I feel very domestic today, which sort of bores me, but is sort of comforting at the same time. I had some friends over tonight and somehow threw together a whole meal.
Having a grill makes it easier to cook lots of things at once, outside, with minimal cleanup, but halfway through cooking, the grill ran out of propane. These are things I never had to think about even once in New York, but suddenly I found myself having to figure out where to get more propane. (Turns out Home Depot). I’m actually starting to fall asleep watching myself write about a borefest topic like propane shopping…but the drowsiness also might be due to the lemon balm tea I’m drinking. I hope it’s that.
Sooooo, anyway, yesterday Joel and I hit up the (amazing) Little Italy farmer’s market here in good old SD, where I proceeded to, of course, totally overdo it. I have this little “issue” at farmer’s markets (always) where I get into long conversations with the farmer or person in charge of the stand, I get excited, I taste test everything and learn everything there is to know about the product, and then I feel like I need to buy something from them because I’m invested now, and they’re my friend. This is is how I walk away from the farmer’s market with things like “avocado blossom honey” and 3 different flavors of “Bitchin’ Sauce.” Sigh. At least I brought my own farmer’s market bags.
My friends Amy, Rick and Kirk were coming over tonight for dinner, and this was a very symbolic event for me because one of the reasons I left New York City (for now) is because I wanted to host dinners and cook for my friends. I didn’t have the space for it in NYC, but every time I pictured my absolute dream life, I always pictured a big table full of friends and food in my home. I couldn’t get that image out of my mind, and it always seemed like that table was going to be on the west coast for some reason. Here in San Diego at my Airbnb, I have an outdoor deck with a grill and a 6-person table. So. Dreams come true. If only all my New York City friends could also be here (miss you guys), that would seal the deal in my fantasy dreamland.
But alas, I was now about to be a dinner host and I had to figure out things to make.
One of my newfound goals as an official adult is to learn some kitchen techniques and have a few go-to recipes to use over and over. For kitchen techniques, I have the book In The Green Kitchen: Techniques To Learn By Heart. I plan to memorize it.
Because I had walked away from the farmer’s market with a fancy bottle of balsamic vinegar, I decided to use it to make a marinade for chicken (also bought at the farmer’s market) and a salad dressing.
Salad dressings can be tough. I’ve been notoriously haphazard with these. I always think it’s fine to just put “whatever” amount of olive oil or vinegar or lemon juice on, and assume it’ll turn out well. Not always so. You can’t just completely willy nilly the amounts of oil and vinegar. You have to get the basic technique down if you want to have any sense of decency as a salad dresser. Which I do.
So I researched and I learned the following:
Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
A vinaigrette needs to have 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. This means if you use 3/4 cup of olive oil, you use 1/4 cup of vinegar. I learned all of this from The Kitchn: 10 Salad Dressings To Know By Heart (amazing, amazing article).
From The Kitchn:
“The most basic way to make a salad taste really, really good is to toss it lightly with good olive oil, then squeeze a little lemon or drizzle some balsamic vinegar over it. Toss with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, which are often all too neglected in salads, and you have yourself a delicious side salad. Herbs will just make it that much better.”
For tonight, I used (adapted from Essential Recipe: Balsamic Vinaigrette)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 big squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 tsp)
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
And I just drizzled this over a big bowl of organic mixed greens, and I had some dressing leftover.
I have never marinated chicken before so needless to say this was a major turning point in my life.
I looked up how to marinate chicken and I decided to base my marinade recipe off of this one because this post has great SEO keywords used strategically and I appreciated that.
I changed the recipe a bit, and simplified based on the ingredients I had on hand. It came out DELICIOUS. I marinaded it for about 4 hours and used it on chicken thighs instead of breasts.
Adapted from The Best Chicken Marinade Recipe (for 6 servings):
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 6 chicken breasts or 3.5 lb chicken
So there you go — sometimes sauces, dressings and marinades can be a little intimidating, so I hope you find this helpful.
And hopefully my friends liked it enough to come over again one day. :)
Next time I’ll take photos – I wasn’t planning on blogging about these which is why I didn’t take any.
I love cooking so much. I can’t wait to learn every technique there is.