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Marija Vukcevich

As promised, I’m sharing some of the best recipes from my friends at the Lewiston Garden Club. 

With the endless barrage of dining trends, some recipes are “so over” these days, and Jacquie Lodico, our well-known club gourmet, has a knack for taking stodgy old world recipes and re-imagining them in celebration of the recent successful GardenFest.

Below is her recipe for chicken salad, a rich combination of jewel-colored red grapes, crunchy pecans and gently poached chicken flavored with a pungent Roquefort-sherry mayonnaise, served on a bed of radicchio leaves.

CHICKEN SALAD WITH RED GRAPES AND PECANS

4 whole boneless chicken breasts (8 halves), poached and skinned

1 cup diced celery

1 and 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

3/4 cup pecan halves

Radicchio leaves

Roquefort-Sherry Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

Roquefort-Sherry Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Process egg yolks, mustard and vinegar in food processor for 30 seconds. With machine running, pour in oil. Add Roquefort cheese until combined. Cut the chicken into one-inch chunks, and combine the chicken, celery, grapes, and pecans in a large bowl. Make the mayonnaise. Toss the chicken salad with the mayonnaise. Refrigerate until cold. Serve on a bed of radicchio leaves. Makes 6 to 8 portions.

 Barbara Carter, the Garden Club’s third vice president and treasurer, admits that the finest culinary minds have attempted to raise to the gourmet level of good old-fashioned baked beans. Her vintage recipe by request follows:

OLD FASHIONED BAKED BEANS

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 2-inch strips

1 pound ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 large can Campbell’s Pork & Beans (*do not drain)

1 16-ounce can kidney beans (drain and rinse)

1 16-ounce can lima beans (drain and rinse)

1/2 cup ketchup

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. mustard

Cut bacon into 2-inch strips, and partially cook in frying pan; then drain. Brown beef and onion. Add remaining ingredients. Bake in covered casserole for about 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove cover; bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes; Stir frequently; and re-cover during second baking if beans begin to burn on top. Important: For best results, do not add, delete or substitute any ingredients. For a large group of people, make two separate batches. If you double the recipe, it does not come out the same.

If you have been pining for the good old-fashioned taste of corn bread at the picnic table, Jean Blinco, retired working in education at Lewiston-Porter Schools, suggests serving her corn soufflé, where you will find a certain streamlined charm in this frequently requested recipe.

CORN SOUFFLE BLINCO

1 stick butter  

2 eggs

1 box corn muffin mix

1 8-ounce container sour cream

1 can kernel corn (do not drain)

1 can creamed corn

Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Mix butter with eggs; add remaining ingredients; Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. 

Doreen Albee, recent chairman of our very successful GardenFest, asked her daughter, Kristen, for this gluten-free recipe with economical and healthy chicken thighs. 

Balsamic Chicken

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 or 2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

6 chicken thighs

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Add to this marinade the six chicken thighs.

Marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours total. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook chicken to approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until it reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven, and transfer to a serving platter and cover for about 5 minutes before serving.

Third vice president Barbara Stafford’s Summer Salad is especially welcomed during the GardenFest when she is responsible for the many facets that make it successful.  

STAFFORD SUMMER SALAD 

1 bag baby spinach leaves or mixed baby lettuce

1/2 quart fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sliced and coarsely broken pecans, lightly toasted

1/3 to 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or Bleu Cheese

Barbara’s Dressing

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

3  tablespoons walnut oil

3  tablespoons orange juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place ingredients in a small jar and shake well. Pour over salad just before serving. Serves 6.

I have received numerous requests for Garden Club President Marianne Gittermann’s favorite “After the Fest” recipe. The very busy, popular lady obliged:

GITTERMANN’S GRANITA

1 cucumber

1 mango

1 sweet red union

1 bunch cilantro

Peel and thinly slice some of each in similar proportions. Amounts do not matter. Season to taste with freshly squeezed lime juice and garnish generously with cilantro.

Marija Vukcevich is a free-lance writer and co-publicity chairman with Sharon Low of the Lewiston Garden Club.

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