Chicken Piccata

picattaChicken Piccata is a famous Italian version of a lemon chicken dish. In the recipe below, you can skip the lemon slices if you like – they make a pretty presentation, but you can’t really eat them. The only difficult ingredient for those living in Japan is the capers. I’ve found them at various supermarkets, so you may need to look around or try a larger store.

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 chicken cutlets
salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
60mL (1/4 cup) white wine
120mL (1/2 cup) low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp butter
parsley
lemon slices, optional

Instructions

Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides, and dust with the flour. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Add the minced garlic and wine, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers. Bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and cook for a minute or two on each side. Add the lemon slices and butter to the pan, and let the butter melt.

Pour the sauce over the cutlets to serve, and garnish with parsley.

Avocado Cheesecake

avocado cheesecakeIf you’ve never tried avocado in a sweet recipe, I highly recommend it! Avocado milkshakes, cheesecake, ice cream, etc., have a really nice delicate flavor. The original recipe for this cheesecake was from here. I made a tiny version, 1/4 of this recipe, in a 15-cm (6″) round pan.

Ingredients (makes 16 2-inch squares)
Crust:
150g (5 oz) plain vanilla or shortbread cookies
1 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt (if your pistachios are salted, leave this out)
1 tsp lemon peel
57g (2 oz) melted butter

Cheesecake:
1-1/2 tbsp powdered gelatin
120mL (1/2 cup) water
450g (16 oz) cream cheese
2 ripe avocados, peeled and with the pit removed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
200g (7 oz) yogurt
240mL (8 oz) whipping cream
2 tbsp pistachio for garnish, optional

Instructions

In a food processor, blend cookies, pistachios, sugar, salt, and lemon peel until finely ground. Add melted butter and pulse to combine. Press into an 8-inch (21cm) square pan.

Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, then bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C (350C). Allow to cool completely before adding the cheesecake mixture.

For cheesecake:

Combine gelatin and water and heat in a double boiler or microwave until the gelatin dissolves. Let cool slightly.

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. In a food processor, blend the avocado and lemon until smooth. Add to the cream cheese and mix until well-combined.

Add the gelatin mixture to the avocado and cream cheese. Whisk until combined. Add the yogurt and mix.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the avocado mixture.

Pour onto the prepared crust. Place in the refrigerator overnight until it sets completely. Once chilled, cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares. Top with chopped pistachios if desired.

Lemon Rosemary Ragu

lemon rosemary raguThis meat sauce comes together very quickly and has a great flavor. There is some tomato in it, but the tomato taste isn’t so strong. It works well for people who aren’t into a very tomato-y pasta sauce. I adapted the recipe from here, which calls for using veal and olives, but those ingredients aren’t so common in Japan, so I’ve made a few changes.

Ingredients
200g (about 1/2 lb) dry pasta (choose a shape with surface area that will hold the sauce)
1 tbsp olive oil
200g ground beef/pork mixture
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried rosemary)
1 tbsp tomato paste
60mL (1/4 cup) white wine
120mL (1/2 cup) beef broth (In Japan, I use a bouillon cube plus 120mL water)
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp grated lemon peel
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (of course fresh is always best, but in Japan I use canned grated cheese and it works fine)

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the ground meat until it loses its pink color. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened.

Add rosemary and tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook for a minute or so. Add the wine and beef broth and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Add parsley, lemon peel, and grated cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Mix cooked pasta with the ragu, and serve, along with extra grated cheese.