Nationwide, farm markets are bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables at the height of flavor.
Tonight’s menu celebrates the tastes and textures of our bountiful orchards and fields. You can choose to make all of these recipes, or take a few shortcuts with prepared items like biscuits or compote from your favorite gourmet store. But don’t skimp on using demi-glace. The final sauce will be worth it!
Menu for Six:
- Fennel, Apple and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Chicken Cutlets with Demi-glace Wine Sauce
- Buttermilk Butter-top Biscuits with Plum Compote
- Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Creme Fraiche
- Sauteed Green Beans with Lemon Zest and Cracked Pepper
- Grilled Nectarines with Brown Sugar
Basic Shopping List (in addition to your stocked pantry items):
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 crisp, tart apples
- 1 stalk celery
- 6 Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 pound green beans
- 1 pound nectarines
- 1 pound sweet plums
- 1 pound tart plums
- 6 chicken breasts
- 1 container chicken demi-glace
- 1 container double cream
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean
- Crisco shortening (sticks)
Fennel, Apple and Arugula Salad
1 fennel bulb
2 crisp, tart apples (try Honeycrisp!)
1 stalk celery
1 bunch arugula
- Begin preparation by washing all fruits and vegetables. Allow to dry on paper toweling.
- Remove stalks and core of fennel bulb and set aside. Cut the bulb crosswise into thin slivers and add to medium mixing bowl. (This can also be done with a slicing blade in a food processor.)
- Core the apples and cut into slivers, retaining the skin on the individual slivers for its nutrients and color. Add to fennel.
- Trim celery and cut into matchstick pieces. Add to fennel and apple.
- Add arugula and toss mixture with 1/2 of Balsamic Vinaigrette (see recipe below). Increase dressing as necessary to lightly coat ingredients.
- Arrange salad in mound on salad plate.
- Drizzle plates with remaining dressing and serve.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
brown sugar to taste
- In small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Using a whisk to combine, drizzle olive oil into mixture until fully incorporated.
- Taste and correct seasonings, adding brown sugar until desired sweetness is reached.
Chicken Cutlets with Demi-Glace Wine Sauce (6 servings)
6 chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons flour
Salt and cracked black pepper
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup prepared demi-glace sauce*
1 Tablespoon white wine
few sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
- Between sheets of wax-paper on a cutting board, pound chicken breast to uniform 1/2″ thickness. Cut flattened chicken into two cutlets (one serving). Dredge in flour and season with salt and cracked black pepper. Set aside and continue preparing remaining chicken.
- When all chicken has been prepared, heat half of the butter and olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium high heat.
- When butter/oil mixture is hot, insert chicken in a single layer. Cook without turning for 3-4 minutes until edges of cutlets begin to brown. Flip and cook on the other side for approximately 2 minutes. Remove cooked cutlets to a clean plate and continue browning remaining chicken.
- Reduce heat to medium then add demi-glace and wine to pan. Using wooden spoon, loosen browned bits from bottom of the pan and incorporate into sauce. Cook sauce for several minutes, return chicken to pan and turn pieces to coat.
- Remove pan from heat and serve. Garnish cutlets with a spoonful of sauce and a sprig of fresh thyme.
Buttermilk Butter-top Biscuits
A Southern favorite for meals with any kind of sauce. Recipes may vary by a pinch of this or a shake of that, but I like the traditional approach of a time-honored recipe – just plain, flaky goodness in a warm mouthful.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup Crisco shortening (this equals 1/2 of a bar)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted and divided
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray heavy baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- In mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
- Using two forks or a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly.
- Add buttermilk a little at a time and blend until just combined. Dough will be sticky. Do not overwork or biscuits will be tough.
- On lightly floured surface, roll biscuit dough to 1/2″ thick. Cut out using 2 1/2″ round biscuit cutter (or a drinking glass – spray rim inside and out with non-stick spray).
- Arrange biscuits on prepared baking sheet several inches apart. Brush with melted butter.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden.
- Brush hot biscuits again with melted butter and serve.
A compote is a fruit preserved by cooking in sugar syrup. Serve a spoonful of this on the chicken cutlets, or enjoy with hot biscuits. The compote will keep for several weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, follow proper canning procedures to preserve long-term.
2 pounds plums, assorted
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod*
- Cut plums into wedges, removing pits.
Place plums, sugar, cinnamon sticks and scraped seeds of vanilla bean into stockpot and cook over medium high heat.
- Stir frequently and cook for approximately 45 minutes until thickened.
- Cool and store in sterilized jar with tight-fitting lid.
- Serve with meats, fresh-baked bread or oatmeal.
*If you do not have a vanilla bean pod, substitute 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Creme Fraiche
6 Yukon Gold potatoes, washed with skins intact and eyes removed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (your favorites)
1/2 cup creme fraiche*
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Prepare potatoes and rub with very thin coating of olive oil.
- Pierce potatoes with tip of a knife or tines of a fork to allow cooking steam to escape.
- Place potatoes directly on the oven rack.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Test for doneness. If texture is still too firm, return to oven for ten minutes.
- Allow potatoes to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- In small bowl, combine herbs with creme fraiche.
- Cut a cross in the potato tops and lightly smash potato with a fork. Top each with dollop of herbed creme fraiche.
- Season to taste and serve.
*If you can’t locate creme fraiche at your specialty grocer, sour cream may be substituted.
Sauteed Green Beans with Lemon Zest, Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil
1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
zest of 1 lemon (approximately 1 Tablespoon)
cracked pepper and salt to taste
high quality extra virgin olive oil
- Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.
- Cook green beans for 4 minutes and drain. Texture will be crunchy and color will be vivid green.
- Drain beans, then toss hot beans in serving bowl with lemon zest. Season with cracked pepper and salt to taste.
- Drizzle with olive oil just before serving.
Grilled Nectarines with Brown Sugar
6 ripe nectarines
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- Prepare nectarines by halving and pitting.
- Preheat grill pan or outside barbecue to medium high heat.
- Place nectarines face down on grill surface and cook for several minutes until texture feels soft. The natural sugars in the fruit will caramelize and render a tasty, dessert-worthy result (with a fraction of the calories in pie!).
- Remove nectarines from grill, sprinkle with brown sugar and serve. For a truly decadent touch, drizzle with heavy whipping cream just before serving.
And that wraps up my recipes for this Monday’s menu of the week. Hope you enjoy your fruit-filled feast! Leave a comment and let me know how your meal turned out!