A Soprano in the Kitchen


Back to School Blues: Pan-Roasted Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives

Here I am, back again and hanging my head in shame. Summer was lovely while it lasted but now we are firmly into fall. Which means, for me, school. And oh, school has been such a pain in my ass. Eventually I came to realize that I had taken on too big of a workload, and dropped one of my more intense classes. Now I have more time to work on my singing, relax, and of course, cook and blog. And A Soprano in the Kitchen HAS been in the kitchen while she was away. So now begins catch-up time. I’ve got many recipes to share with you from when I was away in college-land. Here we go!

This first dish is a dinner I made for my boyfriend and I near the tail-end of this summer. Incredibly simple to make, healthy, and delicious. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a quick homemade meal during a busy week. But do follow the directions and purchase boneless chicken breasts, not the bone-in kind I did. Silly Soprano. The dinner was still lovely, but my pan was a bit crowded.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School
Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 pint grape tomatoes
16 kalamata olives
3 tbsp nonpareil capers
3 tbsp olive oil
4 skin-on boneless half chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss tomatoes, olives, capers, and 2 tbsp olive oil together in a bowl and set aside.

2. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place a large saute pan over high heat. Once pan is hot, add remaining tablespoon olive oil. Place the chicken in saute pan, skin side down. Sear the chicken just until the skin becomes a nice golden brown (these will take 3-4 min). Flip chicken over so that the skinless side is now down, and add the tomato mixture to the pan.

3. Place skillet in oven and roast about 18-20 min until chicken is cooked all the way through. Once the chicken is cooked, you’re done! Serve with some warmed slices of a nice, crusty bread.


My Love Affair with Limes, and Links I’m Loving

LINKS I’M LOVING:
Photo Collage of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible- Photos of every single recipe in the book. Impressive.
Iron Chef America Secret Ingredient Montage- This just cracks me up. I laughed so hard I cried the first time I saw it. “FRRRROZEN PEAS!!!!”
Heart-shaped macarons?!- So. cute.
Cuisinart ICE 21 Ice Cream Maker- I wants it.
SeriousCakes’ Youtube Channel- This woman is a buttercream master.

And now…
Mmmm…lime bars…

This lime bar recipe comes courtesy of the fabulous Sophistimom, and can be found here. The recipe yielded a dessert which was intensely lime-flavored. My boyfriend is not a fan of the sour; his expression upon biting into a lime bar was somewhat of a mixture between shock and horror. As for me, I’ll eat those suckers raw, so the level of citrus tang was just right. Give me just about anything made with lime, and I’m a happy girl.

Just look at those little flecks of lime zest…

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find some more limes!


Pastry at the Beach, and a Bakery Review



During a recent trip to LA we stopped to spend a day at the lovely Santa Monica beach. There are several bakeries in the area, and since Vanilla Bakeshop happened to be within walking distance, we chose to stop by.
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Epic Birthday Cake, Part 2

My boyfriend and I are total nerds. We love our sci-fi/fantasy novels, anime, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars- the works. And we love our quirky, cute little computer games like Plants vs. Zombies. When I decided to make my Boy’s birthday cake, I could not let go of the idea of a cake-topped Plants vs. Zombies showdown. And for those of you (poor, unfortunate souls!) out there who aren’t familiar with Plants vs. Zombies, here’s a little info for you- the game, the Wikipedia entry, and the music video. If you click on any of those links, watch the video. It’s adorable, trust me.
The one problem with my idea was the fact that I have never actually decorated a cake before. My fondant experience = zero. Thus I enlisted the help of a very kind friend who, though not professionally trained, has had experience teaching herself cake decorating. We met 3 times to work, each time for 2-3 hours. We made most of the figures together, with me taking them home to finish off some of the details solo. I baked and froze the cake layers and whipped up the butterceam -click here for the recipes I used-and together we frosted the cake and covered it with the fondant. I placed the figures on the cake minutes before we presented it. And the Plants vs. Zombies cake was born! It is not a spectacularly glamorous cake; it’s far from the many-tiered wonders I so often see online, but it is my “little” cake and I do love it. :)







An Interlude

My truly epic cake post is yet to come. But as I will be out of town for the remainder of this week, it will have to wait. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple pastry photos I took over the weekend. These come from the bakery within the Grand Cafe at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas. They have most of the usual suspects, plus a couple offerings I found unique, such as a bright green Mint Chocolate Tart. You can bet I’ll be going back to try that one. This time, I got an eclair and a fruit tart, as one of the most important ways I judge a shop is by their pastry cream. The verdict? Pretty darn good. The eclair was unfortunately a bit dry, but the custard was lovely. The fruit tart was even better.


