I present to you another gorgeous meal with a back story. And then I will provide the recipe for my Vietnamese Turkey Meatballs Platter. Yes, you can scroll down to that section now, but reading what leads up to my recipes is fun, yes?
So, this time last year, my freezer held enough food to get us through 4 months of lock-down. None of us quite knew if the food delivery chain would be compromised, so we really stocked up. I also remember losing power for three days during a spring storm and the one thing we guarded like newborn puppies was the food in our freezer. Thank goodness for generators.
Fast forward a year later and even though we’ve all learned there is no way to be sure of the future, my pantry has shrunk down from a 'Def-Con 5' food supply, to being moderately ready for the arrival of neighbors. All this ruminating is to let you know I found a package of frozen ground turkey at the bottom of one compartment that was nearing its end-life, as well as having a bit of fresh food in the fridge that just needed to be used ... and it was closing in on dinner time.
This scenario sets the stage for most of my meals: I look in the pantry and fridge for what’s on hand and create from there. I pride myself on posting photos and recipes that appear as though they took a ton of time and brain power, but this isn’t the reality in the “I Feel Like Cooking” theater. As you all know I work fairly quickly because I’m just a mad scientist with an apron, with a passion for nourishing, and I love beautiful food.
Okay. Now it’s time for the recipe. Isn’t this just a gorgeous looking meatball? And it’s super healthy.
So to begin with, ground turkey is not something you serve without adding additional ingredients to improve it. I chose powerful Asian flavors, and accent with heat, and used grated carrots for moisture. Then by adding preserved lemon and chili flakes to low fat plain Greek yogurt, I had a great sauce to serve, and a meal that featured cool, spicy, sweet, crunchy, and salty.
I find that baking my meatballs is just a great time-saver, even though the pan does a beautiful job at browning. Since these meatballs were on the platter with other items, I didn’t need a caramelized exterior. Yay, because I also avoided cleaning my stove top. Win-win. 20+ minutes in the oven and then serve over slathered the yogurt … it just got more beautiful from there when I added fresh jalapenos, garden tomatoes, cucumbers that I scored so that the edges were pretty, and tons of cilantro. I finished with pretty, red onion slices and some mint leaves, and everyone was happy!
Not that I advocate you wait until all your food has been around awhile before using it, but this is further proof that putting bling into your cuisine isn’t complicated or time consuming.
Now for a long walk to eliminate the pandemic middle I’ve grown. Ugh. Please pass me the cucumbers again.
RECIPE: Vietnamese Turkey Meatballs
PART 1 - Cooking in the Time of COVID
It's okay to Live in the Moment.
It occurs to me that we are lost in a sea of bad news while being horrifically engulfed in a tide that never recedes. That’s a lot of bad going on. It’s been so long since I’ve seen the shore I don’t remember what dry ground even feels like. Sure, I have experienced a lot of “interesting events” over my many decades here on earth, but these are unprecedented times. I don’t recall ever feeling so disconnected, unsure, or fearful. There is no compass point we can rely on for parsing this information or translate what’s going on. Some out there may teeter between believing this is either an alien virus leaked from Area 51, or a political tool to scare and control us. I’m not even going to say I’m somewhere in the middle, because even my “gut reactions” are all over the place.
I miss being sure.
I wish I had the magic bean for us to plant a mighty stalk that grows above the clouds of uncertainty letting me peer into truth. Or that I could hire a translator that would smile through horn-rimmed framed lenses while setting everything straight. And, I wish I could sleep without terror.
All of these thoughts are not necessarily productive or logical. What, then do I need?
A wild notion is developing in me that might be the simplest answer to all of this; a kind of parallel truth we may be missing. And that is, what if we all suddenly knew these three things deeply, and in doing so could take back the control we’ve given over to EVERYTHING and EVERYONE else?
- NUMBER ONE: We all have huge worth, and it exists apart from being measured by what we own, or who we know. We will never not matter to someone. Also, E F Hutton isn’t God. Mr. Rogers was right. And you are actually kind, smart, and important.
