One Pretty Picnic

One Pretty Picnic

As spring slowly begins to surround our stay-at home lives, we find ourselves searching for something different to do. A little change of pace. A supper to look forward to.

I have a plan based on my new favorite corner pub, the end of my driveway! Driveway drinks is my new normal during cocktail hour… but that’s another (socially distancing story).

For now, I’m thinking about setting up the ultimate picnic, and have the perfect recipes in mind.

What makes this supper special is that you can prepare it in advance (like even the day before). It tastes better served at room temperature than it does right out of the fridge. And, you can leisurely enjoy the meal. There’s no rush. If you are a grazer like me, eating this supper will take up some valuable time during these very long days.

For my supper, I’ll include three dishes

The first is a caprese salad. This dish is simply arranged by layering slices of tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil. Drizzle the dish with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. But, here’s the secret. Make this salad several hours before serving and DO NOT REFRIGERATE it. The salt and olive oil will bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.

The second dish is a riff on Niçoise salad, but in place of tuna, I substitute salmon that has been simply roasted with a rub of brown sugar, chili powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I include olives, hard boiled eggs, simply sautéed green beans, roasted baby potatoes and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

The third dish is one of my very favorites! Based on the Italian dish, Vitello Tonnato, cold poached veal with a tuna and caper sauce, I substitute chicken for the veal. The chicken is poached in wine and broth.

The liquid is flavored with onion, lemon and celery, but you can add whatever you like. Parsley, fennel and radishes are excellent additions. The trick is that the chicken is moist and retains that moisture by covering it with the very flavorful sauce. Again, although you refrigerate the dish to marry the flavors, the chicken is best eaten at room temperature.

So, set up your picnic table, lay out your platters, pour a glass of something FUN and leisurely enjoy the first picnic supper of the season.

Let’s look forward to many more to come….. together!

 

Poached Chicken

In a Rich Tuna Sauce

serves 6 to 8

For chicken:

2 large (or 4 medium) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups chicken broth

1 small white onion, peeled and cut into quarters

1 small lemon, sliced

2 to 3 stalks celery

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For tuna sauce:

1 (7-ounce) can tuna packed in oil

4 to 5 anchovies

2 tablespoons capers, drained

Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 cup mayonnaise

Place the chicken breasts into a pot. Pour in the wine and chicken broth. Add the onion, sliced lemon and celery. Add the salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a simmer (some steady bubbles but not a mad bubbling volcano). Cook the chicken in the poaching liquid until it is just cooked through, about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. About 165° is perfect. Remove the pot from the heat and keep the chicken in the poaching liquid,

Place the tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon zest and lemon juice into the bowl of a processor. Pulse to combine. Transfer the tuna mixture to a bowl. Fold in the mayonnaise. Remove one breast from the poaching liquid and place onto your cutting board. Cut the breast (across the grain) into ½-inch medallions. Fan these out onto your serving platter. Continue with the remaining chicken. Smooth the tuna sauce over the chicken. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (or up to several hours) so that the sauce seeps into the chicken.

To serve, remove the platter from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Garnish with slices of lemon, capers and fresh parsley.

The Glass Half Full

The Glass Half Full

As I look around me and watch the posts on social media during this COVID-19 crisis, I see many of us are stressed by the reality of social distancing and self-quarantining of families. Restaurants are closed and grocery store shelves are picked clean. You can’t give your grandma a hug, and it’s hard to plan any social event in the future. The situation is entirely unnerving.

S-T-R-E-S-S! Perhaps we can put this into perspective!

Being a Floridian for most of my life, I’ve weathered plenty of tropical storms and several  full-blown hurricanes. When we lost power, there was no electricity, no refrigeration, no lights, no television, no phone chargers and no air conditioning.

Before the storm hits, you fill up tubs and pots with water, because you will lose water after the storm. That means no flushing of toilets, no hot showers. Grocery store shelves are bare before the storm, and often shut down for days after the storm. Gas stations can’t pump gas because they have no electricity. Truck drivers can’t drive product to the stores, because they can’t get gas.  The longest stretch I’ve experienced during a storm’s aftermath is two and a half weeks. But many have experienced longer.

So, I look at this crisis with my glass half full vision. Yes, I’m quarantined, staying home for (at least) two weeks. But I have running water, an electric stove and fridge, air conditioning, gas in my car and open grocery stores that are constantly re-stocking their shelves. Not too bad. But I do admit, I miss comfortably being in a room with my pals and sharing a meal.

More than this, the unfamiliarity with this crisis adds a different kind of stress. To reduce it, I thought I might give you a couple of basic ideas for food you can cook at home.

