OMG, I love this subject. It's reared its head so many times in my life, it's hard to remember them all.
I used to bake pound cakes for an old boyfriend (whose body seemed to flush out fat naturally
). He was a body builder and played many sports so he never got fat eating them.
I prepared a wonderful saffron rice salad from Saveur
for an internet meet. That was memorable. I also prepared several breakfasts from a book called Breakfast In Bed.
If you can get your hands on this book it's great when you want to have a wonderful breakfast at home with minimal prep on the morning you plan to serve it.
Bottom line is, I always know when a guy's gotten to me because I question my culinary ability if I need to prepare a meal for him.
That was my recent experience when I made dinner for someone on whom I had a terrible crush. After asking him what he wanted for dinner and getting no response... I decided on two family favorites. See below.
I'm happy to report we've been together since February
Italian Potato Pie
4 Really large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
Water for boiling
Salt for the water - Lots of it
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
1 cup milk, warmed in the nuke to at least body temp
1/2 lb. cubed mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
around 1/4 lb. prosciutto, chopped
Bread crumbs for top
Butter to dot on top
Boil potatoes in the salted water until you can pierce a potato with a paring knife. Drain.
Rice the potatoes into a bowl. If you don't have a ricer, mash them as smooth as possible. Add the melted butter, cubed mozzie, shredded parm, milk and prosciutto. Fold everything together. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary with S&P. If you feel the mixture is too stiff, add a bit more milk and combine. Transfer the potato mixture to an oven proof dish that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.
Can be prepared one day ahead to this stage (I made mine all the same day because I was out the night before watching his band...LOL).
Preheat oven to 400. If you've had the pie in the fridge, take it out and leave it at room temp for about an hour. Place the dish on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil or with the lid of the baking dish. Bake until very hot, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on depth of baking dish. Pull the baking dish out of the oven, sprinkle the top of the pie with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Return the pie to the oven and brown the top either with the broiler, or just bake it a while longer.
This dish has been in my family for years. It's the dictionary definition of an old family recipe (as is the following one). People always come back to it and it's great for large parties or to bring to a pot luck.
Chicken breast, very thinly filleted, and cut into narrow strips 1 1/2" to 2" wide
1 large chopped onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 22-ounce container Pomi strained tomatoes
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 lb. piece of provolone, cut into tiny dice
1 cup breadcrumbs
Skewers (I prefer metal for this - you can use bamboo but either soak them or cut off excess bamboo skewer with a scissor or sharp knife)
Bread crumbs for coating the spedini
onion for the skewers
Make the filling. Saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the Pomi strained tomatoes (or you could use a can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree) and the basil and stir to combine. Cook this mixture for about 5 minutes. Add the provolone dice and stir. Directly after adding the cheese, add the bread crumbs. Taste for seasoning. The mixture should have a "paste" like consistency.
Let the filling cool - or chill it.
Take about 1 teaspoon of the mixture and spread it on a chicken strip. Roll up the chicken strip and place on a skewer. Follow with an onion slice (not the whole slice, just one layer). Repeat until all chicken is used - you'll probably have some filling left over. This can be used for stuffing mushrooms or anything you like.
Can be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance.
Preheat the oven to 400.
With your fingers, place a light coat of olive oil on the chicken skewers. Dip the skewered chicken into the bread crumbs (a flat dinner plate facilitates this nicely). Also dip the sides where the filling is exposed. This helps to prevent the filling from escaping out the sides of the rolls. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Drizzle a little olive oil over each skewer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. I've never asked a butcher to cut these for me - I've always done my own so thickness will vary from person to person. You want to cook the chicken through but not overcook it.
I served these on a platter, still on the skewers. I think it makes a better presentation than having them helter skelter all over the platter.
I also made a caprese-type salad of fior de latte (fresh mozzarella in tiny balls), shredded basil and grape tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, S&P. I served a couple of varieties of bread.