- NUMBER TWO: Our health is truly interconnected to our social responsibility. It does require effort to be well fed and we should seek to spend more time doing it right. Also, our diseases can be partly blamed on our own attitude towards who is responsible for telling us what's healthy (you are, by the way), our disrespect for our fellow living things, and our constant effort to mitigate our self-loathing.
- NUMBER THREE: We will all die and that’s okay. But for most of us, not quite now. This minute you are still alive, viable, and powerful and you can make a difference. Failure is survivable. You really don’t need anyone to add you as a Friend. And what I really want to tell you is being famous isn’t nearly as important as being vital to one person right now.
Those three bullets can be summarized like this: If we have respect for self, are aware of the existence of things beyond our own selves that are equal in importance to our own appetites, and can cultivate an ability to have full joy by focusing on the present, we just might get through this. (And the other trials that will surely come!)
Do What Makes you Happy.
Our bodies have an amazing super power: The ability to smell and taste. Both which gives us such a rush of pleasure and joy we should revel in this being life’s greatest gift! Joy has been shown to boost endorphins, strengthen our immune system, and even out our ability to handle stress. I love when someone puts a good bit of food in their mouths and then begin swooning with happiness! Is this not a goal we should all strive to have?
For several weeks now my recipes have taken a turn towards comfort and familiar foods. I have rediscovered good beef stew. And remembered why creamed peas make me happy. Whether you choose to download and cook these recipes, or just enjoy the photos and the accompanying drool they provoke, I hope they help you feel powerful, even without a beanstalk.
RECIPE: Onion and Green Pepper Tender Beef Stew Over Mashed New Potatoes
1 ½ lb Stew Meat Chunks (at room temperature, and patted dry of moisture)
2 T oil
½ large green pepper cut into strips
¼ large sweet onion cut into strips
2 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 t salt, ¼ pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
2 ½ C boiling water
½ C cabernet sauvignon
(Roux with 2 t corn starch and 2-3 T water)
Fresh parsley to garnish
RECIPE: Quick-Pasta-Whatever with Skillet Marinara Sauce
½ lb ground beef (90%)
½ pint cherry tomatoes quartered
1 large stalk celery cut into small dice
1/3 sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic finely diced
1 can tomato sauce (plain, no flavorings)
2 T light olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T white sugar
¼ t each of paprika and turmeric powder
1 heaping T dried good oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper)
1 ½ C egg noodles (dry) cooked to al dente
Shaved parmigiana reggiano cheese and parsley to garnish.
Which, I'm thinking, is why God probably kept it to himself for millennia.... no doubt leaked by the dark forces.
Um, thank you dark forces? Oh dear...
Want to know more? Here are some interesting facts published on sucrose.com about sugar:
"It was the major expansion of the Arab peoples in the seventh century AD that led to a breaking of the secret. When they invaded Persia in 642 AD they found sugar cane being grown and learnt how sugar was made. As their expansion continued they established sugar production in other lands that they conquered including North Africa and Spain. However, it is thought that cane sugar was first used by man in Polynesia from where it spread to India. In 510 BC the Emperor Darius of what was then Persia invaded India where he found "the reed which gives honey without bees". The secret of cane sugar, as with many other of man's discoveries, was kept a closely guarded secret whilst the finished product was exported for a rich profit."
It turns out we do need to be a bit mindful of the stuff. The Huffington Post has published a very interesting article explaining what happens when we become sugar addicts. It is worth the read. I find that between the lines the logic lies in understanding that we must have balance. And that a lot of our sugar and other unhealthy items are found in processed foods. I work very hard to avoid a processed food diet and find that if you eat naturally you can probably imbibe responsibly without too much harm...
But I will let you decide with every, delicious, crystallized, sparkling, happy bite...
RECIPE: Quick Watermelon Ice Cream
1 C sweetened condensed milk
Dash of salt
Recipe inspired by several online posts.
