A New Twist on Schnitzel

I admit I am a news junkie.  That is why I read the online versions of both the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as our local publications. A few weeks ago the Washington Post had a recipe that sounded intriguing – Crispy Sesame Schnitzel.  Being of German descent, a schnitzel recipe definitely gets my attention.  The idea of adding sesame seeds sounded good.  I decided to give it a try.

This is one of those recipes that only required the purchase of a single ingredient – the sesame seeds – all the other ingredients were already in my pantry and freezer.  I actually had some sesame seeds in the pantry but they had been there a while and didn’t want to run the risk of them having gone rancid.   The recipe calls for roasted sesame seeds but I wasn’t able to find those.  So I opted to roast them my self – an easy task. The original recipe also calls for 4 chicken thighs for 2 people.  I found that two thighs were enough for two of us. This is the recipe I used for the two of us.  You can double the number of chicken thighs if you have really hearty appetites.

Crispy Sesame Schnitzel                                  Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds – or roast your own if you can’t find the roasted version in your supermarket
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper – more if you like your breading spicer.  You could also use dried ground Chipotle pepper for a smokier taste.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 chicken thighs, skin removed and deboned
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or enough to cover a frying pan up to 1/4 inch

Combine the panko, roasted sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish.  In a separate dish beat the egg.  Whisk the flour and remaining 1/4 tsp of salt in a third dish.

Trim the excess fat from the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and a little of the cayenne or chipotle pepper if you prefer the dish spicier.  working with one thigh at a time, place between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound the chicken flat to a thickness of 1/4 inch.

Coat each of the thighs first in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, then dip the thigh in the egg, and finally into teh seasoned panko, making sure each piece is evenly and thoroughly coated.  Place each coated thigh on a baking sheet lined with aluminaum foil.  Refigerate for at least 10 minutes.  This will help the coating adhere during the cooking process. Discard any remaining flour, egg and panko mixtures.

Place a wire rack over an aluminum foil lined baking sheet – this really helps with the clean up!  Heat the oil in a  heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Lay one of the coated chicken thighs in the pan.  Fry until the underside is brown, about 3 minutes at altitude – less time at lower altitudes.  Using tongs, turn the chicken over and fry for another 1 to 2 minutes until that side is now browned.  Transfer to the wire rack while you cook the remianing thigh.

I served this with buttered noodles and red cabbage. Even though it is still summer here, and this is really a winter dish, I have to admit we were perfectly happy enjoying our schnitzel! I’ll be making this one again when the leaves begin to fall!

Posted in Chicken, Comfort food, Cooking, Entree, Food, German, meat | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Three!

Best Of Rio Rancho Top Three Award!

It is seldom that my blog is about anything other than cooking but this will be one of those times. A month ago I was informed that the Sandhill Crane Bed and Breakfast was named by Rio Rancho the Magazine as one of the top three Staycation destinations for Rio Rancho folks. We were the only B&B in Corrales to win this award.  in fact, we were the only B&B to win.  Our fellow awardees were a high-end hotel chain and a casino hotel.

Like the award we received last December naming us one of the top 5 B&B’s in Albuquerque, it was based on votes submitted to the magazine. The fact that people who have stayed with us thought enough to vote for us fills me with gratitude. It is especially gratifying as I work to build the business back up.  People stop looking if there is nothing available. Well, folks, we’re open for business!  And I’m back in the saddle baking goodies, dishing out my famous Orange French Toast and breakfast pizzas, and teaching cooking classes bundled with a stay.

We still have rooms open for the first weekend of Balloon Fiesta.  We’d love to welcome you and show off our awards in person!  Book from our web site: https://v2.reservationkey.com/1294/2802/c  or givc me a call at 505-898-2445 to experience our hospitality for yourself.



