After Niki graduated from college she moved home for a while and had apparently picked up some expertise in a cooking class that she took while in Florence. Then I caught her red-handed. I walked in on her while she was watching a cooking show on tv! Who was this person? Could she have any of my genes? Why was she watching cooking shows? Although she’d tried to help in the kitchen many times when she was young, she’d never really shown any particular aptitude in that area. Usually the results were edible although presentation definitely needed some work.
Thinking that she might like to try more interesting recipes, Niki brought home Giada’s Kitchen by giada de laurentiis. I knew things would be very different in our kitchen. When I showed my husband this cookbook, he took one look at Giada’s picture on the cover and declared that she looked like a really good cook.
I agree with my husband that Giada looks really good, as a cook or otherwise and although I hardly look like Giada I decided to try one of her recipes. I started with her chicken piccata because I actually could identify all of the ingredients and it seemed fairly easy enough for me. I served this over wide noodles and it was absolutely delicious! Definitely one to repeat.
Since I got so many compliments on this dish (see how devious my husband is – compliments my efforts so I’ll do it more often), I decided to also check out her website on the food network. If the chicken piccata was delicious, I can tell you that the chicken with marscapone cheese was out of this world. This is definitely my go-to recipe for company or when my daughter comes home now for some comfort food. If the chicken marscapone wowed John and Niki I can tell you that I got a standing ovation for Giada’s chocolate honey almond tart! I’ve since served these dishes to guests and had so many requests for the recipe that I finally typed them up to copy on request. And that’s how it all started….
When my daughter moved to her apartment she would call me to find out how I made various dishes. Rather than just write them down, she would call me again when she wanted to make the same thing. I finally just started a recipe file of all the likely recipes that she might ask for which I would then email to her.
Last Christmas it occurred to me that I had a decent recipe collection and hundreds of photos from Italy. As I’ve mentioned I love playing with photos and decided that a collection of these photos with family recipes overlayed would be a nice gift for her and save a lot of time on the phone. I made 8.5 x 11″ photos and stacked them in an acrylic frame which can be hung on her kitchen wall. When she needs a recipe, she can just move that to the front of the frame & it protects the photograph from splatters. This particular photo is one that Niki took from the Venice canals of a very unique dress shop.
CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD MASCARPONE MARSALA SAUCE
1 to 1 ½ lbs Boneless chicken breasts
2 TBL Olive Oil
5 TBL Butter, divided
1 Cup Chopped sweet onion
1 lb Mushrooms – cremini or baby portabella
2 TBL Garlic, minced (more is fine)
1 Cup Marsala wine (or I’ve sometimes used Vermouth
1 Cup Marscarpone cheese
2 TBL Natural stone ground mustard (seeds)
2 TBL Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Serve on wide noodles or fettuccine
Pound the chicken breasts to tenderize, then sprinkle salt & pepper. Heat oil in heavy skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken until just browned (about 4 min each side). Move to a plate & cover to keep warm.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over med-high heat. Add onion & sauté until tender (about 2 min). Add the mushrooms & garlic and sauté until the mushrooms are tender & juices evaporated (10-12 minutes). Add the Marsala wine or Vermouth and simmer until reduced by half (5 minutes). Stir in the marscapone and mustard. You can serve the chicken as cutlets or slice into slices. Return chicken & juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered over med-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through & the sauce has thickened slightly (just about 2 minutes). Sprinkle with parsley and top with fresh Parmesan cheese.
After cooking pasta, melt remainder of butter (3 TBL) on top. Serve chicken & sauce on top of pasta.
(This may seem like a bit of work but it really isn’t and it cooks up fast so have the pasta water boiling. It is the most delicious sauce I have ever had!)