November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

You may be aware that the end of October brought a five day power shutdown to over 2,000,000 people in Northern California, including us. This was a preemptive attempt by PG&E to prevent wildfires; the winds were high and humidity low, and our winter rains are very late. We are lucky since we have a generator and a large propane tank, but we still try to conserve energy. We are never exactly sure how long the shutdown will last.  When the power is out due to the threat of high winds and fire, we try and conserve propane as much as possible.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

One way to conserve power is to avoid the use of my oven, it’s my normal way of cooking chicken thighs but an electric oven uses a lot of energy. I was reading Canal House’s newest cookbook, “Cook Something, recipes to rely on”, and found the pages How We Cook Chicken Thighs…timely, yes? How do they cook chicken thighs? They cook them the same way they cook a duck breast, skin side down in a heavy skillet with no additional fat. I’ve often browned chicken thighs in a skillet before braising them, but this method was not my usual. There were only 2 ingredients, chicken and 1/2 of a preserved lemon. Wow!

 

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PRESERVED LEMON

  • 6 whole chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • finely chopped rind of 1/2 preserved lemon 
  • fresh lemon, quartered for serving – optional
  • chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish – optional

Method:

  1. Trim any excess fat and skin from the chicken thighs
  2. Season them with salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Arrange them skin side down in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet (cold skillet, no oil)
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook them, without moving them, until the fat is rendered and skin crisp, about 30 minutes. You might need to adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly.
  5. Remove the core of the preserved lemon and scrape off any white from the inside of the rind, then chop the rind finely
  6. Turn the thighs over and stir in the finely chopped preserved lemon
  7. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced.
  8. Serve the thighs with some of the pan drippings, fresh lemon and herb garnish.

I found the pan drippings made a wonderful warm salad dressing with some additional lemon juice.

The thighs were juicy and delicious.

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

If you have never made preserved lemons, I encourage you to try it. They are simple, only taking a little time. And, they are a wonderful ingredient to add tartness in many dishes. I promise they will become a pantry staple. I have even seen them chopped finely and added to avocado toast. Follow the link above if you would like directions.

I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday might like them. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a collection of blogs about food, decorating, travel, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things going on in the blogosphere at Fiesta Friday #301, the co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

In My Kitchen – November 2019

In My Kitchen – November 2019

Thank you for visiting my November version of In My Kitchen. Each month Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings hostesses a global gathering of food lovers. You get to peek into their kitchen lore and knowledge, recipes, new kitchen gadgets (I’ve made some amazing discoveries), new ingredients, kitchen tales and musings. Click on the link to connect with their blog postings.

Well, last month ended with five days of no power. It was quite an adventure. We fared better than many since we have a generator and were able to keep the lights on. But, most stores in town were closed. And, the one service station with gas had a line a quarter of a mile long. Surprisingly everyone was good natured about the whole thing and neighbors pulled together to help each other, sharing power to charge cell phones and other electrical communication devices. It did bring home how dependent we are on the electrical grid though, phone service was spotty since they use the towers to boost signals and the internet was down. It was a strange feeling to be so cut off here on the coast. I think these outages will encourage more folks to invest in solar and batteries.

The lemonade from the entire event was that everything was cancelled, I was left with four whole days of empty time on my hands. I finally got around to cleaning out the pantry, washing down kitchen shelves, and sorting through bookcases; all chores on my to-do list. I was waiting for a rainy day, which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime in the next 10 days. We desperately need rain.

So, what’s new in my kitchen? October is my birthday month and favorite gifts are cookbooks (from others and also from me to myself).

nothing fancy by Alison Roman

Alison Roman is a frequent contributor to the NY Times, this is a cookbook about entertaining simply.

From The Oven To The Table by Diana Henry

I have a few cookbooks by Diana Henry and enjoy her writing. This one has a lot of what we call in the U.S. “Sheet Pan” dinner recipes. I always enjoy her take on food and her writing.

Sous Vide by Hugh Acheson

I love cooking sous vide and this one will definitely increase my range of recipes.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

This is the newest from Canal House in the U.K. It’s also my first one from them and I am in love. Canal House has been around for quite some time but they are new to me. I made some simple pan fried chicken thighs with preserved lemon. It was quite simple but delicious.

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemons

So, I plan to post some interesting new recipes soon. I must admit to having been in a cooking rut.

In my kitchen I have a bowl of apples from the tree in a friend’s yard. These are Galas and are delicious eating apples.

Gala apples

Gala Apples

In my kitchen I have the last of the summer tomatoes. These are from Nye Ranch just down the street, they have a Saturday farm stand and are also at our local farmer’s market each week. They told me that they don’t expect to have any more until next season. We have been enjoying them with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh cheese.

Heirloom tomatoes

In my kitchen I have a new pepper grinder, this one easily adjusts to a fine or coarse grind and is very easy to grind. I find my hands sometimes ache and I appreciate how little pressure this one needs to grind a generous amount of pepper.

