Everyone deserves a second chance and an opportunity to reinvent themselves. I think a recipe should have the same shot and this week’s dish is the perfect example. Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that was once considered a poor man’s dish, made of stale bread soaked in liquid (usually water) and tossed with tomatoes and vegetables. I remember the first time I tasted Panzanella. I was visiting friends in Orvieto, Tuscany, and my hosts prepared the salad by soaking the stale bread in milk. It was then wrung out in a clean dish towel and the bread was tossed into the rest of the ingredients. It was unforgettable and heavenly. These days, Panzanella has gone from a poor man’s dish to a very trendy feature on restaurant menus. Everyone has their own version of this bountiful bowl of goodness and here is yet another one. This Panzanella is made with large chunks of fresh bread (grilled, not soaked) and tossed with peppers, onions, shallots and a chile pepper. The traditional tomatoes were removed altogether. I love this version because it can be made ahead and enjoyed for days. It just gets better as the flavors meld. Panzanella, the poor man’s dish that got reinvented into a trendy plate, rich in flavor and nutrients!
I found the dusty well-worn cookbook in an old antique store off the beaten path in Ogden, Iowa. In researching the author, I was thrilled that I had stumbled across a treasure. The Gold Cook Book, first published in 1947 was written by Louis P. De Gouy, the Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for 30 years. He was also one of the original founders of Gourmet Magazine and the author of 16 cookbooks. In the Gold Cook Book I found an entire chapter devoted to something you don’t find as a separate section in many cookbooks today- Compounded Butters. My favorite line opening the chapter reads, “Compounded (creamed) butters in cookery are the finishing touch to food, be it a soup, fish, meat, sauce or vegetable as is powder and make-up to the face of a beautiful woman.” The chapter covered every compounded butter from Anchovy to Truffle Butter, and I was struck at how simple these compounds are, often mixing together just two or three ingredients to the softened butter. The great thing about compounded butters is that they can be made ahead and stored in a closed jar and refrigerated indefinitely for use when necessary. I chose a recipe for a Garlic Butter and loved the idea of paring it with a simple salmon fillet. Adding some fresh squeezed lime juice to the compound gave the salmon a bright and flavorful finish. Choose nice fresh, thick slices of salmon, cook them in a grill pan or skillet with a little salt and lemon pepper, and then drop a dollop of Compounded Garlic Lime Butter on top for a perfect light meal in minutes.
Here is a One Skillet Wonder that is so delicious, so savory, so cheesy, and so satisfying that it’s become one of my favorite family meals, and I hope it becomes the same for you! Here, the Italian meatball is smothered in a classic French onion soup gravy, and the result is nothing short of delicioso and magnifique!
I’ve always known that the secret to a great fried chicken is buttermilk. Some people even say buttermilk is the miracle ingredient that makes fried chicken crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. If you understand the properties of buttermilk, you’ll know why. There are the enzymes in buttermilk that break down the proteins, naturally tenderizing the chicken. Then, if the chicken is soaked in buttermilk and then dredged in flour, the buttermilk really helps coat the chicken. Now that you know the secret, it’s time to work it into a great recipe like this Crispy Chicken Burger! Fully loaded with bacon, coleslaw and a delicious combo of honey and sriracha, the beef pattie needs to just mooooooove aside for this finger lickin’ chicken sandwich!