Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken recipe.

It is obvious, roast chicken is one of my favorite foods. To me it is pure comfort food at its best. The perfect roast chicken has tender and juicy meat with rich flavors that only roasting can bring. Unfortunately, when my children were young, having roast chicken for dinner was an event because it took so long to make. I wish I knew then what I know now. Those oven-stuffer birds of the 90’s would roast in half the time if I removed the backbone. This technique is also known as, spatchcock chicken. A whole chicken with its back bone removed and laid flat in a skillet or roasting pan.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken recipe.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

In the 90’s, I knew about Chicken Under a Brick, but I did not transfer that information to my roast chicken recipes until later. From my years as a cook in a gourmet food store, I learned how to cut up a whole chicken into 8 pieces. I knew the process and was very confident using sharp knives and handling raw meats. For whatever reason, I did not cut up the chicken at home.  If I had, those 7 pounds plus oven-stuffer roasters would have made a more frequent appearance on my dinner table. The usual 2 1/2 hours roasting in the oven would decrease to 1 hour 15 minutes. It still takes time to roast a spatchcock chicken, but it is more reasonable. Better late than never.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

Prep a Spatchcock Chicken

Like traditional roast chicken, spatchcock chicken lends itself to an infinite variety of seasoning and types of cuisines. It is delicious plain marinated in buttermilk, salt and paprika, or seasoned with Middle Eastern flavors like Za’atar, fennel and preserved lemons. Take a culinary trip around the world with spatchcock chicken by simply adjusting the herbs and seasonings.

No matter what flavor profile you want, chicken tastes best when seasoned with salt, several hours before cooking. If I plan correctly, I will spatchcock and season a chicken with Kosher salt and keep it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. I prepare the chicken during dinner cleanup so I don’t dirty a clean kitchen. Often, I am likely to forget about this step if I wait till the morning of. I admit there were times I forgot. If that happens, season the chicken with salt then leave it to rest at room temperature for an hour. Even that bit of time makes a difference in flavor and tenderness.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Reicpe.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

I never miss an opportunity to roast vegetables, especially potatoes, with chicken. After a long roast, the vegetables become luscious with pronounced flavor. For this recipe, this extra step is optional. If you roast the chicken in a skillet, roast the vegetables in a separate dish. It will be too crowded in the skillet, and the chicken will steam. Sheetpans are perfect pans for roasting chicken with vegetables.

What is for dessert? Try    Double Coconut Pie 

Chocolate Stout Cake

Swedish Apple Pie

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken reicpe.

Honey mustard spatchcock chicken is a family favorite and so easy to make. All you have to remember is use equal parts honey and mustard. Any additional amounts of herbs and spices is up to you and your taste buds. Personally, I love sage and chicken together and believe it adds earthy notes against the sharp mustard and sweet honey. Also, I like this sweet and savory sauce with some heat from chili peppers. My preference with spicy ingredients is their heat hangs in the background without drowning the other herbs and spices. Sometimes adding a small amount of chili pepper makes the other ingredients more pronounced. Play around with the different herbs and spices and see what you create.

This recipe is also delicious cooked over indirect heat on the grill.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

 

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: American

4-6 servings

Serving Size: 6-8oz of chicken

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Chicken roasts in half the time without its backbone. Removing it is easier than you think, when you have good kitchen scissors or a big chef knife. If you prefer, ask your butcher to spatchcock your chicken.

Dry brine the chicken overnight for a juicy and seasoned chicken. This step makes a big difference in the flavor of the chicken. If you can't do it, at least salt the chicken and let it rest on the counter an hour before you cook. It is better than not doing it at all.

The prep time does not include the overnight brining time. Cook time depends on the size of your chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 4-5 lb (2 K) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt, depending on the weight of your chicken, about 1TB
  • 10 sage leaves - divided
  • 1/4 cup (63 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (82 g) honey
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp ground chili powder (or to taste)
    Optional roasted vegetables
  • 8 oz (385 g) small new potatoes cut in half or quartered
  • 4 / 6 oz (170 g) shallots, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (216g) sliced in thin wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise
  • 12 oz (358 g) grape tomatoes
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil - divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt- divided
  • 3 sprigs of thyme

