chefs. I've decided to cook one of Nigella Lawson's chicken recipes for our Sunday night dinner. One thing I like about Nigella's recipes are her chicken recipes!

Chicken breast fillet is first flattened (I use a meat mallet) between two sheets of plastic, to a thin piece, then soaked in a mixture of buttermilk and Worcestershire sauce. I did not have any buttermilk, so I've used milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lime juice, stir and let sit for 5 minutes before use. I soaked the chicken breast fillet for about 4 hours, keeping them covered in a shallow container in the fridge.

Just before frying the cutlets, prepare the crumb mixture by mixing breadcrumbs (which I've used Panko), grated Parmesan cheese, celery salt, cayenne powder and dried thyme in a large shallow plate. I fry the cutlets just before serving time. Lift the chicken pieces out of the buttermilk mixture and place them on the crumb mixture, coating both sides of the cutlet. Heat some oil, about 1/4 inch, in a large saucepan, and fry the chicken cutlets on both sides over medium-low heat, until brown and cooked. Drain on absorbent paper towels and serve immediately.

I fried a small piece of the cutlet to test on the seasoning before frying the rest of the cutlets, and find that I needed to add a little bit more of celery salt and the dried thymes, to the crumb mixture, to taste.

I thought that the Crisp Chicken Cutlet from the photo above looks like a piece of toasted bread! LOL!
I served these cutlets with a simple green salad and some potato salad.

Sprinkle some fresh thyme over the cutlets, as I did not have any parsley.

This meal is a total winner! The chicken cutlet is crispy on the outside, with moist and tender meat after soaking in the buttermilk for a few hours. Tasty and delicious! We enjoyed this meal and I would make this again!

Crisp Chicken Cutlets
(adapted from "Nigella Kitchen", Nigella Lawson)
Serves 4
4 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (such as Lea & Perrins)
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (I use Panko breacrumbs)
1 teaspoon celery salt, or 1/2 teaspoon for younger children (I used about 1-1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme (I used 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
oil for frying, such as peanut
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (replaced with fresh thyme)

  1. Unroll a piece of plastic wrap, then open out the chicken breasts and lay them on the plastic. Cover the fanned-out chicken breasts with another piece of plastic wrap, and bash with a rolling pin until they are thin, but still whole. (if the underside sections come away, don't worry).
  2. Whisk the buttermilk with the Worcestershire sauce in a shallow bowl, or put it into a resealable bag and squish to mix. Then add the flattened chicken pieces to the bowl or bag and leave out for about 30 minutes - or refrigerate overnight if you've got time - to marinate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 300F, if you're using a smaller frying pan and want to keep the cutlets warm as you fry them. Mix the breadcrumbs, celery salt, cayenne, thyme, and Parmesan in a wide, shallow dish. Then, once the chicken has had its steeping, lift out the buttermilky pieces and press into the breadcrumbs mixture one at a time.
  4. Coat the chicken on both sides with the seasoned crumbs and then lay them on a wire rack, the sort you'd use for cooling cakes.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan - using just enought to coat the base with about 1/4 inch of oil.
  6. Once the oil is hot, fry the bigger pieces of chicken for about 3 minutes per side, and the smaller bits from the underside of the breast for about 2 minutes per side. As you remove the cooked pieces of chicken, blot them on paper towels and, if you wish, keep them warm in a low oven (on a cookie sheet) as indicated above, or serve them as you go. However you choose to dish up, serve these crisp chicken cutlets sprinkled with chopped parsley. 

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "April Potluck"

Little Thumbs Up : Chicken, organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from the Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Brioche (Flour Bakery)

Brioche, a soft fluffy bread enriched with butter and eggs. I like eating slices of this bread with a spread of cold salty butter, with a cup of hot black coffee for breakfast, a nice way to start off the day.  
There are a few brioche bread on my list, and decided to try the one from the cookbook "Flour", by Joanne Chang. This recipe makes 2 loaves. It was advised by Joanne Chang not to halve the recipe as it will be difficult to engage the dough hook if the dough is not enough, as it needs the workout to make a light, fluffy bread. She has given a few recipes for sweet breads which uses the brioche dough, and it can be frozen, so it is really a great idea to make the full recipe.

I used half of the brioche dough to bake as a loaf, and keep the half frozen to make another sweet bread with filling on another day, which I will share in later post.

The dough is made in the stand mixer, it will be soft, but not sticky, and will come together as one big ball of dough. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with greased cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. I left mine in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, the dough has increased in size to almost double.

