Monday, July 28, 2008

Orange Lavender Provence Chicken

For some reason the scents of Provence have been on my mind. Maybe it is all the gardening (the lavender is doing great) or the beautiful sunny and warm weather that has allowed us to spend time outside just lazing around out on the front porch or in a nearby park, but last week I just was thinking about it. (Could also be some recent re-read "quickie" books - Year in Provence, etc... but anyway...)

So - I had this chicken and it was gorgeous outside - we also had some great clementines and a few lemons that looked like they were about to go. Jay, the kids and I were going out for the day, so I thought it would be lovely to have the scent of orange and lavender with dinner.

Orange Lavender Provence Chicken

1 whole chicken 3-4 lbs -"flattened" (cut out the backbone and make the chicken as flat as possible - or have your butcher do this for you)

Zest of 2 small oranges (I used clementines because that is what I had - any will do)
Juice of 2 small oranges
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 tbsp honey
1-2 sprigs lavender
1 small sprig rosemary
1-2 small sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp herbs du provence (I added this after I thought it needed some more "oomph"
1/4 cup or so of olive oil
kosher salt (about 1-2 tsp) and pepper to taste

Whisk marinade ingredients without olive oil together. Whisk in olive oil. Taste for flavor - sometimes the orange makes it to sweet - so you may want to add some more lemon juice to "brighten" the marinade.

Put chicken in a plastic bag or other container you can fit everything around in. Pour in marinade - squish it around so the chicken is well coated. Seal and put in refrigerator for about 4-5 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees (or heat a grill if you are grilling this). Place chicken, including marinade into roasting pan. Roast for about 1 hour or until juices run clear (since it is "flattened" it will cook faster and more evenly.) Serve with green salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper


Monday, July 7, 2008

Crunchy Jicama and Apple Salad with Lime Honey Vinagrette

When the weather gets warm, I look for things that are crisp, crunchy and citrusy. Lots of times I make broccoli or cole slaw for side dishes, but sometimes you just want something a bit different.

This apple and jicama salad always hits the spot. Jicama is a root vegetable - sweet like and apple but based in the potato family. You can peel it pretty easily or just cut the skin off and then slice it into matchstick shapes (julienne as it were). It is very crunchy and delicious alone. This salad plays on the sweet/citrus side by including green apples as well...
I also toss in a bit of chile powder to the vinagrette to give it a slight "kick" - although be careful not to "slip" and accidentally drop the container of chile powder into the bowl where you are mixing the vinagrette... you may have to start over. (Not that I have any experience with this...)

By the way, the key to this salad is keeping everything about the same thickness - it is supposed to resemble a "slaw" so shredded or thin slices of everything.

Jicama and Apple Salad with Honey Lime Vinagrette

1 medium jicama - peeled and cut into matchsticks (julienne)
2-3 carrots - grated or cut into matchsticks
1 small green or red apple - quartered and sliced very thinly.
2 celery stalks - chopped thinly
1/2 napa cabbage - shredded

Vinagrette (Do this to taste and increase/decrease based on the amount of veggies you have shredded/sliced)
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
3-4 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp of chile powder
pepper to taste

1. Make vinagrette in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Mix together all ingredients except canola oil, salt and pepper. Whisk in canola oil slowly to "emulsify" the vinagrette (just a fancy word for whisk whisk whisk until everything is well mixed...) Add salt and pepper to taste. Increase chile powder if desired.

2. Toss shredded veggies with vinagrette. Serve.

(Note: This will stay really crisp for about 1 day or so... but I usually make this the same day I am serving it. You can get everything ready the day before - keep all the veggies separate in the fridge - and the vinagrette separate as well - then mix together before serving.)

This would also be really terrific tossed with some sliced almonds on top and some fresh parsley/cilantro.


Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Garden Grow?

We did it!

Yes my friends, our vegetable garden has actually produced vegetables. (I am not going to delve into the pesky rabbit that completely stripped our green bean plants of the green beans...that will be the next post)

But look at the beautiful snap peas that are growing - and pattypan squash.

The snap peas are delicious right off the vine and I am going to have J do a bit of harvesting so we can munch on them with dinner. I am tempted to take the very delicate squash blossoms (only a few, since I want to see the pattypans) and stuff them with some goat cheese, dip them in a bit of egg and flour (very light) and fry them up!

The carrots aren't ready to be harvested yet, but seem to be doing well, as are our newly planted eggplant and tomatoes...

Very exciting! Victory garden here we come!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer and Pasta

Well, summer is officially here! And, after a wonderful trip to see my parents (lots of time in the pool for the kids) we are back home and into the swing of things. So, of course, that means lots of cooking.

But when it gets really hot, I don't want to spend lots of time over the stove. However, I also don't want to resort to sandwiches or waffles every night.

Tonight I did one of my really simple dishes - a go to dish that is quick and easy - and uses only 1 pot.

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch of salt
Ground pepper
Fresh parsley/other herbs if you have them and your kids don't object (Minced)

1. Boil the water for the pasta - salt the water generously with kosher salt once it is boiling and right before you cook the pasta.
2. Once the pasta is finished, pour the pasta and water into a colander and put aside.
3. Turn the heat to medium low and put the olive oil in the same pot (I use a 4 quart pot most of the time for pasta... I know that this is not "technically" correct - but it does work.)
4. Once oil is hot but not burning (it will sizzle as it meets some of the leftover pasta water) add the garlic and quickly saute to flavor the olive oil. Put in the red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper. Remove from heat.
5. Pour the pasta back into the pot and toss with the sauce. Toss with fresh herbs and serve.

Yum. I also quickly steamed some green beans that J picked out as a a side dish.