Monday, March 2, 2009
A Quick Trip to Italy for an Italian Feast with Friends
Bonjour mes amis – Hello friends. Thanks for joining us on our 2007 culinary tour of Provence in the south of France. Today we had planned on going to the outdoor market and purchasing some tiny baby clams we saw a few days ago, but friends have invited us to an Italian feast so we’ll get the clams another day. Join us on a quick trip to Italy. It’s a close neighbor to Provence and we’ll easily be able to drive over for the day.
Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryanne of Finding La Dolce Vita have invited their friends from all over the virtual world to meet them for their 2nd Annual Italiana Day, held during the first week in March. They’ve set up huge tables to hold everyone’s dish for their fiesta and they await our arrival so let’s cook Italian today. I hope you’ll prepare a dish and join us. Click on either of the links above to find out more.
I’m making Chicken Cutlets with Baby Greens Salad, see recipe below. I first tasted a veal dish similar to this many years ago at Antoine cote cours, a trattoria in Aix-en-Provence. Along with French cuisine, they also serve some fine Italian fare. Located on the cours Mirabeau in an 18th century townhouse, film and fashion icons such as Emanuel Ungaro hang out with the local “Aixers” here.
Along the way we’ll stop in Nice, once part of the Italian Riviara, and park along the beautiful promenade des Anglais with its immense sidewalks lined in palm trees and take a peek at the Mediterranean. Nice didn’t join France until 1860. Hopefully we can find a spot to park near the beautiful Belle Époque Hotel Negresco along the seafront. Infamous American dancer Isadora Duncan died tragically outside the hotel when her trailing scarf caught in the wheel of her Bugatti and broke her neck. The Negresco is home to the elegant two starred Chantecler restaurant.
I want to pick up a big bouquet of sunflowers to take to Marie and Maryanne for their table so we’ll walk over to Vieux Nice (old town) and visit the beautiful Cours Saleya flower market where the medieval city thrived and today still feels like it’s in a time warp. I also think a bottle of Limoncello would make a good hostess gift. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur produced in Southern Italy that is a perfect palate cleanser. I’ve got Andrea Bocelli’s latest CD playing in the car to get us into an Italian mood and we can sing along as loud as you like. So join us as we dash off to Italy for the day.
Chicken Cutlets with Baby Greens Salad
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups fresh Italian bread crumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons or more Italian extra-virgin olive oil
2 beaten eggs
Shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 400 F. Pound chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/4" using mallet. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Combine crumbs, flour and parsley in a bag and shake well. Put chicken through the egg wash and then coat thoroughly with the crumb/flour mixture.
In a large, heavy oven-proof skillet heat the oil until it is hot. Add chicken pieces, skinned side down, and cook until beginning to brown, 1 – 2 minutes on each side. Do not crowd the chicken. If your skillet is not large enough, use two or prepare in batches. Place skillet in oven and bake 10 minutes, until chicken is golden brown on underside. Remove skillet and turn pieces with tongs. Return to the oven and cook about 10 minutes more or until chicken is done. If chicken begins to stick, add more olive oil. Remove chicken from oven and top with mixed baby salad greens dressed with lemon vinaigrette. Top with cheese shavings if using. Serves 4.
Baby Salad Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
Baby salad greens for four, washed and spun dry
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons Italian extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine lemon juice, olive oil and mustard in a screw top jar and shake well to combine. Toss salad with vinaigrette and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Please join us again when we go the market and purchase some special baby clams only found in Provence and attempt to prepare them from a recipe told to us in French. Until next time, a bientot. See you soon.