Have you ever followed a recipe in a cookbook, really and truly and honestly followed it, and the result was a disaster?
It wasn’t you. It was the cookbook. And the failure of the author and publisher to make sure that each and every recipe in the book has been tested and works exactly as written. A couple of decades ago, you could depend on that quality in any cookbook you bought. Today? It’s rare, and the recipes in many books can be hit and miss.
What’s the solution to this more than minor problem? First, if you make something and it fails, shoot off an email — maybe with a photo — and just very politely tell the PR department at the publisher that there may be a problem.
Second, and more directly, you can avoid the problem entirely by searching for books from authors and publishers you can trust. Authors like Marie Simmons. With well over a dozen cookbooks in her portfolio, Marie is one of those very special authors you can put full trust in. If it is a recipe in her book, and you follow that recipe, you will have something quite special.
In the past two years, there has been a flurry of cookbooks devoted to one sweet topic: honey. Marie has authored Taste of Honey and it ranks at the top of the hive. Typical of her books, it is smart and simple. The recipes are not 1-2-3 simple, I admit. But, Marie’s writing style is excellent. The directions lead you step-by-step with clarity and precision. Most importantly, Marie has a spirit of adventure, like this recipe where honey and ginger and walnuts and chicken all come together in a sticky, delicious delight.
Pan-Seared Lemon Chicken with Ginger Honey Sauce and Ginger-Honey Walnuts
Yield: 4 servings
For the ginger-honey walnuts:
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- ½ cup walnut halves
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
For the lemon chicken:
- 1 ½ pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts (see note)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 thinly sliced scallion (about 1 tablespoon, green part only)
To make the ginger-honey walnuts, place oil, ginger, and garlic in small skillet. Slowly heat over medium-low until garlic sizzles. Add walnuts and honey. Cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, adjusting temperature until honey boils and sticks to walnuts and walnuts turn golden. Sprinkle with the salt, adjusting to taste. Transfer to a side dish or sheet of aluminum foil. Do not put on paper towels because they will stick.
To make the lemon chicken, with a sharp knife, fillet the chicken breasts through the thickest part to make 8 cutlets.
Place them on a large piece of plastic wrap, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with second sheet of plastic wrap, and gently but firmly pound chicken with a meat pounder or underside of a small, heavy skillet to make fillets of even thickness of ¼ to ⅓ inch.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in large, broad skillet until hot enough to sizzle.
Add the chicken a few at a time and cook 1-2 minutes per side, until lightly browned.
As the chicken is cooked, transfer to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
Discard oil in skillet and let skillet cool slightly. Add remaining 1 tbsp. of oil, ginger, and garlic to skillet. Heat and stir over medium-low heat just until garlic sizzles. Add the lemon juice, chicken broth, and honey. Heat, stirring to loosen any browned bits in skillet, for about 3 minutes, or until mixture boils and thickens. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with the walnuts and scallions.
Source: Taste of Honey by Marie Simmons
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑500
Green beans are wonderful. You can depend on them, for they always taste the same. Same flavor, same drying mouth feel, same trailing after taste that screams: you just ate green beans.
Since it is one of the few vegetables Suzen can readily get me to consume, she has thoughtfully been expanding her green bean recipe portfolio. Personally, I think even she was getting bored but I’ll never get the truth out of her.
And what does it matter? A good steak or some chicken. A hearty wine. And another serving of green beans. Here that basic bean flavor is enshrouded with some flavor punch. If there is going to be an after taste, then let it be scallion or ginger. Or both.
This recipe is a template for you. Clearly you can add more or less of the accompanying scallions or ginger. Leave one out. Substitute another onion idea. Dash it all with just a smidgeon of hot sauce.
You are not supposed to play with your food. But, oh, really? Yes, you can.
You’ll find this dish with its vibrant colors can be a key accent point on your plate. Paired with, say, the glorious pure white of mashed potatoes dotted with yellow melting butter, and with the black and red of seared but rare steak, and you’ll have a palette of colors to alert your palate that a feast has just been served.
Green Beans with Frizzled Scallions and Ginger
Yield: serves 4
- 1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive-oil
- ¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Vegetable oil
- 4 scallions, tender green and white parts, thinly sliced lengthwise [½ cup]
- 3 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced and then cut into matchsticks [¼ cup]
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans for 4 minutes until crisp-tender (time will vary depending on the thickness of the beans). Drain well and toss with olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Transfer to a serving platter.
Meanwhile, pour ½ inch vegetable oil into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat to 360 degrees on a deep frying thermometer. Once the oil is hot enough, add the scallions and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, or until the scallions are beginning to brown but are still mostly green. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon or spider. Set the oil aside.
To serve, spoon 2 Tablespoons of the scallion-ginger oil over the green beans, top with the frizzled scallions and ginger, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Source: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/6th second at ISO‑3200