Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.
"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon, the two most beautiful words in the English language"
~Henry James

Monday, 28 July 2014

Lemon Chicken Stir Fry

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If you are like me you get so busy during the week that it can sometimes be really hard to get a decent meal on the table.   Plus the weather this time of year is so hot, you don't really want to put the oven on for anything.  Quick one pan suppers like this delicious Lemon and Chicken Stir Fry are just the ticket!  

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Stir fries are quick and easy and are a great way to get in more than one of your five a day, especially at this time of year when the fresh veg is local and at it's very best.  This tasty stir fry contains fresh broccoli, snow peas, red onions and fresh cherry tomatoes . . .  sliced chicken breasts.

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They are also a very economical  as they make a little bit of meat and a little bit of veg go a long way!    

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This one has a delicious sauce, with lovely lemon flavours . . .  created by using fresh lemon zest and some lemon pepper seasoning, which also gives it a bit of a punch.  Unusually there is also a bit of an herby touch from fresh thyme, which I grow in my kitchen garden year round . . .  but you can use dried if that is all you have.  

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The stir fry itself goes together very quickly . . .  and it is served on a bed of capellini pasta, which also cooks very quickly, so the kitchen doesn't heat up overly much.   Dinner's on and it's colorfully appealing and  delicious  . . . and it all came together  in less than half an hour.  (The Toddster had his with leftover mash.   Meh!  There's no accounting for some people's taste!!  )

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*Lemon and Chicken Stir Fry*
Serves 4
This makes a lovely week night supper.  It's quick, easy and very tasty!  

1/2 pound of capellini (angel hair pasta)
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1 small broccoli crown, stem peeled and cut into small cubes, and then the crown broken into small florets
a large handful of sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings removed
1 TBS chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
225ml of chicken stock (1 cup)
1 tsp finely zested lemon peel
4 tsp corn flour (cornstarch)
1 1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 small punnet of cherry tomatoes, cut in half (1 cup)     

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Set a pot of lightly salted water on to boil for the pasta.   

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken, broccoli stems and onion wedges.  Stir fry until the chicken is beginning to brown, about five to six minutes.  Add the broccoli and sugar snaps.  Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are all crispy tender.     

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Whisk together the chicken stock, corn flour, lemon zest and lemon pepper in a small bowl.   Pour over the chicken mixture and toss together and cook until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables and chicken are coated.  Stir in the tomatoes and heat through.  Keep warm while you cook the capellini.   

Cook the capellini according to the package directions.   Serve the stir fry over the cooked capellini.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Just Desserts . . . My newest Cookbooklet

I am happy to announce that I have finished my latest cookbooklet entitled Just Desserts!  I think this is my best one yet. It is certainly one of my largest ones with a total of 42 pages filled to overflowing with lovely dessert recipes, and handy hints and tips from my kitchen to yours.

It's broken down into no less than EIGHT delicious chapters, including . . .  "It's only Fruit" . . . (Hot Buttered Cherries, and Stuffed Figs plus more) . . . "Indulgently Creamy" . . . (Chilled Rose Souffle's, Rhubarb Fool and more) . . . "Trifles" . . . ( three very different versions) . . . "Let Them Eat Cake" . . . (Sour Cherry Cake, Pineapple and Macadamia Cake, to name just two) . . . "Pies, Tarts and Crumbles" . . . (Bramble Pie, Plum and Almond Crumble plus more) . . . "Meringues and Clafoutis" . . . (Strawberry Meringue Cake, Chocolate Vacherin, Blackberry Clafoutis and yes, more) . . . "Cookies, Brownies and Bars" . . .  (Spicy Aztec Brownies anyone?) . . . "Bits and Bites" . . . (all those finishing recipes for sauces, pastry, curd, etc.)  All in all, there are  FORTY THREE delicious recipes that are some of my family favourites and are destined to become yours.  

Interspersed amongst the recipes are little snippets of art, hints and tips and delightful quotes.   Have you always wondered what the secrets are to baking really good cakes?  Wonder no more.  All of my secrets to success are right here, and it's available to you now for the same low price as all of my others at only £5.

This will be delivered to your e-mail as a downloadable PDF file, ready to print or store on your computer as you desire within 24 hours of your payment clearing. If ordering please make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Reader enabled, and that my e-mail address is in your safe folder!  Also as the file is rather large make sure you have enough room to receive it!

