RECIPE: Progressive Dinner for March 22

gardenladMarch 19, 2007

Here are this week's assignments:

Appetizer: Annie

Fist course: Woodie

Soup: Cindy

Salad: Wizard

Entree: Dances

Side 1: Danain

Side 2: VaGirl

Dessert: GardenLad

Coffee: Fearless Em

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You know what? We eat a lot of chicken. Skinless boneless chicken. And yes, it can be plain and yes it can be dry, but if you use some good technique it is anything but. Flavourful and moist, and a good base for anything else you would like to serve.

The hardest part for me, is not keeping it moist, but rather deciding what flavour profile to go for. This spice rub is my fall-back, all purpose, general seasoning I use on just about any meat or veggie. Sure, you can sprinkle on your favourite brand seasoning (Zatarains creole seasoning is good, and so is Lawrys season salt, or a lemon pepper blend) but making the rub yourself allows you to tailor the flavours and control the sodium.

Basic Spice Rub

-1 tbsp onion powder
-1 tsp garlic powder
-2 tsp paprika (I use a sweet hungarian)
-1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
-1/8 tsp poultry seasoning
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt, depending on your taste
-1/8 tsp curry powder (optional)
-1/8 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Mix the above indgredients in a small bowl. Use generous amounts as a rub on meats, sprinkle onto veggies before grilling, or add to sauces or dressings or what have you. Add 2 tbsp oil and some broth, wine or citrus juice to make a marinade.

Skillet Chicken
Trim skinless boneless chicken breasts, and remove the tender (the flap underneath that has that white tendon in it). Save those for another purpose (stir fry, chicken fingers, or soup).

Rinse and dry with paper towels. Coat thoroughly with the spice mixture. I like to go for a good thick coating rather than a sprinkling when cooking the chicken this way.

Heat a heavy skillet/frying pan over high heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil or vegetable oil, and turn the heat to about medium high. Heat until the oil shimmers but is not smoking. Carefully add your chicken pieces, no more than 4 at a time.

Let sear for at least a minute. You are looking for a nice, golden crust on that side. You don't want the spices to burn, but a good sear. Remove and sear the rest as needed, then continue with the next step.

Carefully turn the chicken pieces over. Cover the skillet with a tight lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the chicken cook and steam for about 10-20 minutes, depending on how thick/big they were when you started. Smaller breasts or those at room temp cook faster than larger ones, or ones that are cold from the fridge or only partially defrosted. I start checking with a meat thermometer at that 10 minute mark.

When they test done (about 175 degrees F), turn off the heat and leave covered until you serve them. By cooking them on low they don't have to rest but a minute or two, and for the moistest chicken don't leave them too long.

You can serve these as is with side dishes, or slice to wrap in tortillas or toss into a salad. Cooled then stored in a sandwich baggie they remain nice and moist even when reheated or used cold later. These make EXCELLENT chicken salad the next day. Top with cheese and serve with spaghetti bolognese for a healthier version of parmigiana.

If you MUST have a sauce:

Mushroom wine sauce: remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Add 1 cup sliced mushrooms to the pan, along with 1/4 cup red or white wine. Simmer and stir until the mushrooms are cooked and the sauce has reduced. Pass along with the chicken.

Southwestern sauce: Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Add 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tsp yellow or grainy mustard, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and 1 tsp malt or cider vinegar to the pan. Whisk together and bring to a bubble. Place the chicken breasts back in the pan, and turn to coat. Remove to the platter again, and serve the extra sauce on the side.

Jus: Remove the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Reduce the pan drippings to the desired consistency. Taste for salt, if it is too salty you will have to add some water, and use flour or cornstarch to thicken it to the desired consistency. Drizzle over the chicken on the platter.

And now, the rest of the meal picture can be painted by those lovely side dishes ;)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 1:16PM
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That spice rub looks good, Dances ... I like how versatile it is.

I think that Sharon's Roasted Red Pepper soup would go nicely with the chicken and leave a lot of room for the flavor options and different sides.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Source: Sharon(chase)

4 Red Bell Peppers, roasted, seeded and peeled
2 TBSP Butter (or margarine)
1 Red onion,chopped
2 Garlic cloves,minced
4 cups Chicken broth
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic in butter until soft. Add red peppers. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add lemon juice. Process in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place back on stove until ready to serve.