RECIPE: Chai Bread Pudding
with White Nectarines and Mock Creme Anglais
8 pieces of white bread cubed and toasted
5 large eggs
1 C heavy cream
2 t vanilla extract
1/3 C sugar
1/8 t ground cloves
½ t cinnamon
½ t ground cardamom
1/8 C chopped candied ginger divided 6 ways
Butter for greasing large muffin tins
Dash of salt
Sea salt to garnish
MOCK ANGLAIS SAUCE:
½ C sweetened condensed milk
3-4 T whole milk
3 T lemon curd
Grease an oversized muffin tin generously with butter (6 muffin openings). Divide toasted bread evenly among 6 muffin openings until the stack is a bit above the top of the rim. Sprinkle with the chopped candied ginger. Thoroughly mix the eggs, cream, vanilla, spices, and dash of salt. Pour over the bread dividing evenly among all puddings. Gently press down the bread so it all touches the egg mixture. Let it soak for about an hour on the counter, or not more than 3 hours in the fridge. Be sure to bring to room temperature before cooking. Arrange the sugared slices nicely on top of the bread puddings.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and place pan on a rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove each personal bread pudding and serve with the sauce poured over the top. Can be refrigerated and then reheated in the micro. Keep sauce refrigerated.
Note: Can do in a baking dish, but check center to make sure it’s done.
RECIPE: Easy White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla (I added 2 t)
1 ¼ C craisins
Pinch of salt (I also sprinkled kosher salt on top of the fudge at the end.)
It's funny, really, because when I cook I appear to be quite a mathematician. My 'mis en place' looks similar to the vertical columns of my ignored spread sheet: Straight and tidy. Yet I still would rather be splattered with sauce than splayed out with a calculator in hand.
I see you nodding your head in agreement. So let's continue with FOOD! (For those shaking your heads "no," and linking arms with my frustrated husband, NO dinner for you.) :)
I will attempt to mitigate my folly by presenting you with several recipes that prove salivating is the perfect way to side-track your Federal duties. Let's take a look:
Brown Sugar Moroccan Salmon with Sautéed
Apple and Cucumber Relish
Mounded atop a perfect salmon filet only makes it all the better. Made for a girlfriend's evening I was told this was one of their all time Camine favorites.
2 small Fuji apples sliced into 1 inch square pieces or your choice of shape
1/3 English cucumber, halved then sliced into 1/8” slices
1/8 C slices of sweet white onion
2 large garlic cloves sliced thin
3 fresh basil leaves julienned
2 t fresh ginger minced or chopped finely
Handful fresh Italian parsley leaves chopped
1/3 C light packed light brown sugar divided
2 t Moroccan spice rub
3 T butter
1 T light oil
2 t kosher salt, 1 t black pepper for seasoning
1 C jasmine rice, cooked
1 C Spring greens for presentation
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the apple and cucumber mixture and sauté until apples are soft, about 6-7 minutes. Put lid on keep warm until filets are cooked.
Plate by putting spring green dressed with a little red wine vinegar on plate, nestle cooked rice next to it. Top with cooked salmon and top with the apple relish mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve!
RECIPE: Bacon Wrapped Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
1 15 oz. container full fat ricotta cheese
½ C grated parmigiana reggiano cheese + more for sprinkling on top
1 large egg
½ C chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 10 oz package frozen spinach
2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
¼ C white onion chopped finely
¼ C good olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
12 thin slices of bacon
Lay out each pounded piece of chicken. Place two heaping tablespoons of the mixture in the center and wrap over each edge of the chicken until closed and it becomes round. Rub with a bit of the oil. Then tightly wrap each with a slice of the bacon, overlapping so that the fat from the bacon seals the circle tightly. Place seam side down in dish. Sprinkle with a little more grated cheese, some parsley, and a bit of black pepper. When all breasts have been stuffed and wrapped and place in baking dish, bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is 140 degrees. Can use the broiler for the last few minutes to brown and crisp the bacon. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
RECIPE: The BEST Meatloaf,
with a Plum Port Reduction Sauce
½ C chopped sweet white onion
½ C golden raisins
3/8 C plain bread crumbs
1 large clove of garlic minced
1 large egg
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
1 ½ t kosher salt ½ t black pepper (to taste)
2 T heavy cream
1 ½ t Froelich’s Marrakesh Mix (or one of your favorite spice blends. This one is proprietary and tastes like Chinese 5 Spice meet Greek Blend.)
