Monday, May 20, 2013

Reduce Reuse Reserve: Spring Chicken Salad

I love leftovers.  And in I think the most significant break with lessons in cooking and eating from my mother, I love to reheat them in the microwave.  Just package it up at the end of a meal, refrigerate for a day or five, nuke it for a few minutes, and reserve.  Easy and delicious.  And maybe filling my house and my head with deadly micro-waves, but if you worry about that as much as my mother does, you can of course just use the oven or stovetop.  And don't forget the total reworking of leftovers that requires re-cooking the conventional way, or the cold reserve, where salad is the vehicle and leftovers are the goodies. 

Leftover Antinuclear Spring Chicken Salad
Serves 2
1 cup shredded spring chicken leftovers
1 cup roasted sweet potato leftovers, cubed
3 T raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp crushed pepper blend or chile powder
1 large bunch lettuce
Balsamic vinaigrette

This is my ideal lunch salad: super healthy protein from the chicken, a little sweet and carb from the sweet potato, and a little crunch and fire from the pepitas.

Toss the lettuce, chicken, and roasted sweet potatoes in a salad bowl with balsamic vinaigrette.

Toss the pepitas, olive oil, and crushed pepper blend (I make this by grinding 1 each of whatever hot dried peppers I have around with a mortar and pestle; I make about ¼ cup at a time and save it in a glass jar) or chile powder in a pan (cast iron is best) and cook over medium heat, shaking gently, for about 3 minutes or until the pepitas start to brown. Sprinkle over the top of the salad and enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Roasted Spring Chicken with Spring Herbs and Spring Onions

Many gardens now have enough fresh herbs for a full, if small, bouquet garni, that lovely little herb bouquet that French recipes tell you to toss into soups or to stuff into roasts.  What’s more perfect to put it into – on a lovely, but crisp, spring day – but a Spring chicken.  Spring onions and the very last of last fall's garlic make a lovely roasting bed.  

2-3 short sprigs rosemary

2-3 short sprigs thyme
5-6 stems parsley
1 small bunch chives
1 5-lb spring chicken
5-6 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 lemon or lime
3 spring onions

kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 375.  Tie the herbs together with a piece of kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni. 

Wash the chicken and pat it dry.  Slice two big garlic cloves in half and rub all over the chicken.  Pour 1/2 T olive oil into the bottom of a roasting pan.  Rub the other 1/2 T onto the chicken.  Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides.  Put the garlic cloves you rubbed on the chicken, the lemon or lime, and the bouquet garni into the cavity of the chicken.  Slice the spring onions in half and lay across the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place remaining garlic cloves between the spring onions.  Set the chicken on top of the onions and garlic.  Tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen twine.

Roast about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven and let sit 10-15 minutes before carving and serving (we recommend with oven fries and roasted asparagus).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fried Dandelion Flowers

Renee asked in a comment: "Have you ever tried fried dandelions? A childhood springtime staple! My sister and I would run out a rescue them when our Dad got the lawn mower going and would have piles of them."
I never had.  It's my new favorite after-school snack.  The walk home from school becomes a foraging adventure, and this is the kind of recipe so simple and fun that even 7-year-old-boys who are usually limit their kitchen help to licking bowls and offering suggestions can get in on the action.
Pick dandelions with long stems. The bigger the flower, the easier to cook.

Dip them in a well-beaten egg, then into 1/2 cup flour seasoned with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Heat a frying pan with about 1/2" safflower oil. Put the dandelions flower down into the pan.

Cook until the batter browns. Put on a paper towel to drain. Eat.  The kids bit of the flowers and left the stems.  I ate the stems too, and really enjoyed the barely bitter and very green bite to balance out the fried deliciousness. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Today I had my first great adventure in foraging...for dandelion my driveway.  It started as a grand plan.  I read about some woman in New York City who's gotten permission from all sorts of public parks to forage for invasive weeds, and who started a program at her daughter's school taking city kids to city parks to find green stuff that needs to be pulled up to serve kids who need to eat more greens.  It's like the epitome of how diminishing the radius of the food cycle is best for everyone.  So I made fantasy plans to contact the Massachussets Native Plant society (if there is such a thing) and find out about invasive species, and then to research which ones are edible, and then to get permission from the MDC, and then to stuff my running clothes with plastic bags and do interval training with squats to dig and lunges to pick.  And then I did some weeding, came inside, saw a recipe for dandelion greens, and ran back out and dumped my yard waste bag all over the driveway so I could rescue the precious leaves.  Then I washed them like ten times, and started to saute.  About halfway through, I tasted some.  Bitter.  Really bitter.  Like lettuce, dandelion greens get bitter when the plant flowers.  And I had quite indiscriminately pulled up budding and flowering plants from the driveway and garden paths.  So I quickly gabbed a zucchini, grated it, and dropped it into the pan.  The sweet of the zucchini both mellowed out and made into a delightful bite the bitter of the dandelion.  Tomorrow, I might go all the way to the bottom of the neighbor's driveway!

Bitter Dandelion Greens with Sweet Zucchini
serves 2

about 4 cups dandelion greens
1 zucchini
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Wash the dandelion greens well and chop roughly into thirds.  Grate the zucchini.  Heat the olive oil in the pan.  Smash the garlic clove with the flat side of a knife, pull of the skin, and toss into the olive oil.  Toss in the dandelion greens and salt and pepper and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the grated zucchini and saute for 2-3 minutes longer.  Serve immediately.