Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dill Recipes

We had a small turnout for this month's challenge - as it turns out, many people don't like dill.  Who knew!  But I saw that lots of our participants didn't blog at all this month.  It's really easy to start a blog, it's a whole 'nother thing to keep at it week after week, month after month, year after year.    These bloggers are making it happen.....

arctic garden studio
Nicole's white cheddar and dill crackers would make a great little snack to go with a beer or cocktail on an unexpected warm spring day.

dog hill kitchen
Looks good, but did the lemon dilly cashew "sour cream" dip meet Alex's approval?

eating floyd
These dolmas look dynamite! I agree that dried dill weed is a "ghost of it's former self" but have you tried using the seed instead? 

jonski blogski
Great way to eat all those cold weather greens - chard pie

a million grandmas
Kerala egg salad can be a great way to use up all the leftover Easter eggs

notes from a country girl living in the city
Finally a pickle in the bunch with fermented dill beans!

oh briggsy
Like the Cranberries, the Briggsy family dill dip has stood the test of time

prospect: the pantry
Doubled down the dill with roots stew with cabbage and dill seed and dill corn sticks.  Sounds like fresh dill wins over dried!

put a lid on it
Great with Greek food - cream cheese dill bread.

round here at chez hates
Another wonderful looking bread - dill batter bread style

snowflake kitchen
It's what goes with proper British tea - white cheddar and dill milk scones

thinking out loud
Glad to see more dilly beans - my favorite pickle!  They make a great cocktail stirrer for a bloody mary or martini.

tracy's living cookbook
This big fat Greek burger will be great on the grill this summer.

here's mine
Chicken lemon and dill with orzo

Tune in this Friday for the May challenge!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge: Chicken, Lemon and Dill with Orzo

I have had a jar of dill weed lurking in my spice cabinet for years, and while ago I took note of this recipe because I am always on the prowl for quick cooking options for chicken breasts.   Have you seen the TV show "Everyday Food" on PBS?   Like the magazine, it offers quick and interesting meal options.   So I gave this recipe a whirl but I used chicken breasts instead of the more spendy chicken tenderloins and I substituted  dried dill weed for fresh.   It was great and looked beautifully flecked with green dill, but it didn't taste like dill AT ALL.  I took out my ancient jar of dill and tasted it - it tasted like sawdust!  I guess the shelf life of dried dill isn't as long as I hoped. Using dried dill that still tastes like dill would be a plus for next time!

This recipe is a great alternative to a typical chicken rice casserole - and the options of swapping different kinds of cheeses, herbs and meats are endless.  How about subbing shrimp in for the chicken?  Garlic instead of dill? Swiss cheese instead of the feta crumbles and parmesan?  White wine for the lemon juice?  I can't wait to try some other alternatives.
Chicken, Lemon and Dill with Orzo
modified from PBS Everyday Food
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound orzo
2 cups crumbled feta (4 ounces)
4 T. dried dill weed
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, bring broth, 3/4 cup water, butter, salt, and pepper to a boil.  In a 3-quart baking dish, combine chicken, orzo, feta, dill, lemon zest and juice. Pour broth mixture over orzo and stir once to incorporate. Bake until orzo is tender and cooking liquid is creamy, 40 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Mighty Huron

U of M Rowing Team Fall 2010
After almost 20 years of living along the Huron River, it's time to write about it.   It's probably the most identifying feature of the area, rising out of the Huron Swamp in northern Oakland County, and it flows south to empty in Lake Erie.   We have a wonderful system of parks along the Huron which are part of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and three of them are practically out my back door.   It is the only state-designated country-scenic natural river in southeast Michigan.   It's an easy river to canoe, or kayak or even tube down from Hudson Mills Metropark to Delhi - there's not too many rapids, except at Delhi.  It's not too deep, either, in most places it's shallow enough to walk across. 

