Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easy Asian Chicken

8 chicken drumsticks, skin on
1 cup water 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
 1 clove garlic, peeled and bruised
1 small hot chili pepper, slit open, seeds removed

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over high heat.

Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for about 20 mins.

Remove any scum that rises to the surface.

Increase heat, turning drumsticks frequently in sauce, and cook until liquid reduces to a sticky glaze.

Arrange chicken on a platter, remove garlic clove and chili and spoon glaze over chicken.

Serve with rice and a salad, or refrigerate, and when cold, remove skin and bones and cut into bite sized pieces to use in stir fry.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Palachinki a la Maria

Every time I make crepes [once in a blue moon] I wonder why I don't do it every week! You'd expect that something so delicate and dainty and scrumptious would be difficult to make but they're super easy.......
My mother-in-law, Maria, who is gone to her hard-earned, eternal reward, R.I.P. called them palachinki, which seems to cover Ukrainian, Czech and Polish versions, and possibly others. She always made them with a sweetened cheese filling, and if she needed something from The Prince, making palachinki guaranteed she'd get it! Back in the Old Country,  The Prince's  mother went to what would now be called "culinary arts school" but was probably called plain old cooking school back then! He frequently waxes poetic about what a wonderful baker and cook she was. Maria, my mother-in-law, was the only cook who came close to being the equal of Mama!

He is 89 years old now. Mama is long gone, and so is Maria. And his teeth don't fit properly, and are uncomfortable, in spite of the small fortune he spent on dental work. He can't hear, and doesn't listen anyway, and keeps his hearing aid in the safety of a velvet lined box. He's on a mission to find a cure for old age, but he's not having much success. Everything but the blandest food upsets his stomach.  He laments loudly and frequently that Americans don't know what good cooking is. And me?  Can't refuse a challenge. He's probably manipulating me!  But no matter. Today I made palachinki. Because I can! I mixed up the batter last night which didn't take more than five minutes. The crepes are lighter if the batter sits overnight [or at least a few hours] in the fridge.

My first few are  usually not so good, but after I hit my stride [or the pan gets hot enough!] I'm as good as his Mama! Who's going to prove me wrong?!  I cook them just until the edges look dry,  then flip, or, if  not feeling courageous, turn them with a spatula, and cook a few seconds  more, until some freckles form on the underside.

I cool them on a wire rack, then stack them on a plate with wax paper between.

The cook always has to sample a few. Wouldn't want to go poisoning anyone! This cook tried a few, a la Blister, with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Oh, yum!

She did manage to restrain herself so there were a few left for The Prince! This last one, obviously, would not pass quality control....but the cook's not fussed. It tasted just as delicious to her as the perfectly round ones!

When the children were growing up palachinki disappeared as fast as they came off the pan! Sugar and cinnamon was the favourite topping.  Roll them up and eat them on the spot!  They also taste yummy spread with your favourite jam. And, if you want to get really fancy,  pour brandy on them, light a match and you have Crepes Suzette!  Leave the sugar out of the batter and you can fill them with vegetables or any other savory filling.

But for tonight---Maria's cheese filling, which mixes up in about five minutes. It consists of 1 lb.Farmers' cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 tsp vanilla, a handful of raisins, two egg yolks and a dash of salt. If Farmers' cheese is not available you can substitute half cream cheese and half cottage cheese, well drained, or half ricotta. If the mixture is too thick you can add a tablespoon or two of sour cream.

Mix  together, spoon onto the crepes, roll them up and place in a single layer in a baking pan. Sprinkle with sugar and chopped nuts and they're ready for the oven.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. Remove the foil and bake five minutes more.

After his first bite The Prince gave me a thumbs up! Gasp! No complaints? I hope Maria is watching from the Great Kitchen In The Sky. I was never quite good enough, but damn! I can make palachinki fit for a Prince!