NOTE: To roast the peppers place whole peppers under the broiler or on a hot grill. Turn peppers until blackened on all sides. Place hot peppers in a plastic bag and tie shut. Whne the peppers have cooled completely remove from the bag. Remove all the skin and seeds.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 3:24PM
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For the first course at the table, I'd like to serve small slices of this delicious goat cheese tart that my friend, Joellen has made for us. Its delicious served warm or at room temp, the crust is especially terrific . Joellen used a round tart pan when she made this. The recipe is available on Epicurious but the nice thing for me is that I have a photocopy of the recipe from the magazine with some notes from her in her own handwriting. That doesn't often happen anymore thanks to the internet and its nice to have a handwritten recipe or at least some handwritten notes from a friend, if you know what I mean.


In this recipe we call for a 10 1/2- by 7- by 1-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable fluted rim; you could instead use a 10- by 1-inch round tart pan with a removable rim. The cornmeal makes a tender, delicate crust.
For crust:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ice water
pie weights or raw rice for weighting crust
For custard:
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
7 ounces mild soft goat cheese, softened
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, well softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

3/4 pound vine-ripened cherry tomatoes (preferably red)

Make crust:
Cut butter into pieces.
In a food processor pulse together flour, cornmeal, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and pulse until incorporated and mixture just forms a dough. Press dough evenly into bottom and up sides of a 10 1/2- by 7- by 1-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable fluted rim (see note, above) and roll a rolling pin over rim of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust about 20 minutes, or until firm.

While crust is chilling, preheat oven to 375F.

Line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake crust in lower third of oven until edge is set, 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights or rice and bake crust 5 minutes more, or until just dry. Leave oven on and cool crust in pan on a rack (crust may crack slightly). Crust may be made 1 day ahead and kept, loosely covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make custard:
Chop basil. In a bowl whisk together basil and remaining custard ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Pour custard into crust, spreading evenly. Halve tomatoes and arrange, cut sides up, in one layer on custard, pressing lightly into custard. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper and bake tart in lower third of oven until custard is just set, about 25 minutes. Cool tart to warm in pan on rack. Tart may be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely before being chilled, covered, in pan. Reheat tart, uncovered, in a 350°F. oven or bring to room temperature before serving.

Carefully remove rim from pan. Cut tart into roughly 2-inch pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 36 hors d'oeuvres.
September 1998

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 6:02PM
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I'd like a green salad with the chicken, soup and first course that we have going here. The following recipe could be adapted for a dinner salad. I would do individual salads, using each of the components, except for the corn chips. Maybe I'll even give it a different name...but for now.....

Frito Salad

Calilo (Alexa)

Servings: 11

1 (10 ounce) package prewashed and cut lettuce - I used a head of Romaine chopped into bite sized pieces.
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar and Monterey cheese blend
1 red onion, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package corn chips
1 (16 ounce) bottle Catalina salad dressing

1. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cheese, pinto beans, black beans, onion and tomatoes.
2. Add the corn chips and enough dressing to coat; toss and serve.

Note - I also have started adding a 15 oz can of corn. It works well in this recipe!


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 7:27PM
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Well, here is a starch for the chicken -

Roasted Potatoes with Onions, Thyme & Sherry Vinegar - serves six
2 small red onions
2 lb. very small red potatoes (~ 20), scrubbed and cut in half
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves

Position a rack in the center of a pre-heated 425°F oven.
Trim the root ends of the onions, leaving enough of the core intact to hold the onion wedges together.
Trim the other end of the onions and cut the onions in half vertically.
Cut each half into four wedges, ~ 1 inch wide.
In a medium bowl, combine onions, potatoes, olive oil, and sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Toss to coat.
Spread the vegetables and any liquid in the bowl on a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet in a single layer, making sure that the potatoes are all cut side down.
Roast until the cut sides of the potatoes are crusty and golden brown, ~ 30 minutes.
Turn the potatoes and onions.
Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the potatoes and return the pan to the oven and roast until the potatoes are very tender and the onions are very brown, ~ 5 minutes.
Taste and season with more salt if needed.

