Archives for category: Fresh Herbs

Andy B-day in Jimtown 074

Last weekend I catered a lovely little party in Jamestown.  My friend Andy had asked me a couple of months ago to cook for his birthday party.  I knew it was coming up but did not realize that he didn’t have my phone number.  I was in Jamestown the friday before dancing at Town Hall to a great line up of local bands including the Gasoline lollipops.  I went out on the porch to cool off because the place was packed and the music had us all dancing and started talking to Nolan Farmer.  Andy rents a room in Nolan’s’ beautiful house nestled in the mountains above Jamestown.  Nolan asks if I am coming to Andy’s party on Sunday.  SUNDAY!  I told Nolan I better call Andy in the morning because I am supposed cater the party for him.  I called Andy in the morning a we worked out a quick and healthy menu.  Andy is committed to eating healthy and he is doing a great job.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 109Here is the birthday boy telling a joke.

I arrived at Andy and Nolan’s on Sunday and had a great day cooking with Andy and listening to the talented Nolan Farmer playing his guitar and singing some of the wonderful bluegrass songs he has written.  Does it get any better than that?

I made a kale and cabbage slaw with oven dried apples.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 056A light platter of salami and olives with some delicious fresh oranges.

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My whole wheat carrot cake cupcakes were a hit.

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Andy made a fantastic guacamole.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 089I also made some yummy goat cheese and veggie flatbread.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 088The center dish was an oven roasted salmon fillet with marinated baby heirloom tomatoes with garlic and fresh basil.

Andy B-day in Jimtown 040The guests loved the food but I think I had the most fun just watching my friends enjoy food cooked with love.

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Oven Roasted Salmon with Marinated Tomatoes

This dish is simple and delicious

2 lb Fresh Salmon Fillet

1 Pint heirloom Grape Tomatoes or Regular Grape Tomatoes

1 Garlic Clove Sliced Thinly

8-10 Fresh Basil Leaves

1 Lemon Sliced into Rounds

Sea Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

8 Hours before cooking marinate Tomatoes slice in half, Garlic and Basil with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Slice the salmon fillet down the center and then slice into the salmon about 1 inch on each side of the center cut so that the salmon will open up.

Rub the salmon with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Open the top and pile in the tomato mixture.

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Top with slices of lemon and bake until salmon is fully cooked.  About 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Serve hot or cold.  The roasted tomatoes take on a bright and sweet flavor.

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Mothers Day is coming up and this dish would be a hit.

A la greqce cauliflower 012

I was thinking of Thomas Keller when I was trying to figure out what to do with all of this lovely cauliflower I had in my refrigerator.  I usually roast cauliflower, or make a soup or just steam it, but I wanted to do something new.

Thomas Keller has a  recipe for vegetables a la grecque.in his cookbook Bouchon. I love bistro food and preparing food ahead of time to be eaten later.  This recipe is perfect for making a day ahead and enjoying it all week.

You gently cook veggies in a court bouillon with olive oil, aromatics and lemon juice.  After cooking you store the veggies in the refrigerator in the cooled cooking liquid and reduce the liquid and make a vinaigrette before serving.  Genius.

I tweaked the recipe a little bit and substituted  butter for olive oil and  white wine for lemon juice.  The result was amazing.  I have been eating little happy bites of cauliflower lightly scented with herbs and wine for days now.  Heavenly.

This is a wonderful recipe for a party since most of the work can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.

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Start by cutting up your cauliflower.

Feb 27 2013 019In a large pot add 2 cups water, 2 cups white wine, 1/4 cup butter and aromatic herbs.  I used thyme, sage and rosemary.  I also threw in a garlic clove sliced into rounds.  Season the water with 1 teaspoon sea salt.

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Bring water to simmer and add veggies.

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Cook until tender crisp.

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Rinse veggies in very cold running water to stop the cooking process.

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Cool the cooking liquid and store veggies in the cooled cooking liquid for up to 1 week in your refrigerator.

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I suggest you try both my method and then go out and buy the Bouchon cookbook and try Thomas’ recipe as well.  I am sure I will be making this dish all summer when it is hot because the veggies, right out of the fridge are cool and packed with flavor.

