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Balsamic Chicken & Shallots

This Wine & Dine Wednesday post is coming to you on a Thursday. I made this last night and could not wait until next week to share. SO simple and very tasty. We had this with roasted cauliflower topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a sweet potato for supper in on a chilly night.

Of course, oven to 400 to pre-heat while you get things together. In essence, you are making a vinaigrette to roast the chicken and shallots in, as it is 3/4 of a cup of balsamic and 1/4 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil. If I were making a dressing for a salad, I would reverse the amounts, but whipping it up in a bowl with salt and pepper felt exactly like making a vinaigrette. Take skin on chicken thighs that you have salt and peppered and place them in a baking dish. Add a good amount of shallots to dance around the chicken pieces. I halved and quartered the whole shallots after I peeled the casings off of them. Then pour the vinaigrette over all. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the chicken at the half way point so both sides get immersed in the balsamic mixture. Test chicken with a thermometer, it should read 160. When done, take out of oven, cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes to rest while you plate up the rest of the meal. I mean, truly, so easy. Yet incredibly satisfying. Enjoy!



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 164

Elevate simple small spuds by smashing them and adding Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cut potatoes in half, coat with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper on a sheet pan. Add to a 400 degree oven. Bake until soft and golden. Take out of oven, carefully press a fork over the top creating crevasses for the cheese to melt into. Sprinkle Parm liberally about. Pop back into oven for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 151

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkling with extra virgin olive oil. Cut small tomatoes in half, lining them all up. Sprinkle salt over the lot as well as more olive oil. Add a few cut cloves of garlic here and there, as well as a few sprigs of thyme. Bake at 400 until the tomatoes begin to release some of their juices. Toss with pasta for an easy meal or top mixture to baguette slices for a quick snack.



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 145

The easiest, simplest vinaigrette just as it is, which you then can build upon to create all sorts of others. By adding mustard, herbs, shallots, etc. In a measuring cup add 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice. To that add salt & pepper. Then whisk in a half of a cup of the best extra virgin olive oil you can get your hands on. 



 

 

Meyer Lemon Marinated Olives

We received a box of Meyer lemons in the mail from friends in Healdsburg. They know us well! So we have been enjoying every slice and drop of the magical juice they produce. We had a ton of olives in the fridge so I thought I would infuse them with some of that Meyer lemon goodness. Plus these make great host/hostess gifts too. Easy as pie. Here is how I did it.

Slice up a lemon or two depending on the size and how many containers you are filling. Peel the paper off of one garlic clove and cut in half. That is really all the work, now you assemble. Lay a lemon slice or two on the bottom of the container. Then add some olives, really whatever olive you like best or have around. They can be pitted or not. Then add a piece of the garlic clove and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, for a little layered heat. Cover all with extra virgin olive oil. Repeat until the container is filled. Be as artistic as you want when filling. You will use a good amount of olive oil, but never fear, it also becomes infused with the Meyer lemon oil and is spectacular to use when cooking fish or making a vinaigrette. Let the whole thing marinate on the counter for a few days. Then they are ready to enjoy. Refrigerate after a few days and let come to room temp when serving the olives to really bring out all the flavor. They just get more and more infused the longer the olives marinate. Serve just as is or alongside cheese and baguette. The olives are also crazy good chopped up with some of the oil and mix with a bit of feta atop a piece of halibut.



 

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, White Wine & Fresh Lemon Juice

Between the fish stalls at the Market along with Bert’s in Madison Park when we are in town and the Vashon Thriftway out on the island, I like to make us fish at least once a week for supper, if possible. I used to find cooking fish daunting, always concerned about either over or under cooking it. I came up with a simple way to bake/poach fish, with sea bass, halibut and cod some favorites. It is a mix-up between things I have seen on cooking shows, food magazines we get monthly and blog recipes I have read. 3 simple ingredients–extra virgin olive oil, white wine (I prefer a Sauvignon Blanc) and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Plus salt but that to me is always a given. Here is what I do.

