Yesterday, in the usual Sunday fashion, I made a killer dinner for myself and my family. I stayed up ultra-late Saturday night to make the menu:
Smoked BBQ on crispy dill pickle
Fresh summer salad with herb balsamic vinaigrette
House smoked chicken with citrus beurre blanc or creamy mushroom gravy
Banana sorbet or banana souffle
There was an amendment to the dessert portion of the menu: I didn't feel like making any dessert, so I brought out leftover chili-lime chocolate cupcakes.
The smoked BBQ was from 2 weeks ago. I froze a good portion of it to have for later and it was a nice amuse bouche to whet everyone's appetite.
Crispy Dill Pickles
1 jar Sandwich-style dill pickles
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chipotle flakes
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water (or 1 egg white with 1 Tbsp water or 1/4 cup mayonnaise)
1 cup Ian's whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
oil for pan-frying
Drain pickles on paper towels, blotting each one until most of the moisture is removed. Set aside.
Set up standard breading station: 1 plate with flour, seasoned with the above seasonings, 1 small bowl with beaten egg or mayonnaise, 1 plate with panko breadcrumbs. Dredge each pickle in order of the procedure. Set aside and heat up oil in skillet or pan to 375 degrees F. Test a breadcrumb as a gauge to insure proper oil temperature, if needed. It should take 20-30 seconds for it to reach a golden brown.
Pan fry each pickle until golden brown, on each side. Let drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Keep in a slow oven to keep warm.
The summer salad came out of a need to get rid of my bell peppers in the fridge. Red, yellow, orange. Beautiful. I am still slightly obsessed with my mother-in-law's tongue designer pasta. The fresh veggies of the season definitely accompany the streaks of red, purple, green, orange, and yellow of the pasta. The salad is simple enough to put together at any time but complex enough to make people think you spent hours composing it. The pasta should be al dente, slightly toothy, to match the crunch of the fresh veggies. The accompanying herb balsamic vinaigrette is a nice acidic sweetness.
This was the best I could do to show the salad. You can kinda see what I was going for. Right? Right?
1 red onion, julienne
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 yellow bell pepper, julienne
1 orange bell pepper, julienne
1 English cucumber, sliced 1/16" on mandoline
1 pkg mother's tongue pasta, al dente, cooled
Herb balsamic vinaigrette
The key is a 3:1 ratio of vinegar to oil. Start with small droplets or a slow stream of oil into a food processor, blender, or in a bowl with a whisk.
3-4 Tb chopped herbs (ie. parsley, oregano, thyme, cilantro, basil)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 squirt mustard (yellow is fine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup salad oil
salt and pepper to taste
Now that I've put up these few recipes, I realize what an undertaking this meal really was. No wonder I didn't feel like banging out a dessert! It took a little less than an hour (minus the smoking of the chicken) to cook and plate everything, but it was an intense hour, in the intense heat of my little piddly-poop of a kitchen.
I have to tell you about my chicken. I love my little smoker. It came with a few small tubs of chips and I haven't been compelled to go out an purchase any more yet, but I'll have to soon because I plan on smoking everything I can get my hands on this summer. Ever had smoked fruit?...
I made a spiced butter to put underneath the skin for flavor and imminent crispness. The inspiration behind the butter was from niter kibbeh, a spiced, clarified butter that is used in Nigerian cooking. My butter was not clarified, but that did not detract from the flavor at all.
4 TB No-Salt seasoning
1TB smoked salt
1 stick salted butter, softened
Mix all ingredients together.
No-Salt Seasoning Shake** Yield: 2/3 cup
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
Normally, succotash is made with corn, butter beans (also called lima beans), tomatoes, or any combination of the three. My mother doesn't like butter beans, so her succotash is only corn and tomatoes. I like all three, so in they go! For a quick fix, canned veggies can be used. Since I like to pretend I'm hardcore, I used fresh corn from the cob, beans shelled from their pods, and fresh Roma tomatoes. My tomatoes were so fresh and delicious, I couldn't bear putting heat to them. I simply sliced them and put them on the side, like a garnish. This succotash is definitely NOT sufferin'!
2-3 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips, cooked until crisp
2 tablespoons butter or spiced butter
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 ears)
1 lb fresh lima beans in pods, shelled or 1 (10oz) package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
Put corn and butter in pan. Cook corn until charred and juices turn sweet. Add beans and cook until beans are no longer raw tasting. Add bacon, salt and pepper to taste.
Creamy Mushroom Gravy
It was too salty, so I added nonfat sour cream to cut it, alternatively making it creamy. Smooth move, Nik!
1 lb white mushrooms
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour dissolved in 1 1/2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream (optional, for creaminess)
In a 10-inch heavy non-stick skillet cook garlic in butter and over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add mushrooms season with salt and pepper. Sauté until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown.
Add wine and cook down until liquid is evaporated. Stir in flour mixture. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps and incorporate all ingredients (take care not to get mushroom stuck in the spokes of the whisk!), and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add sour cream, if desired.
A complete meal. If only I had made biscuits... Maybe next time!