This olive oil cake was made by Teri Robl on April 3, 2020, in the kitchen of her home in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

This olive oil cake was made by Teri Robl on April 3, 2020, in the kitchen of her home in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Kachemak Cuisine: Pandemic cooking means being creative — or lucky — with ingredients

To the folks in our community putting themselves in harm’s way of an unseen enemy while working tirelessly to keep our grocery stores open, we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. You have no idea how much your community’s residents need and appreciate you.

Our son lives in Chicago and has been relaying some hilarious stories about his outings in search of food and ingredients. He rides his bike all over the city on daily adventures, keeping himself in shape and amused. One day he rode 20 miles to get Krispy Kreme donuts. His latest quest was in search of rye flour. He called to tell me he found it in Ukrainian Village and about his visit to a little store. I laughed so hard I cried.

My sister in Wisconsin told me she was making tater tot casserole when we chatted this weekend. She said a gal at work made it and that she found everything she needed to make it at the Quick Trip. Sis said she went to the Quick Trip, disinfectant wipe in hand, filled up her car with gas that cost $1.37 a gallon, and got all the ingredients to make her very own tater tot casserole. Rummage in the freezer. That bag of tater tots could be dinner tonight. While sis was making her casserole, I was getting ready to make chicken Marsala.

David Lebovitz is an American who lives and writes in Paris. Bonus points for me with this recipe, as I had everything required to make it for our dinner. I can’t decide if it smelled or tasted best.

Chicken Marsala

By David Lebovitz from www.davidlebovitz.com

Four servings

If you don’t have Marsala, substitute dry sherry. I served this atop wide egg noodles, but it’s also good with rice or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds), cut in half crosswise

• salt

• freshly ground black pepper

• 8 to 10 ounces button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced

• 3 tablespoons (total) olive oil

• 4 tablespoons (total) unsalted butter

• 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

• about 1/3 cup flour

• 1/3 cup chicken stock or water 80ml

• 1 teaspoon corn starch

• 2/3 cup Marsala wine preferably dry

• 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

1. Put the chicken pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, or in a sturdy freezer bag, and pound them with a rolling pin until they’re 1/2-inch thick. Put the pieces in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a wide skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat until the butter starts to sizzle. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook — stirring occasionally — until the mushrooms are seared and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic to the mushrooms during the last-minute of cooking.

3. Scrape the mushrooms onto a plate and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel to remove any bits of garlic and to keep them from burning hen frying the chicken.

4. To sauté the chicken, spread the flour onto a plate and dredge half of the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off most of the excess. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add chicken pieces so they are in a single layer; don’t crowd them in the pan. If you have a very large pan, you can sauté them all in one batch. Lebovitz writes that he uses a 10-inch skillet and does them in two batches.

Sauté the breasts, turning them over midway during cooking, until they are browned on each side. (They don’t need to be completely cooked through at this point.) When browned, remove the chicken pieces to a separate plate and heat another 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, and sauté the rest of the chicken.

5. While the chicken is cooking, stir the corn starch into the stock or water until it’s completely dissolved, then mix it with the Marsala.

6. When the second batch of chicken is done and removed from the pan, pour about one-third of the Marsala mixture into the pan, scraping the pan with a wooden or silicone spatula to scrape up the browned bits, then add the rest of the Marsala mixture, as well as the mushrooms and chicken pieces.

7. Cook the chicken and mushrooms with the sauce over medium heat, turning the chicken pieces over occasionally, to make sure they’re well-basted in the sauce, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in another 1 tablespoons of butter, the balsamic vinegar, and chopped parsley. Taste the sauce and season with more salt, if necessary.

I wanted to make pound cake to serve with some fresh strawberries, but was running short on butter. I recalled this recipe by Marcella Hazen, a popular and gifted Italian food writer.

Pisciotta – Olive Oil Cake

Recipe by Marcella Hazen, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”

Ingredients

• 2 eggs

• ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

• Zest from 1 lemon

• ½ teaspoon salt

• ⅓ cup Marsala or tawny port wine

• ⅓ cup milk

• ¾ cup olive oil, plus more to grease the pan

• 1 tablespoon baking powder

• 1½ cup all-purpose flour

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Break the eggs into bowl and beat them with all the sugar with a whisk until pale and foamy.

3. Whisk in the lemon zest, salt, wine, milk, and olive oil.

4. In a second bowl, whisk together the baking powder and flour, and slowly fold the mix into the wet ingredients.

5. Grease a 9-inch springform or Bundt pan with olive oil and pour in batter. Bake for 50 minutes. Let the cake cool completely before taking it out of the pan.

Keep laughing and cooking dear friends. We’re all in this together even though we’re apart.

Reach Teri Robl at easthood.queen@gmail.com.

Chicken marsala with green beans and noodles made on April 4, 2020, in Teri Robl’s kitchen in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Chicken marsala with green beans and noodles made on April 4, 2020, in Teri Robl’s kitchen in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

The final step to cooking chicken marsala is to cook the chicken with the browned mushrooms and marsala sauce, as seen here in a batch Teri Robl made on April 4, 2020, in her kitchen in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

The final step to cooking chicken marsala is to cook the chicken with the browned mushrooms and marsala sauce, as seen here in a batch Teri Robl made on April 4, 2020, in her kitchen in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

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