Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Dinner

Since our anniversary falls on February 12, Seth and I normally go out to dinner then and I make dinner on Valentine's Day. This year I made:

  • Anaheim Peppers Stuffed with Feta
  • Caesar Salad
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Crack Pie

The flavors don't really go together, but after our Esin dinner, Seth wanted me to try making the peppers at home. All-in-all, it was a long day in the kitchen, and after my snafu with the pie, I considered ordering pizza.

Crack pie is a sought-after dessert from New York's Momofuku Milk Bar and the L.A. Times Test Kitchen has an adaptation of the recipe available. The filling is basically sugar, heavy cream, eggs and butter; and the crust is made of oatmeal cookie. My pies did not turn out very pretty, but the one we cut into tastes quite nice. I will try the recipe again now that I know what I need to do to fix the crust. Of course, I have nothing to compare this recipe to since I have never tried the real-thing, but it's good-enough stuff.

Here are the recipes:

adapted from

8 Anaheim peppers (more if they are small)
1/2 lb. feta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 small serrano pepper, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 390 degreees.

Cut a cap off the tops of peppers and scoop out seeds (be careful not to break or tear the pepper). In a bowl, mash the feta with a fork until soft. Add oil, parsley, hot peppers, salt and pepper and mix until well combined.

Using a small spoon, stuff the cheese mixture into the peppers (use the spoon handle to press the cheese down) to 1/2 inch from the top. Press a small piece of bread into the pepper to keep the cheese from melting out during cooking Place the caps back on the pepper.

Lay the peppers on a nonstick baking pan and roast for 20 minutes. If your peppers are large, it will take about 10 minutes longer.

adapted from America's Test Kitchen

4 slices of bread
6 chicken breasts
3 extra large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Grated mozarella
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Marinara Sauce

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Tear bread into quarters and place in food processor. Pulse until crumbs are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch big. One slice equals approximately one cup of bread crumbs.

Using a meat pounder, pound chicken breasts to 1/2 inch thickness.

Pat chicken dry. Salt and pepper each side of chicken. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. Dip in eggs and then dredge in bread crumbs. Put on plate.

Heat vegetable oil in nonstick skillet until shimmering. Add two chicken breasts to pan and cook about 2-3 minutes each side, until golden brown. Place chicken on paper towel lined plate and put plate in oven to keep warm while cooking remaining chicken.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place chicken on baking sheet. Add approximately 1/4 cup of marinara sauce onto each chicken breast and then mozarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake in oven 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and browned.

by L.A. Times Test Kitchen
Makes two pies!

Cookie for Crust
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 oz.) flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Sant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup (2.5 oz.) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1.25 oz. sugar)
1 egg
Scant 1 cup (3.5 oz. rolled oats)

Heat oven to 375 degres.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until and fluffy.

Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully combined.

Beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats.

Spread the mixture onto a 9x13 baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to touch on a rack. Crumble for use in the crust.

Cookie Crust
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined. The mixture should hold together when clumped between your fingers. Divide the crust between two pie tins. Press the crust to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins.

They recommend using 10-inch tins. If you use 9-inch tins, cooking time extends by about 5 minutes.

1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz.) sugar
3/4 cup plus scant 3 tablespoons (7 oz.) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (.75 oz.) milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup plus scant two tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared pie crusts
Powdered sugar for decoration

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Gently whisk in the egg yolks; be careful not to add too much air.

Divide the filling evenly between the two prepared pie tins.

Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool pies on a rack.

Refrigerate the cool pies until well-chilled. The pies are meant to be served cold, with gooey filling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Crack Pie notes:

  • I could only find powdered milk, and I am still not sure if it is the same as milk powder. I am guessing not, but even so, the pie was yummy.
  • Rolled oats are not the same as old-fashioned oats and could not be found at Safeway. Whole Foods had rolled oats.
  • I have a talent for burning oatmeal cookies, and I did burn the edges of the cookie, but caught it just-in-time. Be careful not to burn your giant cookie!
  • Next time I prepare the crust, I will use a measuring cup as suggested by America's Test Kitchen as I did not get the crust high enough on the sides of the pie plate. It's a tough crust to be trying to mash down.
  • Since I used 9-inch plates, I extended the cooking time by 5 minutes at the 325 degree mark.

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