The Lexingtonienne
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  • June30th

    As you may know, when you go through the process of planning your wedding, somewhere in some master file, someone stamps CONSUMER across your name. And before you know it, you get all kinds of emails, postcards, and catalogs inviting you to make ridiculous purchases.

    Around the time of our wedding, while I was receiving this influx of needless marketing, a publication called “Sunset” started showing up in my mailbox. I thought it was just another catalog and always put it straight into the recycler.

    One day I finally got a little curious and decided to see what kind of company “Sunset” was. As I thumbed through the pages, I realized this wasn’t a catalog, but a magazine.

    I must have been feeling like a Dudley Do-Right that day, because I called their 1-800 number to inform them I was mistakenly receiving their magazine. The friendly staff at “Sunset,” however, assured me I had subscribed and paid.

    I know I didn’t subscribe to OR pay for this boring magazine — I keep my checking account balanced to the penny and could not find the charge anywhere — but since I was receiving it nonetheless, I decided to at least open it when it came.

    And one day, I found a pretty great chicken recipe in it. I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new ways to do chicken.

    So to get the most out of an otherwise useless subscription to “Sunset” magazine (whatever it is – I’m still not really sure), I thought I’d share this recipe with you.

    CHICKEN WITH TOMATOES, APRICOTS, AND CHICKPEAS
    Adapted from a recipe in “Sunset” magazine

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1/2 onion, chopped
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    1/4 tsp chili powder
    1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
    1/3 C chopped dried apricots
    1 T sugar
    3 minced garlic cloves
    1 can (15 oz) chickpeas
    1/4 C chopped parsley

    Saute chopped onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are clear. Set aside. Add more olive oil if necessary to coat the pan and add spices. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt & pepper. Add chicken breasts to pan and cook until golden brown, turning once, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside. Deglaze your pan with the white wine, using a spatula to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in onions, tomatoes, apricots, sugar, and garlic. Return chicken to pan and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and parsley, cooking until heated through.

    Enjoy!

    Hannah

  • June29th

    My general practitioner, Dr. Law, is the greatest. She always runs on time, she always remembers our small talk from the last visit (she must take notes), and she’s really pretty.

    One time, several years ago, I had this strange red rash all over my fingers on my right hand. It didn’t itch and it didn’t hurt, but it looked weird and people were starting to notice. When it didn’t go away after a week or so, I finally went to see Dr. Law.

    She looked at my rashy-fingered hand for a while, asked some questions that led us nowhere, and finally said, “I really don’t know.” She said to put some cortisone cream on it and call her if it didn’t improve after another week.

    As she turned to leave, she stopped. “Unless… did you have lime juice on your hand and then go in the sun?”

    The question was so random, so specific, and so unexpected, I had to think for a moment. Then I remembered.

    “YES. I made a Key lime pie last week. I squeezed the juice out of all those tiny Key limes with my right hand [because I am right-handed], put the pie in the oven, and sat outside in the sun to eat lunch with Mike.”

    “There you go, then,” she said, assuring me the weird rash would fade away. And it did. I always really liked Dr. Law before that, but the Key lime incident sealed the deal for me: this lady is GOOD.

    So as Fourth of July weekend approaches and you’re wanting to bring a summery, non-flag-cake dessert to the barbecue, here is a really delicious recipe for Key lime pie. And I have to tell you or we would not be true friends, after several years of making it, I finally discovered this stuff…

    … which not only makes things go faster and tastes just as good as freshly squeezed Key lime juice, but also it won’t ruin your nails. If you can’t find the bottled juice, you can certainly squeeze your own Key limes… just don’t do it right after you’ve gotten a manicure, and whatever you do… stay out of the sun immediately afterwards.

    KEY LIME PIE
    From The Joy of Cooking

    CRUMB CRUST
    1 1/4 C fine crumbs made from graham crackers or chocolate wafers
    5 T butter, melted
    3 T sugar

    Preheat the oven to 350. Mix ingredients together with a fork until moistened. Spread the mixture evenly in a greased 9-inch pie pan. Using your fingers, press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Bake until the crust is lightly browned and firm to the touch (or with chocolate wafers, since it’s darkly brown to start with, until your kitchen smells chocolatey), about 10-15 minutes.

    I like to make a chocolate wafer crust because when I was about 13 years old and would go on vacation with my friend Mary Beth (you know, she has the joggling board), she ordered Key lime pie for dessert at every restaurant where we dined. It was an extra special treat if the restaurant served their Key lime pie with a chocolate cookie crust. Plus I like to garnish with raspberries, and everybody knows chocolate and raspberries are married to each other.

    KEY LIME PIE FILLING
    One 15-oz can sweetened condensed milk (I use a 14-oz can because it’s what they sell)
    4 large egg yolks
    1/2 C strained fresh lime juice (hehe)
    3-4 t grated lime zest*

    Set oven to 325. Whisk ingredients together until well blended. The mixture will thicken as the milk reacts with the acidic citrus juice. Pour the filling into the still-warm pie crust. Bake until the center looks set but still quivery, like gelatin, when the pan is nudged, 15-17 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate until cold for up to 1 day.

    Shortly before serving, whip  until thickened:
    3/4 C cold heavy cream

    Add:
    1/4 C sugar  (Says Joy. I say less – like a tablespoon or two.)
    1/2 t vanilla extract

    Whip until stiff peaks form. Spread over the pie or spoon a dollop onto each slice. Serve with fresh raspberries and be very, very happy.