1 C Port Wine
3 T good quality Balsamic Vinegar
2 t red wine vinegar
½ t salt
¾ C chopped soft prunes
2 T butter
Simmer the wine, and the vinegars on medium high until it has reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Add the prunes and let gently simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the butter, stir, and serve over meatloaf.
That's why memories and the moment are so profound. What will we make of life and the time we have left?
I was once asked if I had a “sense” of how many years I would live. Whether it is naïve or not, I have always believed it would be at least 100 years. It is a reasonable assumption since the life span of dozens on my ancestors has been well over the age of 90 over the last 300 hundred years. So after turning 60 this year, I can expect 40 more years of “life.”
What can I do to make it what I want it?
These 3 salads + 9 more recipes below = twelve mouth-watering downloads!
Let me explain using a food metaphor: I want to see how my cake is faring during a bake. I open the oven door and … boom! I have changed the environment. So to discover what the cake was at the time I was curious is impossible, since I opened the oven door and shifted everything. But then, that's part of the dance, yes?
I have always said that food and your interaction with it is THE metaphor for life. Like a successful soufflé, you only know elation the second you take it out of the oven. And you only get to enjoy the show for about 5 minutes. Then, all of that work begins to deflate into a cavern of lost excitement leaving only the exquisiteness of the memory. So you better enjoy the moment.
But that doesn’t matter. I still have a passion for all of it. I still feel like I can answer all of life’s questions during cooking. And I have been able to have so many, many, many more new friends around my table to nourish. And that makes life perfect for me.
#1 RECIPE: Slow Cooker Citrus Carnitas Burritos
About 3 C organic apple cider*
2 clementines (can use small oranges) quartered
1 lime quartered
1 lime sliced for garnish
1/3 c large diced sweet onion
4 medium cloves garlic rough chopped
2 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t good paprika
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2-3 T oil
1 small can Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce
1 C cheddar cheese grated
Handful fresh chopped cilantro
6 small flour tortillas slightly warmed
Cover with organic apple cider up to a level just below ingredients but not totally covering. Cook on low 7 hours. When done remove citrus, take out meat reserving juice and shred meat with fork. Put shredded meat back in juices. Heat small can of Old El Paso red enchilada sauce.
To assemble place large amount of shredded meat in center of tortilla. (Use tongs to remove meat and let it drip so meat isn’t full of juice. Ladle several T of heated red sauce on top of meat. Roll up. Put more enchilada sauce on top, then top with extra sharp cheddar cheese. Put under broiler until bubbly. Serve with a slice of lime and cilantro.
#2 RECIPE: Baked Pineapple Chicken Meatballs
With Mint Lemon Yogurt Sauce
I made these as a buffet item for a girl's night in. They're easy to assemble, bake, and eat, and are great as leftovers the next day. You'll find so many uses for these sweet and savory gems!
1 large egg
2 T plain bread crumbs
2 t or more kosher salt (don’t skimp! Chicken is bland without enough salt!)
1 t black pepper
1 small 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, pushed through a sieve until all moisture is gone.
¼ heaping C of golden raisins
3 T fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
3 T oil for greasing pan and brushing on top
4 oz. Greek yogurt
1 large garlic clove finely chopped
2 t finely chopped fresh mint
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
A few turns of fresh cracked black pepper
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Do NOT overbake.
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic, mint, and pepper. Mix well and serve alongside meatballs.
*Let sit until about room temperature, for about 45 minutes before baking. Cold makes it easier to form balls, warm makes it easier to cook meatballs evenly.
