Monday, June 21, 2010

What You Should Have Eaten #1

Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Pears

Trying something new on the blog. I’ve got a Facebook friend who at one point was using her blog ( to make herself accountable for her weight-loss and healthy-habit goals. Not a bad idea. People can take you to task for obviously not doing what you’re supposed to be doing after saying you're going to do. It must have worked for her, because she reached her goal. Congrats, Kate! One of the things she did was to post recipes she was making. I’m stealing THAT part of her blog. I have no lofty weight loss goals (at the moment). I just want to make my blog even more scattershot than it already is.
I’ve got three kids who are 5 years old and younger, and I love to cook. I’ve found that it’s extremely difficult to get in any decent cooking while also wrangling the kiddos, so any attempts to prepare a meal (as opposed to nuking something in the microwave or just putting something in the oven) are shelved until the weekend. I’ve also got pretty picky eaters, so any grand experiments are saved for Sunday; Saturday is for burgers, tater tots and salad, food I KNOW they’ll eat.
I’ve got a routine for my cooking. First, a drink. I bought a bartending book when I got my first post-college apartment in 2001. Rather than find a drink and stick with it, I’ve slowly been going through and trying everything I’ve got ingredients for and checking off the drink once I’ve had it. The book is divided into sections (vodka, whiskey, gin, etc.), and I switch sections after each new drink so I can mix it up a bit. I also stick to just one drink while a cook. I’m working with heat, and I’ve got kids in the house. So one drink, then it’s water.

Last night’s drink was a Maxim Cocktail. One ounce gin, ¾ ounce sweet red vermouth, and two tsps. white crème de cocoa. I’m not a big fan of gin, and too much sweet vermouth can really ruin a drink for me, but I guess the crème de cocoa held everything together; the drink wasn’t all that bad.

Now onto the cooking. Lately I’ve been on a Rachel Ray kick. I love almost everything I’ve made out of the two cookbooks I have (365: No Repeats and 30 Minute Meals 2), and the kids will eat most of the chicken dishes I cook. I’ve got two big problems with the recipes, though. 1) A lot of the ingredients are somewhat expensive. I can make a decent meal with my Better Homes and Garden red-and-white checked cookbook for not a lot of money, but Rachel likes to throw in somewhat exotic (to me, at least) ingredients. Hell, the prosciutto I used in this recipe was almost $11/lb.! 2) This is mostly a problem with the 30 Minute Meals book, but it takes me at least an hour for each recipe, and that includes prep time. I guess it helps when you’ve got an entire team chopping, slicing and measuring for you. I’ve learned to eyeball some things, though, so that helps with the time a bit.

So I’m not going to rehash the recipe instructions or ingredient list here. I’ve taken pictures and you should be able to get what you need from them. Hmm…will I run into copyright infringement issues for doing that? I’m going to give my thoughts on the process. I’m posting this the day after (I’ve got an old laptop and an iffy Internet connection at home, otherwise I’d do this live on Sundays as I go), so hopefully I’m going to remember all my thoughts from last night.
The biggest thing I can remember is that prosciutto stinks, and it doesn’t taste all that good by itself. It worked with the salad, but I tried a bit as I was slicing that pungent bastard up, and I think I ended up spitting out the bite I had.
I totally missed the step about adding the Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used regular parmesan cheese) to the vinaigrette. No big loss for me, though. The dressing came out just fine without it.
I really need to read the complete recipe all the way through before starting. I had assumed that I’d be plopping the chicken down on the toasted bun (regular hamburger buns instead of Kaiser rolls), but that was not the case. I might have originally sliced the chicken differently before cooking, but probably not. I also didn’t realize the salad was supposed to top the chicken, so I had already served it on the side. I think this was the way to go, though, as the combo of the salad and chicken might have been too much for the sandwich.
I didn’t mess with a garlic clove since I’ve got a pretty big jar of minced garlic already on hand. So instead of rubbing the clove on the toasted bun, I just spread a tiny bit of the minced garlic and juice on there. That worked out pretty well. The taste wasn’t overpowering, but it was definitely there.
If you’re curious, I used a d’Anjou pear.
I enjoyed the salad, but next time I’d probably use a little less olive oil. It was a bit heavy. After tasting the prosciutto while cooking, I was nervous as to how the finished salad might taste, but all the ingredients worked together and it turned out to be enjoyable. I’m actually having leftovers for lunch today with leftover chicken sliced on top. Should be good.
As for the chicken sandwich, it was good, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. I’d just as soon eat the chicken separate or on top of a salad, as with today’s lunch. Sandwiches should be a quick fix, and this didn’t really fit the bill for that.
For the kids, I didn’t think they’d go for the full salad, so I gave them some arugula with ranch dressing and some pear on the side. Turns out even with the dressing they didn’t like the arugula, and I can’t really blame them; it’s pretty bitter. The youngest at least attempted to eat every little leaf that was on his plate, but when dinner was over there was a nice pile of chewed up arugula left. The oldest gave it a valiant effort so he could get dessert, but he just couldn’t tough it out. They tried, though, and they all ate (and enjoyed) the chicken, so dessert was had by all.
My oldest was the only one who wanted his chicken on a sandwich, so the other two had their chicken cut up. I consider it high praise when one of them asks to have that for dinner every night.
My oldest son “invented” dessert. Rainbow sherbet on ice cream cones with crushed peppermints inside the cone and sprinkled on top of the sherbet. It was his Father’s Day treat to me. Ah, my kids are sweethearts. And I wonder if this means we’ve got the next generation of Rosenblatt cooks in the making? That’ll make him generation number four (unless my great-grandpa Rosenblatt was a cook; I’ve got no knowledge of that).
So that’s that. If you try this, come back and let me know what you thought of it. I enjoyed writing this up and documenting the cooking process with pictures. I hope I can keep up with it.


Kate said...

I definitely want to try this recipe. Chicken is usually a dirty word in my household as I hate to cook it, but sometimes I can talk Jeff into doing it on the grill for me (like tonight - I'm doing a chicken and broad bean pasta, so I've got him on "grill the chicken" duty for me.) I do love arugula, though, but sometimes it's best mixed up in a salad since it's pretty peppery. Your post reminds me that I do sort of have a food series on my own blog that I've been neglecting. Though I am reading a theology book called "The Fat Jesus" - does that count?

Rob Rosenblatt said...

Of course it counts!