A throw-together chicken salad

Faced with hunger, laziness at the end of a long workday, and the start of warm-weather don’t want anything heavy to eat feeling, I was foraging in the refrigerator. I discovered that I had just enough of the dark chicken meat that I had cooked in the Instant Pot to make something like chicken salad, but a bit different.

Add to the shredded dark meat a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil , a drizzle of  baklouti green chili fused oil, just a few drops of honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar, and some cilantro. Add some diced radishes for crunch. Toss and eat.

(I will admit to cheating on the cilantro: I used Dorot frozen cilantro instead of fresh since I didn’t go to the store to get fresh. It’s not a good looking as fresh, but the flavor is good. (Cilantro and celery are major frustrations for me in cooking for one; I always end up composting a bunch of it.)

…and no, I don’t have any affiliation with Dorot Gardens except that I like the quality and the convenience of having the herbs in the freezer.

—Ô¿Ô—

…..

Advertisements

Herb-infused oils and vinegars

I’m always glad to see spring and summer (despite hating hot and humid weather) because of the fresh herbs. Maintaining the herbs on my deck involves keeping them cut back so that they do not bloom–I want peak flavor all summer.  That involves taking the scissors to them and cutting off about one-third of the plant, so that they will stay nice and bushy.

Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare, subsp. hirtum)

Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare, subsp. hirtum)

Even though it’s good maintenance, I just hate to throw away all those fresh herbs, so I often make flavored oils or vinegars with the trimmings. I love having a supply on hand for salad dressings, dipping, or whatever.

When I make infused oils I want strong flavor that I can use in many ways. I use plain vegetable oil and extract my herbs in heated oil at about 180° to 200° Fahrenheit, checked with an instant-read thermometer.  I either use my tiny “baby” slow cooker and let the oil infuse in that for several hours or use the microwave oven on low or defrost, then strain. This gives me very strongly flavored oils that I dilute with other oil depending on how I plant to use them. Once strained, I store in the refrigerator or freezer.

I’ve made infused oil from a lot of different herbs–oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, even epazote–or mixed herbs. I haven’t tried cilantro, but after reading the post on Chef Mimi Blog I want to give that a try as well.

This hot weather reminds me that it’s time to make lemon oil again. I  do this in the summer, removing the zest for the oil, then using the lemons to make a big pitcher of lemonade and sip that on the deck while the oil infuses in the slow cooker.

With oils made from fresh herbs, we need to be aware of the potential for botulism since Clostridium botulinum can thrive in oils like this. Any fresh herb or vegetable has the potential of carrying C. botulinum, and it requires high temperatures to kill the spores or to destroy the toxin so we need to be particularly careful about keeping them refrigerated.  Tips for prevention are given here and here.