#3 Zucchini Lasagna with Fragrant Meat Sauce
over Creamy Lemon Zest Rice
1 very large and wide zucchini sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/3 C chopped red onion
1/3 C chopped red pepper
1-2 large cloves of garlic chopped finely
Handful of fresh oregano leaves rough chopped
2 T chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 t paprika
3 T half and half
2 t kosher salt ½ t cracked black pepper (to taste)
½ C + grated parmigiana reggiano cheese
Water and corn starch for thickening
A bit of light oil for greasing baking dish.
In a large saucepan add the meat, paprika, the onion, and the red pepper. Season with a little salt and pepper. Break up the meat a little and let brown on medium high until onions are soft. Open the can of tomatoes and empty into large bowl. Using your hands squeeze the tomatoes until broken up in the liquid. Then add the tomatoes to the pan. Stir to incorporate and return to a simmer. Then add the fresh oregano, 1 T chopped parsley, and the chopped garlic. Cover and let simmer for 45 lovely, fragrant, my-kitchen-smells-amazing minutes.
Remove lid, and take pan off heat. Then stir in the cornstarch dissolved in water, adding a little at a time, until it thickens and isn’t runny. Then return to heat and add the cream stirring well. Turn heat off and cover. Begin assembling by layering half the zucchini strips on the bottom of a medium sized baking dish, overlapping each one. Then add half the meat mixture. Cover the meat with the last strips of zucchini, layering again, then cover with the rest of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Be generous with the cheese! Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until everything is bubbling well. Remove, let sit for about 5 minutes. Cut and serve over my lemon zest creamy rice.* Garnish with the remaining 1 T parsley.
*Lemon zest rice: Cook 1 C jasmine rice as directed. When cooked add 3 T heavy cream, the juice of one lemon, the zest of one lemon, a bit of salt and pepper and stir.
#4 RECIPE: Tender Beef Shepherd's Pie
with Fennel and Sweet Potatoes
½ large stalk fennel chopped into ¼ inch chunks
1 shallot, about 2 ½ inches long, chopped into large chunks
2 T light oil
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 ½ C dark red small heirloom tomatoes cut in half or you can use cherry tomatoes
½ C beef broth
¼ C fruity red wine
½ C smooth tomato sauce, unseasoned
1 t good paprika
1-2 t of kosher salt and 1 t black pepper (To taste. It will depend upon the seasoning of the beef broth so be sure and taste it!)
3 T corn starch dissolved in a little water
Large stalk of rosemary
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
¼ C heavy cream
4 T salted butter
Extra kosher salt for potatoes
½ t of a good quality light and complex curry powder
Handful of chopped Italian leaf parsley for garnish
While beef is simmering, boil sweet potatoes covered in water until soft. Drain, add the cream, butter, salt, and curry. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Set aside with lid on but no need to keep burner on. After the hour, remove lid on beef and mix and remove from heat, then stir in the cornstarch mixed with water and thicken beef mixture until it resembles gravy consistency.
Pour all of the meat mixture in a glass baking dish with high sides, about 8 by 12 inches, and spread until covering the bottom evenly. Then carefully spread the top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with a little of the parsley. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes until bubbling and hot throughout. Serve with another flourish of parsley!
#5 RECIPE: Apricot Orange and Ginger Glazed Mahi
½ C Apricot Jam
2 small to medium navel oranges peeled and sections neatly cut out
2 t fresh ginger chopped finely
1 generous T of rice wine vinegar
1 ½ t kosher salt
½ t black pepper
2 T oil
Large handful fresh cilantro chopped
#6 RECIPE: Zesty Ginger BBQ Baked Chicken
with Rosemary Roasted Parnsips
Oil to moisten
½ C ketchup
3 T good quality balsamic vinegar
1 very large clove garlic chopped finely
1 heaping T candied ginger chopped finely
1 t salt, ½ t cracked black pepper
Serve with parsnips tossed with oil, salt and pepper, and fresh chopped rosemary leaves baked on a baking sheet at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
#7 RECIPE: Salmon Florentine
1 t kosher salt, ½ t black pepper
2 T light oil such as grape seed (High smoke point)
8 C fresh spinach leaves
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
½ t fresh lemon zest
2 T mayonnaise
3 T grated Parmesan
¼ t ground coriander
1/3 T ground ginger
Rub a bit of oil on the salmon filets and a bit of kosher salt. Heat the oil in a pan until hot. Place the salmon, skin side down in the oil and sear until the skin is crispy and you begin to see the fish turn opaque about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. Then flip the salmon over and sear on the other side. Be sure and regulate the temperature of the oil so that it doesn’t smoke and burn the fish, but maintains a sizzle. When you see just a small thin layer of pink in the middle and everything else is opaque, gently spoon the spinach mixture over the top of the filet. You can invert the fish again to top the non-skin side with the Florentine, or do as I did and put on top of the crispy skin. YUM. Cover with a lid, turn to low, and let it steam and continue to cook for about another 3 minutes.
