Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Savory, rich, and full flavored chicken thighs simmered with a few key ingredients — just what I wanted on a rainy evening.

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Fresh garlic and diced red tomatoes combine with warm herbes de Provence and Parmesan rind to create the perfect simmer sauce for chicken thighs.  Parmesan rinds are just that — the hard outer edge of my wedges of Parmesan cheese.  I save them in bags in the freezer and bring out pieces to add wonderful umami to broth or simmer sauces.

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and Herbes de Provence

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and herbes de Provence

I consider this a pantry dish, as the ingredients are either shelf stable, or in my freezer.  Serve this warming dish with crusty bread or polenta.  Enjoy!

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence
(serves 4)

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 TB olive oil
2 tsp herbes de Provence
Parmesean rind piece
Sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, more if needed)

Heat covered sauté pan over medium heat.  When pan is warm, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and sauté just for a few seconds.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.  Check toward the end of the simmer time to be sure the sauce isn’t getting too dry.  Add a bit of white wine or water to add moisture if needed.

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini dressing

Crunchy, subtly sweet, mild, savory, and a tasty nutrient powerhouse.  I’m talking about cabbage, of course!  This stalwart vegetable deserves some love, especially in the winter when quality salad greens can be scarce.  But cabbage — it’s there for you!

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I paired mine with a zingy, savory tahini dressing and added roasted garbanzos and pepitas for awesome crunch and a punch of protein.  The spicy tahini dressing is really creamy and zingy — but relatively low in fat, for a dressing.  The secret?  Tahini — which is just finely ground roasted sesame seeds.  Water, an unusual ingredient in most dressings, is important for proper texture in this dressing.

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Using an immersion blender makes the Spicy Tahini dressing super easy to make — but you can use a whisk or regular blender if that’s what you have.  (Consider purchasing an immersion blender.  I use mine regularly for puréed soups and dressings)

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Roasting canned garbanzos transforms these tasty beans into crunchy/chewy nuggets. This is a vegan main dish, full flavored, and easy on the budget.  And I consider it a pantry meal — because cabbage is such a long keeper in the fridge and the other ingredients are pantry basics.  Enjoy!

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini Dressing

for the Spicy Tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2 TB olive oil
3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Blend until creamy.  May add more or less cayenne as desired.  The amount I included makes a mildly spicy dressing.

for the Roasted Garbanzos
1 can garbanzos
1 TB olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Drain garbanzos, and pat dry with paper towel.  Drizzle with oil and toss lightly, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the oven, until they are browned and crunchy.

To serve the salad:
Cabbage, finely shredded
Roasted Garbanzos (see above)
Spicy Tahini Dressing (see above)Pepitas
cherry tomato quarters

Quantity of cabbage, pepitas and cherry tomatoes depends on number of servings desired.  The dressing and garbanzo recipes double easily for more servings.  Toss the all ingredients together, and enjoy!

Fresh Lemon Bars

It’s been gray skies for a couple weeks, but my lemons are ripe.  They are little yellow reminders of warm sunshine in the midst of winter.   I made these fab bars this week, and will re-post this recipe for your pleasure.

lemon bar

It’s citrus season, and my lemon trees are loaded with beautiful, yellow gems.  Here’s a recipe for luscious, tangy-sweet lemon bars with a buttery crust.  Enjoy!

Fresh Lemon Bars
Makes 24 bars**

For the crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (10 oz) flour
2 TB cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

For the filling:
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) flour
5 large eggs
2 TB fine grated lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice*

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 9 X 13 baking dish with parchment.  Blend together the ingredients listed for the crust until a crumby mixture forms.  Pat into the parchment lined pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

While the crust is baking, mix the filling ingredients.  Begin by blending the sugar with the flour in a medium mixing bowl.  To this mixture add the eggs and stir until combined.  Add the lemon juice and zest, stirring until combined.

When the crust is lightly golden brown, pour the filling mixture onto the hot crust and put it right back into the oven.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the filling is no longer liquid in the middle.  Remove from oven and cool until room temperature.  Dust cooled bars with a powdered sugar for a beautiful snowy top.  Cut into bars and serve at room temp or cold.  Store any uneaten bars airtight in the refrigerator.

* These bars may be made with any type of lemon, as long as they are good, fresh lemons.  I especially like to use ripe Meyer lemons in this recipe.  Fresh limes may be substituted, but decrease the zest by 1 TB and the replace 1/4 cup of the juice with water.  You may very gently tint the filling green if making lime bars. Just use a couple drops green food coloring if desired.

** for a 1/2 batch, use a 8 X 8 inch square baking pan, and halve all ingredients.

Butter Roasted Chicken Breast

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Butter Roasted Chicken Breast

For my meat eating friends — this is for you.  Rich, super simple, and magically savory, this entertainment worthy entrée has just three ingredients:  chicken breast, butter, and salt.  But it has amazingly delicious flavor.

Butter Roasted Chicken

Butter Roasted Chicken Breast, cut to show texture

The right tool is key for this one — an appropriately sized cast iron pan.  A few techniques with time and heat work alchemy on the humble chicken breast, creating all sorts of flavors for a dish ready to impress.

