A zest for life
Webster's New World College Dictionary" defines "zest" as "something that gives flavor, relish or piquancy; stimulating or exciting quality, or keen enjoyment or gusto."
Those are the words I would use to describe this week's kitchen host, Rae Blackwood.
This week I went back up the hill to Browns Valley where I had the pleasure of getting to know Rae while she made her incredible recipe for "Zesty Orange Chicken Delight."
It was like a Your Neighbors' Favorite reunion when one of our past kitchen hosts, Laura Miller, who made her Italian Cioppino Fish Soup for us the first of February, showed up for lunch. What a treat. I had actually met Rae at Laura's where she told me that night about her recipe for orange chicken.
After preparing the dish, Rae served lunch out on her rear deck overlooking the Browns Valley hills. To say the view was spectacular would not do it justice. Great food, great new friends and a great view. What more could a person ask for.
Like I have said before - tough job, but someone's got to do it.
Rae, who has been making this recipe for more than 30 years, got this recipe from her former mother-in-law.
While she was putting together the ingredients for the sauce I asked her why this was one of her favorite recipes.
"Actually, it was my kids' favorite when they were growing up. They have all grown up and are on their own now, but it is still their favorite. And it is so easy to make as well," Rae said.
I also asked her what her favorite part of this recipe was: "It's the sauce. I love the sauce. It has such a wonderful flavor and I always make more than I need so I will have enough to put on the rice I serve as a side dish and anything else I can put it on."
While not a complicated dish, Rae's "Zesty Orange Chicken Delight" is sure to become another one of Your Neighbors' Favorite Recipes. So give it a try - you'll love it. Add a tossed green salad and some great bread and you will have a light meal that will delight your guests and meet the demands of your family.
Orange Chicken delight"
4 chicken breast, boneless, skinless cut in half
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup bottled chili sauce
1/3 cup green peppers, chopped
1 tsp. mustard powder
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. dark molasses
Canola oil enough to brown chicken in skillet
Putting it together
Put flour, salt and pepper in bag and add chicken to coat. Place oil in medium sized skillet bring up temperature, add chicken breasts and cook until golden brown. Set aside.
Mix ingredients for sauce (orange juice, chili sauce, chopped green peppers, mustard powder, soy sauce, dark molasses) into a 2 quart pot. Simmer sauce ingredients for about 10 minutes before pouring over browned chicken.
Remove browned chicken from skillet and place in medium sized casserole dish. Cover chicken with sauce and bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour. Checking from time-to-time to make sure chicken does not get too dry. You can add more orange juice if the sauce gets too thick while baking.
After baking for one hour, remove chicken from casserole dish and plate.
Garnish with freshly sliced oranges and fresh parsley or whatever greenery you would like to garnish with.
Rae also usually doubles the ingredients for the sauce because she like to use the extra sauce to pour over the rice that she serves as a side dish with the orange chicken.
. . .
Next week we are launching a brand new feature that will run the first Wednesday of each month called the Golden Chefs of Yuba-Sutter. In this column I will go out into some of the restaurants in our community and interview the executive chefs while they cook one of their recipes for me.
Basically it will be similar to Your Neighbors' Favorite Recipe but will feature the top chefs in the area and where you can go to taste their food. A recipe card that will also go with the column, just like we do with Your Neighbors' Favorite.
Our first chef to launch this new feature is Chef Ramón Corona from the newly opened Cilantro's Mexican Bistro, located at 450 Center St. in Yuba City.
I will also be at the Total Home, Garden and Recreation Show held at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds on April 9, from 10 a.m. to noon. I will handing out new recipe cards featuring one of our past columns with Pam Satchell and her great recipe, "Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese." Come to the Appeal-Democrat booth in the Main Exhibit Building so I can say hi and get to know you. And yes, I will be wearing my red chef's hat too.
Until then, hope to see you in your neighbors' favorite kitchen.