Yep, it is still a bit damp and cool out here so why not bake chicken in summer? Our Le Creuset French Oven is so perfect in every way and it is just right for cooking up a couple chicken breasts. During the winter we were making something like this about once a week. Since its summer, kind of, that meant some different veggies which was fun – I tossed in some tomatoes, fennel and purple cabbage. Yep, that purplefied the rice, which Addie was pretty excited about. But then again, she likes to say ‘ooooh, aaaaahhh,’ pretty much anytime a pot is brought to the table covered and then the lid removed. I should do that more. Its really cute. And gratifying. Anyway, toss in however much rice you and yours typically eat, but perhaps a bit less water than usual as the chicken and veggies will help juicify that rice too. I rubbed the chicken with a little salt and stuffed it with lemon slices and the fennel fronds. Is that the right word, fronds? These were pretty big breasts so I baked at 350 for about an hour then turned it up to 375 and cooked without the lid for about half an hour until the skin got nice and crispy. The fennel on top dried out a little bit, so I should probably try to tuck it in a bit better next time. Next time.
On the side are some fresh boiled beets. Addie downs beets like candy these days, though she was really upset when I cut one on her plate and then she wouldn’t touch it. To boil them just cut the leaves near the head, but don’t cut off their little tail or cut below the stem or tons of juice will leak out when cooking. Don’t worry about pealing them either. When they are done cooking – it really depends on their size, poke them with a fork to check if they are tender – just rinse them in cold water and pull off the skins and stem with your fingers along with the tails if they gross you out, or leave them on if they are pretty. Hey, some folks think they are pretty.
I also cooked up the beet greens, which I don’t usually do, but these greens looked really nice, so I figured I should. I blanched them then placed in an ice bath, chopped really finely and sauteed in some garlic. Oh wait, I know, Martha Shulman has a perfect, simple recipe on her NYTimes blog Recipes for Health.
Well, Rachel made this one – and thank goodness because I was a bit daunted by the two giant zucchinis that came in our CSA. Perhaps coincidentally I was in bed all morning and most of the afternoon being sick, so Rachel picked up the food and went right to working cooking up delicious treats. The secret she says is the cardamom and orange. ‘What a Combo,” she said dreamily. This one is from Martha Stewart Living as well – Rachel just started subscribing. I tried to find a link, but couldn’t, and I’m not that interested in typing it all out. I’m sure if you found this post, you’ll find a tasty recipe too.
You are right Heidi, I think I mentioned that I cooked a couple measly zucchinis with some turnips by cooking the jeebers out of them in some butter a couple weeks ago. Oh well, here is a photo of said zucchinis and turnips – you will also notice they are drowning under some parmesan as zucchinis should be.
Also the noodles are tossed with some tomato sauce – just from a can of tomatoes with herbs. I learned somewhere along the line that one must also cook the jeebers out of canned tomatoes. Folks these days will swear by the San Marzanos, and they are tasty (though it seems also super spendy – imagine that) but most quality canned tomatoes, just straight up – that is without a bucket of salt or such nonsense, can be cooked into a nice soft and sweet yumminess. Season with some vinegar, herbs and pepper and it makes for a lovely little marinara.
Rachel saw a recipe in Martha Stewart Living, I think, er… Rachel was it Martha Stew…? yes, she thinks so, for some different ‘toppings’ for corn on the cob. We made a basil-mint pest0 – puree 2 garlic cloves with a cup of mint and 1/4 cup basil and 3/4 cup olive oil. I just stirred it all up because we needed a lot less, but pureeing might have made it stick better on the corn I reckon. Pretty tasty, and better for you than all that delicious butter that one might slather on. Oh yeah, Martha still recommends some salt for seasoning though.
Did I mention how delicious Fava Beans are in that last post. The fava dish here is simply some cooked Fava Beans stirred with rice and a mixture of minced garlic and some plain Greek Yogurt (I get the nice and fatty kind, though supposedly there are some decent fat free kinds – I’ve just never met one that isn’t runny). Anyway, just don’t use too much garlic like I did.
The bread is topped with a radish butter, suggested by the CSA, just food process a couple radishes with some butter and big salt. Pretty yummy. I don’t remember what went on that chicken, hmm… I think it might have involved some dried habaneros steeped in some hot water then cut up with some herbs and rubbed all over. Something like that.
Fava beans get a bad wrap, I think, because they are ugly and tough to process. But inside, look how cute they are! And they aren’t as tough as some would have think. First one must peal the big hairy bean pod and extract these lovely little seeds. then blanche the beans for a couple minutes, rinse to cool and pull out the actual bean
This was really tasty. Yep really, really tasty. Tasty enough I will have to attempt more risottos in the future. It has been a long time since I’ve made a risotto, but I was inspired by The Dinner Files recipe for this risotto with mint and bacon. I tossed some chopped asparagus in too. Her recipe calls for green onions, but I used some diced white onions. You can soak the onion in a little ice water if you want to take a little of the edge off.
As a side note – if you follow her recipe – the ingredient list says bacon, but the instructions say cook pancetta in olive oil. I’m sure pancetta is heavenly, but I used bacon and it is really dang good too – I don’t cook it in oil though, just chop finely then the bacon will cook in its own fat. I dumped the fat out afterward so the bacon didn’t permeate the whole thing too much and then added a little olive oil to balance it out. Um… hope that helps somebody. Just cook it. At least if its not too hot out. I guess thats the good thing about our (so far) wet and cool summer. One can cook.