In the Garden – July 2018

In the Garden – July 2018

I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July holiday if you are reading this in the U.S. On the coast the town of Mendocino hosts an old time parade which is quite a community event. Labor Day is the time Fort Bragg has its own parade. An example of the cooperation between the two cities, only a few miles apart.

 

We appreciate our volunteer firefighters and Cal Fire personnel in Mendocino County and they lead the parade. The summer fire season has been devastating to so many communities and is a constant worry. I must admit to tearing a little as these brave men and women from communities up and down the Northern California coast drove very noisily by sirens blasting.

But, now on to events in the garden.

Summer is here and I find It is at that “in between” stage. In between the lush new growth of spring (which is now sprawling, overgrown and starting to go to seed) and the not-quite-yet growth of summer flowers.

New this month are the tomatoes and zucchini planted in half wine barrels. Although the tomatoes are still green and I don’t expect ripe ones until the end of August, the zucchini are already productive.

Green tomatoes

Zucchini

First harvest of zucchini

With the warm weather we have been able to set up a couple of outside seating and eating areas, plus chairs around an outdoor fire-pit for star watching and the making of s’mores. Are you familiar with them? They are a traditional summer camping dessert. to make them you melt and brown a marshmallow on a stick over an open fire and sandwich it with a chocolate square between two graham crackers. The hot marshmallow melts the chocolate and makes a very messy but delicious treat.

It’s lovely to set and watch the birds, especially the darting hummingbirds. I find myself resenting any time that I need to stay inside.

Here are a few shots of the flower gardens.

I’ve started to cut back the California poppies; they will put out a second bloom later this summer although not as profusely or as tall. They were starting to sprawl everywhere and cut off the sun of other plantings in addition to setting seed.

The sweet peas are blooming in the half wine barrel, one of my favorite flowers. I wasn’t sure they would do well in a container but it has worked very well.

Sweet peas

 

I’ve saved some of the seeds of the poppies and am hoping they will reseed themselves for next year. It’s been exciting to find out what will succeed in this coastal climate with sandy soil compared to the had clay I had in Oakland.

There are new plants going in…more snapdragons, coral colored yarrow, pink nicotina, blue penstemons, sunflowers, hummingbird mint, and a burgundy leaved tea tree. Look for more about these next month.

New plants

Next week we depart on an Alaska cruise with friends so I am not sure how much gardening I will be able to do in the coming weeks. Fingers crossed that my house sitter will keep things alive while we are gone. The dogs are already disturbed by the open suitcases as we pack for the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June – Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Crispy Chickpeas

June – Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Crispy Chickpeas

Do you ever crave something juicy and yet crunchy? What about gluten and egg free? If you are avoiding gluten, sometimes it is difficult to find both. But these flavorful “breaded” filets will satisfy your craving. Even better, these chicken filets are completely grain-free since they are coated with healthy chickpea crumbs instead of flour or panko. You can find these crumbs at better grocery stores, be on the lookout. I’ve seen them on Amazon but you need to buy a case, a bit too many packages unless you can get a group together for the purchase.

Even if you are not avoiding gluten or other grains, these chicken filets are just plain yummy. You could even turn them into a chicken parmesan. Add some grated parmesan to the crumbs, once they are cooked, coat with a delicious tomato sauce, cover with a slice of melty mozzarella and run under the broiler for a minute. There you go!

Chickpea Crumbs

I seasoned the crumbs with Toasted Fennel Spice, a mixture from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking. I’ve made this spice mix many times and often give it as Christmas gifts.

Fennel Spice

Here is a link to the recipe. Fennel Spice is a mixture of toasted fennel, coriander, black peppercorns, chili flakes, and chili powder. It also calls for ground cinnamon, which I sometimes leave out. It’s delicious with poultry, also pork and fish.

When coating the chicken you can dip it into egg first; or do as I did and dip the filets into the liquid from a can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, it is called aquafaba. Aquafaba is used in many recipes as a vegan replacement for egg whites. It’s amazing stuff! You can make anything from meringues and macarons to marshmallows and more. It acts as a binder, leavening agent, emulsifier, or anything an egg white traditionally does—but without the cruelty or cholesterol. Actually I just learned that the juice from other canned beans have the same properties, great northern are somewhat milder. Anyway, if you are avoiding eggs for any reason, try aquafaba. Use this link and the one above for some ideas.

Anyway, I dipped the pounded chicken thighs in aquafaba before coating in chickpea crumbs, then served roasted chickpeas with the filets. They got a triple dose of chickpeas. All were additionally flavored with Toasted Fennel Spice.

