Fresh, fast and frugal!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Mark's Summertime Woodfired Baked Chicken ...

Though the hot summer weather is upon us, you can still enjoy good oven baked chicken. In some regions of Europe, the summer kitchen is still used. It is the kitchen that is either in the basement of the main house or a small outdoor building near the main house.

The summer kitchen was and is still used during the hotter months so that the main house was/is not unnecessarily heated from the daily cooking/baking. Now, if you have central air conditioning, using the oven may generate some extra heat in the kitchen but it will not over heat the rest of the house...or just cook outdoors. We can recognize today's modern outdoor patio kitchen as yesterday's summer kitchen since it serves the same purpose.

Now, for this dish you will need to have: as many chicken breasts (bone in/skin on) per dinner guest. Garden fresh zucchini, basil pesto and vermicelli 'angel hair' pasta. Getting started: pre-heat your oven to 375f. Take a glass baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Lay the breasts in skin side up.

Sprinkle over the top your favorite spices/seasoning. As for Mark's summertime preferences: any fruit infused cooking sherry/vinegar, garlic powder, ground  coriander, sea salt, paprika and dried herbs.

Drizzle over the top of the chicken a bit more olive oil, garnish with rosemary and or lavender and bake on 350f until the chicken is fully cooked (if you have/can use an outdoor wood fired oven then follow the instructions for that type of oven). In that cooking time, prepare any side you like. Mark's choice is garden fresh fried zucchini in butter and olive oil with a tsp of basil pesto served with a delicate vermicelli pasta.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Mark's 'well' Seasoned Pork Loin....

Dinner at home please...Mark says whatever you cook, its going to be good!

Good pork loin is not too hard to find these days even given the current crisis event. Our health and well being requires that we eat good food and its still readily available. Some one said that to me once not so long ago that they don't have any good food near them; there's only an Aldi. I told them that I shop there for most of my groceries.

Here in the US, we can count on our food products being of good quality. And, good food is not expensive. Sometimes, we just don't consider that a package of chicken, pork or beef is as much or less at times than a big bag of chips ... Doritos i.e.  Another problem is that a lot of folks just don't want to cook, don't have time or don't know how.

Cooking at home is a pleasure and relaxing and you get what you 'ordered' just the way you like it. At least that's what I appreciate about home cooking and Mark does too.

Mark's pork loin is just two ordinary 'good' ole pork loins seasoned the way Mark likes it... spicy! Mark first drenches the loin in olive oil and an apricot infused vinegar which is quite thick. If you don't have such an item then use any balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey.

Next, the spices. Mark uses: 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika, a dash of cayenne pepper and sea salt along with dried herbs: rosemary, oregano, mint with a hint of lavender. Then pop into the oven and cook until tender and juicy... finish in the broiler for a slightly crispy top.

Prepare any side you like and prepare to enjoy!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

From the Cajun Cafe... Brainy Fried Chicken!

Southern fried chicken is made and sold just about anywhere; but, some places have the upper hand and that especially includes homemade. 

To begin, select as many fresh chicken thighs (skin on bone in) as you will need per dinner guest. Prepare a pure buttermilk bath in a low lipped bowl and in another low lipped bowl prepare a mix of white flour along with fresh dried herbs, garlic powder, sea salt, black or white pepper and paprika... always to your taste. Some like it hot and in that regards substitute the paprika for cayenne pepper. 

Dip each piece into the buttermilk and then into the dry flour/herb/spice mix. Shake and move each coated piece to a deep 'hot' skillet of vegetable oil with a little bacon lard melted in. Fry until slightly golden brown on both sides. Continue this process until all thighs are fried.

Preheat your oven to 350. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place each fried piece on the cookie sheet ... fill up the sheet and place in the oven (uncovered for crispy). Lastly, prepare any side you like... maybe French fries and sun ripened garden tomatoes.

What makes this dish so Cajun? Only when you take a hot piece of fried chicken to your mouth drenched in Louisiana hot sauce. 

~ Tutti a Tavola!

From the Cajun Cafe...Brainy Style!

Once in a while, the brainy gourmet likes to go Cajun crazy in a kinda crazy way...

Cajun craziness starts like this... taking a few left overs while adding something fresh and zesty. From this week's leftovers of: angel hair pasta with tomatoes, stir fry veggies and coconut chicken, I added fresh shrimp for a dish that turned out lip smacking good... topped with crushed jalapeno and lime chips not to mention some cayenne hot sauce.

It came together rather quickly. The pasta with tomatoes was microwaved while I stir fried the shrimp in red pepper infused olive oil, garlic powder and chili powder. To that, I added the left over stir fried veggies and diced up leftover coconut chicken breasts. Once, the pasta was done, all I had to do was wait for the shrimp, chicken and veggies to get a little black crispiness gathering around the edges.

The pasta was ladled onto a low lipped serving plate and topped with the Cajun 'ratatouille'. Lastly,  crushed chips were tossed on top and a good dash of Louisiana hot sauce.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Favorite Foods in the Good ole USA...

Americans love food and they have their favorites...

We got hamburgers, pizza, fried chicken, tacos, ribs, egg rolls, sushi, and we got wings. We've even got salad as in 'salad bar'. Have you got the appetite?
What is interesting as you scroll down the list is the diversity of food in America (see link below). We notice some ethnic foods, some healthy foods (Alaskan Salmon), some quirky foods (Twinkies) and some basic foods (bread) traditional American foods (cheeseburger, apple pie and chocolate chip cookies) all of which bring us to the number one ~ Thanksgiving dinner.

...the quintessential all-American meal of turkey (roasted or deep-fried bird, or tofurkey, or that weirdly popular Louisiana contribution turducken), dressing (old loaf bread or cornbread, onion and celery, sausage, fruit, chestnuts, oysters -- whatever your mom did, the sage was the thing), cranberry sauce, mashed and sweet potatoes, that funky green bean casserole with the French-fried onion rings on top, and pumpkin pie. Almost as iconic (and if you ask most kids, as delicious) is the turkey TV dinner, the 1953 brainchild of a Swanson salesman looking to use up 260 overestimated tons of frozen birds. No joke: He got the idea, he said, from tidily packaged airplane food. We do love those leftovers.