Yes, I totally encourage all of us supporting our local restaurants and ordering meals for pick up or delivery. But, let’s balance this with cooking at home. You’re probably stuck in the house with kids that are driving you crazy by now. Our kids are used to being entertained, and they are looking to you to entertain them.

Instead, let’s work together to teach them the skill of cooking for themselves.

After all, they will all go off on their own one day, and this just may be a skill worth learning.

Let’s start with a chicken! One of the first items you might want to tackle is cooking chicken soup. Not only is it easy, but you have the benefit of having soup on hand, in case you or your family members come down with the virus.

Soup is nourishing, tastes great when you’re sick, and helps to keep you hydrated.

Another plus when cooking a chicken is, you can use leftover meat for other dishes. This soup recipe is just an idea of what’s possible…but really, you can USE ANY COMBO of veggies and spices!

Rinse and pat dry your chicken… any chicken. You can use a whole chicken, which is best, or chicken pieces, which are also good. Try to use chicken pieces with skin on and bone in. These pieces will end up moist, and the broth will collect the nutrients from these parts.

Place the chicken in a deep pot. Cover with water. Boom! That’s it!!!!

You can add stuff to the pot. Good add-ins are onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, turmeric and herbs like parsley. Basically, investigate your vegetable drawer and grab hold of the least fresh things you can find. You don’t have to cut them, peel them or dice them. Just throw them in the pot!

Now you’re ready to bring the water to a boil over medium high heat, reducing the heat to medium-low, or just hot enough to simmer what will become the broth.

You can cover the pot with a lid and simmer away. If you uncover the pot, and the liquid has evaporated significantly, add more water.

I usually simmer the soup for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken, or if I’m using chicken pieces. The broth is ready when the chicken is cooked through.

Use a meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the chicken to determine when it is cooked through. You can simmer for longer than this. There are no set rules!

Here’s the FUN part. Use a BIG colander to strain the broth into a large bowl. Transfer the HOT chicken to your cutting board and let it cool. You can discard your add-ins at this point!

To turn your broth into soup, I dice up onion, celery and carrot. Using that same soup pot, cook the diced veggies in some olive oil until they are soft. At this point you can add rice if you like.

Pour the strained broth back into the pot. This is the time to season the broth with salt and pepper.

Remove the skin and bones from the chicken. You can dice up some of the chicken and put it back into the soup.

Store the remaining chicken in a resealable plastic bag. I normally dice up the dark meat from the thighs, legs and wings for the soup, and reserve the breast meat for other dishes.

Simmer the soup and continue to season it as you wish. When the rice is cooked (you could substitute with noodles for chicken noodle soup), the soup is ready to eat or store. Store the soup in jars. Cool the soup to room temperature before you put it in the fridge or freezer.

Now, for my Bubba Gump moment…

Take that extra chicken and turn it into chicken and brie paninis, curried chicken and grape salad, chicken and mushroom quesadilla, chicken casserole, chicken Caesar salad, Buffalo chicken dip, barbecue chicken flatbread, chicken and veggie pot pies, chicken tacos, chicken wraps, pulled chicken sandwiches, chicken and black bean enchiladas, chicken and broccoli pasta, chicken lettuce wraps…… get the picture?

Until we get past this Cornavirus nightmare…

My next few posts will be dedicated to simple cooking of simple ingredients. If you have anything you want me to simplify, just let me know.

I wish you good health, and a swift passing of this crisis. But, more than this, I wish you joy in the moment. Finding the joy amid stressful times is hard… but, I know we can do it!

 

My Valentine’s Day Tradition

My Valentine’s Day Tradition

Chicken! Yes, my sweetheart tradition is all about a roasted chicken. Not an every Friday night Ina for Jeffrey chicken, but a once a year, Valentines Day roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings: roasted carrots, potatoes and onions and a lovely gravy/sauce to drizzle over everything.Tulips in a pitcher for the centerpiece, and a heart-shaped chocolate cake for dessert. Perfection!

In Sunday Best Dishes, I have a recipe for a chocolate walnut torte that is fudgy and nutty – just perfect for a post-Sunday dinner or Valentine’s Day fare.

You can serve it warm or at room temperature, which allows, if you prefer, to prepare it in the morning, knowing that dessert is all taken care of.
Message me if you want this recipe sent via email, ‘cause today’s post is all about melt in your mouth herb roasted chicken!
I first made this dish for hubby on a particularly cool Valentines Day many moons ago. Something about being three months past Thanksgiving was just about enough time for the fowl craving to emerge. In the very many moons since then, I’ve manipulated that chicken in sooo many ways. I roasted it upside down, leisurely cooked it in slow cooker, rotated it on a spit, split it in half and cooked it under a brick, stuffed it and then unstuffed it … I did it all!