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I bought a couple of pounds of roma tomatoes at the store.  They were a wonderful color and looked yummy.  These tomatoes were not very yummy.  As a fresh tomato these little fruits were completely useless.

Being frugal I could not throw them out.  Oven drying was the only solution.  This way the sugars in the tomatoes would be concentrated and the flavor enhanced.  I do not like to waste food.

I had some fresh thyme that I had frozen when I realized I would not use it up by the time in turned.  Freezing thyme is a great way to preserve it when you are not going to use the whole bunch.

I tossed the tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Threw on some sea salt and pepper and tossed some garlic and fresh thyme on top.

Feb 23 2013 053I set my oven and 250 degrees and let the tomatoes roast for 3-4 hours.

Feb 23 2013 079I took out the thyme stems and saved them in a bag in the freezer for stock and packed the dried tomatoes and garlic in a jar with some olive oil.  The tomatoes last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or 2 months in the freezer.  Use the oil to coat veggies, for a tasty salad dressing or spread on some fresh-baked bread.  Do not throw out the oil after you have used the tomatoes as it has a great flavor for the herbs, garlic and sweet tomatoes.

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These sweet dried tomatoes are very versatile.

Here are 10 ways to use oven dried tomatoes:

1.  Pizza topping

2.  Toss with pasta, olive oil, garlic and a good cheese

3.  Antipasti

4.  Top a salad with bacon and blue cheese

5.  Add to mayo and it is great in a sandwich or as a dipping sauce with fresh veggies

6.  Add to your favorite pasta sauce to punch up the flavor

7.  Add to stew at the end of cooking for a sweet complexity

8.  Add to soup with kale, white beans and garlic

9.  Blend tomatoes, oil that you stored the tomatoes in, and more fresh herbs with some balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing

10. Toss with feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and grilled veggies

What do you use your oven dried tomatoes for?

Check out Lucys Friendly Foods for a great antipasti salad recipe.

Whole Wheat Biscuits on Tray

Whole Wheat Biscuits…..  Don’t be fooled by the whole wheat in this recipe.  Full of heavy cream to create flaky biscuits, these are not low carb, low-calorie or low-fat but the whole wheat flour does add a nutty flavor to the biscuits that makes them fabulous tasting.

My post on Biscuits that will change you life has been very popular so I decided to get a little jiggy with the recipe and see what else I could do.

Yes, I do sing the Will Smith song, Gettin Jiggy with it,  frequently when cooking.  I can honestly say that Julia Childs, Jamie Oliver, and Escoffier are all inspirations to me in the kitchen but I would need to add Will Smith to be truly honest, since I am usually singing Gettin Jiggy with it in my head when I start to  get creative with a recipe.  Ok?  Whew, now that dirty little secret is out there…what, what…what?

Serve these flaky and delicious biscuits with soup, breakfast, brunch or just eat them right out of the oven. Quick and easy this recipe has become a staple in my kitchen.

Add herbs, cheese, honey or spice them up with finely minced jalapeno when you feel the need to get jiggy with it.

Whole Wheat Biscuits

1 1/2 cups or 9 oz all-purpose flour

1/2 cup or 3 oz of whole wheat flour (not the whole wheat white or pastry flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.  This dough likes to be kneaded a little bit. Some biscuit recipes call for you to handle the dough as little as possible but this recipe calls for a little kneading and it helps the dough raise up nicely.

3. Shape dough and roll out to desired thickness.  I usually roll it to 1/3 inch thick.  Cut out with a biscuit cutter or just cut into squares or triangles.

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Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

Variations:

Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits  Add 1 tsp finely minced jalapeno, 2 tbs extra sharp cheddar into the dough at the end of step 2 when you knead the dough briefly.

Fresh Herb Biscuits  Add finely minced fresh herbs and kosher salt on  top before baking.

Honey Biscuits  Brush with honey butter before baking.

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I am going to admit to one of my strange quirks…. one of many….of course.

I love to watch the cranberries split!  I love it.  This is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.   Most people would say they love eating roasted turkey or pumpkin pie.   They may say that they love the football games or eating stuffing.

For me, right behind hanging out with my family would be watching the cranberries split.  What?  You may be thinking “what does she mean?”  Crazy food blogger…..

