Sunday Supper: Crunch Time

Putting together a meal is often about timing. Just ask anyone who has worked in a restaurant! Our next Sunday Supper suffered from ill-timing. The chicken was pulled from the freezer late and wasn’t thawed when the time came to assemble everything. The cookies came out first (which is fine because they had to cool) so we ate them first and had dinner in reverse order. Cookies, then tomato gratin and Brussels sprout salad, and finally, the chicken.

The meal was planned in terms of texture: The crunch of raw Brussels sprouts, of baked bread cubes, of panko, of cookies. So when our newlywed guests arrived and none of my non-existent tickets were firing correctly, it was truly crunch time. Still, this is how we cooks learn—we make mistakes! There was plenty of wine and plenty to eat in shifts until all parts of the meal were ready to eat. Good friends don’t care about the best laid plans. They only care that you are feeding them! This week’s menu:

  • Oatmeal Ginger Cookies
  • Tomato Gratin
  • Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Panko-crusted Chicken

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies
Modified from: Oatmeal Cookies “The Best” from Colorado Cache. Recipe intended for high altitude.
–3 eggs, well beaten
–1 cup dried cherries
–1 tsp vanilla extract
–1 cup butter
–1 cup brown sugar
–1 cup white sugar
–2 1/2 cups flour
–1 tsp salt
–1 tsp ground cinnamon
–2 tsp baking soda
–2 cups oatmeal
–3/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine the eggs, cherries, and vanilla, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand one hour.

2. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda to the sugar mixture. Mix well. Blend in the egg mixture, oatmeal, and nuts. Dough may be stiff. I added a tiny bit of canola oil to ours to make it easier to roll into cookies.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto a cookie sheet or roll dough into small balls and flatten slightly on the sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tomato Gratin
Modified  from Sarah Leah Chase’s scalloped tomato recipe as published on Food52 
–2 TBSP olive oil
–1 cup diced bread
(I used 12 grain but day-old bread that’s a little crustier is what was recommended)
–1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ dice
(I used a mixture of yellow plum, heirloom, and hothouse)
–garlic, minced
–pinch of salt
–fresh cracked black pepper
–1/4 cup diced basil leaves
–fresh grated Parmesan

On the stovetop, heat the oil in a pan and add the bread cubes. Stir to coat with oil and lightly toast (don’t worry about an even browning, just don’t burn the cubes!). Add the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, and stir to combine. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly, and then transfer to an oven-safe dish. Top with the cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the gratin is firmed, bubbly, and toasted on top.
Brussels Sprouts Salad
*Inspired by a salad had once upon a time in 2010 (?) at Fuel Cafe, a Denver restaurant whose menu changes monthly and never serves the same dish twice!
–2 TBSP olive oil
–2 TBSP lemon juice
–1 tsp truffle oil
–1 cup Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced using a mandoline or a steady hand.
–1/8 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
–Parmesan cheese, grated into ribbons
–zest of 1 lemon
–pinch each salt & pepper

Whisk to combine the oils and juice into a dressing. Toss the sprouts in the dressing and dish into a bowl. Sprinkle the almonds and cheese over the salad. Zest the lemon over the top and finish with a pinch of salt and a pinch of fresh cracked pepper.

Panko-crusted Chicken
–3 TBSP olive oil
–4 chicken breast halves, pounded to an even thickness

–1 cup panko
–garlic powder
–1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil to warm.

Set up two bowls. The egg goes in one, the panko in another. Shake shake shake some paprika and garlic powder into the panko bowl. Dredge the chicken in the egg and then in the panko to coat and bread the chicken. Add the chicken to the skillet and sauté each side for 5 minutes until both sides are browned. Turn heat down to low and cover the pan, cooking another 10-12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside.

Backwards, but still good.

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