Peter

Za'atar Lemon Chicken

Za’atar Lemon Chicken

 

Za’atar chicken is a paring born out of south eastern Europe and the Middle East. Za’atar is a centuries old seasoning mixture of ground dried hyssop leaves and flowers combined with ground sumac, ground  toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt. Za’atar’s flavor is as beguiling as is the regions where the herbs are grown. The distinctly minty flavor of the hyssop combined with the citrus like flavor of the sumac imparts a lovely earthy citrus note to grilled meats as well as vegetables and flat breads that make up the foundation of eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern meals.

Za’atar can be found in Middle Eastern shops and markets and, due to it’s increasing popularity with European and American cooks, Za’tar is more than likely available in your local supermarket as well.

That said many ready made za’atars may include other herbs, spices as well as chile. I much prefer sticking to the basics and mixing up my own za’atar ground and blended at home. Hyssop and sumac are readily available online. Proportions of ingredients when making your own Za’atar vary to suit your own tastes. 

As there are so many tasty applications for Za’atar  you will find yourself mixing up your own Za’atar at home as well as exploring store bought blends. 

Za’atar Lemon Chicken:

serves 4

  • 2 organic chicken breasts, skin on
  • 2 organic chicken legs, skin on 
  • 2 organic chicken thighs, skin on
    1 cup full fat fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise and halved
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • fresh watercress as a garnish

Choose a mixing bowl that will hold all the chicken and marinade snugly.

In the bowl combine the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Add the chicken and press into the marinade until submerged. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 F / 220 c

Needed: a shallow roasting pan

Lightly oil the roasting pan pan with a little olive oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off excess marinade, and placing the chicken pieces, skin side up, evenly distributed in the roasting pan.

Scatter the sliced shallots over the chicken and season generously with za’atar.

Place the lemon rounds on top of each piece of chicken and drizzle lightly with olive oil and season the lemon rounds with a light dusting za’atar.

Transfer the chicken to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Test the chicken using a thermometer with an internal temperature of 165 degrees f. If the chicken is not quite done pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or more if needed.

Allow the chicken to rest for five minutes before plating as pictured. Drizzle with pan juices and serve garnished with fresh watercress as pictured.

For more information on sumac and another recipe you may enjoy: Sumac Roaster Chicken (click here)

Lancaster County Peaches

 

PEACHES

Nothing compares to the exquisite taste of  ripened peaches just plucked from the trees here in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  Farm stands that dot the verdant green landscape are laden with an abundance of peaches, sweet corn, green beans, patti-pan squash, zucchini, eggplant, and of course the very best vine ripe tomatoes you will ever taste!

 

PEACHES

No recipes required! 

Limoncello Pound Cake

Limoncello Pound Cake

A chilled Limoncello is hands down my favorite summer aperitif, equally refreshing straight up or on the rocks with a splash sparkling water. Limoncello captures the essence of summertime in southern Italy where Lemon trees dot the sun drenched landscapes of of Naples, Capri, Sorento, the Amalfi coast, Calabria and Sicily.

Happily, the region’s spectacularly lemony flavored limoncello is exported and most likely available at your local spirits shop. Otherwise you could make your own. All that’s need is a bottle of 100 proof vodka and the zest from 12 organic or California meyer lemons. Combine both in a jar, seal, and set aside for about a month to infuse the vodka with an intense lemon flavor. A simple sugar syrup is then added to sweeten the limoncello to your liking.

O course, as a cook, limoncello also inspires all sorts of other applications.

The Limoncello Pound Cake recipe that follows is a versatile summer delight personified. Serve it with coffee in the morning, sliced and toasted and topped with fresh seasonal fruits for a picnic, or a leisurely alfresco lunch, or as a zesty sweet finale for a supper under the stars.

Limoncello Pound Cake

Makes one 10” loaf or a 9” & a 6” loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup  full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup limoncello
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds

For Limoncello Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups full fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup limoncello

Preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c

Prepare a 10 inch” loaf pan or an 8 “ & and a 6”loaf pan, lined with parchment and buttered.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt n a bowl.  Whisk until evenly combined, and set aside.

In another bowl combine the Greek yogurt and limoncello. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Then add the sugar in three additions while continuing to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs in three additions while you beat on medium sped until the mixture is nearly smooth.

Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the dry ingredients and the Greek yogurt mixture alternately. Continue until the batter is relatively smooth and evenly mixed. Then mix in the lemon zest until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Gently shake the pan to even out the surface. Scatter the sliced almonds evenly over the surface.
Place the cakes in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the cakes after 25 minutes.

The cakes are done when they are nicely browned. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with a few crumbs the cake is done. If the cake requires more time return it to the oven for five minute intervals until the cake test done.

Transfer the cakes to a rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt limoncello sauce. Combine the yogurt and the limoncello and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the pound cake.

Once the cake are cool enough to handle, inspect the rim of the cake and remove any excess cake that may have spread over the edges of the cake pans. Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake pan and tip the pan onto a cutting board to release the cake. Turn cake upright and set aside until you are ready to serve.
Serving:


Serve generous slices of the pound cake with the Limoncello yogurt sauce to the side.

 

Cornbread muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar

Corn muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar

 

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is as American as apple pie. It is just one of those staples that everyone has turned to in a pinch at onetime or another. Myself included during my art school days when cooking was limited to quick serviceable meals that had nothing to do with cuisine. That was to came along later in my life.

That said, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is a staple created by Mabel White Holmes back in 1930. The Holmes family still owns the company and he original cheerful blue and yellow packaging has remained mostly unchanged ever since. Whenever I see a box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix on the shelf I just can’t resist picking one up! Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix has been a dependable partner for countless quick yummy corn muffin hacks I’ve whipped up over the years.

Summer is after all  about grilled meals and corn muffins are always a perfect comfort food accompaniment! The recipe that follows is a tried and true favorite of mine that requires very little time to make and these muffins are always a huge hit.

Corn Muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese.

Makes 8 muffins

Grease a muffin tin with melted butter

preheat oven to 450 f / 245 c

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix 
  • 1large organic egg
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup grilled corn kernels 
  • 1or 2 grilled jalapenos, skin and seeds removed, and minced
  • ¾ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese, divided

Place the corn muffin mix in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg and whisk briefly. Then whisk in the buttermilk  and salt. Fold the ingredients together just until they come together using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Add the corn and jalapenos and fold them into the batter without over mixing. A few lumps are fine.

Then fold in ½ cup of the cheddar cheese and set the batter aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Fill each muffin cup ¾ full and top off with the remaining cheddar.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until the muffins are lightly golden brown.

Serve warm, with pats of butter (optional)

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