Weeknight Braised Chicken

One week from today, Mr. Tummyrumblr and I will begin our long trek across the most visually boring states in the U.S., on our way westward. Even though our apartment is already 75% packed, I am still a disaster. Every three minutes I think of something of dire importance that must be taken care of immediately, which takes me away from the very important thing I was working on three minutes prior. This leaves many things partly completed – but not dinner, people!

I needed a simple, mostly hands-off recipe that we would be happy to eat for a few meals this week, and braised chicken thighs fit the bill. While most braises take upwards of three hours to reach tender perfection, chicken can be braised perfectly in under an hour. We’re fortunate to have a great, local grocery just four blocks away that carries local, pastured meats and a variety of seasonal organic vegetables (Amish Health Foods, we’ll miss you). This morning I trekked over with my backpack and purchased 6 chicken thighs, an onion, 2 carrots, and a sweet red pepper for $13 and headed home to throw dinner together. 20 minutes of quick prep later, and my chicken was doing its thing in the Le Creuset. Couldn’t be easier!

 

Weeknight Braised Chicken

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Buckwheat and Cheddar Soufflé

Soufflés are much more forgiving than they are given credit for, and as far as I’m concerned soufflé horror stories are nothing more that the result of bad recipes and (sub)urban legend. An extremely tall soufflé is really just a stunt for presentation’s sake, and in reality if you took a bite of a soufflé at its fluffiest and most glorious moment, you would burn the bajeezus out of your mouth. Even 10 or 15 minutes after a soufflé falls (which is inevitable!), it will still taste delicious.

This is my riff on a very traditional soufflé that I’ve made gluten free using buckwheat flour. As an added bonus, buckwheat flour adds a delightfully nutty taste that regular flour lacks. I used a vintage, raw milk cheddar for this recipe, but any variety of sharp cheese would make for a delicious result. Whatever cheese you choose, be sure not to skip the nutmeg – it adds a classic flavor to the soufflé that shouldn’t be missed.

I think this recipe is appropriate for any time of the day, but it would make for a perfect dinner alongside my Kale Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Orange.

Buckwheat and Cheddar Soufflé

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Kale Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Orange

Do you ever have one of those weeks when you try and recall the vegetables you’ve eaten and all you can come up with is salsa?  Well, Mr. Tummyrumblr and I are having one of those months. We are getting ready to make a big and long-anticipated move, and things have been pretty nutty around here lately.

Whenever I feel stretched too thin, my fresh fruit and veggie consumption drops (and in turn, my crapola consumption rises dramatically). It’s such a bummer that this happens because by keeping my healthy diet intact, I’d stand a much better chance hurdling life’s day-to-day stressors with ease. But there’s no need to wallow in it. I know exactly how to get fired up about vegetables again – by watching my favorite TED talk given by Terry Wahls.

If you’ve never heard of Terry Wahls, she is a doctor who reversed her Multiple Sclerosis by changing her diet. Here is her 18 minute TED talk which outlines the specifics. It is definitely worth watching and passing along. While I suspect there are many factors at work in Terry’s recovery, there is no doubt that her drastically increased nutrient intake played a huge role in her success. It’s worth noting that Terry didn’t just increase her vegetable and fruit intake, she also ate pastured meats (organ meats in particular), seaweed, and bone broth, all of which are rich in nutrients that the Standard American Diet lacks.

So, if you, too, have dropped the ball this week (or month), today is the day to get back on track. This kale salad is my new autumn favorite; the rich and tangy hazelnut orange dressing pairs perfectly with the kale and onion, and to top it off – bits of crunchy roasted hazelnuts and naturally sweet Medjool dates.

Kale Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Orange

Kale Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Orange:
*serves 2 generously*

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1/2 a juice orange)
1 Medjool date
generous pinch of coarse salt
5 Tbsp. toasted hazelnut oil

Combine everything but the oil in a blender and puree until the date is well broken down. Slowly drizzle in the oil in a steady stream until the dressing is emulsified.  Set aside.

