Creamy Pesto Chicken

July 8th, 2017

Creamy Pesto Chicken

I hope everyone had a bountiful 4th of July celebration.  We had our usual large family get together at the lake with lots of food and wine and fireworks.  Before getting to this wonderful chicken recipe I would like to share some of the highlights of our fun.

4th of July food

Of course there was lots of food.  Here is a typical meal prepared by many hands including our son and daughter-in-law.

4th of July wine tasting

Our annual wine tasting is always a hit.  The wine is supplied by one of the other Davids in our family.  This year he chose Malbecs for the red wine blind tasting.  Known for their plump dark fruit and smoky flavor, Malbecs offer a good alternative to the more expensive Cabernet Sauvignons.  The 4 top place winners were 2013 Burgess Cellars (Napa Valley), 2013 Rewen Estate (Argentina), 2013 Eighty-Four (Napa Valley) and 2014 La Bete Noire (France).

4th of July Porch

On another rainy afternoon, our blind white wine tasting involved Albariño wines.  Most Albariño wines come from the Atlantic Coast of Spain.  Eric Asimov describes them as consistently pleasant, refreshing and resolutely dry with a citrus flavor.  Our top four were a 2016 Senorio de Sobral (Spain), 2015 Pazo Senorans (Spain), 2016 Eighty-Four (Napa Valley) and a 2015 Valminor (Spain).  The Valminor is a great value at $10.77 a bottle.

4th of July Juice tasting

Of course the kids had their own juice and soda tasting.  There was no consistent winner but one total loser.  That would be guava juice.

4th of July jump

But most of the fun was in the water. We love this special holiday.

 

Creamy Pesti Chicken

But back to this wonderful creamy pesto chicken recipe.  My basil is thriving and Kristen brought me some from her garden.  I used the huge bunch she brought me to make pesto.  This was what we had for dinner last night after everyone had gone home.  We needed something light and this recipe from the blog Diethood was perfect.  You can find the recipe here.

Chard and Sweet Corn Gratin

June 27th, 2017

Chard and Sweet Corn Gratin

A good side dish is always welcome on a dinner table.  Sometimes it as simple as sautéed green beans. But I am trying to incorporate unusual combinations in our diet.  Everyone loves corn, but how many people love swiss chard?  In an effort to include it, I made this corn gratin that has all of the friendly flavors of corn with the brightness of healthy chard and nutrient rich red peppers.

 

Chard and Sweet Corn Gratin

We decided to have this with our Chicken instead of potatoes.  A salad rounded out the meal.  Three days to go on the diet marathon.  David is looking forward to enjoying the 4th of July with family without restrictions.  View some of our previous family get togethers.Lake Lure Dinner

Wine-tasting-2015

Needless to say, he will not be sticking to a diet.  We always have a blind wine tasting that involves many wine choices.  (By the way, the plastic bottles on the right are for the kids juice tasting).  So many funny pictures.

Grandkids-juice-tasting-2015

I don’t think any of the adults had this reaction to the fine wines that we were tasting.  Maybe this year we should give the kids  better choices.

IMG_8159

But this was a very good choice for dinner tonight. Hope you give it a try.  Would look pretty on your holiday table.

American Flag

Happy 4th of July.  Will see you next week.  Enjoy!

CHARD AND SWEET CORN GRATIN ( The New York Times )

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 generous bunch (3/4 to 1 pound) Swiss or rainbow chard, stemmed and washed
  • Salt
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 to 3 ounces Gruyère, grated (1/2 to 3/4 cup), to taste
  • Kernels from 2 cooked ears sweet corn (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin.
  2. Blanch chard: Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem and wash the chard leaves. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add chard leaves. (Set aside stems for another use, or discard.) Blanch 1 to 2 minutes, until tender but still bright. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, then drain thoroughly and squeeze out excess water; chop medium-fine.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet and add red pepper . Cook, stirring, until pepper is soft.  Add garlic and cook  30 seconds to a minute, then stir in rosemary, thyme and chopped blanched chard. Season with salt and pepper and stir over medium heat until chard is nicely coated with oil, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in chard mixture and Gruyère. Stir in corn and mix well. Scrape into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan over top and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
  5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned on the top and sides. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs

June 22nd, 2017

Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs

We have a weight loss contest going on in our household.  David and one of our New Year’s Eve gang friends, Barbara, have challenged each other to lose 15 pounds.  The first one to do so will get a monetary reward.  They both have been struggling since January 1st with a weigh-in each Monday.  They are both getting close.  It is down to just a few pounds each.  But they have decided to extend the contest to 20 pounds lost.  Needless to say, I have been challenged to put healthy low-fat food on the table.

Margarita-Glazed Chicken Thighs

Cooking Light came to the rescue with this Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs recipe.  The spiced flour coating made the thighs crispy.  The tequila sauce, onions and tropical fruit added juiciness to the oven braised dish.  It was a real winner.  It was also quick and easy.  I served it with farro and broccolini.

