It's another Thursday double header today, with the Barefoot Bloggers taking on Ina Garten's Chicken Piccata, and the Craving Ellie in my Belly group cooking up Ellie Kreiger's Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream. I was a bad, bad Barefoot Blogger in February and failed to post either of the February recipes. I actually made the Real Spaghetti and Meatballs (late) but never got around to posting it (I'll cut out all of the extraneous content that would have been in my post and just say that it was great!). The other February Barefoot recipe was Meringues Chantilly, which really sounded wonderful, but ever since January I started to feel like my days were looking like this: wake up, brush teeth, get kids breakfast, run around all day, make dinner, whip egg whites, go to bed. I felt like I had to take some steps to return egg white whipping to its proper place on my schedule; i.e., an event that takes place no more than quarterly. So I hated to miss that one, but I will be sure to try it sometime down the road!
But I vowed to do better this month, and I've started the Barefoot month off right by making Ina's Chicken Piccata, which was chosen by Lindsey of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings. This is a simple dish. It does involve breading chicken, which I rank right up there with making meatballs and squeezing frozen spinach as my most dreaded kitchen tasks. While I am an omnivore, I really hate manhandling raw meat. Touching uncooked meat makes me momentarily reconsider my omnivorous habits, but I just try to keep my eyes on the prize and get those babies in the skillet as quickly as possible. The breading assembly line, which included one dish for the flour/salt/pepper mixture, one for the egg/water mixture, and one for the seasoned bread crumbs:
After browning the chicken in the skillet, move them to a baking sheet and finish them off in the oven. I really like this technique. I often have problems with burning the outside of the chicken when I try to cook it through in the skillet, and this method helped me avoid those problems.
The chicken was delicious on its own, and even my kids liked it. But it's the lemon butter sauce that transforms your dinner from "chicken" into "chicken piccata!"
Ina says to use 1/3 cup of lemon juice, or the juice of two lemons. Well, two of my lemons yielded a little more than 1/2 cup of juice. I decided to give greater weight to the "juice of two lemons" part of Ina's instructions than the "1/3 cup lemon juice" part, probably because I am coming off of a recipe (for lemon cup custards) in which the general consensus was that you could stick a whole lemon tree in there and it still wouldn't taste lemony. As it turns out, that was a mistake -- I should have stuck with 1/3 cup, unless I was also going to increase the amount of butter and white wine proportionally. My sauce was a little bit TOO lemony. I think the goal is to achieve a nice balance between the lemon, wine and butter, but the lemon definitely overpowered in my sauce.
I served the chicken piccata over angel hair, and we really enjoyed it, although again, it was a little too lemony. But this is an easy and flavorful dish that I will make again. I'll just keep in mind next time that this is not a lemon cup custard, in which eggs lie in ambush waiting to suck the life out of any other flavors that dare step onto their turf; it's chicken piccata, and with this chicken piccata, anyway, more is not more when it comes to lemon juice.
ELLIE KRIEGER'S FISH TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE CREAM
I was really excited to see that that Sara from imafoodblog chose Ellie's Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream for CEIMB this week. One of my new year's resolutions is to cook more fish, and this looked like a simple, non-scary recipe to start with. I think that fish tacos are readily available in many regions (Ellie mentions California), but I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have never had a fish taco. Also, something about saying "fish tacos" makes me laugh. They remind me of "fish sandwiches," which also makes me laugh, probably because David can do a dead-on impression of the classic line from the old SNL sketch, the Ladies' Man: "Hey sweet thang, can I buy you a fish sandwich?" and every time he does it, it's as funny to me as the first time I heard it.
I really don't need lots of different jokes. The same three or four over and over again work for me. That doesn't bode well for the future of my blog, but it does keep me eminently entertainable with minimal effort on the part of my family and friends, which I view as a plus. So while David does have lots of very funny stuff up his sleeves, he knows that if he is feeling lazy one day, he can just break out the fish sandwich line without ever having to look up from the paper, and I'll be good to go.
Back to the fish tacos. I am happily married, but back in my single days, I could have totally gotten picked up if someone offered to buy me one of these fish tacos. As with many of Ellie's recipes, they offer big flavor with minimal effort. You marinate the fish (I used tilapia fillets from the Publix fish counter) in a simple marinade of olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper, and then grill them for a few minutes, until they are cooked through. Flake the fish before filling the corn tortillas, and serve them with corn, lime wedges, sliced lettuce or cabbage, and a seriously delicious chipotle cream, which is a very simple mix of plain nonfat yogurt (I used nonfat Greek yogurt), a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise (I think lowfat would be fine), and a couple of teaspoons of minced up chipotle chile in adobo sauce. The finished product is good enough to hold its own with fresh salsa and guacamole in any chip dip contest. It is fabulous on the fish tacos, and we finished it off tonight with some chicken, black bean and veggie quesadillas. It was great with those, too!
I can't think of too many dinners that are faster to throw together than this one, but these tacos are delicious and satisfying enough to serve guests as well. I feel like I am saying this a lot about Ellie's recipes lately, but this one will most definitely be assuming a prime spot in our regular weeknight dinner rotation.
Lindsey and Sara, thanks for the great picks! We ate well this week thanks to you!
8 months ago