For the salad:
1/3 C. whole hazelnuts
6 Medjool dates, pitted
2 bunches kale, stems removed and leaves shredded OR 6 packed cups of baby kale
1/2 a red onion, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the hazelnuts in a baking dish and roast for 7 – 8 minutes, or until the skins are darkened and beginning to split. While still hot, transfer the hazelnuts to a kitchen towel and wrap them up to steam for 15 minutes.  Once they are cool enough to handle, squeeze and twist them around firmly while still wrapped inside of the towel for a few minutes to remove their skins.

Hazelnuts - Kale Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Orange

Hazelnuts - Kale Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Orange

Place the hazelnuts and the pitted dates into a food processor and pulse about a dozen times until they are finely chopped and mixed together. Set aside as your salad topping.

Prepare your kale by washing, drying, and chopping as necessary, and place it into a large bowl.  Thinly slice your onion and add to the bowl as well.

Toss the kale and onion mixture together gently with all of the orange-hazelnut dressing.  Transfer to a platter of bowl and sprinkle with the date and hazelnut mixture.

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Kabocha Squash Soup with Ginger & Lemongrass

This is the perfect soup recipe for early fall. The winter squashes are just coming off of the vines, so they have a lovely, herbacious flavor that is unique to slightly underripe squash. Squash is typically stored for a few months after harvest to develop the sweetest, most intense flavor, but I adore the unique flavor of freshly harvested Kabocha. By pairing it with just a little ginger and lemongrass, its light and bright flavor can shine through. It’s also worth noting that kabocha flesh has a very bold color, so it makes the most beautiful soup.

Of course you can make this soup any time of year with any variety of winter squash.  It’s really incredible (and wonderful) how differently squashes can taste. If you’re working with an older squash, consider caramelizing the onion rather than sweating it as I do in this recipe. It will help develop a richer, sweeter flavor that will pair well with a more mature squash. You might also double the lemongrass and ginger in this case, allowing their flavors more of a chance to compete in the end.

Kabocha Squash Soup with Ginger & Lemongrass

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Indian-Spiced Braised Lamb

Saturday was officially the first day of autumn. There was a definitive nip in the air in Chicago, but I kept the windows open all day, allowing the scent of cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander bubble up from this incredible lamb dish and out into the neighborhood.

I’ve touted the greatness of lamb on the blog before, but I suspect some of you are still on the fence – I’ve only recently added lamb as a regular dinner myself. If concerns about lamb’s strong flavor are preventing you from taking the plunge, this dish is a great place to start. The friendly, flavorful mix of spices will stand up to the bold flavor of the lamb.

Lamb does have a stronger flavor than the meats most typically consumed in the U.S. because lambs eat a natural diet of grasses. Most of you have probably had grass-fed beef at this point, and you may have noticed it has a more distinct flavor than the beef used to make your burger at the local dive bar. While it takes some getting used to, I think anyone can grow to love the flavor of meats from animals that eat a natural diet (and of course there are other benefits that follow).

I served this dish with steamed & buttered Basmati rice and sauteed spinach.  Be sure to save the neck bones after cooking to make a simple and delicious broth.

Indian-Spiced Braised Lamb

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Calamari Salad with Celery, Fennel & Capers

I have been promising myself I will cook with squid more often for about a year now, and I’ve finally gotten around to it. For some reason it’s so easy to overlook these little guys at the seafood counter, but they really are a lot more exciting than they seem at first glance. They are also incredibly easy to cook, the main potential issue being overcooking, as with so many things seafood.

For this dish the calamari simply require slicing and a few minutes of steaming before being tossed with the crispy vegetables and lemony dressing. Squid also marinate and grill up very nicely, also in just minutes, and of course they can be breaded and pan-fried in their ubiquitous restaurant fashion. My next squid recipe for the blog is going to be a stuffed-and-braised number, which I am really looking forward to.

This salad makes a great light meal for two or the perfect side dish to a more rich dinner of roasted meat, a boldly sauced pasta, or the like.


Calamari Salad with Celery, Fennel & Capers

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