 

And lastly in my kitchen I have dogs, five dogs to be exact. We were watching my friend’s corgis for a few days. Remember the puppy who stayed with us back in May? See puppy Milo in the left front of the first picture (he was a little peanut). The second picture shows him as an 8 month old, right front of the second picture. It’s wonderful that they all get along so well. It’s fun to watch them try to herd each other (and us).

 

In My Garden – October 2019

In My Garden – October 2019

It’s pumpkin time, and there is a tsunami of pumpkin this and pumpkin that everywhere! I am not a big fan of pumpkin spice or even pumpkin pie (which seems somehow un-American). But I do love all the winter squashes that are currently in the market. Unfortunately my own garden environment is too cool in the summer to grow them.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things growing in the garden.  I’m still harvesting lettuce, arugula, chard, cilantro, parsley, Lacinato kale (or cavolo nero or Tuscan Kale), beets, and carrots. This month I seeded more kale, chard, cilantro, carrots (the small round Parisienne variety), arugula and several varieties of lettuce. The weather has cooled so growth will slow but, since we rarely get any frost, they should flourish with our winter rain.

Raised bed vegetable garden - Fort Bragg, CARaised bed vegetable garden – Fort Bragg, CA

The baskets are to keep the birds from eating the seedlings, to discourage marauding night creatures from digging for worms (the skunks can come in under the gate…we have captured them on our night camera), and to prevent our cat from using the beds as a litter box.

The artichoke plants completely died back during the summer and I thought they hadn’t survived. In fact I started to dig them out and then was surprised to see new shoots at the base of a stem; I added compost and mulch to see what would happen. Here they are now in early autumn, with luck I will have artichokes in the spring.

Artichokes - October 2019Artichokes – October 2019

The redwood trees surrounding us make gardening a bit of a pain. The redwoods roots are very aggressive in searching out any water, they love the rich damp soil in my raised beds and come up through the wire mesh in the bottom. Once all the plants in a bed are finished, I have to dig out the roots and add new soil (otherwise the roots would completely fill the beds). It’s a lot of hard work because there are a lot of roots, about half the soil is gone and needs to be replaced. It’s the price of being surrounded my such majestic beauty.

This time of year the color green takes over as many flowering plants are not at their best. Here is a view of the back perennial bed.

Western cottage garden - Back bed Fort Bragg, CA

Western cottage garden – Back bed Fort Bragg, CA October 2019

And here it was at the same time last year.

View to the back of the house, October 2018 Fort Bragg, CA

View to the back of the house, October 2018 Fort Bragg, CA

The garden has changed!

Much to the delight of the resident hummingbirds, the salvias and cupheas are still in full bloom. They will keep providing nectar throughout most of the winter. From those birds I have been able to identify (they are rarely still), we have Allen’s hummingbirds. They usually leave in mid-winter to migrate and then show up again in the early spring. I would love to attract some Anna’s (who stick around all year) but haven’t seen any so far. The Allens are quite aggressive in defending their territory.

Salvia 'Amistad', in back Salvia greggii (I am not sure of the variety but it is lovely salmon color)

Salvia ‘Amistad’, in back Salvia greggii (I am not sure of the variety but it is lovely salmon color)

 

Salvia elegans also called 'Pineapple Sage' this one is especially loved by the hummiingbirds

Salvia elegans also called ‘Pineapple Sage’ this one is especially loved by the hummingbirds

 

Cuphea – Candy Corn Plant (appropriate for October)

The pollinator meadow is greening and showing millions of baby seedlings.

Pollinator meadow, mowed but millions of baby seedlings starting

Pollinator meadow (2019), mowed but millions of baby seedlings starting from the seeds

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Meadow- soil improved by ton of new soil and compost – October 2018

Everything survived while we were away in Scotland last month, this month is busy as we leave for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland tomorrow and will be gone again. Thank goodness for a wonderful house/garden/dog/cat sitter. I am not sure what we will do when she goes back to work early next year.

 

 

In My Garden – September 2019

In My Garden – September 2019

There are definitely changes in the garden, the flowers are starting to set their seeds as they finish blooming. I’m noticing less of our native bumblebees (the furry kind) and more European honey bees. I’m not sure of the reason for the shift but it is rather dramatic.

Cuphea, the bees were swarming over this bushy perennial. It’s a favorite of the hummingbirds as well.

That’s the Cuphea in the back, Nicotiana (an unusual pink one) in front. The European bees were swarming over the Cuphea a few days ago. They haven’t been the predominant bee until now.

The vegetable garden is still producing lettuce, green beans and zucchini. My artichoke plants, which I thought had died, are sending up new shoots. I’ll be pulling out the beans and zucchini this coming weekend as we will be away for the next 2 weeks. Our house/dog sitter is not a cook, it will be enough for her to keep up with the watering (and the dogs) while we are gone.

