Island Cooking

Basic & Delicious

by Jenn Farmer

Sometimes the simple things end up being more elegant than ever anticipated.  I was at a loss for dinner ideas one night recently, and people were already invited over.  I had a lot to work with, but sometimes inspiration is lacking.  At first I contemplated bbq turkey with grape and cucumber salad, and stir fry veggies.  It sounded ok but was not what I wanted.  I needed to use up some fresh rhubarb and did not feel like making dessert with it again.  I began to get a little worried, nothing was sounding good, and I knew everyone would be hungry when they arrived.  As I assembled a cheese platter, I began to think about a great rhubarb barbeque sauce that I love to make, but the guests coming over were not fond of spicy food.  My heart was set on savory rhubarb sauce on the poultry, so I simplified the recipe, and it was better than I could have expected.  Not only is this dish very flavorful, but very pretty. The rosy red from the rhubarb looks gorgeous with the poultry, and it made it look like it was much more time consuming than it really was.  After that all the other items fell into place.  The meal was very simple, nearly rustic, and so very good.  Everyone, even my picky eaters, were happy and asking for more.  The leftovers were almost better than the meal.

Rhubarb Glazed Poultry

  • 3/4 of a pound rhubarb stalks, cleaned and medium diced
  • 3-1/2 pounds chicken, turkey,  or guinea fowl- cut into about 8 pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil and vegetable oil for searing the poultry
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • One half pound red onions, small diced
  • Scant one cup dry white wine

Season the bird with salt and pepper, then heat oil till hot but not smoking.  Sear the meat in small batches, making certain the temperature comes up between each batch, to create a proper sear on each piece.  Brown each piece well, then set aside on an oven-safe pan.  Drain oil from pot, and melt butter into it.  Add the onions, and reduce heat to medium.  Stirring occasionally so the onions do not burn, cook them until soft, maybe 5 minutes or so.  Then add the meat back to the pot, adding wine and allowing the liquid to reduce down slowly, turning meat often, for about 35 minutes. Add the rhubarb and continue to cook until the poultry is very tender, maybe 20-30 more minutes.  Serve the bird, garnished by the beautiful sauce. For additional color and aroma zest a bit of lemon over it before serving.  Serves 4.

Since the grill was already on for grilled flatbread appetizers, I wanted to use it for some other items.  Grilled vegetables are one of my favorite foods of all time, and the obvious choice.  They are so flavorful and can be colorful.  I love to take any leftovers (though in my house there are usually not any) and chop and toss them in with mixed greens and some leftover pasta or rice and dressing for a very nice lunch or side dish the next day.

Grilled Lemon Broccoli

  • 1 bunch broccoli cut into 8 large spears
  • 1 lemon cut into eighths
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Toss the broccoli with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt pepper, and lemons.  Grill turning occasionally, cooking until the broccoli is the desired tenderness, and it has nice grill marks ,and flavorful charring (10-15 min).  Serve the broccoli with the lemons, squeezing it over the spears for flavor.  Eat hot or at room temperature.

I don’t know why I love baby potatoes so much, but I love how rustic they look yet how refined they taste, even when they are simply boiled and tossed with fresh herbs and butter.  My guests all expressed efforts to eat healthier, so I decided to forgo the usually potatoes with butter and made a colorful salad instead.  The quantities of vegetables stated in the recipe below are just suggestions.  Other items may be substituted or quantities may easily be changed.  I like to add halved cherry tomato, roasted peppers, or even handfuls of baby arugula or spinach for color, texture and nutritional value. It is another salad, that is better the next day, if it lasts that long.  Also apple cider vinegar is very good for digestion, and is a nice ingredient in meals.

New Potato Salad

  • 1 pound new potatoes
  • One quarter pound sugar snap peas
  • One quarter pound yellow and green beans
  • One quarter pound asparagus
  • One small bunch spring onions, cleaned
  • 2 radishes, sliced very thinly
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or horseradish mustard
  • 1 teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh dill or parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • One hard boiled egg, sieved (optional)

Cook the potatoes in lightly salted water until they are tender.  Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool.  Meanwhile blanche the green beans, sugar snap peas and asparagus.  Dice up all the vegetables attractively, including the uncooked spring onions.  Make a vinaigrette from olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.  Toss gently together with egg for extra flavor if you desire.  Serves 4-6.

Zucchini Glory Cupcakes

These can be frosted and served for a healthier dessert option, or omit the frosting, and eat them for a snack or as breakfast muffins.  Sometimes I will add remnants of dried fruit or coconut to the batter to really boost the flavors and add more vitamins.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • One half cup vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 2 large local eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • One and one half cups all-purpose flour
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • One teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • One half teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • One half teaspoon baking soda
  • One half teaspoon salt
  • One cup carrots shredded
  • Three quarters of a cup zucchini, grated
  • One half cup pineapple , small diced
  • One cup blueberries
  • One quarter cup almonds or pecans, chopped
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • One quarter cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • One teaspoon lemon or almond extract

In a small bowl cream together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract  In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Gradually beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until well incorporated.  Then stir in carrots, zucchini, pineapple, almonds, and gently fold in the blueberries.

Line muffin cups with paper liners, and fill each two thirds of the way with batter.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 16-20 minutes, or until a clean toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, or by checking to see if the cupcakes springs back after being pressed, or leaves an invention.  If it is springy it is done.

Let the cupcakes cool on racks while you make the frosting.  Whip the cream cheese, butter, sugar and lemon extract until they are light and fluffy.  Frost cupcakes. Yields approximately 16 cupcakes.

Articles by Date from 2012