Sweet-and-sour chicken

This is very different from the sweet-and-sour chicken dish often served at Chinese restaurants. It’s light and nutritious!

Pour a few tablespoons of sesame oil (olive oil is a good substitute if you have a sesame allergy) into a large skillet and turn the stovetop heat to medium. Cut 1.5 pounds of chicken breast meat into small pieces, each about twice the size of a bite. Add the chicken to the skillet and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

As the chicken is cooking, slice one small cabbage head very finely. After you have verified that the chicken pieces are cooked through, add the cabbage to the skillet and stir it all together. Add more sesame oil if it is getting too dry, and turn the heat to medium-low.

As the cabbage-chicken mixture cooks, use a wire whisk to mix together (in a large bowl) a good shake of sesame oil, a good shake of balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, and one tablespoon of honey. When this sauce is well combined, turn off the stove heat and scrape the cabbage-chicken mixture into the large bowl. Toss the cabbage and chicken with the sauce until the sauce completely coats the chicken and cabbage. Then pour the contents of the bowl into a large Pyrex dish.

Place the Pyrex dish in the oven remove it when the contents have been heated through. Serve while hot. This dish reheats nicely.

What to Do with Watercress

Watercress is a tasty little plant with almost spicy leaves reminiscent of arugula and thin, crunchy stems. We buy our watercress from Butter Valley, which sells hydroponically grown living greens. According to these guys, it is just packed full of nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B17, C, D, E, and K. I just love the fresh taste and the crunch on these late spring days!

You can make watercress sandwiches (like in The Wind in the Willows) by spreading a bit of cream cheese on bread (or toast) and then using the watercress as the filling. You can make a watercress soup as our friends here advise. As for me, I like it in a salad:

Chop watercress coarsely and put in large bowl. Chop fresh cilantro finely and toss in with the watercress. Remove the peels from a couple of oranges, split them into sections, and toss the sections in with the other ingredients. If you are able to eat nuts, add a handful of almonds (whole or slivered). Toss it all together and serve it with some balsamic vinegar on the side, so each person can season it to his own liking. My family loves this particular vinegar, sold in the pretty downtown area of our town as well as online. I highly recommend it as a way to encourage young children to eat greens. A splash of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar is enough to make butterhead lettuce, watercress, or any other fresh, leafy green quite appealing to the under-ten set. Happy crunching!

Springtime Salad

For the last few weeks, we’ve been enjoying arugula and romaine from Butter Valley Harvest, a local hydroponic grower. These lettuces make a lovely salad. Here’s my recipe for the salad we enjoyed at dinner tonight:

Rinse 5 ounces each of romaine and arugula in a large colander. Set the colander on a paper towel-lined plate to drain while you prepare the rest of the salad. In a very large salad bowl, combine 1 clove of garlic, minced; 3 tablespoons of orange juice; 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar; 2 tablespoons of sesame oil; and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk these ingredients together until well blended.

Just a few minutes before you are ready to eat, place the lettuce in the salad bowl on top of the dressing. Cut two grapefruits in half, remove the fruit with a very sharp knife, and place the fruit in the salad bowl on top of the lettuce. Toss the whole salad together with a large spoon and a large fork, and you are ready to go!