Romantic Lunch For Lovers

by Sidonie Maroon, A blue dot kitchen

Keep your kitchen love alive

When I’m in the kitchen, I want to make it joyful.  I believe in the everyday enchantment of my life, of adding spices here and there to increase happiness. Cooking is a wonderful place to practice, and sprinkling love throughout my work is a win for everybody at the table.

 
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Practices that keep my kitchen love alive 

Learn to cook world cuisines

I travel in my imagination by cooking recipes from around the globe. It doesn‘t add to my carbon footprint, yet I experience the flavors, spices and curious ingredients I crave. 

Build culinary skills

I keep it fresh by challenging myself to learn new techniques, while allowing myself to go at my pace, and practice on my family. It pays off to broaden my capacities as a cook. This week I’m perfecting the art of making homemade crackers.    

Dance and sing while cooking

I’m cooking Brazilian this month and learning to Samba while I saute.

Enjoy a cooking show or podcast while doing kitchen chores.

I reserve this treat for when I’m unpacking groceries or extensive chopping sessions

Here are two of my favorites:

Splendid Table: https://www.splendidtable.org

My Greek Table: https://www.dianekochilas.com/my-greek-table-with-diane-kochilas/

Cook with others

Set a cooking date with someone you love. Cook something wild and crazy together and remember to laugh. Linger with good conversation and candlelight over your meal. Cook meals with your children, spouse, friends, neighbors, club or class. Cooking together is a happiness multiplier.

Set a beautiful table

Setting the table with intention always calms and centers me. I love the ritual of choosing a tablecloth, placing the cutlery, folding the napkins, laying out the dishes and lighting the candles. I’m connected and part of our family traditions every time I do it. My dishes, and tablecloths are thrift store beauties, wrinkled and stained, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the attention I give to setting the stage for our togetherness. Right here, right now.

Colorful, seasonal, and healthy

Whenever I involve my senses, I’m uplifted. It brightens our day when our plates are a colorful palette of fruits and vegetables; we look forward to the first ripe strawberry, the first juicy tomato. The flavors, shapes, and sensual pleasures of ripe and delicious food create a constant parade of love moving through our lives.

Simple yet bountiful

Sometimes the simplest dish can have the most impact. I love to set a bountiful table, but allow each dish its due. Combinations that have recently inspired me: blanched green beans with garlic butter; orange slices with salt and pepper; roasted chickpeas with lemon and salt.

Remember to pause

I take the time to break from my chopping and stirring; notice where I am, look out the window,  focus on the quality of the light hitting the dishes. I deepen my breath and turn towards my loved ones. I remember how lucky I am to cook, and eat, and share my life. I remember to show up and love my life in the kitchen and out.  

 
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Romantic Lunch for Lovers

Serves 2 with leftovers

It only takes an hour to make this meal, minus the marinating time. It’s company worthy, and sensuous in its alternating subtle flavors and pops of contrast.  

Oven Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Moroccan Spices

Buy a cut-up chicken or a whole chicken and cut it up yourself.

The night before baking, line a glass baking pan with parchment paper. Lay the chicken in the pan and rub the flavor paste all over, even under the skin where possible. Cover the baking pan and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook the next day. 

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Flavor Paste

Combine flavor paste ingredients, including the ground spices. Blend them until smooth in a food processor. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the paste for the sweet potato side dish.

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 slices (1-inch nub) fresh ginger root, minced

4 slices (1-inch nub) fresh turmeric root, minced

1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt

⅓ cup olive oil

½ cup lemon relish

3 tablespoons honey

Spices for flavor paste

Grind the whole spices together, in a spice or coffee grinder, until smooth. Sift them through a hand-held strainer into a bowl.  

2 teaspoons whole fennel seed

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon white peppercorns

2 teaspoons coriander seed

5 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Baking

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Let the marinated chicken come to room temperature. Roast for 40 minutes or until the juices run clear and there isn’t any pink color. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Chopped Salad with Celery, Arugula, Green Olives and Fig

Make the salad and dressing while the chicken roasts. Combine the salad ingredients. Blend ingredients for the dressing in a small food processor. Dress the salad right before serving. 

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1 cup flat leafed parsley, chopped

4 ribs celery, cut into strips and then a small dice

2 cups baby arugula 

½ cup green olives, sliced

3 dried figs, thinly sliced

Dressing

makes ¼ cup

4 tablespoons avocado oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Spicy Sweet Potato Side Dish

Lay the sweet potato quarters out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Rub with reserved flavor paste. Add to the oven 15 minutes before the chicken is done. Taste at 13 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be soft, spicy and sweet. Serve with Harissa, aoroccan hot sauce or heat of choice.

1 large sweet potato peeled, cut into ¼ inch rounds and then quarters.

3 tablespoons reserved flavor paste from chicken dish.

hot chili sauce to serve

Valencia Orange Side Dish

Peel a Valencia orange and slice it into rounds; sprinkle with thyme salt, or any nice salt and black pepper before serving. Odd idea, but it is a wonderful addition.

 

       

 

 

 

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