Beating the Summer Heat

Several weeks ago, I went camping in New Hampshire with two great guy friends. While I was willing to rough it out with the no shower/bed situation, there are certain things I can’t sacrifice; cooking is (obviously) one of them. This led me to buy a Coleman propane grill – fast forward to being back in Boston. It was miserably hot on the night I was supposed to have friends for dinner, and the oven was the last thing I wanted to have on. This little grill came to my rescue, and gave me the perfect opportunity to create Grilled Chicken with Dijon-Thyme Marinade, with which I paired a colorful Panzanella Salad.
The marinade was sort of a creation I made up. I have researched countless recipes in the past, so I had a pretty good idea about proportions and such. I love the look of whole grain mustard, so I highly recommend using it if you can. While dried thyme can be used, the depth of flavor fresh provides make it worth the purchase. The marinade bag-in-bowl trick is one I’ve used for other recipes (like this flank steak). It’s great given it fully coats the meat  with the marinade, and makes for extremely simple cleanup. Click HERE to see why this chicken has become a staple in my cooking repertoire.  
This Panzanella Salad was a random experiment. Having already made countless salads this summer, I wanted to try something different. Needing my “starch” component for this menu, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. What I love about this recipe is the colorful assembly of fresh vegetables – bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and more! There’s no limit to what vegetables can be used, making it perfect for any season.
The fresh, bright taste of this salad is phenomenal! While traditional Panzanella uses stale bread that has been soaked in water, I prefer the crisp freshness this recipe provides. By toasting the bread, it doesn’t become too soggy or fall apart. That being said, I should warn that this salad may not be for everyone – while I loved the novelty of it, there were those who weren’t quite as keen on the bread + salad component. Nonetheless, I recommend giving this a try – you might be surprised at how addicting this salad can be. Click HERE to learn how to make this cool, summery dish.  
For pairing these dishes, I decided to choose a recording that my friend Luke Reed (who was visiting) actually showed to us later that evening: ‘Ciaccona di Paradiso e dell’Inferno‘ (composer anonymous). All of the performers are wonderul, yet my main draw to this was the STUNNING countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. His voice is beyond words, with a crystal clarity that can melt your heart. Yet the video itself also contains a bit of comic flair, which in my eyes was perfect considering this dinner was an evening of laughter and silly YouTube videos. The recording is from a concert series with the early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata, led by Christina Theorbo. Their are some fascinating instruments, including the theorbo (played by Pluhar) and a wooden cornetto. I’ve included another recording from the concert, ‘Ciaccona‘ by Maurizio Cazzati, to showcase more of the musicians with the group. Enjoy!

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