Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Birthday dinner for my Mom

Thought I'd share what I did for dinner for Mom and Jerry yesterday. I have to go down and cook for her once in a while anyway (they live in Tacoma, I'm in downtown Seattle, so it's about 40 miles), got to keep some meat on her bones. And while she is a very good cook, sometimes she'd rather not have to. The menu was grilled game hens, grilled zucchini, seven treasures couscous, pickled cucumbers and onions, foccacia, and an apple and pear crostada. For the game hens, I cut out the backbones to flatten them, and then brined them for a couple of hours. My recipe was a variant of one from Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. After brining, I made a spice rub that included brown sugar, paprika, chile powder, coriander, pepper, cayenne and some other stuff. Added some oil to that and rubbed it in, let that sit overnight. Skewered the hens and then grilled them, glazing with a homemade bbq sauce in the last ten minutes. It paired nicely with a bottle of merlot. The zucchini were a large globe-type and I just cut them in half and then sliced in ½" slices. Those get salted to take out some of the excess moisture, rinsed and tossed in olive oil. They only need a few minutes on the grill and are good at room temperature, so we did those first, made sure they had nice grill marks, and let them sit while the birdies grilled. I mix the couscous with shallots sautéed in olive oil, minced preserved lemon, chopped dried apricots, raisins, chopped pistachios and almonds, and some saffron. That is also served at room temperature, and I was able to make that in the morning, one less thing to do at dinner time. The foccacia is a variant of my pita bread recipe, I pat it out into a half sheet pan and dust it with fennel salt. Only takes 20 minutes at 400 degrees to cook, and you get a big sheet of 1-1/2" thick bread that is very soft but sturdy. It makes really good panini sandwiches, too. Finally, I made a crostada with organic apples and plumcots. Used the same crust recipe that has cornmeal in it for additional texture. I should mention that nearly all the vegetables I used in the meal were organic and came in a weekly basket we get from a local farm. I do believe in supporting our local farmers!

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