Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A weeknight dinner

Last week I decided to try this recipe for Sweet Tea Brined Chicken.  My husband and I love sweet tea, so this recipe really attracted me.  I only wanted to make 2 breasts, so I cut the recipe in half.  I used 2 large, bone-in, chicken breasts, rosemary, lemons and a sweet onion.  The recipe is for cooking on an outdoor grill, but all we have is a small charcoal one and we didn’t want to mess with that on a weeknight.  I decided to let it brine overnight, sear it on the stovetop and then bake it in a foil pouch to retain moisture.  I like this method A LOT!  I will likely start doing this from now on for my weeknight chicken dinners rather than grilling (re: other post regarding trouble with grilled chicken).  It was easy and clean up was a breeze and I didn’t have to stand over the stove.  There are a couple of things I would do differently with this particular recipe though:
1) Just use boneless, skinless breasts.  I didn’t find the bone-in breasts made a big difference to flavor and they are a pain to eat.  Maybe if I did something with the bones, but I haven’t gotten into stock making yet, so I would prefer not to have the waste.
2) Stronger tea.  The tea flavor really came through in the taste, which I have to say actually surprised me.  But I think I want it to be even stronger.  I may even try honey instead of brown sugar.  And possibly different tea types.

I also made a Panzanella salad and a Blueberry Buttermilk Pie.  The salad is one I have made before and definitely one of my favorites.  I had some leftover artisan bread in the freezer and a few slices of that defrosted and toasted made the perfect croutons.  Also, I have recently been using this vinegar from Williams Sonoma and it is amazing!!  Seriously the best cider vinegar I have ever had.  This is one of my own recipes - after looking at many different panzanella recipes, I picked ingredients I liked and came up with my own.  I have included it below.

Italian Panzanella Salad
Serves: 4


1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

3 cups artisan bread, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 english cucumber, cubed or halved and sliced
1/2 medium red onion, diced fine
1 tbsp chives, chopped fine
4 ounces provolone cheese, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


In a bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil and oregano; season with salt and pepper.

Cube bread, toss with oil, salt, pepper and oregano.  Toast in 350 oven for 10 mins.

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and chives. Add bread.  Add vinaigrette.  Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, and up to 8 hours. Just before serving, stir in cheese and basil.

The pie was sort of a toss in at the last minute - I wanted to make a dessert and I just happened to have all of the ingredients needed for this pie.  I did not make the crust, I used the Pillsbury roll out crust that I had in the freezer.  I do plan on eventually making my own pie crust dough to freeze, but I currently have 2 boxes of the pillsbury dough and I want to use that first.  I also replaced the white sugar with honey.  We liked the pie, but it was a bit tart.  That could be because I used the honey as sweetener, but I think if I made this again I would just add a wee bit more honey rather than switching to white sugar.  But the texture both right out of the oven and after refrigeration was great.  Hot - it was creamy and gooey and the blueberries just popped.  Cold - it had the texture of flan - creamy and custardy.  It was super easy to make too and I think could be a good base for just about any fruit.

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