Meal No. 35: Cantaloupe Wedges with Feta Cheese; Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers; Summer Squash and Olive Phyllo Tart; Espresso Cream Crunch (All recipes online here).
I have been dreading this one all summer.
Cantaloupe and Feta:
This seemed like an odd combination. Martha says she chose this combo as a variant of melon wrapped in prosciutto. Prosciutto and feta are not exactly interchangeable, but ok.
I like watermelon better with feta, it turns out. I thought the cantaloupe and the feta cancelled each other out and the black pepper took over. Mr. Squeaky Peanut, who is not a melon fan, liked how the feta “hid the grossness of the cantaloupe.”
I thought this would be horrible; my abhorrence of sweet + savory is well documented.
The recipe called for marinating chicken thighs and red onion chunks in a mixture of red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, and garlic. Martha wanted me to put the meat and onions on skewers and then bake them. I actually started to soak the skewers but quickly gained hold of my senses. Why should I bother, when I could just throw the chicken and onion chunks in the pan and roast them? So that is what I did.
By the way, this meal is supposed to be Greek. I suppose the skewer makes it so.
Right out of the oven, while hot, I didn’t care for this. The vinegar and honey flavors just didn’t meld at all. But by the time I served it at about room temperature, it tasted a lot better. The Husband particularly enjoyed it with the onion. Surprise!
As much as I was dreading the chicken, I dreaded this even more, recalling the spring’s puff pastry asparagus tart fiasco. I bought the phyllo dough, decided I wasn’t going to make it, fearing it would be an oily disgusting mess, then changed my mind at the last second. Luckily, it doesn’t take anywhere near 4 hours to thaw at room temperature contrary to what the package said.
I won’t lie; dealing with phyllo is a bit of a pain in the arse, with having to keep it covered with a damp towel, and the ripping, etc. The recipe called for six layers of phyllo, each brushed with butter. I made a half batch in anticipation of gruesomeness. Yellow squash and zucchini were mixed with olive oil, thyme, oregano and parsley and strewn on top of the phyllo. ACtually, Martha tossed her squashes on top all higgledy-piggledy, but as you can see, I alternated the layers to make a pretty tart. It is not often that one gets to out-Martha Martha!
By golly, by gum, it was fantastic!!! The Husband couldn’t stop exclaiming about how much he loved it, and was doing his best Bill Murray from “What About Bob?” imitation, with the MMMMMing, and MMM MM MMMing. The crust was nice and crispy without being oily (I tried not to use much butter) but the squash was a nice touch of moisture, and we liked the warm kalamata olives on top. One note–it cooked much more quickly than the recipe called for.
Espresso Cream Crunch:
I also wasn’t planning to make this, what with the dairy and all, but since I had all the ingredients and time to kill while the chicken and tarts baked, I made it. I whipped some heavy cream, instant espresso powder and a bit of sugar to soft peaks, then stuck it in the freezer until we were ready to eat it. We were supposed to toss in some crushed espresso beans but we didn’t have any. The Husband added some coffee beans to his for crunch.
This turned out ok. It kind of reminded me of a part fluffy/part frozen (it had an uneven texture) jamocha shake, but with less mocha flavor. I think it could use more espresso powder.
This was actually a good meal, considering what a disaster we thought it would be.
MELON: Should we grade this? It’s hardly a recipe. I suppose it’s average, so a C.
CHICKEN and ONION: A-
TART: A++ Completely exceeded all of our expectations
ESPRESSO CREAM: B