Cast iron pan, chicken added just after the butter melts and foams

Cast iron pan, chicken added just after the butter melts and foams

So get your cast iron pan out, and prepare to be a kitchen star!  This entrée is a rich one — the chicken alone isn’t very fatty, but you’ll be tempted to use that flavorful butter used to roast the chicken on steamed new potatoes or fresh crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Butter Roasted Chicken Breast
(serves 2 – 4)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 TB unsalted butter
Kosher salt

At least 4 – and up to 24 – hours prior to cooking, salt the chicken.  Use a generous sprinkle of kosher salt on both sides of each chicken breast.  The salt will dissolve and deeply season the chicken, adding both flavor and moisture to the prepared dish.  Store salted chicken breast airtight in the fridge until cooking time.

45 minutes before serving time, heat your oven to 375.  Choose a cast iron pan that is just big enough to hold the chicken breasts in one layer, but not too big.  If the pan is too big there is a risk that the butter will burn.

Heat the cast iron pan over medium heat until the pan is medium hot.  Add butter and swirl to melt, taking care not to let it burn or get very brown.  When the butter has melted, add the chicken breasts and gently sautée for 3 – 4 minutes.  Turn the breasts over, and sautée for 3 – 4 minutes on the other side.  Then place the pan with chicken into the hot oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, and allow the chicken to rest in the pan for 5 minutes.  Serve warm, with the browned butter drizzled over the top.  Wonderful with steamed potatoes or crusty bread to enjoy the browned butter.

Carrot Coconut Soup

I love the sweet, delectable carrots I get in my CSA box, and had a big bunch as they are plentiful this time of the year.  I combined the carrots with fresh turmeric and creamy coconut milk for a warming, aromatic, lightly spiced soup.

Carrot Coconut Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup

I enhanced the natural sweetness and aromatic qualities of carrot and turmeric with a hefty dose of black pepper, rounding out the flavor with a quality curry blend and balancing the soup’s flavor with fresh lime juice.

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Topped with fresh cilantro for a green burst, this is a savory and tasty soup.  It’s also vegan – so is a fabulous for all eaters.  Enjoy!

Carrot Coconut Soup

1 1/2 LB carrots, rinsed and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
3 TB oil
1 can coconut milk
2 small rhizomes of fresh turmeric, diced (or 1 TB ground dried)
sea salt
water
2 tsp. quality curry blend, spiced to your liking
1 lime, juiced
black pepper, freshly ground, 1/2 to 1 tsp

Heat large sauce pan over high flame until medium hot.  Add oil and onions.  Sauté for 4 minutes, then add the carrots and fresh turmeric, then add enough water to not quite cover the carrots.  Cover, bring to a simmer, and allow to simmer, covered, until the carrots are quite tender.

Add the coconut mill, salt, curry blend, and black pepper.  Blend in a blender or use an immersion blender to create a smooth, even texture in the soup.  Adjust salt, then add the juice of 1/2 to 1 lime — enough just to add balance and brightness to the soup.  Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Spiced Walnut Cookies

Deeply scented cookies have a crispy/chewy texture and the rich crunch of walnuts.


(I’ve been on a spice tear after reading DUNE).  They are fast and easy to make and your kitchen will smell wonderful as they bake.  The key is the spice mixture:  heavy on cinnamon with three others to lend intrigue:  cayenne, allspice, and nutmeg.


A hint for best flavor is to make sure your spices are fresh. I use whole nutmeg and grind just before using with a nutmeg grinder.  Enjoy!

Spiced Walnut Cookies

1 1/2 cups (11 oz) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 large eggs, room temp
2 1/3 cups (12 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TB ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayennne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups walnuts, coarse chop

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter and sugars until combined. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Combine dry ingredients, then add to butter mixture. Mix on low until just combined. Fold in walnuts. Place balls of dough (2 – 3 TB per scoop) at least 2 inches apart on your baking sheet. If desired, top each ball of dough with additional walnuts before baking.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the outer edges are lightly browned but the center is still a little soft. Transfer to cooling rack to cool.

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

It’s persimmon month, at least in my house.  I’ve got my first batch of dried Hachiya persimmons ready, and fresh mellow Fuyu persimmons on my counter.  I put the two of them together in a salad with savory, slightly bitter napa cabbage and it was a great combo.

Napa cabbage, bright orange Fuyu persimmons, and dried Hachiya persimmons

Napa cabbage, bright orange Fuyu persimmons, and dried Hachiya persimmons

Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

I lightly dressed the greens and persimmons with a sherry vinegar/olive oil dressing and topped with toasted almonds for a rich crunch.  This salad would work well with finely shredded brussels sprouts instead of napa cabbage.  Savory, sweet, fresh, and crunchy — this is a nice Fall salad for the persimmon lover. Enjoy!

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad
(serves 4 – 6 for a side dish)

1/2 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin
2 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
2 dried Hachiya persimmons*, diced small
1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarse chop

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TB sherry vinegar
sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper

Assemble the salad ingredients in a shallow, wide bowl.  Just before serving, mix together the sherry vinegar and olive oil with about 1/4 tsp sea salt.  Drizzle over the salad, top with fresh ground black pepper, and serve.

* If you can’t locate dried persimmons, you may substitute golden raisins