Vegetable Harvest

We mowed down the pollinator garden last week. I am interested in what comes back with the winter rains. It was a bit too thickly seeded last year, next year everything will find their place. Also the birds have been very interested in the seeds, thinning the plants naturally.

I cut back the tall bearded iris bed, the Spanish lavender planted there is till blooming along the side of the driveway..

Iris Bed along the driveway

The Geum Totally Tangerine has been a non-stop bloomer.

Geum Totally Tangerine

And I am totally in love with this Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower, Fama Blue. The flowers are on sturdy long stems (some are 3 feet), they last a long time in a vase and are the most beautiful blue/purple. The bees love them and it’s a great color with orange or peach.

Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower, Fama Blue

My dahlias are almost finished although I am still getting some blooms. This spring I think I will separate them a bit as they are planted too close together leading to some powdery mildew. My husband has been encouraging me to add another bed and I have already ordered some additional dahlia tubers. But I think I like them mixed in with other flowers rather than in a bed of their own.

Dahlia

This dahlia came from my Oakland garden where it did not like the heavy clay. I am not even certain it ever bloomed. Isn’t it beautiful? And the bee seems to agree. When we moved up here I dug up as many plants as I could manage and replanted them in the Fort Bragg garden. Much of my garden there was in my neighbors side yard and I knew he would not grant the new owners the same gardening rights (in fact he completely mowed all the remaining plants down and replanted with completely inappropriate plants). Sad.

I wish you all happy gardening as the seasons change. There is something very satisfying in putting a garden to bed, cutting things back and preparing for the new season. When we get back from Scotland that will be my goal.

For those of you on the Southern Hemisphere, your gardening season is just beginning. I look forward to reading about your gardens.

In My Kitchen – September 2019

In My Kitchen – September 2019

It’s been several months since my last “In My Kitchen” post. Why has it taken so long? I honestly don’t know since there has been a lot of cooking going on. But the type of cooking that happens in the summer months is quite different from that in the fall and winter. We eat a lot of salads, and grilled vegetables. I don’t do a lot of shopping because we have been eating out of the garden (my own, farmer’s markets and friends) whenever possible. Our ‘meat’ is often a sous-vide chicken breast or sausage tossed on the grill to brown at the last minute. Simple food, and light, which is appropriate for the season. During the summer months I would much rather spend my time in the garden than the kitchen. That will change once the weather cools and our rainy season starts.

Local Tomatoes

So, In My Kitchen I have salads.

And in my kitchen I have grilled vegetables from my own and other local gardens.

I learned a trick this year when grilling vegetables. Wait to toss them with oil until they come off the grill. Once warm and cooked they absorb whatever dressing you would like to add quickly. If you coat them with olive oil before grilling, the oil can turn rancid in the high heat and have an “off” flavor.

I cooked the carrots sous vide before tossing them on the grill to char. The artichokes were par boiled first.

In my kitchen I had half a flat of fresh figs from our warmer inland area. I did try to grow a fig tree here on the coast and it was a colossal failure. I don’t think it is hot enough here. I had one in a container on my deck in Oakland, it did really well but I had to fight the critters for the figs. These are Black Mission Figs, I made fig jam and we have been enjoying them fresh in salads (as well as in hand).

Black Mission Figs and Fig Jam

In My Kitchen I have homemade taco seasoning, this recipe came from Mollie and her blog, Frugal Hausfrau.

I used it to coat a chicken  chicken breast before cooking it sous-vide. We then quickly browned it on the grill. It was delicious.

Once you cook a chicken breast sous vide, you will never go back to another method. This one cooked away to perfection in the water bath while we attended a neighborhood meeting. It only took a few minutes to toss it on the grill once we returned home.

In my kitchen I have fresh herb sauces to use on vegetables or grilled meat.

This Salsa Verde contained cilantro, mint, fresh thyme, scallions, jalapeno, and garlic with olive oil, cumin, lime juice, and harissa. It was delicious on simply grilled vegetables.

Trader Joe’s has had some interesting new products. These artichoke hearts were preserved in a simple brine, wonderful tossed into a mixed vegetable salad.

They also have grilled ones in olive oil and sun dried cherry tomatoes in olive oil. The grilled ones were a little stringy. There is not a Trader Joe’s up here on the coast but I stock up when I am at the Oakland apartment.

At our holiday craft’s fair I picked up this European butter keeper. It was made by a friend’s brother who is a potter. I’ve never used one before but it is supposed to keep butter fresh at room temperature. You fill the top part with butter, then turn it upside down on the bottom which is filled with water.

I really like the tree on the top. Do any of you readers preserve butter this way?

This post is part of a monthly gathering of bloggers. Click on the link to Sherry’s Pickings for a look at what is happening around the world.

In My Kitchen
Sherry’s Pickings

That’s all for now, I will see you all again in October. Thank you for visiting.