June – Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

June – Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

This is really a basic recipe for grilling chicken legs, by that I mean pieces where the thigh and leg are in one piece. You could cook these in your oven if the weather turns less than ideal, a sudden cold snap or rain shower.

I used a simple marinade; the juice of a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano (or a tablespoon of dried…actually I used both), a good slug of olive oil, and a little kosher salt. Rub this all over the legs and let them sit at room temperature for an hour or refrigerate, covered, longer (even overnight).

Heat a gas grill or your oven to 400 degrees F. Make sure the grill is clean and well oiled. Start the legs skin side down and turn at 20 minutes. We cooked them with grill covered for about 40 minutes. In the oven you can leave them skin side up for the entire time, it will still probably be 40 minutes.

I served them with grilled cauliflower (yes, you can cook cauliflower on the grill) with a Sicilian inspired puttanesca relish. That recipe will be posted.

Grilled Cauliflower

Greek Chicken Legs

I bet the wonderful folks over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday virtual blogging party would enjoy this. I am headed over to Fiesta Friday #334 where you will find a collection of recipes, craft and decorating ideas. Come on over and join us. This week’s co-host is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

In My Garden – June 2020

In My Garden – June 2020

I want to open with a quote:

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.” Robin Wall Kimmerer

You are indeed a lucky person if you have a garden right now. I know it has saved me.

I have had difficulty writing my IMG post this month. I spend almost every day out in the garden…weeding, pruning, harvesting, pulling out spent annuals, watering, and planting new summer and fall plants in both the vegetable garden and flower beds. How can I possibly tie it down to how it looks in one day when it is constantly changing? And it isn’t changing slowly either, I notice new things every day. The colors, scents, and shapes are never the same one day to the next. This blog post tries to tie it down but I think I need a movie to give a true picture.

But now in mid-June it is time. So here is a snapshot of what has developed in the last month.

Quinn is our big hunter of gophers and moles.

Quinn

Who me?

She frequently does more damage than good, especially with moles, digging deeply along their tunnels. It’s not so bad when she finds a tunnel in the forest. Other than returning covered in redwood needles, she can do little to hurt the deep piles of duff under the trees. However, every once in a while she finds them in the middle of the flower garden before we notice. Such was the case here…

It took us two weeks to catch the thing, knowing she would just dig it up again if we didn’t get it.

Casey, by contrast, can’t be bothered.

Casey

Just let me be a couch potato

The vegetable garden has changed a lot since we prepared the beds. There are three varieties of bush beans planted in this one.

Under the cover of plastic, zucchini is flourishing and we are harvesting our first crop.

Summer Squash

Zucchini

I cover them in the evening and uncover them once the sun hits the beds in the morning.

I also have some cucumbers and tomatoes growing under one of the mini greenhouses provided by the plastic covering. They seem to be doing well so far and I will let you know if I actually get a crop this year, it will be a first.

I have both sweet pea flowers and edible snap/snow peas in this bed.

Peas

Flowering and edible peas

The first dahlia to bloom.

Dahlias

Dahlias

And here are some shots of the flower garden.

June is truly the most beautiful month in the garden. Northern California is at it’s most colorful in spring.

And here is the pollinator garden. With the exception of a few salvia’s and day lilies, only last year’s wildflowers have reseeded it. The colors and flowers in bloom change weekly. It is full of the buzz of bees, fluttering butterflies, and the calls of small birds feasting on dropped seed heads.

 

Now the weather has warmed we are enjoying being outside, appropriately socially distanced with close friends. The back deck is a perfect place.

Set up for a socially distanced glass of wine

Back deck set up for an appropriately distanced glass of wine with friends – Casey and Quinn join us

The hummingbirds feeding in the bottlebrush tree behind the deck entertain us with their arguments and fights over territory.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into my garden. Questions and comments are welcome.

And it you travel to the coast know that the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are now open. Make sure you make an appointment, they are well worth a visit.

In My Kitchen – June 2020

In My Kitchen – June 2020

How are you doing? I realize that is mostly a rhetorical question – although I would absolutely welcome replies from all of my almost 300 readers.

