Turkish chicken with oranges and warm spices

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I do not do well with the winter, we are not friends.  Fall is wonderful, and I think scarves and layering are lovely and fun up until the end of December, and then I become completely disillusioned and want to hibernate, pretty desperately.   Sunshine helps, but in Ohio its pretty run of the mill to go weeks at a time without any real sunshine to speak of.  So, in lieu of sunshine there are a handful of things that I do to fill my days with things that make me feel like the sun is shining: drink tiny cappuccino with whole milk (no, not starbucks, think real Italian), read mystery novels, make things with felt, hang out with people I love like Jason, watch the travel channel and make food with lots of layered flavors.   A few weeks ago Mim and I had a tiny dinner party of just us and our significant others, and even though it was pitch black outside at 5 in the evening it definitely felt like sunshine in the house! Good friends, good wine, good food = a good winter night.

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After deciding to make Turkish chicken with oranges and warm spices, and zucchini with ricotta, mint, and basil we pretty much flew down to Findlay Market, they close at 6, I’m pretty sure we walked in at 5:15 with a decent sized grocery list.  I LOVE Findlay, not to mention that afternoon it was actually sunny!  We got good Amish chicken at a very reasonable price, plus the veggies and cheese for the food plus a little extra for ourselves while we were cooking ( honey goat cheese is LUMINOUS. Please, can I just get married in a honey goat cheese dress? ).  We set up my kitchen, poured ourselves each a glass of wine, and got to cooking- and I have to say that the recipes that we followed surpassed our expectations.  When I first read the recipe (out of Diana Henry’s Pure Simple Cooking) for the chicken I was expecting something resembling a basic cooked chicken, maybe sitting in some sauce garnished with oranges.  Hell no, inside the wok was a colorful STEW of oranges and huge chunks of purple onion, honey and spices into which you bury the pre-browned chicken to marinate and cook for half an hour.  I am not exaggerating when I say that my kitchen was full of color and my house smelled out of this world!  The zucchini dish is less of a salad and more of a “dish”, in the 1950s sense of the word, it is warm and fragrant and tangy and wonderful.  All of that plus cous cous and I was ready to take a huge nap directly after eating.

For dessert we did something that I think neither or us normally does, which is go light.  We opted for angel food cake with a raspberry and blueberry sauce, plus homemade whipped cream. Simple and sweet.  I had made the angel food cake (out of Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook )earlier in the day (it took 12 egg whites!)  and it turned out a little less fluffy than I had wanted due to my demonic hand mixer which mixes at a level 5 when it is supposedly mixing at a level 1.  It was still a good cap to the meal, and I think the fact that I ate two and a half pieces cancels out the idea of going “light” with dessert, hah!

ZUCCHINI WITH RICOTTA, MINT, AND BASIL

*originally from Diana Henry’s Pure Simple Cooking*

6 medium zucchini

Olive Oil

salt and pepper

12 ounces ricotta salata cheese, fresh if possible, broken into chunks

1/2 cup pecorino cheese shavings ( we used parmesan cheese shavings)

1 small bunch basil leaves

1 small bunch mint leaves

juice of 1 lemon

  1. Have all of your ingredient measured out and within easy reach as you will be layering on the go as you cook
  2. Cut the zucchini into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and cook the zucchini, in batches, until golden on each side and tender. Add more olive oil as you need it and season the zucchini with salt and pepper as you cook them, on both sides
  3. Put the zucchini in the bottom of your serving bowl and cook the next batch. When you have your layer put some ricotta, pecorino or parmesan shavings, and mint and basil on the top, plus a squeeze of lemon and a small drizzle of  olive oil. Continue like this until you’ve layered all the zucchini. Finish with some herbs and shavings of pecorino and drizzle with a bit of  olive oil. Serve while still warm, or at room temperature.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE

* originally from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School:Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook*

1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, non-self rising cake flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

12 egg whites

1 tablespoon of warm water

1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt

1 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Sift together flour and 3/4 cup of sugar.  Repeat sifting 4 times.
  3. Beat egg whites and the warm water with a mixer on low speed until foamy. Add salt, cream or tartar, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Raise speed to high, and beat until peaks are stiff and glossy (but not dry), about 2 minutes more.
  4. Transfer your mixture to a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg-white mixture in six parts, gently folding in each addition with a rubber spatula.
  5. Gently pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan. Run a knife through the batter to release any air bubbles, and smooth with a spatula. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched, 40 to 45 minutes.
  6. Invert the pan on a wire rack, and let the cake cool for about 1 hour. Carefully run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it, then un-mold the cake onto the wire rack.
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