Margarita-Glazed Chicken Thighs

We had this for dinner last night.  It may have done the trick, because David’s weigh-in this morning indicated 4 pounds to go to reach the 20 pound goal.  I hope no one gives Barbara this recipe.

MARGARITA-BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS ( Cooking Light )

1/2 cup flour
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking Spray
1 cup thinly sliced onion (about 1 medium)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tropical dried fruit (I used a combination of cranberries and pineapple)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup tequila
1 lime, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small baking dish.  Sprinkle chicken with salt; dredge chicken in flour mixture.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Transfer chicken to a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.

Combine fruit, juice, and tequila in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave at high 2 minutes.  Pour fruit mixture into pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Cook 1 minute.  Pour onion mixture over chicken; top with lime slices.  Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.  Yield: 4 servings.  350 Calories.

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Cauliflower Cake

June 15th, 2017

Caulifower Cake

Spreading my wings in cultural awareness of Middle Eastern Cuisine has taken me to cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi.  In partnership with Sami Tamimi he wrote the cookbook Jerusalem, his home city, which reflects the diverse cuisines of the Muslims, Christians and Jewish communities within its borders.  Now a well known vegetarian chef and restaurant owner in London, Ottolenghi has received many awards for his innovative cuisine.  More cookbooks followed among them Plenty and Plenty More.

Cauliflower Cake

From the cookbook Plenty More, I made this savory Cauliflower Cake.  Many of Ottolenghi’s recipes require unusual ingredients, but this is a pretty straightforward recipe.  The only ingredient that I did not have access to was nigella seeds.  As they are only sprinkled on the sides of the cake along with sesame seeds, I did not consider them necessary.

We love this cake.  Cauliflower florets are suspended in an eggy cake batter with flecks of rosemary, basil and red onions.  To make it even better in my mind, I added cubes of ham.  But you could leave it vegetarian and it would still be delicious.  There is added richness with lots of Parmesan cheese.  I think an aged cheddar would also be good.  I will be looking for nigella seeds because some reviewers said the seeds on the edges added a nice crunch.

Califlower Cake

You can serve this cake along with a salad for a light supper or make it for a brunch with friends.  It makes me happy.  Enjoy the coming Father’s Day weekend.

CAULIFLOWER CAKE

Serves 4 to 6

1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1 1/4-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 medium red onion, peeled (6 ounces)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
7 large eggs
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan or another aged cheese
Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also known as black caraway)
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.

Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch/5-mm thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.

Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch/24-cm springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Rhubarb Spoon Cake

June 6th, 2017

Rhubarb Spoon Cake

Rhubarb season is almost over, but I did find some fresh rhubarb at the market last week.  My history with rhubarb is long.  In my day, children walked to and from school every day; sometimes alone.  I remember my Mother going with me to my kindergarten orientation.  We walked.  She told my to pay attention to where we were going because I would be responsible to get myself to the school building every day.  On the first day of school I made the trek alone and found my way.  I marveled, later, as an adult that my Mom would allow me to do that even though we lived in a small town and the school was not too far away.  But years later, my Mom confessed that she discretely followed me on that first day.  It was a safer world in those days.

One of the things that I loved about these walks was taking in the houses, lawns and gardens as I passed by.  I still remember the cracks in the sidewalks and the neighborhood dogs.  But every Spring, one home in particular held my attention.  It had a huge garden with a rhubarb patch.  The appearance of rhubarb became my harbinger of Spring in our cold Michigan weather.

Rhubarb Spoon Cake

This Rhubarb Spoon Cake is another recipe from Erin French’s new cookbook {the} Lost Kitchen.  It is a simple cake with great flavor.  The rhubarb is made ahead of time as a sweetened compote.  The batter is light and by the time it is baked, you will almost wish you could spoon it out of the skillet and eat it with dollops of whipped cream.

Rhubarb Spoon Cake

Why not just do that very thing?  Place the cake in the center of your table and spoon out what you want.  It is that good.

RHUBARB SPOON CAKE ( {the} Lost Kitchen by Erin French )

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
Rhubarb Compote (Recipe follows)
Whipped cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Coat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, with butter and flour, shaiking out any excess flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, milk, sour cream, and melted butter.  Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated.

Pour about two-thirds of the compote into the greased skillet and spread evely.  Pour the cake batter over it, spread evenly, then dollop the remaining compote over the top.  Use a butter knife to swirl together the batter and compote.

Bake until a cake tester or knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  I like to serve this warm, directly from the skillet, with a big spoon and a bowl of whipped cream to dollop on top.

RHUBARB COMPOTE

3 cups chopped rhubarb (1-inch pieces)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until the rhubarb becomes tender and sauce-like, about 5 minutes.  (Mine took longer).  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.