Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Little Taste Of Summertime

Good evening everyone! Welcome back to Out Of The Culinary - so happy you could join us. I don't know about your places of residence, dear readers, but here in the tropics Iowa we've been extremely warm and extremely wet the past few days. We've had 8 inches of rain in a week, and the average temperature has been 90 degrees. Yuck. Today, we climbed up to a heat index of 104...104! Nothing says summertime like heat and humidity I guess. After all, that's what summertime is really known for. The heat...the sweltering, oppressive heat.

Summer does have one more claim to fame - and that would be grilling. (That's how you do a segue ladies and gentleman!) Now, sadly, we lack the means to grill (or the space to store one) but -we have finally obtained the next best thing. A grill pan! (More to come on the grill pan later in the week)

Now equipped with a grill pan, a whole new chapter in Jamie Oliver's cookbook opened up to me (not much of an exaggeration there, we now have access to a lot more recipes). I wanted to start our foray in the world of grill pan cooking with something that said 'summer' - and I found just the recipe I was looking for.

The Recipe: Chicken Fajitas
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What You'll Need:

1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Medium Onion
2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 Tsp. Paprika
1 Lime
Flour Tortillas

The Recipe: Fresh Garden Salsa
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What You'll Need:

1 Red Chile
15 Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Lime

Begin by slicing you bell pepper. Now - I had never really encounter a bell pepper before, so I had to turn to our old standby Cook's Bible to give me pointers on attacking the fruit (YES - fruit. Remember, any 'vegetable' with seeds is technically deemed a fruit - this goes for tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers and the like. I don't want any emails arguing to the contrary!)

Red Pepper

If this is your first go-round with a bell pepper, allow me to give you a few pointers. Begin by using a paring knife to slice around the stem at the top and pop it out of the pepper. Next, slice the pepper into two larger halves. Take this opportunity to scoop out any seeds or other pepper 'guts' that are inside. (I used our melon baller to scoop out the insides of our pepper - it worked very nicely.) From here, you are free to use the pepper in whatever way your recipe calls for. In our recipe, we need to slice the pepper into thin strips. I also halved this strips, to keep them from being overly long.

Set your pepper slices aside in a large mixing bowl. Next, slice your chicken breasts into long, thin strips as well. Add those to the bowl with the peppers. Finally, peel and chop your onion (As usual, I used our OXO smart chopper and saved a lot of time and effort) and add those to the bowl. Top everything off with some paprika and a pinch of ground cumin. Add the juices of 1/2 of a lime and a pinch of salt and pepper. Finally, drizzle a lug of olive oil over the whole lot and mix well. Once mixed, set the bowl aside in the refrigerator to marinate while you make the salsa.

All mixed up and ready to go!

There are two ways you can go about making this fresh salsa. You can chop the tomatoes, red chile and cilantro by hand OR you can turn to your food processor. I chose option #2. I have to say, I am very impressed with our little food processor (which totally earned its epic intro music) I dumped the tomatoes and chile into the food processor, pushed the chop button for exactly two seconds and - ta da - a freshly chopped and mixed bowl of salsa. Amazing. Once everything is chopped, simply add the cilantro leaves, a splash of olive oil and the juice of one lemon and mix everything up.

Ready to make its blog debut! 


I'd say it did ok

Next, place your grill pan on high heat. Once it's good and hot, pour our chicken/pepper mixture into the pan. Allow it to fry up a little (two to three minutes) before you start turning it every minute or so. Once the outsides of the chicken pieces are white, you will want to keep the mixture moving constantly. Cook everything up like this for another 5 to 10 minutes and you will be done. All that is left is scoop some onto a fresh tortilla, add a dash of your freshly made salsa and enjoy!

Fryin' it all up

The Results:

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised with this recipe. When I started reading "red bell pepper, paprika" etc, I really thought this was going to end up being a spicy dish. Not the case at all. The bell pepper turned out to be very sweet, not at all spicy.  * Side note * Who knew the bell pepper was such an amazing fruit? I turns out that this little guy has a whole lot of your daily vitamins, only a few calories (24 per pepper) and is a fantastic health aid. Below is a full nutritional profile of the little pepper. Chart found via world's healthiest foods website.

Bell peppers, red, raw, slices
1.00 cup
92.00 grams
24.84 calories
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin C174.80 mg291.3211.1excellent
vitamin A5244.00 IU104.976.0excellent
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)0.23 mg11.58.3excellent
dietary fiber1.84 g7.45.3very good
molybdenum4.60 mcg6.14.4very good
vitamin K4.51 mcg5.64.1very good
manganese0.11 mg5.54.0very good
folate20.24 mcg5.13.7very good
potassium162.84 mg4.73.4good
vitamin B1 (thiamin)0.06 mg4.02.9good
vitamin E0.63 mg3.12.3good
tryptophan0.01 g3.12.3good
copper0.06 mg3.02.2good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
very goodDV>=50%ORDensity>=3.4ANDDV>=5%

World Health Board's Rating of a Bell Pepper

Bell pepper can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well, because they contain vitamins B6 and Folic Acids. What an amazing little fruit! 

Amazing qualities of the bell pepper aside, this dish has a lot of other great selling points. First, it simply tastes like summer. Grilling, fresh veggies, seared chicken. Yum - yum - YUM! The seasonings all blend together to make a very flavorful and delicious dish. The little drizzle of lime over everything adds the last little kick. 

The fresh garden salsa may have been my favorite part. I am not a big tomato fan, I simply don't like the flavor. However, I thought I would try something different tonight and use grape tomatoes - I am willing to try anything once. One bite of this salsa and one thing comes to mind: outdoors. It simply tastes like a garden. It's hard to explain really, but the flavor that fresh vegetables have one they've just been picked form your garden - yeah, that's the flavor this salsa is packing. It compliments the chicken fajitas very nicely, but would do well as a standalone dipping salsa for chips - or would even do well on top of a salad. 

All in all, I am very pleased with this dish. It is certainly going into our big book of 'return recipes.' My only gripe is the prepare time. Jamie has this recipe is his '20 minute meals' section, meaning it takes 20 minutes for ANYONE to prepare and cook this dish. I didn't have such luck. It took me 30 to get everything ready, and another 10 to cook. I doubled up the '20 minute' meal goal. Oh well, if that's the only gripe, it's not a bad one. Give this recipe a shot for yourself. You won't regret it.

That's all we have for you tonight. Stop by tomorrow night to see what Maggie has cooking for you. It's something she has never tried before - so the results could be interesting (I mean that in a good way!) Until tomorrow,


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