In My Kitchen – July 2017

In My Kitchen – July 2017

Can you believe we are on the downward slope of the year? It’s July, oh my goodness. And it’s one of my favorite times of the month, time for another “In My Kitchen” post. This one will be linked with the rest of the IMK bloggers through Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings. Click on the link to read the stories of kitchen adventures around the world.

There are lots of new things in my kitchen, starting with this lovely tea towel a friend brought back to me from her trip to Iceland.

Iceland tea towel

Also new is the hedgehog scrubber I saw at the store, I couldn’t resist. It is very flexible so gets into the corners of a pan and is safe for non-stick surfaces.

Hedgehog scrubber

Are you familiar with Yotam Ottolenghi? He is the inspiration behind the London restaurants Ottolenghi and NOPI, and has written several vegetarian cook books. They include Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem. His recipes have a wonderful mix of new spices, exotic ingredients, and methods (at least to me), many of them coming from the middle east. He now has a column in the New York Times Wednesday food section. In one last month he discussed Tahini, giving a review and recommendation of brands. I must admit to being a tahini ignoramus. Although I use it often, I had no idea that I was buying an inferior brand. Usually there is only one brand available at the store. Al Arz was one of the brands he uses in his restaurants, I found it on Amazon and immediately purchased a couple of jars. Oh my!!! What a difference! My eyes have been opened.

Tahini Sauce

His cookbooks use a number of items that are not familiar to me. When I saw these dried Black Lemon Omani, I immediately purchased a bag. So far I have dropped one into a braised chicken dish where they added a gentle citrus flavor. I will be doing more experimenting.

Dried Lemons

Baked Chicken with Thai flavors and Dried Lemons

Also in my kitchen the month is this strange fruit which looks like something out of a horror movie. It was at Trader Joe’s and I had to try it. The guy next to me just opened a package and took one out to eat, but I was too well brought up to do the same and purchased a whole package containing about 10. They are called ranbutan. Once you peel off the hairy shell (it is soft), a silver colored fruit that looks like a lychee is revealed. It has a pit and tastes a bit like a lychee. Have any of you tried it? I am not sure I am a fan, ok but not great.

Ranbutan

New in my kitchen is this charming tea cup with a strainer inside. I have been drinking more loose herb teas and this cup makes it very convenient to brew just one cup.

Tea Cup and Infuser

I fell for the green grass on the outside. It reminds me of the meadow at our cabin on the coast.

Not new at all are these glasses that belonged to my grandparents.

Antique Glasses

They are absolutely lovely, very fine crystal. But we are trying to downsize and my heart is broken. I am not sure I can bear to part with them but the glass size is very small compared to more modern wine glasses. This set also contains glasses for sherry and port, which we do not often drink. Storage space is going to be at a premium.

In my kitchen are the first figs from one of my two container trees on the deck. I hope to plant these trees in Fort Bragg once I find the perfect spot. These are perfectly ripe and I only just managed to collect them before the squirrels. Figs don’t ripen once you harvest them so having a backyard tree is a luxury. It is only a little tree but there are dozens of fruit ripening.

Figs

In my kitchen is the first strawberry jam of the year. In past years I would have already been preserving like crazy but this year has been busy.

In lastly but certainly not least, in my kitchen are my constant companions, always ready in case of an accidental spill or dropped treat.

Casey and Quinn

What’s new in your kitchen?

June – Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

June – Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

This scrumptious salad was inspired and came together by combining two recipes, the Tomato Chickpea Salad from the blog kitchn, and one for Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad from the cookbook Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Are you familiar with Yotam Ottolenghi? He is the inspiration behind the London restaurants Ottolenghi and NOPI, and has written several vegetarian cook books. They include Plenty and Jerusalem, in addition to Plenty More. His recipes have a wonderful mix of new spices, exotic ingredients, and methods (at least to me), many of them coming from the middle east. I changed some of the spices (I adore cumin, allspice not so much) and added the stir fried chickpeas from the kitchn recipe to make it a heartier dish.

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

The new method in this salad is the addition of roasted lemons. I love the way lemons become caramelized and sweet when roasted, sheet pan roasted chicken and citrus is a favorite at our house. But, I had never thought of adding them to a salad. They add a wonderful citrusy scent and mellow lemon flavor sweetened by the roasting. Take a deep breath when you open the oven to check on them, the aroma is incredible. I had a sudden craving for lemon meringue.

Roasted Lemons – before

Roasted Lemons – after

This salad will be even better at the height of tomato season, unfortunately it’s still a few weeks away for us and I missed the farmer’s market last weekend. Use the best cherry tomatoes you can find (a variety is colorful), the rest of the ingredients will certainly ramp things up.

