Friday, October 23, 2009

Dark Sweet Cherry Dressing

Ok Laura this is for you. I make this very wonderful dressing that is easy to do and always gets a great response. 12 oz jar of Cherry Preserves (strawberry works well too)
1 cup balsamic dressing, I use a cherry flavored one
1/2 - 1 cup of brown sugar the preserves, balsamic and 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a sauce pan, a reduction sauce pan if you have one.  Bring to a boil and then turn your burner to low and keep it at a simmer, stirring often,  for about 1/2 hour till reduced by about a cup, it should leave you with about 1 - 1 1/2 cup liquid. At this point, taste - carefully cause it is hot- to check the sweetness level.  You want to have a bit of tartness, but this is it so make sure it is not too tart to have on a salad.  If you decide to add sugar stir and cook a bit longer just to incorporate, and then turn off the heat and let it cool. As it cools, it will thicken to a syrupy consistency. At this point, you can use it (see below for a suggestion) or put in a container and store in the fridge for later use.

As a suggestion for a use, I usually get some field greens, washed and dried well.  Take a tablespoon or so of some good quality oil, I prefer avocado oil, but a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil will do and dress the greens.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and using the tools that God gave you and get your hands in there and toss well. At this point I like to add some cheese, my favorites are creamy Gorgonzola or a Cambozola  cheese, but the last time I did this salad I took a roll of goat cheese and sliced it into 1/4 inch slices. I like the contrast of sweet from the dressing and the pungency of these cheeses.  If you like the goat cheese idea here is what  I did.  I dipped it into a store bought bread crumb and coated completely. I melted a tablespoon of butter and about a tablespoon or so of oil and just browned the slices and put on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.  Now back to the salad, I love to use candied nuts, pecans for me. Now for the drizzle of the cherry dressing.  Use enough to make sure you get the taste in every bite.  If you did the goat cheese, put your round on top at this point and time to eat!

Ok Laura so I thought about your problem, which was the dressing was so thick and it is true it is thick like a syrup or jam.  I have added it on my salad in spoonfuls after being dressed with the oil and then allowed each person to sort of toss it all together, but last night I had a thought. I took a couple tablespoons of the oil in a dish and added the dressing and stirred till it was fully incorporated, it took a while but it did thin out the dressing to make it more spreadable.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

There are not too many things more perfect then a properly roasted chicken, but it is always nice to find a new way to do an old thing. I had this thought one day that I would like to try to butterfly a chicken.  I have seen it done on cooking shows and it intimidated me but I figure, what the heck, it is only a chicken, what's the worst that can happen? 
Start by taking the chicken and place it back side up.  Take your kitchen shears, and it helps to have sharp ones, and cut along both sides of the back from neck to tail and remove the back bone. Flip the chicken over and  press down on the the chicken to flatten. I then make a paste of chopped garlic, shallots, fresh herbs of your choosing, juice and zest of one or two lemons, salt, pepper and some oil. Lift the skin gently to cause a separation between flesh and skin and stuff some of the mixture in the pocket.  Take the remaining mixture and if necessary add more oil to make it possible to rub over the exterior of the chicken, all sides all parts. Refrigerate and let it marinate for at least 3 hours.  I personally do not cover the container because I want my chicken skin to dry and have this marinade dry on the skin.  When it is time to roast, I take it out of the fridge and let it set at room temp of about 15 minutes.  There are many ways at this point to cook this, one would be to brown it skin side down in skillet and then transfer to the over to finish.  Or you can roast it in the oven, skin side up. Lastly you can throw it on the bbq.  Whichever method you choose, the internal temp for chicken should register 160 degrees F.  A test for chicken is bones moving freely in the socket and/or clear juices run from the chicken.  As far as cooking temperatures go, there are so many theories and boy have I tried them all, but I think for a chicken, I like to set the temp to 350 and the butterflied chicken should take about an hour, but everyone's ovens are different so just keep an eye on that internal temp.  
Once the chicken is out of the over, let it rest for about 15 minutes before cutting.  I like to move the chicken to a cutting board - take the roasting pan that it cooked in and add some chicken broth and let it sit on your stovetop and warm it up just a bit.  Take it off the heat or just turn the heat off. When you are cutting the chicken, put the cut chicken pieces in the broth, this will keep it moist and warm.  Once it is all cut cover the roasting pan with foil and it will keep for a bit while you finish up everything else.  At the last minute you can strain off the broth to make your gravy. 
LAST tip, save the bones, even those back bones from the beginning.  Freeze them and when you want to make some chicken stock you just need to pull them out and defrost! ENJOY! Until next time....Remember to savor the flavor or your labor!

Sunday..The end of the week or the start?

Sundays are always an interesting day.  I started this Sunday with a cup of coffee on the patio, watched the hummingbirds buzz happily in the Mexican Sage.  The real contemplation is Sunday- the end of the week or the beginning of it?  This question seems to be an inconsequential one, however I think the answer is a telling one about who you are.  It is the glass half full/half empty question.  It is the same glass/day, however it is your view or perspective of it that matters.  Today I have decided to call this the end of my week.  The day that I have the freedom to look back on the week and reflect as to its productiveness or lack thereof, to identify the items that still need to be on the "TO DO" list and be thankful for life I have had and as well of the life that is ahead of me. It is the proverbial "stop and smell the roses day" and I encourage each and every one of you to get out there and smell up a storm!