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
I feel a little guilty. I just ate a steak with a wonderful side dish, a barbecued onion topped with goat cheese and fig and honey. The recipe came from Vegetarian Grilling: 60 Recipes for a Meatless Summer by Karen Schulz and Maren Jahnke. I hope the authors don’t mind, but I do want them to know: their 60 recipes are not for vegetarians alone.
Actually, this onion with the goat cheese is so hearty that, in a different world, you could make it the main course and simply pair it with a salad. You should take a look at Vegetarian Grilling for a bounty of interesting ideas that anyone can enjoy, steak eater or not.
This dish can be made in about 30 minutes. It’s simple and its presents a combination of textures and flavors that you may not have experienced. Truthfully now, how often do you eat figs? Figs and honey? Ah, you are thinking about it aren’t you. Figs and honey and goat cheese? You have to have tried that sometime. You have to.
Okay, you haven’t. And now you can. Using the barbecued onion as the foundation for this dish is clever. That onion tang is the perfect mate for the fig and honey sweetness. And the goat cheese adds that distinctive raspy mouth feel that makes this dish seem complicated.
Actually, it is complicated which contributes to its enjoyment.
The recipe call for thyme and goat cheese. You can substitute the herb or herbs that you personally prefer. And the goat cheese gives you additional options. There is plain, “vanilla” goat cheese aplenty, and then there are the other ones. I selected a round from France glowing with herb fragments. Those additional, random herb flavors simply added to the mystery.
Barbecued Onions with Goat Cheese and Fig and Honey Topping
Yield: serves 4 people
- 2 onions, about 9 ounces each
- 2 large figs
- 3-4 thyme sprigs
- 2 teaspoons ground peppercorns, mixed colors [red, black, white]
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Oil for brushing
- Honey for pouring over the cooked onions [at least 1 teaspoon per onion half]
Boil the unpeeled onions in salted water for about fifteen minutes. Rinse with cold water and let cool briefly. Peel the onions and cut in half.
Remove the skins from the figs with a sharp knife and finely dice the figs. Remove the thyme leaves the sprigs. Insert some thyme leaves between the onion layers. Salt the onions lightly. Mix the remaining thyme with the diced figs and one teaspoon of ground pepper. Crumble the goat cheese into the mixture, and mix to combine.
Divide the cheese mixture between the onion halves. Place each onion on a piece of oiled aluminum foil, close the foil into envelopes, and grill for about 10 minutes on high heat. Open the foil and drizzle the filling with honey and the remaining ground pepper.