Also at this time I would like to offer you the option of buying four out of my cookbooklet collection for the low price of £15.  You can choose any four titles you wish.  Just be sure to message me on the payment invoice which four you want to purchase!  This is a real bargain, giving you one title for free!
Available Titles include  . . .

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A Very Royal Tea Party

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The Great British Picnic


Christmas in the English Kitchen


Recipes to Keep

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Spring Into Summer

Any four titles including the latest one for the low price of £15.   Please note that all booklets come with my same no quibble refund guarantee if you are not satisfied with your purchase.

Thanks so much for looking and have a super day!

A Trio of Deliciously Cool Ice Cream Treats!

 We've been suffering with a "Heat Wave" here in the UK over the past week.  The temperatures have been downright almost unbearable.  I am not a person that copes well with heat, especially when  you combine it with high humidity.  It just saps all of my energy and I don't feel like doing much of anything at all.  On top of that we have had a really poor telephone connection these past couple of weeks and really bad internet connection all this week, which meant about two days ago it stopped working pretty much completely, only allowing us to get online for about 2 minutes at a time. Just long enough to tease you.   Very frustrating to say the least.  Happy to say an engineer was here for most of this morning and we are now back to snuff, telephone and internet.  

The upshot of this is I was able to finish a commissioned piece of artwork, a new cook-booklet (Just Desserts) and I made no less than three different ice creams to tempt you with!  Yes when the temperatures rise, I want ice cream!  I never seem to crave it any other time of year . . .  but during the dog days of summer, ice cream is my friend.

My ice cream maker never gets used near enough. Probably because it's one of those type that you have to freeze the churning bowl first.  Half the time I never have room enough in the freezer to use it.  This week I made room.

This first ice cream is Rocky Road. Not Rocky Road as it is known in North America, but Rocky Road as it is known over here in the UK, a delicious square made from chocolate, marshmallows, biscuit bits, cherries etc.  (If you click on that link it will take you to my rocky road recipe)

This delicious chocolate ice cream incorporates all of those flavours.  I have to say chocolate ice cream is not my favourites, but this went down a real treat!  Probably because it has been so flippin' hot!

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*Rocky Road Ice Cream*
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Where do I start, marshmallow, chocolate, coconut, candied cherries and peanuts.  What's not to like!  

450ml of double cream (2 cups)
450ml of milk (2 cups)
250g of bittersweet or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (70% cacao, 8 ounces or 1/2 pound)
4 large free range egg yolks
100g sugar (1 cup)
30g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
40g roasted peanuts (1/4 cup)
45g candied cherries (1/4 cup
a handful of mini marshmallows (about 1/4 cup)
2 TBS shredded coconut

Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat.  Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour in half of the hot cream. Stir until it is melted and combined.  Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa together in a medium bowl, until pale and creamy.   Gradually pour in the remaining hot cream and the chocolate mixture, whisking to combine well together.  

Return the custard to the saucepan and simmer over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a metal spoon.  Remove from the heat and let cool, about 30 minutes.

Pour the custard mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions as per your machine, until almost frozen.   Add the peanuts, cherries, marshmallows and coconut.  Churn for a further 3 minutes.  Transfer to a freezer container, cover with baking paper and freeze until you are ready to serve.  

  Next I made coconut ice cream.  I do love the flavour of coconut.  Mounds bars are one of my favourite chocolate bars.  If you drizzle chocolate sauce on this delicious coconut ice cream . . .  well, it be just like a Mounds Bar!    It's a very simple recipe which doesn't involve making a custard.

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*Coconut Ice Cream* 
Serves 4 
Printable Recipe

If you love the flavour of coconut, this delicious ice cream is for you. It uses coconut milk and palm sugar for a real depth coconut taste! Coconut Palm sugar can be purchased via Amazon, or at health food shops. 

100g of granulated sugar ( 1/2 cup) 
100g of grated Palm sugar (1/2 cup) 
180ml of water (3/4 cup) 
400ml of coconut milk (1 1/3 cups) 
225ml of heavy cream (1 cup) 
shredded coconut or coconut curls to garnish (toasted) 

Combine the sugar, palm sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to the boil. Remove and stir in the coconut milk and cream. Refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers directions for your particular machine. Transfer to a freezer container, cover with cling film and freeze until you are ready to serve it.  

