Thursday, March 22, 2012

March is Confused.

Greetings! Aren't you all enjoying this wonderfully warm weather we are having? I know I am but I keep having this dreadful feeling that April is going to come in with blizzards and hail storms. Is it possible, I don't know but I just can't bring myself to believe that this amazing weather is going to last.

Even if this weather doesn't stay, I'm going to make this salad. It's perfectly light, crunchy, and refreshing. It makes me think of summer.
I hate black licorice and most things anise, but fennel is delicious. The anise flavor is very subtle and with such strong flavors in the dressing, you mostly just get the "crunch" from the fennel, and not the flavor.

Fennel Orange Salad
adapted from Shutterbean

1 head green leaf lettuce, cut or torn into bits
1 orange, segmented and juice reserved
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (cut off the fronds first)
1 Tbsp of the reserved orange juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar

Toss the lettuce, sliced fennel, and the orange in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Give it a taste to see what else you want to add. I usually add more juice and more vinegar. I like it tart. Pour over the veggies and toss to combine. Munch away!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

From Bacon to Bean Burgers

Before I moved in with DB (dearest Boyfriend), I was a bit nervous about what the whole experience of living together would be like. Did he leave hair in the sink? Toss his dirty clothes on the floor? Wear the same outfit for weeks at a time? What I mostly worried about was whether my cooking would match up to that of  his mother. She was a stay at home mom throughout his childhood and man, she can cook! Her style is more down-home, while mine tends to be a bit fancier. I worried, would DB scorn my taste for balsamic vinegar (yes!), could he live without bacon for weeks a time? (yes, but with reservations)
 While I do cook things other than black bean burgers, risotto, and tuna salad, some of those recipes don't make it here. (sorry!). Before we moved, I made one of the best purchases I think I could have made. No it wasn't a memory foam bathmat or super suction vacuum. Mad Hungry, Feeding Men and Boys, by Lucinda Scala Quinn.  Almost every recipe from this book ends up DB- approved but I think this chicken recipe is one that would get not only his approval, but his mom Maggie's as well!

Flat Roast Chicken
slightly adapted from "Mad Hungry, Feeding Men and Boys" by Lucinda Scala Quinn

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds.
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice, I used bottled
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

Preheat the oven to 400*. Use kitchen shears (or if you don't have any like me, use regular scissors and swear a lot) cut out the backbone of the chicken. If you don't know which side has the backbone, look for the side that has the little "tail". Cut on either side of the "tail". Voila!. Flip the chicken cut side down and press firmly on the breastbone to flatten it. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. A little rosemary would probably be excellent here too.

Heat the oil in a large 12 inch ovensafe skillet until very hot. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until very well brown, 3-5 minutes. Flip the chicken skin side up (be careful not to tear the skin) and put the skillet in the oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the skillet from the oven with mitts (the handle is hot!) and let rest for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, garlic,and red pepper flakes to the pan drippings and swirl to mix. Alternatively, you can remove the chicken to a cutting board, add 1 TBSP butter to the drippings along with the lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes and simmer until slightly thickened.

Carve the chicken (I do this in the pan. Fewer dirty dishes!) and serve with the sauce. Biscuits make an awesome side. Enjoy!

Note: sometimes if the drippings are very hot, adding the lemon juice and garlic at the same time will cause the garlic to turn blue. This is due to a chemical reaction between the acidic lemon juice and a compound in the garlic and is perfectly safe to eat. It only happened to me once but is interesting to see.