Remove and serve with your favorite sides! Can squeeze a bit of lemon on the top for serving if desired.
#8 RECIPE: Quick Carrot Tabouleh
½ t coriander powder
¼+ t ground cumin
¼ t ground ginger
1 small clove of garlic
1 few slices of red onion, about 1-2 T
5-6 large mint leaves, torn
1-3 T light oil such as canola
#9 RECIPE: Vegetable and Orange Quinoa Salad
with Red Wine Vinaigrette
½ large English cucumber diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 large navel oranges peeled and cut into small sections
Juice of half and orange
2 large Fuji apples diced
¼ C red onion sliced thin
¾ pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 T or more of red wine vinegar and light oil to your desired consistency
1 t kosher salt and ½ t black pepper to taste
Toss and let sit for about an hour before serving.
Can add protein to this such as shrimp, chicken, or salami.
#10 RECIPE: Amaretto Orange
and Brown Sugar Shrimp Appetizer
One of my MOST requested recipes!
½ C good Amaretto Liquor
3 heaping T brown sugar, not packed
Zest from half an orange
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
In a large bowl toss the shrimp with the cooled syrup, add the orange zest and parsley and let sit for about an hour or more. (Although you can serve right away, it’s best to let the shrimp soak up a bit of the flavor)
#11 RECIPE: Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower
and Caramelized Onions
Use GOOD balsamic for the ultimate result.
½ red onion sliced
3 T good balsamic vinegar that’s fairly sweet like fig or pomegranate
3 T olive oil
1 – 2 t kosher salt
½ t black pepper
#12 RECIPE: Apple Cinnamon Ginger Galette
1/3 C golden raisins
2 t fresh grated ginger
2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract
1 t cinnamon
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 T packed brown sugar
3 T water
Box of Betty Crocker Pie crust dough
2 t raw sugar
1 egg beaten
Pinch of kosher salt
I consider myself a good hostess and an equally good guest. I understand that someone opening their home is the highest honor. And I respect that. I know they have made space for me in their heart and their life. An act worthy of the highest praise. There is something wonderful about sharing a roof with a friend. Knowing they slumber in the room next to you, breathing in and out as their minds dream away their cares gives us purpose. Not to mention a reason to bring out the adorable matching cream and sugar set we've been waiting to use.
Framing these events -- the arrival and the departure -- are of course the meals. And they have to be prepared with love and caring. One is the supper that shows the guests' presence is a celebration. And then the breakfast that seals the deal. I have two recipes for you that accomplish just that.
The first appears to be impossibly difficult. But it is simply layering flavors inside a very basic meal. And it is crowned with lovely red candied beets that certainly reinforce the memorable factor. With their high sugar content this vegetable is the perfect muse for honey. And they give the entire meal a crimson glow. I use one of my favorite herb rubs to elevate plain baked chicken. And a simple white wine lemon sauce to pull it all together...
RECIPE: Herb Parsley Rubbed Chicken
over Fruited Coriander Rice, with Candied Beets and Lemon White Wine Sauce.
Method and Notes
4 chicken breasts cut to 6 oz. servings
2 T of your favorite spice rub*
2 T finely chopped Italian leaf parsley
3 – 4 t light olive oil
2 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
Blend 1 ½ C vegetable stock, ¾ C jasmine rice with ¼ C golden raisins and 3 small scallions chopped including greens with the rice to cook. When done add 1 t coriander powder, 1 t salt, and 2 t heavy cream.
