Saturday, February 12, 2011

12 February 1957 “Dinner Party with Chicken Cordon Bleu”

womanatdesk I feel I have rather been burning the candle at both ends of late. My children’s book deadline of the end of February has had me rather active and my mind is mush, to say the least.

Last night, however, we threw a little dinner party for some friends. One would think planning a dinner party in the midst of it all would  be the last way to ‘unwind’, but not for a 50’s homemaker like myself. I told myself, “Today there is nothing on my plate BUT cleaning and cooking followed by cocktails, dinner, and conversation.

I made chicken cordon blue. As a side I made a very 50’s feel side dish of egg noodles with mushrooms in cream sauce. Of course, the 1950’s version would probably have involved a can of Campbell's soup, but not for this cook. I made a white wine sauce with cream and garlic to coat the noodles and then baked it with some gruyere cheese on top.

For the chicken cordon bleu, they couldn’t be easier. It is that sort of meal one can make that impresses but really is not that involved. Here is what you do:

Take a chicken breast and slice in half, so it opens like a book. Then cut that into two pieces. With either a meat tenderizer or, failing that, some waxed paper and a good ole’ rolling pin, pound the halves to about 1/2 inch.

I have to say, I rather like pounding meat. Not only does it tenderize it, it allows for a shorter cooking time, extends the meat so you save money, and is a great way to ‘let loose any frustrations’ (see- mind mush from impossible deadline for writing, illustrating, and laying out a children’s book)

After that you simply take a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese, place it on one of the halves, making sure it does not go beyond the edges, then roll it up lengthwise, like a sleeping bag. Insert two tooth picks. What is nice is you can roll up as many of these as you need for your guests. One of these per guests is plenty when you have a nice filling side dish and a good dessert. A few cocktails before dinner does hurt either.

Whip up an egg and have a bowl of breadcrumbs, or flour with your favorite seasonings in. I often save bits of heels of bread or even the crumbs from slicing bread in a little container. These are not garbage and they don’t even go into my compost, but used later for fried chicken and of course Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Dip in egg, dip in flour/breadcrumb mixture. Next, heat up about 2 TBS olive oil and butter. Then lightly brown your chicken and set in a baking pan. These can be made ahead in the morning and popped in the icebox until later when your guests arrive. You just have to pop them in the oven at 350 F for 20 minutes.

I also made a white wine cream sauce for these. What I do for that is mix up in a 2 cup pyrex glass measuring cup, one cup cream, one chicken bouillon or 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock (if you have some on hand) and 1/2 white wine and 2 tbs cornstarch. I mix this ahead as well. Then, as the chicken is out of the oven, the guests are busy with hubby and their drinks, I simply reheat the pan that I had cooked the chicken in, add some garlic and slowly whisk in the premixed cream/wine mixture. Then, this is poured over the chicken after it is plated, along with the egg noodles and a nice veg.

I like to plate meals in the kitchen and serve them prepared. Then I will have any extra, such as the noodles, on the table for anyone who wants to have seconds. I prefer this to a grab and pass situation, because I feel it makes one feel more as if they are at a restaurant and is more enjoyable. Also, I always have at least three or four  glasses (my good antique glasses to boot) at each plate for water, various wines and whatever cocktails have been brought to the table.

Now, the funny thing about this dinner party is I didn’t get any photos. As I said, with my brain mush, I was happily smiling and enjoying the simple home pleasure yesterday. I was only wearing my ‘homemaker hat’ and not my ‘blogging, documenting, writer’s’ hat so blissfully never even let it enter my mid. However, this morning I though, “Drat, now how will I share this with the gals and gentleman on the blog?”

cordonbleuSo, solution: I had to make hubby’s lunch so I simply threw together another cordon blue and plated it for this photograph. I have to say, it does not look as good as they did last night, as I served them sliced, so  you could see the wonderful cheese and ham inside, but you get the gist of it.

Hubby told me today when he unpacked his lunchbox and got out a plate, set this all out, there were many drooling co-workers. One of his co-workers said, “I want a 1950’s housewife”. I felt appreciated.

I hope all have a wonderful weekend and Happy Homemaking.

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