Henry Lau is one of my dearest friends. Henry decided, most generously, to come to our kitchen last Sunday and prepare dinner for Yianni and I. His delicious meal was Chicken Ballottine with preserved lemon and harissa couscous stuffing, based on the virtual guidance of his mentor Chef, Jacques Pépin.
Here we are at my birthday celebration in October.
A ballottine is a whole chicken that has been boned and stuffed. It’s rolled up and tied with kitchen string. Harissa is a North African, hot chili sauce, or spread, made from sun-dried ground peppers, garlic, cardamon, salt, coriander, and extra virgin olive oil. Couscous is a traditional North African/Berber dish of semolina (granules of durum wheat) which is cooked by steaming.
Here’s Henry preparing his roasted veggies dish…
of cucumbers, zucchini and celery with EVOO, lots of garlic, salt and pepper.
This is a photo of the Chicken Ballottine, roasted to perfection, just before Henry carved it.
Our view just before we devoured this amazing meal. [hashtag] #Delicious!!!
Thank you Henry!!! Like the song says,
“Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me [and Yianni], for sure
That’s what friends are for…”
We’re not cooking Greek. This time it’s Spanish. Here’s my recipe for Catalan Roasted Chicken with onions, carrots, cinnamon, thyme, pears, orange juice and zest, raisins and dried cranberries. I adapted this recipe from one in Sur La Table’s** cooking class, “Date Night: Tapas Party. I served it with quinoa. There’s a printable recipe at the end of this post. Be sure to check it for coupons.
Ingredients: Chicken thighs, salt and pepper, olive oil, onion, carrots, cinnamon stick, thyme, chicken stock, garlic, pears, raisins, dried cranberries, orange juice & zest.
Chicken thighs seared until golden brown in olive oil and a little butter.
Golden brown chicken in ovenproof dish set aside. 1/4 cup of pan liquid reserved.
Onions, garlic and carrots cooked until soft.
Stock added and mixture poured over chicken – ready for the oven.
Pears frying cut side down, until just slightly brown. Combined fruit mixture.
Fruit mixture with juice, zest and reserved pan liquid and browned pears.
I used orange zest strips for a more rustic look or you can zest with a microplane.
Chicken after 20 minutes in 350° oven
Pears and fruit mixture added
Finished after baking another 15 minutes in 350° oven.
My step-son, Jason Hammond, turned 40 on June 3rd. Here he is with my grandson Maxwell. To celebrate we had dinner al fresco [on our deck]. I marinated chicken and Yianni grilled it. [Here’s the recipe.] To go with the chicken, I also made a few really easy, healthy summer salads that you can make too.I started with a fresh fruit salad of strawberries, blueberries, grapes and pineapple.
I also made cole slaw with green and red cabbage, radishes, carrots, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. I love this new “Simply Dressed” cole slaw dressing and I recommend
you try it. It has simple, natural ingredients, is very light and has great flavor.
Of course, no BBQ at my house is complete without my potato salad. [Here’s my how-to video.]
My potato salad ingredients are red skin potatoes, red onion or scallions, hard boiled eggs, radishes and celery. I make the dressing with Hellman’s mayonnaise, mustard, and sour cream.
Jason’s wife Erin bought an incredible peanut butter cup birthday cake from the bakery shoppe at Holiday market. Unfortunately, I took the photo of it a little late!
As you can see, we all really enjoyed it.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by my grandson, Benjamin, who wanted to grab my camera each time I tried to take his photo.
It was a beautiful summer night and we all enjoyed ourselves. Happy birthday Jason!
Here are my ingredients:
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice [I used the bottled organic “Italian Volcano Lemon Juice” from Costco.]
3/4 cup good olive oil [I used Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.]
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper [I added a teaspoon of garlic pepper too.]
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
[I used dried oregano and basil instead of thyme.]
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed
Directions are simple:
Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. [I let the chicken marinate for 4 hours. I’m sure the longer the better.]
I really like the way this recipe turned out. The chicken was so moist and flavorful. Try it, you’ll like it!