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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry California: Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads


We've been celebrating and enjoying time with our youngest son, Jaryd, and his girlfriend, Ana, in sunny California. It's been Cali-cool, in many wonderful ways. 

The gift of time with them is cool, which we all are short of most of the year -- but it is plentiful now and not to be taken lightly or for granted. 

The gift of sun (and yes, the pun too) is well, warm, and cool, :) and not to be underestimated. 

And then, unexpectedly, the gift of rain came trickling down. That kind of cool is very much needed here. As we went to pick out the Christmas tree it poured and so an iconic song of my youth is "It Never Rains in California, But Man It Pours"  rang through me. It has rained three times, since we arrived, but I don't think its officially El Nino season yet.

That rain influences another cool gift for sure, cooking together! We have a list of cookies that are special to both of our families, as well as making croissants from scratch, and I look forward to the ins and outs of folding, mixing, and seeing the beautiful Cranberry Bliss Bars side by side with Jam Thumbprint Cookies on a plate. I have so much to learn, and share!

Last night Ana and I headed to the kitchen; inspired by the coming days of cookie baking, ingredients in their pantry, their Farm Fresh to You CSA box, (how cool is that?) and recent episodes of Chopped! we created a unique dinner of Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads ~ Quinoa Lentil ~ Raw Cauliflower ~ Arugula Mint ~ Dressed with Creamy Carrot Top Dressing which will gift us with leftovers while we finish up Christmas preparations, and begin, I hope, singing.

Thank you, Ana and Jaryd, for your very warm gift of time. (And Farm Fresh To You carrot tops!)



Creamy Carrot Top Dressing 



Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads

Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads ~ Quinoa Lentil ~ Raw Cauliflower ~ Arugula Mint ~ Dressed with Creamy Carrot Top Dressing

Cumin Roast Chicken
1 bone-in Art’s Meat Market and Deli chicken breast
1 teaspoon each salt, oregano, cumin, coriander and crushed red pepper

Quinoa Lentil Salad
2 cups quinoa, washed and rinsed
2 cups green lentils
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon each crushed red pepper, oregano, and cumin
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
stems from 1 bunch of kale, finely chopped
hearts of 4 farm fresh to you carrots, chopped

Rice Vinegar Dressing
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup rice vinegar
½ cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Raw Cauliflower Salad
½ red onion, finely chopped
5 carrots, ribboned with a vegetable peeler
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped medium fine
1 bunch kale, destemmed and chiffonade

Basil Garlic Lime Vinaigrette
Juice of 5 limes
8 cloves of garlic, salted and minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup of fresh chopped basil

Arugula and Mint Salad
1 bunch arugula, chopped
few sprigs of mint, chopped
½ head green leaf lettuce, chopped

Creamy Carrot Top Dressing
carrot tops from 4 farm fresh to you carrots, washed
½ cup each yogurt and olive oil and orange juice
½ cup pumpkin seeds
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 small handful cilantro, washed
salt and pepper to taste

Begin with the Cumin Roast Chicken as that takes the longest. Combine the salt and spices in a small bowl and rub mixture into the skin of the chicken breast.

Place rubbed chicken breast in a glass casserole, skin side up, and roast in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. Leave cool and then remove meat from bones and set aside for serving.

Make the Quinoa Lentil Salad:

Combine 2 cups/12 oz/340 g of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a medium saucepan. bring to a boil, cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lentils, and the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock and cook another 15 minutes. At the end of this time add in the chopped kale stems and the chopped carrot remains. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes, then turn off the heat. the quinoa and lentils should tender but not mushy, and you should be able to see the little quinoa curlicues.

Transfer while warm to a large mixing bowl and add the ingredients of the Rice Vinegar Dressing directly onto the warm lentils and quinoa. Stir and mix. Taste and adjust if needed. Set this salad aside for serving.

With the Quinoa Lentil Salad done and the Cumin Roast Chicken still roasting, begin the Raw Cauliflower Salad. Chop your red onion, cauliflower, and chiffonade the kale and place all in a pretty serving bowl. Ribbon the carrots using the vegetable peeler, and then chop the pile of ribboned carrots slightly and fold into the salad. Prepare the Basil, Garlic, and Lime Vinaigrette, then dress and toss with the Raw Cauliflower and friends. Set this Raw Cauliflower Salad aside with the Quinoa Lentil Salad, both ready to serve.