BEETS: 4 small red beets, peeled, with 1 inch of the tops intact, cleaned and trimmed thoroughly. 2 T oil, 2 t kosher salt. 2 T honey, 1 t rice wine vinegar. Cook beets on a baking sheet at 400 degrees with oil and salt for about 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove and put in a bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Then toss with the honey and vinegar. Serve.
SAUCE: Reduce ½ C dry white wine for about 3 minutes, add 3 t fresh squeezed lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper and finish with 2 t real maple syrup. Thicken slightly with about 1 T corn starch dissolved in ¼C water. Whisk in slurry well until slightly thickened.
Combine spice mix, parsley, and oil as noted above in ingredients. Spread over the chicken and place in an oiled baking dish. Cook at 375 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until medium. Do not overcook. Serve over rice, with the lemon white wine sauce and the candied beets.**
*1 t each of paprika, coriander, herbs de Provence, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric. Dash of nutmeg and cardamom.
**Top with quick pickled cucumbers if desired. I add sliced cukes to a bowl, and cover with about ½ C red wine vinegar and 2 T sugar and let sit for 1 hour.
Not withstanding the importance of good coffee in morning. I mean there IS NO morning without coffee! But what it goes with turns a smile into a little happy dance. And since your guests may end up sleeping far beyond what you might expect, having a "quick" option is imperative. And this one is ready in literally 30 minutes. It uses store-bought dough, which <gasp!> surprises you I'm sure. But then sometimes it is smart to let others help you along the way.
RECIPE: The Quickest, Yummiest Cinnamon Rolls
with Orange Glaze
8 T salted butter
1/3 C raisins
1-2 T granulated sugar
1 T good cinnamon
2 T juice of 1 orange
1 T grated orange zest
1 t vanilla extract
Dash of kosher salt
½ - ¾ C confectioner’s sugar
Unroll dough and lay onto a floured surfaced. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out to desired size. I did 12” by 12”. Using a spatula, take 4 T soft butter and spread it evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and then the cinnamon over the dough. Sprinkle with the raisins. Starting at one end, carefully roll away from you until you have a long tube. Cut into 12-14 even pieces. Lay them in a well buttered small baking dish. I used a dish about 7 by 10 inches. Brush the tops with 2 T of melted butter and a smattering of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
In a small bowl squeeze the orange juice and zest and add the vanilla and pinch of salt. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar about ¼ C at a time until you get the desired consistency. Serve rolls with glaze!
Or, My Holiday Ode to Feeding the Spirit of Christmas!
And yet we still want more. The pages of social media are bursting at the margins with new ideas for holiday food. We seem to literally feed on the time-lapse videos for every imaginable edible. And we don’t seem to care much if it is real, or possible, or even tasty. It is just fun to watch and follow food. For every person who collapses on a sofa after doing dishes the millionth time, there are 10 more who say, “…let’s make that Yule Log recipe we got from Cousin Rita!” And once again the mixer is pulled ceremoniously forward, and the preheat button is pushed.
My question is, are we processing the idea of food in a normal context? Or are we just committed to running through the maze of prep, eat, share, clean and start over again without thinking? Do we understand how the act of feeding ourselves and others is actually grander in scale than even the crooning voice of Bing singing White Christmas when it comes to the Reason for the Season?
Christmas is Christian. Jesus is the reason. And nourishment is most definitely a proving ground for most Christian beliefs. But Judaism, Hinduism, and many other religions connect food with edifying our spirit as well, proving that something on a plate is truly parallel to our spiritual celebrations.
2 Corinthians 5:17, as shared in the King James Version states that, “...therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This passage is a ravishing and exceptional illustration that must not be ignored. And one interpretation, mine, is that it is a metaphor for what our bodies do as we feed them. Cells divide and change, grow, and we are literally “new creatures” in food, just as we can be new in the Spirit.
