Monday, June 22, 2009

Officially Summer

Despite the fact that the sun has been in hiding for the last two weeks and it looks like it's not going to show it's face anytime this week the food on our plates has still been a reflection of summer.  
Stone fruits are just getting good around here and I love them when they are perfectly ripe but hate it when I get a bad one.  Well, these nectarines were perfect and this salad was a delicious way to use them.  It would have benefited greatly from a little more salt and pepper but I was too lazy to get some after I sat down to eat so instead I just sat there thinking, through every bite, "This would be a lot better with a little salt and pepper."  Silly me.  The dressing called for a tiny amount of buttermilk but the smallest container I could buy was 1 quart so keep your eyes out for a recipe using buttermilk next week, and if you have any suggestions leave them in the comments.    

1. Almond-Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing
from Fine Cooking
makes 4 servings (I cut it in half because I didn't think it would keep very well.) 

For the dressing:
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 T sour cream
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1/2 t honey
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T thinly sliced fresh chives
Kosher salt and black pepper   

In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar and honey.  Slowly whisk in the oil to blend.  Stir in the chives and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the chicken:
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups slices almonds (I had some sliced and some whole, this worked fine because you put them through the food processor anyway.)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 lb. chicken tenderloins, pounded 1/4 " thick (I skipped this step because I was lazy that night remember?)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2-3 T vegetable oil

Lightly beat the eggs.  Pulse the almonds and flour together in a food processor until the almonds are chopped, transfer to a dish.  Season the chicken on all sides with 1 t salt and 3/4 t pepper.  Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, in the egg, shake off any excess and dredge in the almond mixture, pressing lightly (Tip: Use one hand for the egging and the other for the flour so your finger don't get totally caked.)  Set aside.  Heat 2 T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot.  Cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until light golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.  Between batches, remove any stray almonds and add more oil if necessary.  

For the salad:
6 cups torn tender lettuce (I used Boston Bibb)
2 ripe nectarines (or peaches), cut into bite sized pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper (This is where I left it out and wished I hadn't)   

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and nectarine with about half of the dressing.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and divide among 4 plates.  Top with the chicken and drizzle with the remaining dressing.     

Jer worked super late the night I made this so I ate alone and had leftovers for three lunches.  I was a little sick of it by the time I finished it all but considering I ate it for 4 meals and didn't give up on it all together says something.  I have to do a little advertising here for a product that I love, the Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta is so good and, when I compared the nutrition facts to the whole grain pasta it was at lease equal and, in some cases, better (more fiber and protein and fewer calories).  Sometimes I like the whole grain pasta but I worried it might be too heavy in this simple dish.  The mint was and interesting addition, sometimes I would get a clear taste of it and was not so sure about it, but mostly it was a good flavor addition to the whole.

2. Penne with Zucchini, Fresh Herbs and Lemon Zest
from Fine Cooking
makes 4 servings

3/4 lb penne (whole wheat if you prefer)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4" half moons
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 t lemon zest
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 T each coarsely chopped fresh: mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley

Cook the penne according to the package directions until al dente.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, an additional 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest, 3/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the zucchini mixture along with the Parm. and herbs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss to combine, adding some of the reserved water if necessary to moisten the pasta.  
Jer declared after finishing this meal that it was the "best ever".  I should have known, it is basically all of his favorite foods: burgers, potatoes, corn, and bacon.  I really couldn't go wrong.  

3. Cheese Burgers with Oven Fries and Corn with Bacon and Shallots
makes 2-4 servings

For the burgers I mixed 1 lb meat with a little Worcestershire sauce (about 2 t), 1 t onion powder and an egg, formed it into 4 patties, and cooked them in a skillet.  

The recipe for the oven fries is here.

For the corn:
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
~1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if using frozen)
Kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and wipe out the skillet leaving a slight residue of bacon grease.  Cook the shallot until soft and add the corn. Continue to cook until the corn is starting to brown.  Add the bacon back to the skillet and stir to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

I read about an easy enchilada sauce recipe here that only used roasted red pepper soup and a can of green chilis.  I thought it sounded easy and tasty so I decided to give it a try.  It was okay but I didn't love it.  I paired it with a pepper and olive filling that was good but was a little rich by the end.  If you make this I would recommend a serving size of one enchilada and something a little lighter on the side, maybe a green salad. 

4. Roasted Red Pepper Enchiladas with Pepper and Olive Filling
filling from Cabbage Town Cafe Cookbook
makes 4 servings

2 cups roasted red pepper soup
2 cans diced green chilis
3 T olive oil
2 green peppers, chopped
1 t coriander seeds (I left these out because I didn't have any)
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped black olives
black pepper
1/4 t cayenne
1/2 t ground coriander
1 cup grated Chedder or Monteray Jack cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the red pepper soup and green chilis in a saucepan and heat gently.  Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat.  Add the green peppers and cook until the peppers are blistered and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix in the cream cheese, olives and spices.  Spoon a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9" square baking dish.  Divide the filling between 4 tortillas, roll them up and place in the baking dish.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Bake until  hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.       

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Just Cook It said...

Oh me, oh my, that looks good.