Monday, February 7, 2011

Can You Fall Off a Log? Then You Can Make Granita!

I first saw a recipe for granita in Cooks Illustrated a number of years ago. I blew it off, thinking that it being a Cooks Illustrated recipe it would take a long time to make. (No offense, Cooks Illustrated, but the Mom version of me just doesn't have the hours to devote to cooking as much as the Pre-Kid version of me.) Then, when I was looking for a way to use up a pot of coffee that hadn't been drunk, I came across a recipe for Coffee Granita from Alton Brown. Basically, the recipe called for freezing sweetened coffee. It was cinchy and delicious! But it wasn't something I wanted to feed the kiddos just before bedtime, since I tend to brew me a pretty strong cup o' joe.

Now, all granita is is frozen liquid, agitated once in a while so that it doesn't freeze as solid as a brick. It's fat free, vegan, and appealing. It's as easy to make as boiling water, and the kids can't get enough of it.

Need I say more?

Super-Easy Granita
Ingredient: Your kids' favorite juice

In a 9x13 baking dish, pour enough juice so that it comes up to a depth of about 1/2". Put the dish in the freezer and wait a couple of hours. Take the dish out of the freezer and break up the ice with a fork. Put it back in the freezer, wait about another hour, take it out, and scrape the crystals again. Keep doing this until the juice becomes granulated and kind of fluffy. Tell the kids it's ready, then get out of the way!

Note: Tonight, Henry and I wondered what you would serve V8 granita with. He suggested carrots.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Unacceptable Chicken Patties

Henry has taken the specialization of his dislike for chicken to a new level. He tells me that he only likes Japanese chicken (whatever that is...he keeps referring to a long-forgotten dinner we once had) and the chicken patties they serve up in the school cafeteria. So I thought I'd create some chicken patties of my own that would win his heart and mind.

I had some leftover cooked chicken breasts, so I put them in the Cuisinart along with an egg, a little flour, and some salt. I puréed the crap out of it until it formed a little homogenous ball in the bowl. Then I formed these into little patties about two inches across, which I breaded and fried to a beautiful golden brown.

As experimental dishes go, I had a decent hit rate: 75% favorable, with Mike, Jack, and me declaring them "yum." Henry, on the other hand, didn't think they were anything like the school chicken patties and gave 'em the thumbs down.

I'm still very happy with this recipe, because using wholesome ingredients I was able to approximate something that resembled an institutional chicken patty, but without the laundry list of unpronounceable chemicals and weird fillers that are usually added. I created a healthful dish that pretty much any kid would enjoy. Any kid but Henry, that is.

But I'll soldier on, as I always do. The other day I resubscribed to Everyday Food. The boys won't know what hit them when I start laying the new recipes on them!

Close-to-Institutional Chicken Patties
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken
2 eggs
1/2 t salt
1 T flour plus 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. breadcrumbs
1/4-1/2 c. vegetable oil

In a food processor, purée the chicken, one of the eggs, salt, and 1 T. flour until the mixture forms a ball. Form the mixture into patties about two inches across. Beat the second egg in a small bowl, then put the remaining flour and the breadcrumbs into two separate bowls. Bread each patty by first coating it in flour, then dipping it in the egg then the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a skillet (it should come up to a depth of about 1/4"), then fry the patties until they are golden brown on both sides.