Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Escape from Hell’s Kitchen

Everyone had a task.

TeenGirl’s was to make a nice Arugula salad, with a light thyme lemon dressing.

TeenBoy’s was to make some couscous, with a bit of a Latin American touch, whatever that might mean.

Mine was to stand in the cool, clear evening breeze.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Actually, mine was to grill some marinated chicken breasts, but once they’re on, I just holler in occasionally about how I am struggling with the food. Which I am not. I am just enjoying the calm, quite, and coolness of the evening after a hot afternoon.

When it was all done, I did roast up some zucchini flowers, mostly for decorative effect for the salad. Even though I like them a lot from a taste perspective as well.

And I did assemble the final result.

TeenBoy, however, announced that this would be the last grill session until after school ends – 2 weeks. As grill cleaning before grilling takes away from study time (of the NBA Finals and the World Cup on TV for the most part), and delays dinner – which is actually true.

So the real summer will arrive in about two weeks for us.

When I can look forward to many more cool, calm evenings. Outside, away from the kitchen.

Cilantro and Lime Grilled Chicken on Arugula with Couscous and Squash Blossoms
Recipes by surfindaave
Serves 4

6 chicken breasts, with bone and skin
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine, divided into two equal portions
2 limes, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 Serrano chili, with seeds, minced
olive oil
2 cups dry couscous
2 cups water
½ cup chopped red onion
4 squash blossoms with baby zucchini attached, stamen removed, and washed gently
6-8 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bunches arugula salad, washed and dried
3 tomatoes, pips removed, cut into eights
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lemon, juiced
salt, pepper
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, for garnish, if desired
2-3 tbsp cilantro, chopped, for garnish, if desired

In a small bowl, combine ½ of the cilantro, the lime juice, garlic, chili, and salt. Whisk in olive oil to taste. Reserve ¼ cup of the marinade to put on the chicken after cooking.

Place an airtight plastic bag into a large bowl. Place the chicken breasts in the bag, and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag, and turn it, shaking lightly, until the chicken is well coated, and set in bowl. Place in refrigerator for an hour, turning occasionally. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before grilling so it can come to room temperature.

Grill the chicken breasts over a hot grill, or in the oven under the broiler, until well browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

While the chicken is grilling, make the couscous: bring the 2 cups water to a boil. Place the dry couscous in a bowl. Pour boiling water over it. Add 2-3 tbsp olive oil, ½ of the cilantro, the chopped red onion, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover with a plate, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Make the squash blossoms: heat some olive oil in a small sautee pan. When hot, add the thyme sprigs and shake. Add the squash blossoms gently. Let them brown, turning carefully a ¼ turn at a time, until lightly browned on all sides (I cover them for half the cooking to cook the zucchini part through, but this is optional). Remove to a plate and reserve.

While the chicken is grilling, toss arugula and tomatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice, thyme leaves, salt and pepper over salad, and toss gently. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently. Reserve.

Arrange the salad on serving plates. Arrange some couscous on the serving plates. Place a chicken breast on each serving plate. Spoon a little reserved marinade over the chicken. Place a few cheese curls on top of the salad if desired. Sprinkle with a little chopped cilantro. Serve. Enjoy!

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