Hasidic Judaism teaches, according to Wikipedia, that ‘everyday life is imbued with channels connecting with Divinity, the activation of which it sees as helping the Divine Presence to be drawn into the physical world. Hasidism argues that the food laws are related to the way such channels, termed sparks of holiness, interact with various animals. These sparks of Holiness are released whenever a Jew manipulates any object for a holy reason (which includes eating).’
Wouldn’t both of these interpretations suggest we are remade constantly? And wouldn’t the most logical of these be through what we put in our bodies? Would that not be the quickest way to elevate our creaturely-ness into holiness since we all experience the desire for food all throughout the day?
John 6:35 states: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Matthew 5:6 states that, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Perhaps, then, is the accelerated focus of cooking during Christmas a natural instinct we respond to? A need to expand our understanding, and increase our nearness to God?
I have often written about the fact that I believe true peace will take place around a dinner table. I postulate that the act of filling ourselves and enjoying the sensory explosion of tasting, and sharing, and sating binds us in a deep spiritual way that is undeniable and causes in us a desire to be new creatures. We see the good in others and ourselves, we are moved to care about what happens to us all as a species, and maybe even as children of God, if that is your belief. Even the sitting position is one of non-aggression, resembling in earnest our posture when praying on our knees. We lean perilously over a plate, out of balance, focusing all our muscles on bringing one bite up to open mouths to savor. While we cannot truly say that all eating is holy, I think we can safely say that holiness includes eating.
As I conclude my ode to nourishing the Noel, I have one other idea to share. I am wondering. Could it be possible that the Christian cross could just as easily be set next to a fork in terms of significance? When we are “filled, and no longer hungry” will the plate, knife and spoon perish from our lives or become the center of our worship? Will breaking plates become heresy? Why, who knew a stuffed mushroom could become hallowed. But then, why wouldn’t it be?
So, before Christmas is over. Take a moment and breathe reverence and hope into your holiday meal. Stop rushing through it. Meditate upon the exquisite beauty of a cranberry popping in a pan. And then take the hand of someone you love and place something yummy before them. There is no other gift more perfect.
Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.
Want to get spontaneous with me? It's pretty exciting. Let's all find out what happens when, "I Feel Like Cooking."
12 Winter Recipes
Apple Butter Walnut Spice Cookies
Apple Rice Salad
Artichoke Stuffed Chicken
Bad Experiments With Food
Bing Cherry Cookies
Bourbon Bread Pudding
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Brown Sugar Chicken
Brown Sugar Pork Ribs
Cantaloupe And Oranges
Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Coffee Chili Steak Rub
Cognac Roasted Veggies
Cold Vegetable Salad
Cooking With Friends
Cooking With Wine
Cranberry Chocolate Cookies
Creamy Zucchini Soup
Enchilada Hand Pies
Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
Granny Smith Apples
Grapefruit Pear Slaw
Herb Butter Roasted Chicken
Herbs De Provence
Lake Norman Magazine
Lemon Cream Sauce
Lemon Crumble Bars
Lime Ginger Honey Syrup
Maple Bourbon Plum Sauce
Mini Pepper Poppers
Mint Caper Salsa
Nectarine Spice Cake
No Bake Cookies
Orange Cheesecake Squares
Orange Rosemary Glazed Tri-color Carrots
Paula Deen Quick Rolls
Peanut Bean Sprout Fried Rice
Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Mousse
Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Pork Or Chicken Salad
Pork Ramen Stir Fry
Port Wine Reduction
Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake
Pumpkin Buttermilk Glaze
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Radish Fennel Salad
Rice-a-roni Beef Soup
Roasted Beet Salad
Rules For Dieting
Slow Roasted Chicken
Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Southern Fried Chicken
Speculoos Cookie Butter
Spicy Orange Chicken
Stuffed Puff Pastry
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweet Pickle Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato Pancake
Thai Peanut Sauce
Turkey And Ground Beef
Twisted Puff Pastry Rounds
White Wine Cream Sauce
Yellow Split Peas