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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. 



 

 

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. 



 

 

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.



 

 

Shallot Vinaigrette

Shallots really bump up the flavor quotient in most things. In vinaigrette they really shine. In this version, they are pulsed in a food processor, so they become super mellow and a sweet top note to the lemon. The food processor breaks them down so you are getting their essence but not full pieces, which can often be a little intense. Could not be easier.

In the bowl of a food processor add 1 medium sized shallot, chopped up a bit. A 1/4 of a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. 3/4 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil. 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard. 1 tablespoon of honey. Plus a really healthy pinch of pepper and twice that of salt. Lid on. Pulse. Pulse some more. The shallot should be completely broken down and fully incorporated in the liquids. Have a taste and add more salt & pepper if you think it needs it. Done. Enjoy with whatever greens you like best. The remainder is fab stored in the fridge for your next salad. Add a sprinkling of Parmesan to it the second usage for a little added twist.



 

 

Lemon, White Wine & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lemons, white wine & extra virgin olive oil–3 things we always have on hand.  If you do, you can whip up a dinner in no time.  Add a few other items on hand, and an even tastier meal awaits.  Use the trio as a marinade to cook chicken or fish in. The last few weeks and right on up to Christmas we have been entering full-on holiday/retail mode, where the shops take up every waking moment. It is so fun but also a tad overwhelming if you don’t stay organized, well fed and super rested.  We do a crazy amount of take-out during this time.  Uber Eats has become our new friend.  But sometimes we just want something homecooked, plus I miss being in the kitchen.  This is where lemons, white wine and extra virgin olive oil come into play.  Last night they were the base for skinless chicken thighs while cauliflower and mini potatoes roasted away in the oven.  

In a baking dish pour olive oil and spread it around so the entire bottom is lightly coated then add chicken. Again, this could be for any cut of chicken pieces.  I use this also for white fish, like halibut.  Then juice fresh lemons and pour over the meat.  Take a yummy drinkable white wine and do the same, pouring a bit over the chicken, then drizzle olive oil over the top too. Salt & pepper liberally.  The chicken should now be sitting in a little bath of liquid but not be fully submerged.  At this point it all could go into a 400 degree oven to cook and be really quite wonderful as the juices keep things tender & moist and reduce down and become a sauce for the meat.  But this is also where you can get a little creative.  It is also a great time to clean out some things from your fridge.  We had a shallot so I chopped that up. Ditto with a handful of pitted olives. It all went in nestled up next to the chicken to add more flavor.  Garlic, thyme, really a host of herbs would be tasty.  Use what you have.  But the trio is what gets the whole thing started.  Use that as a base, add to it, don’t add to it, but in less than an hour you will be sitting at a lovely meal.  Light a few candles, and you are all set!



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 68

If you have oodles of hydrangea, cut some and give to a friend out of the blue. If your lemon trees are full, surprise guests with a bag as they depart your party. Sharing what is plentiful in our lives is such a gracious & fulfilling gesture. It also makes for very happy friends. 



 

 

Swaine Street Woodworking

20150424-044616.jpg Just arrived, Swaine Street Woodworking products. I have always been somewhat at a loss on what to use to revivify wood cutting boards and other wood kitchen items like stirring spoons. Swaine Street Woodworking products to the rescue. Rosemary lemon cutting board oil is a food safe emollient formula which penetrates the wood to bring it back to a happy revivified life. Beeswax polish doing a similar trick but also providing a food safe protective finish. The ditty ‘whistle while you work, whistle while you work’ playing in my head. Again, great packaging. I am a sucker for a Weck jar, and the simple apothecary glass bottle with the black top is just right.

From my favorite leather chair–up early and ready to tackle the day.
A lovely, lovely Friday to you all,
Ted



 

 

Marmalade & Cognac Glazed Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

20140107-064843.jpg This is a recipe that could not be easier, working great for dinner for 2 or a large crowd. Have the butcher cut up whole chickens for you, if you are not feeling adventurous.