Who wouldn’t be distressed right now? It seems frivolous to talk about events in my kitchen, even though it is a source of great comfort. I can (mostly) control things there while around me everything feels out of control and falling apart.

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”

– Ijeoma Oluo

We all have hidden biases and prejudices. Knowing and examining them is the first step to having an open heart.

Covid still silently stalks us In the midst of demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice. I understand the anger and frustration of the marchers, and the feeling of solidarity in joining together. We have all been separated during the shelter-in-place orders. But Covid-19 is still out there, we won’t know who or where it will strike for another few weeks. Where do we go from here? I really don’t know.

So, I will go to my kitchen.

In my kitchen I have the remainder of a jar of lemon/lime curd. There isn’t much left and I will soon make another batch. We love it on toast or an English muffin for breakfast, or on a cracker with a cup of tea as a mid afternoon pickup.

Lemon and Lime Curd

Lemon and Lime Curd

Here’s the strange thing, the yellow colored citrus fruit is a lime and the green ones are unripe lemons. If you leave a lime on the tree long enough it turns yellow even though it still tastes like a lime.

I made the curd sous vide which ensures you don’t actually curdle the eggs. It’s a perfect batch every time.

Makes about 1 1/4 cup

Lemon Curd

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice or a combination of lemons and limes
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat your water bath to 180 degrees F (82 degrees C)
  2. Sterilize a 1 pint canning jar, lid and ring (I just pour boiling water into the jar and let it sit until the water bath is heated or put it through your dishwasher)
  3. Place the egg yolks in a small food processor
  4. Add the sugar and pulse until it dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly
  5. Add the lemon juice and melted butter, pulse to incorporate. Don’t over process or it will turn frothy.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared jar.
  7. Seal the jar, finger tight, in immerse in the water bath for 45 minutes to an hour.
  8. Remove the jar from the water, open the jar and stir to mix. Reseal.
  9. Cool in an ice/water bath and refrigerate.

This will store for up to 2 weeks if it lasts that long. You can also freeze it.

The weather has finally warmed enough to sit outside with a glass of wine in the early evening. I made pizza with a crust of puffed pastry, perfect for alfresco dining.

We’ve also dusted and uncovered the grill. These Turkish lamb chops were delicious.

A cloudy chilly day brought me back indoors for slow baked salmon with a charred broccoli pesto.

We’ve had lots of salads from the garden and the first zucchini squash.

zucchini

Zucchini

I am looking forward to snap peas and green beans, it will probably be a few more weeks until they are ready to harvest. Meanwhile I have been enjoying vegetables out of the Nye Ranch CSA box.

Nye Ranch CSA

Nye Ranch CSA

In my kitchen I have flowers. Our rhododendrons are blooming, also poppies and many other flowers. I always have a fresh bouquet nearby.

Poppies and Rhodies

Poppies and Rhodies

This post is part of virtual blogging party, In My Kitchen, hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings.

The link above will allow you to read stories of kitchens around the world, written by accomplished cooks and travelers. Please join us, and if you are a blogger, add your own linked post about your own kitchen adventures.

 

 

June – Turkish Lamb Chops

June – Turkish Lamb Chops

This is a meal capable of lifting spirits, and right now I think we all need a bit of that. The news keeps getting worse, it makes me very sad and distressed. I am sorry, sorry for the U.S. and sorry for the world. We are all in need of loving arms around us, hard come by in this time of social distancing.

There is some comfort in feeding yourself and your family well. The warming spices in this dish of Turkish lamb chops just might lesson your heartache a little. Cook it on your grill if the evening is warm enough, sit on your deck or patio with a glass of wine or a cocktail or something sparkling with a lime wedge.  Listen to the evening songs of the birds. Be at peace.

Turkish Lamb Chops

Turkish Lamb Chops

The tahini sauce is optional. I almost left it out, but don’t do that. It adds a creamy counterpoint to the spices. And, leftover sauce was delicious the next night drizzled over a simple grilled chicken breast.

