Monday, July 20, 2009

Midsummer Night's Dream

Temperature was 108 yesterday, and it felt like it while I was out on the bike, wearing me down to the need for another shower and a little lie-down. It was a good idea. I awoke refreshed enough to decide it's time for a little pseudo-California cuisine. Some of my best friends have done time in California, so a little toast to them was in order.
Food o' choice was chicken-broccoli-walnut salad, plus a fresh-herb salad with olives, pickled asparagus and pickled green beans and some five-grain artisan bread. This was accompanied by a bottle of Night Harvest Chardonay, which is basically a supermarket wine, so not expensive, but quite good. Dessert was key lime pie. And yes, I can get key limes here in the High Desert.
To make the salad, cut the florets off a a head (is that what they're called?) of fresh broccoli, blanch them in boiling water for about a minute, drain and let them cool. Thoroughly cook two skinned and boned chicken breasts in a small pan of half water, half white wine, with a little salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Drain and cut the chicken into small cubes. You will want about a cup of chopped walnuts. Beyond that, other ingredients are your choice, but I like to include a stalk of celery, half an onion and about three garlic buds, half a red bell pepper, some cilantro, basil, Italian parsley, and lavender (yes, lavender leaves or the seeds that come after the blossoms are done). I also add a tablespoon of finnes herbs, simply to round out the flavor. Combine the chicken, herbs, broccoli and walnuts, and add a dressing mixture made with four tablespoons of real mayo (not salad dressing), a teaspoon of prepared mustard and two teaspoons of brown mustard, a tablespoon of raw (unrefined) sugar, and three tablespoons of the juice from a jar of bread-and-butter pickle sticks. Blend this in a big bowl, cover and allow to chill about a half hour in the fridge.
Key lime pie for summer should use a graham cracker crust, and I make a simple egg white merengue with a dash of vanilla essence and a little (maybe a tablespoon) of powdered sugar, with just a bit of key lime juice and the grated zest off the lime itself.
That was pretty good stuff, and I think my friends would approve. Cheers.