Posted in Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Bed and Breakfast, Innkeeping, Sandhill Crane Bed and Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bacon Brittle

A few weeks ago I was watching one of the cooking competitions on the Food Network where one of the contestants decided to up her burger entry with bacon jam.  I was intrigued enough to go on the hunt for a bacon jam recipe.  Now, there are no bacon haters in this family.  Just the opposite.  I can even get my husband to eat fried liver if it is cooked with bacon in bacon fat, so I thought I would surprise him with bacon jam to be used on the burgers we were planning for dinner that night.

There were a lot of recipes to choose from but I decided to play it safe and selected one featured on the Food Network.  Here’s the ingredient list for the recipe I selected.

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 bunch fresh roughly cut fresh thyme leaves

The recipe directed me to brown the bacon in a non-stick skillet.  Remove the bacon, add the onion to the bacon fat and cook until translucent. While onions are cooking, chop the bacon.  After the onions are cooked add the brown sugar and apple cider to the pan and reduce the sauce.  Stir in chopped bacon and the thyme.

Seemed pretty simple.  In reality, the execution was not exactly what I expected.  In fact, it was an epic failure. And I am sure it was because I second-guessed the recipe.

My first problem may have been my choice of bacon.  I was using a thick-cut bacon when I probably should have been using regular cut bacon.  I began by cutting up the bacon before I put it into the skillet. I thought if you have to cut the bacon up anyway why not do it before it gets crunchy.  Not a good idea as some pieces got browner ( read burnt) than others.  When the bacon was cooked and removed from the pan I went to add the onion.  It seemed like there was FAR too much bacon fat in the skillet for this recipe to work so I drained most of it off. I think I might have left a couple of tablespoons in the skillet.  I added the onions and cooked them up. Then I added the brown sugar and the apple cider vinegar and waited for the sauce to reduce.  When it seemed like it was reduced enough I stirred in the bacon and the thyme and let it cool.  After about 15 minutes I went to check on the “jam.”  What I had was not jam but a cooling mass of essentially bacon brittle.  I turned the heat back on and added a bit more apple cider.   It loosened up the jam a bit but the minute I turned off the heat I was back to bacon brittle.

Too late I realized you actually need that much fat to interact properly with the sugar and the acid.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time or ingredients to remake the “jam” so I let it cool, put it in a double baggie and, using a meat mallet, broke it up into bacon bits.  While it was still good on our cheeseburgers, it was not at all what I was hoping to achieve. In fact, it came close to an epic failure.

Will I try this again?  Absolutely. But it is times like this that I like to ask myself the question from the old “Kung Fu” tv series ” What have you learned from this grasshopper?”  My answer – Do not use thick-cut bacon, don’t pre-cut the bacon, and use all the fat.

Or maybe just find a different recipe!

Posted in American Food, Cooking, Food, Jams, meat, Pork, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken and Tuna? You Bet!

Last Sunday it was our turn to host the gourmet group gathering.  It is the dog days of summer here in New Mexico and while the house is cool, the outside temperature begs for cold dishes.  And, truth be told, after my surgeries in October and then my bout with cancer, I am still regaining my stamina.  So something complicated was not in the cards.

We recently had oven-fried Chipotle chicken and there, on the opposite page was an idea too good to pass up – Poached Chicken breasts with Tuna Basil Sauce.  I wouldn’t have given the idea a second thought  – not a big fan of poaching – but using the sous vide machine, now that’s a different story.  Another plus, the recipe calls for everything to be made at least 6 hours ahead or, preferably overnight. All that remains to be done on the day of the dinner is plating, garnishing and bringing to the table.  I have modified the original recipe by sous viding the chicken and adding the arugula.  but poaching would work just as well, though you may want to use bone in skin on breasts if you are poaching the chicken.  I have to admit it was a great idea.  The house stayed cool and I had none of the stress associated with last-minute cooking.  A BIG win all around!

