We have just entered Advent, celebrated Thanksgiving, and are now headed into the holiday season with all our favorite foods ahead of us. So we want to keep our menus tasty but also healthy without including too many rich heavy dishes at this time.
Fish is perfect for right now. Not only because of its nutritional value but also because it’s so convenient, fast and easy to cook during these busy days when time is at premium. Here at the convent we include fish weekly in our meal planning and prepared in this Mediterranean way it appeals to many. We often serve it with fresh kale which is still growing in our garden and continues to provide us with many healthy benefits through the winter months.
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper, celery and anchovies. Cook stirring often, until lightly browned.
Add wine and garlic and simmer for 30 seconds. Stir in olives, oregano and lemon zest.
Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and capers. Season fish with the remaining salt and pepper.
Arrange the fish in a single layer in a pie pan or baking dish. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the fish and give a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Bake uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through, 10 to 20 minutes.
Divide the fish into 2 portions and top with vegetables and their juices.
Autumn is apple time, and our trees are laden with gorgeous fruit — apples that are being turned into applesauce, apple crisp, apple fritters and all things apple! This is the time to have fun with them when they are so plentiful and at their best.
Last week we decided to give our chicken meal of the week an autumn touch by incorporating some apples into it and we were quite pleased with what resulted…..our Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird. All we did was rub our chicken all over inside and out with a great mixture of tasty spices and herbs, stuffed it with some apple and yam quarters and a few shallots and roasted it as usual but basted it with our unusual cider bourbon glaze giving it a beautiful rich finish that was breathtaking to behold and luscious to taste. It is really worth trying and equally as good with a pork roast.
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Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
1chickenwhole (4 to 5 pound), neck and giblets removed from the cavity
Quarter a large apple, 6 shallots and stuff into cavity along with a handful of fresh thyme and a stalk of celery.
Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 minutes to 45 minutes more.
Baste chicken with glaze about every 5 minutes for final 15 minutes of cooking.
Reduce the apple juice down to about ¾ cup then add the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the mixture until dissolved then add 1 cup bourbon and let boil for about 5 minutes or until mixture reduces to about 1 cup of liquid.
Baste chicken with glaze about every 5 or 10 minutes for final 30 minutes of cooking.
**Add 3 quartered apples, 2 yams cut to size of apples, and a dozen shallots to roasting pan stirring from time to time until all are tender.
Saturday mornings in the community are referred to as “Weekly Beehive” time. Every Community member young and old is assigned to some task where they busily work together with others on any number of projects that need doing that week.
This week I was assigned to tea preparation. Our Friday Harborside plated teas have been a tradition since the very beginning of the Community. Many people, especially vacationers, look forward to them in the summer months and at Advent. This week’s plate includes a mini crab cake which is always popular. My job was to make the filling for one hundred of these. When I did, it tasted so good I thought, “Why just for tea why not for a main meal?” So I made a larger version that was a big hit for lunch at the Convent!
Finely chop crab meat, celery, scallions all to the same size and place in a bowl. Add mayonnaise, relish, and 1/3 cup saltines and toss together.
In a separate bowl beat egg slightly and add lemon juice and zest. Add to bowl and combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Shape into patties and carefully press on both sides into remaining saltines.
Rather than the usual method of frying the cakes, I chose to simply bake them on an un-greased pan or a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Less work, less mess and clean up. Less fat!
What is it about sandwiches that make so many people so happy? It seems to me that the very same food served on a plate often gets less positive response than it does in a bun, on a roll, or even on a loaf of bread, as it was last night at the convent.Chicken salad was on the menu for our dinner and the cook of the day chose to serve it as a hot open faced sandwich, which surprised everyone. She sliced loaves of Italian bread lengthwise, placed a layer of chicken salad on each, topped them with grated cheese and melted them under the broiler for a few minutes. When they came out they were met with exclamations of “WOW, FANTASTIC, WHAT FUN!”
Because the meal was an informal picnic type, the loaf was served whole, allowing each person to decide what size piece they wanted cut for them. For a more refined touch it can be sliced in diagonal pieces and plated, and still be a sandwich!
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Hot Chicken Salad Sandwich
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
3cupschickencooked, cut into large chunks - (can also use Turkey)
It seems we barely get cleaned up from one reception, and it’s time to prepare for another. We have many events happening on a regular basis and they almost always are accompanied by the serving of food or refreshments of one kind or another. At a recent reception we revised an old favorite that met with a great response. We served this hot chicken salad in little cream puffs and they disappeared so quickly we couldn’t keep the trays filled.
Some meals can be almost as enjoyable to prepare as to eat. Short ribs are an example of this, especially in cold blustery weather as we have been having this winter. Cooking them is a most pleasurable culinary experience, engaging all the senses from start to finish.
Thick well cut ribs are a joy to handle while rubbing in the seasonings. Then there is the visual thrill of watching them beautifully brown before your eyes in the sizzling hot skillet. This begins to produce a mouthwatering aroma to savor, while slowly nursing them along to desired tenderness.
As a final treat to the senses, I hear the sound of delighted exclamations from those coming to dinner whose appetites are peaked from shoveling snow out in the cold. Could anything be more heartwarming and rewarding than that? Well yes….sitting down and eating one of my most favorite meals with them!