    *A word about zesting. Remember that a Microplane grater is your frenemy in the kitchen. It works beautifully, but it won’t hesitate to grate your fingertip if you’re not careful. It’s like one of those capuchin monkeys people get as pets. One day it’s eating a banana and wearing a dress and looking all innocent, the next day it’s hurling poop at you and eating your face off. Now you see why your parents wouldn’t let you have a monkey? Anyway, be careful when zesting those limes.

    Enjoy being the hit of the Independence Day potluck!
    Hannah

  • June28th

    Hi guys!

    A quick post about subscribing. If you enjoy reading The Lexingtonienne, you can help me turn it into a business by becoming a subscriber. It will never cost you a thing to read the blog or to subscribe to it — but the more subcribers I have, the better my chances are of being able to sell advertising on the sidebar of the site. Basically, this would mean that everything stays just like it is, except I’d get to turn this super fun hobby into a little side business. I keep writing, you keep reading, and I might rake in enough spare change to treat myself to the occasional latte. 😉

    So if you are enjoying what you’ve been reading, please subscribe (if you haven’t already), and please share the blog with all your friends!

    HOW TO SUBSCRIBE:
    1. Near the top of this page there’s a big horseshoe that says, “Subscribe via email.” Click it.
    2. You will be redirected to another web page where you enter your email address.
    3. You will receive an email to verify that you want to subscribe to The Lexingtonienne. Click on the link provided in that email, and you will start receiving updates in your inbox!

    Big big THANKS to all who are already subscribed!

    Oh, and in case you are wondering how I eat so much and don’t weigh 300 pounds, here’s the big secret:

    I run and walk about 3 to 4 miles, a few times a week.

    I go from Marina del Rey, through Venice, down to Santa Monica, and back. I’m not saying I have a six-pack or anything, but it keeps little incidents like peach crumbles from turning into dietary catastrophes, and that’s enough for me. Oh — and I wear a boatload of sunscreen. I hope you do the same. :)

    I also torture myself with a little Bar Method… but more on that later.

    Thanks, y’all!
    Hannah

  • June25th

    If I could have dinner with any famous person, I once would have said Pee-wee Herman, but then I met him and he was a weirdo. I know you are, but what am I.

    So now I would choose the Barefoot Contessa, aka Ina (pronounced EYE-na) Garten. Or as Little Brother calls her, In A Garden.

    A couple of years ago, when my work on the show “Pushing Daisies” sadly came to an end on a Thursday, instead of being bummed out about it, I was a little bit thrilled because the Barefoot Contessa was signing cookbooks at Williams-Sonoma the very next day — a Friday — which normally would have been a workday. Since I was freshly unemployed, I could attend said book signing. Score.

    That Friday morning, I met up with my friends Aaron and Karrie at Williams-Sonoma an hour ahead of book signing time. Actually, we met each other three blocks away from Williams-Sonoma, because that’s where the end of the book-signing line was.

    We stood in line in the sun for an hour and a half, listening to all the ladies in the queue clucking about Ina Garten, eagerly clutching copies of her latest cookbook. Aaron, Karrie and I chattered nervously about what we would say to the Barefoot Contessa when we got up to her.

    “Ina, you are fabulous? I’m your biggest fan? I want to be in your big gay posse and live at the windmill down the road from your house in the Hamptons and go to the fish monger with you?”

    I wanted to do or say something witty and charming to gain her instant favor, something that would compel her to say, “Hannah Duffy, you are fabulous and I would love for you to join me and my big gay posse for dinner tonight.” Ohhh, Ina, I accept.

    I felt like I was in the movie “A Christmas Story,” when Ralphie anxiously stands in line awaiting an audience with Santa Claus. Remember when the lady in the Wicked Witch costume tries to talk to him while he’s in line and he’s all, “Beat it, I’m trying to think”? That was me with the Williams-Sonoma employees offering parmesan thyme crackers to the Ina fans.

    Finally, we were inside the store (instead of wrapped around the sidewalk outside) and could actually see the Barefoot Contessa sitting behind the table, signing and smiling oh-so graciously, while rays of sunshine emanated from her dimples. She had a throng of helpers — just like Santa’s elves — and before I knew it, one of them had grabbed my cookbooks for signing out of my hands and another had spun me around and pushed me right up to the desk in front of INA GARTEN HERSELF.

    I choked. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I can’t remember what she said to me. My mind was blank, just like when Ralphie stupidly fumfered that he wanted some Tinker Toys. And two blurry seconds later, I was being pushed by another one of Ina’s elves down the slide and into a pile of polyester snow. My grand meeting with the Barefoot Contessa was over. Ho, Ho, Hooooo.


    All in all, it was a bust. Ina’s recipe for Parmesan Chicken, however, is not.

    PARMESAN CHICKEN
    From Barefoot Contessa: Family Style. Serves 6.
    6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 C all-purpose flour
    1 t kosher salt
    1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
    2 extra large eggs
    1 1/4 C seasoned dry bread crumbs
    1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
    Unsalted butter
    Good olive oil

    Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture, and dredge both sides in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

    Keep the chicken breasts warm on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven.

    Ina serves this with a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette. I serve it with a salad of baby romaine lettuce, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and bleu cheese crumbles tossed in good olive oil and really good balsamic vinegar. (Yes, even I like this salad.)

    PESTO PARMESAN CROSTINI
    This was an on-the-fly invention the other night. It would be a delicious and super-easy appetizer to serve when you have company.
    French baguette, sliced on a diagonal
    Olive oil
    Basil pesto (store-bought is fine)
    Shredded parmesan cheese

    Lightly brush each side of the baguette slices with olive oil, then place under the broiler until lightly toasted. Flip pieces to toast each side. Spread each piece with basil pesto and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Broil again until cheese is melted and bubbly.

    Happy Friday!
    Hannah