Instructions

    How to spatchcock a chicken.
  1. 1- Remove the neck and gizzards from the cavity of the chicken. Rinse the inside and outside with cold running water. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  2. 2- Place the chicken on a cutting board breast side down with the legs pointing towards you.
  3. The back bone runs through the middle of the back and is about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches wide.
  4. 3- Grab hold of the "tail" end with one hand and cut along a side of the backbone toward the neck with good kitchen scissors. Repeat on the other side of the back bone.
  5. 4- If you do not have kitchen scissors, score the skin through to the meat with a sharp chef's knife along each side of the backbone. Turn the chicken upright onto its neck, and slice along the side of the backbone. Cut through the skin, meat and bones down to the neck. Lay the chicken down and open the chicken up like a book, and cut through the other side of the backbone.
  6. 5- Once the backbone is removed, turn the chicken over breast meat facing up, and press down on the sternum until you hear a pop and feel the breastbone release and lie flat.
  7. 6- Tuck the wing tips under the back of the neck, or trim them off so they do not burn.
  8. Save the backbone for chicken stock.
    Prep the chicken
  1. The night before, cut the back bone off the chicken.
  2. Generously, sprinkle Kosher salt all over the chicken on both sides. Slide a sage leaf under the skin and on top of the breast meat on each breast. Repeat for each thigh. Let the salted chicken rest for 30 minutes uncovered on the counter.
  3. Place the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered overnight and up to 24 hours.
  4. One hour before you want to begin cooking take the chicken out of the refrigerator. Let the chicken come to room temperature.
    Putting it altogether
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C)
  2. While the chicken is coming to room temperature, make the honey mustard sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, honey, ground chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt until combined.
  3. Rough chop, or snip with scissors, 4 sage leaves and add to the honey mustard. Taste and correct the seasonings.
  4. Once the chicken has come to room temperature, baste the chicken on both sides with the honey mustard. Get a good even coat over the whole bird .
  5. Place 4 sage leaves in the center of a low sided sheet pan, or 12-inch skillet,(30 cm) and place the chicken over the sage leaves.
  6. If adding the optional vegetables, put the potatoes, fennel shallots and garlic into a medium bowl. Stir in 2 TB extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Add the prepared vegetables in an even layer around the chicken on a sheet pan. Then scatter the thyme sprigs over the vegetables.
  7. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile add the tomatoes in the same bowl you used for the vegetables, and stir in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Later, scatter the tomatoes around the vegetables after 20 minutes of roasting.
  9. If you have honey mustard sauce left, baste the chicken with the remaining sauce. Use up all the honey mustard sauce.
  10. Rotate the pan left to right and front to back, and roast for 20 minutes more. Check the chicken and vegetables to see if they are done cooking. The chicken is done cooking when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is at 165°F (74°C) and the breast meat is 170°F (77°C), and the juices run clear. There should be no cloudy, pink or blood color in the meat juices. Make sure you check the temperature of both breasts and thighs. The vegetables are done when they are tender in the middle when pierced with a fork.
  11. If the chicken is not done, continue to roast and check at 5 - 10-minute intervals depending on how much more the chicken needs to roast. Often the breast and thighs cook at different rates and one is done roasting before the other. If either part is done and you still have a way to go before the other portion of the chicken is done, cut off the done part and let it rest on a carving board.
  12. If the vegetables are finished roasting before the chicken, remove the vegetables and place in a serving dish or plate. You want the vegetables to be tender, but still maintain its shape. Keep the vegetables warm while the chicken is roasting.
  13. When the chicken is done, place it on a carving board and let it rest for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting it up.
  14. Cut into 8 pieces and place on a platter surrounded by the roasted vegetables. Serve family style.
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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Tortellini with Basil Pesto, Tomaotes and Green Beans

Tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomatoes and green beans recipe.

Pasta is the perfect foundation to pair with basil pesto. The intense herb flavor combined with sharp cheese needs a mild flavored foundation to compliment the sauce. Any type of pasta will suffice, but my favorite pasta with my favorite basil pesto recipe is cheese tortellini. Tortellini is widely available at the store, either freshly made, frozen or dried. As it happens, tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomatoes and green beans is one of my family’s favorite pasta dinners.

My Favorite Basil Pesto recipe

I love making pasta dinners with enough additional ingredients for a well-rounded meal. Marcella Hazan says a pasta meal is all about the pasta with just the minimal amount of sauce and add-ins. The pasta is the star. I learned a lot about cooking Italian food from Marcella’s cookbooks. However, here is where I diverge from her rule. For me, I try to make a whole meal that is nutritionally balanced.

Usually, I create a pasta dinner using pasta as the foundation with enough vegetables and/or proteins for a well-rounded meal. This way if I can’t make a salad, I know everyone will get at least one serving of vegetables. You still enjoy the comfort and flavor of pasta with the added nutritional benefits of a full serving of vegetables. Hopefully, the additional vegetables reduces pasta’s glycemic-index as well. Tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomatoes and green beans is also a great way to sneak in more vegetables for picky eaters.

Tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomatoes and green beans recipe.

Tortellini with Basil Pesto Grape tomatoes and Green beans reicpe

Tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomaotes and green beans reicpe.

Whenever I mix pesto into tortellini, or any type of pasta, I always add grape tomatoes. I never serve pasta with pesto without them.  The sweetness and acid of the tomatoes nicely compliments the pesto and makes it taste more refreshing. I also love adding blanched green beans to my tortellini and pesto. It doesn’t add extra work and cooks in the same pot as the tortellini. Quickly blanched and crisp green beans add a nice textural contrast to the soft tortellini and smooth pesto. Basil, tomatoes and green beans all grow at the same time and as the saying goes, “What grows together, goes together.”

