Sunday, February 10, 2008

9.0 The Lorange

Starring Erin, Mike, Adam & Josh
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Soundtrack: “Zoom” by Robert Pollard

“Brought you your snack…”

The first “In the Sellwood Kitchen” of the year! Sure there was the January issue, but I think I wrote that in November… So, 2008, you hungry?

Well, it was a cold January night when our guests arrived. Their wool gloves and caps further confirmed an evening plunging towards absolute zero. We shut the door quickly to prevent the heat’s exit, where it no doubt would have burst into steam, solidified, and fallen like a frozen chicken to the garden below.
Adam and Josh brought three bottles of wine. Wait, was it three bottles? White, red and red. That’s a lot of wine! They’re good friends and also fed our cats while we were away. (As I write, one of those cats is staring at my glass of milk with an intensity matched only by my own staring at the meal Erin was about to prepare.) What an awkward sentence! Let’s wash the taste of poor syntax out of our mouths with this month’s repast!

I began with French bread, dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and slices of cheddar and gruyere, whose flavor is distinctive yet not overpowering, with a glass of organic Syrah. I purchased the Syrah both for its organic origin and for its label which depicted a crude rendering of Don Quixote, because my favorite musical is “Man of La Mancha.” The CD resissue sits in my collection sandwiched between the “Lenny” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” soundtracks.

Whilst Josh and I hovered over the appetizers in the foyer, Adam assisted Our Chef Erin in the kitchen. Earlier she had prepared the marvelous mixture designed for stuffing into the chicken breasts. I love music and it’s all I think about (except for Erin and ribald cartoons). I relate everything to it. I usually spout a lyric to complement any random comment one might issue. So when I considered the four ingredients in the ambrosial fill, legendary quartets sprung to mind: the Beatles, the Replacements, the Martyrs, We Five, the Kingston Trio…

Erin chopped and combined fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and garlic. The latter was prepared with a gadget called a “garlic zoom”. Maybe that’s a brand name and should be capitalized. Regardless, one inserts the cloves into the “moon roof” of the two-wheeled, internally-bladed device and ZOOM! Instant chopped garlic! Fun to roll, but a bugger to clean.

In a small white bowl, the ingredients become one. But, says Erin, “This is not schmear stuffing; this is not a spread.” Suddenly she speaks Yiddish! What she means is the filling is better scooped into the folded breasts. Next, said chicken is pounded flat. Simultaneously, Josh and I pound back another glass of wine. (But don’t confuse our “friends’ dinners” with frat boy keggers; I exaggerate the drinking for literary pop.)

So after the chicken is stuffed and slid in the oven, a spinach salad is prepared. A lemon is requested, so I produced the one I’d purchased earlier at New Seasons. Erin said get a “biggish” lemon. So that’s what I got, though something nagged me about its coloring. In the light of the kitchen, Adam asked, “Is that an orange?” for indeed, it was much more orange in color than I had suspected. But it was lemon-shaped, with nippled rinds on both ends. Yet when they cut in open, it still looked like an orange. However, the taste was unmistakably lemony. With a hint of orange.
“It’s a ‘lorange’” declared Adam. We all laughed; I found the term “Seussical”: “I am the Lorange. I speak for the cross-pollinated.”
As the oven became a bathysphere of succulence, we continued nibbling at cheese and bread, chatting, and quoting Saturday Night Live bits. You know, the usual. Soon enough, dinner was ready. Plated with painstaking finesse by Adam (“Sorry the meat’s cold,” joked Erin, “it took too long to make it look pretty!”), the meal begged our indulgence. We sat around the living room coffee table (floor seating for four comfortably), and sliced into the stuffed chicken, saliva pouring from our chops in time with the flood of exaltations! “Holy cats, that’s good!” A cross-section revealed what can only be described as “the marrow of God”. Served with Erin’s special spicy sweet potato oven fries and a tangy spinach salad ("Anyone who doesn't like spinach is my emeny." – Popeye), we dined contentedly, satisfied from the first bite.
The wine and a perpetually nagging nostalgia led Erin and Josh to an inevitable discussion of Disneyland, and the desire to return. (I quickly surmised this would be the conversation of the night.) We’d been there for our honeymoon and Erin’s been numerous other times, as has Josh. But Adam and I are freshlings to the Kingdom of Magic. Out came the guide books, the brochures, the 10-minute slideshow Erin had put together. Stuffing our maws with stuffed chicken, she suggested we all go to there, perhaps with Josh and Adam on their honeymoon someday. We decided we’d travel well together. Quite a mouse-ear wearing quartet!

It’s a long drive – I’d better make a cooler of “lorangade!”


4 Chicken breasts
1/2 cup Feta cheese
2/3 cup Sundried tomatoes
2/3 cup Fresh basil
3 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
Olive oil
1/2 cup cheap white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of lemon (or lorange!)

Mix well sundried tomatoes, feta cheese crumbles, chopped garlic and fresh basil in small bowl. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Pound out four chicken breasts to 1/4 inch. Spoon equal amounts of stuffing onto center of each breast. Fold over and secure with toothpick. Place stuffed breasts in oiled baking dish. Season chicken with salt & pepper, dried basil, zest of lemon, lemon juice and a 1/2 cup of cheap white wine (if you can pry it away from your guest). Bake at 400 degrees. Serve with rice pilaf. (Again, we went for the sweet potato oven fries, but that’s just because we’re hooked on them…)

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