Cold Poached Chicken Breasts with Tuna Basil Sauce     Serves 6

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 6 ½ ounces of canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained well
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 tbl. Drained bottled capers, more for garnish
  • 2 tbl. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/3 c finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish if desired
  • 3 cups loosely packed Arugula
  • Kalamata olives as a garnish

Sous Vide the chicken breasts per directions for your machine, remove from the water bath when done and place in the refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight. If you prefer the poaching method, bring enough water in a pot to cover the chicken breasts by one inch and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and salt to taste to the water.  Simmer the chicken breasts for 18 minutes (a bit longer at altitude) and remove the kettle from the heat.  Allow the chicken breasts to cool in the liquid for 30 minutes.  If you used bone-in skin-on breasts, when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and the breast from the bone.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Place the tuna, mayonnaise, yogurt, anchovies, 1 tbl of capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Blend until the sauce is smooth.  Transfer sauce into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Finely chop the basil and set aside.

To serve, place ½ cup of arugula on each plate. Place a cold chicken breast on top of the arugula. Stir the chopped basil into the tuna sauce and cover each chicken breast with a thin layer of sauce.  Garnish the chicken breasts with additional capers, Kalamata olives, and sprigs of basil.

The other couples contributed an appetizer, a side, and dessert.  And, as I had announced the entree to the group via email the others followed my cold idea with dips, cold fruit and vegetable salads and sorbet with cookies.  We poured a chardonnay and a merlot with the dinner.  A good time was had by all!

Posted in American Food, Chicken, Cooking, Entree, Food, Gourmet groups, meat, Recipes, Sous Vide, Tuna | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Ribs!

Last week, while planning our menu for the upcoming week, I included some baby back ribs that were in the freezer.  I thought they would be perfect on July 4th.  Then, because ribs are always a two meal event, I decide to rearrange the menu to have the ribs on Sunday and have BBQ chicken on the fourth.  All was going as planned until I went to the freezer on  Saturday night and discovered we had eaten the last slab of ribs out of the freezer!  I’m usually pretty good about verifying what I believe is on hand to actually be there but for some reason that step got omitted last Friday.  Fortunately, I discovered I did have a pork tenderloin in the freezer so it was substitution time.

The temperature yesterday was hovering in the upper nineties – not exactly the time to turn on the oven.  We briefly discussed putting the tenderloin on the grill but I’m always leery of grilling a piece of meat as lean as pork tenderloin.  Then I thought about my sous vide machine.  Perfect!  Season the meat, seal it up and put it in the sous vide machine for a little over an hour.  No heat in the kitchen, no dry meat – what more could a girl want.  Oh, maybe a sauce.

Just before I took the meat out of the sous vide I started heating up my cast iron frying pan.  When it was sizzling hot I took the tenderloin out of the cooking bag and put it in the frying pan.  After I got a nice sear on all sides I set it on the island to rest.  I added a tablespoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. I added 1/4 cup of Heidi’s Raspberry Jam to the melted butter along with the juices from the cooking bag and scraped up all of the goodness in the pan.  I evened out the sauce with a little white wine.  It was the perfect touch!  I rounded out the meal with mashed potatoes and broad beans.  Not bad as substitutions go.

And if you’re interested, Heidi’s raspberry farm is located here in Corrales.  If you don’t live near Corrales and would love to sample some of the best raspberry jam around, just click on the link above to visit her site and order. And in case you’re wondering, yes, she sells raspberry chile jam. No I don’t use it.  Just because I live in New Mexico doesn’t mean I have the sudden urge to mix green or red chile in everything.  Somethings are too good to mess with!

Posted in American Food, appliances, Cooking, Corrales, Food, Fourth of July, Jams, meat, Pork, Recipes, SanSaire Immersion Circulator, Sous Vide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Starting Over

It has been quite a while since I’ve been up to posting.  But I suspect I can be forgiven considering what has gone on in the last eight months of my life.  Without boring you with too many details, since late October I have had three surgeries, been diagnosed with cancer and, after treatment, been pronounced cancer free.  During that time we received notice that we were voted one of the top 5 B&B’s in an  Albuquerque The Magazine  “Best Of” poll, so the news wasn’t all bad!  While the inn was closed for much of that time as I recovered I am now back up to speed and ready to share my kitchen adventures.