Well, let me tell you about it.

It is a multi-sensory activity using your sense of smell, taste, visual and auditory all in one easy cooking activity.  What more could a food obsessed individual need for the holidays

I love looking over the edge of the pot and seeing the different reds and purples and pinks of the fresh cranberries mingled with the dark green rosemary and bright yellow of lemon.  Shiny with water and sugar the berries sparkle in the light.  They dance when the water starts to boil.  It is like a cranberry disco on your stove.

Turn up the heat and wait a couple of minutes and the fun really starts.  The berries start to dance around in the pot and the earthy smell of rosemary and bright smell of lemon reach your nose.  Next comes the popping.  Cranberries will expand and split when cooked and release that quintessential of holiday smells, fresh cranberry sauce.

I just love it.

Simmer the berries a bit longer and that is all you have to do.  The sauce is best cooled overnight and it will thicken naturally.  No need to add gelatin.  Gone forever from your table is the metallic tasting can of cranberry flavored gelatin that slides out in one big ribbed lump.  Canned cranberry gelatin is not nearly as fun as dancing cranberries with fresh herbs and citrus.  You can get very creative with cranberry sauce as you can see from my extensive list of variations at the bottom of this post.  Have fun with this traditional side dish and add dried fruit, nuts, spices and herbs.

Master Cranberry Sauce

200 gram sugar (1 cup)

1 cup water

4 cups fresh cranberries

After you cook the cranberries you may add any savory or sweet additions you would like to flavor your sauce.  At the bottom of this post I will list some of my favorite variations.  Makes 2 1/2 cups cranberry sauce.

1 Wash your lovely cranberries.  In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add cranberries, return to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.   Lovely!

2 At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients.  The cranberry sauce in the picture has fresh rosemary and lemon wedges.   You can add a cup of dried cranberries or dried cherries.

3 Remove from heat.  Cool at room temperature for 1 hour and chill in the refrigerator overnight.   Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Cranberry Sauce Variations

Southwestern Cranberry Sauce

1/2 tsp chipotle powder and topped with minced fresh cilantro and lime juice before serving

Orange and Almond Cranberry Sauce

Substitute fresh orange juice with water and add sliced almonds

Apple and Ginger Cranberry Sauce

1 tbs candied ginger diced fine with 1 cup diced honey crisp apple

Rosemary and Port Wine Cranberry Sauce

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, 1/4 cup port wine (reduce water to 3/4 cup) and 1 tsp orange zest

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

4 tbs maple syrup, substitute brown sugar for white sugar and 1/3 cup diced toasted walnuts

Apricot and cardamom Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup diced dried apricots and 1 tsp cardamom

Lemon Thyme Cranberry Sauce

1 tbs fresh thyme and 1 tbs lemon zest

Let me know if you have any creative variations for cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving menu.

Yesterday was bright and sunny when I woke up.  There was a bit of a chill in the air but overall it was sunny and clear.

I went up to the lodge and got the grill ready.  My mother in law, sister-in-law and nephew were coming up for Sunday brunch.

It was a perfect spring day.  I was even thinking we may set up a table on the deck and eat outside.  Was I wrong.   Weather can change fast in the mountains.

I starting grilling and decided to take some pictures from the deck.

It was warm and sunny.  Next thing I know I spot a white mass out over one of the hills.  It almost looked like smoke.

As the mass began to move and drift toward the lodge I realized the it was bringing a chilly wind.  It began to spread out and when it reached the lodge I realized it was snow.

Snow….in May.  Well I do live in the Rocky Mountains.

So here I am standing on the deck in cut offs and sandals grilling in the snow.  It made me laugh because almost every time I pull out the grill it starts raining.  I should grill more often since we are having a dry spring.

Thankfully I was done grilling and could move in a light the fireplace and relax with my family.

Ok, so back to the food….I was planning on featuring a summer salad.  This is a salad that we make nearly everyday during the summer.

But how can I feature a salad when it is snowing?  Shouldn’t I feature a stew or soup?  Well since the rest of the country is not blanketed in snow I will go ahead with my summer salad.  It kept snowing all night.  Most of the snow melted on impact but we got some great precipitation that was needed.