Tortellini with Basil Pesto, GrapeTomaotes and Green Beans

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 42 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: Italian American

4 generous servings

Serving Size: 8 oz (227 g)

Tortellini with Basil Pesto, GrapeTomaotes and Green Beans

Tortellini with basil pesto, fresh grape tomatoes and blanched green beans makes a delicious meal all in one pot. It is a very easy dinner and perfect for any night of the week. Make the pesto and prep the vegetables while you wait for the water to come to a boil. Blanch the green beans in the same pot with the tortellini.

If you want creamy pesto tortellini: make the pesto but don't add the cheese. In a small sauce pan, heat up one cup (225 ml) of heavy cream, or half and half, to a light simmer then whisk in the grated cheese, 1/4 cup (60 ml) at a time. Taste and correct for seasoning. Keep the cream and cheese sauce warm while the tortellini cooks. When the tortellini is done, add the heated cream and the basil pesto to the pot with the tortellini, green beans and tomatoes. Stir to combine and taste. Add more pesto if needed. Serve immediately.

I portioned each serving to equal 8 oz (226g). Don't be alarmed, each serving does not contain a half pound (226 g) of pasta. Each serving should contain about a quarter pound (113 g) of pasta with a quarter pound (113 g) of vegetables.

Tortellini with pesto, tomatoes and green beans is best eaten immediately when it is finished cooking. Any leftovers will last in the refrigerator in an air tight container for a couple of days.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh, dried or frozen cheese tortellini
  • Kosher Salt for pasta cooking water and seasoning
  • 1/2 lb (227 g) grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 lb (227 g) fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • About 1/2 cup (125 ml) Basil Pesto
  • Serve with freshly grated Romano cheese
  • Optional 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream or half and half for creamy pesto sauce. Follow directions in summary.

Instructions

  1. Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add at least one teaspoon of Kosher salt to the water and carefully taste. You want to taste the salt in the water. The lore is, the pasta water should taste like the sea. Sometimes I find that amount too salty. continue to add more salt until it is just right for your preference.
  2. Add the tortellini and cook according to the directions given with the pasta. While the tortellini cooks, occasionally stir the pot to prevent the tortellini from sticking together.
  3. About two minutes before the tortellini is done cooking, add the prepared green beans to the pot with the tortellini. Cook until the water returns to a boil. Taste the tortellini for al dente.
  4. Drain the water and return the tortellini and green beans to the stock pot. Add about a 1/2 cup of pesto and stir o combine. Add the grape tomatoes and stir to combine.
  5. Serve immediately with more Romano Cheese on the side.
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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potaotes and Raisins recipe.

Other than the ingredients, all you need to make a delicious and easy dinner is one knife to chop, one bowl to mix and one sheet pan to roast. No special equipment required, except an oven. What you do need is time to mix, marinate and bake. Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins has it all. A flavor packed one-pan meal with warming spices and fruity-sweetness enveloping tender chicken meat and potatoes.

Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins reicpe.

 

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins recipe.

For this recipe, as well as salt I added a ground curry spice blend for the main seasoning. My recipe for roasted chicken curry is not traditional Indian cuisine, or any curry meal from Asia. It is an American rift inspired by Indian flavors, and ease of preparation. I love curry, but there are so many types and each one is as unique as the cook making it. Every country, region, city and cook has its own variation of spices for curries. As I learn more about curries and the cuisines that developed them, I plan to make my own curry spice blends. Until that time, I’ll take a shortcut and use store-bought ground curry to satisfy my hankering for curry flavors.

Chicken for a cook, is like a blank canvas for an artist. It is the foundation from which all added flavor will enhance. Because chicken has a mild taste and texture, it benefits from adding seasoning and then letting the flavors steep into the meat before cooking.  Of course, if pressed for time, you will still have a decent tasting curry chicken dinner if you must skip the marinating step. However, taking the extra time to marinate will make a big difference in the over-all depth of flavor.

Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins recipe.

More one pan dinner recipes:

Mediterranean Style Chicken Dinner

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Spanish Style Mussels with Chorizo

I realize not all children like the spiciness of curry powder. Some curry blends have a lot of pepper and chilies in them. If you can find a ground curry blend that is on the sweet side it might change your family’s opinion of curry. I found a Massale curry blend from Spice and Tease in New York City. It is similar to a Garam Massala but not as hot and peppery as other curry blends.  For more information, here is an article explaining the differences of the two spice blends.

Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins recipe.

Roasted curry chicken with potaotes and raisins recipe.

