I will not lie to you. “Sex and the City” night – that once-a-week food/rerun gathering I started a year ago with three friends – didn’t begin as a fine dining experience. In fact, several meals over the months were of the frozen variety.
I drew the line last winter when my good friend Aubrey McCarthy, a former Collegian colleague, showed up at my doorstep with a frozen, family-size bag of Lean Cuisine garlic linguini.
Since then, Aubrey and I, along with our other two friends, have taken turns preparing the weekly meal with – believe it or not – fresh ingredients.
Over time, my need for comfort food and my willingness to make it often made me the lead chef for these weekly meetings. I also have a tendency to cook more than Aubrey because she is, admittedly, “culinarily” challenged.
Aubrey has taste and texture issues. For example, she doesn’t like to handle anything sticky, such as peanut butter. She once asked me to remove one of those small bar code stickers on the bottom of her new muffin pan.
She also abhors many spices.
Regardless, I adore her because she’s funny, chatty and appears to bounce around as if she’s just happy to be here. She recognizes her limits; dices and slices when I ask; and gladly takes a seat at the dining table and sips a cold beer while I cook.
This past week, it was Aubrey’s turn to cook, which, loosely translated, means it was her turn to buy the ingredients and sip that beer. This week it was a 90 Shilling.
Shortly before we took our regular spots on Aubrey’s giant red couch and tuned into the “Sex and the City” episode in which Samantha goes shopping for pleasure toys at Sharper Image, we sat down to a meal that was simple, not-too-spicy and perfect for both the picky cook and eater.
In the breaded chicken with lemon-butter sauce, I managed to sneak some added taste – all in effort to expand Aubrey’s palate. There was hint of white pepper and a little fresh garlic.
While it wasn’t the most exotic dish ever produced, the “Sex” added just enough spice for a great time.
L’chaim and B’tay Avon! (To Life and Eat Well)
Serves four for less than $20
Breaded chicken with lemon-butter sauce
1.25 lbs chicken tenders
Italian breadcrumbs for dredging
Angel hair pasta
1 c. butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white cooking wine
Italian seasoning to taste
Dash white pepper
1 Tsp crushed garlic
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat chicken tenders in egg and then in breadcrumbs. Place breaded chicken in cooking pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes based on the size of the tenders and temperature variations of the oven.
While chicken is cooking, bring water to boil for pasta. Cook according to directions on container. Also combine all ingredients for sauce in small saucepan. Bring to simmer.
Drain pasta but do not run water on top. Combine sauce and pasta. Chop chicken into bite size or slightly larger pieces. Toss all ingredients together and enjoy.
I particularly like a steamed vegetable such as broccoli or asparagus as a side dish.
Information taken from Barron’s “Food Lover’s Companion, Third Edition,” Sharon Tyler Herbst
White Pepper: The berry is allowed to ripen before being skinned and dried, which creates a milder flavor. Generally it is used for appearance in light sauces (black specks would stand out).
Lemon: Lemons have been used for non-culinary purposes for centuries: things such as an epilepsy remedy, toothpaste or invisible ink. They can be found as small as a large egg or as large as a grapefruit.
Angel Hair Pasta: Also known as capelli d’angelo, angel hair is known for its long, delicate and extremely fine strands.