Monday, January 29, 2024

Chez Cindy: Simple French Yogurt Cake


This simple French classic cake is made from a recipe in the cookbook GATEAU The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes by Aleksandra Crapanzano.  It is the first recipe in the book, said to be a cake that "every child in France learns this recipe in nursery school, as it could not be easier to make."  The French yogurt is sold in half-cup jars and the jar is used as the measuring cup.  The simplicity lies in the repetition of 1-2-3, then 1-2-3 for the ingredients.  Easy to remember.   

                1 jar yogurt                1 jar oil
                2 jars sugar                2 teaspoons baking powder
                3 eggs                        3 jars flour

This is the basic recipe that can then be embellished as desired, adding in lemon zest and juice to the batter, or topping the baked cake with a sweet apricot glaze.  The choice of pan used is also open for interpretation.  Most commonly used is an 8x4-inch loaf pan, baked for 35-45 minutes.  Adjusting the baking time to 30-35 minutes, a 9-inch round pan could be used.  The cake is simple enough to be made in a bowl with a whisk or can be mixed in an electric stand mixer.  

French Yogurt Cake
1/2 cup plain yogurt  (1 jar)
1 cup granulated sugar  (2 jars)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil  (1 jar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour  (3 jars)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8x4-inch loaf pan.

Place the yogurt into a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar until just combined.  Add in the 3 eggs, mixing after each addition.  Add in the oil, mixing well.  Mix in the flour and baking powder until just combined.  Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, testing for doneness after 35 minutes by inserting a long wooden pick into the center of the cake.  If it is still wet and sticks to the pick, continue baking until the pick comes out with just a few crumbs attached.  Cool in the pan for 10-12 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.  

Dust with powdered sugar or serve with fresh fruit and jam.  

Thursday, January 4, 2024

ChezCindy: Seared Chicken with Minty Mashed Potatoes & Peas


Cooking with fresh herbs is a great way to add flavor to a dinner that might otherwise be considered as standard or ho-hum.  Fresh mint is used to perk up chicken and mashed potatoes adding color and texture, no gravy needed.  Fresh basil or cilantro would also be great instead of mint as a different flavor adventure for another day.  

Seared Chicken with Minty Mashed Potatoes & Peas
1 pound Yukon Gold or Red Skin potatoes
8 ounces frozen peas
1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves rinsed and dried (about 3/4 ounce with stems)
4 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breast
Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Olive Oil

Fill a large pan with water placing onto the stove over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Rinse the potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces leaving the skin on.  Carefully place the potatoes into the boiling water, adding 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.  Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 12-15 minutes, adding the frozen peas at the last 3 minutes of cooking.  Chop half of the mint leaves, set aside.  

Meanwhile, prepare the chicken breast by patting dry with a paper towel.  Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.  Place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet.  When the oil is hot, using tongs carefully place the seasoned chicken breasts into the skillet.  Cook on side one for 6-7 minutes until the chicken is deeply seared and brown on this first side.  Using tongs, turn the chicken over to cook on side two for another 2-3 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the skillet placing onto a serving platter.  Place the remaining mint leaves into the hot skillet adding a tablespoon of oil if the pan is too dry.  Toss and fry the mint leaves until crisp.  Remove from the pan, set aside on a paper towel.  

Drain the potatoes and peas, returning to the pan.  Mash along with the chopped mint, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  

Serve the mashed potatoes/peas alongside of the chicken breasts, garnishing the chicken with the fried mint leaves.