Let’s talk a bit about friends. There are all kinds of friends; casual, situational, childhood, fair-weather. There are also those rare kindred spirits you feel as if you’d known forever, even if the calendar says otherwise.
How are these bonds forged? How do you quantify the unquantifiable? Is it the fact that they are always game for that ridiculously early yoga class? Is it because they make a killer latte or that they aren’t stingy with the name of the hairdresser that makes them look so fabulous? Perhaps it’s because they willingly helped you both pack and unpack this summer? Maybe it’s because their name appears on the donor list of every single fundraising mission you have embarked on? Or is it because they are both a wine lover and a fearless co-chef? Passionate reader, loving mother, wisdom dispenser, career advisor….You all know who you are :)
It might also be the fact that they share every good recipe they come across. My most recent favourite is this amazing baked chicken recipe that I am about to share with you, as everybody could use a good friend, right?
Baked Parmesan Chicken
Original origins unknown – shared with me off a well-used piece of scrap paper
2 lb chicken thighs/drumsticks, skin on
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne/chipotle/paprika – favour your preferred flavour profile
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley/oregano/thyme (see above)
I have noticed, after many years of subscribing to (ahem) many cooking magazines that there seems to be recurrent themes that run throughout the year. You can count on the BBQ issues in your mailbox in late June or early July and the Thanksgiving dishes are on display in October (for which we Canadians are truly thankful). April delivers delicate dishes with things like pea tendrils and salmon fillets and November’s issues are guaranteed to include some very impressive holiday desserts. January has a theme too; it’s all about the new. New year, new trends, new ingredients, and so on. There is also a heavy dose of atonement for all of the over-indulging you did over the holidays, but that is sort of a separate post, isn’t it?
Sesame Noodles (with Chicken)
Normally, I don’t pay too much attention to their proclamations (Pie is the new cupcake…pass it on!) but there is one trend that I feel is worth paying attention to; flexitarianism. Wikipedia describes it very succinctly with this definition; “a term used to describe diets that are not vegetarian but include less meat than typical diets”. Many cooking magazines have been exercising this concept by showcasing dishes that are wonderful with/without meat. This is one of those dishes…just as great with or without the chicken. Be on the cutting edge, and try it out both ways.
Sesame Noodles (with Chicken) adapted from Gourmet Magazine
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (optional)
1 bell pepper (pick your favourite colour)
1 bunch of scallions, green and white parts chopped and separated
2 Tbsp sesame oil
Sesame Sauce (can also be used for sate….omit the water)
1/2 c smooth peanut butter (or you can try tahini, if you would like)
1/4 c soy sauce
2 Tbsp cooking sherry (or you can use red wine vinegar)
I generally don’t advocate the preparation of anything with the word “sticky” in its description when feeding my children, but I will make an exception for this dish. It is so simple to prepare, taking about 25 minutes in total, leaving you plenty of time to wash off all of the sticky fingerprints left behind.
Sticky Lemon Chicken I believe this dish originated with Gordon Ramsay
8 chicken thighs (or whatever pieces your family prefers)
coarse salt and pepper
glug of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp of dried)
1 Tbsp of cooking sherry or red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp of soy sauce
3 Tbsp honey
1 lemon washed and cut into thin slices (remove the pits if you can)
Pasta and melted cheese topped with a toasty crumb crust….no need to say anything else.
Baked Macaroni & Cheese You can mix it up a bit with your cheese selection. If your audience is under 12, stick with the aged cheddar, gruyere, or mozarella types but, if this is an adult-oriented dish, you may want to consider incorporating something in the blue family or a nice Fontina. You know, something with a bit of “nose” to it…
small glug of olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
3 Tbps. butter
1/3 c. flour
3 c. warm milk (do warm it up…it does make a difference)
4 c. of grated cheese that melts well, whatever you fancy