Spring Teases Us and a Refresher on How to Cook and Extend a Roasted Chicken

To say this week has been busy would be a severe understatement. In addition to my regular work, I’m learning how to do web site design. It’s really fun, but lots to learn and do. When I have this kind of a week, I tend to focus more on cooking my old standards and less on experimenting with anything new. Are you like that?

I did take a needed break on Monday and went for a walk to enjoy an amazing spring-like day. It was just a tease, though, as the temps have now returned to more normal and winter-like cold, but there were definitely signs that spring is on it’s way. Let me share a few pics to brighten your day:

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Last Friday there was a sale on whole organic chickens, and faced with that lovely prospect, you know I couldn’t resist. Yes, roasted chicken was on the menu. And much like in the Tale of the Little Chicken That Could, posted a couple of years ago, I made an Herb Roasted Chicken first. The next night, I stripped off the remaining meat and instead of making the Individual Chicken Pot Pies, I used the meat to make my Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes for the next two nights’ meals. This chicken made exceptionally good enchiladas.

Last night, I combined the stripped chicken carcass with veggies, herbs and water to make a rich Homemade Chicken Stock, which you can see in the photo at the end of this post. I’ll use it to make a lovely risotto and/or a soup later in the week, and share that in my next post. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll click on the individual dish title links in bold above, and check out ideas for cooking and using chicken, as well as enjoy the story I wound around the dishes—if you haven’t read it already.

Here’s my study partner in all of her almost 15 pound glory…Miss Thumbelina, for a giggle.

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New dishes will be on tap for the next post, I promise. Have a great week and may spring be on its way for us all!

This stock has such a rich color and taste...I can't wait to use it in my next dishes!

This stock has such a rich color and taste…I can’t wait to use it in my next dishes!

Happy Grilling and Views from My Back Door

We’re in the midst of our holiday weekend here in the U.S. and it’s time to break out the grill if you haven’t already, get out in the sunshine and cook up a storm.

Grilled pork tenderloin with chipotle orange glaze, Mexican rice with cilantro dressing and avocado and tomato salad with toasted cumin seed dressing make for one big Fiesta!

In honor of our long weekend I want to share perhaps my most favorite recipe for grilling pork tenderloin and two nice sides to go with it. I can’t take credit for the recipes, but I can send you their way and tell you that these are not to be missed for your summer, or any time, for pure grilling and eating pleasure.

The trifecta of Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle Orange Sauce, Mexican Rice with Cilantro Dressing and Avocado Salad with Tomatoes, Lime, and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette makes for one happy plate! The tenderloin and rice recipes come from Bon Appétit magazine and I’ve been making them for years. The salad is a new-to-me Bobby Flay recipe and it is my newest favorite salad…you just can’t imagine what a difference toasting whole cumin seed can make. The pork recipe is listed below for your enjoyment and you can find the other two by just clicking the links on each name above and it will take you to these recipes…they are keepers! Please do try them on for size.

Pork Tenderloin with Orange Chipotle Sauce
Bon Appétit, May, 2003
Serves 10
(I always half this recipe.)

3 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
6 cups orange juice
2 teas. salt
2 Tbs. butter
3 large shallots, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
1 Tbs. minced canned chipotle chiles

Divide pork between 2 resealable plastic bags. Pour 1 cup orange juice and 1 teas. salt into each bag; seal. Turn to coat. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; saute until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced to glaze, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups orange juice and broth; boil until reduced to 1 3/4 cups, about 45 minutes. (Can be made one day ahead. Cool, cover & chill).

Prepare BBQ (medium-high heat). Drain pork; pat dry. Grill to desired doneness, turning often, about 18 minutes for medium. Transfer to work surface; tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring sauce to a simmer; mix in cilantro, chives and chipotle chiles. Slice pork. Serve with sauce.

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And on another note, Cecilia over at The Kitchens Garden recently issued a challenge to her fellowship of readers to show the views from our respective back doors. She shows us her daily view from her back door as well as into the life of her farm, which is quite interesting to see. And the images from her back door view challenge have resulted in some truly amazing views from all over the world. While our view is not an exotic one, it is quite idyllic and we enjoy it! So with wishes for you to have a lovely day, a happy Memorial Day if you are in the U.S., and some very happy grilling in general…here is my view. Cheers!

This is the view standing in our doorway looking onto the back deck...we'd just had a storm so it's a little messy!

This is the view standing in our doorway looking onto the back deck…we’d just had a storm so it’s a little messy!

This is looking out over the deck railing into the back yard. My raised bed garden is just below this view.

This is looking out over the deck railing into the back yard. My raised bed garden is just below this view.

My favorite view, looking into the entrance to our little "forest" of paths and shade garden.

My favorite view, looking up from the last shot and into the entrance to our little “forest” of paths and shade garden. Some of our trees are 100 feet tall.

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Garden Tour Number 1, a Frittata and Some Mighty Tasty Green Beans

What an interesting Spring we have had thus far! It’s wafted from extremely cold to Summertime and back to Spring again, with periods of intense rain to take us out of our long draught conditions. By Tuesday it’s supposed to be 89 degrees here…what??? Today is another classic example of our recent pattern of rainy and stormy weekends. But after losing so much of my flowers to draught over these past few years, I will take the rain, thank you very much. It’s actually wonderful to see the rivers and lakes full once again.

