Posts Tagged ‘chicken saute’

Square foot garden salad, lemon thyme vinaigrette, and a simple saute

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Arugula basil salad

When a couple comes in for marital counseling, a counselor looks for clues as to exactly where the couple is at in their relationship – say on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 representing marital bliss, and 1 signifying divorce.
One of the things I used to ask when a couple came into my office for counseling was, “Do you fight?”
If they answered yes, I knew they weren’t as bad off as they might have feared.

Square foot garden

For one, fighting means each person has a sense of individuality and self and knows that he or she is worth standing up for and being understood, and it also means that the couple is at least attempting to communicate and address issues – albeit badly many times.

Lower on the scale is the development of total silence, often called “stonewalling“, which can happen when one or both people feel there is little hope left and have already emotionally left the relationship, and have shut down to such a degree that even fighting feels pointless and futile.

If a couple told me they had stopped fighting altogether, or that they had stopped trying to have their point of view heard in the relationship, that is when I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Red leaf lettuce

So, fighting’s not all bad – that’s what I tell myself when my husband and I have occasional spats.

Truth be told, my husband is a pretty great guy. He helps around the house, takes care of the yard, shares the care of our son, is a great cook, and he does cool things like make square foot gardens. It doesn’t hurt that he’s tall, dark, and handsome either.

And he is my friend. I like that.

Lemon sage chicken

Our days are pretty simple…

We work from home. We take care of our son. We eat. We sleep. We eat again.

Occasionally we travel – mountains and beaches, London and Paris, Germany, Italy, Costa Rica, Jackson Hole and the Golden Gate, next is NYC; these are the highlights that stand out from the daily.

And then we come home. We eat. We sleep. We love our son. I cook. Brian gardens. I eat Brian’s garden. I’m happy. I haven’t always been happy. Happy feels good.

No, happy feels great.

DinnerDinner

Here is a standard meal for us. I like chicken. I know many feel it is boring and common. Common, I’ll give you. But only boring if you let it be.

Brian calls chicken “foul”, but he likes this.

I saute lightly floured chicken in olive oil with fresh herbs from the garden – this time I used sage, but rosemary or oregano work just as well.  I add lemon juice and zest, a clove of diced garlic, a bit of crushed red pepper (we like to make our own), and sometimes a splash of white wine and whatever vegetables are hanging around the fridge at the time – in this case, green onions. It all simmers down and creates a lovely concentrated tangy, spicy, herby coating on the chicken that tastes anything but common.

This dinner takes me less than half an hour to prepare and I often serve it over a simple pasta, or just as is with a salad like you see here. I don’t measure anything, so the recipe is just a best guess – but no matter, there’s plenty of wiggle room in there to make it your own.

Lemon thyme vinaigrette

We eat a lot of salad around here – another perennial dish that is only boring if you let be. I make homemade salad dressing about once a week – usually a vinaigrette, and I like to try new flavors to keep it interesting. This week I used lemon juice and zest for the acid, and added thyme from the garden, shallot, whole grain mustard, a dash of sugar and sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil.

I really liked this dressing. We ate it the first day on salad beside the chicken with homemade croutons, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and fresh grated parmesan.

Day two it was perfect for my lunch on a salad made from the greens from Brian’s square foot garden – spicy arugula, young red leaf, and sweet basil leaves. I marinated fresh artichoke hearts in the dressing first and then laid them on the salad next to toasted pine nuts and large chards of parmesan. After I took my first pictures, I snuck in one of the last slices of another amazing quiche/savory tart (I’ve gone a bit tart crazy as of late, so I decided I should give it a rest here for the week and share the tart recipe at a later date) to eat alongside.

Lemon thyme vinaigrette saladLemon thyme vinaigrette saladSpinach, bacon, Emmanthaler quicheSommer's amazing banana bread

And finally, I made this banana bread, a recipe by my former college roommate and fellow food blogger, chocked full of pecans and coconut, for Jonathan to have for breakfast and snacks. It’s been gone for three days now and he’s still asking for it, if that tells you how it was.

It’s been a good week. If you are interested in anything garden related, mention it in the comments, and I’ll have Brian answer anything outside of my knowledge.

Lemon thyme vinaigrette
adapted from here

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon minced shallot *
1 1/2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, lightly chopped or minced to release oils
1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil (to taste)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Whisk all ingredients together or place all ingredients in a secure container and shake well. May be used immediately, though flavors blend nicely overnight. Dressing should last several days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving if oil begins to harden.

* I imagine garlic would be a nice substitute, but I would not use more than two cloves for this amount of dressing

Spicy Lemon Herb Chicken

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts *
olive oil
1 fat garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper *
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons of flour *
6 – 8 sage leaves finely chopped or 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary *
6 green onions, including green parts, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
water

Cover a 12 inch skillet with 1/8 inch of olive oil. Heat over medium high heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add the lemon zest, garlic, sage, and crushed red pepper. Allow to sizzle and infuse the oil, but do not brown the garlic or fully crisp the herbs.

Season the flour with salt and pepper (I use about 1/2 t. sea salt and generously crack the pepper). Dip each side of the chicken breasts in the flour mixture and place in the hot oil. The oil should sizzle around the chicken as it is laid in the pan, but still not smoke. Sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon of extra seasoned flour over the tops of the chicken breasts. Once the pan has recovered it’s heat from adding the chicken, turn the heat down to medium or medium low to slowly brown and saute the chicken.

Cover the pan and cook till the first side of the breasts are golden, about 4-6 minutes. If pan is starting to dry out at any point, add just a bit of water, one tablespoon at a time and allow to evaporate before adding more.

After turning the breasts, add the lemon juice and half of the green onions. Again, add a few drops of water at any point the pan is beginning dry out. Cover again and cook another 4-6 minutes. During the last couple of minutes of cooking, add the rest of the green onions to cook just till wilted. I usually knife into one breast in a thick portion to check for doneness. Try to get the chicken just done, but done! Sprinkle again with salt and pepper to taste (you may wish to taste a small bite first to check).

Transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Turn the heat up on the stove and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to release the pan drippings. The water should mostly evaporate in the hot pan leaving a just a small amount of concentrated pan juices. Pour this over the chicken while it is resting. As the chicken rests before serving, it will release more juices. Be sure to pour these juices back over the chicken on each plate when serving and check again for salt and pepper.

* the quality of the chicken makes all the difference in taste and texture – of course free range and organic is ideal, but I also obtain good results with Tysons

* if you do not like spicy, just eliminate the crushed red pepper

* I like to use white whole wheat flour because I think it has more flavor than regular white flour

* the fresh herbs should be to taste. You may use more than this or a combination, though you may try it with these proportions the first time and add more to taste on your next trial.

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Posted in Main Courses - Meat, vegetarian | 23 Comments »