In the warm spring and summer months my  family enjoys salads nearly every dinner.  Sliced ripe red tomatoes, rich and creamy cheese, and bright fresh herbs is our favorite combination.

This salad is made with tomatoes (Compari vine ripe tomatoes from Costco), fresh mozzarella, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme.

Fresh Tomato, Mozzarella and Balsamic Salad

The key to getting the best flavor from this salad is to thinly slice the mozzarella which can be done if you freeze it for about half an hour or until slightly firm but not hard.  With the thinner mozzarella you can marinate it with balsamic and olive oil and the flavor will permeate the creamy cheese.

8-12 vine ripe compari tomatoes (I used the tomatoes from our local Costco but the salad is best with fresh tomatoes in season)

1 lb fresh mozzarella ( I used Bel Gioioso brand)

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I used my trusty Kirkland Signature Brand from Costco, yes I know I love Costco..)

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove minced finely

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (you can also use basil, oregano or mint)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice your mozzarella thinly and marinate with balsamic, olive oil and garlic.  Let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours in your refrigerator. 

Slice tomatoes and arrange tomatoes, mozzarella with marinade and fresh herbs on a plate.  Drizzle a bit more vinegar and olive oil and top with fresh herbs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Serve as a first course with crusty fresh-baked bread or as a side dish with a nice piece of grilled meat.

Here are a few variations on this salad:

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, mint and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, oregano and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, blue cheese and bacon and arugula

Fresh tomato, brie cheese and pancetta

More great tomato salad recipes:

This one from Jamie Oliver. (I just love how he uses tomatoes of different sizes and shapes.)

Or try this one from Martha.

Here is Elsies’ beautiful version of the tomato mozzarella combo.

I enjoy to just sitting and watching my tomato starts and dream that this season will be long enough for us to actually harvest some tomatoes.  Last year our crops froze before they had a chance to ripen.  We are much more prepared this year.  Wish me luck!

If I am not successful I will have the Boulder Farmers Market at my disposal and in late summer the farmers in the area will have a dizzying array of tomatoes to choose from.

Now I will resume my fresh tomato dreams…..

In my quest to make everything from scratch that my family eats one of the items that has slipped from the list is crackers.  My husband and son love to eat cheese and crackers.  My son also adores cheese crackers like cheese its.  I decided to give crackers a try for Easter.

When I am trying a new recipe I google recipes for what ever it is I am making.  This is the best cookbook around.  As a professional chef many people ask what my favorite cook book is and I usually say Google.  The reason Google can be so powerful as a cookbook is that you can peruse many different recipes in minutes.  Then you can see what underlying themes or techniques are used.  At this point I will usually build my own recipe or try one from a respected source.

There are thousands of places to find recipes on the internet.  With recipe sites, blogs and food sites, lists can be endless.  How do you know which ones are any good?  Over the years there are a number of sites that I find are invaluable resources and I am sure the recipes are well written and tested.  Here is a list of sites that I find have great recipes every time.

www.cooksillustrated.com  If you are not familiar with Cooks Illustrated I encourage you to pick up a copy of the magazine at your grocery store or check out the website.  They literally test recipes many  times and find the best possible way to make each recipe.  On their website you can pay a small yearly fee and have access to hundreds of tested recipes for everything from cupcakes to pot roast. Money well spent in my household.

www.marthastewart.com  Now I am sure everyone is familiar with Martha.  Not only are her recipes good but the comments section at the bottom of each recipe contains comments from people who have made the recipe and what they found worked or did not work.  It is great information. Martha also has great recipes for the season with stunning photos.  This site is a great inspiration.

www.smittenkitchen.com   This veteran blogger has not only some of the most beautiful photos on the web but she is honest in her posts.  A good example would be her Everyday Chocolate Cake post.  She was not successful with her first attempt and discussed where she got her original recipe, how she tweaked it and what worked and what did not work.  This kind of information is great for home cooks and professionals alike. It is always good to learn from someone elses mistakes.

www.simplyrecipes.com  Another talented veteran blogger whose beautiful pictures and simple prose get right to the point and convey great information on how to make nearly everything.

www.realbakingwithrose.com  Rose Levy Beranbaum is the queen of pies and cakes.  She writes her recipes in weight measurement, she has adjustments for altitude and gives you just about any information you may need.  Her meticulous recipes have been a staple in my kitchen for years.  I usually consult one of her cookbooks or website where ever I bake anything!  Check out some of her cookbooks.  The Cake Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

www.davidlebovitz.com  The undisputed pastry king he writes a wonderful blog about making everything from appetizers, entree and baking all set in lovely Paris.  I have never made one of his recipes that failed.  All of his recipes are meticulously tested and documented.  This blog is beautiful, fun and informative.

