In December, I started to think about the Cider Club shipments for the year. Harmony Reserve and Precipice Perry seemed like the perfect pair for March – I love these two ciders! Then my mind turned to creating a handful of recipes that would pair wonderfully with the two. On Valentine’s Day, I made one of the menus below, which was proved to be delicious alongside the Harmony Reserve. Then I thought – “Well what if someone wants something other than chicken! What can I come up with for a fish….” So the planning kept on going. I wanted to give you two choices for your dinner with our Harmony Reserve and Precipice Perry. And before I knew it, it was the first of March and I had to get this dinner together and needed help!
Is there a better friend than one that you send an email to and say: “Help! In need of a tasting palate!” And she responds with, “I am your girl!” Susan Grover agreed to be the sous-chef (but so much more), and she arrived on a Friday evening and off we went.
Susan and I tasted herbs, sipped cider, adjusted ingredients, sipped cider, marinated, sautéed and then we ate and sipped more cider.
We loved both of these menus and we hoped that they would be interchangeable. You could have the Spinach Salad with the Chicken or the Scallops. But after several bites we concurred: Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds pairs with the Roasted Chicken with Clementine’s & Arak, and the Kale Market Salad pairs with the Scallops with Mashed Potatoes with Tarragon Sauce.
The most talked about cookbook right now is Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I love this book. And the best part is that the recipes turn out looking just like the images in the cookbook! – Sharon Campbell
BABY SPINACH SALAD WITH DATES & ALMONDS
(recipe from Jerusalem)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ medium red onion
3 ½ oz pitted dates
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pitas, about 3 ½ oz torn into 1 ½” pieces
½ cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp sumac
½ tsp chile flakes
5oz baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Put the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook 4 – 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chile flakes and ¼ tsp salt. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
ROASTED CHICKEN WITH CLEMENTINES & ARAK
(recipe from Jerusalem)
6 ½ tbsp Arak, Ouzo or Pernod (Anise flavored liquor)
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp grain mustard
3 tbsp light brown sugar
2 medium fennel bulbs – 1
1 large organic or free-range chicken about 2 ¾ pounds, divided into 8 pieces
4 clementines, unpeeled, cut horizontally into ¼ inch slices (or other tangerines)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 ½ tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Put the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add 2 ½ tsp salt and 1 ½ tsp pepper. Whisk well and set aside.
Trim the fennel and cut each bulb in half lengthwise. Cut each half into four wedges. Add the fennel to the liquids, along with the chicken pieces, Clementine slices, thyme and fennel seeds. Stir well with your hands, then leave the marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. (I placed all of this into a large zip lock bag over night. It is also fine to skip the marinating step if you are short of time – I have made it both ways and it is fine….but marinating the chicken made it moister.)
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a roasting pan large enough to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer (roughly a 12 x 14 ½ pan); the chicken skin should be facing up. Once the oven is hot enough, put the pan in the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is colored and cooked through. Remove from the oven.
Lift the chicken, fennel and Clementine’s from the pan and arrange on a serving plate; cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and then simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-third, so you are left with about 1/3 cup. Pour the hot sauce over the chicken and garnish with some parsley and serve.
KALE MARKET SALAD
SERVES 2 – 4 (THANKS TO 101COOKBOOKS.COM FOR ALWAYS HAVING THE PERFECT RECIPES!)
Green Garlic Dressing:
2 stalks green garlic (or scallions), rinsed and chopped (1/4 cup) – (too early for green garlic so I used scallions)
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons ripe avocado
1 teaspoon honey, or to taste
fresh pepper to taste
1/2 bunch kale, de-stemmed, torn into pieces or slivered – (Lacinato kale is my variety of choice here)
4-5 farmers’ market carrots, very thinly sliced
1 small bulb of fennel, transparently sliced
1 avocado, cut into small cubes
a big handful of almond slices, toasted
Make the dressing by using a hand blender or food processor to puree the green garlic, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, avocado, honey, and pepper until smooth. Taste, and adjust with more salt, or honey, or lemon juice.
Before you’re ready to serve, combine the kale with about half of the dressing in a large bowl use your hands to work the dressing into the kale, softening up the kale a bit in the process. Add the carrots, and fennel, more dressing, and a couple pinches of salt, and toss again. Taste, and add the last of the dressing if needed. This is a salad I like quite heavily dressed. Add the avocados and almonds and give one last gentle toss.
SCALLOPS WITH MASHED POTATOES W/ TARRAGON SAUCE
SERVES 2 – 4
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (or more) whole milk
12 sea scallops, side muscles trimmed
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 ½ tablespoons plus ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon
Place potatoes in large pot. Cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil over high heat. Boil until potatoes are tender when pierced with skewer, about 8 minutes. Drain. Return to pot. Using potato masher, mash potatoes. Mash in ¼ cup butter. Stir in 2/3 cup milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Before serving, stir over medium heat until heated through, adding more milk by tablespoonfuls if dry.)
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops; sauté until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate; tent with foil. Reserve juices in skillet.
Place wine and shallots in small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream; simmer 1 minute. Gradually whisk in remaining ¼ cup butter. Stir in reserved pan juices. Stir in 1 ½ tablespoons tarragon. Season tarragon sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir remaining ¼ cup tarragon into warm mashed potatoes. Divide potatoes among 4 shallow bowls. Place scallops atop mashed potatoes. Drizzle with tarragon sauce and serve.
AND THE FEAST!
BON APPETIT – ENJOY!