As much as I cook, I don’t usually plan entire meals, because I’m only cooking for me. I make an entree on Sunday night, and that will last me for about 3 days. Then on Wednesday, I make another entree to last the rest of the week. So even though I’m eating at home every night, I’m only cooking twice a week.
But last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I was in charge of lunch, so real menu-planning was required. I spent most of last week browsing through cookbooks, trying to come up with a balanced menu that met my mother’s requirements of “chicken” and “flavorful”.
This is what I came up with:
- Turkish flatbreads with seasoned olive oil
- Quick-Braised Chicken with Moroccan Spices, Lemon and Olives
- Haricot Vert (aka green beans)
- Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
- Drinks: Sauvignon blanc and ice tea
I did not bake the bread, but went to my favorite Turkish restaurant and begged them (very prettily) to sell me some of their magnificent bread. Fortunately, I mentioned that I had driven all the way from Humble, so the manager allowed me to buy 4 flatbreads, because that kind of devotion deserves a reward.
While I was in the neighborhood, I stopped by HEB Central Market and picked up preserved lemons and peonies. The rest of Saturday was devoted to cake baking and cleaning the house, since I don't want my parents to realize what a horrible housekeeper I am.
Mother's Day I made the chicken, which came out beautifully, and made such an wonderful, deeply flavored sauce I was happy I went to such lengths for good bread. It would have been a crime to leave that sauce on the plate.
Then we all took a break and played with the cats, discussed plot developments in Game of Thrones, gardening, and what's going on in European financial markets, giving everyone some time to digest before the cake.
Dad had two helpings, and took some home, so I think I can safely call this a success.
All the recipes come from Melissa Clark's wonderful book In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.
The ingredients list is long, but don't let that intimidate you. It's all goes in one pot and takes one hour.
1 lemon (fresh, or preserved in brine)
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks (I skinned mine)
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup green olives
3 tablespoons dried currents or apricots (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or mint
1. Thinly slice the lemon crosswise into rounds. Cut the rounds into quarters. Place in a small saucepan with water just to cover and stir in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain well and rinse the lemon under cold water.
2. Season the chicken with the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. In a large deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Place chicken in an even layer in the skillet and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
3. If the skillet looks dry, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add the chicken and turn to coat with spice mixture. Pour stock into the skillet until two thirds of the chicken is covered. Stir in the saffron and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for about 25 minutes.
5. Uncover and add lemon slices, olives and dried fruit, stirring to combine. Cover and return to a simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Raise the heat to high and boil the sauce, uncovered until it has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro or mint. Spoon sauce over the chicken to serve.
- If using a preserved lemon, skip blanching process in step one.
- Turmeric will stain anything and everything bright yellow. Wear an apron.
Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
3 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
buttermilk or plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
Honey-blood orange compote (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Grate the zest from two oranges and place in a bowl with the sugar. Using your fingers, rub the two ingredients together until the zest is evenly distributed in the sugar.
2. Supreme the two oranges you just zested. This link will tell you How to supreme an orange.
3. Halve the remaining orange and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Add buttermilk or yogurt until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Pour the mixture into the bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in the eggs.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil a little at a time. Fold in the orange segments. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right side up. Serve with whipped cream and Honey-Blood Orange Compote.
Honey-Blood Orange Compote
Supreme 3 more oranges. Drizzle in 1-2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir gently.
- I didn't have blood oranges. I think blood oranges would be better, but regular old oranges were pretty good.
- I added a little rum to the compote. About a tablespoon.