I love making meals where I can mix together the flavors I love and cook them together on one pan in the oven and forget about it. No standing or stirring over a hot stove. Just place in the oven and bake. This easy recipe, of roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins is so simple it is hard to make a chicken dinner any other way. The raisins may seem out-of-place, but the sweetness compliments and softens any heat in the curry spices. Add, additional vegetables, like cauliflower or broccoli, for a more well-rounded dinner.

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: American

4-6 servings

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

An easy sheet pan dinner the whole family will enjoy. Prep and marinate the chicken in the morning, and bake in the evening for a hassle-free dinner. Some curry spice blends are sweet, and some are spicy depending on how much pepper and chilies are blended in. Find a curry blend that suits you and your family for that perfect flavor balance. The sweetness of the raisins and yogurt sauce will cut any pronounced spicy heat of your curry.

Add cauliflower or broccoli flowerettes for a well-rounded dinner.

Ingredients

    Curry Chicken with Potatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger*, grated
  • 3 TB (35 g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB curry spice blend, not a spicy curry blend
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Zest from one lemon and juice- divided
  • 1 TB chopped fresh tarragon (can use dried tarragon if fresh is not available, but only 1 teaspoon)
  • 6 chicken thighs, either bone-in and skin on, or boneless
  • 1 lb (450g) fingerling potatoes, or other small wax potato like red potatoes or Yukon Gold
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced in half moons no more than 1/4 inch (6mm)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) raisins
  • Optional: Half a head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes. Reduce the potatoes to 1/2 to 2/3 lbs (225 g - 300 g).
    Yogurt Sauce
  • 4 oz ( 125 g) plain yogurt
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) piece of fresh ginger*, grated

Instructions

    Chicken Curry
  1. Peel each clove then slice in half. If the green germ is there, remove it. If you have a fine microplane grater, grate the garlic cloves. Or, scatter a pinch of salt over a pile of roughly minced garlic cloves then mash the garlic with the side of your chef's knife. Move the blade from side to side pressing down with the blade until the garlic forms a paste. Add the garlic paste to a medium mixing bowl large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables.
  2. Mince or grate the ginger root and add to the bowl with the garlic.
  3. Add the olive oil, curry powder, lemon zest, Kosher salt, a couple of rounds of fresh ground black pepper, tarragon, and juice from half a lemon. Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Add the chicken, potatoes, onion slices and raisins (cauliflower if using). Using your clean hands mix the chicken and vegetables until the marinade evenly coats all the pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
  5. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you want to cook dinner and bring up to room temperature. The chicken can rest up to one hour on the counter before cooking. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (204°C) twenty minutes before you are ready to cook.
  6. Spread the chicken and vegetables evenly across a low sided sheet pan. The sheet pan should be just big enough for the chicken and potatoes to fit comfortably without overcrowding. Too big of a pan and the juices will dry up. Too small of a pan and the ingredients will steam.
  7. Place the sheet pan in the oven middle rack.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, then using a thin spatula, turn the potatoes around. Bake for another 20 minutes. Check the chicken and potatoes to see if they are done. The chicken is done when an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 165°F - 170°F (74°C - 77°C) and the juices run clear. The potatoes are done when they are tender when pierced with a fork.
  9. If either ingredient needs more cooking time, remove the chicken or potatoes and place on a plate cover and keep warm. Continue to cook until the vegetables or chicken is done.
  10. While the chicken is baking make the yogurt sauce. Mix together the yogurt, grated ginger, Kosher salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Cover and set aside until the chicken is done. Just before serving, garnish with fresh herbs and lemon zest.
  11. Serve curry chicken and vegetables with the yogurt sauce on the side.

Notes

*Do not substitute the fresh ginger with powdered ginger. The curry spice blend might already have powdered ginger in its mix. The minced ginger adds a fresh ginger flavor.

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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas for Late Summer and Fall

Just because the days are getting shorter doesn’t mean we need to hunker down and stay inside. This time of year, the nights are cooler but the sun is still warm and shining. Even with the cooler temperatures, one can still feel the warmth of the sun on their back and soak in all the rays. Sit back on a picnic blanket with friends and family and close your eyes to the sun and relax. A late summer/early fall picnic is a wonderful way to enjoy the season. Gathered here is a collection of easy picnic food ideas and recipes to inspire you for your next outing.

Easy picnic food ideas and recipes.

Picnic food and your spread do not need to be a Martha Stewart event. In addition to serving fresh and delicious food, great picnic food should be easy to transport, have minimal prep work, and keep its freshness over time. You can make it as fancy as you want, but eating outside is a relaxing casual affair, so the food prep should be easy and relaxed too.

In my childhood, the standard picnic food was sandwiches or hot dogs cooked over an open fire. There is a reason these items are still popular. Sandwiches are perfect picnic food. You can make them gourmet, or PB and J, and they do not require plates or utensils to eat them. Wrap them up in parchment or wax paper, then later the paper performs double duty as the “plate”. You can eat half, then cover them up in the wrapping it came in. Then run off for a game of Frisbee.

