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Roasted Whole Chicken on the Grill

This dinner all started with kumquats – even though, in the end, it had absolutely nothing to do with kumquats. Now that I think longer about it, this dinner actually started with going out to lunch and trying to avoid a parking ticket.

Maybe it’s just me…but sometimes I like to figure out exactly how I came to be where I am from where I’d just been. It’s often an odd, circuitous path to trace –  kind of like that “six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon” thing, if you know what I mean. Have you ever taken a long road trip with someone and after some lively conversation, there’s a period of prolonged but comfortable silence?  You think what you’re doing is watching the road or taking in all this amazing scenery, when actually, for some mysterious span of time, you’ve not been where you are at all, and suddenly out of your mouth comes something completely random and seemingly related to nothing. Do you ever then try to figure out (or even explain) how you came to be thinking that particular disjointed nonsensical thought? Well, this night’s dinner happened something like that.

Kumquats - having nothing to do with dinner

My husband and I have kind of a “custom” of going out to lunch on Saturdays. We’ll run a few errands and then pass the ball back and forth until one of us finally makes up our mind about where we’d like to eat, and then we sit across from one another talking about the week, news, politics…or sometimes something even more scintillating (if you can imagine!) We love our Saturdays together. Last week, we were following our usual practice and decided on a great little spot for lunch. We started to park in the lot across from the restaurant but realized it was designated for patrons of a grocery store. We parked there anyway –  but felt quite legal about it because we’d just drop into the market first, and then walk across the street for lunch. We had no real reason to be grocery shopping, other than ticket avoidance, but there we were.

The produce aisles always seduce me first, but for my husband, it’s the wine section. So we went our separate ways to meet up later. Weren’t kumquats all done for the season? I thought so, and had said my sad goodbyes – but no! There they were, and they were huge! – well, the biggest I’d ever seen.  I was downright delighted to see them and filled a small bag. My heart soon returned to its normal rhythm, but a little further down the aisle, the cutest little potatoes fanned out, in reds and yellows and purples! And they were smaller than the kumquats! Who ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t, so I got handfuls of potatoes, simply because they were smaller than kumquats. And then, there was asparagus – now that’s gorgeous! That’ll be so good with those potatoes! I’ll do them together, with lemon and salt on the grill! Ah yes, the grill. Hmmm, I’ve never tried roasting a whole chicken on the grill before. I wonder if I can do that successfully? I think I’m just going to need to find that out!  And that is how I came to be here:

(You are so incredibly patient with me! Are you like this with everyone?)

Roasted Whole Chicken on the Grill

What I love about roasting a whole chicken: It’s far less expensive than buying the individual parts. It’s so straightforward and simple and after the first little bit, largely hands-off. It can be done in so many different and delicious ways…influences of French, Moroccan, Mediterranean, Spanish. Stuffed or not. Surrounded by vegetables of all different types. Sauce or not.  You can cook two at once with almost no additional labor. There’s (almost) always leftovers to turn into another meal. Then there’s the remnants that become a great stock for soups. And my husband loves it. So what’s not to like?

Cooking something on the grill for more than an hour at 400°F+ can only be done successfully using an indirect method. (In other words no coals or gas flames directly beneath the chicken.) So if you know how to cook on your grill using an indirect method, this will be easy! (If you don’t know how, just check the instructions from your grill’s manufacturer, or on line.)

Ingredients

  • 1 whole  chicken (preferably free-range, organic, humanely raised)
  • 2 lemons, 1 cut in half, the other juiced for basting
  • fresh herbs of your choice (rosemary, oregano, marjoram, parsley, sage, etc.)
  • whole garlic cloves, 2 or 3 or more, crushed but not minced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

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Vanilla Cardamom Ice-Cream with Grilled Peaches

It seemed like such a good idea. The organic peaches had just arrived at the market and were irresistibly beautiful! Plump and fuzzy little things in colors of  the summer sun, deep coral, and bright, flushed cheeks. Gently going through dozens, I found six or seven that were perfectly ripe.
I held a notion that peach galette and vanilla-cardamom ice-cream would be a heavenly combination. With the taste already in my mind, I was anxious to get started. I set the bags of groceries on the counter and began making the dough for the galette. I prepared the beautiful peaches, assembled that rustic little pie and popped it in the oven. In the meantime, I made the ice-cream. When everything was done, it all looked quite pretty so I snapped some photos. Then I plated it and took that much-anticipated bite. Everything about it was lovely…except the taste. The ice-cream was fragrant-like-a-flower delicious! But the galette – I don’t mean to be rude – but she was boring! It really didn’t matter how pretty she was…once you got past her looks, there was nothing there.

I knew it wasn’t the fault of the peaches. (Naturally, as I was slicing them I’d slipped a few into my mouth.) I’d sweetened them some and spiced them nicely. Maybe somebody out there has a better idea, but I concluded that peaches and galettes, no matter how good they are on their own, don’t make a good pair. I haven’t had much experience cooking peaches…I love them fresh and bright and dripping juice.  My thoughts then went to, Well, how do I cook them in a way that all those lovable things about peaches are preserved? How about if I grill them?!  Of course this could be another good idea gone bad, but I had to find out.

