I do about half my work at a place we call VHQ or Vivian Howard headquarters. An old tire warehouse that my mother-in-law transformed into a loft-style apartment, VHQ has been my dream office for nearly two years now. Only 3 blocks from our restaurants, VHQ is where I test recipes, where I wrote my book, where I exercise, where we shoot portions of the show and more often than not, where I eat lunch.
Sometimes a made from scratch soup, sometimes a kitchen sink saute of leftovers from testing recipes and sometimes a salad so big a Whopper burger has fewer calories, Lunch at the Q is generally the highlight of our little team’s day. This blog is my account of some of the stuff we throw together in the name of a tasty, healthy lunch. Enjoy!
All measurements are only suggestions and are not true measurements. This is super casual cooking that anyone can do in their own kitchen.
Makes 5 wraps
• Beets – 1 ½ cups of roughly chopped beets that have been cooked & peeled – canned or jarred beets can be used in a pinch
• Kale – 2 quarts (8 cups) washed, roughly chopped
• Blue Cheese – ¾ cup of large crumbles – goat cheese can be substituted
• Chicken Breasts – 2 breasts thinly sliced, from a roasted or a rotisserie chicken
If you have roasted your own chicken, add to the bowl the drippings from the resting plate (not the from the skillet that you will read about further down)
• Dried Cranberries – ¼ cup
• Orange – zest and juice from 1
• Lemon – juice from 1
• Seasoning – a pinch of pepper and a pinch of salt
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 ½ tablespoons
• Pecans – ½ cup
• Honey – ¼ cup
• Spinach Wraps (tortillas) - 5
1). Mix – toss all the above ingredients (the kale mixture) except for the spinach wraps in a large mixing bowl with tongs.
2). Preheat – heat up a panini or sandwich press. If you do not have a panini press, heat up a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, dry – no fat.
3). Put it Together – take out a spinach wrap (tortilla) and place about 1 ½ to 2 cups of the kale mixture into the center, long ways, on the wrap. Bring up the bottom edge of the wrap to the middle to cover the kale mixture, and then fold in the sides (just like a burrito). Finish rolling the wrap
4). Cook – Place rolled wrap into a dry pre-heated pan or a panini press on the wrap’s seam. The heating of the wrap helps to seal the wrap, heat up the contents and wilt the kale slightly. Let the wrap cook on its seam until it has browned well. If you are using a skillet instead of a sandwich press, be sure to turn over the wrap using tongs once it has browned well on the seamed side.
If you find that the tortilla breaks too much while you are rolling the salad mixture, you can microwave the empty wrap for 10 seconds or just heat it slightly in a pan to warm it and make it more pliable.
Making Roasted Chicken
Roasted chicken looks complicated and unapproachable, but is totally the easiest thing to do.
Preheat oven 475 F
1). Out of the Fridge – you’ll want to have your 3 pound chicken out of the fridge for about 2 hours, so that it gets close to room temperature.
2). Preheat Skillet in Oven – take a medium to large sized cast iron skillet and slide it into the oven to heat up while you season the chicken. Allow it to heat for about 10 minutes.
3). Season the Chicken – simply put the chicken (without any of the extra package juices) into a bowl, put a healthy pinch of salt and pepper on the chicken and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the oil, salt and pepper all over the chicken.
4). Cook the Chicken – take the hot cast iron skillet out of the oven, put a drizzle of olive oil in the pan and place the chicken, breast side up into the skillet. Slide back into the oven at 475F for 45 minutes.
5). Let it Rest – when the cooking time is done and you have pulled the pan out of the oven, allow the chicken to rest in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer the whole chicken to a large plate to continue resting and cooling down slightly.
Whoa! Don’t toss out those drippings in the cast iron skillet!
You can take a hearty bread like sourdough or ciabatta, cut it up into inch-sized cubes and let it soak up all those good drippings. Then you can take those drippings cubes, put them on a pan with parchment paper and bake them at 400 F to the desired doneness to make fantastic croutons! You can even add these croutons to the salad mixture for the wrap recipe to make it even tastier.