A NAPA-INSPIRED DISH – ORANGE/LEMON ROASTED CHICKEN WITH A PAIRING OF PINOT GRIGIO(FR. CALIFORNIA)

Yippee! Based on reports in the media from the local Vintners’ Association in California, it’s now harvest time in the Napa Valley area. And, that’s spectacular news for the area. You see, on Sunday, August 24, 2014, the wine region was rattled by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake.

Thankfully, there were no known deaths caused from this earthquake. However, dozens were injured and I certainly wish them a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, for this famous wine-producing region which yearly generates close to $1.4 billion also suffered losses. Example, Cult 24 Wine Bar lost close to $50,000 worth of bottles of wine. Moreover, some tasting rooms had to be closed temporarily to tourists.

The good news is that the area has and is already bouncing back. The vineyards and the grapes didn’t suffer great impact. I can only imagine how anxious the growers and operators have been throughout this ordeal. Being a wine lover, my heart goes out to these dedicated and passionate people. They toil for hours in the vineyards so I can visit my neighborhood store and fetch me a bottle of my favorite.  Further, the fabulous news is that the price of wine will not be increased due to this earthquake.

As a  result, I thought it was befitting that I paid homage to these beautiful folks in the Napa area. I did so with a meal that in my mind’s eye would be perfect on a menu at one of the eating establishments in the locale.

Therefore, I made an Orange/Lemon Roasted Chicken” I served the entrée with a side dish of sweet potato salad, garlic green beans and broccoli. Of course, I paired this Napa-inspired dish with an inexpensive Californian wine (Pinot Grigio) Salud! And what do you know? We finish the dish with sweet/seedless California grapes.

Ingredients for Orange/Lemon Roasted Chicken:

*Garlic (crushed)

*Chicken (legs/thighs)

*Olive oil

*Salt/cracked black pepper

*Lemon (slices)

*Orange (1 – juice)

Method

1. Chicken parts (legs/thighs) were seasoned with salt, pepper and crushed garlic. This was done a couple hours before cooking.

2. Chicken parts were drizzled with olive oil. Then, slices of lemon were placed on chicken along with extra garlic.

3. Chicken parts were then placed in heated oven and roasted at 425 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes.

For Orange/Lemon sauce:

1. The juice of orange along with half of lemon with a splash of honey were placed in small stock pot. Water was added to a teaspoon of flour and mixed and then added to ingredients  for thickening.

2. This  was simmered on low heat until it became a sauce-like consistency.

3. Approximately ten minutes into completion of roasting time of chicken, orange and lemon sauce was then brushed on chicken parts.

The dish was a hit. The savory, tart and slightly sweet combination was just what me and my loved ones’ palates needed. We were satisfied and contented as we  watched the ducks waddled their tails. We sipped on pinot grigrio and nibbled on California seedless grapes. Now, what more could any one else ask for?

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KETCHUP UNDER FIRE….WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF NEXT?

Lately, the popular condiment, tomato ketchup has been placed in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Or perhaps, I should state, if it were left to some chefs in certain food establishments, the burgundy/red condiment would be banned or not served in their restaurants because it compromises the flavor of their dish. In fact, some restaurants have actively taken or removed our dear ketchup from the condiment list. Say what?

Frankly, I think this is plain nonsense. These chefs should execute the job of cooking. Yes, it’s a free world and every restaurant is entitled to operate their businesses under their unique rules they see fit. However, how about the customers’ rights? Aren’t we the ones who keep the establishments opened? Customers come first and should have the option of having ketchup available if needed. Guys, this is huge!

Come on, the heat must be getting to these chefs’ brains. How about concentrating on the turning out succulent and mouthwatering meals? Maybe, if some of them did, maybe ketchup wouldn’t be needed to enhance the flavors. I believe that as long as diners are settling his/her tab, he/she should have the liberty and be given the option to add a popular condiment as ketchup to the meal. What next? Pretty soon, we’ll be told to  slice and chew our foods a particular way. Or maybe, we won’t have the option of receiving our salad dressing on the side. Oh, I do believe a few restaurants have taken away that option already. What the world is coming to? It’s our hard-earned ‘dough’ being spent.

Once in a while, I love hot and crispy fries. And when I do indulge in this guilty pleasure, I have to do so with a few packets of ketchup. I just couldn’t imagine my fries without this very vital condiment. To me and millions, ketchup enhances the taste of fries. I love the ritual of breaking each packet and placing it on a plate or container provided and dip my way in the sweet and tangy goodness. Now, that action certainly puts a smile on my face.

For heaven’s sake I just couldn’t see myself eating a hot dog without the addition of tomato ketchup. A little relish and perhaps a smear of mustard are also great accompaniments with my ketchup. It just wouldn’t be a hot dog without ketchup.

And, at home when I perform my culinary skills in my kitchen, I love to have on hand a bottle of Heinz or any other brand. You see,  sometimes depending on the type of dish, I like to add or incorporate a squeeze or two of this popular condiment. I’m I a bad cook? Don’t judge me until you have tried my finished dishes. It’s all about balance; and sometimes, a little ketchup does it for me.

Dining should be a fun experience. I don’t wish to be told how, when and what to consume when I go out to dine. Operators and chefs who are crying foul on ketchup should stick to the business of turning out amazing dishes. Stop meddling with the ketchup!

(EVEN THE KITCHEN SINK) – QUICK TERIYAKI SHRIMP,LEFT-OVER RICE/VEGGIE STIR-FRY

Sometimes, close to the end of the week, I realize I’ve not utilized all the wholesome perishables in my refrigerator. Part of the reason is that I’m tired and extremely busy. As you know, we pay big bucks for these supplies of fruits and vegetables. I’m not fortunate to have land space to plant my own veggies. Therefore, like many of us, I’ve to rely on those hardworking farmers at the farmer’s market or produce aisle at the neighborhood store.

