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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sunday Supper

 Last Saturday, we meandered around the farmers'  market nibbling on cheese samples from various vendors.  Dad's Favorites had a fantastic smoked gouda and cheddar pimento cheese that was delicious. It was firm and chunky, perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches. Michael bought a 1/2 pound.  Boone Creek Creamery had amazing cheeses. We sampled  nutty Manchego de Vaca and a wonderfully stinky Fromage de Stilton infused with ginger.  Oh my.  I wanted the pungent ginger-infused aged blue cheese, but had spent my last dollar on a gorgeous chervil plant. Next week, I'll have a better plan and that hunk of smelly cheese will be mine.
 While shopping and eating, we ran into our friend Heather.  She  turned us on to Abigail's Gourmet Nut Butter. After a few samplings, Michael purchased the ridiculously fabulous and dense all-natural cashew honey nut butter. Happy.

As we strolled through the center of the pavillion, something really interesting caught my eye. Poking out from a basket on the table of Blue Moon Farms stand was a feathered bunch of beautiful green something. It appeared to be some kind of baby spring swiss chard.  It turned out to be red-stemmed bordeaux spinach.  I had to have it. I had no idea what I'd do with it, but that wasn't  the point.  I simply had to have it.  Delicate garlic greens fluttered in the breeze next to the spinach. Yep.  Sold.  Impulse purchase.
It was a good day at the market.

Sunday proved to be an incredibly lazy day. Without any obligations, it was the kind of day  we all crave from time to time.  Lazy day.  Lazy cooking.  Low impact. 

Sunday supper....with a twist.

I associate roast chicken with Sunday supper. Its soothing aroma gently perfumes the house while it quietly cooks on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I had a large cornish game hen that could serve two for a perfect  Sunday supper. After rinsing the game hen, I cut out the backbone and sliced it down the breast to form two perfect halves. I slid thinly sliced orange wheels along with  fresh parsley leaves under the skin before tucking the wing tips behind the breasts and securing the legs into  slits of breast skin to hold its shape.

After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I rubbed olive oil over the meat, drizzled a scant one tablespoon of Vermont pure maple syrup over the hen halves,  showered them with salt and pepper, and slid them into the oven to roast for 45 minutes, basting them with the pan juices every 15 minutes to brown the skin.

 While the hens roasted, I turned my attention to the spinach. The texture of the bordeaux spinach was  lovely. I knew I didn't want to kill it by cooking it to death, so I decided to slightly wilt it with a warm bacon vinaigrette.

I plucked the stems from the spinach and tossed the leaves into a large bowl with sliced radishes, slivered dried apricots, toasted almonds, and sliced onions.  When the games hens were beautifully browned, I pulled them from the oven to rest. I sliced 5 slabs of thick cut apple-wood smoked bacon into lardons and fried them until crisp.  After carefully removing the bacon to drain, I dropped sliced garlic greens and sliced onions into the hot bacon fat to saute until tender.  When the garlic and onions were slightly caramelized, I added a tablespoon of cane sugar  into the hot bacon drippings. When the sugar dissolved into the sizzling fat, I deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup pomegranate red wine vinegar.

After drizzling the hot bacon vinaigrette over the huge pile of red-stemmed spinach, I tossed it vigorously until the leaves wilted ever so slightly from the heat, twirled the limp spinach onto our plates, and nestled a halved hard boiled egg onto the spinach nests.  I nudged the roasted game hens against the gorgeous wilted spinach and finished them with a sparse sprinkling of minced fresh parsley.

Surprisingly, the maple syrup pan juices bronzed the game hens without sweetening them. The skin crackled when sliced, revealing very moist meat with a smoky maple essence. The softly cooked orange wheels under the skin melted into the flesh and provided  subtle sweet acidity.  We tried eating the delicate birds with knives and forks, but  surrendered to finger licking gnawing and sucking. Heathens.

Although wilted, the star-shaped red-stemmed spinach salad held up under the hot,  tart, and sweet bacon vinaigrette. The juicy leaves punched through the vinagrette with earthy undertones. Sauteed spring garlic greens added  subtle garlic flavour to the salad  while sliced raw radishes provided peppery crunch.  

Roasted game hens paired with a wilted early spring bordeaux spinach salad.

A perfect Sunday supper.

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