I have to say that one of my all time favourite desserts has always been Rice Pudding.  So when I found this recipe for a Rice Pudding Ice Cream, years and years ago in our local newspaper I had to clip it out and save it.   I can't believe it took me this long to make it!  This was my absolute favourite of the three ice creams.  Do make the chocolate sauce.  It's just wonderful!

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 *Rice Pudding Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce*
Serves 4

One of your favourite pudding flavours in a delicious ice cream.   Don't skip the chocolate sauce!  It's great!  

450ml of milk ( 2 cups)
150g of short grain or pudding rice (3/4 cup)
1 vanilla pod, slit open lengthwise
50g of sultana raisins (a generous 1/4 cup)
pinch salt
the finely grated zest of one orange
the finely grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 TBS honey

For the sauce:
250g of bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped (8 ounces)
374ml of milk (1 1/2cups)
2 scant tsp of corn flour (cornstarch)
50g of sugar (1/2 cup)

Combine the milk, rice, vanilla pod, and raisins in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat.   Stir in the salt.  Simmer, stirring constantly, until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 15 minutes.  Take off the heat and discard the vanilla pod.  (I rinse these off, dry them really well and stick them in my sugar canister.)  Let cool, stirring it from time to time.

Stir in the orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey.  Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions.

To prepare the sauce the sauce, combine the chocolate and half of the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to the boil.  Dissolve the corn flour in the remaining milk and whisk this into the hot mixture along with the sugar.  Stir constantly over low heat until smooth and thickened.   Keep warm.

Spoon the frozen ice cream into serving dishes and drizzle with hot chocolate sauce to serve.
I hate to be a party pooper, but they say the heat wave will come to an end tomorrow, and I for one am welcoming the prospect of being able to sleep without feeling too uncomfortable!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Super Healthy Corn and Black Bean Pizza



Super Healthy Corn and Black Bean Pizza

Everybody wants to eat healthy, and even websites that aren't related to food will try to give you advice about how to get rid of that bingo belly. However, those recipes aren't necessarily really healthy. Here, we will give you a truly healthy recipe that includes the four food groups and is also tasty.

Swap the Pan for a Grill

A key factor in eating healthy is to start using the grill instead of rushing to your frying pans. Frying pans cook food by simmering the contents in fat. And where does that fat go? Your food absorbs it and forces you to consume much more saturated fat than you should. But that’s where your grill comes in!

Required Ingredients

·         1 diced plum tomato
·         1 cup of rinsed black beans
·         1 cup of fresh corn kernels (two ears)
·         2 tablespoons of cornmeal
·         1 pound of prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
·         1/3 cup of barbecue sauce
·         1 cup of shredded mozzarella

For the black beans, you can purchase a can. They will still taste great, and will also make the cooking process that little bit easier – but don’t forget to rinse them first. Otherwise you risk exposing your pizza to unpleasant dark goo, which will surely put off any kids from sampling what is a delicious dish.

Another recommendation is to use smoked mozzarella to help contribute to the overall smoky vibe of the pizza. However, you can just make to do with regular mozzarella if you find the smokier kind difficult to source.

A final piece of advice for the ingredients is to stick to the prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, as preparing your own from scratch is an incredibly difficult task. Do yourself a favour and just buy the premade. There will be no battling against the stickiness of the dough.

Advanced Preparation

Simply the cooking process by undertaking some advanced preparation of your ingredients. The sure-fire to not delivering the best possible dish is by leaving yourself too much work to do during the cooking process. Instead, why not have all of your ingredients ready to go? You can toss those black beans and diced tomatoes with salad greens and healthy vinaigrette in advance.

Core Cooking Process

Preheat your grill to a medium temperature, taking care to leave the door open. The oven and then your kitchen will only fill with smoke if you leave the door closed.

Take all of the pre-prepared ingredients – the tomato, beans and corn – and mix them together in a bowl. Let those wonderful flavours combine while you sprinkle the two tablespoons of cornmeal over a large baking sheet.

Position the pound of dough on the baking sheet and start to knead it into a circle, taking care to leave the cornmeal in position underneath. The aim is to coat the entire underside of the dough so that it can later be removed seamlessly from the sheet.

The time to remove the pizza base comes when you are ready to place it on your grill tray. The next stage is to cook the base for four to five minutes and without any of the other ingredients. Cook the dough until the crust rises and the bottom is lightly browned.

Take the base out of the oven once it has been browned and the crust has risen. Spread the barbeque sauce on the base, then following by adding the mixture of tomatoes, corn, and black beans, closely followed by the smoky mozzarella cheese.

