Thursday, June 16, 2016

Curried Chicken Salad, June 16, 2016

Tonight, we had another hot weather supper---curried chicken salad, green salad, sesame seed bread, and macerated strawberries with ladyfingers and real whipped cream. I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken salad, as it was too fruity for me. I liked the idea of it and thought the curry would make the fruit more palatable to me, but it didn't. I mean, it wasn't horrible, but it was still fruit with meat---and regular readers know how I feel about that! Jeannene likes fruit in her chicken salad, though, so why not make it for her every now and again?

To make the chicken salad, I cubed 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Then, I tossed them with half an apple (peeled and chopped), a handful of chopped fresh pineapple, a handful of pitted, chopped Medjool dates, and a handful of golden raisins. Then, I mixed in some olive oil mayonnaise and some curry powder. I think I would like it better on sandwiches than I did eaten with a fork.

The Stockyard, June 15, 2016

When we moved to Michigan, there was an Applebee's in Lake Orion. Jeannene was sorry to see it go when it closed, but I'm not much of an Applebee's fan and hoped something cool and independent would open in the spot. Sure enough, after a long period of vacancy, The Stockyard has opened in that location. They say they specialize in handcrafted and that applies to the decor, as well as to the food. All wood and steel and funky overhead lights, the space looks really nice. Their chairs are not so comfortable for those of us gifted with extra padding, however. Ah, well, nobody's perfect and it certainly wouldn't keep me from returning, many times, following our initial visit last night.

We told our friendly, young hipster waiter to choose for us between the fried pickles and the spinach and artichoke dip. I was really hoping for the pickles, but I think my wife is probably kind of sick of pickles (she's the plant manager for a pickle manufacturing facility). When I just smelled the spinach and artichoke dip the waiter chose for us, I was very glad he hadn't brought the pickles. It was pure cheesy goodness, the sort of rich thing you don't want to eat very often, but are glad to get to taste every now and again. I was also pleased it was served with crostini, rather than the easily-snapped tortilla chips I see many places. The dip itself was different, too, with more of a smoky flavor to it. They use smoked Muenster and the artichoke hearts are also smoked. Delicious! Jeannene got a beer flight (kind of pricey, as they charge individually for each small pour, depending on the kind you choose, but with tremendous variety). Her favorite was the Stupid Man Suit, from B Nektar. Honestly, I don't even like beer or most hard ciders, at all, and I thought this cherry/raspberry/currant concoction was the bee's knees. I had a terrific iced tea. I often just order water because the iced tea so many places either tastes basically like water or is kind of reminiscent of olive juice.

For my main course, I decided almost immediately that I wanted the grilled cheese. I've been hungry for a fried green tomato BLT from someplace like Dayton, Ohio's The Meadowlark or Toast in Charleston. Well, folks, the grilled cheese (which is just called "grilled cheese") at The Stockyard has fried green tomatoes and bacon. The cheeses are brie, which I love, and gruyère. It's all put together on farmhouse bread. I was delighted that the sandwich was of normal proportions, rather than gargantuan. It was scrumptious, although the fried green tomatoes could have been a smidge more crisp. Instead of the fries which come with it (and which are probably awesome), I had to try to cheesy grits cakes. It was a good choice, all crunch on the outside and tender creaminess on the inside. Jeannene, after much debating, opted for the hangar steak with chimichurri, also choosing the grits cakes as a side. She completely loved it.

They had some interesting desserts, including "soda cake," which has nothing to do with baking soda and much to do with soda pop. They have different flavors every day, with black raspberry being the offering last night. The parfait was key lime, which would not have flown with my tart-flavor-hating wife. The dump cake would have been my choice, had the flavor of the day been almost anything but apple. We ended up ordering the warm chocolate chip cookie, served in a wee skillet with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. That was the only disappointing part of our meal. The ice cream was fine, but the cookie was really very eggy, with scant chocolate chips. I mean, it was so eggy, it tasted like a cookie omelet, which is not really a flavor profile I'm excited about. However, with everything else being so good, I anticipate a trip back before long, this time for chili or French onion soup and a salad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Greek-Style Fish Salad and Green Soup, June 14, 2016

Last night, in honor of Garden Day, I made a very vegetable-filled dinner. Our appetizer was skewers of cucumber chunks, small varicolored tomatoes, and bocconcini, with pesto for dipping. However, we have both come to the conclusion, after numerous tries, that we just aren't really pesto people. The veggies & cheese, on their own, were terrific, though. Our main meal consisted of soup and salad, with multigrain bread to accompany them. I think I'm not such a fan of fish in salad, but Jeannene loved the Greek-style fish salad I made. I would find it phenomenal with no meat. Chicken might also be okay. I adapted the recipe from one in a favorite salad cookbook of mine, Twelve Months of Monastery Salads by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette. The soup of fresh greens was adapted from his Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. I was a bit skeptical about the soup before I tried it, but it was delicious, if a bit rich!

Greek-Style Fish Salad
4 c. water
12 oz. tilapia fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
A bag of baby spinach
1 red onion, chopped
A handful of grape tomatoes (I used the teeny ones from Lady Moon Farm---love them)
A handful of bocconcini (can sub feta, blue cheese, or whatever you love)

1/2 c. good quality olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of oregano (use fresh chopped oregano, if possible---I forgot to get herbs at the store)
A pinch of basil (see above)
A pinch of thyme (again, fresh if possible)
Salt & pepper
(I forgot olives, but the original recipe calls for pitted kalamatas, which I think would be stellar)

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot or skillet. Add fish and juice, cover, and cook about 10 minutes, until fish is cooks through and flakes easily. Cool before cutting into small pieces and chilling at least an hour. Put veggies in a serving bowl and toss. Add fish & cheese and gently incorporate. Whisk dressing ingredients together until the mixture is thickened. Toss gently with salad to coat everything. Serves 6. 

Green Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
1/4 head of green leaf lettuce or similar, chopped
A big handful of baby spinach
A big handful of watercress
32 oz. chicken or veggie broth
1 potato, sliced
A big glug of cream (I think low fat or skim milk would also be great; vegans could sub coconut milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Paprika for finishing

Cook the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the other veggies and the broth. Bring to a boil and cook 15 minutes. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or in a regular blender (if you don't have an immersion blender, you probably want one). Add cream/milk, salt, and pepper. Heat through, taking care not to boil. Serve with a sprinkling of paprika. Serves 2-4.