Usually, I'm not a lunch person. A protein bar or yogurt at my desk is perfect. But I do love socialized lunches and going out with friends. Or fixing something special for company. For the Valentine Journal Workshop, we had organic springtime greens with herbs, a fruit salad, rosemary garlic bread, and some chicken thing with puff pastry.
I don't know what to call it, only that anything you add puff pastry to becomes a special meal.
I boiled 5 large, bone in, skinless chicken breasts in 2 qts of water seasoned with sea salt, pepper and garlic.
While deboning the cooked chicken, I added two cups of rice to the pot, along with 3 finely chopped carrots and cooked that in the broth according to directions on the rice package.
In a skillet, I sauteed half a red onion, two stalks of celery, and a red pepper, all chopped up together, with a splash of olive oil and seasoned with sea salt.
The veggie mix and chicken went back into the pot with the finished rice and broth along with a raw, chopped broccoli crown, and I removed the pot from the heat so the brocoli didn't over cook, the hot broth just blanched it.
To that, I added a pinch of poultry seasoning, and a few shakes of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute.
8 ramekins were filled about 2/3 with the mixture, using a slotted spoon. Over that, I ladled broth from the pot, just enough to cover the chicken, rice and veggies so it wouldn't dry out when baked.
With a cookie cutter, I cut hearts out of thawed puff pastry and added it to the top of each. The scraps from cutting hearts out of pastry got rolled together and bagged for the freezer to use later.
These bake at 375 just till the pastry browns.
But that's not all. This made enough to also fill an 8" round casserole pan, and I used the 2nd puff pastry sheet from the box to cover the whole dish, so I had a meal to feed my family later as well as individual dishes to feed my friends. It can also be made up ahead of time, without baking, and kept in the fridge for a couple of days. If you do that, you'll need to bake it longer. Just enough to get hot through and through before the crust browns, so I set the oven a bit lower, 350, so the crust doesn't burn while waiting for it to get hot.
Its a lighter version of a pot pie, without the gravy and the bottom crust.
All of my table cloths are from garage sales, and some are in better shape than others. By layering them all on top of each other, no one noticed the stains or holes. At least that was the plan. Plus, I like the sheer, lacy cloth over the rose patterned one, it makes it a lot more lush.
Our bread was home made too. I make up my own recipes as I go, but I've fixed this so many times, I can kind of wing it to tell you how much of what went into it.
Rosemary Potato Garlic Bread:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons organic sugar
2 teaspoons Guar Gum (helps the bread rise, keeps it light and airy, plus lowers cholesterol)
1-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/2 cup warm water
Add all of the above to the oiled pan in a bread maker
1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1/4 cup golden flax seed
3 tablespoons dried rosemary
i tablespoon of fresh, minced garlic
3-1/2 cups organic, unbleached bread flour
Add to the top of the previous ingredients, do not stir.
Make a well in the top of the flour pile with your finger and drop in 2-1/2 teaspoons of bread machine flour
Switch the machine to dough setting. I don't leave mine in for the whole cycle, once it begins to rise, I transfer my dough to a greased bread pan and punch it down a few times. Then I boil a cup of water in my microwave oven, and place the pan of dough in the microwave, to use it as a hot box to let the dough rise in. My microwave is over the stove and has a light under it. I've found that with the light on, it stays warm. If yours doesn't, try warming your stove with a pan of hot water in it, and then turning it off and setting the dough in the oven to rise.
It just seems to me that the bread is so much better when baked in a pan, not in the bread machine.
I oil the top and bake it on 350 for about a half hour, or till its brown and crusty.
I was able to make the dough before everyone arrived, and bake it while we worked. The mini casserole, fake pot pies were also made ahead, so it was an easy lunch to fix during a workshop. I had time to create a couple of pages of my own while we were in the studio.
The fruit salad was every bit as simple, three pears, one mango, one pineapple, a bag of frozen blueberries and a quart of strawberries. All cut up and spritzed with lime juice, with about a teaspoon of sugar on top.
I was glad to have fruit salad to serve, because I forgot to turn on the oven for the chicken and everyone was hungry.
I brought out fresh bread and fruit salad to the studio, to hold everyone till the main meal cooked. Oh well, these kind of things happen. Quite often. No one starved to death and I don't think anyone really minded waiting too much.
Which is a good thing, because around here, they aren't going to find it! I'd rather be relaxed and enjoying myself than worry about all the mistakes I could be making. Life is too short to stress out over the little things.