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summer on a plate

summer on a plate

Summer is almost over, my friends.  It’s going to be hard for me to say goodbye to the berries, the peaches, the summer squash – all of the beautiful produce that is overflowing at the market right now.  I’m clinging to this food season with every meal, and tonight was quintessential summer. 

Roasted baby tomatoes and a fresh and lively vinaigrette go perfectly with simple pan sauteed chicken; shallots and the sweetness of the tomatoes add a mellow balance to the assertive flavors of dill, mustard and champagne vinegar.    We ate this with fresh yellow corn on the cob, slathered in butter and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.  The corn is really so delicious that it doesn’t need anything, but I look for any excuse to eat a little melted butter. 

Even though it’s been raining for at least five days straight in Atlanta, I felt so summery while we ate dinner… I gnawed (literally) on my tender little corn and imagined that I was sitting at a picnic table somewhere outside near some tall, climbing trees, a canopy of twilight stars over my head, warm summer breeze on my face and a show of fireflies twinkling through the trees… I could almost smell freshly mown grass and honeysuckle… Yes – buttery, perfectly in-season corn can cause me to wax poetic; I might have even burst out with a rendition of Billie Holiday’s Summertime if a pitcher of homemade lemonade had graced our table.  Jon broke up my mental reverie by announcing that our dinner made him nostalgic for the summers of his childhood when he and his family would pick corn from a neighbor’s field.  I love food that is so firmly planted in a season or a memory that each bite, each taste, transports you to a cherished place or time. 

I should also mention that his warm and fuzzy recollection was followed by a comment that corn on the cob is really better eaten at home than in public.  I chose not to ask about the inspiration for this proclamation, but instead to wipe the butter and corn from my chin and cheeks. 

This was ready and on the table in less than thirty minutes; it would be a tragedy for others that I know and love to not share in the final stages of summertime deliciousness by eating this fantastic meal.  The original recipe came from Gourmet and can be found here; the recipe below is with my modifications. 

As for my bizarre three week absence from the blog, I have no explanation.  All I can say is that I’m back!  Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to get writing again.

chicken paillards with tangy tomato-dill relish and tender buttered corn

  • four skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar (or red wine, if you don’t have either of those two)
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to scoop out the seeds with my finger)
  • fresh corn on the cob, shucked
  • butter, salt and pepper to taste
  1. preheat oven to 425 degrees and set a large pot of water to boil
  2. pound the chicken breasts to 1/4 of an inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap with a meat mallet or rolling pin
  3. whisk together oil, dill, shallot, mustard and vinegar in a large bowl
  4. toss the halved tomatoes with a few spoonfuls of the vinaigrette mixture and roast in the oven for seven to ten minutes
  5. meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with a little kosher salt and pepper and spoon some of the vinaigrette over one side of each breast
  6. add chicken breasts to a skillet heated over medium heat, vinaigrette side down; spoon more vinaigrette over the unseasoned sides of the chicken in the pan; cook chicken three to four minutes per side, adding the remaining vinaigrette at the end of cooking
  7. while chicken is cooking, add corn to boiling water and cook for five to six minutes
  8. serve the chicken with the roasted tomatoes scattered on top – buttery corn on the side – prepare to reminisce in happiness

This recipe serves four, but I made the full amount of vinaigrette for our two pieces of chicken because I like things saucy and extra flavorful; if serving four you may want to make some extra vinaigrette.

I generally use this method for cooking chicken; splitting a chicken breast between two people is actually an appropriate portion size, saving money and extra calories.  Pounding the chicken flat allows for quicker, more even cooking and a seemingly larger size.  This is a great, everyday method.

 

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Wow.  I have been traveling so it has been a while since I have posted.  Thanks to all who have continued to visit the blog!  I have so many things that I would like to share in depth, but in the spirit of something delicious on a busy evening, I will post a very tasty meal that I prepare frequently at home.  The avocados are ripe and beautiful right now at the market.  My grandma and grandpa had an ancient avocado tree in their backyard in California.  It was so lovely to walk outside and pluck beautiful fruit right from the tree. 

My pretend Mexican dinner is so simple that it seems almost silly to share it, but I know how many of you avoid the kitchen.  🙂  No excuses with this one.  This recipe is very light and healthy; the flavors are assertive and delicious.  All recipes below serve 2.

Please fix this for dinner and let me know what you think!

spicy chicken with cool avocado

  • chicken breast cut in half – each half pounded to a little less than an inch thick
  • some chili powder
  • some cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like heat)
  • kosher salt
  • ½ a red onion, diced
  • lime
  • avocado, diced
  • canola oil, for pan
  1. dice the red onion and mix it with the lime juice in a little bowl – set aside
  2. rub your chicken generously with a mixture of chili powder, cayenne pepper (use depending on heat preference) and some salt
  3. heat some canola or olive oil over medium head, and cook the chicken 3-4 minutes per side until done
  4. while chicken is cooking, dice the avocado and mix it into the onion and lime mix
  5. top chicken with the lime, onions and avocado – SO GOOD

black beans 

  • one can of black beans, rinsed (organic preferred)
  • a couple of garlic cloves, chopped
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • lime
  • green onion (if you have it)
  • about ½ cup of water
  • canola or olive oil for the pan
  1. heat some oil over medium in a small saucepan, and add the white portion of the green onion and the garlic, cooking for about 45 seconds to a minute 
  2. add the beans and stir, adding salt, pepper and a pinch of chili powder
  3. turn heat up to medium high and add a little bit of water
  4. continue to add water and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until beans begin to take on a somewhat “refried” look, adding water as needed so that beans don’t burn
  5. give a generous squeeze of lime and serve

corn, elotes locos style

 

This corn is my white girl, at home interpretation of Mexican street food that I used to frequently eat in Dallas.  In Texas they call it “elotes locos,” or “crazy corn.”  Traditionally, corn is cut off of the cob and into a cup, topped with a mayonnaise/sour cream mixture, lime juice, hot sauce, and cheese (dry and crumbly – maybe cotija).  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  It is OUTSTANDING.  In California, the tradition is similar, with the corn eaten on the cob, slathered with mayonnaise, hot sauce, cheese and lime.  I prefer it in the cup, as you can mix all of the creamy flavors together. 

 

While I may be missing some authenticity here, I can mimic the flavors somewhat with the staples I keep at home. 

  • frozen corn or fresh cut off the cob (or canned, if you must)
  • heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise, depending on the amount of corn (no dressing style mayo!)
  • a tsp or so of chili powder
  • lime
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • a dash of hot sauce (I prefer Sriracha)
  • optional: a light sprinkle of cotija cheese if you have it, or, dare I say it (!!??), canned parmesan
  1. heat corn in a little saucepan with a tiny bit of water over medium high
  2. once it is cooked through (after about 5 minutes), stir in mayo, lime, chili powder, a squirt of hot sauce, salt and pepper and mix together
  3. top with a little cheese 

 

 

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