Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring on a Plate!

For the past month or so we have been getting several glimpses of spring-perfectly ripe fresh berries, delicious crisp green asparagus and beautiful 60 degree weather. Earlier this week, I watched an episode of Everyday Italian where Giada made a delicious looking spring dinner. I was completely inspired and quickly added the dishes to my menu this week.

We were not disappointed with this menu. The best description is spring on a plate. For the main course we had Herbed Chicken with Spring Vegetables. The chicken was a bit step intensive to make but well worth it. I had to make a few substitutions for the vegetables as Whole Foods hasn't quite caught up with my excitement for spring! The whole dish was wonderfully flavorful. The vegetables were really nice and sweet and balanced the dish well. This dish would make a beautiful presentation for company.

I also tried my hand at artichokes. They were not as hard to deal with as I imagined. Instead of making Giada's recipe for artichokes with Gorgonzola, I just steamed ours and served them with fresh butter. My husband who would never have considered eating an artichoke is now a fan. I have several artichoke recipes I can't wait to try, so definitely expect a few more in the coming weeks.

Finally, for dessert I made Strawberry Granita. It was a really nice ending to the meal. It was very light and refreshing. Definitely perfect to enjoy on a spring day!

Herbed Chicken with Spring Vegetables
Recipe as Adapted from Giada de Laurentis
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (I used all breasts)
3 bone-in, skin-on thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 cipollini onions, trimmed and peeled (I omitted)
8 ounces baby carrots, peeled and trimmed, but leaving on a bit of green tip
1 cup chicken broth
6 ounces snap peas, trimmed (I used frozen, defrosted first)
4 ounces morel mushrooms (I used baby portabella mushrooms)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine the thyme, parsley, garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the chicken pieces on a work surface. Gently loosen the skin of the chicken and push the herb mixture under the skin. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, when the oil is hot. Cook until the skin is crispy and golden, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook the same way on the other side. Turn the heat off the pan and reserve. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish, skin side up again, and finish cooking in the oven, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile return the same pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter has melted add the cipollini onions and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and golden in places, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken broth and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the snap peas
and mushrooms. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon the vegetables onto a serving platter along with the chicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve immediately.

Strawberry and Mascarpone Granita
Recipe as Adapted from Giada de Laurentis

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 cups chopped strawberries, plus 1 cup finely chopped
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch salt
Place the water, 1/2 sugar, and mint in a small pan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Let simmer over low heat to steep the mint. Then strain the mint from the simple syrup. Discard the mint.

In a food processor combine 2 cups of strawberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Run the machine to puree the strawberries. Add the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Run the machine until the mascarpone cheese is fully incorporated. Add the mint simple syrup and run the machine to combine. Place the strawberry mixture in an 8 by 8-inch glass dish and place the dish in the freezer. The mixture will take about 4 hours to freeze.

To serve, use a fork to scrape the granita. Spoon the mixture into chilled bowls. Top with the finely chopped strawberries. Serve immediately.


Linds said...

Yum, the chicken looks delicious. I will have to try your method for the husband is adverse to trying them as well. Thanks for sharing!

Katie said...

That chicken looks so delicious! i'm going to HAVE to try this recipe. Thanks!