I bought a kayak last fall.   I had been kayaking with my girlfriends last summer, and decided it was time to buy my own.  I never got my boat in the water - right after I got it, my dad died and then the weather turned cold.    My husband bought one a couple weeks ago, and we installed a rack on the side of the house to store them.  We were just waiting on the weather....and we have been waiting and waiting.  This year, it seems like spring is a month late.  Or maybe it's just me, getting older and less tolerant of winter- it's hard to say.   The forecast for this weekend promised weather in the 60s yesterday, but it never made it.  It was gray and overcast much of the day, with the sun finally peaking out after 5 pm.  Nonetheless, we took our boats out for their maiden voyage yesterday.   Andy dubbed his craft "Gentleman Jack" - largely because he christened it by taking a nip of his flask of Jack Daniels and because we just spent most of spring break in Nashville listening to country music and touring battlefields and have been watching the Ken Burns Civil War series on PBS.  I figured I needed a rebel name for mine, too.  How about "Miss Scarlet"?   Nah, my craft is bright orange - or what REI refers to as "mango".  I decided to go with "Lady Marmalade" instead.     Since it was still pretty chilly outside, we made our trip brief.  We put in at my favorite metropark - the one no one ever goes to - Dexter Huron - and we came out another, at Delhi. 

While on the Huron, my favorite river meal is what we call a "sub sandwich" here in Michigan.   You  might call it a "hero" or a "hoagie" where you hail from, and Lady Marmalade herself might call it a muffaletta, but here, it's not called a "submarine", it's called a "sub".    The tourists to our fair city might want to make the pilgrimage to Zingerman's Deli to have a world famous sandwich, but I'll let you in on my favorite local secret.   Instead of buying a sandwich there, make it yourself!  It's a lot cheaper, and the queue is short, if non existent, for deli meats, cheese and bread.  The crowds will be lining up to get a sandwich made of the best rye bread in the country, per Jane and Michael Stern in this month's Saveur, but you can be out of there lickety split if you DIY.    Unbeknownst to most, the deli meats are for sale right behind the left hand deli's not readily apparent that you can bypass the tourons in line for their Diana's Different Drummer sandwich (brisket, Russian dressing, coleslaw, and horseradish on rye) that the Stern's mentioned, and just order all the ingredients a la cart for yourself and make it at home. 

I wanted to make an Italian style sub yesterday, so I passed up the Jewish Rye for the City Baguette. I like to check the bin for the day old bread and see if the kind I want is available for 35% off.   If not,  Zingerman's has a frequent bread buying program where my card is punched every time I buy a loaf to earn a free loaf.  It's hard to see behind the counter what all the deli meat offerings are, so I asked the helpful clerk for recommendations on what would be good for what I had in mind.    Another local standing next to me said "Aren't we luck to have this here?" and I had to agree.   We are lucky!  I made use of some dried tomatoes I put by last fall, plus some hoop house lettuce I bought from my favorite farmer at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market in the morning. 

Huron River Sub

1 baguette
Rosemary Ham
Dried tomatoes (or fresh, if in season)

Split the baguette in half, and hollow out the bread to make space for the filling.   Layer, meats, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, drizzle with dressing.  Cut into 4 sandwiches, and wrap tightly in Saran wrap, and place in a Ziplock with some air in it.  In case sandwiches go overboard, they will float!  There would be nothing more sad than losing your lunch at the bottom of the Huron River.  Although last year I did run across two drunken college students looking for their car keys next to their capsized canoe on the Huron.  I guess that would be a bummer, too.   The sub is great river food.  It's easy to eat in the boat, or at any of the many picnic spots on the trip.      

Come summer, there will be many on the river, but yesterday, we had it to ourselves.  Today, it's allegedly going to be 80 degrees.  We'll see....this morning it's foggy, not frosty, which is a good sign.  Indeed, the kitchen sink window thermometer is sporting a promising 48 degrees and it is only 8 am.  The cats went out this morning to go hunting and haven't been back in yet - they have spring fever.  We saw buds on the trees yesterday on the river and we heard the spring peepers.  Feels like spring.....