Blogs, Recipes

Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken

Edna Lewis, known as both the Grande Dame and Grande Doyenne of southern cooking, she was among the first African American women from the south to write a cookbook that did not hide the author’s true name, gender or race.

She was born and grew up in rural Virginia in an area called Freetown. She learned to cook from an extended family that included grandparents who had been enslaved. They didn’t have measuring spoons or scales, so instead, they used coins by piling baking powder on pennies, salt on dimes, and baking soda on nickels. This ensured the right amount was used in each dish. Interesting little tidbit: Lewis is said to have been able to tell when a cake was finished baking by listening to the sound it was making. 

She loved to use fresh, in season ingredients and characterized Southern food as fried chicken (pan, not deep-fried), pork, and fresh vegetables – most especially greens. She is a beacon of fried chicken perfection. Inspired by her pan-fried chicken, below is my pan-fried chicken recipe. 

She wrote and co-wrote four books which covered Southern cooking and life in a small community of freed slaves and their descendants. 

Dr. Edna Lewis passed away from cancer in 2006, at the age of 89. In 2014, she was  honored by the United State Postal Service with her very own postal stamp.

I encourage you to continue my research on Edna Lewis. She was an interesting lady with many talents! She actually made a dress for Marilyn Monroe!

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. Chicken, drumsticks and thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. 

In a bowl or resealable plastic bag, place the chicken, garlic powder, paprika, red pepper flakes and dried Italian seasoning and shake to coat the chicken. Cover or seal and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Pour 1/2 to 1 inch of oil into a deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet and heat until a pinch of flour sizzles upon contact (about 360 degrees F). 

Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. 

In a bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. 

Place the flour, a pinch of salt and 1 ½ teaspoon ground pepper in a separate bowl. Whisk to combine. 

Dip the chicken in the egg and milk mixture, drain off the excess, then dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Working in batches, place the chicken skin-side down in the skillet and fry for 3 minutes without moving. Continue to fry, turning the chicken every 1 to 2 minutes to ensure even browning and cooking, until the chicken is cooked through, 11 to 15 minutes. 

Drain on the rack and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Blogs, Recipes

Grouper Piccata

Living in Florida has many benefits, sunny days, beautiful beaches, and it also comes with the benefits of AMAZING fresh fish. 

I was lucky enough to grab some grouper fillets from my local fish market but you can also score some at your store’s frozen section. If you are unable to find grouper fillets, you can use snapper, cod, catfish or even chicken. 

This sauce highlights the fish without taking over. In this recipe, I use a simple piccata sauce with lemon and capers to create an easy meal that everyone will love! Oh, and this is a one pan dish! Hello easy clean up! 🙂

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan but since I received a bottle of Scout & Cellar Fiddleneck Chardonnay I thought I’d give it a try. I am now a Chardonnay fan! The Fiddleneck Chardonnay is the perfect pairing to this recipe! It’s not oaky like most Chardonnays I have tried in the past. It’s light and refreshing with notes of yellow apple, candied lemon peel, and ripe pineapple. It truly is delicious with the buttery lemon flavor of the grouper piccata! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 6-ounce grouper fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

Sprinkle grouper fillets with salt and pepper. 

Dredge fillets on all sides in flour. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in a large skillet. 

Add fillets to skillet; cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove fish from skillet.

Add garlic, lemon juice and wine to the skillet, scraping browned bits from the pan. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine. 

Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. 

Tip: if the sauce is too bitter, just add ¼ cup of chicken broth at a time. 

Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, capers and parsley.

Serve sauce over fish.

I served mine with a side of angel hair pasta and baby broccoli.

Recipes

Everything Bagel Cloud Eggs

I love when my friends text me pictures of the food they have made! This morning, my friend Adam texted Brian and I a picture of his breakfast and in his words, “Cloud Eggs. Holy ****! Delicious.”

Since I was trying to decide what I should eat for breakfast, I decided to give it a try and Adam was right, DELICIOUS!

Cloud Eggs are egg whites whipped to stiff peaks, seasoning folded in, formed into nests, baked with yolk in the center and covered with shredded cheese. 

All you need are 3 ingredients—egg, seasoning of your choice, and cheese. Per Adam’s recommendation, I used Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning! 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Make sure there are no little pieces of egg yolk in the whites or you will have difficulty getting the whites to beat properly. I find it is easiest to crack the whole egg into a bowl and then using your hand, pull the yolk out and place in a separate bowl. 

Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites with a whisk attachment in a mixer (or using a hand mixer), starting on low speed and then slowly increasing to high speed, until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold in the seasoning, making sure not to deflate the peaks. 

Spoon two mounds of the egg white mixture on the lined baking sheet. Form the mounds so they look like nests, using the back of a spoon create an indent in the middle of the mound. Carefully, pour the yolk into the center of the indent and sprinkle shredded cheese on top. 

Bake for 7 minutes. 

INGREDIENTS (per serving)

  • ¼ teaspoon seasoning of your choice
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cheddar cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Separate egg whites from egg yolks
  3. Whips the egg whites until stiff peaks form
  4. Gently fold in the seasonings of your choice
  5. Spoon one portion of the egg whites onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
  6. Use the back of the spoon to create an indent in the middle of the egg white “cloud”. 
  7. Repeat for additional servings. 
  8. Gently place an egg yolk into each egg white “cloud” indentation. 
  9. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. 
  10. Bake for 7 minutes.

Please comment, if you tried a different seasoning. The possibilities are endless!

Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, is eggplants hold onto moisture, like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with a mushy mess.

So the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.

How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?

You sprinkle salt on the eggplant slice and let them sit for 45 minutes to one hour.The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant. 

It also helps to cut the bitterness of the vegetable and makes it “sweat”. You will notice little drops of moisture on the surface of the disks. Removing the moisture from the eggplant will prevent it from releasing it during cooking. 

After the 45 minutes, all you have to do is just pat them dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan! I guarantee you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish! 

Now of course, you can bake or roast the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, and they are tasty but frying the eggplant gives the dish a deep caramelized flavor that can not be mimicked by baking. 

I like my eggplant a tad thick so I slice mine about ¼ thick, using a sharp knife. Grab two shallow dishes, crack two eggs in one dish and whisk. I like to add some seasoning, like granulated garlic and black pepper, to my whisked eggs but that is totally up to you. Pour 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the other dish. I love cheese and feel you can never have too much so I sprinkle ¼ cup of grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and whisk until combined. 

Take each slice, dip it into the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet but any skillet will work. I have become a big fan of cast iron in the last year. Check out my Tips & Tricks page for why. 

Once the skillet is hot, slowly slide two-three breaded eggplant slices into the oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should be a nice golden brown. The first batch will take longer than the rest as the oil heats up. You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch out for oil splatters. 

Line a large sheet pan with foil, this will make for an easy clean up. Add a layer of eggplant slices then dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The more cheese the better, in my opinion. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown – you don’t have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh basil. It reminds me of my grandparents’ backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, Papa, always had a basil plant in his backyard. Here’s a great tip for cutting basil. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other. Sprinkle on top of your eggplant parmesan and serve. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves sliced, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt.

In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and in the other. Dip both sides of the eggplant slice into egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two-three eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve pan-fried them all.

On a large sheet pan, add a layer of eggplant slices then using dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. 

Serve hot and top with sliced basil.