March 2019 Class
This is just the perfect menu to say good-bye to winter and welcome in spring. It is still a little brisk out at night so this braised chicken dish will warm you up and help take off the last of the winter’s chill. The salad and dessert are light and colorful as the flowers that are starting to pop in my garden. Here’s to looking ahead to brighter, warmer, longer sunshine-filled days.
What are we cooking??
Roasted Beet & Fennel Salad:
Roasted beets really need a cape because they truly are a superfood! They look so unassuming, kinda like a piece of coal before it is transformed into a sparkling diamond. But once you roast them, you will uncover what a true gem they are. Since we eat with our eyes first, I’ll begin by saying that the beets’ color is absolutely stunning. Whether it be the brilliant deep raspberry purple (my favorite color) or golden yellow, they are show stoppers. Then, there is their delicious sweet, earthy taste; to top it off, they are so good for your health, packed with vitamins and rich in nitrates that aids in better circulation and lowering blood pressure. I try to add a beet a day to my diet! For this recipe, we have tossed our roasted beets with shaved fennel, some beautiful salad greens, and a gorgeous balsamic vinaigrette. If you aren’t making your own vinaigrette, do try. It’s so easy and quick. I timed myself making it: 2 mins & 9 seconds. Voile!! You have a beautiful emulsified dressing that is better that anything you will buy in a bottle!! To put this salad over the top, we marinated goat cheese with herbs and olive oil, making this salad the perfect way to begin or end your meal. It also makes a fantastic lunch on its own. With a crisp toasty French baguette and paired with a glass of Australian Riesling, it is perfectly delicious.
Braised Chicken, Artichokes & Mushrooms:
Braising is one of the most useful cooking techniques to learn. Once mastered, it turns tougher cuts of meat and vegetables into a hearty meal that warms your stomach and your heart. Also, it makes your casa smell fantastic. There are three secrets to a perfect braise. First is the perfect pan: a heavy Dutch oven pot with the lid. This heavy duty pan will allow you to brown your meat on the stove top and then place it directly into oven, where it will retain its heat and slowly finish cooking the meat. I used a 6 quart Le Creuset pan for this recipe. Not only is it beautiful (I call it kitchen jewelry), it goes from stove top, to oven, to table. The second secret is to brown your meat. By browning the meat well on all sides, you allow the outside of the meat to brown and caramelize, which adds a great depth of flavor to the dish. The third secret is flavorful liquid. Today, we are using white wine and chicken stock. We place the meat and vegetables into this flavorful liquid, allowing the veggies to bathe in the flavorful goodness as it cooks. You can eliminate the wine and use all stock if you wish, or by just changing the white wine to red, you create another famous braised dish: coq au vin. Braised dishes are always a crowd pleaser and perfect for entertaining, as they can be made a day in advance. In fact, I try to always cook mine a day ahead because it allows the flavor to enhance and deepen. What could possibly make this dish any better? To serve it on top of creamy, cheesy polenta.
Making polenta is usually a labor of love that requires a lot of time stirring. This method has you stirring for just a few minutes and finishing it in the oven. You still end up with a creamy and delectable cheese dish with not as much work.
Olive Oil Orange Cake:
I call this cake a grownup cake. Not because it is not fun and childlike, but because the flavors are a little bit more subtle and mature like a grown up. HA!! No, seriously, this is a knock out cake! It’s dense, with just a hint of sweetness to it. The flavor of orange comes shining through, especially when it’s served with some beautifully sliced oranges that we toss with a little Cointreau, just to make the cake extra orangey. It is the perfect way to end a meal, but is also a way to start your day accompanied with a cup of coffee or as an afternoon pick-me-up with tea. No matter which way you slice it, this is a cake to add to your baking repertoire.