:) Enjoy!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 8:17PM
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I think the plate needs some color so I would add simple roasted asparagus.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and place a large baking sheet in the top 3rd of the oven. Clean and trim 1 pound fresh asparagus; dry well and toss with 2 tablespoon EVOO and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Place asparagus on hot baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes, turn and continue to roast 5 more minutes. Serve immediately topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 7:16AM
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I don't even like asparagus, but roasted, it's like an entirely different veg. Soooo good. I've been putting thin slices of garlic on it also.

Good choice Marilyn!


    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 10:55AM
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This entire meal is definitely to my liking! Can't wait to get to dessert.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 1:13PM
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:) I agree, this is a wonderful meal in progress!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 6:11PM
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Well shoot, Woodie. Nothing like a little pressure. :>)

Malaysian Mango Jellies

4 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 tbls unflavored gelatin, softened in warm water
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium mango, pureed
1 large mango, very finely diced

Combine water and sugar in a pan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add soaked gelatin and continue heating until thoroughly dissolved. Remove from heat and add all ingredients except the diced mango. Mix until well blended, then stir in the diced mango. Pour into individual molds and refrigerate until set.

Plating: Unmold the mango jelly to side of place setting. Slice mango, peaches, or similar fruit thinly and fan out around center slice of kiwi fruit. Top with a little mango puree if desired.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 6:59PM
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Sorry, I'm late with an appetizer. I leaned toward bruschetta, but decided that I'd rather have some stuffed mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushrooms

12 fresh mushrooms
1 (6 oz.) can clams (drained and finely minced)
1/4 cup of clam juice for stuffing
1 green onion, chopped finely
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Mozzarella cheese, for garnish
1/4 cup melted butter, for topping
freshly chopped parsley, for garnish


Wash and remove stems from mushrooms, pat dry. Save stems for another recipe. In mixing bowl place clams, onion, garlic salt, minced garlic, butter and oregano. Mix through and blend well. Add Italian bread crumbs, egg, clam juice and blend. Stir cheeses in clam stuffing and mix well. Place clam mixture inside mushroom cavity and slightly mound clam mixture.

You should be able to stuff between 8 - 12 mushrooms depending on the size of mushrooms.

Place mushrooms in slightly oiled baking dish. Pour butter over mushrooms. Cover and place in a preheated oven at 350 decrease for about 35 - 40 minutes.

Remove cover and sprinkle freshly grated mozzarella cheese on top and pop back in oven just so the cheese melts slightly, garnish with freshly diced parsley.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 11:33AM
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Gardenlad -- wow, those malaysian mango jellies sound amazing! How firm do they end up -- is it like jello that you have to eat with a spoon?

I'm afraid I may have to bail this week on coffee -- not only do I suck at making coffee, I just can't think of any coffee that would go with that desert! I vote for a nice cup of jasmine tea!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 1:14PM
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They're much denser than jello, Em. You can eat them with a fork if you so desire. None of that wobbly, shaky, jello mold kind of stuff. This is really a rather sophisticated dessert; especially when plated with the other fruits etc.

You also can make this with really ripe peaches, and with pappaya as well.

Jasmine tea is fine (except after that meal it will really put us to sleep). It isn't the drink that's important in this category; it's the little nosh that goes with it. You know, something to fill in the corners.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 8:04PM
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Ok... Hmmmmmm.... Still not totally getting this category... But maybe these will work. I made them a little while ago and they were addictive!

Toasted Coconut and Dark Chocolate Meringues (from Bon Appetit)

1/2 cup *unsweetened* medium shredded coconut (available at health food stores)
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (pieces will vary in size from shavings to the size of small peas; about 2 1/2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread coconut evenly on baking sheet; bake until toasted and evenly golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 275°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar; beat until peaks are thick and fluffy. Fold in coconut and chocolate.

Drop generous rounded teaspoonfuls batter onto prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until crisp on outside but still soft inside, about 27 minutes. Cool. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead; store in airtight container.)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 10:11PM
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For some reason I am unable to cut & paste the link to this week's dinner.

If somebody can get it to work, please post the link on the summary thread.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 7:50AM
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