Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Slider with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Slider with Herbed Mayo

When one is planning a Super Bowl get-together, one must give serious consideration to the refreshments. Because really, what is a Super Bowl party without the proper accouterments.  Like the Super Bowl itself, watching the game at home should be an “event”. I would be negligent in my duties if I only served chips and dip, and my husband and sons have come to expect more from me as the years go by. Chips and dip are still on the menu, because every sports-loving guy still loves and expects them, but I needed to serve something more substantial but still in the realm of down home comfort food.

Chicken Sliders seemed like the obvious choice, because you can hold them in one hand while your screaming at the tv and holding a beer in the other. I would call this kind of breaded and fried chicken, Chicken Schnitzel or Chicken Milanese. Basically it’s boneless, skinless chicken breast that’s dredged in flour, eggs and panko bread crumbs and then fried. The end result is chicken that’s crispy and crunchy on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside.  And, for a little extra added tastiness, I plopped on a dollop of this homemade Herbed Mayo. Yay, score one for Mama!

Pound the chicken breast to tenderize it

Pound the chicken breast to tenderize it

Chicken Slider with Herbed Mayo

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into approx. 2″ x 4″ pieces)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 mini slider rolls ( I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls & Rockenwagner’s Mini Pretzel Rolls)
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • Roma tomato, thinly sliced
  • arugula

Herbed Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced chervil (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard (dijon or brown)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse chicken under cool water and pat dry. Pounding the chicken breast will enable it to cook through consistently if all slices are of same thickness. Cut the chicken into 2″ x 4″ pieces (approximately). Lightly season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Now make yourself a “dredging station”. Take three shallow bowls, and put the panko crumbs in one, the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, in another, and beat the two eggs with a tablespoon of milk and place in the third bowl. Using tongs (or a fork) dip the chicken into the flour and gently shake off the excess. Next, dip it into the egg mixture on both sides. Last, dip the chicken into the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs to adhere to the chicken breast. Lay the finished coated pieces on a wax paper covered baking sheet.
  3. In a large skillet, set over medium heat, pour the vegetable oil about 1/4″ deep. Don’t put the chicken in until the oil is hot enough, but also don’t let the oil get too hot. If the oil is too hot, the outside coating will burn, and the chicken inside will not cook through. Also, do not crowd the pan, make sure there is room in between the chicken pieces. When the chicken is golden brown, remove from the pan and let drain on a paper towel.
  4. To make the Herbed Mayo: place all the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk together until smooth. Adjust the salt and pepper to your own taste. Cover bowl and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. Just assemble the sandwiches, spread with the Herbed Mayo and enjoy.

Makes 8 Slider Sandwiches

Fry the breaded chicken in about 1/4" of oil on medium heat

Fry the breaded chicken in about 1/4″ of oil on medium heat

Fry chicken until it's golden brown and crispy

Fry chicken until it’s golden brown and crispy

Mama’s Tips:

When working with chicken you always have to be concerned about contamination. When I pound my chicken, I cover the bottom surface with plastic wrap, place the chicken on top, then cover the chicken with another sheet of plastic wrap. I never want to get the bacteria on my surfaces or on the rolling pin I’m using to pound the chicken. Always wash your hands after handling chicken and touching something else.

Make sure the chicken is always cooked through (no pink inside) to avoid salmonella poisoning. If your not sure, take a small pairing knife and cut into a piece of chicken just to check the inside.

When frying chicken, try to keep the oil at an even temperature. If it gets too hot and starts to burn, or there’s a lot of burnt pieces of bread crumbs in it, clean the pan and start with new oil. Burned, dirty oil will affect the final taste of the chicken.

If you can’t get panko bread crumbs (usually found in the Asian section of the market) you can use regular bread crumbs. but I find the panko crumbs give the chicken a much crunchier, crispier texture. It’s well worth seeking these crumbs out.

The reason I pound the chicken is that the breasts are naturally thicker in some parts and thinner in others. By pounding it, the breasts are the same thickness at all points and therefore will cook through consistently.

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Recipe: Intermediate


Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

Ooooh mama, look what I got in the mail today!  If you follow my blog then you know I recently featured a posting for an almond pear cake.  Apparently someone at Frog Hollow Farm saw that posting and realized that I must be a serious pear lover, and offered to send me a box of their pears. Well Mama never turns down offers of food.

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and the husband and I haven’t eaten lunch yet, so I’m thinking grilled cheese and pears because it’s a perfect combination. I always have arugula and pecans on hand so this is pretty much a done deal.  It’s buttery, it’s creamy, it’s sweet, it’s crunchy…do I have your attention yet???

I really want to thank the folks at Frog Hollow Farm because these were probably the best pears I ever had, and I’m not just saying that. These particular pears that they sent were called Warren Pears, and they were sweet and juicy and devoid of that grittiness that pears can sometime have. If you’re a pear lover like me, then I would recommend you check them out.

