Butterscotch Chicken and Vegetables with Aromatic Brown Rice and Quinoa, Served with Cucumber and Cherry Tomato Salad
By Star Noor, Culinary Editor
When you’re single, you sometimes have great aspirations, but not enough things. Take me for example, I live in a spacious three-bedroom house that is mostly empty. Between a crazy schedule, and a social life that bustles to say the least and other goings on, I have very little in the way of those amenities that most folks would consider cozy. My dishes are mismatched, my furniture is scarce, heck, I don’t even have a dining room table; but no matter because a lady can still have dinner with friends and make it classy without all those things.
Last night I, along with a few of my good friends, had dinner at my place. It was an eventful time, full of surprises and neighborhood happenings, which highly shifted the mood throughout the evening. But, hey that’s what happens when you put a bunch of folks in a small patch of land, or in a room for that matter. Add animals to that mix and well, you have a party.
On the menu was a simple fall dinner, full of flavor and the hearty goodness our bodies crave this time of year. As always, the ingredients were all nutritious, and the fats were all good and necessary. I even added a surprise ingredient in the mix – the underutilized, almost forgotten, crabapple.
Crabapple comes in a large array. There are over 35 species and 700 cultivated varieties. The small trees are grown for the brightly colored flowers in the spring ranging from pink or red buds when they first bloom, then paling to lighter shades after they’ve opened, creating the illusion of a fluffy pink cloud which last for weeks. These resilient trees are absolutely remarkable as they can withstand the cold and harsh winter climates and heavy soil of the North and Midwest. Crabapples are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, and a great source for vitamin C. In the Middle Ages, crabapple juice was used much the same way that we use vinegar today. You can make jams, jellies, preserves, and butters out of them. You can dehydrate them for some apple crisps. You can bake them, boil them, mash them, grill them. More than just ornament, they should be utilized as a food source in a world which begs for food and consumes GMO’s and processing preservatives.
That’s why I used this resourceful fruit in this scrumptious recipe, which I’m sharing for you to enjoy. I hope you too have the chance to share it with loved ones as I did. Though, even if you have to make a small pot dinner for yourself, enjoy! Life is too short to eat bad food, or feel alone. Make your heart warm by making your home warm and there ain’t nothing that can harm you.
There’s an Italian saying that goes: Figliuole e frittelle, quante piu se ne fa, piu vegon belle (Children and fried food: The more you make the better they come out) – practice makes perfect. A foody truth, which goes beyond the kitchen, indeed.
Mangiare! And remember, when eating, the first deep breath is your body telling you, you’re done.
INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS:
This recipe serves four
*1 cup chicken stock
* 1 cup butterscotch, pureed
* 1 onion, sliced
* 1 heaping tsp. garlic, minced
* 7 petit sweet bell peppers
* 1 Shitake mushroom, peeled and diced
* 1 cup baby carrots
*1 large jalapeno, de-seeded, chopped
* 1 cup crabapples, destemmed, cut in half, deseeded.
* 1 bunch basil, chopped
* 1 spring rosemary, leaves taken off of stem
* ½ cup artichokes
* ½ cup grape seed oil, hemp oil, or olive oil
* 1 lb. chicken thighs, or any cut preferred
*Himalayan pink salt, or sea salt, and red pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large oven-safe deep frying pan, heat oil to glistening hot. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden.
Meanwhile, chop all of the vegetables and herbs for the casserole.
Add the stock and puree into the pan. Add the herbs and vegetables to the pan as well. Salt and pepper to season, stir so that vegetables are submerged in the liquid. Cover and place in the oven. Bake for one hour.
* ½ cup quinoa
* 1 cup brown rice
* 1 tbsp. cumin
* ½ tsp. ginger, minced
* 1 tbsp. olive oil, or any previously mentioned healthy alternative oils
* 2 ½ – 3 cups of boiling water
* Salt and pepper to taste (stay away from table salt)
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Meanwhile, was the rice and submerge in enough water to cover it.
When water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice in bowl and add to the pan. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, making sure that the rice does not become fully cooked.
Drain rice when the brown rice can be pierced with your nail. Use a spatula to get a few grains out while doing it, and make sure your hands are washed.
In the colander or a mixing bowl, use a spatula to fold in the cumin and some salt and pepper to taste. Add the oil in the same fashion. Place oil and water in the saucepan. Place the rice mixture into the saucepan. Cover with a lid and steam rice on low heat until rice is cooked through.
* 1 ½ heads Artisan lettuce, chopped
* 2 cucumbers, diced
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes, yellow – sliced in half
* Small pinch of garlic, minced
* Cranberry Chevre Cheese
* 1 cup Greek yogurt
* 1 large lemon, juiced
* ½ cup grapeseed or olive oil
Chop the lettuce. Using your knife, slice through the lettuce heads horizontally, then chop the lettuce without removing the ends. This will ensure easy and even chopping.
Add all of the vegetables for the salad in your serving dish. Using a tong, toss the salad well. Sprinkle with dots of cranberry goat cheese. Cover and keep in the refrigerator.
Add all other ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk well, until the dressing is smooth. Pour in terrine and cover. Also, put aside in the fridge.
Serve this meal family style, using a platter or large deep bowl for the rice mixture, heaped in the center; and, a large bowl or casserole dish for the chicken and veggies. A meal served as such is felt more shared and brings about togetherness more so than a buffet style, or a pre-plated service.
Dig in and enjoy!
Photos by Star Noor