Tossed.

I’m sharing this recipe partly for my own selfish ends, as I am not feeling super loquacious. I’d say it’s the change in seasons, which is perhaps a half-truth, however of late I’ve been balancing the need for some self-imposed downtime with the equally necessary and soulful need to Just. Show. Up.

For the latter, I’ve managed to keep (most) commitments and remain accountable in both my professional and personal life, as well as build in the requisite training runs that keep my brain happy.

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I like to think I am fairly skilled at feeding myself; I can put together something basic on the fly, however lately my creativity has been lacking. I spent the last two days sifting through two of my favorite cookbooks, looking for ways to incorporate fennel into my meals, as I seem to be drawn to it lately. I made a fennel, pear, ginger and lemon juice that was pretty amazing, however I was looking for something a bit more toothsome, and came across a recipe for saffron orange chicken and herb salad that intrigued me.
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I had an orange, partially zested, that was begging to be put to good use, and then picked up a couple of other things that I thought would fit nicely. The recipe involved cooking the orange, peel and all, along with a bit of honey and saffron for a length of time, then folding in the chicken and serving along with fresh slivered fennel and a bit of herbs and a lemon-garlic vinaigrette of sorts. I limit my flirtation with garlic whenever possible, so I decided to tailor the recipe a bit differently, to suit my taste, and my pantry. Given that I’d forgotten to grab some saffron, I cooked the orange with a pinch of fennel and coriander seeds. I had a bit of cilantro languishing in the back of my refrigerator, so I plucked the best greens and mixed them with some fresh mint leaves. The chicken I purchased cooked from the deli, so there was really little work to do. I added a bit of avocado and a drizzle of olive oil to give it a boost of healthy fats and needless today, it was one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in some time.
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This is a dish that bears repeating, so I’ll share it with you, and keep it on file for those days I’m in need of a bit of kitchen inspiration. I’m going to try something a bit different here, by incorporating the method into the ingredient list. If you end up giving it a try, I’d love to know how the recipe worked for you.
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Enjoy, and much love,
J
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Fennel, Chicken and Avocado Salad with Spiced Orange Dressing
Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem recipe for Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad
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1 orange, cut into 8 slices
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
**Bring the above ingredients to boil in a small saucepan, then turn down to a slow simmer and allow to cook for ~1h, adding water if needed. You’ll want a few tablespoons of liquid with the oranges to keep from burning.
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While the orange is cooking, prepare the salad:
Thinly slice 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs (I used a mandolin) and set in a bowl. Massage the fennel briefly with ~1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with healthy pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add ~8 oz of shredded, cooked chicken breast, a small handful (~1/4 cup each) of cilantro and mint to the bowl, leaving a few tablespoons of herbs aside for the final garnish. Slice 1/4 large or 1/2 small avocado and set aside with reserved herbs.
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Puree the orange with the juice of 1/2 lemon, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed so that the end product is the consistency of a loose compote. Add ~1/2 of the compote to the salad bowl and toss to combine. Garnish with avocado and reserved herbs, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Rêver de l’été (Dreaming of Summer)

The heaps of gray, shadowy, wet days and Winter’s chill have left me with a sweet longing for Summer. At the market, I seem to gravitate toward citrus; the shiny orbs of Cara Cara pink navels, with their pink-hued flesh and pucker-y sweetness; the kumquat, with its deceptively-sweet peel and shockingly sour insides; the crimson flesh and clean bright taste of blood oranges..mmm. And so to nurture my creative side as well as satisfy a roaring sweet tooth, I drew upon citrus as inspiration.

Orange Almond Sablés

Orange Almond Sablés

Often, I do my best creative work while running. That may seem odd to some, however I’ve found that running serves as an outlet not only for expending physical energy, it is a catalyst for new ideas. These seedlings are kneaded and churned about as I navigate urban trails and sidewalks; often as the sun is just starting to make its presence known. I see flavors and textures come together, then the vision takes form, and I’m off to the store, list in hand.

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I recalled a luxuriously silky buttermilk panna cotta I’d made this summer that involved steeping lavender buds and vanilla beans in buttermilk and cream. That fragrance! The buttermilk added a nice perky bit of tart, fooling the palate and masking some of the richness of the butterfat. A friend of mine with whom I’ve shared several meals over the years said it was probably the best dessert they’d had. A high complement, for sure!

Panna Cotta (honey orange rosemary)Rosemary-scented honey and orange panna cotta

And so this weekend, with citrus on my mind, I came up with not one, but two desserts to share. Neither of them yield instant gratification, however if you are willing to set aside an afternoon, I assure that dessert will be stunning. The honey panna cotta has only the faintest hint of rosemary and marries nicely with the orange zest. The cookies are based off a classic French butter cookie, the sablé. They make a perfect tea cookie; lightly scented with almond and the essential oils of orange zest. I recommend using unsalted European butter, if you can find it, as European butter has a higher fat content that is fabulous in baked goods.

best butter.

best butter.

Sablé dough

Of course, cookies are always good for sharing, so I managed to set aside a few for a neighbor.

Sablé, ready to go.

Enjoy, and much love.

J

Honey Panna Cotta with Rosemary and Orange

1 packet gelatin
1 c  whole milk
2 cup whipping cream (not half and half)
1/3 c honey
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 sprigs rosemary
*Simple Syrup (optional)
1/4 c orange juice
 2 Tbsp honey

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Method
pour milk into a saucepan; sprinkle gelatin atop and allow to soften for ~5 minutes.
Add cream, honey, and remaining ingrediets. turn heat to low, whisking steadily to combine.
Add rosemary and zest; furn heat to medium and stir occasionally until barely steaming. Remove from heat and steep ~15 minutes.
Pour into ramekinsand allow to chilll nthe referigerator for at least four hours
Pour into 6 ramekins and refrigerate for ~4 hours, until set.

*For simple syrup, combine honey and orange juice in small saucepan over medium heat; stir and allow to bubble softly for ~ 5minutes. remove from heat. Reserve and pour over panna cotta prior to serving.

Orange Almond Sablé

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter; softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
*Decoration
1 egg yolk
Granulated sugar

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix orange zest with granulated sugar until fragrant. Add powdered sugar and sea salt to combine
  2. In a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and mix to combine.
  3. Add egg yolks and almond extract; beat until incorporated
  4. Lastly, add flour. Mix only until pastry forms a cohesive mass; this is reminiscent of pie pastry; you’ll want the end result to be light and crumbly
  5. Form dough into two, 9-inch logs, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours (at least 3)
  6. When ready to bake. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator, brush logs with egg yolk and granulated sugar.
  9. Using a sharp knife; slice into 1/3 to 1/2-inch rounds.
  10. Bake 15-20 minutes; longer if the cookies are on the thicker side. Cookies are ready when the bottom and sides are golden; the tops should remain pale.

Allow to rest for a couple of minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to cool completely on wire rack