This Valentine’s day evening, I can expect hubby to come home for dinner. He always brings me a most sappy, most meaningful card, and usually a bouquet of roses. I will push my (not quite as sappy) card across the table to him and smile. He will be happy and that makes me happy!

In the end, it’s that roasted chicken, served at home, for hubby that is my sweetest Valentine tradition. What’s yours?

Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

Serves 4

60 minute cuisine

½ cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 (2 ½ to 3 pound) chicken

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 whole orange, cut into sections

½ cup sherry

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the softened butter with the herbs.

Use your hands to cover the chicken with the herb butter.  (Use your fingers to gently loosen the skin and place some of the butter between the skin and the meat.)  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place the orange sections into the cavities of the chicken.

Place the chicken on an upright roaster (or on a rack) in a baking pan.  Pour the sherry over the chicken.

Place the chicken into the oven.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

Bake until the skin is crisp, and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes per pound.

 

Farmers Markets Have It All – even caviar! Caviar Recipe Ideas

Farmers Markets Have It All – even caviar! Caviar Recipe Ideas

Canvas & Cuisine is largely made up of true stories – about trips with my friend and co-author, Sue Fazio. I will never forget our adventures in Russia – the tastiest among them, sampling foie gras and caviar. Two decadent gals on vacay, we had caviar at every meal, and even hit up a caviar tasting bar where vodka was on tap. We did it up!

I learned a lot about caviar on that trip with Sue. The tiny black pearls found in a fingertip of caviar are actually the salt-cured eggs of wild sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea. There are different types of Russian caviar, all of which are considered a delicacy. The top three varieties are Beluga, Osetra and Sevruga, each of which come from a specific type of sturgeon.

Why, you ask, am I going on and on about Russian caviar? Well, pin my tail and call me a donkey, but I just found out that real Russian caviar is available at my local farmers market! And, it is delish!!

It turns out that Marshallberg Farm offers sustainable, high quality, pure Osetra caviar. They raise U.S. farmed sturgeon and caviar. I spoke to Sabine Mader from Marshallberg Farms. She told me the whole process has taken over nine years – from the import of the first fish, to the production of the delicious stuff.

I know my subscribers come from all over the place, and may never visit the Watauga Farmer’s market where the Marshallbergs have their stand, but they are a great reminder to expect anything at the weekend markets popping up across America this summer. If you lay your hands on some caviar, here are my tips on what to do with it:

  • A savory (Parmesan, sausage and chive) waffle dish, topped with a sprinkle of caviar.
  • Baked potatoes with caviar
  • An everything bagel and lox w/a dollop of caviar
  • Salted caramel ice cream with a touch of caviar
  • Sautéed chicken breast made the Jorj way (see below!)

The Millionaires Chicken recipe above is crying out for caviar and white wine cream sauce!? So I whipped up Millionaire Chicken after hitting the Marshallbergs’ stand.  I served it alongside a clump of sautéed Swiss chard and a few roasted baby potatoes. The oohhs and aahhs were well worth a million bucks!

Millionaires Chicken

serves 4

30 minute cuisine

 

For Chicken:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

For sauce:

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

Caviar

Place the chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken to about ½-inch of thickness. Season both sides with some of the salt and pepper. Brush both sides with mustard. Dredge in breadcrumbs. Place the chicken onto a platter, cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge. (You can do this several hours in advance.) Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the chicken breasts until golden on one side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on the other side until golden, another 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter, tent with aluminum foil.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion to the pan and cook until just soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, removing all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When most of the wine has disappeared, pour in the chicken stock and cream. Stir in the mustard. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the sauce until it begins to thicken. Add the chicken back into the sauce and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve the chicken with the sauce and garnish with a bit of caviar on the top.

A Tasty Trip Down Memory Lane

A Tasty Trip Down Memory Lane

New Zealand held so many special times during our recent trip. If you’ve been there, you know how special it is. The locals keep the towns pristine and welcoming. They love to show off their love of their lands. We visited Christchurch, a small coastal town on the South Island. Our tour guides arranged a visit to a small sheep farm in Canterbury. We were greeted by the farmer, his gorgeous wife and their adult daughters, and given a sheep shearing demonstration! What a show!!

After a brief tour of their 1840ish farmhouse, we were escorted outdoors, where we were met with a Martha Stewart inspired luncheon table, seating fifty guests! The table was set with linen clothes and napkins, vintage flatware and freshly clipped flowers in mason jars.