My latest obsession is Tonnato sauce.  The June edition of Food and Wine magazine has a recipe for Pork Loin with Tonnato Sauce and Summer Salad that looked intriguing so I gave it a try.  Because the dish is served cold, it’s a great summer meal. As pork is quite frequently in my menu rotation, this one will appear again.  But it was the tonnato sauce that really won us over.  It was so good on the pork that I began imagining all of the other uses for this versatile sauce.  Cold chicken breasts and all manner of pasta came to mind.  It also makes a great dressing for greens and vegetables like cucumberAlbuquerques and tomatoes.

Since the recipe makes about two cups of sauce I was able to experiment that very same week.  I have used it on three cheese tortellini with broccoli and chopped greek olives, and, just recently on fettuccine with chopped wilted spinach and greek olives ( greek olives seem to have an affinity for this sauce.)  I plan on making more next week to top tuna burgers and as a sauce for stuffed chicken breasts.  This sauce is really versatile for summer meals.  The only drawback is that it must be used cold.  Heating the sauce breaks the mayonnaise base.  However, mixed with pasta right from the pot and thinned with a little pasta water, the sauce warms up quite nicely. So here’s my new goto sauce that has me back cooking with a vengeance!

Tonnato Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise ( do not use lite mayonnaise)
  • 1 5oz can of tuna in olive oil, drained (use the best quality canned tuna you can get. It makes a difference in the taste of the sauce.
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.



Posted in appliances, Cooking, fish, Food, Food Processor, Pasta, pasta, Pork, Recipes, Salad, Sandhill Crane Bed and Breakfast, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cool as a Cucumber

Is it a midwest thing or did a lot of you grow up hearing the phrase “cool as a cucumber?”  It was certainly a part of the lingo I heard as a child.  Unfortunately, it can be hard to be as “cool as a cucumber” when the outside temperature is hovering around 100 degrees F.  (that’s around 37 degrees C for my metric friends and family.)  Any way you measure it, it’s hot!

On days when the weather turns that hot, I look to serve cool dishes as dinner entrees.  This week we’ve been enjoying cold meals. One of them was “Cool as a Cucumber ” Cucumber soup!  It’s really easy, requires absolutely no cooking, and can be made well ahead of time.  If you’ve got a blender or a food processor you’ve got this dish made!

Cool as a Cucumber Soup                      Serves 2 as an entree with a little leftover

  • 1 lb cucumbers (I find that two medium size cucumbers provide you with the required amount.  You will be removing the seeds so purchase cucumbers that weigh slightly more than one pound)
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 cup chicken stock, more if the soup is too thick (Note: if you are going to consume the soup as soon as it is made use cold chicken stock.)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (do not use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • juice of one lemon, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

Trim the ends off of the cucumber, no need to peel the cukes, and cut in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out and discard the seeds.  Slice the cucumber into strips then into a dice.  (If you are using a blender I recommend a smaller dice as it will process faster.) Set aside.

Cut the root ends off of the scallions and chop. Include the white and all of the green parts of the scallion.

Place the cucumbers and scallions into a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Add the chicken stock and puree until smooth.  If you are using a blender you may need to process the vegetables and stock in two batches to achieve the desired smoothness.

Add the yogurt, sour cream and 2 Tbl of lemon juice and puree again until all the ingredients are well combined.

If you are not serving immediately, and I have found this soup is better if it has time to sit, pour into a container and season with salt and pepper to taste.  And just like that, you’re done.

When dinner time comes around, stir the soup well.  Add additional stock if the soup is too thick and additional lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.

I serve this soup with garlic pita chips (follow this link on my blog to see the recipe for these addictive things!)

A great meal for a hot summer day!

Posted in American Food, appliances, Cooking, Entree, Family, Food, Food Processor, Kitchen tools, Meatless, Meatless Meals, Soups, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment