Profile: Culinary Instructor Phillis Carey
Phillis Carey is a very good cook. A former kindergarten teacher, she is also a popular cooking instructor and author of three cookbooks, as well as many food articles for publications such as Cook’s Illustrated, UT San Diego and The Pleasures of Cooking.
Based in Southern California, Phillis teaches three times a week at Great News, a cookware store and cooking school in San Diego. Curious to know what Mrs. Patmore made for the Crawleys, or what English food really tastes like? You can find out in Phillis’ Cooking at Downton Abbey class. Always wanted to serve restaurant-like dishes at your home but didn’t know where to start? Don’t know the difference between braising and stewing? Got fondue phobia? Phillis covers all these topics and more.
Age 64 — Hometown Which one? LA, SF or San Diego? I’ve lived in San Diego County my entire adult life. — Where do you live? Carlsbad, CA — Occupation Culinary Instructor and Cookbook Author — Signature dish Don’t really have a signature or a favorite, but it would probably have to include Italian flavors and boneless chicken breasts—they are what I am most known for in the culinary arena. — Who taught you how to cook? I learned to love cooking and food from my grandmother (the Italian one) but I didn’t actually cook with her too often. I cooked at home but that was mostly baking with my mom. I think I taught myself during college when I cooked suppers for several guys and sort of took on the role of “the cook” with my friends. — Favorite kitchen tool That would have to by my meat pounder—the Italian style with the handle perpendicular to the base. It is what I use to pound all those chicken breasts but it’s also great for minced garlic and fresh ginger and for chopping nuts. Oh, yes, and it’s stainless steel so it’s also great to rub your hands on after minced all that garlic and chopping all those onions. — Always in your pantry Butter—that’s the refrigerator, does that count? — Go-to snack Bread and butter or bread and cheese. — Favorite cuisine Italian for always but I do flirt with Moroccan and Indian for those complicated and well balanced flavors. — Do you diet? All the time or at least try to watch what I eat but it has been a battle my whole life. I try to balance exercise with my love of food but must admit that the food wins out every time. — Food addictions The bad one—Coca Cola, though I do limit myself to only special occasions. Better is my love of good bread and lots of butter. It makes me happy and fills me up! — Food allergies None, thank goodness. — Food fad pet peeve Don’t eat any of that nonfat stuff including nonfat yogurt or milk. It is the most processed of them all hiding under the guise of a healthy alternative! — Who’s your sous chef? Depends where I am. At home I’m pretty much on my own but when I’m teaching I have lots of great assistants who make my work life a dream—couldn’t do it without them. — Drinking while cooking? Used to drink while cooking more so when I was younger and especially if it was a party and we were all cooking together. Now, it often interferes with my focus and speed, but I still enjoy a glass of wine now and again while preparing dinner. — What’s for dinner tonight? Broiled Salmon and Roasted Sweet Potatoes, maybe a salad too. — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? Hardly ever, what’s done is done! In the kitchen some of those mistakes lead to a really great culinary discovery. I once tried to make a Brie gnocchi recipe only to have the dumplings dissolve in the water. I gathered up the remaining dough and baked it in a pie plate—Voila! I had a delicious side dish cut into wedges. — Best meal you ever had Most exciting and extraordinary was at Addison at The Grand Del Mar. Nine courses all with matching wines. What an evening of adventure! — Contact philliscarey.com
Prosciutto & Mushroom Chicken Breast Sauté
This dish comes from Phillis’ very handy cookbook Fast and Fabulous Chicken Breasts. It is easy and fast, and the wine, prosciutto and mushrooms provide wonderful flavors. Phillis likes this recipe because it uses the basic cooking techniques she teaches. Serve it with basmati rice.
- Serves 4
- 2 skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup prosciutto, chopped
- ½ pound mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Trim the chicken breasts and lightly pound between two sheets of plastic wrap to an even ½-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the flour on a plate and coat chicken well, shaking off excess.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown lightly, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with the garlic and prosciutto, and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
- Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for 5–7 minutes or until cooked through, turning over once. Transfer chicken to serving plates.
- Stir the tomatoes and basil into the sauce and simmer until thickened slightly. Spoon over the chicken and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
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