The table sat under the canopy of a recently erected, tent shading us from the warm New Zealand sun. Lunch was served buffet style, and featured a garden fresh salad, whole roasted salmon filets, boiled potatoes and a main course of baked chicken pieces with a sauce of wine, olives, dates and capers.

We all passed around bottles of chilled rose wine and dived into lunch. It took only a couple of bites of that chicken dish to bring back memories of my early catering days. I could swear the dish was Chicken Mirabella from the Silver Palate cookbook. What a lovely coincidence! I travel fourteen hours across the globe, only to have the same meal I’ve made over and over again for my clients. I confirmed this with the generous Lady of the Manor. Her smile was ginormous when she realized that we had cooking and entertaining in common. She grabbed my hand, and took me back into her kitchen to show me her cookbook collection. What a treat.

When my pals came to Florida for a recent visit, we put together a girl’s night supper that featured none other than that Chicken Mirabel dish. I served it with Poached Asparagus and a Green Goddess Avocado Dressing, along with a recipe from my new book: Farmer’s Market Orzo Salad.

As a further retro treat, I added yummy rolls from an old Junior League cookbook, another one of my reliable tomes from my old catering days.

The meal was a true treat. When I think of where I’ve been and where I am now, and all the places I still have to visit, I can’t help but be reminded that good food never really changes. It is one of the things that bind us all together.

Here’s a slide show of my scrumptious trip down good ol’ memory lane.

Hot Garlicky Wings Recipe for Football Season

Hot Garlicky Wings Recipe for Football Season

My name is Jorj Morgan and I’m a football fanatic. My last cookbook has an entire chapter dedicated to the Couch Potato… I mean Football Fan. Sunday Best Dishes has it all: giant, juicy burgers; both beef brisket and a turkey burger slider layered with pimento cheese and crispy onion rings. There’s an easy-peasy recipe for home-made veggie chips with a great onion dip to go with. There’s a recipe for quesadilla, one for loaded potato skins and even a recipe for game day pizza. There’s a decadent nacho recipe and my all time favorite…. A terrific recipe for Hot Garlicky Wings.

There’s a story here! When I moved to South Florida with my family in the early 70s, we immediately became Miami Dolphin fans. We drove forty minutes from our house to the game and parked on the front lawn of a home belonging to a sweet Cuban family that lived blocks away from the Orange Bowl. The price to park at their house…. ten bucks! My mom packed tons of waxed paper wrapped sandwiches, and we ate on the sidewalk on our way to the game.

Joe Robbie built a new stadium in the late 80s and tailgating took on a whole new meaning. Fans hauled grills to the parking lot, and we ate footlongs, burgers and brats…sometimes a Buffalo wing or two!

The stadium was overhauled, team ownership changed, and the fans continued cheering. Stadium food grew to multi-course buffets and in-seat food delivery via your iPhone. Our fan-food palette grew, but the standards remained the same. Burgers, hoagies and wings!

Just look at these babies!

As long as I can remember there was a Game Day staple from a little restaurant in Pompano Beach that makes the best wings I’ve ever eaten! We ordered them with extra garlic and extra hot sauce. The sides included celery sticks with blue cheese dressing and a white paper sack filled with skinny, salty, greasy fries. The restaurant’s name is Wings ‘N Things. If you ever get to South Florida… you must give them a try!

But, if you are craving a game-day wing experience, and not planning a trip to South Florida, you can get a great dish by making my Sunday Best recipe for Hot Garlicky wings.  Whether your team is winning, or on the verge of winning (and at this point in the season, there is always HOPE). These wings are the perfect couch potato, fan food!

Let me know what you think and share your favorite football stories with us!

Hot Garlicky Wings

(from Sunday Best Dishes)

Yield:  about 48 wings enough for game day!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: About 30 minutes to fry all the wings and about 10 minutes more to simmer in the sauce.

For the sauce

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1 cup hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

8 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 tablespoons

For the wings

24 chicken wings

Canola oil for frying

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

1 tablespoon dried minced garlic

1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over low heat.  Stir in the hot pepper sauce, vinegar and minced garlic.  Continue cooking while you cook the wings watching to make sure that the garlic softens but does not burn.

Cut the tips from the wings and reserve for use in stock.  Cut the wings into two parts and place onto a baking sheet.  Season the wings with the spices. Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the wings in batches, (in the hot oil) turning once until golden brown.  (Note:  A mesh splatter guard placed over the skillet is very useful for this process as these wings will splatter!) Drain the wings on a rack placed over paper toweling.  Place the wings into the sauce and toss to coat.  Cover the skillet and continue to simmer over low heat until the wings are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serve the wings with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing for dipping.