Frog Hollow Farm

Frog Hollow Farm Pears

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

  • 4 slices of bread – I chose a hearty multi grain variety
  • 1 firm, ripe pear – any variety
  • small wedge of brie, cut into 1/8″ slices
  • handful of fresh arugula
  • handful of toasted pecans
  • 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
  1. Directions
  2. Using  a mandolin on the larger setting, slice your pears and with a sharp knife, slice out the core and seeds.
  3. Butter the four slices of bread making sure you cover every square inch of bread with butter to insure perfect toastiness.  Layer a bread slice with the arugula and pecans, several pear slices, and the brie. Then place the second bread slice on top.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium and place the sandwich in the pan.  Let the sandwich get a nice sear on it, then cover the pan with a lid to allow the cheese to melt better. When the sandwich is golden on the first side.  Flip it over until it browns on the other side.

Makes 2, darn good sandwiches

Pear Chips

Pear Chips

I just couldn’t get enough of these scrumptious pears, so I sliced some up on the thinner setting of the  mandolin and made some pear chips to serve along with our sandwiches. However, to really savor the loveliness of this fruit, one should just eat it in it’s natural state!

Recipe: Easy


My Burger Bible

Hamburger with Grilled Onions

Hamburger with Grilled Onions

By now you all know that Mama’s Gotta Bake, and oftentimes Mama’s Gotta Cook, but now that the warm weather has rolled into Southern California…Mama’s Gotta Grill. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you would think that I live on nothing but cake, cookies and the occasional scoop of ice cream.  But if the truth be told, what I’m totally obsessed with is burgers. Oh please, spare me with your turkey, chicken, lamb, salmon and veggie burgers, I’m a purist and it’s nothing but good ‘ol beef burgers for me.

For years I’ve kept a tiny, tattered notebook in the over-stuffed utility drawer in my kitchen. I call it My Burger Bible. Every time I see a tip in the newspaper, the internet, a cookbook, YouTube or the television on how to make a better burger, I write it down in this notebook. So, as summer approaches and you begin to fire up your grills, I thought I would share some of the information I’ve accumulated with you.

Tips for making the best burgers

Tips for making the best burgers

The Meat

  • When it comes to a tasty burger, fat is your friend. Fat will add tons of flavor and moisture to your burger, and it will shrink less. I usually choose a meat mixture with a 70/30 fat ratio. If that sounds too fatty to you, then go with an 80/20.
  • Never use frozen or pre-formed patties, that’s just an insult to any decent burger. If you can, have a butcher coarsely grind a combination of chuck and brisket.
  • When forming the burgers, use wet hands so that the meat will not stick them. Don’t overwork the meat to form the patties. The less you handle the meat the better, otherwise the resulting burger will be dry and dense.
  • Season you burgers with salt right before you’re ready to grill them. Salt takes the moisture right out of the meat and you’ll end up with some pretty dry burgers.
  • When you’re cooking a lot of burgers at once on the grill, it helps to weigh and size the patties, this way they will cook uniformly. (Serious Eats)
  • Bobby Flay suggests that when you’ve formed your patty, take your thumb and make a well in the center of the burger. This will help it to keep it’s shape. Also, chilling your patties for several hours before cooking will aid in them keeping their shape.

Grilling the Burgers

  • You will want to place your burgers on a very hot grill because you want to sear the outside of the burger. Searing the burger seals in the juices.
  • When the burger is on the grill, don’t press down on it with a spatula, or you will squeeze the juices right out.
  • When the burger is properly seared, it will no longer stick to the grill.
  • Like other meats that you grill, let your burgers “rest” for several minutes before serving them, so that the juices will redistribute. (Huffington Post)

The Bun

  • My friends, never take bun selection lightly. One must carefully consider bun to burger ratio seriously.
  • When forming your patties, make them approximately the same size as your bun. You can make the patty a little bit bigger than the bun, as the patty will shrink a bit on the grill.
  • Don’t choose a bun that is too soft because they tend to fall apart if your burger is juicy. However, don’t choose a bun that too hard as the burger will shoot out of it when you take the first bite. My personal favorite is a brioche bun.
Take the pointier end of an egg and use it to make a "well" in the center of the burger

Take the pointier end of an egg and use it to make a “well” in the center of the burger. This will help the burger to keep its shape.

So, how does Mama like her burger…simple. I like a little crispy lettuce, fresh tomato, lots of ketchup (yeah, I do!), but most importantly I’ve gotta have the grilled onions. They take 5 minutes to make and my burgers wouldn’t be caught dead without them.

