As we manoeuvre through the spring of 2020, we have learned to appreciate how important good health, good people and good food are to the quality our lives.
We have been reminded of how precious life is and how quickly our normal can change.
Many Canadians have been faced with having food choices limited or unavailable when making their menus.
Growing our own food and buying local when possible have become trends. We have circled back to the times of our grandparents, when less commercial products were available and food was often prepared from scratch, creatively using what was available, making the menu much more efficient.
The garden patch in June offers baby dill leaves, perennial onions, fresh hot radishes, asparagus and the ability to use tender greens such as very small lettuce. The fruit offerings are rhubarb, which is most flavourful in spring, and soon the June bearing strawberries will be ready. So use what you have and transform this produce into beautiful dishes to grace your tables.
Instant pot rotisserie chicken
Part of seeing menu planning as an art is learning new ways of preparing food.
I have shared a few Instant Pot recipes and continue to experiment.
This small appliance delivers taste and short cooking times, which is a win at our house.
During seeding time and into the growing season, our family is busy and there is not always much time to prepare food.
I have been trying to have quick and precooked items available to toss together on a whim since not everyone is at the table at the same time.
A keeper, this Instant Pot recipe for a roast juicy chicken takes about 30 minutes. Great with steamed or roasted vegetables, as a topper over a crisp green salad, in a sandwich or wrap for the lunch buckets. By starting with this chicken as a meal builder, the options are plentiful.
- 2 tsp. salt 10 mL
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 5 mL
- 2 tsp. dried thyme 10 mL
- 1 1/2 tsp. paprika 7 mL
- 1 tsp. dried oregano 5 mL
- 1 finely chopped green onion
- 1 tsp. fresh chopped dill greens, optional 5 mL
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or equivalent of minced fresh garlic 2 mL
- 1 1 4 lb. whole roasting chicken 1.8 kg
- 1 lemon, halved 1
- 2 tbsp. oil of your choice 30 mL
- 1 c. chicken stock 250 mL
In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, oregano, onion and garlic.
Remove giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Pat dry the chicken and season inside and out with salt mixture. Place the lemon in the cavity.
Set six-quart Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Add the oil and the chicken, breast side down to the pot, and cook until seared and golden, which will take about five minutes. Carefully using tongs and a large fork, flip and cook the other side for an additional four minutes. Take the chicken out and set on a plate.
Now place the metal trivet into the pot and add chicken stock. Gently place chicken on top of the trivet. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 28 minutes. When finished cooking, naturally release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions.
Let rest for 10-15 minutes then serve with steamed vegetables of your choice. Serves six. Source: adapted from www.damndelicious.net
Note: you can change the seasonings on the chicken to suit your personal taste.
Some of the menu options that have evolved from this chicken are:
- Chicken Wraps — Start with a soft tortilla. Spread mayonnaise on the top centre of the tortilla circle. Lay greens of your choice, such as romaine lettuce, over the mayo then top with chicken pieces. Add any prepared vegetables such as finely chopped onion and top with shredded cheese. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of seasoning salt. Wrap up and enjoy.
- Avocado and strawberry salad with chicken — Avocado is not readily available in our gardens, but is a nutritious good fat that is at the grocery stores. The addition of this fruit adds another texture and flavour into a salad that stretches our palettes just a bit further.
- 8 c. salad greens 2 L
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 sliced avocado with skin and pit removed
- 1 c. fresh sliced strawberries 250 mL
- salt and pepper
Three to four servings pre-roasted chicken.
In a large salad bowl, toss the greens and onions. Top with sliced avocado and berries. Either side with precooked chicken or toss into the salad. Top with store-bought balsamic salad dressing, or equal parts of olive oil to balsamic vinegar just before serving.
And of course, roast chicken can always be paired with fresh bread or buns and cranberries. Still one of our favourite sandwiches.
Strawberry rhubarb crisp
With more people cooking at home, now is the time to dig to the back of the cupboard and pull out the cast cookware. While heavier, cast is making a comeback with the ability to cook food evenly and hold heat longer and some would argue that there is more flavour when prepared in cast.
If you have followed this column in the past, you will know that besides angel food cake, crisps are my dessert go to. I think that it is the mixing flavours of the baked fruits that get me every time.
- 3/4 c. sugar 175 mL
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch 45 mL
- 3 c. sliced fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb, thawed 750 mL
- 2 c. sliced peeled apples or sliced strawberries or a combo of both 500 mL
- 1 c. quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats 250 mL
- 1/2 c. packed brown sugar 125 mL
- 1/2 c. butter, melted 125 mL
- 1/3 c. flour 75 mL
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 5 mL
- vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Then add the rhubarb and apples or strawberries and gently toss. Place into an eight-inch cast-iron skillet or other cast cookware (I use my cast dutch oven).
In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon until the mixture is crumbs. Sprinkle over fruit.
Bake until crisp is bubbly and fruit is tender, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Makes six to eight servings. Source: www.tasteofhome.com
Rhubarb strudel muffins
Ruby red rhubarb continues to reach for the sky. Even in vacant farmyards, rhubarb plants survive even with no care, poking their stalks through overgrown grass, with a tart flavour that never grows old. These muffins were a favourite of my Aunt Diane Javens. More than once when she was coming over for a visit, she would bring a tray of these fresh muffins. I think of her each time I make them.
- 2 1/2 c. flour 625 mL
- 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
- 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
- 1/2. tsp. salt 2 mL
- 1 1/4 c. brown sugar 300 mL
- 1/2 c. oil (I use olive oil but use any cooking oil you prefer) 125 mL
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
- 1 c. sour milk/buttermilk 250 mL
- 1 1/2 c. finely chopped rhubarb 375 mL
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional but adds to the texture and contributes some protein) 125 mL
- 1 tbsp. melted butter 15 mL
- 1/3 c. brown sugar 75 mL
- 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the brown sugar, oil and sour milk. Add in the dry ingredient mix until well combined. Fold in the rhubarb and walnuts. Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the muffin batter.
Place in muffins tins and bake at for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 24 muffins.
Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.