Ingredients for the lamb:

  • I tablespoon Marash Turkish pepper, or Aleppo pepper, or a large pinch of red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in loin lamb chops, thicker the better
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the tahini Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 3/4 kosher salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons of ice water

For serving:

  • fresh dill or fennel fronds, thinly sliced mint leaves, chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Ground sumac (optional)

Method for the lamb:

  1. Combine the red pepper, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small bowl.
  2. Heat a small dry skillet over medium heat and toast the spices until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour onto a small plate to cool and once cool, pour into a mortar or spice grinder. Add the salt and black pepper. Then pound or grind briefly until you have a coarse-textured spice mix. You do not want them to be too finely ground.
  4. Pat the spice mixture all over the lamb chops, let them marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or uncovered in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Method for the tahini sauce:

  1. In a food processor blend the lemon juice, garlic and salt. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes then add the tahini and ground cumin, blend until a thick paste forms. With the processor running, add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

To finish:

  1. Heat the grill or broiler on high.
  2. Drizzle the chops lightly with olive oil. Grill until they are charred on the outside and cooked to your taste. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops and your desired end. Mine took 3 minutes on each side for medium rare.
Turkish Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

This recipe comes directly from a wonderful cookbook, Dinner – Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark published in 2017.

To ease kitchen boredom I have been perusing forgotten cookbooks and this one is definitely a winner. I took the recommendation of a friend and have a family member pick a cookbook, then I chose a recipe out of that book to make for dinner. It’s sometimes a stretch to find a recipe that matches ingredients on hand, but it’s a fun challenge and keeps me out of the dinner rut.

I think the mix of spices would also be good on a chicken breast, halved horizontally and pounded to an even thinness. Or grilled tofu, first drained between paper towels, then sliced before coating and baking or grilling.

I am taking this dish to share on Fiesta Friday #331 hosted by the lovely Angie. I am this week’s co-host so come on over to the virtual blogging party to find a new recipe or craft idea right from your arm chair.

Stay well everyone, and safe. Let me know how you are doing. We are all having up days, and down days.

May – Puff Pastry Pizza

May – Puff Pastry Pizza

I have been wanting to make this for weeks but it kept getting pushed to the back of the menu.

Imagine it…crisp puff pastry that flakes and crackles when you bite in, creamy melty cheese, and some interesting additions. It’s like a pizza croissant. Oh my! This was amazing. It’s perfect for a summer snack out on the deck or patio with friends, I’d add a glass of rose or white wine to round out the celebration. Cut it into small strips or slabs, larger ones for a whole meal. Use whatever ingredients you have on hand. In my book almost anything is possible and allowable on a pizza. It’s the perfect food.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sliced Zucchini Flowers and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

I don’t have an actual recipe, fly by the seat of your pants and your own families preferences. You will need a frozen package of puff pastry. Defrost it in the fridge for a few hours or on the counter for 40 minutes.

While your oven is preheating to 410 degrees F, unfold the pastry (there will be 2 sheets) onto separate parchment lined baking sheets. Crimp the folds together if necessary, then use a small sharp knife to make a shallow cut about 1/2 an inch from each edge. Try not to cut all the way through to the bottom.

Once your oven has reached full temperature, bake the unfilled pastry sheets for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add your desired filling. I recommend you not make it too runny, you want the bottom crust under the filling to remain crisp.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Spread caramelized onions in the center on one sheet, top with thinly sliced fresh chives and blue cheese crumbles. Garnish with chives, add a few chive flowers before serving.
  2. Thinly slice fresh mozzarella to the center, add halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini flowers and basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

Once you have added your topping, bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until hot, melted and browned.

This is fancy stuff without fancy time on your part.

Serve it for lunch or dinner with a green salad. To me this is perfect alfresco dining.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

 

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

I’m going to cut this into enough pieces to share on Fiesta Friday #330 hosted by Angie. Fiesta Friday is a collection of posts about food, gardening, fashion, and crafts…a virtual party. Come on over and take a look and/or add your own link. Please read the link rules first. This week’s cohost is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Thank you for visiting, I would love to hear how you are doing. And finally, have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe and well.