Wash and chop the Arugula Mint Salad and set aside in a third pretty bowl for serving.

In the last moments before dinner, make the Creamy Carrot Top Dressing in the blender. Super simple, toss everything in the blender and give it a whir. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Suggested Serving. Let each person serve themselves, but one way to build your salad is to lay down some Arugula Mint Salad, then a bit of the Quinoa Lentil Salad, then Raw Cauliflower Salad, and finally the Cumin Roast Chicken topped with the Creamy Carrot Top Dressing.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Great Quick Gifts From the Kitchen: Granola, Ginger Vinegar, Limoncello, and Freekeh Mushroom Soup MIx

Are you going nuts trying to think of something to give? There's nothing more special than homemade gifts from the kitchen

The first recipe, granola, is the most extensive in terms of work, but worth it, I think. The others can be done in a short time; just needing a blender, jars and pre-planning for shopping for ingredients.  

I know you're busy so I won't fill in with stories and such. Just the Facts, er the recipes, Ma'm. 

Candied Ginger and Berry Cherry Granola 




makes 20 (2 cup) bags or tins

12 tablespoons coconut oil
12 cup combo of walnuts and pecans or unsweetened coconut 
10 cup combo of salted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
1 pint each sweet dreams brown rice syrup and barley malt syrup (substitute honey if you want a sweeter granola) 

30 cups or a bag each organic kamut and barley puffs
4 cups organic rolled oats

8 cup combo of dried cherries and berry blend
2 cups chopped candied ginger

preheat oven to 350 degrees
line 2 full-size or 4 half-size sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside

heat the coconut oil in a large deep pan (you might need two large turkey roasting pans) heat over medium heat and when hot stir in the nuts (hold off adding the coconut) and seeds. stir well and toast lightly.

turn the heat off and stir in the syrups, when well mixed then add in the coconut, dried fruit and candied ginger, stirring well again. finally add in the puffs, 1 bag at a time, and the rolled oats, and stir until all is well combined and coated. divide between the two parchment lined sheet pans  and bake for 12 minutes, stirring once. remove from oven and let cool. package for gifts in zip-lock bags and then in decorative bags or cookie tins. 

Cayenne Pepper and Ginger Vinegar




for a recent pig-picking we made al carson's original recipe for secret sauce. it was killer and so easy. but then as i had these cayenne peppers from the garden bottled in vinegar for a couple of months in the fridge, i thought and i thought, till my puzzler was sore. and then voila!  

1 quart pickled cayenne or jalapeno peppers in vinegar 
3/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 4-inch hands of ginger with the vinegar, sliced

process the peppers with their vinegar in a blender. do the same with the ginger slices. be very careful as the fumes themselves with the vinegar can make you cough. place the contents of the blender in a large stainless-steel pot over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. remove from heat.

ladle into jars while still hot. fill within 1/2 inch of the top. seal and turn the jars upside down. by bottling hot, it will seal itself. does not need refrigeration until after opening and then only to protect flavor.

this sauce can be pretty fierce, but the sweetness gives it a good balance. 
  
Don't Freekeh - Mushroom Soup Mix in a Jar  

Inspired by a visit to Stone Barns Agricultural Center in New York in May. We learned about Freekeh, a roasted green wheat. 

makes 2 quart gift jars - or 4 pint jars

1 1/2 pounds lentils 
1 1/2 pounds freekeh
1 cup dried mushrooms
1/4 cup dried shallots
1 tablespoon each cumin, caraway, and anise or fennel seed

make a label and include these instructions to make the soup

additional ingredients: minced fresh garlic to taste and 1 quart water or stock. to prepare soup: bring water or stock to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat, add soup mix plus fresh garlic. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils and freekeh are tender.



Limoncello with Cherry and Tarragon

10 lemons
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka or everclear
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 large bunch tarragon
1 cup dried cherries

remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for the chutney).

trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith.

place the lemon peels and the tarragon in a 2-quart jar. pour the vodka over the peels and screw on the lid. steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. cool completely. pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. discard the peels and tarragon. add the cherries and transfer the limoncello to bottles.

seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.


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