Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dinner For One #2 and Best Mocha Cupcakes

Here is part two of my "Dinner for One" series that will hopefully keep me cooking in the kitchen even though my dear J is away. Last night I had a major hankering for something chicken and something tomatoey. I saw Giada making some sort of tomato-based pork chop dish last weekend and had been thinking of making something similar with chicken ever since. Since I had purchased two perfect little chicken breasts at Mitsuwa, I knew it was time to start cookin!

I started with the chicken.....

then sautéed red bell peppers and white onions in the juices.......

then basically made it up as I went along and added a pinch of oregano here, some chopped garlic there....splashed it all with a generous pour of white wine and let it all simmer for a good 25 minutes.

A small side of whole wheat pasta, a fresh green salad and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan finished the meal. It was lovely and I'm happy to say that I have the second chicken breast waiting for me at home....swimming in all of that tomatoey goodness!!

After supper I decided to make some chocolate cupcakes for my good friend T to cheer her up. She just found out that her parents are divorcing after 36 years of marriage. THIRTY-SIX YEARS. T is the Queen of Chocolate, so I thought that some serious baking was in order to at least try and cheer her up, if that's even possible in such a situation.

There goes the can of Hershey's syrup!

I had seen Barefoot Contessa (yes, I watched waaay too much Food Network last weekend!) make some chocolate cupcakes where the chocolate was simply an entire can of Hershey's syrup and was instantly intrigued. Although she topped her cupcakes with ganache, I was so focused on the can of Hershey's and totally forgot to buy any additional chocolate for the topping. This is where one starts to rummage through the cupboards and tries to figure out an alternative. I had powdered sugar, so I figured an icing might be nice....and then remembered yet ANOTHER thing I had seen on Food TV (no, I don't work for them). Espresso icing- how perfect for chocolate cupcakes! I had instant coffee, water (of course), the powdered sugar, vanilla and butter, which is all it took to make this. To top it all off (no pun intended) I had chocolate covered espresso beans in the freezer with which to,er, top off the cupcakes.

As I made the icing, the smell of the coffee mixed with the rich chocolate scent was absolutely intoxicating. No wonder it's such a classic combination. The icing was one of the glossiest and easiest-to-handle that I'd ever made. I couldn't resist and tried one- the crumb was so moist that it was almost like a light brownie, and the icing was rich and delicious. This is definitely going on my favorites list.

I left them in a Tupperware on T's desk, and she came to me an hour later and exclaimed "Those are the BEST cupcakes I've ever had in my entire life!" That's quite a statement....especially from such a choco-holic! I hope you get a chance to try these- they are truly wonderful, and you get your cake and coffee in one dessert!

You can find the recipe for the cupcakes here.

Super moist cupcake

Coffee icing

1 tsp instant coffee or espresso
1 TBS water
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Dissolve the coffee or espresso powder in the water, add vanilla, butter and sugar and whisk to combine. Add more water to thin or more sugar to thicken as necessary. Dip cupcake tops into icing and let set for 30 minutes.

Chicken with peppers, onions and tomato sauce

Serves 2

1 TBS olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium white or yellow onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dry oregano
6-7 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/2 can of diced tomatoes, in juices
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, for garnish

In medium skillet, heat oil. Generously salt and pepper chicken breasts on both sides. Sear in hot pan for 3 minutes per side, set aside in a dish. Add peppers, onions and garlic to pan and sautee until softened, about 3 minutes. Add herbs and white wine, scaping browned bits at bottom of pan. Add canned tomatoes and chicken stock. Add the chicken back into pan, bring to a simmer and cover with lid. Simmer for 20 minutes. Take chicken breasts out of pan and heat liquid/peppers/onions on high until sauce is slightly reduced. Serve with pasta, chicken, sauce and grated parmesan + parsley. Enjoy!



Anonymous said...

Giada is so awesome! I have yet to actually try one of her recipes, but maybe now I'll actually do it. Your cupcakes look really good by the way.

Anonymous said...

YIKES!!! You were a cooking machine! The chicken looks delicious, yet simple!!!! Cupcakes,yes....yummmmm....I'm going to try...
Now that the weather here is turning to fall, cooking becomes a pleasure...( I don't do well in heat and humidity, tee hee)Thank you for the recipes!

Anonymous said...

P.S. regarding the comment about Japanese not smelling daikon...I must be the worst culprit...ha ha.. I once brought grated, fresh daikon with shoyu and rice to work.(mind you, I work in a hospital!!) I was quickly asked to rid myself of the food as the smell was making patients sick...CAN YOU IMAGINE>>> I didn't smell anything but a delicious lunch....There was also left over grilled fish.....But not one person complained about the fish... hmmmmmm...

Pirikara said...

Wow, you did all that in one evening? Nice!!

Anne said...

Hi Nguyen: I love Giada too. Sometimes her desciptions sound a bit juvenile (crunchy, chewy!) but her recipes always turn out well.

Carlyn: I've never had anyone complain to me about daikon, but I almost smacked my old boss who told me that my Japanese fish dish "stinks- get it out of here."

Pirikara: Yeah, I have no life, haha. (just kidding). I was actually in sort of a melancholy mood that day but knew that spending some time cooking would cheer me up- and you know what? It always does. I find it so relaxing! Thanks for commenting.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

OK, those mocha cupcakes look amazing! Coffee, chocolate, Hersheys. I am definitely going to try them.