Arborio Rice and Wild Boar ‘nay – olé!


I have a latin girlfriend who has a most terrific name that needs to be said all together, i.e., first, middle, last and married, and then just adding olé!  It truly makes me smile. So when I find something I adore, and the words come together, I am so happy.  It’s the little things in life, right?   For instance – Arborio rice and Wild Boar Chardonnay – olé!

Arborio rice is an italian short grain rice used in basic risotto dishes.  It’s apparently a good source of (good) carbs; remember, not all carbs are bad, in fact, we need them to function, keep our brains working and bodies functioning.  Arborio rice is packed with protein, vitamins A & C and minerals, giving you your daily nutrient dose.  Another fun fact, it helps your digestive system function well.  Lastly, it stimulates the production of enzymes and hormones, protecting the tissues in your body.  And my 6th grader just learned about that last quarter, so I know it’s true 🙂

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I also took in a tasting at the Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg last week and learned a lot, in a little bit of time.  Kevin was a terrific resource, very patient with me and my very funny, crumb dropping, equally persistent faux wine connoisseur slash, great girlfriend.  For instance, did you know that the newer the barrel and the less time a grape spends in the new oak, the oakier it gets?  And the oak taste/fragrance comes from all different variations of tree’s.  I mean, that makes total sense – I just had never put two and two together.  Per their website, Wild Boar Chardonnay 2015 holds aromas of white peach, lychee nut, and Golden Delicious apple with hints of citrus and a slight nuttiness; this wine pairs perfectly with roast chicken, salmon with pesto, pasta carbonaro and creamy brie.  What can I say, they had me with all of the above…

Pick your fish – shrimp, salmon, tilapia, mahi-mahi….whatever you like.  Marinate it in a simple, yet effective, olive oil/garlic/soy sauce/lemon mix, and set aside until ready to cook.  When you are ready, bring out a stock pot, add 1 cup veggie broth/1 cup water/splash of wine & lemon slices – bring to a boil – cook for 7-10 minutes.  Turn off…


Arborio is not just any rice.  It’s (obviously) Italian rice, but cooks down to the perfect risotto; you can add just about anything to it, so tonight, I added onion, peas & sun-dried tomatoes and a dab of parmesan.  Just buy a box of generic arborio and follow the directions.  I will say, I purchased mine from the local Harris Teeter, and they called for 6 cups of chicken broth; I hesitated and only used 4; I tend to err on the side of caution with liquid portions, butter, etc. like, I used only 4 tabs (1/2 inch slices) of butter instead of 1/2 a stick.  Then I added in onions, broth, peas, tomatoes, broth and so on – keep stirring it, or it will definitely stick/burn.  This was done in under an hour.  I was so surprised at how easy this was…creamy, not salty, natural flavors – – perfect bed for a piece of fish.

Portion is a key factor in all dishes, so keep this at a minimum; scoop up the risotto, add your fish and enjoy with a side salad of Arugula, Blueberry & Sliced Cherry Tomatoes (I added a lemon wedge, I can’t have enough lemons), drizzle some olive oil and DONE.  ENJOY!

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A new leaf and roasted deliciousness…

It’s that time of year…the sun is out, the temperature is rising, things turn from brown to green and I make a few changes to my lifestyle.  I’m also job hunting, so to clear my head and make better food choices, I am trying to limit (avoid) starches, like pasta, bread, rice, potatoes and all things fried.  So there is that, plus, the hubbs and I are on a new regimen, a daily walk around the track.  He’s way better at staying motivated, I’d rather be blogging or playing pretend buyer for my friends online clothing boutique. The only food exception will be Friday night family pizza & movie nights; I simply cannot give up my ‘za.  And then there is the occasional lunch or dinner out, where I have to keep my snacking and temptations to a minimum, like the bites of flavored toasts from Life & Honey; Avocado & Mango, BlackBean Salsa and Chocolate Delight.  OMG.  SO good.  Check them out next time you are out in Chantilly/Aldie area.  Sometimes you fall off the motivation train, but you just need to get back on it and see how long you can hang on.  For now, I’m on!

A great option to resisting all of the above is roasting.  Veggies, chicken, fish, etc.  A few easy and inexpensive ingredients and you are done.  Most of the time, I buy an already roasted chicken, but when I’m feeling it, I’ll just pluck one out of the market for $5-7 and do it myself.  This way, I can put the flavors in that I love most (rosemary, thyme, lemon, etc.) and let the house percolate with the best smells.  Alongside the chicken tonight, I chose roasted carrots & broccoli florets, and a steam roasted artichoke.  If you guys could smell my kitchen right now…

INGREDIENTS:

Whole Chicken (5 lbs) – remove giblets, rinse with water, pat dry
2 lemons
1/2 onion
2 stalks celery
few springs rosemary
dried thyme
salt & pepper
olive oil
sliced carrots (5-6)
1 artichoke
1 head of broccoli – cut stalks off into florets
chopped garlic
1/4 tab of butter

Oven to 350 degrees; use a large baking dish, place chicken breast up, stuff cavity with lemons, onion, rosemary, celery; rub skin with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, sprinkle thyme on top.  Put cut carrots in, top with a few tabs of butter, salt & pepper – put in oven and roast for 60 minutes.

