December 2014


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If you’re like me, your knowledge of chicken paprikash may be limited to that scene in “When Harry Met Sally.” Waiter! There is too much pepper on my paprikash! If so, also like me, you’ve been missing out. But, have no fear, we can make up for lost time and deliciousness.

Fast forward 25 years to last month, when one of my friends shared a recipe for this dish. It sounded so good, I wanted to give it a try with some of my own twists. Here’s a little disclaimer: I’m not Hungarian, I’ve never eaten this dish before and can’t tell you how authentic it is. In fact, I believe the original dish calls for chicken thighs rather than breasts. But, that’s the beauty of making something your own–you can do exactly as you wish. I can tell you it’s quite delish and I’ll be making it again during the season of my discontent (a.k.a. winter).

CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

½ pound egg noodles

Butter and olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan
1-1.25 pounds chicken breast, cut into hearty chunks
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1½ teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup sour cream
fresh chopped parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Add chicken and toss to coat.

Add olive oil and butter to a pan over medium-high heat.

Add chicken and any remaining seasoned flour to pan. Brown chicken on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a dish.

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PSSST! Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Soon, it will be time to cook the egg noodles.

But, for now, back to the pan where the chicken was cooking. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion and cook till golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper and sliced mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes more.

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Then add wine, chicken stock and tomato paste.

Time to cook the noodles! Like magic, watch how the timing comes together perfectly.

Return the chicken to the pan and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 7-10 minutes. This is about the time it will take to cook the noodles. For the last few minutes of the chicken part of the program, reduce heat to the lowest setting, add sour cream and parsley, heat through—about 1-2 minutes.

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Serve with noodles. Enjoy the living daylights out of this dish. We did!

And, on an optimistic note, tomorrow is the winter solstice. Brighter days are ahead, amici!
Midnight has come. I hear music and I’ll keep on singing. 

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lemon ricotta cookies ONE

There’s been a serious lack of sunshine ’round here lately, so I’ve been baking my own. First, it was lemon bars–always a favorite. Then I wanted to make ricotta cookies. My mom’s been making ’em for years. But I wanted to do a lemon twist on the classic. So, I’ll show you two ways to make these light-as-air, delicious little pillows of cookies–one lemony, one almond-y. Yes, it’s a word. Ask any almond lover.

lemon ricotta cookies Celebrate with Hope

Care to celebrate with Hope? Here we go.

LEMON RICOTTA COOKIES
adapted from recipes from generations of talented Italian ladies, including my mom

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine and set aside.

1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla*
1 teaspoon almond extract*
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon, if you like)*

*To make an almond version, double the vanilla and almond extracts (so, 2 teaspoons of each) and omit lemon juice.

Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together softened butter and sugar till fluffy. Add egg, ricotta, vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice*. Gradually add dry ingredients. Dough will be very soft. I used my trusty Zeroll 60 pink scoop, but you can use a teaspoon if you don’t have one. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets.

I like to do the halftime switch trick: turn the cookie sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through. Bake for 14-15 minutes total–so, try 7 minutes, then switch racks for another 7–at 350 degrees F; bottoms of cookies will be golden.

Let the cookies cool, then choose your glaze–lemon or almond–and dip the top of each cookie.

Lemon glaze
Whisk together:
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¾ cup powdered sugar

Almond glaze
Whisk together:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 heaping teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk

I hope sharing two recipe variations in one makes up for some lost time here. Know that my heart is never far from the kitchen. I’ve missed posting here and I’ll be back soon!