In a baking pan or dish a bit larger that the fish you are going to cook, pour the white wine to just cover the entire surface of the dish. It will be a few splashes of wine, not much really. Lay the fish in the dish on top of the wine. Then douse the fish with extra virgin olive oil, then salt. Lastly, squeeze the juice of a good sized lemon over the fish. The olive oil, salt, white wine and lemon juice will mix a bit naturally and become a poaching liquid for the fish.

Put into a hot 375 degree oven. Spoon over the liquid onto the fish every 5 to 10 minutes to keep the top nice and moist. The fish will vary on cooking time by how thick it is and the density of the variety. If you press your finger in the middle it will have some give. I almost always cut into the middle of the piece to just double check. When done, quite a bit of the liquid will have evaporated and what you have left over certainly spoon over the fish when serving if you like, or not. The fish will be super moist and you will wonder why you ever doubted yourself when it comes to cooking fish. 



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 133

Take a stale crusty loaf of bread and make breadcrumbs. Cut up into cubes, place into a food processor, pulse, pulse, then add a little extra virgin olive oil, pulse again. Use a million different ways when done. 



 

 

August Tomatoes & Fresh Herbs

This is the time we wait for all Summer when the farm stands are brimming with fresh tomatoes in all sorts of colors, shapes & sizes. It is also when herbs are growing like weeds and you want to use them in every possible thing, in every possible way.

Slicing the tomatoes up and having them simply with sea salt is about as easy and satisfying as it gets. The purity & simplicity hard to beat. Then try tearing up tarragon with a splash of white wine vinegar for a twist. Or serve with mozzarella or burrata along with basil for a Caprese twist. Bathed in just the very best extra virgin olive oil is sublime as well as a heavy hand with the balsamic. However you chose to slice it, enjoying the heck out of them this time of the season is just pure joy.



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 110

An easy chunky ‘relish’ if you will, that can be made in advance and sits in your fridge getting better & better–is, pitted olives, small cubed feta both resting in extra virgin olive oil with fresh cracked pepper and a sprinkling of an herb, such as dried oregano. Served over fish, with crackers along with drinks, or just eaten as is for a snack.



 

 

Once Again, Super Lemony Orzo with Feta

For this Wine & Dine Wednesday I thought I would look back on an old favorite, Super Lemony Orzo with Feta. I first wrote about this in August of 2011, when we spent the week on the North Fork of Long Island after we got married in Nyack, New York. The recipe made it into my book too, but it has been several years since I have made it. This week-end TPS requested it. It was like visiting an old friend, which I think tried & true recipes often feel like. Below is part of the post I wrote back then. Only thing different, I used the zest of 5 lemons instead of two, so it was even more lemony. Enjoy!

I make the vinaigrette first. Combine the zest of 2 lemons with a cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (fresh is the only way to go on this, as it is such a major component of the dish) and a cup of the best olive oil you have (like the fresh lemon juice, using top notch extra virgin olive oil is key, because these 2 ingredients really make this sing) along with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Whisk all together and set aside. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook 16 ounces of orzo pasta till it is al dente. Again, al dente is key. Once done, drain and immediately put the pasta into a large bowl. While pasta is still hot, add the lemon & olive oil mixture. With a fork, fluff till all the liquid is incorporated into the pasta. Side note-this is the perfect time to have a few bites. Let the pasta sit to cool, and absorb all of that lemony goodness. It is that easy.

Once the pasta has cooled, I add the feta. I usually like to cube a good amount of Greek feta, but the humidity last night was crazy off the charts, it started to break apart as I unwrapped the cheese, so I just crumbled it in. Like I said earlier, this pasta is great for adding or subtracting things. Since our guest was a vegetarian, I added edamame so she would get a bit more protein, in addition to the feta. I also like to thinly slice a lemon, and add those to the dish. This pasta works great next to chicken or fish, and gets better with age, so is still yummy a few days after you make it.