Return the pizza to the grill and let cook for another four to five minutes, by which point the cheese will have melted and the crust browned further. Finish by letting the pizza stand for a minute before cutting it into six scrumptious slices.

Alternative Ingredients

The original recipe gives you protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables from the beans, whole-wheat dough, tomatoes, and corn. However, you can make simple tweaks to add or replace ingredients, as you so desire.

For instance, people that don’t like barbeque sauce can replace this ingredient with salsa. A different option is to increase the lean protein consumption by adding chicken or Quorn and taking away the mozzarella. The beauty of cooking is that you can explore the possibilities with your friends and family.

Crispy Chicken Sandwiches

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Here we are with day three of the Crispy Chicken recipes.  This is the second recipe using the leftovers from that delicious Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce. If you didn't cook extra you are going to regret that decision now!

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Imagine a deliciously simple hot chicken sandwich composed of a brioche bun, split and toasted and slathered with a spicy garlic mayo . . .

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topped with a crispy coated and tender well flavoured chicken breast . . .

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Now top that crispy coated and tender well-flavoured chicken breast, sitting on that spicy garlic mayo, sitting on that toasted brioche bun . . .  with a delicious pile of sweet and tangy coleslaw vinaigrette!  Then of course the toasted top of the bun.

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If THIS is not the best hot chicken sandwich you have ever eaten . . .  I'll eat my hat.

'Nuff said.   Try it.  You will love it.  I guarantee.

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*Crispy Chicken Sandwiches*
Serves 4
These are delicious.  I need say no more.  If you don't make these, you are missing out on something really special.  

For the chicken:
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
and pounded to an even thickness
salt and black pepper
40g of plain flour (about 1/4 cup)
1 large free range egg, beaten
180g of packaged dry bread crumbs (I used panko) (1 1/2 cups)
oil for frying

For the spicy garlic mayo:
110g of garlic mayo (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

For the coleslaw:
1/2 small white cabbage, finely shredded (about 2 cups)
(Use a knife so you get strands)
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
2 or 3 sour gerkins, chopped
4 or 5 sweet pickled hot peppers, chopped (I like Peppadews, in American the equivalent would be Cherchies)
1/2 tsp celery seed
salt and black pepper to taste
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS olive oil       

You will also need 4 toasted buns (I used brioche buns, lovely)

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First make the mayo.  Whisk together the mayo and the pepper.   Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Next make the coleslaw.  Put the vinegar, sugar and oil in a glass measuring cup.  Heat in the microwave for about a minute to melt the sugar.   Place the vegetables and pickles in a bowl.  Whisk the celery seed, salt and pepper into the warm oil mixture.  Pour this over the vegetables and toss to coat.  Set aside to macerate. 

Put the flour on a plate.   Put the beaten egg in a shallow bowl.  Put the breadcrumbs onto a place.  Have ready a paper lined baking tray.  Season your chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper.  Dredge them in the flour to coat.   Coat with the beaten egg and then coat them with the bread crumbs, pressing so that they adhere.   Place on the baking tray until you are finished all of them.

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet.  Once it is hot, add the chicken pieces one or two at a time.  Cook on one side until golden brown, about 4 minutes, flip over and cook until golden on the other side.  Repeat until they are all done.  Drain on paper towelling.  

Place the bottom halves of the toasted buns on each of four plates.  Top with one fourth of the mayo and a piece of chicken.  Top each with an equal portion of well drained slaw and the top buns and serve immediately.  Delicious! 

Note - If you have saved chicken from cooking the other day you will not need to bread and fry the chicken, as it will already be done.   Simply reheat in a medium oven until hot through.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Crispy Chicken Salad with a Blueberry Vinaigrette

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You remember those delicious crispy fried chicken breasts I showed you yesterday?   Well I hope you cooked extras because today I am going to show you something delicious to do with the leftovers!  I told you I always cook extras and today and tomorrow I am going to show you just why I do that!  

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This is a delicious salad with crisp fresh salad greens . . .  I used baby rocket (arugula), baby gems and baby spinach . . .  crisp French radishes, fresh cucumbers from the garden,  crispy salad onions, toasted pecans, and crumbled feta cheese . . .  and yes, fresh sweet blueberries that are coming into season now!

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You top all of that with some sliced crispy chicken . . .  of course you can use frozen crispy chicken that you buy at the shops, but I am really hoping you have saved some from yesterday because that's the best.  But that's not all . . .  I have created a delicious blueberry dressing to drizzle over the salad . . . 

