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Archive for April 4, 2012

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Cordon Bleu Day

April 4th is National Cordon Bleu Day.

Le Cordon Bleu (French for “The Blue Ribbon”) is the world’s largest school for hospitality education, for both cooks, service and management personnel. Originating in France, it now has 35 schools on five continents.

The inspiration for the school began in 1578, with a group of French knights called L’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit. Each member wore the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon.

The knights became known for extravagant and luxurious banquets, known as “cordons bleus.” The order closed with the French Revolution.

In the late 19th century, the name was revived by a French culinary magazine, La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu. It offered lessons by some of the best chefs in France, and eventually grew to become a cooking school.

Le Cordon Bleu cooking school opened in Paris in 1895 and became one of the finest cooking schools in the world.

Recipes for Chicken Cordon Bleu and Veal Cordon Bleu emerged: chicken breasts or veal slices sandwiched with ham and Gruyère cheese, dipped in an egg mixture, rolled with bread crumbs and baked or sautéed.

Here’s a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu from Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats, who simplified the original recipe.

“Have you tried the French classic Cordon Bleu before? [Delicious but] it’s a pain to make. Flatten the chicken, roll it up with cheese and ham inside, dredge in egg, crumb it, fry it in oil then finish it off in the oven as you make the sauce…

“Phew! I got tired even just writing that out!

“So here is my shortcut way to make Chicken Cordon Bleu. It comes out of the oven beautifully golden all over, super crunchy, with gooey cheese inside. Just like the real deal that is deep fried, this is SO much easier and faster to make!”

She also replaces traditional bread crumbs with Japanese panko breadcrumbs. for a crunchier crust.

Thanks, Nagi! You can see here step-by-step photos here.


Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 small chicken breasts, around 6-7 ounces (180-210g) each
  • 4 slices gruyère or American swiss cheese*
  • 4 to 6 slices of ham, about 2.5 ounces (75g), or ham rounds†
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
    For 1 Cup Of Dijon Cream Sauce

  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1½ tablespoons flour
  • 1¼ cups whole or 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Optional: 1 teaspoonp thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper

  • Toothpicks

    Chicken Cordon Bleu

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Preparation

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Preparation

    [1] The finished dish. [2] and [3] Cutting the pocket and and stuffing the chicken (all photos courtesy Recipe Tin Eats).


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F/180°C. Spread the panko breadcrumbs on a baking tray and spray with oil. Bake for 3 minutes or until light golden. Remove and scrape into bowl straight away.

    2. CUT a pocket into each chicken breast, as per the photo below. Fold the cheese in half and place 2 pieces inside each pocket. Do the same with the ham. Close the pocket sf seal with toothpicks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Dredging method

    3. WHISK together egg and flour. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, and then into the panko. Transfer to a baking pan and spray with oil.

    4. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and just cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. While the chicken is cooking…

    5. MAKE the Dijon Cream Sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1½ minutes. Add half the milk and whisk until the flour mixture is blended in.

    6. ADD the remaining milk, mustard and cheese. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened (the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve

    7. SERVE in a pitcher with the chicken.

    *You need to use a cheese that holds its shape well (helium is another option).

    †If you can find small ham rounds, use 3 each to cover the surfaces of the chicken breasts.


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    PRODUCT: Time To Switch To Spring Beer Styles

    One of the great things about the craft beer movement is that it enables us to change our beers with the seasons. Just as you don’t want a heavy, wintery Barolo on a fresh spring day, the same goes with your beer.

    Look for a May bock (Maibock), a style that is brewed to celebrate springtime. Hellesbock (light bock), an identical recipe, is brewed throughout the year but gets the special name for springtime. A lager beer, it is light in color, although heavier in body and higher in alcohol, than a light-hued Pilsner.

    Samuel Adams has brewed Apine Spring especially for the season. A bright, citrusy, unfiltered lager, it’s a bit darker in color—golden—than a typical Hellesbock/Maibock. The citrus and spice come from Noble Tettnang hops, grown at the bottom of the Alps. A slightly sweet malt character comes from the German Pilsner and honey malts. The ABV is 5.5%.

    The brewery sees it as “the perfect transition from winter’s heavier brews to the lighter beers of summer…[with] the balanced maltiness and hoppiness of a Helles, the smoothness and slightly higher alcohol of a traditional spring bock, and the unfiltered appearance of a Kellerbier.”


    It’s time for a refreshing draught of Alpine Spring. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams | Boston Beer Company.


    Alpine Spring pairing suggestions include grilled chicken and Italian fare. Here are more food pairing ideas.


    BOCKBIER. Bock beer, a dark lager, has a strong malt flavor and full mouthfeel. It has that “refreshing lager zing” that makes it taste like springtime. Bock is the German word for strong, referring to a strong beer brewed from barley malt.

    DOPPELBOCK. Double bock originated during Lent. Since 1654 the monks of St. Francis of Paula in Munich had brewed bock beer. Sometime after 1799, they began to brew a thicker beer to provide them with nourishment during the Lenten fast. It was called Salvator (Latin for savior). Later, the beer was sold to the general population as Doppelbock. Doppelbock is German for extra-strong—around 7.5% alcohol by volume, or stronger. It is a bottom-fermented beer, tawny or dark brown in color. It’s a southern Germany spring specialty, seasonally brewed in March and April. The monks’ brewery, Paulaner, is still making beer.

    WHEAT BEER. Wheat beer (Witbier in Belgium, Weissbier in Germany) is a lighter style. Some brews are spiced with coriander and orange peel—not unlike the citrus-spice flavors of Alpine Spring—for a sunnier disposition. Wheat beer is brewed with a significant proportion of wheat, which provides a distinctive pale color, creamy texture and a light, sweet flavor, often with fruit and spice notes.

    LAMBIC. Belgium is the home of a variety of fruit beer known as lambic. Lambics are typically wheat beer recipes brewed with fruits ranging from cherries and raspberries (the classics) to mango and peach (the moderns). While most beers are distinguished by their flavors of hops and malt, lambic is an ancient style of beer that is naturally bone dry, acidic and effervescent. It is bottom-fermented. The wort, often kept in ventilated attics, is allowed to spontaneously ferment with wild, airborne yeasts.

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Use An Avocado As A Bowl

    Turn an avocado into a bowl for eggs. Photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico.


    We love using avocados as an “edible bowl,” stuffed with salads (bean, chicken, citrus, corn, egg, rice, seafood, tuna), chili, as a shrimp cocktail bowl and as a salsa holder with a side of tortilla chips.

    But we hadn’t considered eggs until we received this avocado poached egg from Avocados From Mexico. It pairs an egg and a heart-healthy avocado with a smoky tomato sauce called Diablo Sauce. Make it as a delicious and fun dish for Easter breakfast.

    The recipe was developed by Chef Ina Pinkney of Ina’s Restaurant in Chicago. It yields two portions.



  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 can (15-ounces) fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 medium eggs, room temperature


    1. Prepare Diablo Sauce at least 20 minutes before starting eggs. In a large skillet, heat oil until hot. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When sauce is almost finished, place a steamer basket over one inch of water; bring water to a simmer.

    2. Meanwhile, cut avocado in half and remove seed. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each avocado half to create a flat surface. Carefully scoop out about half of the avocado flesh without breaking through the flesh at the base; reserve for garnish, toast spread or later use. Season with salt.

    3. Into each avocado half, crack one egg; season with salt. Place avocado halves in steaming basket; cover until eggs are poached, about 5 to 7 minutes.

    4. Transfer each avocado half to a serving plate. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with Diablo Sauce.

    Find more egg recipes in our Egg Section.

    Find more avocado recipes at


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