You know how there are recipes that are like mesorah? They are handed down and passed around… and recreated and tweaked along the way. Like the ubiquitous cranberry crumble or carrot muffins or crunchy cabbage salad. These dishes appear on everyone’s table, and we love them. Everyone has a different version and considers it their own. Or at the very least they belong to the first-degree person from whom it was received.
Sometimes, the inherited recipe just gets called by the name of the person who gave it to you. Like this cake my grandmother used to make. In our house it was called “Dutzie Cake.” It was a classic. My grandmother made it all the time. And a stash of frozen pieces would always be portioned out in aluminum foil packets in her freezer. We would sneak and eat the Dutzie Cake right out of the freezer, rearranging the foil to make it look like it was untouched. But she knew, of course.
I had always assumed “Dutzie” described the kind of cake it was, like “brownie,” in another language. When I was older, however, I learned that “Dutzie” was just my grandmother’s neighbor’s sister, and the cake recipe had been hers. So it was Dutzie’s cake. Of course! I then also learned that the recipe is one that everyone has—it is a shehakol cake that appears in every kosher-for-Pesach cookbook.
Well, I guess this recipe is one of those recipes too. My daughter, Nicole, ate this delicious chicken dish at her friend’s house. Since Nicole is a picky eater and struggles with her allergies, she was so happy to find something other than “plain” chicken that she could eat and enjoy. She loved it so much that she asked her friend’s mother for the recipe so she could make it herself. And she has—many, many times. So many times, in fact, that we stopped calling it “Adina’s chicken” and started calling it “Nicole’s chicken.”
I’ve since had Nicole’s chicken at a few other people’s houses as well. And I always say, “Oh, my daughter makes this recipe! Did you get it from Adina, too?” When the answer was “No, it’s Jill’s recipe!” or “it’s Cheryl’s” I realized I was on to something. This is one of those special chicken recipes that may be a part of many repertoires but should be passed around so that it can be recreated and tweaked too… and enjoyed by all. Call it whatever you like, but make sure to try it for yourself!
Lemon Mushroom Chicken
3 pounds thin chicken cutlets
1 ¾ cups cornflake crumbs
½ cup flour
12 oz. baby Bella mushrooms,
cleaned and sliced thinly
1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly
(about 1 cup)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
(about 4 lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil
Extra scallions and lemon slices for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim chicken and cut into even strips. Combine cornflake crumbs and flour in a shallow plastic container and dredge chicken pieces to coat. Lay chicken in a single layer on ungreased rimmed cookie sheets. (I used three sheets for 3 pounds of chicken.) Place the mushroom slices on the chicken, and sprinkle with scallions. Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder. Cover chicken with foil and bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime, combine the soy sauce, lemon juice and oil. Take the chicken out of the oven and drizzle liberally with the marinade mixture. Return, uncovered, to the oven for another 15 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken.
By Rachel Berger