There are also many different personal blogs that I follow but that is going to have to be another post.

So on with the cracker trials.  I decided to try a recipe that I found on www.foodnetwork.com.  This recipe is by Ina Garten.  Parmesan and Thyme Crackers.

On the first try the dough came out too dry.  This could be because it is a very dry climate here in the mountains.  I added a teaspoon of water and then the dough came together nicely in the food processor.

I chilled the dough and rolled it out with minimal flour on the rolling surface.  The dough rolled out nicely.  I used a flower shaped cutter and lined the baking sheet with parchment paper.  The crackers baked nicely and came out lightly browned.

They were delicious.  Much like a tiny and thin biscuit.  I recommend these crackers for entertaining.  A bit heavy for everyday snacking but great for a special occasion.  After Easter dinner some of my family and friends went home smiling with little bags of crackers for later.

Parmesan and Thyme Crackers

Inspired by Ina Garten

1 stick or 1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature

2 1/2 oz freshly grated aged parmesan cheese ( I used Parmigiano Reggiano – Riserva Stravecchio from Costco which is a great price and very tasty)

187.5 grams of all-purpose flour or 1 1/2 cups

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Place butter in the bowl of food processor.  Process until creamy.  Add cheese, flour, salt and thyme.

Process until dough forms a ball.  Dump the ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Push down into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.

Chill for half an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Flouring your rolling-pin if needed.

Roll to about pie dough thickness.  You can roll it out thicker if you like.  They were good both ways.

Cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned about 20 minutes.

Salt is one of the most powerful tools and chef can use.

Not only does is enhance the flavor of fresh food and preserve foods but combined with water, salt becomes more powerful and will aid in keeping meats moist and tender when cooking.

We are all familiar with the difference in flavor from well seasoned food and un-seasoned food.  Most people have enjoyed a good cured ham or some tasty beef jerky but the use of salt as a brine has not come into popularity until recently.

The most familiar use of brining has been brining turkey.  Many people now use brining as a method to keep big Thanksgiving turkeys moist.

Brining is an important tool to helping to keep many different cuts of meat moist during cooking.  Brining is the most effective marinade because it penetrates meat quickly and seasons the meat to the bone.  The salt water solution of a brine will enter the meat and expand the size of the protein molecules allowing for more moisture to stay in the meat during and after cooking.

I am often faced with cooking large quantities of meat and need to make sure every piece is tender, moist and seasoned properly.  Brining is an essential tool in my kitchen to make sure all meats are tender and tasty.

Last week I had a group of 100 kids and adults at Cal-Wood Education Center and wanted to roast  chicken leg quarters for dinner.  I needed to cook 75 lbs of chicken and had to be sure it every piece would turn out perfectly.

I was looking for a moist and tender piece of chicken with a crisp skin.  I used five gallon bus tubs to brine the chicken and a 2 to 1 ratio for the brine.  2 cups kosher salt and 1 cup of sugar for every 2 gallons of water.  The recipe was 5 cups of kosher salt and 2.5 cups sugar to five gallons of water but I wanted to give the chicken an interesting flavor  I replaced 1/2 of the water for apple cider.  I added some granulated garlic, thyme, rosemary and lemon juice.

The result was amazing.  The chicken literally fell off the bone.  Most of the fat reduced off while cooking and the skin became crisp and browned.

There was a hint of sweet apple cider, lemon and herbs in the meat.  The chicken was not salty but seasoned perfectly.  Such a simple meal made a big impact on the guests at Cal-Wood.  No less than 10 people came into the kitchen to say that it was the best chicken they had ever had.   Yay!  Mission accomplished!

