Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Make this! Make this NOW! It is so very yummy and barely even counts as cooking. The inspiration of this recipe comes from a dish they serve at Bistro Niko, a French Brasserie here in Atlanta. They serve a paillard of chicken that is pounded so thin that it is the size of a dinner plate. It is browned on each side until cooked through and then topped with a salad of endive, arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, and asparagus. My take on it uses a pre-thinned chicken cutlet and incorporates some more veggies. I had been to the farmers market over the weekend and came home with some beautiful, crisp watercress, radishes, and carrots that were a deep orange and tinged with red on the outside. It is such a nice combination of flavors and textures. Crunchy and fresh! Oh Spring, I love you so.


1 chicken breast or cutlet, pounded so that it is even across
olive oil
salt and pepper

watercress or arugula
endive, thinly sliced
asparagus, broken into thirds, bottom third discarded, then blanch the edible pieces
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
optional: carrots, radishes (sliced very thinly, I used my mandoline)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

heat olive oil and a sliver of butter if you like over med-high heat
season chicken with salt and pepper
brown on both sides until cooked through

while chicken is cooking and resting prepare the salad and dressing
prepare veggies as described in ingredients list

in the bowl of a blender add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and mustard and blend
season with salt and pepper to taste

Toss the salad in some of the dressing (you will have extra dressing so just save it for your next salad) and serve with the cooked chicken.

Tuscan Bean Soup

I did not take a photo of this soup because to be perfectly honest it's not very pretty. My photo skills are just not that great and it's hard for me to make this humble, putty colored soup look beautiful. My hope though is that you'll try this anyway and see first hand how delicious and easy it is to make. This is a variation of a soup found in Frank Stitt's "Bottega Favorita" cookbook. His is truly wonderful, but a bit more large scale and more time consuming to make. My version takes advantage of canned beans and has the addition of kale. I have it for lunch pretty often and it freezes well. Give it a try!

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3-4 slices pancetta (approx 1/4 inch thick), diced
1 small sweet onion diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 leek, white and light green part only, halved and thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
approximately 2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
4-6 leaves lacitano kale (also known as Tuscan, Black, or dinosaur kale), de-stemmed and sliced thinly crossways

Heat Olive Oil in dutch oven over med-high heat
add pancetta and saute until fat renders and meat begins to turn golden
add onion and then carrot, and leek and stir all together so everything gets well coated in the fat in the pan, turn heat down to med
add the rosemary and salt and pepper and let the mixture cook and soften for about 7-10 min, stirring occasionally
add garlic and incorporate to other vegetables
add beans and broth and stir well, use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot
bring to a simmer and add strips of kale
continue light simmer until the kale is wilted
adjust the salt and pepper
eat immediately or save to reheat later, also freezes well