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Blood Orange Braised Chicken, with Sesame Kale & King Oyster Mushrooms
So the very first meal of the blog, and of this year’s project: to cook from the farmers market, or my garden, and post recipes every week.

As mentioned previously, this week’s trip to the Union Square farmers market included finding some gorgeous king oyster mushrooms and kale.  The first time I saw king oyster mushrooms in the market about a year ago I was so intrigued by their size and shape.   These were about 7 inches long and nearly two inches in diameter.  I tend to be drawn to the geometrics and architecture of food, was excited by the prospect of being able to be able to have substantial pieces of mushroom in new shapes—large slabs, long matchsticks.  Not to mention the lovely, delicate, buttery flavor and texture of these beauties.

Though not local, we are currently right in the middle of blood orange season.  (What Are Blood Oranges)  The ones I’ve been eating this week are intensely purple inside with a deep berry flavor.  They are always startling to cut into, and offer great color and sweetness in both of these recipes.

It is also worth mentioning that we get just the best chickens and eggs every week, all year, from the local farm Quails-R-Us Plus located in Honesdale, PA (Google Maps: Quails-R-US Plus).  Everything we’ve had from them has been spectacular, and their chickens are particularly amazing.  Super succulent and flavor you couldn’t begin to expect from a store bought bird.   Grab a chicken from a farmer at the green market and this recipe will sing.



Blood Orange Braised Chicken, with Sesame Kale & King Oyster Mushrooms

By Catie

Serves 4

For the Chicken:

1 3-4 lb chicken, quartered

1 ½ TBS vegetable oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 TBS blood orange zest (from about 2 oranges)

1 TBS toasted sesame seeds

1 cup blood orange juice (from about 4 oranges)

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1 ½ cup chicken stock

salt & pepper

Heat oil in a dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot.  Season the chicken pieces on each side.  When oil is shimmering, put chicken, skin-side first, in pot in a single layer.  Brown on both sides.  Remove to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tsp of fat.  Sauté the chopped shallot, until translucent and fragrant.  Deglaze the pot with blood orange juice, and then sherry vinegar.  Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Return chicken pieces to pot (liquid should be halfway up the sides of the pieces—add more stock or juice if needed).  Cover and simmer gently until chicken pieces are cooked through, about 35 mins, depending on size of the chicken.

Remove chicken from pot, and cover to keep warm.  Reduce the sauce remaining in the pot slightly over medium heat.

Mix sesame seeds and blood orange zest together gently in a bowl and set aside.

For the Kale & Mushrooms:

1 TBS vegetable oil

4 cups, packed, thinly chopped kale

2 large King Oyster Mushrooms, about a pound (feel free to substitute)

Segments from 2 blood oranges

1 ½ tsp sesame oil

1 TBS toasted sesame seeds

salt

Sliced the lower, thicker, part of the king oyster mushroom on the bias into large oval slices.  Cut the top, narrower, portion into smaller pieces or matchsticks.

While chicken is cooking, heat half of the oil in a large saute pan or brush grill or grill pan.  Sauté or grill the large disks of the oyster mushrooms.  Remove from heat, season, and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Sauté smaller, or matchstick pieces of mushrooms.  When halfway cooked, add Kale and continue to sauté.   Right at the end, throw in segments of blood orange and any juice that has accumulated from them.  Just before serving, toss with toasted sesame seeds, dress with sesame oil and season to taste with salt.

Serve a few slices of grilled mushroom on each plate, with a heap of sautéed vegetables, topped with a piece of chicken and surrounded by sauce.  Lightly sprinkle with zest and sesame mixture.


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The Leanest Month
Beginning a few years ago, my husband and I have made almost every effort to cook and eat as seasonally and locally as possible. We are continually making changes to our lifestyle, but don't feel like we are really making any huge culinary sacrifices. Each season we do dig up more and more of our backyard to add to our vegetable and herb gardens (currently at about 2,200 sq feet). We blanch, freeze, can, dry and preserve as much as we physically have time for, both from our own plants and all the area farmers markets. All with hopes of having a little bit of those glorious, most prolific, summer produce months available to us in colder times.

However, this time of year it gets tough. We are down to about five of the treasured quart jars of plum tomatoes we bought in flats from our farmer Seth Heller at the local market in August and canned over a weekend (all 45 of our heirloom tomato plants died in this year's blight, described here by Dan Barber http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09barber.html?scp=1&sq=tomato%20blight%20barber&st=cse). We've mostly used up our squash, garlic, shallots, and beets that were in cold storage, and are growing a little weary of produce, though frozen minutes from when picked, plucked from our freezer.

Thankfully, there are farmers markets still operating this time of year!

I visited the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC this past Friday (I split my time nearly 50/50 between the city and the very rural NY Catskills--more on this later). Though smaller than in warmer months, there is still a strong number of booths, offering a big variety of produce, meat, cheeses, and local foodstuffs to the urban locavore.

I did some grocery shopping, and came home with a heavy bag of fresh food. Parsnips, carrots, celeriac, crimini and king oyster mushrooms, kale and Mutzu apples. Combined with the chickens and eggs we get from the local farm Quails-r-Us each week, February is not looking so much like a culinary wasteland in upstate New York. Recipes from this week's bounty to follow shortly, as well as every week hereafter.



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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