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Sunday, July 28, 2013

A continental dinner, sort of

I haven't been doing a lot of what I consider creative cooking lately, so it was good to cook a dinner for company last night. We had my first company dinner on the deck. My menu ended up representing several cuisines: For an appetizer, I served a dip of cream cheese, grated cheddar, sherry and curry, topped with chutney and sliced scalltions (find the recipe here on Mystery Lovers Kitchen in the archive listed as Sherry Curry Pate. With sherry, curry, and chutney it has echoes of both England and the Indian influence on English cuisine.

Delicious, and I had only a bit left over--served three of us--where I expected to have a lot.
The entrĂ©e was the piece de resistance--a pan bagnat. I had to look that up--on Wikipedia, I confess--and it is a traditional French sandwich made of a round wheat loaf made in the area of Nice and usually filled with salade nicoise. I used a smallish round of Parmesan with the bready insides scooped out, drizzled the dressing over the bread, and layered chicken, tomatoes, onions and lettuce.  You have to do this a day ahead, so look at the recipe below.
For a side dish, we went to Italy. I served pasta salad dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar (no mayo) and filled with artichokes, chopped tomatoes, and diced scallions. Just before serving I added crumbled goat cheese.
I offered dessert, but my guests, a couple who are longtime good friends, declined until I said it was Black Forest Cake. Then they allowed as how they might have some. I had frozen individual servings of the leftover cake (quite a bit) in small storage dishes. I forgot to get them out to thaw until halfway through the meal, but Rodger couldn't wait--we ate semi-frozen Black Forest Cake, and it was delicious that way. So dessert brought Germany into our continental meal.
When I made the chicken for the sandwich I over-estimated a bit and made enough for Cox's army, so tonight Elizabeth, the friend who lives in my garage house) and I had chicken salad. Recipe for that follows too.
I like being back to creative cooking. Next weekend, a ranch casserole that has everything but the kitchen sink in it--perfect for Christian's birthday party. From haute cuisine to down-home Texas cooking.

Chicken Pan Bagnat for three:

one whole chicken breast, pounded between wax paper until 1/4" in thickness

Marinate this four hours or so in the refrigerator:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. herbes de provence
1 pressed garlic clove

Remove and grill--I used my indoor Jenn-Air grill which worked just fine!

Sauce for bread
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, pressed
Whisk together in a small bowl

Slice the bread in half horizontally and pull out all the bready insides; discard or freeze to use for bread crumbs, etc.
Drizzle anchovy/lemon sauce over top and bottom of bread.
Line bottom with capers, drained.

Slice chicken into slivers and put on bottom. Top with:
2 sliced tomatoes
sliced red onion to taste
Romaine lettuce leaves

Put the top on and smash it down with your hands to flatten. Wrap in foil and put in fridge overnight, weighted down by heavy skillet or canned goods--I used a lighter skillet and two cans of green beans.

Cut into wedges and serve. Rodger ate a quarter of the sandwich, Linda and I each ate an eighth and I had a half left over. Jordan and I ate some for lunch today, but there's still a quarter left in the fridge.

Really good and different, but I bet it would be good with nicoise ingredients (if you left out the olives)

Tonight's chicken salad

Two chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (do not do this in the processor--I kind of shaved it into small pieces)
I ripe avocado, mashed
Juice of one lime
Cilantro, chopped, to taste

Mix avocado, lime and cilantro into smooth paste. Add chicken and stir. What could be easier? And so delicious.
I used the leftover chicken, so we could also taste the herbes de provence, which added a different element.

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