I included a recipe for grilled chicken sandwiches made on focaccia, with smoked mozzarella, avocado, arugula and basil mayonnaise. Use your favorite bread, but make sure it will last for a couple of hours without getting soaked or smashed.  Smushed sandwiches are never fun to eat so pack your sandwiches carefully.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas and recipes

Grilled chicken sandwiches with smoked mozzarella, avocado, arugula and basil mayonnaise.

What is it about the fresh air that causes people to want to snack on salty food? I don’t know, all I know is I am right there with everyone else chomping down on chips when I play outside, go to the beach or hike. Nibbles or snacks are always great picnic food, but you don’t have to go crazy and buy out the store. I recommend, one item for an appetizer, and one salty crunchy snack, like chips. It is easy to go overboard with the snacks, but they are not the only food items at the picnic. No one will return home hungry.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas and recipes

Muhammara and Artichoke Tapenade

A terrific picnic appetizer is tapenade. Pictured in my picnic photographs is artichoke tapenade, a recipe I made from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. The recipe I used from this book is a little different from the recipe on his website, but it is still delicious and easy to make.

Another great spread or dip is muhammara, roasted red pepper dip. Muhammara is one of my favorite vegetable spreads. Both spreads are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Serve either with crusty bread, pita chips, or cut vegetables.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas with recipes

Fruit salad with watermelon, nectarines, herbs, and a spicy lemon honey dressing.

I believe every picnic should include some fruit. Ripe fruit is great picnic food because most fruit is naturally designed for individual servings. Fruit provides a bright and fresh taste to counterpoint the rich sandwiches and salty snacks. It is very refreshing. I am craving watermelon now so I included it for this blog post, but any fruit will suffice. You can either slice the watermelon, cut it up into chunks for easy picking, or make a fruit salad.

For this article, I decided to make a fruit salad made with watermelon, nectarines, mint, basil, with a honey lemon and chili pepper vinaigrette. I love herbs with fruit and adding the bit of hot pepper brings out the sweetness in the fruit. Included in the post is the recipe for this fruit salad. Making a fruit salad requires having serving utensils and plates, or you can bring additional beverage cups to use. Then all you need are utensils.

Dessert should be simple and there are many options. One option is a light unfrosted loaf or single layer cake like gluten-free Nifty cake. This cake is made with oat flour and has a slightly nutty flavor. It is a light sponge cake that everyone will enjoy. For ease of transporting it, make it a single layer cake, (and without the whipped cream frosting as pictured in the recipe), and serve with the watermelon fruit salad.

Kitchen Sink Oatmeal Cookies reicpe

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Easy picnic food ideas and recipes.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Another dessert option is cookies. Children young and old love cookies and they travel well. Kitchen sink oatmeal cookies are perfect for picnics. They are loaded with rolled oats, raisins, butterscotch chips, and chocolate chips. They can stand up to the heat of the day without melting and falling apart. Also pictured is, Ginger Molasses Cookies from Flour by Joanne Chang. Joanne is the owner of Flour Bakery in Boston. I love molasses cookies and wanted to test her recipe. In the link from the Boston Globe, her recipe is the second cookie recipe on the first page.

If you plan on bringing beer or wine, also include a non-alcoholic beverage like lemon-cucumber water or strawberry lemonade. Picnics are a time to drink responsibly, so keep your beer and wine on the low alcohol level.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas for Summer and Fall and recipes

Helpful Tips for Prep and Picnic Food :

If you are picnicking with friends, divide and conquer the food preparation. I have found people really like to participate and help.

Tapenade or Muhammara can be prepared the night before your picnic. You can also prepare the chicken and dessert the night before. This leaves making the sandwiches,  fruit salad,  and packing for the morning of. 

Along with your choice of beverage, bring water for drinking and cleaning scrapes or sticky hands. Also paper towels come in handy if something spills. They are light weight  and easy to stuff into a pocket.

Pack everything in a couple of insulated tote bags with ice packs. Keep your load light in case you need to hike to your picnic spot. Also bring a blanket to sit on. 

Don’t forget the trash bag. A lot of places are carry-in / carry-out parks, and often it is hard to find a trash can when you need one.

Bring a First-Aid Kit, especially if you are traveling with children. At a minimum bring Band-Aids and an antiseptic lotion. They are easy to carry in your wallet or zip-lock bag to store in your picnic basket.

Bee stings are common at picnics. The general advice is to get the stinger out quickly and apply ice, (or cool pack). Read the link for more bee sting information.

If you are serving alcoholic beverages, please drink responsibly.

Easy picnic food ideas and recipes.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas for Summer and Fall- Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and Watermelon and Nectarine Fruit Salad

Category: Lunch Picnic

Cuisine: American

4 servings

Grilled chicken sandwiches with smoked mozzarella, avocado and basil mayonnaise Is perfect picnic food for an afternoon outing. Also included is a recipe for a fruit salad made with watermelon, nectarines, fresh herbs with spicy honey lemon dressing. In the notes is my recipe for the basil mayonnaise and a pesto. Feel free to use your favorite basil pesto recipe or follow mine, just omit the grated cheese and pinenuts. It may look like a long list, but there are several food items here for you to make and enjoy.

