Stacked Butter Lettuce/Goat Cheese Salad and Braised Chicken

Wow, the market is bursting with all the colorful bounty we have here from our local farms. I was overwhelmed by it all and didn't know where to begin. So, I first started with my usual brouse at "Healthy Family Farms" and missed out on some stuff, but was able to obtain a whole chicken cut up and made a braised dish to die for, with the beautiful tomatoes that are scattered about, kalamata olives, mushrooms and onions. I then found the most gorgeous heads of red butter lettuce at the "Roots" stand, then fresh herbs that are starting to come in, and of course the amazing goat cheese at Soledad Goats.  I am sure everyone was as content as I was, having a Sunday without the market made me itching to gather more of the things I missed so much.  And how about those plums?! This week I stuck with the tomatoes again (with the chicken) and an elegantly stacked butter lettuce/goat cheese salad, sprinkled with fresh herb leaves.  And the PLUMS! Bon Appetit! Stacked Butter Lettuce Salad w/ Fresh Herbs and Baked Goat Cheese Serves 4 One head Butter Lettuce, any variety, red leaf butter lettuce is fab! 4 slices of goat cheese disks of about 2 ½  inches, ½ inch thick 3 tablespoons of fresh whole herb leaves, ( minus the stems) such as Italian parsley, dill, tarragon, chives, chervil, etc. 2 tablespoons dried herb mix to dredge goat cheese, such as pepper, paprika, oregano, herbs d’ Provence, etc. 2/3 cup shallot vinaigrette (recipe to follow) Carefully separate and wash the leaves of the butter lettuce and air dry upside down without handling for 20 minutes or so Take the goat cheese slices and press softly onto a mix of dried herbs and pepper of your choice on a plate, set aside Start to assemble the butter lettuce leaves on four separate salad plates starting with the biggest leaves on the bottom of the plate, then topping those leaves with the next biggest, and working your way across the plates ending with the smallest leaves on top of each stack. You will end up with approx. 6-8 leaves per plate, biggest on the bottom, alternating the stem part of the leaf so it looks like an entire mini head of lettuce on each individual plate. Beautiful! Place herbed goat cheese slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in oven for approx. 3 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the stacks of lettuce, some even resting on the plate. Remove soft baked goat cheese from oven and using spatula, carefully place a goat cheese disk on top of the stack. With a spoon, drizzle the shallot vinaigrette over the lettuce stack.  Serve individually to your guests! Shallot Vinaigrette Serves 4-6 ¼ cup Champagne vinegar 1 Tablespoon shallot, minced 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 heaping spoon honey ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup olive oil In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey and salt Mix thoroughly with a whisk Slowly add the oil in a small stream while whisking by hand, until slightly emulsified. Adjust salt and honey, chill. Chicken Braised with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Mushrooms Serves 6 One whole organic chicken cut into pieces, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks 2 breasts (you can cut the breasts into four pieces) 4 tablespoons olive oil ½ cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging chicken pieces 2/3 cup dry white wine ¾ cup unsalted chicken stock 2 medium tomatoes, cut in large dice 1 yellow onion, cut in small dice 10 medium mushrooms, rubbed clean and quartered ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half Salt and pepper Heat oil in a large skillet (big enough to saute all chicken pieces comfortably) Dredge chicken in seasoned flour and place in skillet on medium-high heat Brown both sides of chicken to a nice golden brown, about 6 minutes or so Add onion and cook another 2 minutes, turning chicken again Add wine to deglaze and turn heat down to medium-low Add the tomatoes, olives and mushrooms and chicken stock Turn the chicken once again, cover and cook slowly for another 20-30 minutes You can turn chicken and stir once during this cooking time. Test chicken for doneness after 20 minutes, should be almost falling off the bone when done.  Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.  Serve over rice or pasta, if you like.

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