I divided the dough into two halves, and used one to bake a brioche loaf and the other half, I kept frozen in an airtight container. (Thaw overnight in the fridge before use to bake other sweet breads).

Freshly baked brioche loaf. 

The top is browning too fast, so I have cover the top of the loaf with foil and continue baking until the loaf is done. Advisable to check on your loaf after 15-20 minutes of baking.

I like the buttery yellow hue of the crumbs. The bread is so soft and fluffy. Slices of these bread are really good eaten with a spread of cold salty butter. 

Look at how soft it is!

Basic Brioche
(adapted from "Flour", Joanne Chang)
Makes 2 loaves
2-1/4 cups (315gm) unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups (340gm) bread flour
1-1/2 packages (3-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast, or 1 ounce (28gm) fresh cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82gm) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (120gm) cold water
6 eggs
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (2-3/4 sticks/310gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 or 12 pieces

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

On low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Then, turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in one piece.

Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this point, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

(At this point, if you are making a brioche treat, other than the loaves here, continue on to that recipe).

To make two brioche loaves, line the bottom and sides of two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with parchment, or butter the pans liberally. Divide the dough in half and press each piece into about a 9-inch square. The dough will feel like cold, clammy Play-Doh. Facing the square, fold down the top one-third toward you, and then fold up the bottom one-third, as if folding a letter. Press to join these layers. Turn the dough over and place it, seam-side down, in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the second piece of dough, placing it in the second prepared pan.

Cover the loaves lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for 4 to 5 hours, or until the loaves have nearly doubled in size. They should have risen to the rim of the pan and be rounded on top. When you poke at the dough, it should feel soft, pillowy, and light, as if it's filled with air-because it is! At this point, the texture of the loaves always reminds me a bit of touching a water balloon.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until blended. Gently brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops and sides of the loaves are completely golden brown. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans and continue to cool on the racks.

The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days (if it is older than 3 days, try toasting it) or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Flour's Note : Don't halve the recipe. There won't be enough dough to engage the dough hook of your mixer, and the dough won't get the workout it needs to become a light, fluffy bread. Don't worry about having too much; both the dough and the baked loaves freeze well, and having a freezer filled with brioche is never a bad thing.

I'm linking this post with :
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Viennese Shortbread : Bake-Along #77

Bake-Along #77 theme bake is Theme : Viennese Shortbread, selected by Zoe to bake together with Lena, myself and everyone is welcome to bake-along with us. 

Viennese Shortbread sometimes are called as Viennese Fingers, Viennese Biscuits and Viennese Cookies, and they are tender, buttery shortbread that can be sandwiched with butter cream, jam or dipped in melted chocolate. Or have them plain, like I did, my favourite way of eating them.

These are really easy to make. The soft batter is made up of butter, flour, confectioner's sugar, baking powder and vanilla extract, which is then stuffed into a cookie press, (I use a piping bag and a star nozzle), and pipe into strips about 2-3 inches long on a non-greased baking sheet. Bake as directed in the recipe, though mine took about 12 minutes as I baked them a little longer than the recipe states as I want them a little more crispy.

Using a star nozzle makes very pretty fingers, but after baking.....

....they seem to flatten a little! I was prepared for this actually, as the batter was quite soft. Not very "pretty" after baking!

When the fingers have cooled off completely, dip the ends with melted chocolate. Originally this recipe comes with a butter cream filling, which I have skipped. My daughter love having these Viennese Fingers with the ends dipped in melted chocolate.

As for me, I prefer them plain. These are so yummy, even though they are a little flat! When I make this again the next time, I would make them as rounds, at least they would look like cookies! I used salted butter, so these fingers has a salty buttery taste, tender with a light crisp. Wonderful with a cup of tea for a tea-time treat. And I had it the next morning with a mug of hot black coffee. 

Viennese Fingers 
(adapted from "Bake Something Great", Jill Snider)
makes about 3-1/2 dozen cookies
  • Preheat oven to 375F (190C)
  • Cookie press with 1/2-inch (1cm) star-shaped nozzle
  • Cookie sheet, ungreased
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. On a waxed sheet of paper or in a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an eletric mixer on medium, speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until smooth. (The dough should be slightly soft so it can be pushed through a cookie press easily. If it is too stiff to press easily, mix in another tablespoon of softened butter. If it is too soft, add a little flour).
  3. Pack dough into fitted cookie press and press into strips about 1-1/2 inches (4cm) long, about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until starting top brown around edges. Cool for 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to a rack and cool completely.


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