Epic Birthday Cake, Part 1

So recently I’ve been exploring the world of cake decorating. I wanted to make a special cake for my boyfriend’s 30th birthday. I’ve been planning the decorations for two months, and working on them for one. But as much effort as I have been putting into the decorations, it is the part that he and the guests will be eating that is by far the most important.
I immediately knew that this would be a chocolate cake. When given the chance to choose desserts from a menu, my Boy always gravitates towards the most gooey, chocolate-y offering available. Unfortunately the chocolate cakes I have attempted in the past turned out to be crumbly messes. I searched for new recipes, but it is so easy to be completely overwhelmed by the vast amount of chocolate cake recipes out there. Everyone and their mother has their own version of a classic chocolate layer cake. I gathered several recipes together and expected to go through several duds before settling on a success story. Instead, I lucked out- or perhaps I just chose well. Chocolate Cake Recipe Number 1 came out of my oven, and as soon as I tasted it I knew it was the One. Moist, finely crumbed, and just the right amount of chocolate flavor. This is a great, simple cake to please any chocolate lover.

My recipe came from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. I’ve had this cookbook for awhile, drooling over the photos. I’ve only made one other recipe from the book, her Chocolate-Mayonnaise Cupcakes with Caramel-Butterscotch Buttercream. Those cupcakes were fabulous. If those two recipes are any indication, I’d say this cookbook is worth your money. Her recipes are, in a word, sinful. The title of her book could not be any more appropriate.



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Apologies, and I’m back!

I am oh so sorry for abandoning you these past few months, little blog! Real life has been so busy, and has managed to keep me completely out of the kitchen -horrors!- until very recently. I spent the rest of April preparing for and giving my junior voice recital, part of the requirements for any Bachelor of Music degree. In May I was beginning summer classes when I landed myself in the emergency room with a nasty allergic reaction, and spent the rest of the month catching up with said summer classes. June was spent working at my retail job, as we were busy with our big summer sale. Now it is July and rest assured, little blog, I have not forgotten you. I’m back!

Here are a couple little breakfast food shots I got during my time away:


This breakfast parfait was made with fresh raspberries, Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt, and Wild Harvest Natural Cherry Vanilla Granola. Very tasty and refreshing. I’ve also been making variations with Chobani Peach yogurt and fresh slices of peach or nectarine. Awesome!
The next foodie obsession on my brain lately is actually a beverage- tea! I’m a former user of teabags, now mending my ways and exploring what loose leaf tea has to offer. Here are my shiny new tea-making devices to prove it, from Adagio Teas.


Read on for more on my tea adventures, and to see what I steeped!
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Honey Toast, and other bits of awesome

This my friends, is the Honey Toast-served warm with a crisp outer crust and soft insides, dripping with butter and honey, and served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Heaven in bread form.  The Boyfriend and I discovered this amazing dessert during a first meal at Ichiza, which is probably the best Japanese restaurant I have eaten at thus far.  Trust me, one bit of it and you will be hooked.  I don’t even normally care much for honey, but something about the combination of flavors and textures…delicious.  And the honey toast was not the only awesomeness to be found at Ichiza.
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Citrus for Spring

I was struggling figuring out what to make for Easter dessert.  During some web browsing I wandered over to the Daring Kitchen site and decided it was time for a challenge.  The most recent recipe was the Orange Tian, which is fruity, colorful, and perfect for spring.

Oranges awaiting a layer of whipped cream

Actually making all of the components of the dessert was a bit of an adventure.  The recipe calls for an orange-caramel sauce, and having attempted caramel sauce for another recipe earlier in the week, I learned that 1.) Burnt caramel is not a pretty thing, and 2.) Caramel is a bitch to make, good Lord.  Despite my caramel woes, I did get a satisfactory sauce after a few failed attempts.  The other elements of the dessert were much easier to create, and I had a blast making my first homemade marmalade.

I tried to follow the original recipe as closely as I could, but did end up serving it “family-style” vs. individual tians.  Because of that I ended up tripling the whipped cream recipe to have enough.  And, really, you can never have too much whipped cream.

Mistakenly, I did not take photos of the dessert after the caramel had been drizzled on, which would have been pretty.  Oh well, live and learn.

Recipe here.


Greetings!

Welcome to A Soprano in the Kitchen.  I’m a full-time classical soprano-in-training, part-time aspiring pastry chef.  This blog will chronicle my adventures in the kitchen, as I try to learn the ways of pastry-making.  Hope you enjoy.  Let’s get started!  : )

Dominique



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