Oven preheating to 400 degrees while you assemble all. Pat dry your chicken pieces. Put on a baking sheet or in a baking pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Cut up several lemons in quarters and juice over the chicken pieces, being careful to not get in the seeds. I juice it over a small strainer that catches the seeds. Then tuck in the lemons amongst the chicken pieces. Also tuck in full sprigs of rosemary. You will be amazed at how good your house smells once this gets cooking. Now, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the whole lot. Let sit. In a small bowl put in a generous portion of a marmalade or jam of your liking–think peach, orange, plum, nectarine. Peach is generally my choice. Add to that several good splashes of Cognac to thin it all out. If you don’t generally have a bottle of Cognac sitting around, pick one up next time you are shopping. It lasts forever and is so great in so many recipes and desserts. Our bottle has been in the cupboard for ages. With a brush or small spoon put the mixture over all of the chicken pieces. This stuff is magic. Put all in the oven and bake/roast for 40 minutes or until the temp of the chicken is 160. The juices should run clear when you prick a piece with a knife. I am a huge fan of the instant read thermometer, as I just feel most comfortable knowing exactly the temp.

Once done, take out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. The chicken will continue to cook a tad while resting. The chicken juices will marry with the lemon juice, the olive oil, the rosemary oils and the marmalade that has dripped off the chicken making one amazing sauce to spoon over the chicken once you are ready to serve. Is divine with rice or mashed potatoes, as the sauce becomes kind of a piquant gravy of sorts too.

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As do Mar Tuna Salad

20131129-070826.jpg If you are looking for a turkey alternative in the coming days, and I am by no means knocking turkey, but by Saturday/Sunday I am ready to branch out, try this super simple tuna combo. In the last year we have started using this incredible canned tuna called As do Mar. It is line-caught and packed when fresh, in olive oil. Off the southwest coastline of Europe lie the tiny Azores, a chain of Portuguese islands that are right in the middle of prime Atlantic tuna grounds. The solid flesh of the yellowfin tuna is richer in fats than albacore, which means that the meat is darker, pink to reddish, and it is moister and richer in flavor. I have now started seeing it on many grocery store shelves.

Since the tuna itself is so tasty, after I have drained the tuna and put it in a bowl–I just add a dollop of mayonnaise, a bit of lemon juice, a few cornichon finely chopped up, and a bit of salt & pepper. Mix all together. Works on top of greens for a filling salad. My favorite is on top of toasted bread served open face. All easy and so flavor filled.



 

 

The Easiest Chicken Dish

20131001-070154.jpg Often times the simplest of things, using the very best of ingredients, can be the tastiest. Such is the case with this chicken dish. I have seen a few different variations on cooking shows, and I have taken bits and pieces of it to make this as easy as possible to make when you come home after a busy day. Turn oven to 400 the minute you walk in the door and start to prep things.

20131001-070641.jpg For this, I was just cooking 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast. You will want a clove of garlic and a lemon for each breast you are making. This is tasty enough to make and serve at a dinner with guests too. In a baking dish sprinkle in a bit of the best extra virgin olive oil you own. To that juice the lemons. Add pinches of salt and pepper. Minch 2 garlic cloves and add that to the mixture as well. Add a bit of white wine. If you have a bottle open in the fridge, great. Or use some from the bottle you will serve with the meal. A Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are my usual go-to cooking choices. This is all going to cook down and reduce and become the sauce. Place chicken breasts on top of this mixture. Then add more olive oil to the tops of the chicken as well as liberal amounts of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Add some or all of the spent lemons you juiced earlier to the dish. The oils from the skin will cook into the sauce. Done. Cook in your oven that is now nice and hot for 40 minutes or so. The internal temp of the breasts should read 160 degrees when done. A meat thermometer is a must in every well-stocked kitchen. They are easy to find, with even many grocery stores stocking them. It will become your new best friend in the kitchen, as it is utterly helpful when cooking any type of meat. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts. Chicken can be so easy to under or over cook, so checking the internal temp along the way is helpful.

20131001-071614.jpg All the lemon juice, olive oil, white wine, garlic and chicken juices will have cooked down to create a lovely sauce. Spoon that over the chicken and your rice of choice. Serve with whatever veg you like. Simple, easy and oh so delicious.

A happy start of October everyone.
From Seattle, Ted