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Flavours Galore

Who says Monday has to be humdrum? Why can’t we start the week with a bang?

I needed to shake myself out of the doldrums and so when I saw a robin this morning, I was spurred on. I grabbed a recipe I had set aside in my pile of “meals to be made soon” and set to work.

When in doubt, roast chicken is always a good go-to meal. You can do an indefinite number of things to it, and serve it with just about anything. Almost everyone loves roast chicken. Just make sure it’s cooked (160F internal temperature) and voilà!

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am an adventurous amateur cook. The recipe I am featuring tonight is full of aromatic flavours, with an exotic combination of ingredients. A number of items do not hold usual spots on many grocery store shelves, but if like me you don’t have a local specialty food store, I can recommend a place to help you out. They are often an inspiration for me, and the recipe I used tonight is from their wonderful website, with just a few adaptations.

World Spice Merchants in Seattle is a treasure trove full of spices, herbs, blends and teas from around the world. The staff in the store is knowledgeable and the website is a virtual encyclopedia of information on spices and their uses. Even if you have no need to shop, I recommend you peek at their beautiful website and blog set-up.

Daylight Saving Time started this week, and so the days are longer now. However, I didn’t want to be cooking late. My plan was to have a meal that could be organized easily; while the chicken roasted I could prepare the other parts of the dinner. I even had time to walk the dog.


I also wanted to start the week with a recipe that gave us some leftovers. Roast chicken for two means at least a few sandwiches or meat for a salad. The original recipe was for roast quail, but that was too fussy for an everyday meal. (Besides, I’ve always thought quail has too many bones for the meat you get to eat – it’s more work than enjoyment.)

Sometimes I stick with old-time favourites to accompany a new item, but tonight I wanted to keep to a theme. I cooked farro, an ancient grain, and sautéed some veggies with smoked salt. The grain has a wonderfully nutty texture and the smokiness from the salt provided a perfect foil to the complexity of the flavours in the chicken. I even splurged with a local wine from our cellar; after all, creative effort deserves reward and recognition.

So, there you have it: Aromatic Deluxe Roasted Chicken. If I do say so myself, it turned out rather nicely.

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​Happy Monday. Here’s to a great week!

 

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Sunday cooking

Sunday quote

Sunday is our day of rest and often, indulgence. Sunday brunch, full of rich creamy dishes and comfort food – an excuse to jam all the best parts of breakfast and lunch into one occasion, not to mention allowing cocktails and dessert as part of the menu as well, just because, well, it’s Sunday 🙂 Then there’s Sunday dinner: the roast beast and all the trimmings. Granted, most of us are used to having this meal with numerous family members (not always good for the digestion) but a larger group allows for economies of scale in cooking… and it makes for good sandwiches in the coming week! Sunday roastIt often means a few more calories consumed, but we’ll be back at the workouts on Monday, won’t we?

At Rabbit Hollow, we often work Sundays, so the brunch happens whenever we have a day off, which might just as easily be Tuesday. With only the two of us for family close by, we don’t tend to do a large dinner either. But I often take on baking projects if I’m not out in the garden on a Sunday, so I thought I might share some of those favourites during the Spring Break season. With kids home all week, you could even take on these recipes on a weekday!

A fun item to add to any breakfast or brunch is a muffin, and I have a great, healthy (but tasty!) recipe – Banana Bran Muffins. Leftovers are great to take to work with coffee, too.

I made Chocolate Coffee Cake this week. A friend posted a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens blog, one of their most popular items. I thought why not? Martin, my husband, loves coffee cake. Well, it’s an all-afternoon project with dough that needs rising, but if you don’t mind the start-and-stop, the result is pretty wonderful. He loved it for brunch this morning.

Cookies are always good to have on hand, and fun to share at the office or with friends. One of my faves is a recipe I kind of made up, Tropical Delight Cookies . If you are feeling down about not getting away to a more exotic destination, these might help lift your spirits. This is an easy recipe that the kids can make, too – just in case they are driving you crazy being underfoot at home.

exotic Sunday brunch

If you’re more the savoury type, but you still want to feel that exotic sense of wonder, how about Chicken with Cinnamon & Dates ? It’s a great way to jazz up any night’s dinner.

A tradition that we had when I was growing up was for each of us kids to cook one meal a week. Spring Break is a good time to start that if you haven’t already… Sundays work well, too. Kids can start out chopping veggies or assembling salad, and then as they get older (and taller) they can work their way up to preparing dishes for the oven, or cooking at the stove. Carrots with coriander and caraway is a great first recipe for kids – simple, fast and tasty.

Even something as straight-forward as flavoured popcorn can be a family cooking experience. If Sunday brunch or dinner seems too much, try just getting everyone together for a pick on Netflix and then adding a bit of zip to your popcorn or pretzels or nuts. Spice blends are fun to play with – you can try the ones in your cupboard (cajun popcorn or pretzels? smoked salt on toasted almonds?) by just adding a drizzle of butter or olive oil. Toasting nuts a bit first really brings out their flavour – about 5 minutes at 400F will usually do it. If you don’t have any mixes, think of flavours you like – spicy hot? herbs? (rosemary popcorn is fun). Cheese is a fun addition too – the powdered parmesan you get works great (look for real cheese, not the processed stuff in a can). You can mix it with other flavours or just add it on by itself.

Any effort you make in the kitchen is worth some quality time – it might just be a moment with a cookie and a glass of milk or a cup of tea, but especially if you can share that moment with a friend you have a chance to connect and catch up. In our busy world, that’s worth a few calories any day, if you ask me.

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