Fall is just around the corner. It is the time of year when we have many family get togethers. Since I now live on a farm in rural Florida I have the perfect home for family entertaining. The house sits on twenty acres nestled down two miles of dirt roads. It is not a little old farmhouse, but a modern nearly new home with over 4,000 square feet of living space, high pine ceilings; two fire places and a dream kitchen. A salt-water pool and spa with a huge lanai are perfect for poolside entertaining. My property has hundreds of ancient oak trees covered with dangling moss. Underneath one of the massive oaks are a fire pit, and a picnic table, a perfect place to tell scary stories in the night, melt s’mores and listen to the music provided by talented family members and friends. I do not have mail delivery or garbage pick up which was hard to adjust to for a city girl, but I would not trade this magical place for a Park Avenue penthouse.
My love of cooking is inherited from both sides of my family. My Italian grandmother had a busy restaurant in Coney Island during prohibition and on my fathers German side, they have been in the restaurant business for generations. My dad is famous for his award winning chowder. My cooking style is geared to entertaining. I love to have dinner parties for friends and family. I like surprising them by creating new party themes and menus. With a close farmers market and my own fresh goats milk, cows milk, cheeses, vegetables and herbs my meals are more exciting than ever. I will be sharing my recipes with you. Here is the first one.
In the South, even though it is September and October we are still not experiencing any real temperature change. Here is one of my favorite dishes for this time of year.
Chicken Salad with Beets, Feta Cheese and Thyme
6 medium skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 10 oz package mixed baby salad greens
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 small red onion
4 medium beets, scrubbed, trimmed and cut in 1 inch cubes
8 oz feta cheese (I prefer the blocked type that I cut into ½ inch cubes. If all you can find is crumbled feta it will do.)
½ cup orange juice concentrate
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil for salad dressing
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil for frying chicken
salt and pepper to taste
The salad greens should be washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces. The red onion should be sliced paper-thin. The greens and onion should chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Place the cubed beets into a saucepan covered with water. Bring to a boil and cook about 20 minutes until tender. Drain and chill.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and sprinkle with the chopped fresh thyme. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken. Sauté until the chicken is done which should take about five minutes. Cool the chicken.
In a bowl or measuring cup mix the orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Whisk together and add salt and pepper to taste.
When all the ingredients have chilled place the salad greens into a large salad bowl. Add the chicken, beets, feta cheese and toss with the dressing.
I like to serve this dish with a white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, and a crusty French bread.
Post your comments. If you have any questions, ask me on Twitter @kmkolsch