The Quintessential Summer Meal

The Quintessential Summer Meal

I subscribe to a number of food newsletters, blogs, and facebook food-oriented feeds, and so I have a steady stream of ideas coming in.  But for an idea to take hold, I have to have some sort of connection with the dish - either a craving, a curiosity in an ingredient, technique, or overall dish; or a need to to use up an existing pantry item. In today's case, however, the connection started with a need to beat the heat, and when a newsletter featuring cool salads hit my inbox, I was all ears. Eyes. As it were. ; ) The original dish was a corn salad, which I have never heard of, but it looked like a fantastic side. A quick run through of my mental summer food main dishes yielded nothing that I was craving, so I left it in the hands of fate and headed to the grocery store. Fate seemed obsessed with the potatoes in the produce section, so I picked up a handful of red skinned potatoes.  Fate also was bizarrely drawn to the perfect red leaf lettuce, even though I didn't need lettuce. Damn you, fate!!!   I escaped the produce department with my tote only half full, which I considered a win.  I made two passes through the meat department before chicken caught my eye. Chicken. What has fate done to me?? I barely like chicken. But, my cheap side liked the prices on the summer sale that was going on. so I found myself picking up a package of legs, and another of thighs. Seriously, DAMN YOU, FATE! (It's like you don't even KNOW me!!!)

At home with my crapshoot grocery finds, I decided to move my target slightly.  I decided to add potatoes to the corn salad, and to remove the tomatoes.  And once I thought of potato salad, I couldn't get hard boiled eggs out of my head. And that is how I found myself ending up with a corn / potato / egg salad side. The chicken was an easy decision. I wasn't in the mood for sweet, and so fried chicken was the vote. Only I've never, believe it or not, made real southern fried chicken.   That led me to an hour of internet research (fried chicken was originally an African dish brought over by slaves, who knew??) and the sudden realization that due to my planned dessert, I wanted to keep my dinner gluten free.  And so, after a bit more research, I pulled out my cast iron frying pan, and a bag of potato starch.  After realizing through my internet searches that there are as many ways to fry chicken as there are southern cooks, I opted to wing it. Wing it, hahaha.... oy.

One of the steps of the chicken frying was directly related to my dessert; I had leftover buttermilk, so I opted to marinate the chicken pieces in that, seasoned with cayenne. While that worked it's magic, I made the salad by boiling red skinned potatoes, and simmering eggs in water for hardboiled eggs, then mixing them both with corn (frozen yellow corn, because I HATE that fresh sweet white corn that is available in grocery stores... what was wrong with regular yellow corn???), celery, red onion, and avocado. I dressed the salad with from scratch mayonnaise, made to use up an egg yolk leftover from my dinner, and also because I forgot to pick up damn mayonnaise at the grocery store today,, and God knows I am NOT going back if I can make do with something else).  I added a little extra vinegar, salt, and pepper, and put the salad in the fridge to chill.

From-scratch mayonnaise

I breaded the chicken in potato starch, which I had (miraculously!) on hand. I don't even remember now why I picked it up, but I'm sure it was for something weird. I seasoned the potato starch as I would flour for fried chicken, and skipped the egg wash step. I pulled the chicken from the buttermilk, shook off the extra, and dredged it. Into the cast iron pan it all went, and I watched over it, flipping the pieces infrequently.  I was, admittedly, happy the pieces came out of the fryer cooked through and browned appropriately.

Gluten Free friend chicken with a corn, potato, and egg salad.

The fried chicken turned out great!  The crust stayed on, browned beautifully, and added such a crispy texture of the chicken. The chicken itself was rich, juicy and tender. Win for the buttermilk, for sure! The salad also was a huge win.

And for dessert? My first coconut cake.  I made white cake from scratch, drizzled it with coconut water from a fresh coconut. I made a meringue dressing from whipped egg whites fortified by a simple sugar taken to 250 degrees.  And I topped the whole thing with shredded coconut, freshly grated from the same coconut the water came from.

I just love the height of the cake, how cool is that?? And the flavor is fantastic. I was expecting something with a cloying coconut flavor, but the coconut is more of an accent to the overall flavor, not the driving force. It is really happy!


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