Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rosie Makes Chicken Crepes..

Monday afternoon, the front door opened and look what walked in ...
Beau and Middle Hawthorne. No one bothered to tell me, but that's OK. I welcomed them with open arms. Literally. Bo Bo seemed happy to see me. He gave me big hugs ...
... and sloppy kisses.
And then Daughter Hawthorne showed up. She had called en route to let us know she and Giada and Dogwood would be coming. What fun!
Dixie will be thrilled! Not. So naturally, I headed to the kitchen to make something for the little dears. I'm thinking something with chicken and the crepes I made Thanksgiving for Julia Child's Gateau des Crepes. I always make a double batch of the crepes for occasions such as these. Plus I'll add a few items I have in the fridge I want to use up along with some kind of cream and cheese sauce. Sounds like a plan.
I pulled out some chicken breasts from the freezer, regularly $3.99/pound, on sale for $1.77/pound.
And I had a little heart left over from the whole chicken Mr. Hawthorne smoked the other day. I have no idea why there were no other giblets in the bag, but all I got was the heart ...
... which I minced.
I had spinach, some shriveled shrooms, onion, and an orange.
I sliced the shrooms and chopped the onion and spinach.
Mr. Hawthorne sliced the breasts lengthwise in half.
Then sliced them across.
Now, for a marinade for the chicken:
First the ginger. I keep ginger in my freezer in one inch cubes. Nuke a cube for about 20 seconds then you can easily squeeze the juice out. Use a garlic press to use all the pulp.
Garlic press two cloves of garlic.
Add in about 1/4 cup soy sauce.
Some orange juice - about 1/2 a cup.
A few drops of sesame oil.
Be careful with sesame oil. A little goes a loooooooong way.
Give the chicken pieces a bath for about an hour. Next, I started on the crepe filling:
A little butter and olive oil in the pan and toss in the mushrooms.
Brown a bit and add in the minced heart. Unnecessary, but I had the heart and had to use it.
Onions in.
Sweat the onions, then add in the chopped spinach.
I added a few tablespoons of water and let the spinach wilt.
Cover and set aside. Next, let's cook the chicken.
I heated some ELBOO and LOLUB in my pan (That's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil and Land o' Lakes Unsalted Butter.)
and added in half the chicken.
Mr. Hawthorne likes to show off with his awesome flipping skillz.
Set aside the first batch of chicken and ...
... start on the second batch.
When the second batch is done, add in the rest of the chicken and the spinach and shroom mixture.
I wanted to make a cream and cheese sauce to cover the chicken-filled crepes.
First I melted a little LOLUB.
Add in some flour and cook the roux for a couple of minutes to get the raw taste out.
Mr. Hawthorne had made some chicken noodle soup a few days ago and I added some of the broth to my roux.
I added in the marinade mixture and heated it to boiling.
Next, I added in some cream.
I added a bit of freshly ground salt and pepper.
Here's where a mistake was and I'm showing you this in case this happens to you and you need to fix it. The chefs at our cooking classes at the NC Aquarium often use a chicken base or a beef base in their dishes. I hadn't seen bases at Food Lion or Harris Teeter but I found them at Sam's Club in Chesapeake and bought both a chicken base and a beef base. That's the chicken base going in in the above picture. Now I had to get my facts straight on this since this dinner was from last Monday night, so I just called Mr. Hawthorne at work to explain what he'd done and to tell me EXACTLY HOW MUCH of the base he'd put in. Because he was very vague on that issue last Monday. Basically, my sauce tasted like a salt lick had been dumped into it. Basically, a salt lick HAD been dumped into it. He finally came clean today when I confronted him on the phone. Actually he said he should have just told me when it happened because I probably couldn't have bitched any more at him or given him any more shit had I known the truth about how much he'd screwed up. What should have been 1 teaspoon going in was probably 2 heaping tablespoons. So. What do you do?
This is the chicken base we used.
I think these are the figures for a teaspoon. 820 mg Sodium. That would be salt lick territory. 2400 mg of sodium a day is the recommended limit, which would be a tad more than a teaspoon of table salt. I love ingredients labels: Cooked chicken and mechanically separated chicken meat salt sugar maltodextrin chicken fat flavor (Yum!) [Autolyzed yeast, salt maltodextrin, lactic acid powder (lactic acid, calcium lactate), flavorings, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate], dehydrated onion, turmeric, natural flavorings. Thank God for "natural flavorings."
So, how does one fix this? Outside of dumping it and starting over. First I tried diluting it by adding in some bland ricotta cheese.
Not good enough. Shoot. Rest of ricotta goes in.
Try some milk to dilute even more. Still too salty. And now it's too runny. Thanks, Mr. Hawthorne.
