Amy’s World

I can’t be happier hearing from my long-time friend, ex-broadcast journalist, Amy Godinez.  It’s always a chat from foodie to another foodie when we’re connected, mostly on-line.
Why, she’s happily settled in NZ with James, her husband, and her stepkids. Great move, I guess. It’s a totally new life for her there and I’m all out for it. 
james and amy (oh, and hunter!)

james and amy (oh, and hunter!)

I miss her, though. I miss the cutting-to-the-chase banters with her that always leave me bitin with the overflowing stories to tell.
Anyway, am just too glad to get an email from her. She’s generously sharing with us some recipes that she has been cooking lately. Thanks, Amy!
Here goes:
Hi Caren,
I took some photos of our oven-dried tomatoes which I bottled recently.  Because we had so many tomatoes in varying degrees of ripeness, I wanted to try something other than pasta sauce which I have made lots of, already packed away in the freezer.
Aside from the oven dried tomatoes, I thought I’d document dinner for tonight and see how it goes for a contribution!  So…I ended up taking pictures of dinner as well… hmmm… the pears will have to wait on the tree a little bit longer!
I have always enjoyed sun-dried tomatoes many different ways, but have always found it a bit taxing to actually do it and let it sit out and dry on its own the way it is normally done.  I don’t have a food dehydrator, but not too long ago found out you can actually dry your tomatoes in the oven (for several hours… as short as 5 to 9 hours, to as long as 20 hours!) at a very low temperature.  You can also decide if you want to keep the seeds or take them out, depending on how fleshy or how dry you enjoy them.  I decided to try it out and did a little variation on researched internet recipes.  Here’s what I came up with:
Oven Dried Roma Tomatoes in Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary
Roma Tomatoes, cut in half  lightly salted
Preheat oven to 200F or 95C.
Lay tomatoes single layer on an ungreased baking tray or non stick baking sheet.  You can fill up the whole tray but do not stack them on top of each other.  Bake for about 8 hours, using the middle tray of your oven.  Some tomato slices will dry slightly faster than other bits, so check after the 5th hour just to make sure. Turn them over if needed. Remove the dryer bits of tomato and let cool.  Let the whole batch cool completely before storing in sterilized jars with the following oil/vinaigrette mixture:
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
Salt & Pepper
Dinner tonight was chicken thigh cutlets. I figured I should bake them, and decided to play around with my baking combination.  This is probably the easiest way to bake chicken with no worries.
Chicken thighs
2 onions cut in quarters
2 small cloves crushed garlic
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Handful of pitted olives (I used the Fragatta Garlic Stuffed Olives tonight)
Sprigs of fresh Rosemary (so lucky to have this in the garden as well)
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/4 cup of white wine 
Salt & Pepper
amy's about-to-be-baked-chicken

amy's about-to-be-baked-chicken

Preheat oven to 350F or about 180C.
Line a rectangular oven proof glass dish with cleaned chicken thighs.  Slice a lemon into wedges and 2 small to medium onions into quarters.  Arrange the lemon and onions around the chicken for even distribution. Toss in a handful of olives, and stick some rosemary sprigs around the gaps.  finally crush some garlic and dot around the chicken pieces.  Carefully pour in chicken stock so the chicken is partly submerged…enough to keep the chicken moist while baking.  Lightly sprinkle top with salt and fresh ground pepper and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and add the white wine.  Bake another 25 to 30 minutes uncovered. 
When the chicken is done, you will find a good amount of drippings in the pan. Scoop or pour some of the drippings into a mug and set aside for making some gravy.  To make this, all you need is a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour.  Heat the butter in a skillet and add the flour, vigorously mixing with a wooden spoon.  Add the drippings bit by bit, allowing it to thicken while reducing, Adjust taste and thickness to your liking, just remember you have to mix this continously until it is done, just like making bechamel.
Serve on the side or pour on chicken pieces when plating.
We harvested some parsnips from the garden as well.  One was as big as an arm!  Since we had a few I decided we should do roast parnsips on the side along with another side pasta dish of pesto. 
I just lined a baking tray with foil, peeled and sliced the parnsips in half, tossed the parnsips onto the baking sheet along with a quartered onion, gave it a dash of olive oil and stuck it in the oven along with the chicken.  This one baked slightly faster than the chicken though, it was ready in about 40 minutes.  No salt or pepper, just as is.
 Mind you, we are so lucky to have most what we need in the garden.  We planted this Cinnamon Basil sometime last year and it has a tremendously lovely smell even when walking around it in the garden.  So, pesto it was… I had no pine nuts at hand, but I did have a lot of walnuts from last year.  Walnuts drop from the trees onto the ground, but these are made to dry in baskets for a few weeks to a few months before they are ready for shelling.  Before you even see the shell, there is a green outer covering that turns brownish black and then it peels or falls off, leaving the walnut shell ready.
So, my pesto went like this… Walnut Cinnamon Basil Pesto
Chop 1/3 cup walnuts in a chopper or food processor, add in a cup of fresh basil leaves, stems removed, and two small cloves of garlic.  Slowly pour in  1/2 cup of olive oil and continue processing till you get your preferred texture.  Season with a little salt and pepper, and for final touch, add in a little grated parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup or less.  Do a taste test and add a little more olive oil if necessary.
Top or stir into your choice of pasta.  We used Bavette No. 13 which is like a very thin fetuccini.  This experiment with walnuts turned into a very pleasant surprise!
I hope you try this sometime Caren.  I would be interested to know how yours turned out!  I will send you more when I do something with the pears!!!

About caren yrastorza

Might take forever and a day to describe who I am and what I do. In condensed words, I am a transient traveller of life.Sure, you may never freeze moments in time, but hey, you may write about them! So, please, join me as I walk you through the hallways of my mind, heart and soul. Come, join me in my journey back Into My World...

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