I wanted a quick and delicious meal. I wasn’t in the mood to defrost and chop meat or poultry. Aha, that’s when I remembered that I had purchased a frozen bag of shrimp at my neighborhood Walmart. Walmart seems to be in every nook and cranny. But, I’m not complaining. Already, the shrimp was deveined, cleaned and ready for cooking. All that was necessary was to defrost. Then, I seasoned with salt, black pepper,crushed garlic and set aside.

I quickly went to work and visited the veggie tray of my refrigerator. I retrieved a piece of red bell pepper,carrots, celery, and perfectly green string beans.I smiled. I remembered those. They were slightly hidden under the carrots. I did a rapid julienne of these wholesome veggies along with onions and did a stir-fry in my hot skillet. Eh, I do believe I got that skillet from my dear sister. She’s always sending me kitchen gadgets. Hurray for Bev! Salt and pepper were added along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I made sure to leave a crunch to my veggies because I hate soggy veggies. I added a little cooked brown rice to the veggies with a teaspoon of teriyaki sauce. I continued to fold all ingredients for a few minutes and pushed aside.

I then drizzled a couple teaspoons of olive oil in my skillet. Then, shrimp was added along with teriyaki sauce. The shrimp took virtually two minutes per side. I continued the stir-fry by combining all the ingredients and removed from heat. The result was an amazing dish that was flavorful and delicious. I could detect and taste all the wonderful ingredients from the teriyaki sauce. There was ginger, brewed soy sauce and other ingredients.The shrimp was cooked to my liking without being rubbery. The veggies came out and retained their crunch.

Guys, I do believe that dish was a winner. As always, be good to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

DON’T MESS WITH THE CARNE (MEAT)

They are at it again! Once more, certain food scientists have been experimenting with our foods. According to them, they are trying to improve popular foods and ingredients. Some of the foods and ingredients they are actively working on are:

Meatless meat

Now, I’m pondering; who could have come up with the idea of meatless meat? It can’t be a meat lover. Okay, so I get it, maybe former meat lovers turned vegans missed the great taste and feel of a meat and decided to create a meatless meat. Seriously, the way they’ve done this is to combine plant-based ingredients like amaranth, carrot fiber, soy and pea proteins.

This innovative way of creating a meatless meat has  the aroma, taste, and texture of beef into consideration. The so-called meatless meat contains high protein but there is no cholesterol. I understand that the final product is lacking the real meat texture but the taste has gotten thumbs up by some.

Salt minus the salt

This particular salt is made with a combination of sea salt, potassium and rice flour. A teaspoon contains 544 mil. grams compared to regular table sodium which has 2,325. Now, that’s a huge difference. I guess I could work with that. God knows I could drastically reduce my sodium intake.

Peanut butter

Yes, I said it, even the good old peanut butter has been attacked or should I state improved. The innovators have created a slimmed down version. They have done so by slow roasting the peanuts. The oil is pressed out and then a small amount of salt and sugar is added.

The final result is a powdered form of peanut butter which is a reduction in calories. Water is then added to make it into a spreadable form. Or it can be incorporated into smoothies.

I commend these guys with their innovative and creative ideas. However, frankly, I would rather like to continue enjoying my meat in its authentic form. You see, once in a while, I love to indulge in a succulent serving of rib-eye or sirloin steak. I want my steak to be rubbed down and marinaded with sea salt, not saltless salt. I want to inhale the amazing flavors and watch the smooth butter or blue cheese melt with real beef.

I relish the experience of partaking in roasted carrots or a garlic flavored peas/carrot side dish. As a matter of fact, I see them as great accompaniments to my steak dish.

As for my dear peanut butter, come on, it’s ludacris to mess with this creamy sometimes chunky goodness. Are you kidding me? I’ve to mix a powder so as to obtain peanut butter. They probably should package for those who go in space. Well, to each his own. I need my jar.

SOMETIMES, ALL I NEED IS A FRIED EGG OR TWO

So, I went and did what the powers to be want me to do. Guys, although temperatures and humidity were over the moon, I actually completed my workout. Wow, my poor skin was melting. You know something, I do think I love to break a sweat. My endorphins were kicking and so was my appetite. And, guess what? I felt like having something simple and quite filling. Okay, I just didn’t feel like making a healthy smoothie. God knows I’ve had my quota for the week. As I peeked at my frozen blue and strawberries, I could tell they too needed a break.

As I made my way down to the light blue carton in the refrigerator, I got an epiphany. And that’s how I decided to make yours truly a couple fried eggs. Without a doubt, eggs have gotten a bad rap. In the past, many so called experts claim that they contribute to high cholesterol. And, I get it,because of DNA, some of us do have to be cognizant by what we include in the diet. The fact is that eggs are loaded with beneficial vitamins, minerals, lutein, and many other nutrients that are excellent for the body. 

Anyway, as I retrieved my couple of eggs, I gleefully placed them on my counter to come to room temperature. I also nabbed a piece of cheddar cheese and the last English muffin I had on hand. After a quick shower session, I made my way to my kitchen. I allowed my skillet to warm with a drizzle olive oil and a pat of butter on low to medium heat.  I then cracked my eggs and watched them set. I then sprinkle a pinch of salt and a little cracked black pepper. Oh, I love cracked black pepper. After I flipped each egg, I placed a small slice of cheddar cheese on each egg.

Ohhh, and then the hour arrived, on toasted English muffin, I slathered on a teaspoon of strawberry preserve. I’m afraid sometimes,  I’m a little way out, I love savory and sweet all mingled  up. I then placed my fried egg on each piece of toasted muffin and watched the cheese slowly melted on my fried eggs. Hmm,each bite was divine, I was in heaven!