IMG_7591

Breaded thighs ready for the oven

Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Toasted Fennel Spice Mix

IMG_7598

Chickpea crusted chicken with Fennel Spice

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 1 cup of chickpea crumbs
  • 1 can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained but liquid saved
  • 1 tablespoon or more of toasted spice
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parsley for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, coat one lightly coat with olive oil.
  3. Add the liquid from the can of chickpeas to a shallow pan.
  4. Spread the garbanzo crumbs in another shallow pan, season with the toasted spice and salt and freshly ground pepper
  5. Flatten the chicken thighs or breasts between two pieces of waxed paper using a heavy rolling pin or mallet. You want them to be of uniform thickness.
  6. Dip the thighs first in the aquafaba, then into the crumbs, coating both sides. Place each on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spritz lightly with olive oil.
  7. Spread the drained garbanzos or chickpeas on the second sheet, sprinkle with lightly with olive oil and season with more Toasted Fennel Spice.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through, and the garbanzo beans are crisp. The beans might be done before the chicken so check periodically.
  9. Serve garnished with parsley.

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    Crunchy crisp chickpeas

 

I think I will take this one to the Fiesta over at Angies, it’s Fiesta Friday #229 and I am the co-host this week. Come on over, and please add your own link. Make sure to read the directions though so you are included in the voting.

June – Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

June – Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Here is a one dish dinner, you only need a salad or some type of green vegetable to round things out. Chicken wings are a popular item this time of year. Use the smallest new potatoes or fingerlings available, or cut larger new potatoes into halves or quarters.

Lemon Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Perfect food for eating outside on the first warm summer evening.

This is more a Mediterranean/Greek style dish than your traditional bar snack chicken wing recipe. You can use the larger drumette portion of the wing or the midsection or even the entire wing. I had to use a mixture, with the onset of grilling season (and the basketball finals) chicken wings were in short supply. These wings are baked with wine, lots of lemon slices, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, plenty of black pepper and s pinch of red pepper flakes. The potatoes bake in the juices, both are delicious right out of the oven but the leftovers were good as well at cool room temperature.

These chicken wings come from the oven crispy brown in places, as do the potatoes. This is finger food so provide lots of napkins.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds very small potatoes, such as fingerlings, whole or use medium-size yellow-fleshed potatoes cut in halves or wedges
  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 small lemons (prefer organic unwaxed), cut in to 1/4 inch half moon slices
  • 6 large rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine or rose
  • chopped fresh or dried oregano for garnish (I didn’t have any available and used arugula)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse potatoes (trim if necessary) and pat dry.
  2. Spread the chicken wings on a baking sheet or cutting board in one layer. Season both sides of the wings with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with red pepper flakes as desired.
  3. Transfer the seasoned wings to a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon slices, rosemary and garlic. Toss well to coat the wings.
  4. Place the potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange the seasoned wings and lemons slices over the potatoes in a single layer. Add the wine and cover the pan tightly with foil.
  5. Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
  6. Replace the pan in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until browned.
  7. Turn the wings and bake for another 20 minutes so both sides are brown and crisp.
  8. Serve hot or cool to room temperature, garnished with fresh or dried chopped oregano if available.

 

Roast Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Browned Lemon Chicken Wings

Lemony Chicken Wings

The lemon slices end up being sweet and the juices just needed you to mash a few potatoes to soak it up.

This recipe came from the New York Times, from the City Kitchen by David Tanis.

I am taking it to share with Angie and the rest of the party at Fiesta Friday #229. And and guess what, I am the co-host this week. Click on the link to see all the lovely blog posts that are on the list. And please, read the link directions and add your own.

 

 

In My Kitchen – June 2018

In My Kitchen – June 2018

This month is about gratitude. I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for wonderful and loving friends and family who joined us to celebrate our new home, two significant birthdays, our 30 year anniversary, and survival. Survival through my second brush with cancer last year. i have a lot to be grateful for.

Gratitude

My kitchen and home in Fort Bragg was filled with those friends. Here is a small glimpse of those who came to celebrate. I wish there were more pictures. We had such a lovely time that we were too busy to take them. Even the playlist (that I spent hours pouring over) never got played. It would have interrupted the conversation.

My tartine sous chefs – Diane, Pat and Jane

I had lots of eager help. These lovely ladies came from Florida and Texas, they were my sous chefs for the three tartines served as a first course. Such a joy to have them in my kitchen.

In my kitchen is pickled asparagus, wonderful minced and mixed with sour cream (and/or mayonnaise) as a sauce for roasted asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus

Roast Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

In my kitchen I had another sous chef who helped with the lentil salad and many more tasks in the week prior to the party.

Lentils with roasted cauliflower, almonds, dates and sliced onions – Marylinn

The lentil salad was a big hit. Thank you to my book club friend who recommended the recipe and my San Diego friend who helped assemble it.

Roast cauliflower and lentil salad with dates and almonds

In my kitchen I had grilled salmon. My husband was able to purchase an entire 18 pound salmon in Oakland’s Chinatown a few days before the party. The recipe came from A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Ericklson in Seattle. It was amazing. Only a little was left over to be smoked by another friend. Look for that in next month’s post.

Grilled Salmon with Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Salad

In my kitchen I had sous vide chicken breasts with magic green sauce.

Sous vide chicken breasts with magic green sauce

Sous vide chicken breasts, coconut brown rice

And in my kitchen I always have an eager clean up crew.

We are ready anytime you need us!!!

Thank you everyone or coming and spending time in my home and kitchen; whether in person, in spirit, on on line. I truly feel blessed.

