Henry cooks Dinner

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.

Henry Lau Dinner 1

Here we are at my birthday celebration in October.

Henry Lau Dinner 2

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.

Henry Lau Dinner 3

Here’s Henry preparing his roasted veggies dish…

Henry Lau Dinner 4

of cucumbers, zucchini and celery with EVOO, lots of garlic, salt and pepper.

Henry Lau Dinner 5

This is a photo of the Chicken Ballottine, roasted to perfection, just before Henry carved it.

Henry Lau Dinner 6

Our view just before we devoured this amazing meal. [hashtag] #Delicious!!!

Henry Lau Dinner8

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…”

Catalan Roasted Chicken with Cinnamon Thyme & Pears

Roasted Chicken w Cinnamon Thyme Pears plated with QuinoaWe’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.

1 IngredientsIngredients: Chicken thighs, salt and pepper, olive oil, onion, carrots, cinnamon stick, thyme, chicken stock, garlic, pears, raisins, dried cranberries, orange juice & zest.

2 Searing the chicken

Chicken thighs seared until golden brown in olive oil and a little butter.

3 Chicken in oven dish

Golden brown chicken in ovenproof dish set aside. 1/4 cup of pan liquid reserved.

4 Onions carrots cook until soft

Onions, garlic and carrots cooked until soft.

5 Stock mixture over chicken

Stock added and mixture poured over chicken – ready for the oven.

6 Pears browning cut side down

Pears frying cut side down, until just slightly brown. Combined fruit mixture.

7 raisins cranberries zest juice & reserve liquid

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.

8 Baked chicken after 20 minutes

Chicken after 20 minutes in 350° oven

9 Adding fruit to baked chicken

Pears and fruit mixture added

Roasted Chicken w Cinnamon Thyme Pears

Finished after baking another 15 minutes in 350° oven.

Catalan Roasted Chicken with Cinnamon Thyme & Pears
Author: 
Recipe type: Savory
Cuisine: Spanish / Catalan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This Roasted Chicken with cinnamon, thyme & pears recipe is a Catalan specialty of poultry and fruit, traditionally served with duck.
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  • 3 TSP butter
  • 1 medium onion, cut into fine slices
  • 2 mediums carrots, cut into ½ inch long slices or 2 cups mini carrots
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 TSP thyme
  • 1½ cups of chicken stock
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 firm ripe pears, cored and quartered
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 TBLS orange zest
  • 4 TBLS orange juice
Instructions
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper then set aside
  2. Place large heavy bottom saucepan over medium high heat
  3. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan
  4. Add 2 TSP butter
  5. Sear chicken until golden brown about 5 minutes per side
  6. Place chicken in ovenproof dish and set aside
  7. Remove drippings/fat/oil from pan and reserve ¼ cup of pan liquid
  8. Set pan liquid aside
  9. Return pan to heat
  10. When pan is hot, add onions, garlic and carrots
  11. Season with salt and pepper
  12. Cook until soft about 5 minutes
  13. Add cinnamon stick, thyme and stock
  14. Increase heat and bring to a boil
  15. Pour the rest of the stock mixture over the chicken in ovenproof dish
  16. Bake covered for approximately 20 minutes
  17. While chicken is baking, combine raisins, dried cranberries, orange zest, juice and reserve liquid and set aside
  18. Add remaining olive oil and butter to pan until it just starts to simmer
  19. Add the pears, cut side down, until they start to brown
  20. Add fruit mixture to chicken
  21. Place browned pears, cut side up around the chicken
  22. Return to oven and bake uncovered until pears are tender, about 15 minutes

** ICYMI I work at Sur La Table Cooking School.

Jason’s 40th birthday dinner

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!

Barefoot Contessa Grilled Lemon Chicken

I received this cookbook as a Christmas present and I thought I would check out Ina Garten’s grilled chicken recipe.  I made it with a few tweaks and without the skewers.

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!