Dani Goes South.

chicken

Super Creamy, Super Easy Garlicky White Bean Hummus With Mediterranean-Style Salad + Grilled Chicken Thighs

DinnersDani ColombattoComment
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I’ve been thinking a lot about heritage lately- mostly because of food, but a little bit because I’m aging- HA AREN’T WE ALL?! I find the older I get, the more questions I have about where I come from. In my case, unfortunately, things tip slightly more toward the side of questions than answers, but that is fully okay! That’s how it is for so many of us. My grandpa on my dad’s side was a first-gen immigrant from Northern Italy, and I have SO much information about this! Which, would be incredible, except for the fact that my dad was adopted by my grandpa Joe. While, he was the MOST amazing grandpa who absolutely shaped my life, and his life story is beyond epic, I can’t really use any of that genetic information, ya feel me? My mom’s side is super Portuguese, hailing from the Azores (Looks incredible, and also, incredibly hard to get to). I brought up to my mom the fact that we basically live for Northern Italian cooking, and growing up, I was immersed in that culture so much, and yet, we really have never delved a ton into the Portugal of it all, so to speak. Over the next few months, a goal of mine is to start really getting into this side of my background, culinarily, and otherwise. After a trip to the Austin Public Library, which is amazing BTW, I came home with a bunch of cookbooks. My goal was to find some good Portuguese ones, but I came up empty-handed. This means, I basically checked out every Mediterranean cookbook they had, as there are subtle through-lines in Italian, Portuguese, and general Mediterranean cooking. This is all to say, after said research, I was left majorly craving some Mediterranean food, and that’s one problem I can solve myself immediately. Lawd knows not all problems are that solvable!

This is a one-stop, scoop-it-all-on-your-plate-from-one-vessel kind of dish. It all begins with a base of whipped-to-perfection, garlicky, lemony, white bean hummus. Chicken that’s been marinating in a rosemary vinaigrette, then grilled gets nestled into that aforementioned hummus bed, along with some grilled pita. Then, an incredibly simple-yet-delicious salad of tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, green onions and herbs gets piled on. Kalamata olives and crumbled feta are the finishing tough to bring a briny, salty vibe that is very much welcome here. Let’s start with that marinade, shall we?

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Let's Eat Outside Pt. 2: Hoisin Lime Chicken + Quinoa Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Vinaigrette and All the Radishes

Dinners, AppetizersDani ColombattoComment
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Hello, lovely people! I greet you today, glass of red wine in hand, a little later than I originally planned to! This morning, Benjamin and I went back to the Agua Dulce Farms for a little volunteering- aka playing with pretty lettuces, taking photos, going home with said pretty lettuces, etc. It was wonderful, as per the uzhe. Today in particular we left with tons of garlic chives (literally my favorite), rainbow chard, mustard greens, different varieties of watercress, and 5 types of lettuces- I kind of feel like someone is just handing me gold every time I leave. I'll be sharing some photos from all the fun with them v soon.

When we were done, we were staaaarved so we booked it for a good sammie, and then both promptly fell asleep on the couch- and I'm sooo not a nap person. This is mainly because they usually make me feel groggy AF, AKA my general vibes this very moment. I fully intend on peeling my boo-tay off the couch to make this taco-esque salad that I crave probably once a week, but before I do that, how about we get into a little something fresh? 

I whipped up these hoisin-lime chicken and quinoa lettuce wraps a few weeks ago, and they've made multiple reappearances since. First off, you know I love a good "whatever the hell you have in your fridge" situation. This is 100% that. Mix up your lettuces, herbs, toppings- as long as it's fresh and in season, it's usually gold. Secondly, this is such a delicious, easy dinner to pack up for a picnic, and it won't leave you feeling sluggish. 

For this little number I opted for a tangy hoisin-lime sauce to add to chicken and leeks as it's caramelizing away in your skillet. Water chestnuts add the classic lettuce wrap X factor (I'm not going to say PF Changs, but we're all thinking it- DON'T LIE). Basil and cilantro really add next level depth of freshness, so I highly recommend not skimping. Radishes bring welcome crunch, along with bean sprouts. A spritz of lime, and a little drizzle of sesame vinaigrette add just the right level of tartness. Avocado slices and Sriracha are also welcome additions here. As per usual with this blog- not a place for rules. 

