6 February 2013

Pucker Up With Lemons for Valentines Day with the Virtual Supper Club

Lemon Ginger Fried Chicken

If dreary winter weather is getting you down, lift your spirits by adding bright, zesty lemons to your every day cooking. The new year is well under way and already we have signs and hope of Spring. Today seemed so warm everyone had permanent smiles on their faces. My foodie obsession has always been lemon rather than chocolate. No matter whether it is sweet or savoury I am always tempted to surrender to the enticing texture of a lemon custard filling or a creamy avgolemono.

With Italy still on my mind my thoughts drift to sun drenched villas bathed in golden yellow sunlight. Imagine walking amongst rolling hills lined with cypress tree soldiers, surrounded by ancient vineyards, olive and lemon trees with nothing but the sounds of  birds singing to interrupt your dreaming.

In Italy, limoni are everywhere from handpainted ceramics to lemons at the fruit stand the size of baseballs. Besides being a fundamental ingredient in seafood dishes, lemon is one of the most popular sweet treat flavours as well with its place right alongside almond, hazelnut and chocolate. I am happy to celebrate the season from the nationally celebrated beverage Limoncello to its tart, citrusy flavour featured in biscotti, cakes and gelato. Around here lemons are as popular and widely used as simple spices like salt and pepper. I have embraced lemon juice and zest as a cornerstone in my love for Mediterranean cuisine. A little lemon goes a long way. 

The brightly coloured outer layer of citrus fruit, the zest, contains scented essential oils that impart a handsome flavour to dishes. When a recipe calls for strips of zest, a vegetable peeler works very well. But for fluffy, grated zest, try using my favourite kitchen gadget a micro plane zester. Years ago I remember watching an episode of Martha Stewart where she used a woodworkers microplane to zest her lemons. I am sure this is where the idea came from to create a microplane for cooking. Best invention yet!

When juicing your citrus to extract the maximum juice, either roll your citrus fruit around on a flat work surface, pressing down firmly with the palm of your hand, or warm through gently by dropping into a pan of hot water, popping into the microwave for a few seconds, or even placing in a warm oven for a minute or two. I use the microwave method myself and there is never a drop of juice wasted.

We are so glad you have decided to join us once again for our Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club. This is a monthly event where 5 ladies and one gent in two neighbouring countries get together to create a delicious meal from appetizer to dessert with a theme in mind. We are now in fourth year and continue to share a love for Cooking Light magazine which has an emphasis on healthy eating and living. This is a team effort where we combine what Cooking Light readers like best...good food with great company!!! 

Let's see what our group has conjured up. This months theme was chosen by yours truly, "Pucker Up With Lemons for Valentines Day."

Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe Cooking starts us off with her love of Italy and their infamous Limoncello, a beverage made everywhere the lemon grows along the coast.

Susan of The Spice Garden warms us up with a Chicken Rice Avgolemono Soup with Dill and Lemon Pepper Garlic Bread Sticks. This is my favourite version of  a bowl of comforting chicken noodle soup.
I brought the main dish of Lemon Ginger Fried Chicken. Giving the chicken a double coating of the flour mixture creates a golden crust even without the skin when pan-frying.  Carefully pour in the broth so you don't wet the crispy brown coating on the chicken. The broth mixture turns into a glazey sauce that can be served with the chicken. Or do as I did and create the glaze on the stove top instead. The verdict: The chicken has a tendency to turn soggy even without adding the sauce to the dish, so this is the type of dish that would need to be eaten that day and not the fried chicken we take on picnics. It had a delicious flavour profile.

Sarah of All Our Fingers in the Pie brings us a taste of Spring with Tomato Salad with Avocado andPreserved Lemons. She even made her own preserved lemons from the pages of Cooking Light.
Jerry of Jerry's Thoughts Musings and Rants brings one of my favourite salads of all time Fennel with Meyer Lemon.
And lastly Roz of la Bella Vita ends our delicious meal with dessert, a tasty LemonPolenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote to remind her of her special time in Italy.

**Lemon Ginger Fried Chicken**
adapted from Cooking Light

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned
2 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
2 chicken drumsticks, skinned
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 - 2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Place rind, juice, and next 5 ingredients (through drumsticks) in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.
Sift together flour and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper). Place flour mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Remove chicken from marinade bag, reserving marinade. Sprinkle salt and black pepper evenly over chicken. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture; seal bag and shake to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour mixture. Reserve remaining flour mixture. Place chicken on a wire rack; place rack in a jelly-roll pan. Cover and refrigerate 1 1/2 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture; seal bag and shake to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour mixture. Discard remaining flour mixture.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, turning once. Arrange chicken in single layer in a shallow roasting pan. Combine broth and reserved marinade in a small bowl; carefully pour broth mixture into pan. Sprinkle chicken evenly with sugar, and top with lemon slices. (Instead I like to make the glaze on the stovetop). Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden and a thermometer registers 165.°

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. What a great program! I am a big fan of anything lemony, so I find your menu particularly appealing.



  2. I can almost taste this..Big fan of lemon here also.

  3. This is a lighter version of a dish that I make in the summer for barbeque parties ... oh, so good! I think I found my version in The Silver Palate Cook Book years ago ... what a perfect entree for our lemon themed meal, Val! Perfect with that fennel salad as a side!

    1. The Silver Palate cookbooks were the first books in my collection many years ago and have been a source of many delicious recipes over the years. I will have to have a look for the recipe Susan. I am surprised I have never made it before from these kitchen bibles.

  4. It sounds like a real feast, Val. I love your chicken. I share your love of all things lemon and this is a perfect way to use them. I hope your week is going well. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. Val, I love this chicken recipe. Lemon just adds so much life to chicken, doesn't it? What a great theme and thanks for taking me back (mentally and in spirit) to the Amalfi coast. I dream of returning! I have also just added your URL link to this post to my own post to update it for directing others to your chicken recipe! Buon Appetito!

  6. This is a nice recipe, I love using lemon a lot in the kitchen. Still cold here in Ontario :)

  7. Great flavors in this dish! It looks delicious.

  8. Mmm...lemon and ginger are a great combination. This looks tasty as it is, but is also turning gears in my head for variations.

    Overdoing lemon is a lesson I'm slowly learning. Lemon dishes can go from fresh ad tasty to horribly acidic in one squeeze.

  9. I'm all about the lemon love lately! These recipes all sound fabulous!

  10. I would choose lemon over most others... this looks perfect!

  11. I have been waiting to see this recipe. It sounds divine.

  12. It was cold today - I need a warm, yellow, lemon!

  13. That chicken looks amazing! Low-cal and low-fat just makes it even better.


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