I headed back to the store, found a few ripe peaches I’d missed before, brought them home, and fired up the grill. Just a few short minutes later, I was sitting in the sun with my bare feet up, eating heavenly mouthfuls of cold ice-cream and warm peaches!

Vanilla Cardamom Ice-Cream

The very first recipe I posted for this blog was an apple crisp. Here’s the ice-cream I’d promised to go with it. It’s almost indescribably good. Its speckled with black bits of vanilla bean and its flavor is carried on a cloud that touches your nose before the spoon meets your mouth. And if you try it, you’ll know what I mean when I say you’ll never be in a rush to swallow it. Its one of those things you’ll want to savor until the very last, melted spoonful.

  • 2 cups milk or light cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 8 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (see NOTE)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (see NOTE 2)

Preparation

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wooing summer

It’s only June, not quite the middle, and not yet officially even summer. For the time being, our approach is still to laugh at the weather. That’s an approach that can’t sustain us forever of course, but we’re being good sports so far. Despite the threatening gloom approaching in wind-born and bruised clouds, despite the rain puddling brown around our sandaled feet, despite the wind lifting our hats, we break the grill out. Though we’re bundled in our jackets, we cook “cooling” things, quintessentially summer, as if  our faith in the season could woo summer closer.  As troubles go, this is a minor adversity, barely hitting the scales! Certainly we can bear up! Summer’s always come. It will again, and maybe still this year! So we eat our shrimp and our cucumber salad, dip chips in home-made salsa, maybe drink an ice-cold beer or two, shake our soppy heads and laugh at the weather. It’s June in Portland.

(I’m back from my little road trip south and have several nummy things to post about. Not wanting to give too much away, but in the next few days you’ll see fresh takes on salmon and halibut, a fresh fruit galette and a promised ice-cream. And … well, more! )

Citrus Broiled Shrimp

Apart from the hours the shrimp spend soaking up the marinade, this dish is quick and easy to prepare. These delicately-flavored, citrusy shrimp are especially delicious (if a little finger-lickingly messy) dipped in melted butter. Though the instructions here are for broiling, they could just as easily be cooked over a hot fire on the grill instead. If set to marinate in the morning, they’d make a fast summer dinner with corn on the cob and a fresh salad. (serves 4)

for the marinade

  • grated zest and juice of 3 oranges
  • grated zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce (Asian section of your market)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyume leaves

the shrimp

  • 2 pounds extra-large shrimp (16 – 20 count)

additions

  • coarse salt (especially Fleur de Sel)
  • Melted butter for serving (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the marinade together.

Spread the cleaned, shelled and de-veined shrimp in a single layer in a baking dish. Pour over the marinade, and cover. Refrigerate for at least 4, and up to 8 hours.

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Greek Salad with Farro

This refreshing salad, with its bright, fresh herbs, crisp cucumber and sweet red bell pepper, its chewy farro, and bits of salty feta,  tastes like summer! It can be the central part of a vegetarian meal, or a side dish for roasted or grilled chicken, or grilled salmon.

Farro is one of those ancient grains making a “come-back,”  showing up on modern grocery shelves. It has a nutty flavor and a pleasingly chewy texture, similar to barley and whole wheat berries (which you could substitute in this recipe if you can’t find farro.) Like many other ancient grains, it’s nutrient-rich.

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (see NOTE)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored & seeded, cut in medium dice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill or parsley (I prefer the dill)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup crumbled or diced feta cheese
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

NOTE: I prefer the long English cucumbers – if you use these, it’s unnecessary to remove the seeds

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbl. red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Place rinsed farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 to 35 minutes. (Farro will have a similar texture to barley when cooked.) Drain it well and set aside to cool completely.

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leaving love on the table

Today I leave town on a road trip to visit my daughter and family.  I leave my husband alone to fend for himself, sweet thing. It’s not at all that he’s incapable. He took care of himself quite well for years in fact. But usually when I leave town, I make something ahead that he can reheat, and I always try to have something homemade for his breakfast (such as those muffins in the freezer that I posted about the other day.) This time though, I completely ran out of time. That means he’ll mostly go out for dinners. He does it in a guy-kind-of-way and I think he secretly enjoys it. Still, I couldn’t think of leaving home without leaving some love on the table.

Grandma Bea's Banana Bread with Chocolate

Grandma Bea’s Banana Bread with Chocolate

Makes two 5 x 9-inch (or 4-1/2 x 8-inch, taller) loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mashed banana (6 – 7) (ripe & soft, but not mushy)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, plus more for the top (nuts are optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter your loaf pans or line them with parchment paper.

With a fork, mash the bananas well in a small bowl. Add lemon juice to prevent discoloration; stir and set aside.

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