I’ve always loved liver. Organ meats, heart, kidneys, were all part of our family diet, I liked them so much I didnt realize they are the cheapest meat buys. My favorite restaurant has a recipe called “liver with drunken onions” and although I couldn’t possibly get the recipe for theirs, I like how mine turned out. This is best served on a bed of fresh mashed potatoes, like the classic liver and onions on mash. Except for the mashed potatoes which the labor intensive part is peeling, this dish takes about 18 minutes.
We did go out for Valentine’s day, but the day after my hubby had some major dental work and I made something that was complicated but not too chewy, lots of work but a labor of love…note the heart on the pie.
Chicken pot pie is one of those highly chemical looking mass produced foods in the States that come under many varieties and labels, I haven’t checked the labels lately but imagine most have fats and MSG. Making your own from scratch can be a bit of kitchen labor but the outcome is a big pie that you can make uniquely your own!
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup small frozen peas
1 pound of raw chicken breasts cut into cubes
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3/4 cup msg free broth
2/3 cup milk (or just additional broth from your chicken vegetable mix if you want to avoid milk)
double pie crust recipe (see my blog entry sweet potato quiche) for 9-10 inch pie plate
Preheat oven to 225 C or 425 F
Prepare pie crust or thaw out frozen variety if you’re not concerned with the quality of frozen crusts
In a saucepan put raw chicken cubes, celery and carrots, cover with water, not excessively and cook until chicken is done and veggies are soft but not mushy, 10-15 minutes. Drain liquid and save. You can use the broth from this for your bechamel below.
Brown onions in butter until translucent. Add flour, salt and pepper to your taste (I’m generous with pepper) with wire whisk, pour in liquids and simmer until it thickens, whisking. Pour this bechamel over the chicken and veggie mix, add fresh chopped parsley and frozen peas.
Pour mixture into pre-prepared pie crust and cover top with top sheet of crust using a fork all over the top to pierce to let steam escape.
Bake 15 minutes at 425 then reduce oven to 350 F or 185 C. Pie is done when crust is golden brown.
I discovered Cafe Noir about 10 years ago when I was managing a property in the Rothschild Blvd. area of Tel Aviv. In search of a good spot for lunch I stumbled upon what a lawyer friend of mine called, “A Tel Aviv Institution”. In their current website, they date the cafe ‘since 1997’ but it seems like it has a longer history having been built in the famous “pre-eclectic” period, the Nahmani region of Tel Aviv built in the 1930’s. The pre-eclectic period architecture of elaborate facades and intimate balconies that resemble Paris and Prague mix with Bauhaus buildings of the same period. The interior of the cafe feels like they took the ornate wooden counter bar area of an old drugstore fountain and decorated the rest along that theme.
Seating outside is populated well on nice days in the mild Tel Aviv winters, inside the wrap-around enclosed balcony is popular for air-conditioning in the hot, humid summers there. The atmosphere is old European with a modern, busy bistro feel. I havent had a food or drink order there that disappointed me, but we come for the shnitzel which is big enough for two to split with potatoes and side salad or plenty for one hungry person. The specials change regularly and the restaurant is most definitely not kosher.
Calling Cafe Noir for a reservation reveals the clue of the famous shnitzel. The phone menu starts: 1. “for reservations dial 1″, 2.”for shnitzel delivery dial 2”. One of the secrets of great shnitzel or any fried chicken, in my opinion, is not letting the oil get to hot to darken the breading but hot enough to not soak into the chicken. This success is learned best through experience. The Cafe Noir shnitzel is perfection, paper thin and done exactly right.
The famous local news outlet, Haaretz, gave away their secret recipe which I share below:
Ingredients (serves 6)
A wide pan filled with 3 cm of vegetable oil (canola/soy) for frying
Plate filled with 200 grams of flour
60 grams Dijon mustard
500 grams breadcrumbs
10 grams table salt
5 grams black pepper
6 “butterflied” chicken breasts, 180 grams each
Chef’s recommendation: Place baking paper over chicken breasts and pound with mallet until 3mm-thick.
1. Prepare egg batter: Whisk eggs with mustard
2. Mix breadcrumbs with salt and pepper
3. Dip both sides of flattened chicken breasts in plate of flour; tap to rid excess flour
4. Dip into egg batter
5. Drip into breadcrumb mix
6. Fry in vegetable oil until golden on both sides
7. Place on paper towel to soak excess oil