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Sweet and tangy with a bit of heat from the Dijon mustard, it goes so well with all of the elements of this salad.  The sweet berries . . .   bitter greens . . .  hot little radishes . . . the salty creaminess of  feta cheese  . . . those crunchy toasty roasted pecans . . .  crisp fried  chicken chunks  . . . the bland almost melon-like coolness of those crisp edged cucumbers.  

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There is nothing about this salad that isn't pleasing.   Easy and quick to make.   Pretty to look at with all of those colours and textures . . .  delicious to eat.  Plus the added bonus of being a tasty way to use up leftovers.  And pretty darned healthy if I don't say so myself.  
BON APPETITE!  (As Julia would say!)

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*Crispy Chicken Salad with a Blueberry Vinaigrette*
Serves 4
You can either make your own breaded chicken breasts for this or use frozen breaded chicken breasts that you cook at home from frozen.  Either way it is delicious.   

3 cooked breaded chicken breasts, cut into slices crosswise
4 cups of mixed salad greens
1/3 of an English Cucumber, sliced into half moons (peeled or not as you wish)
and handful of radishes, trimmed and quartered
60g of toasted pecans, broken (1/2 cup)
1 small punnet of fresh blueberries (1 cup)
115g of feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
a couple of tablespoons of crispy salad onions (like the durkee's)  

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For the dressing:
2 heaped dessert spoons of wild blueberry preserves (1/4 cup)
60ml of white balsamic vinegar (1/4 cup)
60ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  

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Whisk all of the salad dressing ingredients together to combine.   Set aside.  

Place your salad greens into a shallow salad bowl.  Add the cucumber, radishes and blueberries, toss to combine.   Top with the toasted nuts, the chicken, the onions and the feta cheese.   Drizzle with the dressing and toss together to combine.  Serve immediately.

Alternately the ingredients can be layered into individual salad bowls and the dressing passed at the table.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

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We're having a heat wave.  Normally I would like to be cooking on the barbeque, but the Toddster doesn't really "get" barbequing, and I am afraid of the barbeque.  (gas)  One of these days we will make it pay for itself, but until then I am trying my best to stay as cool as I can in the house and wishing we could barbeque.  I shall just have to overcome my fears and get with the program!

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This chicken dish is easy and quick and quite delicious.   You get perfectly moist breast meat, with a crisp and light crust . . .  and that sauce is phenomenal!  Simple to make too.

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If you can measure and stir, you can make that sauce.  It's simply apricot jam, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar and worcestershire sauce . . .  all whisked together and it is delicious.    Very very delicious.

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It makes for a quick and delicious mid week supper, served with some salad or stir fried veggies, perhaps some rice.  Why go out for something like this, when it is so easy to make at home?  

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*Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce*
Serves 4

Panko bread crumbs work the nicest with this, although you can use ordinary dried bread crumbs.  You can find Panko bread crumbs in the oriental food section of the shops.

for the sauce:
235g of apricot preserves (3/4 cup)
3 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS tomato ketchup
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to an even thickness
salt and freshly ground black pepper
45g plain flour (1/4 cup)
2 medium free range eggs
125g of Japanese Panko, or other fine dried bread crumbs (1 1/3 cups)
60ml of vegetable oil for frying (1/4 cup)

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To make the dipping sauce, whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Divide it between 4 small dipping bowls or ramekins.  Set aside.

Season the pounded chicken breasts with some salt and pepper.   Place the flour on a plate.  Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.   Place the Panko into another shallow bowl.  One at a time, dredge the chicken breasts into first the flour, then the eggs, and finally the Panko, coating them evenly and pressing the crumbs on to adhere.  Set aside on a lined baking sheet while you heat the oil.

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan until very hot, but not smoking.   Add the chicken breasts and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook, turning once, until the crumbs are golden brown and the chicken feels firm when pressed in the centers, about four minutes per side.   Adjust the heat as needed so that the crumbs don't burn.  Transfer to a cutting board.

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Slice each breast across the grain into wide strips.  Slide a knife under the strips and transfer to warm serving plates.  Serve immediately along with the dipping sauce.

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I always, ALWAYS cook extra pieces of chicken when I do this.   You can freeze them, or keep them in the fridge ready to use for other things.  Tune back in tomorrow to see what I did with the leftovers!