This dinner is exactly what I strive to provide for my guests.  A simple and healthy meal made to taste wonderful.  Let me assure you that this time consuming process is well worth the effort.  Once you get in the habit of planning ahead and brining meat, poultry and pork you will not want to cook it any other way!

I recently posted a recipe for how to make corned beef.  This is essentially a brine as well.

Here are some brining tips and ratios from one of my favorite books.  Charcuterie-the craft of salt, smoking, and curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

All-Purpose Brine

1 Gallon Water

1 Cup Kosher Salt

1/2 Cup Sugar

Optional Seasonings such as rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, onion, parsley and black peppercorn

Combine all of the ingredients in a stock pot and simmer on the stove until the salt and sugar are dissolved.   Refrigerate until chilled.

Brining is a powerful tool so use with care.

Make sure to brine all meats in chilled brining solution in the refrigerator.

Do not go over the recommended time for brining as this may cause your meat to become salty.

Always let the meat rest for 2-4 hours after brining and rinsing to evenly distribute the seasonings.

Salt will be most concentrated at the outside of meat just after brining and will distribute evenly during the resting period.

Recommended Brine Times:

Boneless Chicken Breast (approx 8 oz)  2 Hours

Pork Chop (approx 1.5 inches thick) 2 Hours

Whole Chicken (approx 2 lbs)  4-6 Hours

Whole Chicken (approx 3-4 lbs) 8-12 Hours

Boneless Turkey Breast 12 Hours

Pork loin Roast (4 lbs)  12 Hours

Whole Turkey (10-15 lbs) 24 Hours

Thin Fish Fillets  1 Hour

Cider Brine Chicken

4-6 chicken leg quarters

1/2 gallon water

1/2 gallon apple cider

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tbs rosemary

1 tbs thyme

1 tbs granulated garlic or 4 cloves minced fresh garlic

Simmer brining ingredients in a stock pot on the stove top until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Refrigerate brine until chilled.  Submerge chicken leg quarters in the brining solution.

Brine chicken for 4 hours.  Take the chicken out of the brine and make sure you discard used brining liquid.  Do not re-use brining liquid.  Rinse chicken throughly under cold running water.

Let chicken rest for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator after rinsing.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Pat chicken dry and place on a foil lined sheet pan. Roast in hot oven until internal temperature of 165  degrees and skin is crisp and browned.

Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Last weekend my daughter and I visited Pearl Street in Boulder.  When down on Pearl Street  we always stop by the Boulder Book Store.   We can spend  hours browsing this well stocked independent bookstore.  The cooking section is outstanding.

Next we stopped for a snack at Brasserie Ten Ten

This is one of my favorite restaurants.  They have a happy hour that is delightful.  Lots of delicious little plates that are affordably priced and always excellently prepared.  

Maddie had the Frites, french fries & truffle aioli and I had the Shrimp Cocktail and Choux-Fleur, milk roasted cauliflower with lemon-almond brown butter & shaved comte.  Talk about a little bit of heaven.  The shrimps were perfectly poached and the cocktail sauce had a pleasant bite of fresh horseradish.  The cauliflower was the best preparation of cauliflower I have ever had.  The cauliflower was cooked tender but not over cooked with a sweet flesh.  The brown butter, almond and lemon sauce was perfectly balanced and the salty comte cheese topped it off to perfection. 

Next we headed over to the walking mall to check out Bayleaf.

This locally owned store is an adventure in its self. Pearl Street is well-known for its quirky local shops and this foodie mecca does not disappoint.  With its mixture of imported stock, local offerings and eclectic items, Bayleaf is a foodie delight! 

Our next stop was Oliverde just off Pearl Street on Broadway.

This was my first time in this shop.  I had seen it driving down Broadway but I had no idea exactly what they sold.  I am very glad I stopped in.The wide variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegar had me thinking of different recipes all week.  They had a dark chocolate balsamic that would be just perfect on lightly grilled strawberries on rosemary skewers.  You can sample the different oils and vinegar alone or with bread.  I will be back in that shop again soon.

Our final stop of the day was to Savory Spice Shop. 

Located next to Oliverde on Broadway this store simply amazed me.  I was a bit overwhelmed.  This store literally has hundred of spices, spices blends and dried herbs.  All of it is the highest quality.  The smells alone made me swoon.