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Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken + Classic AF Wedge Salad with Quick Pickled Onions, Homemade Herbed Ranch + All the Bacon

Dinners, SaladsDani ColombattoComment
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Were I ever to be on death row (and sweet shit, may that NEVER occur,), this would be high up there on my last meal list. There's something so satisfying, summery, and quintessentially all-American (like, back when that phrase had a positive connotation)-feeling about a good 'ol wedge salad and some fried chicken. What is it about the wedge salad that has allowed it to be equal parts guilty-pleasure-trashy (meant as the utmost compliment), and Don Draper over all these years? Like, seriously, what gives you the right, wedge?! My theory is, the wedge salad always been unapologetic-ally, exactly who it is, take it or leave it. Though, from my extensive wedge survey legwork, I'll just say, most people opt to take this heap of iceberg glory any day, when done well. And baby, this one is done well, if I may be so bold as to say so myself... 

We're not reinventing the wheel here, but there are like, three very simple things you can do to take your wedge from just *meh* to the highlight of the dinner table, and I'm not here to keep secrets. 1) Soak your wedges in ice water right up until you're ready to assemble. This keeps them insanely crisp, cold, and refreshing, which is precisely the vibe we are going for here. 2) HOMEMADE. DRESSING. ALWAYS. It seriously makes all the difference. This buttermilk ranch dressing has notes of garlic, lemon zest, and is packed with tons of fresh dill, parsley, and chives for all the freshness. If some of it makes its way onto your chicken, you won't be mad, promise. 3) Keep the toppings simple and punchy. This is a fork + knife salad, so keeping the structural precariousness of accouterments at a minimum is key. Quick pickled onions give an acidic punch, cherry tomatoes for a pop of summery brightness, toasted pepitas for crunch, salty bacon, cause, OBVIOUSLY, and finally, a sprinkle of bleu cheese crumbles, should you so desire. 

Onto the main event- though, wedges could arguably be the main event in my world any day, but I digress... I know everyone, backslash everyone's mom, grandma, etc., has a tried and true fried chicken recipe. This one just happens to be one I've tweaked over the years and really love. The batter is crisp, yet light, and super flavorful. The chicken manages to stay perfectly succulent, thanks to an overnight buttermilk bath, with all the good things. The frying oil even gets infused with some herbs for a hot second (punz), and it makes all the subtly delicious difference.  

Baked Chicken Wings Two-Ways: Romesco-Rubbed & Asian-Inspired

Dinners, AppetizersDani ColombattoComment
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Happy Sunday! I hope that this weekend you've seen a little sun (or enjoyed some cozy time), hung with someone you like, maybe pet a kitten, all the good things! Speaking of kittens, I'm coming at you this morning with heavy eyelids, and from the standpoint that there isn't enough coffee in the world. My cat, Greg woke up at about 3am (the uzhe), and decided we no longer required sleep. By that, I mean screech-meows from the depths of cat hell. He was fed, everything was fine. He just wanted to hang out, which is equal parts cute, cracks me up, and makes me think we are so, so screwed, hah! Anywho, cat antics aside, I could really use an app platter teleported to me whilst I catch up on this final 3 Bachelor business (so much ew). If I had my pick of teleported app, these baked wings would most definitely make the cut. 

I love a little variety, and as I've mentioned before, I also love when things look like more effort than they really are. It's a total make ahead situation. It's a leftover multi-use sauce situation. It's a damn win all around. Let's get into it. 

Herb-Roasted Chicken with Croutons, Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon & Leeks

DinnersDani ColombattoComment
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What is more Friday dinner than roasted chicken? If you're asking Ina Garten, the answer would emphatically be, "Nothing!!!" (Also probably insert something about Jeffrey/also, "how easy is that?", etc). This recipe idea arrived while watching Barefoot Contessa during a little bout of cat insomnia. AKA my cat is apparently a Beverly Hills Real Housewife who will only eat 12 small meals a day, and he will LET YOU KNOW when it needs to happen. *snaps cat fingers* "Excuse me...Hun? When you get a minute..." That's what I imagine his inner dialogue is. So condescending... I would be more annoyed, but he is the cutest dang alarm clock. Like a fluffy little baby carrot...He's orange. I digress. Less cat more chicken!

Like I was saying, Ina inspired this recipe. I believe if you google the OG recipe it's called "Million Dollar Chicken", and it was conceptualized by a chef in NY. Since I'm not in a mood for butchery, and I don't own a blazing prehistoric oven, I adapted this little number to be SO easy, but it still feels Friday fancy, and dare I say, V-day approved.

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If you're a fan of all things caramelized, or have been known to be a sheet-pan-picker (I see you), this is ONE HUNDO made for your soul. Let's get into it. 

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