I decided to thicken up the sauce a bit by making a beurre manie. Basically a beurre manie is an uncooked roux. It is a paste made from equal parts flour and butter and used to thicken sauces and stews. Translated, beurre manie means "kneaded butter," since it's made by working the butter and flour together so that the butter completely encases each grain of flour. When the beurre manie is added to a sauce, the butter melts, releasing the flour and prompting the thickening. If you just added flour, you would get lumps and clumps. Using a beurre manie eliminates the clumping and accelerates the thickening. A beurre manie should not be confused with a roux. A roux is a base for soups, gravies, and sauces. Butter is melted and the flour added to it and cooked. The liquids are then added to the roux.
I kneaded my flour and butter together and added it bit by bit to the sauce, stirring and thickening.
I added more of the chicken stock from the soup.
I added the rest of the chicken stock and gave the noodles and veggies to Dixie. She loves homemade noodle soup. Taste test. The damn soup is still too salty. Imonna hafta bring in the big guns.
Action shots!
I simmered the sauce with the potatoes until the potatoes were tender, then I discarded the salt-soaked potatoes.
Taste test. Much better. But still too salty for my tastes.
As a last resort, I kinda started over. I melted some butter.
Whisked in flour to make a roux.
See the color of the roux? You want it cooked like that. Actually, roux, in French, means brownish color.
I added in a little of the salty sauce, which really wasn't all that salty now, but still too salty for me, and diluted the rest with cream until I got the consistency I wanted and the taste I wanted. And it worked.
Next, I grated some mozzarella cheese ...
... and added some to the sauce ...
... stirring to melt.
Now, I'm finally ready to fill and roll my crepes.
I'll be using some queso fresco cheese.
I placed some of the chicken and spinach mixture in my crepe and added some queso fresco.
Roll up.
Here's my messy work area.
I had a little of the chicken mixture leftover, so I added that on top of the crepes.
Here's my cheesy cream sauce.
Not wanting to waste anything or any flavor, I added the leftover chicken/spinach juices to the sauce.
Pour a little sauce over top of the crepes.
Top with more mozzarella ...
... and sprinkle orange zest over top. This went into a 350 degree oven just to heat through, then turn on the broiler to brown the top.
While all the drama with my over-salted sauce was going on, the restless were getting native. You know, they probably hadn't eaten for ... what ... one or two hours? So I heated up Mr. Hawthorne's most excellent pizza from the other night as an appetizer. It was well received. To reheat pizza and get a crisp crust, use a cast iron pan with just a smear of oil in it. Cover and heat over medium until heated through. This way, you get a crisp, not soggy, crust.
And my chicken crepes are ready.
This tasted a lot better than it looks.
Tender chicken, tender crepe, hint of orange, nice cheesiness, a welcome addition of shrooms and spinach, and a freakin' amazing sauce, considering that Mr. Hawthorne had tried his best to kill it.
Giada has weird eyes.
For dessert, my little Hawthornelets had some of my Dark Chocolate Broken Heart Cake I made for February's Dessert Wars competition. It freezes very well.
Beau and Dixie share a plate.
Nap time for Beau.
Dixie's lying on her cow hide in the background. Beau respects that it's her hide and lies on the floor. Then guess what happened.
Apparently the baking dish with the crepes was not balanced in the refrigerator (My bad.) and when Mr. Hawthorne went to open the fridge door, the whole damn thing fell out and broke on the floor. Don't you hate it when that happens? Mr. Hawthorne has sabotaged my dish from beginning to end. Some dishes are just not meant to be.


Rocquie said...

Wow! What a story and what an adventure. I'm kind of speechless, but I thank you for sharing. The last big disaster in my kitchen happened a couple of years ago as I was removing my lovingly prepared lasagna from the oven. It slipped from my hands and fell through the window on the oven door. Suddenly, I had no casserole dish, no oven, no dinner, and a huge mess.

dle said... mom never attempted a dish like that when I came home. Will you adopt me? My last disaster was melted white choclate in my favorite Pampered Chef Batter bowl...I totally missed the counter...choclate and glass everywhere...ugh

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I knew I would hear of disaster stories.
I am not alone.

Rose II said...

Darn, of course that couldn't happen with the salty one :(

Rose II said...

(Meaning, the dish that fell out of the fridge. Too bad that didn't happen with the salty one before you went to the trouble of trying to salvage it.)

SweetPhyl said...

Rosie, remind me to tell you about the time I droped a 5 lb. container of cocoa in a restaurant kitchen--next to a fully functioning hood system. And yes, it was on. I dare say they're still finding cocoa in the crevices of that kitchen.