This past weekend my daughter Claire hosted a baby shower for her sister, Whitney, along with Whitney's close friend, Allison. Yes... I'm going to be an Oma. The event took place in my home, and my contribution for this gathering was lunch. The plan (for months) had been a luncheon outdoors on the patio and in the garden, of course! But the weather turned against us with 90+ degree heat and unbearable dew points that forced everyone attending inside; not ideal in our minds, but we made it work...
Appetizers were placed in the living room.
Tomato tarts (recipe HERE) and main course salad were served in the kitchen.
I have been making my version of this chicken, corn and avocado salad (recipe below) since eating it at a local restaurant this spring.
Dessert was 3 Rhubarb and Almond Cakes and Chocolate Bouchons (recipe HERE) Yes... I always prepare more than we need.
Drinks consisted of Mimosas made with Prosecco, Rosé, and non-alcoholic Watermelon-Ginger Spritzers (recipe HERE), which were just the thing on a hot, sultry day.
The baby girl is due in September... a sister for Midge the French Bulldog.
CHICKEN, CORN, and AVOCADO SALAD
The ingredients of the salad below are approximate
• 1 Rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat from the bones cut into bite-size pieces
• 16-ounce can organic corn, drained
• a handful of Medjool dates, pitted and diced
• 1-2 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 5-ounce bag of Italian greens (or combine romaine, butter lettuce, and radicchio)
• 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
• goat cheese, as much as you like for tossing on top of salad
• apple cider vinegar
• extra-virgin olive oil
• salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large bowl, gently combine the chicken, corn, dates, avocado and greens.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Poor dressing over salad and gently toss. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.
3. Sprinkle almonds and goat cheese over the top of the salad and serve.
RHUBARB and ALMOND CAKE
adapted recipe from The Floating Kitchen
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup almond meal
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 pound rhubarb
• 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
• 1/3 cup sliced almonds
• Confectioners' sugar for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. Generously coat the parchment paper and the sides of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat 1 cup of the sugar and the butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the yogurt, orange zest and extracts and beat until just incorporated.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt. Add dry ingredients to the cake batter, adding in one-third at a time, mixing on low speed until none of the white streaks remain. Set aside.
4. Trim rhubarb of leaves and if the stalks are wide, slice them in half lengthwise. Cut the rhubarb stalks into pieces 1 1/2-inches in length.
5. Spread about half of the cake batter evenly over the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Layer about half of the rhubarb over the batter in a single layer, leaving a half-inch space uncovered around the edges of the pan. Spread the remaining cake batter over the rhubarb and arrange rhubarb pieces on top. You may not need all of the rhubarb. Sprinkle the sliced almonds and turbinado sugar over the cake.
6. Place the cake on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan. Cut into slices and dust with the Confectioners' sugar.
• The cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
TAKE a LOOK:
I've been on a farro kick lately. In addition to this farro salad with chicken, green beans and radishes, that I've made twice in the past week, I've also made a farro, orange and avocado salad two times. Just feels like the perfect thing to eat right now...
• recipe by Russ Parsons | featured in the L.A. Times
• 1 cup farro
• 3 cups water
• 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 3/4 pound rotisserie chicken, cut into bite-sized piece
• 3 cups lightly packed arugula, torn into bit-sized pieces
• 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
• 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1. Toast the farro in a dry saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand covered 10 minutes to allow the grain to remove any excess moisture.
2. While the farro is cooking, add the green beans to a medium saucepan of rapidly boiling, liberally salted water and cook just until the color brightens, about 3 minutes. They should still be crisp. Drain and plunge immediately into ice water to stop the cooking. Pat dry, cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
3. When the farro is done and while it is still warm, Add the olive oil and vinegar and stir to mix well. Add the chicken and black pepper to taste.
4. When ready to serve, fold in the green beans, arugula, radishes and almonds. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
TAKE a LOOK:
This salad is becoming a summertime staple at my house. Perfect for the hot days we are experiencing this weekend. So glad it's cherry season!
+ Brown Rice Salad with Cherries and Chicken +
• recipe from Whole Foods Market
• 3/4 cup basmati rice, rinsed
• 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 shallot, finely chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound cherries, pitted and quartered
• 1 pound prepared grilled or roasted chicken breasts, diced (about 3 1/2 cups)
• 2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
• 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped
• 1/2 cup finely sliced basil leaves
1. Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir in rice and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bring back to a boil, stir again, cover and simmer until the rice is just tender but not mushy, about 40 minutes (not all the water will be absorbed). Drain rice and rinse briefly under cold water. Drain again.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, shallot, pepper and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add cherries, chicken, cucumbers and onion; toss. Add rice and pecans and toss again. Serve at room temperature garnished with basil.
TAKE a LOOK:
I made this Stuffed Caprese Chicken twice in the past two days. It's that good and better yet, extremely easy. This stuffed chicken was the end product of a day when my choices were few; a partial carton of grape tomatoes, half a log of fresh mozzarella, chicken breasts in the freezer and a garden full of parsley and basil.
Individually frozen chicken breasts will defrost quickly when placed in a zip-lock bag and plunged into a large bowl of cold water. The amount of filling you will need depends on the number and size of the breasts. Cut thin slices of fresh mozzarella, quarter grape or cherry tomatoes, clean basil leaves and halve if large; set all aside. Using a sharp knife, cut into the side of the chicken breast and make an opening similar to a pita pocket. You want to open up the center of the breast as much as possible without cutting through to the other side. Line the back of the breast pocket with small, thin slices of mozzarella. Layer onto that pieces of tomatoes. Finish by running basil leaves across the tomatoes. The basil leaves at the opening of the slit will help keep the cheese and tomatoes inside while baking. Just do not over stuff. You want to be able to close the slit. Use about three toothpicks to close and secure the opening. Rub each breast with some olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper. At this point the chicken breasts can be finished in the oven or refrigerated until you're ready to proceed. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Place chicken breasts in a heavy, cast iron skillet (One night I made four in a 10-inch skillet. The second night I made two in an 8-inch). Right before baking, I drizzled my chicken with a little parsley oil I had made (recipe HERE). If you want to pass on the parsley oil, I suggest drizzling a little really good balsamic vinegar over the chicken breasts when pulled from the oven. Bake the chicken on the middle rack for 30 minutes. They should be perfectly juicy!
TAKE a LOOK:
I've just made this Vegetable Turkey Meatloaf twice in the past week. I love that it's filled with sweet bell peppers.
NOTE: The original recipe, below, calls for 90% lean ground turkey. I happen to prefer dark turkey meat over white, which is why I chose to shape the meatloaf in a plastic wrap lined pan and then released the meatloaf into a porcelain baker prior to spreading the glaze and baking. This allows any fat from the darker ground turkey to drain away from the meatloaf.