Depending on how large your bread slices are will determine the amount of chicken, mozzarella and avocado you need to cover your bread slice. I made my sandwiches with focaccia about 4 x 4 inches in size.

The prep time varies for each food item. The grilled chicken takes about 20 minutes to cook not counting the overnight marinating and cooling. The sandwiches take about 10 minutes once everything is cooked and prepped. The fruit salad takes about 15 - 20 minutes to make.

For the tapenade and muhammara recipes, and dessert recipes - click on recipe links in blog post.

Enjoy your picnic.

Ingredients

    Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
    Grilled Chicken - Prepare the day before
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1.5 lbs / 750 g)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of sweet paprika
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Lemon zest from half a lemon
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
    Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
  • 8 slices of good quality bread
  • About 1/2 cup (125 ml) basil mayo
  • Grilled chicken sliced thin across the grain
  • About 4 oz (125 g) of Smoked Mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1-2 avocados cut into thin slices
  • Arugula
    Basil Mayonnaise
  • 1-part mayonnaise
  • 1-part basil sauce*
    Watermelon, Nectarine and Basil Salad with Spicy Lemon Honey Dressing
  • 1/4 (3 lbs / 1 k 406 g) Seedless watermelon, cut into big bite size chunks
  • 3 ripe nectarines, each sliced into 12 wedges
  • Small handful of Fresh Mint leaves
  • Small handful of Fresh Basil leaves
  • About 2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp ground chili pepper

Instructions

    Grilled Chicken
  1. The day/night before pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, then season both sides of the breasts with the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried oregano, and lemon zest. Place the seasoned chicken on a plate or container and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. There should be a light and even coating of seasoning over the chicken breast, but not too heavy. Use your judgement about how much seasoning you want.
  2. Bring the chicken out of the refrigerator and add the juice of half a lemon. Mix to coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest on the counter 30 minutes before you want to grill it, to come to room temperature.
  3. Prepare your grill and proceed as you like, or use a grill pan on the stove top. Turn the heat up to medium-high.
  4. When the grill or grill pan is hot, add the chicken breasts skin side down on a diagonal in the pan or on the grill. Cook for three minutes, then adjust the chicken breasts to the opposite diagonal position and grill for another 3 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts over and grill on the other side following the same procedure as before. After 12 minutes of cooking, If the chicken is not done move the breasts to an indirect heat source on your grill and cook until done. If using a grill pan, turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until done, about 5 minutes more depending on how big the chicken breasts are. The chicken breasts are done when the juices run clear after being pierced with a fork. Internal temperature is 170°F ( 77°C). Remove from the pan or grill and rest the chicken for 10 -15 minutes. Cool before making sandwiches.
    Assemble the Sandwiches
  1. Smear a good coating of the basil mayonnaise (see recipe in notes) on both pieces of bread. Evenly cover one piece of bread with chicken slices, then add one slice of smoked mozzarella, or enough to cover the chicken if your bread slices are large. Layer the sliced avocado over the mozzarella. Add a small handful of arugula to the top and cover with the top piece of bread. If your sandwiches are large, cut in half and wrap in parchment paper or wax paper. Refrigerate until ready to eat or go on your picnic. Pack the sandwiches in an insulated bag with a cold pack or ice to keep cool and fresh for your picnic.
    Watermelon Nectarine and Basil Fruit Salad
  1. Mix the fresh lemon juice, honey, and ground chili powder in a small bowl. Keep stirring until the honey is completely dissolved. Taste and add a small pinch of Kosher salt. Set aside.
  2. Add the prepared watermelon and nectarines to a mixing bowl and gently stir to combine. Tear or snip the leaves of the basil and mint over the fruit and mix together. Add the honey lemon dressing and stir. Taste and add more herbs if needed. Place in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in an insulated bag with cold pack, or refrigerator. The fruit salad is the last thing to make for your picnic, because fruit releases a lot of juice after it is sliced and with a dressing.

Notes

To make the basil mayonnaise, I use a 1 - 1 ratio of mayonnaise to basil sauce. The basil sauce is essentially basil pesto without the cheese and pine nuts. Use your favorite pesto recipe without the grated cheese and pinenuts and mix together 3-4 TB of mayonnaise and 3-4 TB basil sauce until combined.

My general basil pesto recipe is 2 cups (500 ml) of basil leaves, 1 cup (250 ml) arugula or spinach, 1 garlic clove - minced, 1 TB lemon juice, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/3 (75 ml) to 1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil. In a food processor, process the basil, arugula, garlic, lemon juice, and salt until the basil and arugula are finely minced and combined. Use a thin rubber spatula to scrape everything off the sides of the bowl. With the motor running slowly add in the extra virgin olive oil. You might not use the whole amount. I do not want it too oily or runny so I stop adding the olive oil when I reach a smooth and slightly thick consistency. I do this because I store the pesto in a container with a layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto.

