May 24th, 2010

Well, time flies and May is almost over, hard to believe! We are “suffering” through just about the worst spring I’ve ever encountered in Northern California, I doubt we’ve had a single day in the 80es yet, lots of rain, cold wind, overcast skies. Not my kind of weather and certainly not inviting to cook anything much outdoors.

Lots of other things kept me busy too, the kids, art classes, photography, cooking was mostly some quick standards over the recent months. Not that that’s bad food, a quick standard can be anything from steak with potatoes and salad, curry chicken with naan bread and salad, variations on pork, etc. Just nothing out of the ordinary, but hopefully that will change quickly now!

The bad weather also kept me from the farmer’s market, or we were out of town, but during a recent stop at whole foods they had piles of fresh in the shell chick peas (garbanzo beans) and I jumped on them. I had recently read about them and thought about frying or roasting them, of course I could not find the recipe (magazine? recent cookbook? Old cookbook recently read?) and unfortunately they were a bit less fresh or older than I thought, so me and the kids spent quite a while shelling them. Not too much fun, I could shell fava beans for a day, but these are pretty cumbersome in comparison.

I decided to steam them until almost tender, then toss them in the frying pan with some butter, salt and a touch of cayenne. Came out really tasty, if I can find fresh shelled ones I’d get them and happily pay for the shelling. I used them as a side dish with bone in skin on chicken thighs with pesto and pancetta. Aside of the work the peas require, this is a quick mid week dinner. I used the already diced pancetta from Trader Joes, as well as their organic chicken. The pesto is from Costco, their Kirkland Cibo Naturals pesto. It comes in a large plastic jar and IMO is as close to home made as it gets. Certainly the best ready made pesto I’ve ever found. I squeezed some lemon juice in it too I think.

First I cooked the pancetta until browned, then I roasted some halved baby garlic that I also got at Whole Food. I love baby garlic, too bad it’s only around in spring! Once all that was browned I took the garlic out and added the chicken, which marinaded in a good covering of pesto. Cooked until nicely browned, I added some water to the pan, made sure all the good brown bits were scraped from the bottom and put the baby garlic on top to finish cooking through by steaming in the covered pan. This came out very tasty, takes maybe half an hour. I served some fresh red dandelion salad on the side with a lime dressing. And – as I finally remembered to take some pictures again – here they are:

fresh steamed chick peas

Pesto Chicken with Pancetta, Baby Garlic, Chick Peas and Dandelion Salad

The next larger project is my little one’s 3rd birthday party this weekend, hopefully the sun will return by then! I’m considering either a brisket or pork shoulder low and slow in the Big Green Egg and some brats and hot dogs for the kids, a big fresh salad and maybe something like fire roasted beets and onions.

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