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I’d promised you a garden tour and, in going through my images, I realized I actually have enough for 2-3 separate tours, so today’s will be an organized garden tour that I enjoyed taking with my mom a few weeks ago in my home town of Florence, Alabama. This one was sponsored by the local Master Gardener’s Association, and featured many types of gardens in the area including private walled gardens, country shade and forested gardens, river view gardens and city gardens. The day was overcast and cool, but it was still a wonderful tour, so put on your walking shoes and take a peek at the slideshow. This is my first attempt at the slideshow feature, and it’s not quite what I had in mind, but you can see the images…so we’ll just roll with it!

Frittata2

And what better dish to enjoy after a garden tour than a frittata? I say this because they are so quick to put together, great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and you can make one from ingredients you have on hand, both leftovers and fresh items from the garden! While I have shown you frittatas before (see here), this particular one was inspired by a recent post from Chicago John of the Bartolini Kitchens, where he shows you step by step how to make wonderful frittate. You can click the link and see his method and I know you’ll enjoy his blog as well. He’s a master of all things Italian in the cooking world and a true inspiration!

One of the things that struck me about John’s frittata-making was that he used a cast iron skillet to make them, which is a brilliant idea. Since one of my Christmas presents last year just happened to be a Lodge 10″ cast iron skillet—something I’d wanted forever—this seemed like a perfect thing to make in it. And as is so often the case for me, I had things to use up in the fridge, and that’s how this ham, potato, onion and tomato frittata came into being.

We enjoyed this with some roasted green beans. If you haven’t tried roasting green beans, your really missing something super easy and very special. Since we’ll soon be harvesting fresh green beans around here, the method below is perfect for a quick and delicious preparation.

When I say these are simple...I mean it!

When I say these are simple…I mean it!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Next post I’ll be back with more flowers, including some from my own garden and my mom’s, more food, as well as some ideas for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend and the grilling season in general. Meanwhile, I hope you all have a great week.

Ham, Potato, Onion and Tomato Frittata
Serves 6

1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia or red, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
5 small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
7 ounces ham, cubed
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
7 large eggs
12 fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter and heat the oil together in a 10-inch cast iron or non-stick oven proof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes, until they begin to soften and turn transparent. Add in the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they become tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the veggies with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add in the ham and cook another 3 minutes, allowing it to brown and warm through. Add in the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 more minutes until the tomatoes soften.

While the tomatoes are softening in the skillet, crack your eggs into a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the basil and Parmigiano Reggiano, a good pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. When the tomatoes are soft, pour the egg mixture evenly over the veggie and ham mixture in the skillet. Using your spoon, insert the end down towards the bottom of the pan in a few spots to allow the egg mixture to get through the veggies. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 minutes, until the eggs begin to set. Take off the stove and place the pan into the 350 degree oven and allow the eggs to cook through until the top of the frittata is set (no jiggling or visible liquid left) and very lightly golden browned on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow it to sit about 5 minutes, then cut into 6 pieces and serve. Frittata can be served at room temperature or refrigerated and reheated in the microwave.

Roasted Green Beans
Serves about 4

1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed well and trim both ends lightly
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the trimmed green beans on it. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans, then salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place the beans in the oven and roast for 8 minutes. Shake the pan and stir the beans, then roast another 6 minutes or until the beans are tender and have begun to just brown. Remove from the oven and serve.

Happy Mother’s Day and Some Fresh Flowers

More azaleas from my garden this spring.

More azaleas from my garden this spring.

Rather than let the weekend go by and still no post from me, I’m teasing you with a few images from what I hope will be a garden slideshow next week.

Meanwhile, wishing you and yours a very Happy Mother’s Day, be you a mother to a child, a fur kid, fish or fowl! Have a lovely day.

A magnificent double blossomed dogwood tree from a garden tour I attended with my mom.

A magnificent double blossomed dogwood tree from a garden tour I attended with my mom.

Close-up of the double blossom on the dogwood...amazing tree!

Close-up of the double blossom on the dogwood…amazing tree!

Candy striped camellia blossom.

Candy striped camellia blossom.

The tremendous snowball bush in my mother's yard.

The tremendous snowball bush in my mother’s yard.

Sweet double petaled jonquils.

Sweet double petaled jonquils.

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Communing in the Garden

The Mural at the Oakhurst Community Garden.

For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.
–  J. C. Loudoun

Amazingly, we now have 3 community gardens that I’m familiar with inside a less than 3 mile radius here in the Decatur area, as well as several farm to table school gardens and some urban organic gardens supplying local restaurants. In fact, almost every house has a garden of some sort around here! In part, this can be attributed to the likes of Farmer D, who has made it his mission to bring organic and bio-dynamic gardening—and the reaped rewards of it—to every child and adult’s table in Georgia. And being that I’m a very frustrated organic gardener myself, every now and then I like to go and visit some of those gardens that have more sun than I do and therefore can grow those things that I cannot. Continue reading