This post is part of a monthly peek into kitchens around the world, and I do mean the world. Australia, US, sometimes New Zealand, the UK and others that come and go. Sherry @ Sherry’s Pickings is the host. There is always something new, click on the link to take a look and please, join in with us.

May – Three Crostini or Tartines or Bruschettas

May – Three Crostini or Tartines or Bruschettas

Whatever you call them and no matter what their size, these toppings are unique and delicious. I call them the perfect start for a party. Made larger, bruschetta sized, they could even be considered dinner. What is the difference between the three? Crostini are smaller, in Italian the word translates as “little toasts”. Bruschetta comes from the Italian word ‘bruscare’ meaning ‘to roast over coals‘. Traditionally thin slices of bread are toasted and rubbed with garlic, then drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and served warm. They are usually larger than a crostini and can be topped with almost anything…I love them topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and vine ripened tomatoes in late summer. Add a glass of rose to the mix and I am in heaven. A tartine is the French version of an open faced sandwich, pretty much the same thing as a crostini. All three start with a crisp slice of toasted bread.

The three toppings are fresh ricotta and pickled plums, fresh goat cheese with pickled fennel, and sweet butter with chili marinated anchovies.

If you don’t have pickled plums on hand (I had a couple of jars in the pantry from my backyard plum tree at the old house), use any pickled sweet fruit. And if you haven’t tried pickled fruit you are missing something. They are amazing in combination with cheese. I’ve seen some jars in the gourmet grocery stores. You can find recipes on-line, here’s one I found interesting. I might try pickling peaches this summer, they sound delicious as well.

You can toast the bread a day or two ahead and store the toasts (once cool) in a plastic bag. They keep well and leftovers make a delicious and crunchy garnish for a bowl of soup or a dip. When the kids were little I kept a jar on the kitchen counter, they didn’t last long and were a favorite snack.

To make the toasts, cut a baguette into 1/4 inch slices (you want it thick enough to hold the toppings but not so big that it isn’t an easy bite if you are standing up with a glass of wine in the other hand). Heat your oven to 350 degrees F and lay the bread slices in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake for about 7 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Check them frequently as they can burn. You want them a little charred and brown on the edges but not blackened.

Ricotta with Pickled Plums

Soft Goat Cheese with Pickled Fennel

Chili Marinated Anchovies with Sweet Butter

Pickled Fennel Tartines

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh fennel fronds
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into ½-inch slices

For serving

  • 2 dozen toasts
  • 1 lb. fresh goats cheese
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Fine sea salt such as Maldon
  • ½ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

METHOD:

1 day to a month in advance, pickle the fennel. 

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, salt, red pepper flakes, and optional fennel fronds.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pack the fennel into 3 wide mouth pint sized canning jars.
  4. Carefully pour the hot brine over the fennel, diving the herbs and spices between the jars at the end.
  5. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. For serving, add a smear of goat cheese to each toast, top with some chopped pickled fennel, then a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt and a leaf of chopped parsley.

 

Tartine with chili-marinated anchovies and sweet butter

INGREDIENTS:

First prepare the anchovies if they came packed in salt.

  • 1 (1.5 lb.) can of salt-cured anchovies
  • 1 (10.2 oz.) jar of Calabrian cilis
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) good quality sweet butter (unsalted)
  • 2 dozen toasts from a good quality baguette

METHOD:

Marinate the anchovies at least a week before making the crustadas.

  1. Rinse them well.
  2. Place them in a large bowl and add water to cover, soak for about 2 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse again, then set aside to “drip dry” in a colander. Use when no longer drippin
  4. Drain the oil from the jar of chilis into the work bowl of a food processor or heavy duty blender.
  5. Add the chilis, removing and discarding the stems, keep the seeds. Pulse the chili oil and chilis together about 10 times, until roughly chopped.
  6. Add half the chili mixture to a large mixing bowl, pulse the remaining until more finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse to blend.
  7. Once the anchovies are dry, transfer them to the bowl. Pour over the pureed chili mixture. Blend gently.
  8. Transfer the mix to a large glass container, seal, and refrigerate for at least a week or up to 6 months.

Just before serving, use a cheese slicer, vegetable slicer, or a sharp knife to shave the butter into thin slices. Cover each toast with the butter shavings, top each with 1 or 2 anchovies, and serve.

Lastly, the ricotta and pickled plums. You could use any pickled fruit for this one, the interest is between the ricotta and sweet but tart pickle. Pickled sliced and spiced peaches would be good, also figs. Use what you have in your cupboard or in the local specialty grocery store. I happened to have some pickled plum from a backyard tree. Let me know if you want my recipe for pickling them. They were cherry plums, actually wild ones that had sown themselves from the neighbors yard.

Unfortunately I don’t have any final finished pictures because they were carried out to a hungry crowd as most excellent nibbles to have with a glass of wine or beer. The contrast made them interesting and easy to eat while in the midst of conversation.

 

From A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus, Menus and Stories. i have really enjoyed this cookbook from Renee Erickson of the Seattle based restaurants.