This is a salad I will be making multiple times this summer, it is a perfect side for a BBQ or potluck. In fact it is my addition to a friends party on the 4th of July. It has the benefit of also being both vegan and vegetarian, so can be served to a variety of guests without worry about dietary restrictions. You could bulk it up even further by increasing the amount of herbs or adding some arugula. It is even hearty enough to serve as a main dish with the addition of some crisp bread.

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

The recipe will serve 4 but it is easily doubled or even tripled. Make the roasted lemons and chickpeas earlier in the day, all you have to do later is assemble.

Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

  • 2 medium lemons, unwaxed and organic preferred
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 8 sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (it is nice to have a mixture of colors)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (or 325 degrees C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the lemons in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Thinly slice the half lemons into half rounds (paper fine if possible).
  3. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
  4. Add the lemon slices to the boiling water, and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain well, place the lemon slices in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and the shredded sage leaves. Mix well.  Spread the lemon slices out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake the lemon slices for about 20 minutes until the edges have browned and they have dried out a bit. Remove and set aside to cool.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the chickpeas. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and spread out in a single layer. Cook without stirring until browned on the bottom (about 4-5 minutes). Salt and stir them, spread them out again to brown the other side. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and blistered on all sides. Remove from the heat, add the cumin and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat on all sides with the spices, taste them and add some salt if needed, set aside to cool.
  7. To assemble the salad combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, mint, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, onion, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.Lastly add the lemon slices and stir gently.

    Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

    Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

    This salad was a hit on the 4th of July, I bet the folks at Fiesta Friday will also enjoy it. This week it is Fiesta Friday #179 hosted by Angie and cohosted by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Laura @ Feast Wisely. 

Join the party by adding your own link and come visit all the lovely food that contributors               are bringing along.

 

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

It was in March of 2015 that I first posted about beer can chicken. If you don’t have a rotisserie on your grill, cooking over a beer can (or other metal container filled with liquid), allows you to roast a whole tasty and tender chicken (or two) in your grill. As I wrote in the earlier post, the method is controversial. It has naysayers claiming cooking over a beer can makes absolutely no difference to the flavor, not to mention any other merits. I beg to differ. In my experience, it has two advantages. First, you fill the container with a liquid to flavor the chicken from the inside. There is no reason to confine yourself to beer. I have used wine, juice of all kinds (apple is very nice in the fall), chicken broth with spices or herbs, and plain water with sliced lemons and/or oranges plus some crushed garlic. Let your imagination go crazy. What would suit your taste buds on that particular day? And second, the liquid and metal container heat up and cook the chicken from the inside. This shortens the cooking time and ensures your chicken is done all the way through, resulting in a more reliably and evenly roast chicken. It has much the same result as those metal pins you can put in roasted potatoes to speed up the process.

There is a problem with using a real beer can though, it tends to tip over if you are not careful. I used the real beer can method for several years before I found this…a handy beer can BBQ tray with attached metal containers. It solves the problem of a potential scalding from a tippy beer can. Not to mention the mess it can make. This one came from Williams Sonoma where they call it Two-in-One Vertical Chicken Roaster. Please note that this endorsement comes only from my own experience and was not solicited.

Vertical Roaster

You can either roast two chickens (leftover roasted chicken is welcome on hot days), or one,  the center of the tray has a holder for a metal cup as well.

If you are using a real beer can, place it on a roasting pan or other flat surface. And handle it very carefully.

The weather in Northern California has finally reached summer temperatures, a few days before the the official date. Perfect for starting up the BBQ and staying out of a hot kitchen or further heating the house.

I decided to give these chickens a middle eastern flavor and use pomegranate juice as the liquid, and added a rub of cumin, Marash Turkish chile, and salt mixed with  with olive oil on the outside of the chicken before roasting. I first read about Marash chile in a book My Pantry written by Alice Waters, it has since become a favorite. If you don’t have it, substitute espelette or another you have on hand.

Although you could season the chicken immediately before cooking, letting it marinate for a few hours in the fridge will heighten the taste and aroma. You could even leave it overnight.

Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken

Rub for two chickens:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin, toasted in a hot skillet
  • 1 teaspoon of Marash Turkish chile or another favorite chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Marash Turkish Chile

You will also need a liquid to put in the cups. See my comments above. Since this was a Middle Eastern themed dinner, I chose Pomegranate juice. Fill the cups 2/3 of the way to the top.

Chicken:

  • 1 – 2 organic chickens, free range if you can get them. Air chilled preferable.
  • Liquid or beer to fill cups

Slightly Off Kilter Chickens ready for the BBQ

Although these look tippy, they are held upright by the cups.