If you want traditional pesto, add 1/2 cup grated roman cheese and 1/4 cup pinenuts before you add the olive oil, and process until smooth. Then add the olive oil. Pesto is best used the same day it is made, but will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Use can freeze pesto without the nuts and cheese, for up to 3 months. Pour a layer of olive oil over the pesto before freezing.

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Where is your favorite place to picnic? Please share in the comment section below.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

Beef, Main Entrees, Salad, Steak | August 11, 2017 | By

This time of year, I focus my meals around tomatoes and fresh corn. I know soon enough local ripe tomatoes and corn will no longer be available. Every day I enjoy the freshness of a perfect juicy tomato and the sweet crunch of fresh corn. They taste so good and refreshing at peak season. I never get tired of them. This obsession challenges me to create different recipes that include corn and/or tomatoes. One variation I created is a steak salad loaded with summer vegetables. This is a light and refreshing salad with just the right amount of spicy citrus dressing to complement he vegetables and steak.

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dessing Recipe

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing Recipe

My focus for the recipe was to use local vegetables and fruit from NY Hudson Valley farms. It turns out, everything but the nectarines were grown in Yorktown by Meadows Farm. This local only focus (with the exception of the citrus salad dressing), is a big change for me because I add avocado to everything, especially salad. Avocado would taste great in this salad too. The salad’s produce ingredients include, yellow and green beans, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, fresh corn, arugula, nectarines and herbs. This whole group of fruit and vegetables pair perfectly with grilled steak. Unfortunately, it did not occur to me until I finished the salad, I could buy my steak locally at Hemlock Hill Farms in Cortland Manor.

This salad does not take long to prepare, but as is typical cooking with fresh produce does require more prep-work. I believe the results are worth it. Each step is done to bring out the bright flavors of fruit and vegetables. What is important to focus on is the timing of adding certain ingredients, and when to cook your steak. To achieve the freshest appearance and taste, slice then add the nectarines and steak just before you are ready to serve. Also tear or snip the herbs at that time as well. The rest of the ingredients are hardier and won’t turn brown when exposed to the air and acid.

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with spicy Citrus Dressing Recipe

I am using a new technique I just learned for dressing a vegetable salad. Instead of whisking all the salad dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl, I mix some, but add the rest directly to the vegetables. The citrus juice, zest, Sriracha, and honey get mixed together so the honey dissolves and is easy to mix. Normally, I would add the vinegar with the citrus, and then the olive oil to the citrus mix. However, I will add these ingredients separately to the prepared vegetables and adjust the amounts as needed.

First, add the vinegar to the vegetables with a pinch of Kosher salt. This step brings out the bright flavors and makes them shine. I was pleasantly surprised when I first tried this technique. I did not taste a strong vinegar flavor. Instead, the vinegar accentuated the natural flavors of the vegetables. How many times have you tasted homemade salad dressing and got hit in the face with an acid punch? It is not the case when you first add vinegar to vegetables. This is also a good lesson showing how adding additional seasonings and dressings change the flavors of the vegetables and fruit.

Try these dinner salads, Grilled Chicken and Cucumber Salad with Avocado Yogurt Dressing, Grilled Chicken Salad with Orange Saffron Dressing

Delicious summer desserts, Lemon Mousse, Peaches and Berries with Bourbon Sabayon, Almond Peach Galette, Nectarine and Blueberry Galette, Nifty Cake, Gluten-free Nifty Cake

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing Recipe

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing Recipe

Joshua McFadden, chef/owner of Ava Gene’s in Portland Oregon, is considered a vegetable whisperer. He describes his salad making techniques in his cookbook, Six Seasons. I got the idea of adding the vinegar first to a salad after reading his book. Using this idea does make fixing a salad more hands on (literally), and the ingredient amounts somewhat vague. If you are just learning to cook, my advice is to start with less amounts of seasoning and dressings. You can always add more, but it is harder to fix over-seasoned and over-dressed food. Get your (clean) hands in there and add, toss and taste. Repeat until you believe it is perfect.

Do you have a local market where you buy your produce?  Farmers markets are great, but around here they open one day a week on Saturday or Sunday. Having a local farm stand open six days a week in my hometown is a treat. I shop at big grocery stores as well, which are very convenient. However, I am grateful to live in an area where local farm produce is available to me.

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing Recipe

What meal do you make using local and fresh ingredients?