Grilled Onions

Grilled Onions

Grilled Onions

  1. Slice 2 large onions thinly, or for best results, slice them on a mandolin (on the thicker setting) for uniform size. Toss the onions with a tablespoon of olive oil, Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and some red pepper flakes until coated.
  2. Set your grill to medium-high.
  3. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and place on the hot grill. With tongs, spread the onions out over the foil and toss occasionally so all slices cook evenly. Remove from the heat when the onions have begun to caramelize and are softened. About 5-8 minutes. Use immediately.
  4. Enough for 4-5 burgers.
Grilled Hamburgers

Grilled Hamburgers

Recipe: Easy


Salmon Burgers with Fresh Dill Sauce

Salmon Burger

Some foods just bring back memories of childhood. I am very fortunate that the memories I have of those times are warm and happy ones. Every night, my parents and me and my two brothers sat around our red kitchen table and had dinner together. One of the things that my mother made every week was salmon croquettes. It’s not something you would think kids would have liked necessarily, but oddly my brothers and I loved them. At least I think they did. I’ll have to ask them.

Anyway, I’ll take a salmon burger over a beef burger any day. Hamburgers are so 29 seconds ago. These aquatic burgers are filled with so many different ingredients they just exude flavor. I love to pair it with the fresh dill sauce which is the perfect creamy and lemony partner for the fish. Then you top the burger with the peppery arugula, and a toasted bun for crunch, and I promise you, you’ll never look at a beef burger again.

Mini Salmon Burgers in Pita Pockets

Salmon Burgers

Adapted From Food Network

  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh salmon filet
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons panko crumbs, plus extra to coat patties
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • sandwich buns
  • fresh arugula
Directions
  1. Pulse 1/4 pound salmon in a food processor with 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and a pinch of cayenne pepper. 
  2. Transfer this mixture to a medium bowl and mix with 1 pound of salmon that has been finely diced. You want it to be a little chunky so you can really taste the salmon. Add in 2 chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons of panko crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. I used a cookie cutter about the same size as my bun and pressed the mixture into the cutter to create uniform sized patties. Pressing the mixture into the cutter also helps it keep it’s shape. Place on an oiled cookie sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes. You want the patties good and chilled so they will retain their shape. Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Cook the patties about 3-4 minutes on each side. You want them to cook through, but be careful they don’t burn. Don’t let the oil get too hot.
  4. Drain the patties on a paper towel.
  5. Toast buns, top pattie with dill sauce and fresh arugula.

Mini Salmon Burgers in Pita Pockets

Dill Sauce 

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • fresh, ground pepper to taste
Directions
Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Salmon Burger

Salmon Burger

Mama’s Tips:

To make this sandwich even more perfect, butter a griddle and toast your buns til golden on the edges. It gives this sandwich a lovely added crunch.

If you have a cast iron skillet, use it instead of a regular frying pan. Fill you pan with the oil about 1/4 inch deep and don’t place the patties in the pan until the oil is hot. Cast iron skillets retain heat and evenly distribute the heat better than the standard frying pan.. Your patties will also get a nice crust on them. That’s a good thing.

To clean your skillet, use a washcloth and rinse with hot water and immediately dry the skillet. Never, ever put one in a dishwasher. Season your pan by rubbing with a paper bowl and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Gently heat the pan to help the oil soak in. (From Bon Appetit).

Recipe: Intermediate


Sailin’ & Sandwiches

Off the coast of Venice Beach, California, July 4th, 2011

All I could hear out in the middle of the Pacific, was the rhythmic sound of the water slapping the side of the boat.  My surroundings seemed so muted. No cell phones ringing, no car horns honking, only the occasional squawking of a sea-gull looking for it’s next meal. The sky was pale, the sea appeared gray and the white sails of the others boats almost disappeared against the sky. We were just a mile off shore, but a world away from that whirling dervish they call Los Angeles. Rodolfo was the skipper of the boat, and my husband Neil and Rodolfo’s wife Sonia were in charge of operating the ropes that controlled the sails. My job, lunch of course.

The pale and muted tones of the Pacific

I got up early in the morning because I wanted to bake fresh French bread for the sandwiches that I was making for our 4th of July sea adventure. For me, the bread is the key to a tasty sandwich. I thought back to the sandwiches we had had in tiny cafes in Europe and my favorite was always the Serrano ham. This is a dry-cured Spanish ham, and I love it’s salty, buttery flavor. I added to it Manchego cheese which is a firm, Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk. I spread fig jam on the bread, and finished it off with arugula and thinly sliced red onion. The layering of these flavors set off fireworks in my mouth! It was a happy July 4th.

Crispy French Baguettes

Serrano Ham Sandwich

crispy French baguettes

thinly sliced Serrano ham

sliced Manchego cheese

fig jam (at most upscale markets)

arugula

red onion (sliced thin on mandoline)

I usually have a baguette or two left over, so the next day we had Serrano ham crostini. I sliced the day-old bread about an inch thick, brushed it with olive oil and placed it on the grill for a few minutes. This makes a great appetizer.

Grilled Crostini with Serrano Ham, Manchego Cheese, Fig Jam & Daikon Sprouts

Yum!