Monday, April 1, 2013

Killer Strawberry Vinaigrette, stir fried Bok Choy and Sugar Snap Peas, with Basil Butter Chicken

So I was browsing through the SLO Veg recipe file, looking for something to do with strawberries. I found a strawberry green salad with a strawberry vinaigrette and decided that was the ticket. That, and some stir fried sugar snap peas with bok choy. Oh, yeah, and the main entree thing: whole chicken legs. Probably better start them first.

So I lined a baking sheet with foil, drizzled the chicken with olive oil and seasoned it with a blend of salt, pepper and garlic powder (Santa Maria seasoning). Then I read a grilled chicken recipe and decide to brush the chicken with melted butter and diced fresh basil, and lemon pepper. Into a 375 degree oven you go.
Strawberry vinaigrette gets a little help from the Hearst Ranch "Julia" Rose wine.
Now it was time to play with the vinaigrette. The recipe called for 2 teaspoons Strawberry jam, 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar, 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste. So that how it started out. I put the jam into a saucepan and tried to melt it down. I decided it needed some liquid, so I added a splash of water. When it had dissolved into a syrup of sorts, I put it into the blender and whisked it up. Then I drizzled in about a 1/4 cup of EVOO while the blender was running to emulsify it, added some a shake or two of Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Now for the taste test: Lee? He tried it, thinking. More vinegar, I prompted? Mmmhummmm. Okay, so I added another shot of Balsamic vinegar and whirred some more, then tasted. I think I need some mustard, Dijon mustard. So a squirt of mustard went into the blender and I whirred some more. Taking a teaspoon, I offered another taste to the hub. "That's good," he proclaimed. It might be missing something, but I can't place it. The color was a mocha brown, also. Oh well. Okay, I will add a splash of lemon juice. How about that? "It's good, don't mess with it anymore," Lee said. Of course I didn't listen. I thought it was still a little blah...well, not exactly blah, just not quite zingy enough. Oh, maybe some of this delicious Rose wine I have been sipping on would help it out, so I poured in a generous splash of that, and added a couple shakes of dried Basil, for good measure. Now what does he think? KILLER! Should've used wine instead of water with the jam in the first place, I am thinking.In all, it made about a cup of vinaigrette, enough for more salads this week.

Both ends of the snap peas are cut off along with the strings.
Next, I rinsed my bok choy in the salad spinner, after cutting off the bottoms of the bunches. I cut the stem parts up into 1/2 inch pieces and the leafy parts into 1/4 inch ribbons. Next, I rinsed and trimmed the sugar snap peas, tearing out the strings. I pulled Lee's wok pan out of the back of the cabinet and added a small amount of oil to the pan. Then I diced up two slices of onion, two cloves of garlic and a couple of slices of fresh ginger. Those would infuse into my oil when the time comes.

Now, the salad: I rinsed a basket of strawberries and cut the top off, then quartered each berry. I took about 6 leaves of curly leaf lettuce and rinsed it in the salad spinner, then tore each leaf into bite-sized pieces. Then lettuce went into individual salad bowls, topped with the strawberries. The vinaigrette would go on top just before serving.

Salad spinner is my best friend for rinsing all the greens!
I check the chicken which has been baking for almost an hour. Needs a little more browning and crisping of the skin, I decide. Perfect. Time to start the stir fry. So I heat the oil and scoop the onion, garlic and ginger that I had pre-diced into the wok. I let that cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, then I scooped it all out so it wouldn't burn. Then I added the chopped stems and sugar snap peas and let them cook in the oil for a couple of minutes. Next, a generous pour of soy sauce and then I put the onions and garlic back into the mix, but I discard the ginger. I just didn't want to dice it up finer. I let the vegies cook in the juice for about 3 more minutes, then turned off the heat. A little grind of pepper and shake of sea salt finished the dish. I check the chicken, using the meat thermometer...170 degrees, just right! Dinner is on!
Green salad and strawberries with Strawberry Vinaigrette, stir fried Bok Choy and Sugar Snap peas, and Baked Basil Butter Chicken

2 tsp. Strawberry Jam, plus a splash of water
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 C Rose or White wine
Sea Salt and fresh ground Pepper, to taste

Melt jam over low heat, adding a splash of water to thin. Pour into blender and add Balsamic vinegar, mustard, lemon juice and wine. Blend for a minute, then while still blending, add the olive oil in a thin drizzle until emulsified. Stir in salt and pepper and taste, adjusting if necessary.
Serve with fresh salad greens and quartered strawberries. 

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