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Who’s Cooking: Lynann Caiazza, Sag Harbor

Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Lynann Caiazza lives in Sag Harbor with her husband and son.

How long have you been cooking?

I can’t remember when I haven’t been cooking. My mother is a wonderful cook and I guess I picked it up from her. I hear that my grandmother was a superb cook, although she passed away when I was young. My husband is my sous chef.

How would you describe your cooking style?

I like to try to cook almost everything. I guess I mostly cook Italian. I mostly cook from scratch. I like to cook as fresh and organic as possible. If you have a well-stocked kitchen, you can walk in and make anything.

Does living on the East End influence your cooking?

Absolutely. I’m able to have my herbs outside in pots by the door. When I’m cooking I can cut my basil, oregano, thyme. I cut the mint for homemade iced tea. It makes everything fresh and looks pretty. Presentation is so important. We always want to taste something when it looks and smells nice. We have a great farm stand here in Noyac, Serene Green. I can go there and get a whole meal, start to finish. It’s inspirational. They have pesto if you are not in the mood to make it. And pies and cookies. They have the best watermelon.

Other specialties?

I’m big on hors d’oeuvres, and then I skip the huge dinner. I make pesto and cut up French bread to spread it on. I make a lot of shrimp. I make pizzas with focaccia bread. Homemade guacamole and salsa. I make a lot of Caprese salads in the summer. I love to pair cheeses with fruit and wine. I don’t eat a lot of cow dairy, but I love sheep and goat cheese.

Where does this recipe come from?

This recipe came from years ago. My girlfriend Diane was getting married and her mother had a bridal shower for her and made this dish and I loved it. That day, she was so busy running around. She basically told me how to make it, but then I had to go home and figure out the details myself. I never knew the name of it, but when my son was little, he said it was so yummy, we started calling it Chicken Yum Yum. He still loves it. And when his girlfriend hears that I’m making it, she begs me to save a plate for her until she can get here.

Do you have any serving suggestions?

I like to serve fresh string beans or fresh asparagus with this. I like my vegetables al dente. I put just a little bit of coconut oil in the bottom of a baking dish, then put the vegetables on top. I spray them with a little grapeseed oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder or onion powder, a little fresh herbs, and then bake them in a 375-degree oven, shaking once or twice, until the tips are just browned.

Chicken Yum Yum

4 cups Stovetop stuffing mix

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 (10 1⁄2 -ounce) can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup (can use low sodium)

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1⁄3 cup red wine, cooking Sherry or Marsala to taste

1⁄4 cup whole or skim milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil, or 5 to 7 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if breasts are too large and thick, the chicken will take too long to cook through)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the stuffing mix, melted butter and 2 cups hot water. Mix to moisten. It should be thick.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the soup and sour cream. Mix well. Add the wine, milk, salt, pepper, basil, herbes de Provence, garlic powder and onion powder and mix well.

4. Arrange the stuffing in four separate mounds on the bottom of a 10-inch-by-10-inch baking pan and place one piece of chicken atop each mound. Pour the soup mixture over the top.

5. Bake until bubbling and a bit brown and the chicken is cooked through (insert the tip of a sharp paring knife into one of the breasts to check), about 45 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before lifting each portion from the pan with a spoon or spatula onto a separate dinner plate and topping with extra sauce. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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