In meantime, take the artichoke, put on a large piece of tin foil, open up leaves a little, toss some salt & pepper, a tiny bit of olive oil and garlic over top.  Wrap up, stick in same oven.  This will cook perfectly!

After an hour, remove the chicken from oven; take the carrots out of the baking dish, mix in with the florets onto a rimmed baking tray, pour in the juice from the chicken, add a few  more tabs of butter and put back in oven for 20-30 minutes.  I like my veggies a little less mushy, so 20 minutes is plenty for me.  I also put the chicken back in the oven until it’s perfectly golden brown.

When everything looks (browned skin) and tastes right (veggies), pull everything out of oven: chicken, veggies & artichoke.  Slice up your chicken, side of veggies and peel back the tin foil, and enjoy that artichoke!

DONE & ENJOY!

My Simple Table Questionnaire

Those that know me (a little, a lot and really well), know that I ask a ton of questions; I’m a true curious Georgia.  I always dreamt of being a talk show host, and part of me still does.  I don’t ask to pry, I ask out of human need.  It’s like a shiny new object that I must have (and get to know).  All people are interesting; no two are the same.  Opinion, perspective, experience and history are all part of a story, and nothing is as exciting to me as learning another persons’ story.  People (and food) are my thang, what can I say.

I have been gently reminded that my slip of twenty questions needs to stay tucked in my back pocket but, sometimes I can’t help it.  If you perk my interest, I’m going for it.  I’ll ask just about anything to get to know you; I gather the background information, get a few tidbits from current life and then I can sit back and enjoy…

Some of my favorite television shows are reality based; from just really good music and getting to know the musicians (and incorporating food) like Live from Daryl’s House, to the every-person cooking challenge Chopped and then one of my all-time favorites, Inside the Actors Studio.  I love the end recap where James Lipton asks his version of Bernard Pivot’s questionnaire; for me, it humanizes the glorified, and let’s the viewers in.

I thought it’d be fun to share some of this and that with my readers, and should I ever make it to the top of the food chain, these are some questions that I would ask my guests:

BREAKFAST:  Poached Eggs & 1 cup of delicious coffee.

APPETIZER: Saint Andre Triple cream & black pepper water crackers

SALAD: butter lettuce and cherry tomatoes with my mom’s salad dressing

SOUP: Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, family style.  Or PHO 98 #19.

ENTREE:  Cheese Pizza.  Pieroges with gravy.  Lobster!  

DESSERT: Key Lime pie or Blackberry Ice Cream.

VEGGIE:  Tomatoes!

COOKING HERB:  Basil or Thyme.

FAST FOOD OR TAKE OUT:  Tough call…

GROW OR PICK-YOUR-OWN?  Try to grow, then pick…

FARM TO TABLE?  Definitely.

LOUD & HOPPING vs. ROMANTIC & QUIET?  Somewhere in between…

LIBATIONS:  San Pellegrino Limonata, Ginger Ale, Evian or a dry Rose.

TIME OF DAY:  Morning; it’s quiet and I am productive.

FLOWER: Tulip.  Peony.  Hydrangea.  Gardenia.  I can’t pick just one…

DAY OF THE WEEK: Sundays, 100%.

CHORE: Gardening; something about trimming things up makes me feel good.

VACATION SPOT:  The beach, anywhere.

SWEET of your day?  That perfect bite of yum.  

SOUR of your day?  When I don’t have that one ingredient.

WHAT MAKES ME SMILE?  A handwritten note.  People Magazine.  A good game of Scrabble.  White kitchens.  A solid dinner party.  Chubby baby cheeks, legs and arms. Music.  When my family wants me to sit and watch a movie with them on friday nights.

WHAT MAKES ME FROWN?  Swimming upstream.  Homework.  The Fire Alarm in my kitchen.  Mean people.  Traffic.  Laundry.  Clutter.  Bills.  When I don’t have the right answer.  When I can’t find my list.

IF YOU COULD INVITE ANYONE TO YOUR TABLE, WHO WOULD IT BE?  I’d have a few rounds of choices.  My family.  My friends, but only the ones’ who like answering my questions.  Carly Simon.  Mary Matalin and James Carville.  Kate Hudson.  Meryl Streep. Barbara Bush.  James Corden.  Jerry O’Connell.  Adele.  Al Pacino.  Leonardo DiCaprio.   Lester Holt.  Ellen DeGeneres.  Howard Stern.  Andy Cohen.  And if they were still living, Erma Bombeck, Julia Child and my GrandParents, all of them.

…Eateries & Sip Tips!

