Last Week’s Menu: Fried Chicken, Pizza & More!

In an effort to not only catalog previously attempted recipes, but also give a few hints, tips and anecdotes, here’s last week’s menu revisited!

Zehnder’s Original Baked Chicken & Buttered Egg Noodles
Source: Zehnders Of Frankenmuth pages 7 & 9

For Christmas, my folks got me a small cookbook called Zehnders Of Frankenmuth as well as some of their signature Chicken Seasoning and Egg Noodles. As the book implies, Zehnders is a restaurant in a town in Michigan called Frankenmuth. Growing up, we’d go to Frankenmuth at least once a year around Christmas because the world’s biggest Christmas store — Bronner’s — is nearby and usually have the chicken dinner at Zehnders which includes a full spread that’s fantastically German (I talked about this way back in the 40th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. While my trips there are fewer and farther between, I was able to introduce my wife and daughter to the whole place a few times.

So, I was pretty jazzed to try out the Friend Chicken and Buttered Egg Noodles at home for myself. First you pan fry the chicken and then you stack it on top of each other and cook in the oven which is an interesting technique I’d never tried before. I followed that to the letter and, while the result wasn’t as crispy as it is in the restaurant, it still had that signature taste. I nailed the noodles though, even though I didn’t have crackers and made do with some panko that worked as a pretty solid substitute. There’s just something magical about buttery noodles with a crispy topping and that Zehnders flavor. This was a great meal and a fun trip down memory lane.

Verdict: My version wasn’t as good as the restaurant’s, but since it’s about 11 hours away, I’ll keep working at it!

blanco pizza plus cheddar, thyme and fetaPizza Blanco With Bacon & Eggs
Source: Ruhlman’s Twenty 115 (plus the dough recipe on page 158) A version can be read here.

For a while, I had to limit the amount of dairy I used in my meals because our son was having a bad reaction to the resulting breast milk. I was disappointed, but complied. Thankfully, he turned a corner and it no long bothers him so you know what that means: pizza time! I turned to this recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s Ruhlman’s Twenty which I’ve made a few times in the past. I even gave myself the time to make the dough which felt good and tasted even better. One batch makes enough for two pizzas, which works pretty well for us.

For the first one, I followed the recipe, but for the second I mixed it up just a little bit by adding some shredded cheddar and about a quarter of a cup of feta plus some dried up thyme that I had in the fridge. The extra cheese was nice, but I thought the thyme added a really nice extra element that added a nice additional flavor to the proceedings.

I actually made pizza again after this but forgot to take a photo. This time around, I did a version of the Blanco but with bacon and sauteed spinach. I cooked the bacon and cheese covered pizza for about 17 minutes, then pulled it out to distribute the spinach and that was pretty much that. Oh, I also put some pieces of mozzarella stick in the crust when I folded it over which melted out, but still tasted great.

Verdict: Great as written, but also a solid base to test your pizza creativity with.

Quick Tomato Sauce And The Best Spaghetti & Meatballs With Eggplant Casserole
Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition page 209, 210 & Emeril Lagasse’s recipe on CookingChannel.com.

When my wife mentioned having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner one night, I turned my attention to my latest cookbook, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition and decided to check out their recipes for Quick Tomato Sauce and The Best Spaghetti & Meatballs. The sauce was super easy to throw together so I got that going before moving on to the much more time-consuming meatballs. Still, these didn’t take a mountain of time to take care of. It’s a lot of throwing things in a bowl, mixing, balling and frying. I went with smaller meatballs which I kind of regretted because the fell apart while cooking and doing so many more batches definitely added to the cooking time. But, I thought this turned out to be a solid recipe that I’ll definitely return to later.

While grocery shopping, I’ll often grab an eggplant and just decide to wing it once I get in the kitchen. When I say “wing it” I mean, “look up recipes online and see what matched up with what’s in my fridge.” I’ve tried Emeril Lagasse’s Eggplant Casserole a few times now and have had great success both times. If you’ve already got the eggplant and some basics like onions, celery and cheese plus a basic collection of herbs, you’re good to go.

Verdict: Solid sauce and balls, excellent side.

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