Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dinner with an International Flair

Tonight's dinner definitely had an international flair with Indonesian Ginger Chicken and a Vegetable Tian which comes from the Provence region of France. The chicken reminded me of Indonesian Grilled Swordfish getting its flavor from the soy sauce, garlic and ginger root. The chicken was really flavorful and really, really easy to make, however it does require some foresight, since it has to marinate overnight. I prepared the marinade last night by cooking some honey, soy sauce, garlic, grated fresh ginger root and pouring the warm marinade over some cut up chicken. I covered the casserole with aluminum foil and refrigerated overnight.

Tonight all I had to do was pop the covered casserole in a 350 degree oven and bake for 1/2 hour. I then removed the aluminum foil and flipped the chicken pieces, raised the oven heat to 375 degrees and continued to cook for another 35 minutes to make sure the chicken was cooked through.

The Vegetable Tian was good, but I suspect it can be even better. This recipe started with a couple of onions sauteed in olive oil with garlic added the last minute. Alternating slices of potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes went over the bed of sauteed onions, covered with aluminum foil and baked in the oven. The layered vegetables in the casserole dish got a sprinkling of salt and pepper and fresh thyme before going in the oven. After 30 minutes, the foil was removed, some grated Gruyere cheese was sprinkled over and the casserole was baked for another 30 minutes. This dish was very simple, but I think it was missing some seasoning. I recently saw another chef prepare a vegetable tian on TV and I will try to incorporate some of the things I saw her do. Don't get me wrong, these vegetables were good; but I think they can be a lot better.

I finished off our meal with chunks of fresh pineapple that I quickly caramelized in a cast iron skillet by simply melting 1/4 cup granulated sugar, adding 1 tablespoon of butter and tossing the pineapple chunks in the caramel sauce.

Inspiration for tonight's dinner came from two of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cooks
Indonesian Ginger Chicken (serves 4)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic (4-6 cloves)
1/4 cup peeled and grated fresh ginger root
1 chicken (3 1/2 pounds), quartered with the back removed

Cook the honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger root in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted Arrange the chicken in a large, shallow baking pan, skin side down, and pour on the sauce. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 1/2 hour. Uncover the pan, turn the chicken skin side up, and raise the temperature to 375 degrees. Continue baking for 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh and the sauce is a rich dark brown.

Serve with some of the pan juices over the top.

Adapted from The Barefoot in Paris Cookbook
Vegetable Tian (serves 4-6)

For the dish to look its best, you want to choose potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes that are about the same diameter so the slices look similar.

Olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes (Yukon Gold work really well)
3/4 pound zucchini
1 1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush a 9x13x2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only one layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for another 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve warm.

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