I didn’t always put food in my books. Well, I did, but they were things like the nachos in Getting Rid of Bradley. Not exactly recipe-worthy. But then June in What the Lady Wants made my favorite chocolate chip cookies, and Chloe made amazing almond cookies for her cafe, The Star-Struck Cup. I tested sugar cookies on my roommate until we found that one that was obviously Chloe’s. Then came Min’s chicken marsala from Bet Me; that took me awhile to figure out. Fortunately even mediocre chicken marsala is pretty good, so all my mistakes were edible. Don’t Look Down didn’t do much with food–Lucy was not a cook–but Agnes from Agnes and the Hitman was a major foodie. Most requested recipe: sour cream pancakes. I’m still working on that one. Then Wild Ride was full of waffles and ice cream, neither of which I make, but Maybe This Time had banana bread that took me weeks to perfect (ask my roommate). All the recipes are below (in reverse order). More to come. Liz Danger knows how to make a diner burger that will knock your socks off.
Maybe This Time: Andie Archer’s Banana Bread
- 3 overripe bananas, mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. vanilla
- ½ c. white sugar
- ½ c. brown sugar
- ½ c. yogurt
- 1 ½ c flour
- ½ t. salt
- 1 t. baking soda
- ½ t. baking powder
- ¾ c. mini chocolate chips
- ¾ c. chopped pecans
In a large bowl, combine bananas, eggs, vanilla, white sugar, brown sugar and yogurt. In a medium size bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Fold the two mixes together and add in chocolate chips and pecans. Bake at 350 in four mini loaf pans (5.75 x 3.25) for 45 mins. or 2 regular loaf pans (8 x 3.75) for 55 to 60 min.
Quick Note: You can knock back the chips and nuts to half a cup or even leave them out, but Alice will not be happy.
Bet Me: Chicken Marsala (as it is made by Min)
- Chicken breasts
- Whole fresh mushrooms
- Shallots if you insist
- Florio Sweet Marsala
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- Kosher Salt
Put a chicken breast in a plastic bag. Pound the sucker flat with the back of your good heavy frying pan. Repeat for as many chicken breasts as you have.
Put flour, fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt in a plastic bag, possibly the same one you pounded the chicken in, depending on its lack of splits and holes after the pounding.
Drop the pounded chicken into the flour, one piece at a time, covering fully but not thickly. You’re trying to seal the chicken not bread it.
Put the coated breasts back into the bag so the cat doesn’t get them when you’re not looking.
Pour olive oil into a good heavy pan (see pounding above) over medium heat. You want it hot, not crackling; this is not deep-fried chicken marsala. Also throw in a pat of butter to help brown the chicken. And because butter tastes really, really good. If you want to flavor the chicken with shallots, you can throw those in now, too. Up to you.
Brown the chicken on both sides. Don’t dawdle and don’t let the optional shallots burn. When the chicken is golden, transfer it and optional shallots to a plate.
Scrape the good stuff off the bottom of the pan so it’s loose, not sticking. Slosh in the marsala before anything burns. Slosh in A LOT of Marsala. I can usually get three pans out of a bottle, but sometimes only two. You’re reducing this stuff to a sauce, so figure about four times as much as you want. Let’s recap here: the sauce is made of Marsala, olive oil, butter, possibly shallots, definitely great fresh butter-fried chicken scrapings. How much of that do you want? Slosh accordingly.
Throw in the mushrooms. You can slice them if you want, but then you don’t get those juicy fat mushrooms so I advise against it. If you want a lot of mushrooms, you’re going to have to slosh a lot of marsala to control the taste. I don’t know how much, several glugs.
Cook over medium low, scraping the bottom fairly frequently (like every minute or so) so that nothing sticks and the mushrooms are soaked in the wine. If you feel the urge, throw in another pat of butter to keep the wine sauce glossy.
When the marsala is almost completely reduced, put the chicken back in, flip it to cover completely, and then heat until you’re sure the chicken is cooked just through and the marsala has reduced to a thick, shiny glaze. Serve. How many depends on how big the people are and how much they like chicken marsala.
Fast Women: Chloe’s Star-Struck Almond Cookies
Chloe served these cookies with wonderful tea at her cafe The Star-Struck Cup until she decided to go backpacking through Europe and handed everything over to Margie. Margie added icing at Christmas, so feel free to do the same, but if they’re Chloe’s cookies, they go out naked and unafraid.
- 1/2 c butter
- 1/2 c shortening
- 2 c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 T. milk
- 1 T. Amaretto
- 1 t. vanilla
- 4 c. flour
- 1 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 cup chopped slivered almonds (just chop them up with a big chef’s knife so they’re crumb size but not ground to dust)
Cream together butter, shortening, sugar, eggs, milk, Amaretto and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and almonds. Combine wet and dry ingredients until mixed. Divide into four parts. (The dough’s going to be sticky but not obnoxiously so.) Put one part on parchment paper cut to fit your cookie sheet. Put wax paper over the dough and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Repeat for other three sections. Stack rolled-out dough sheets in refrigerator overnight. When dough is cold, pull one sheet out at a time and cut into star shapes. Peel waste dough from around stars and put back in fridge to be rolled out later. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Cookies should not brown. Roll and chill waste dough and then cut and bake. Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on how big your cookie cutters are. Eat with tea and sisters.