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

Prep Time: 39 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Dinner Salad

Cuisine: American

4 servings

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

An easy summer dinner salad made with grilled steak and seasonal vegetables. You can use any vegetables you wish. I like to pair green beans with steak, so I included them with other local produce that is available in the summer. An avocado is an optional ingredient. If you are using it add it just before serving and sprinkle the pieces with lime juice. You can also replace the vegetables in this salad with my recipe for Anything Goes Potato Salad .

The amount of time to cook the steak depends on the type of steak you have and how thick your piece is. Steak does not need long to cook over a very hot grill or skillet. Start with two minutes a side for a steak that is one inch thick for rare meat. Thicker steaks are easier to cook properly and get a good sear on them.

Ingredients

    Citrus Dressing
  • 1 TB fresh orange juice and zest from half an orange
  • Juice from one lime, and zest
  • 1 TB honey
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tbs Sriracha
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper
    Summer Vegetable Steak Salad
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2-3 scallions
  • 1 lb (450 g) green beans, if a mix of colors are available use them.
  • 1 ear of fresh corn
  • 1/2 lb (225 g) grape tomatoes
  • 3 oz (40 g) arugula
  • 1 1/2 lbs (750 g) steak, like shell steak, strip steak, or flank steak, your choice
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt (about 1/2 tbs)
  • 1/2 tbs crushed fennel seed
  • 1/2 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 - 2 nectarines or peaches, sliced into wedges (If using peaches peel them first)
  • About 5-6 basil leaves
  • About 6 mint leaves
  • About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • More Kosher salt and ground pepper

Instructions

    Prepare the steak
  1. One hour before you cook the steak, remove the steak from the refrigerator and its packaging. Put the steak on a plate and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle Kosher salt, ground coriander and crushed fennel seed over both sides of the steak. Loosely cover the steak with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes up to 1 hour.
    Spicy Citrus Dressing
  1. Add the orange juice, lime juice, zests, honey, sriracha, a small pinch of Kosher salt, a couple of grinds of ground pepper, and smashed garlic clove to a small bowl. Mix until the honey is dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic and keep on the counter for later.
    Prepare the vegetables
  1. Trim off the ends of the scallions and thinly slice each scallion on a sharp diagonal. Add the scallion slices to a small bowl filled with cold water and ice. Let the scallions macerate in the ice water for 15 minutes.
  2. Husk the corn and cut off the stem piece. Place the bottom of the corn in a mixing bowl and hold onto the tip. With a sharp knife slice off the kernels from the cob. Once the kernels are sliced off, run the back edge of your knife down the cob to press any corn milk out, catch the drippings in your bowl.
  3. Make an ice water bath for the green beans. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside near the stove.
  4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil on the stove. Trim the green beans. When the water boils add a large pinch of salt then the green beans and blanch them for one minute. Remove the green beans from the boiling water and quickly add them to the ice water bath to stop the cooking. When cooled, take the green beans out of the ice bath and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Add the beans to the bowl with the corn.
  5. Cut the grape tomatoes in half and add to bowl.
  6. Add half the arugula. If the leaves are large, tear them in half.
  7. Drain the scallions and dry them, then add to the bowl with the vegetables.
  8. Add the sherry vinegar, a small pinch of Kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper to the vegetables and toss to mix with your clean hands. Taste. You will taste the vinegar, but it will not be harsh. Set aside.
  9. Sear the seasoned steak on a hot grill, grill pan, or skillet. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan or grill. Add the steak and sear for about 2- 3 minutes per side depending on the cut of your steak. My steak was very thin, about an inch, so very little time was needed to cook it. Flank steak will take longer. Aim for rare to medium-rare steak, or how you prefer your steak. The internal temperature for rare steak is 125°F (52°C). Medium-rare is 130 - 135°F (54 - 57°C). Remove the steak from the heat and rest on a carving board, and grind a couple of rounds of fresh pepper over each steak. Let the steak rest for 10 - 15 minutes.
  10. When you are almost ready to eat, cut the bone off the steak (if there is one), and slice on a diagonal and across the grain into thin, 1/4 inch (.5 cm) slices. Drizzle about half of the citrus dressing over your steak slices on the cutting board then drizzle 1 TB of extra virgin olive oil over the steak.
  11. Slice the nectarines and add to the vegetables. Add the remaining arugula. Drizzle the remaining citrus dressing over the vegetables. Toss to coat and taste the vegetables for seasoning. Add more lime juice, sriracha, or other seasonings if needed. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Tear or snip the herbs over the bowl of the vegetables and toss. Taste and correct seasoning.
  12. I like to serve the steak and vegetables side by side, not all mixed up like a traditional salad. This way if you have any leftover steak, you can store it separately and make steak sandwiches the next day. On a large platter spread out your vegetables and drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs. Arrange the sliced steak to the side of the vegetables and pour any accumulated juices from the cutting board over the steak. Lightly drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the steak and a light sprinkle of sea salt flakes if you have them, and fresh ground pepper. Garnish the steak with chopped herbs. If you prefer, mix the vegetables and steak together in a bowl. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.
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