The charming owner Dan Hayward talked to me about the store but I can frankly remember very little about what he said as I was too overwhelmed.  He must have thought I was an idiot or he is just used to that kind of reaction from people.  I felt as if I had stepped into a dream world.  Ok so maybe that is exaggerating but not really. 

The place is truly amazing. 

One of the herbs I bought at Savory were Organic French Thyme.  I made a quick chicken salad and tossed in some of the thyme and it tasted fantastic. 

I highly recommend this store to anyone in the Boulder area.   If you are not in Colorado you can purchase online at Savory Spice Shop.

Chicken Salad with French Thyme

2 baked chicken breasts, diced

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Toss together and enjoy on bread, crackers or over salad greens.

When my husband and I were first married we lived  on the coast of California right outside of Monterey.  What a terrible place to live!  Great weather,  world-class restaurants, stunning ocean beaches all within 10 miles.  This is where most of the strawberries, garlic, lettuce and artichokes are grown that people enjoy all over the United States.  There were 2, year around farmers markets and dozens of organic farms within a 1/2 an hour drive. 

I worked for a couple of years at a wharf side seafood restaurant in Monterey.  It seemed that after going to see all of the wonderful fish at the aquarium at Monterey Bay people wanted to eat fish.  While working in a seafood restaurants it was  one of the first times in my life where I ate fish regularly.  Not just at  the restaurant I worked at but some of the other restaurants in the area.  I can remember having a cioppino in a little French restaurant with only 6 tables that tasted of the sea, sunshine and fresh fields.  We loved to go to a little clam chowder shack and have clam chowder in freshly baked bread bowls.  Not the kind you find in chain restaurants but real freshly baked tangy, tender and crunchy crusted sourdough.  I can recall a calamari dish that I can honestly claim had the most tender and flavorful calamari I have ever eaten.  I frankly have stopped ordering calamari at restaurants because it never lives up to my expectations after the calamari from Monterey Bay.  One evening when my husband and I were driving home late  I looked out over the bay and it was beautifully lit with little white lights.  Those were the calamari boats out fishing in the early hours of the morning.  It was one of the most captivating sights I have ever seen. 

We do not eat enough fish in my household these days.   I have been reading about sustainability issues and seafood and am committed to serving, to my family, more fresh fish that is sustainably farmed.  This brings me back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its wonderful website on sustainable fish and seafood.  You can download and print and fish and seafood buyers guide that will tell you which fish to choose for the most sustainable choice.  The Seafood and Fish Buyers Guild.

I have found out, from the seafood buyers guide, that the flounder that I  have purchased from Whole Foods is actually a recommended substitute but not the most sustainable choice.  I am now downloading the app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium so that I can know while at the store what is the best choice.

Tonight my fish entrée features flounder.  This mild tasting white fish has a sweet flavor.  If you do not like the “fishy” tasting fish then flounder is a good choice.  It has such a mild flavor that it will take on the flavors of the added ingredients.  I added some sweet grape tomatoes, sweet sun burst tomatoes, fresh thyme, rosemary, lemon juice and  minced shallots and just piled it all on top with a good drizzle of olive oil and roasted it in the oven on broil.  This is similar to the way I prepared Chicken with Feta, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Fresh Herbs.

The best thing about cooking fish for dinner is it cooks quickly.  This dish took about 10 minutes to throw together and roasted in the oven on broil for 10 minutes. 

Flounder is a lean fish so you need to cook it quickly and with liquid.  The juices from the tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil help keep the fish moist during broiling and will mix with the juice released from the fish for a light and flavorful sauce. 

Flounder with Fresh Herbs, Lemon, Tomatoes and Shallots

4 Flounder Fillets

8-10 Grape Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

8-10 Sun Burst Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 Shallot Minced

6-8 Sprigs Fresh Thyme minced

2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary minced

2 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat oven to broil or as high as you can set it.  I used broil setting on high.  Spread 1 TBS olive oil on bottom of baking dish.  Lay fish in a single layer on top of oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Pour over lemon juice and top with shallots, herbs and tomatoes.  Top with remaining olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes or until fish is completely white and flakes apart easily.

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