Method:

  1. Preheat your grill to between 350 and 400 degrees F (176 to 204 C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat.
  2. Fill the cups or can 2/3 with liquid, I used pomegranate juice. If using real beer cans, pour off some of the beer.
  3. If not done already, brush the chickens with marinade.
  4. Carefully place the chickens upright over the cans or cups, spreading out the legs.
  5. On a gas BBQ, turn off the center burner over which you will place the chickens.
  6. Place the tray with the chickens in the grill and cover the grill.
  7. Monitor the temperature throughout.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and check, the chickens will cook faster than you think. They may need another 10 minutes or more depending on the temperature of your grill and size of the chickens.

Finished Chicken

Crispy skinned chicken and tender meat is your result. Carve and serve.

Carved Beer Can Chicken

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

The title for this could be even longer, Roasted Carrots & Beets with Curried Lentils, Feta and Yogurt Salad. There is a little something in there for everyone. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly from one I found in a book I mentioned a few posts ago. The same book gave the inspiration for cauliflower hummus. Take a look at Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, it is a keeper.

Dishing Up the Dirt

Serve this dish as a salad at room temperature, or warm. It makes a wonderful stand alone vegetarian entree, or a side dish for roast chicken or fish. It would be perfect as part of a large buffet. I found that leftovers are even more flavorful the next day.

The original recipe did not call for curry, but I love the warming influence it has on lentils. I also left out the dill and substituted fresh parsley. Adapt this recipe to your own taste.

Roasted Beet & Carrot Lentil Salad with Feta and Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients for Roasted Carrot & Beet Curried Lentil Salad (serves 4)

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 cups of French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Roasted Beets and Carrots

  • 1 bunch of small beets, any color or a combination, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into eighths
  • 1 large bunch of carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise if small, or cut into 1/2 inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, more if needed
  • Sea or kosher salt

Sauce and garnish

  • 1 cup of full fat yogurt
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, briefly toasted
  • Feta cheese, crumbled for serving
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 C)
  2. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with 3 inches of cool water, add the onion and by leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still holding their shape. Add 1 teaspoon of salt towards the end of cooking. Add more water if needed.
  3. Drain the lentils, discard the onion and bay leaf. While still warm, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and the curry powder. Taste for salt and add freshly ground pepper, squeeze on the lemon.
  4. Meanwhile toss the beets and carrots with the olive oil and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
  6. When ready to serve, spread the lentils on a platter, top with the beets and carrots, drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Top with the chopped parsley, feta and almonds. Serve remaining yogurt sauce on the side.

    Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

    Curried Lentils with Roasted Carrots and Beets

    Note: the original title included May, which is when I served this dish to my book club. I am a bit late in the posting.

    Note 2: I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #176 to share with the rest of the party goers, it will be a great addition to the buffet. Click here to see the dishes brought by other members and to add your own link. Fiesta Friday #176 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

June – Two Amazing Nut Based Spreads

June – Two Amazing Nut Based Spreads

I hesitate to call these two spreads or dips hummus as there is not a single chickpea in sight. However, use them both like hummus. They are a wonderful spread for pita or crackers, equally good as a dip with raw or blanched vegetables on a crudite platter.

Crudites

The first doesn’t have any beans. If you are avoiding carbs, this is the one for you. Add some water to Almond-Sesame Dip to thin it and use it as a sauce for a rice bowl or salad. It is a versatile sauce.

Almond Sesame Sauce

Cashew-White Bean Dip uses white beans instead of chickpeas (feel free to substitute if your pantry is out of white beans). Creamy and rich, it was my special treat to enjoy the few tablespoons left in the blender after it was spooned into a serving bowl. Definitely consider using this in a wrap or sandwich.

Cashew Hummus

Both of these are filled with healthy fat and protein from nuts. And they are quick to make, simply throw the ingredients in y0ur food processor or blender, process or blend away to a smooth sauce. Both are vegan, dairy and gluten free as well.

Almond-Sesame Dip

  • 5 tablespoons raw unsalted almond butter
  • 5 tablespoons sesame tahini paste
  • 5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water, as needed
  1. Combine the almond butter, tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the water to thin to your desired consistency.
  2. Serve with raw vegetables, use as a spread or sauce.

Cashew-White Bean Hummus

  • 1 can of cannellini beans or white beans
  • 1 cup of raw cashews (I used dry roasted and salted, it turned out beautifully)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, depending on how much you love garlic (I used 3)
  • 1/3 cup of cashew milk
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (amount from about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 large teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, a few really good grinds
  1. In a blender container, combine all the ingredients listed above. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and serve with pita or crudites. Or store in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #173. It is hosted by Angie and cohosted by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen. 

Click on the Fiesta Friday link to see all the wonderful dishes that are coming to share at the virtual party. And, please if you are a blogger, consider adding your link.

School is out or almost out, welcome to summer vacation!