Monday, February 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/23/20: Southwest Family Dinner, Fresh Margaritas, Christy Served Fresh Peach Pie

1. Originally, knowing I was the host for tonight's family dinner, I had other plans for what to prepare. But, when Christy told me that she would be bringing the peach pie she baked at her cooking class at Mary Alexander's house, I changed my plan. I host again on March 1. I'll fulfill my original plan at that time.

I decided that peach pie would be the perfect dessert for a chicken dinner. Then I got it in my thick skull that I wanted to use buttermilk to prepare the chicken. I thought I'd be putting the chicken overnight in some kind of a buttermilk marinade, but I stumbled across a recipe called Southwest Buttermilk Baked Chicken.

Ah! I liked the looks of this one. I prefer baking chicken to frying it. The rub this recipe called for sounded really good: oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder (which I don't have on hand and left out ). 

I applied the rub to a bunch of chicken thighs, got out two cast iron skillets, seared the thighs on each side for about three minutes in butter, poured buttermilk into the the two skillets, and popped the skillets in the oven to bake for about a half an hour.

Since the chicken featured southwest flavors, I decided I'd like to make a Southwest black bean salad. So that the flavors would age a bit in this salad, I made it on Saturday by mixing together a couple of cans of black beans, two ripe avocados chopped, four green onions, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes halved, the juice of three limes, honey, olive oil, and chopped cilantro.

The recipe also called for minced chipolte chiles in adobo sauce. Here's another product I don't have on hand. We don't prepare food with heat for family dinner, so I did some looking around and found just what I wanted: a recipe called Not Hot Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. All I had to do was blend together tomato paste, cumin, rice vinegar, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and salt (I left out the cayenne pepper). I folded this sauce into the ingredients mentioned above and topped the salad with the cilantro. It sat in the refrigerator for over twenty-four hours before we ate.

I realized that we'd probably enjoy potatoes and corn bread with the chicken and salad, but I wanted to do something a little different. I decided to make cornbread dressing. The recipe I used suggested letting the cornbread dry for a day or two before making the dressing, so, on Friday, I made a pan of cornbread and it dried for nearly 48 hours before I made the dressing today with onion, celery, sage, thyme, garlic, butter, a small amount of Italian sausage, eggs, homemade chicken stock, and half and half. I left out the cayenne pepper.

2. To prepare for this dinner, I also searched for a margarita recipe, thinking margaritas would go well with the dinner I had planned.

The recipe I decided to use called for juicing lemons and limes, zesting them, adding superfine sugar, and letting this mixture steep for about 24 hours.

So on Saturday, I juiced six lemons and six limes, did a crummy job of zesting, but got some zest, and, since I don't carry superfine sugar, I got out the food processor, poured in regular sugar, and ran the processor for nearly five minutes, thus making the sugar less coarse -- not sure it was superfine, but close enough.

The recipe also called for using 100% agave tequila, preferably Reposado. Okay, I thought, I'll shell out a few extra clams and buy tequila a little closer to the top shelf. The recipe also called for triple sec.

3. Everett wasn't feeling well and stayed home. I greeted Christy, Carol, and Paul, upon their arrival, with a chilled margarita on the rocks. I'm not enough of a connoisseur myself to tell if the fresh juice, superfine sugar, and slightly more expensive tequila made a big difference, but everyone enjoyed their drink and I'd definitely do the same thing again.

We had a splendid dinner together and talked about all kinds of things -- movies, television shows, streaming tv vrs Dish, Christy's upcoming trip to Quinn's, some college basketball, and other things.

Christy's peach pie was sublime. It was warm, the peaches tasted fresh, the crust was perfect, and each slice was made perfect by the vanilla ice cream that accompanied it.

Here are the recipes for what I prepared. Three of them are recipes from the Cook's company and might be behind a paywall. I'm sorry if this is the case.

The chicken recipe is here.
The salad recipe is here.
The not hot sauce recipe is here.
The cornbread dressing recipe is here.
The margarita recipe is here.

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