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Taste Sensations

Creative Ideas for Summer Chefs

Balsamic Chicken drumettes 

Combine in a resealable gallon-size bag: ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup honey, ½ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup soy sauce, 5 sprigs of rosemary, 3 to 4 strands of thyme, and 5 garlic cloves, halved. Shake to dissolve. Add 10 to 12 chicken drumsticks and/or wings, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet.Reserve marinade. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes to caramelize skin. Place the marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve. Brush the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Garnish with a mixture of 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds and fresh chopped thyme. Serves 4 to 6.

Easy & Versatile Griddle Biscuits 

Whisk in a bowl 1 cup self-rising fl our, 3 Tbsp whole milk, and 1½ tsp sugar. Add 1½ tsp lemon zest and ½ tsp fresh thyme. With your fi ngers, work in 2 Tbsp oil until incorporated. Stir in 1/3 cup of water to form a thick batter. Preheat a griddle and brush with oil. Scoop the batter and form 3-inch rounds. Cook over low heat until slightly browned; brush with oil and fl ip. Cover and cook until puffy, about 2 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before serving. Cool completely before freezing.These are great sweet or savory. (I recommend topping with a strawberry or peach compote.) Makes 8.

Grilled Caponata

Prepare outdoor grill. Slice 4 small eggplants lengthwise and sprinkle each side with salt. Cut one medium onion into quarters, leaving root end intact to help keep the layers of the onion together. Brush eggplants, onions and 2 large tomatoes with olive oil. Grill both sides of eggplant and onion pieces. Char tomatoes, cool, and remove skin. Dice all grilled vegetables into 1-in. Cubes. Place in a large bowl (with tomato juices) and add 4 medium celery stalks, sliced thin, 1/3 cup large green olives pitted and chopped, 2 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped, 1½ Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped, and ¼ cup balsamic vinegar. Allow all fl avors to meld for at least 2 hours.Taste for seasoning and serve with baguettes or crackers. Makes about a quart.

Great Adobo Spice rub for All Things Grilled

In a small skillet, roast 2 Tbsp allspice berries, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, 1 Tbsp white peppercorns, 1 Tbsp cumin seeds (or 1½ tsp ground cumin), 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken, and 7 whole cloves until fragrant. Remove from heat.When cool, place all in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder works great too) and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and add 2 Tbsp sweet paprika, 1 Tbsp chipotle powder, 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder, ¼ cup kosher salt, and ¼ cup sugar.For meat and poultry rubs, add 1 tsp instant espresso powder to the mix. Once the rub is on your meat or poultry, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.Store extra in an airtight container at room temp for up to a week. Makes about one cup of rub.

Christine Wansleben, chef and owner of Mise En Place Cooking School, lives in the West End, where she cooks up a storm with her husband and their twins.
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