If I could, I would have guests for dinner five nights a week. I love to have guests for dinner, especially if a) they are good friends; b) do not arrive empty handed; c) provide scintillating conversation or jokes and d) from time to time reciprocate with their own dinner. Unfortunately, most of my good friends live in far flung regions of the world, so I’m usually home cooking just for family. This weekend, though, I have the treat of a visit from Laura of Décor to Adore, so yesterday I got busy with the preparations. First up, clean house, and that was a bit of work!
We’ve been enjoying the patio quite a bit lately, and the koi pond is not crystal blue but a nice shade of Italian green~
I got a round table out and started to set the places~
Yep, this is where we will sit; shaded from the late afternoon sun~
I got my Alice Waters book out for a few menu ideas. Actually, I wanted to see if she had any simple fish recipes, because Wednesday I was given a Sculpin fish with the understanding that I would photograph it cooked. In addition to the little fish, we will have Blinis and Caviar (not the real stuff) a Garden Salad, Tuscan Chicken (recipe to follow below) and Apricot Souffle. Thanks for the inspiration, Alice!
But after I got most of the house cleaned up, I decided what it really needed was fresh flowers. Friday…hmm not much for markets. But since I got up at 4am, I made an early morning run today to the LA Flower Mart. One of my favorite treats is what they call a “Bucket of Roses.” I have never counted, but I’m sure there are at least 100 roses in each bucket; and they come in all sorts of colors and sizes. It’s $20 for the whole bunch, and $1 if you want the actual plastic bucket that holds each bunch, which I generally take as there is no way you are going to get these roses into another bucket….this is stuffed with roses in several layers so that you can’t see all of the flowers…today the hot pink caught my eye~
Enough for me to do a vase in the kitchen, dining room, living room, powder room and fill a series of hurricane shades with petals on top of the lavender buds and fresh rosemary~
Nothing like fresh flowers to make the house pretty. If you are in the LA area you can get these at the Mart on Wall Street, not the “big mart” on Maple. You don’t need a badge or anything to buy there; you just can’t go shopping with the pros at 2am. I used a bucket of golden roses for the event two weeks ago; it’s a great inexpensive way to have your home absolutely filled with roses~
For dinner tonight I am making Tuscan Chicken. It’s a recipe that R has made for me many times, and as my parents seem to have become tired of my regular French roast chicken on Sunday nights, I have started to make this meal once each week and they love it. It’s made on the barbeque and especially nice to have in summer. So here goes:
One small chicken, butterflied (cut the chicken completely down the backside so it lays flat)
Salt & pepper
five cloves of garlic
Fresh herbs of your choice (sage, rosemary, thyme etc)
Salt & pepper the chicken and lay it on top of your pile of herbs. Crush the garlic cloves and rub on the chicken. I often sprinkle generously with herbs de Provence. Every time I make this it seems like it’s with different herbs, so feel free to experiment. Juice the lemons into a bowl and add a generous amount of olive oil to it, about 1/4 cup. Brush the chicken with the lemon & olive oil mixture and pour the marinade over the chicken; let sit for about an hour.
I’m using some olive oil from Thyme of Essence at the RSF market, as well as lemons from Kay of Maria’s All Natural Garden, Sage Mountain garlic, and rosemary from my own garden~
I use lots of rosemary. I put it on the grill first and put the chicken on top of it. Somehow this makes me feel like the chicken will have more rosemary flavor. That might be my imagination, or it might help the chicken start to cook without burning. Anyway, that’s how I’ve done it, and I can say that the rosemary is charred by the end of the cooking but the chicken is not~
I put the chicken on the rosemary (save the lemon juice & olive oil it was resting in), then pile the herbs and lemon rinds on top and cook like this with the BBQ lid closed and moderate heat~
Baste the chicken every ten minutes with the remaining lemon juice and olive oil mixture~
Cooking times vary, I think about 30-45 minutes for a 3.5 pound chicken. I cook on one side, then the other; basting a lot and moving the herbs around. Mix up more lemon juice & olive oil if you run out~
Here is my chicken as it’s finishing. I put the roasted herbs under the chicken on the serving platter. Ideally, it will be roasted and brown the same way as a conventional oven will cook it. That is, I try not to serve it charred, but roasted. That’s kind of the trick, to make sure it’s adequately cooked but not burned. I cook over medium heat (charcoal not gas) and with the chicken on the second level right over the heat.
Hope you will try it; not sure if Laura has had this before, but tonight we will find out!