Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Comfort Food for a Rainy Weekend

It was a rainy weekend and I was in need of some comfort food.  Chicken has always been a favorite and I came across a new recipe that sounded like just the right thing.  Today on Marilyn's Table we have:

Herbed Chicken and Squash
James Beard's Amazing Persimmon Bread

The recipe called only for boneless skinless breasts.  Well I enjoy thighs, so I used both and it proved to be a good choice. I had a butternut squash that was supposed to go into a soup, but I never got around to making that.  So the squash is peeled, seeded and cut in cubes.  A drizzle of EVOO is tossed and they are set aside.  Cipollini onions are also a favorite, though a bit tedious to work with.  I dropped them in boiling water to loosen the skin and then quickly peeled them and tossed them with a cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar and a bit of EVOO.  The chicken pieces  are seasoned with chopped fresh rosemary, S&P. Lay them skin side down (the thighs only had skin).  Arrange the squash and onions around the meat and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn the pieces over and brush with a glaze of apricot preserves, Dijon mustard, chopped fresh ginger  and chopped garlic. Turn the vegetables as well and sprinkle with more chopped rosemary and S&P.  We are looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  Serve the chicken (slice the breast) with the vegetables. A pretty plate and very tasty.

This is persimmon time of year.  Their season is pretty short so I bought enough to make this bread and some to freeze the pulp.  This bread will without a doubt become a regular in my holiday file.  At first glance it sounded like a lot of work and strangely like the dreaded 'fruit cake', but it was not. and the bread has wonderful flavor as well as being colorful. Sifted flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and sugar are mixed in a large bowl with a well in the center.  Into the well goes melted butter, eggs, bourbon, persimmon puree, toasted chopped pecans and dried fruit. The recipe called for raisins, but as I have said before, I don't care for them.  Instead I used dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots. Thoroughly mix and pour into 2 loaf pans which have been sprayed and floured.  I used small loaf pans of which I had 5.  Next time I will use 6 because they all ran over in the oven! Fortunately I had placed the pans on a cookie sheet so the run over did not go all over the oven.  I scooped up the run over dough and had it with a pot of tea.  This was an amazing success (except for the run over part) Nothing at all like a fruit cake, but very much like a bread.  Loved it.

Next weekend I expect to be putting together my offerings for Christmas Dinner in Wisconsin.  We are doing and Italian theme.  I am looking forward to that table and will resume this blog with my New Years' Eve/New Years Day meal.  Have a blessed holiday and a Healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sunday Dinner

This past Friday, I had the privilege of meeting Ina Garten. She appeared at the Barnes and Nobel store in Old Orchard for the signing of her newest cookbook "Foolproof".  She has always been one of my favorites on the Food Network so meeting her was very special.  I  had planned to prepare something from her book, but could not find lamb shanks.  So I had to improvise.  Here is what made it to Marilyn's Table.

Grilled Lamb Chop with Ina's Orzo
Cucumber-Red Onion-Avocado Salad
Pink Drink

The preparation of the orzo changed with substituting the lamb chop for the lamb shank which needs to be cooked a long time. Carrot-celery and yellow onion are sauteed in oil.  When they begin to soften chopped garlic, chicken stock, a large can of tomatoes, dry white wine, bay leaves, orzo and seasonings are added. The pot is set to simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the orzo is cooked.

I grilled the lamb chop to medium rare and served it with the orzo.  This was a nice filling meal which would probably should be enjoyed on a cold winter day.  But the temperature was in the upper 60's.  In December?   Seriously?

The salad was awful (not from Ina's book) and I don't say that often. Thinly sliced English cucumber, red onion and avocado with a dressing of blended cucumber, parsley and seasonings.  The onion overpowered it and the dressing was pretty flat.  I love English cucumber and avocado and will continue to use them in salads, but no to the red onion.

I have not used simple syrup before so this was a new experience.  Most simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water; heated until the sugar is dissolved, cooled and refrigerated.  This syrup added cranberries and the zest from an orange.  After it is cooked until the berries pop, it is cooled and pressed through a strainer to retain just the juice and stored in the refrigerator.  To prepare the drink, a tablespoon of Orange Liquor is spooned into a tall glass with 2 tablespoons of the syrup and topped with either sparkling wine or Ginger Ale.  Frozen cranberries are used as a garnish.  This was a lovely drink and I will make it again over the holidays.

Except for the salad I enjoyed this meal and will try something else from Ina's book in a couple of weeks.  I will be taking a break until then.  I have lots of baking to do and I don't see a meal next week, except for perhaps a soup to hold me over.  Have a wonderful holiday and a New Year filled with good health and happiness.