My friends Shawn and Jo were passing through, and had a lay-over at our house for three days. it was a veritable whirlwind of food, wine, and being together, but mostly, food and wine.
Shawn and I love to cook, and my man Dave and Jo love to hang out in the kitchen, passively looking on, but not missing a beat.
We work well together, because we know that we don’t work well together! In other words, we love to cook, love what each other creates, but don’t like to actually collaborate on specific dishes. I think it is called parallel playing?
My son had requested a dish of Shawn’s which involved frying chicken in an aromatic breadcrumb which had been marinated in a concoction which he learned from his potter friends Will and Douglas of Rock Creek Pottery. The marinade hit all the taste notes in your mouth; salty (tamari), sweet, (sugar), bitter, (lime), and lastly, umami, which rounds out the entire taste of all the ingredients combined.
The chicken was then rolled in a spicy cornmeal mixture, and fried on the pan; completely scrummy!
He also made a to-die-for appetizer salad with a cured meat called bresaola. Bresaola is air-dried salt beef that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard, and turns a dark red in color. It is tender, with a sweet, musty smell. It originated in Italy’s Lombardy region.
Not to be outdone, I pulled out some beautiful collard greens, and made a side-dish to compliment Shawn’s wonderful main course.
As if we didn’t have enough, Jo grabbed the pomegranates they brought with them on their road trip and got stuck into the tedious task of plucking each lovely red fruit from the pulp until she had a grand bowl of seeds for the table to nibble on.
It was a feast of feasts, and we ate too much, drank lots of wine, and watched the candles on the table dwindle.
More like that would be fine with me, any night of the week.
Bresaola with Arugula & Seasoned Mozzarella balls
You will need: 1 lb of fresh angula leaves, washed & dried, 1 heaped cup of seasoned baby mozzarella balls ( we bought them already seasoned from the fresh deli section of a fabulous supermarket), to season the mozz balls: combine with 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbs chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp dried oregano), 4 oz bresaola, pulled into bite-sized pieces, 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 to 2 tbs good quality balsamic vinegar, cracked black pepper,
Toss the seasoned mozzarella with the cured meat, and arugula. Whisk the oil and vinegar together and dress the salad just before serving.
Shawn’s Fried Chicken
For Fried chicken & Tofu; You will need: 10 thigh fillets, 2 breast fillets, each breast sliced in 4 pieces lengthways, extra-virgin olive oil for frying, 3 cups dry batter (recipe below), Rock Creek Marinade, (recipe below)
*If opting to also cook tofu, or, to cook tofu only, figure about 4 1/2″ slices per person, (a 14oz container of firm tofu yields enough for 3 people approx.)
Dry Batter; You will need: 3 cups med/fine grain corn meal, 4 tbs curry powder (mix some interesting blends together if you can), 1 1/2 tsp sea-salt ( we used Maldon Salt flakes).
Rock Creek Marinade: 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 3 tbs tamari, juice of 1/2 a lime, 2 tsp raw brown sugar, 1/2 tsp chile garlic sauce.
1 – Place the prepped chicken in a big bowl and the tofu in another. add the marinade to both dished and stir to coat everything throughly. Let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes, while you prep the rest of the meal.
2 – Put dry batter on a big plate or platter and completely coat each piece of meat and/or tofu by rolling around in the mix. You are looking for a nice thick crust.
3 – Put a big saute pan (or two pans if you have them, along with having space on your stove-top), on medium/low heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan (medium pan: 2 tbs, big pan: 3 tbs). Let the oil get nice and warm.
4 – Place chicken on pan snugly, and cook gently. Thighs take about 30 minutes, breast fillets, 15 or so minutes, tofu, 15 or so minutes. Test meat by cutting. If the meat is white and juicy it is done. Remove to a plate as you go and keep warm in the oven.
Tess’s Collard Greens
You will need: 2 big bunches of collard greens (about 12 or so very large leaves), center rib removed & greens roughly chopped, 1 sweet onion, diced, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs mirin, 2 tbs rice vinegar, 1/2 cup water, (more if needed).
1 – Combine all the liquids in a small bowl. Put deep saute pan (which has a lid) on medium heat and add the oil. saute the onions for 10 minutes before adding the soy mixture, followed by all of the chopped greens. Put a lid on pan and bring to a gently simmer. cook, covered for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until greens are nice and tender.
Jo’s Juicy Jewelled Pomegranate Bowl
You will need: 3 fresh pomegranate fruits.
Quarter each pomegranate and then break each quarter apart. Laboriously pick each seed from the pulp and collect in a bowl, while quaffing wine (well that was Jo’s technique!)
You will need: 6 slices Italian or French bread, halved, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil.
Put saute pan on medium heat and add 1 tbs of the oil. Place brad on pan and drizzle with the rest of the oil. Cook until slightly brown on both sides. Serve right from pan with the rest of the meal.