I am navigating through figuring out a rhythm on the blog postings; i.e, twice a week, more, less?  Social media can get tedious and hard to keep track of things you want to try, so I got to thinking – why not introduce another layer, especially with the long holiday weekend coming up.  Eateries & Sip tips, ala My Simple Table.  I am all about the experience and if I love it, I’ll post on it.  Everyone must go!

First up, Founding Farmers.  This was the motherlode for me.  I had a lunch meeting in Tyson’s and had wanted to try this place for a while.  I had the Chicken Salad Salad and cornbread and boy, was that a treat.  Attentive waitstaff, great decor, the place was hopping!  Make sure to make a reservation and trust me, use the valet parking.
pgrg8456Next up…Fig & Olive in DC/City Centre.  First of all, great location.  OMG.  We might have overstayed our welcome, but it was worth it, every penny.  They had a most delicious happy hour/cocktail menu, but just so you can drool, the Tuscan Artichoke, Mushroom Croquette & Crostini Trio.  Get in my belly!

If you want to head to the Virginia countryside, get to Stone Tower Winery.  The place is a heavenly retreat. The champagne was my favorite…I need to go back, stat.

Now, I kind of can’t help myself with sharing the following…I have wanted to keep them a secret but, that’s selfish.  If you head up to Maryland…

Petit Louis Bistro
in Roland Park; all I can say is settle in, and just…enjoy.  I tried to break the code on the vinaigrette but it’s best leaving it to them.  The place is lovely.

Zensations; owned by a friend, APOTHECARY OVERLOAD awesomeness.  Ask for Jenny, tell her I sent you.

Woodberry Kitchen; delush, hip, relaxed, Fleetwood Mac playing in the back.  They have everything and anything and you kind of can’t go wrong, and the staff know their stuff.

The Food Market
:  look at the Avocado Toast; need I say more?

I have many more to feature, so stay tuned.  And if you have any hot spots to suggest, send me a tip and I’ll add it to my visit list!

Cheers!

Savory Chicken Poach

MST update:  Since launching the My Simple Table blog, Instagram account & Facebook page last month, I am so super proud to say that I am slowly building a small audience! I am really grateful for your readership.   This is by far my most favorite endeavor in life; just sticking to my passion and going for it.  So I just wanted to preface today’s blog by saying THANK YOU.  As always, please feel free to share my blog, Insta & FB page with anyone you think would enjoy and remember, I’m always looking for inspiration, I’ll try your tried and true’s too – so drop me a recipe anytime at info@mysimpletable.com.

So my mom called me yesterday to tell me she was following a recipe Chicken Confit with Roasted Potatoes and Parsley Salad, featured in New York Times Magazine, Table for Two. My mouth was watering as she rattled off the ingredients, but I was driving and could not pull over to take copious notes, and then I panicked as my husbands’ call clicked in, phoning me from the market, asking me what I wanted to make this week for the blog (I do not cook voraciously 7 days a week, and he does the shopping, I just make the list).  I clicked back and realized I was late for an appointment and forgot about it, until this morning, after my eye exam.  Note to self, don’t go shopping after your eyes are dilated; I tried googling the recipe from my phone, but I couldn’t read it, so I took what I remembered and then embellished, a tad.  For instance, she mentioned brine and I translated that to marinade, she said dark meat, I changed that to boneless chicken breast. And a bunch of steps in between. This savory chicken marinade & poach, served over a bed of sautéed spinach and boiled red potatoes was packed with flavor!

INGREDIENTS:

1 lemon (cute in 1/2, squeeze juice into pan, toss the rest in too!)
1/2 red onion (sliced)
1/2 white onion (sliced)
healthy spoonful of mustard
healthy spoonful of canned garlic
1 stalk celery (chopped up)
3 springs of Rosemary
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives (chopped)
1/2 cup sun-dried Tomatoes (chopped)
drizzle of honey
1 cup water
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
healthy sprinkle of Turmeric
healthy sprinkle of dried Thyme
3-4 boneless chicken breasts

Assemble everything into one pot (I use a Dutch Oven and I love it); cover and chill for a few hours and when you are ready, take pot out, let it adjust to room temperature (15 minutes). Bring the pot of goodies to a boil, turn heat down to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Check your chicken around 15 minutes (just take a piece out and cut in half; if it’s pink, it’s not done – if it’s white – it is); my rule of thumb with chicken and beef is to slightly undercook it, then let it set aside for about 5-10 minutes; it’ll be perfect.  Remove chicken, slice up and top with parsley (if you have it).

Optional  Sauce:

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons flour
*artichokes

Take the marinade slash liquid stock, use a slated spoon and remove onions and rosemary. Then bring to slow boil, pour in about 1/4 cup heavy cream, whisk in a few tablespoons of flour, add salt & pepper and toss in some artichokes if you have some.  Turn off heat.

I like to layer, it’s my thang.  So spinach, potatoes, chicken & sauce.  And DONE.

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For those of you who enjoy and celebrate the big 2-14, HVD.  And to those of you who don’t, go ahead and treat yourself some flowers every once in a while. I swear, it just makes you smile.  Cheers!