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Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's Not Me, It's My Camera!

Lately, I've become obsessed with learning how to take a good picture.  A clear, crisp, focused picture.  Not blurry, fuzzy or hazy.  Or too dark.  Or too bright and washed out.  You may have noticed, I'm having trouble.

It didn't help that when I was recently going through my photo files, I found a folder of pictures that my daughter took last year, with her camera.  Amazing photos, every last one of them. 

There were dozens and dozens of shots of my dogs.  In color, black and white, sepia.  At rest and at play.  Full-body shots and head shots.
Paw shots.
Eye shots.
Nostril shots!  Tee-hee.
It was nice to see the pictures of Gracie.  Oh, how I miss her.
Gus misses her, too.
I'm clicking through the folder and then (gasp) I see this.  This is the food photo I've been trying to take, where the focus is on the food and so unbelievably clear and sharp and the background is just a blur because it's not food and it doesn't matter.

So I eagerly asked my wonderful daughter:  how do I set my camera to take a picture like this?  She took a look at my camera settings and my sweet, precious camera-goddess angel of a daughter rolled her eyes and said, "you can't do that with this camera." 

My imagination added "you imbecile!" to make her transformation into Cruella DeVille complete.

Oh, well. 

Here's another fab recipe accompanied by the usual ho-hum photos.  It makes 4 servings, if you can find large, 8-ounce-ish boneless chicken breasts you will only need 3 (one roll-up will satisfy most appetites at this size); if you are using smaller breasts then you will need 4.

Ham 'n Cheese Stuffed Chicken Roll-ups
  • 3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 to 8 slices of prosciutto, very thinly sliced
  • 4 to 6 ounces soft garlic/herb cheese (like Alouette, Boursin or Laughing Cow)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon leaves

Remove any fat or tendons from the chicken.  Place chicken breast on a cutting board and holding it down firmly with the palm of your hand, use a sharp knife to slice horizontally through the breast, dividing it in half.
Like this.    Repeat for remaining breasts.

On each breast, place a slice of prosciutto and spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cheese on the prosciutto.
Here is the cheese I used this time.  It comes in convenient little 3/4-ounce wedges.  Any soft cheese will do, however; in the past, I have used Alouette or Boursin brand with good results.
Roll the chicken up over the filling and secure with a toothpick.  You don't want to roll this too tightly, you will be sauteing the chicken and it's easier to thoroughly cook the chicken if you just roll it enough to close it, more like a burrito and less like a spiral.  If that makes any sense.
Heat the olive oil to medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Place your chicken in the skillet, using tongs to turn it every couple of minutes so that it cooks evenly.  It will take about 10 to 12 minutes to cook completely.

Once it is cooked through and no longer pink, remove the chicken from the pan.

Add the wine to the pan to quickly deglaze it.  You want to stir up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Add the butter.......
.......and whisk in the flour.
When the flour is mixed in so there are no more lumps visible, add the chicken broth.  It will start to thicken into a nice sauce.

When the sauce reaches your desired consistency, whisk in the tarragon.

I'm fascinated by tarragon.  When I'm chopping it, it smells like black jellybeans or black licorice.  I don't really like black jellybeans or licorice.  I'm thinking, how can I possibly like this?  But it's amazing!
Return the cooked chicken to the pan briefly to reheat it.
Serve with your favorite sides.  Yes, that is leftover pasta salad from this post .
Don't forget to top it with lots of the amazing sauce.  Enjoy!

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