Friday, August 28, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken

The thing is, there's not a whole lot more delicious than good home fried chicken. The crunch of the crispy crust, the mix of spices, the juicy succulent chicken. Oh dear, it's good. All you need is a foolproof recipe, and I've got one for you. I had never before fried a chicken. I hadn't even watched someone else fry a chicken. This worked perfectly, on the first try, and I have to say, was just as mouth-wateringly scrumptious cold the next day as it was hot when I served it. Labor Day's coming, maybe this is the year to do a good old southern feast instead of those hot dogs you'd planned on.

method courtesy of Ina Garten

1 chicken - you can cut yours yourself, but I like to buy the 8 piece pack, all cut up for you.
2 cups buttermilk
2 t hot sauce
2-3 C flour
3 T Essence - you can probably buy this, but I make it myself and store it in a spice jar.
veggie oil (or canola oil, or whatever you've got on hand)

oil thermometer, meat thermometer, large heavy bottomed pot (I used my dutch oven), sheet pan (with a rim), metal baking rack (I use the same thing I use to cool my cookies on).

Look at your chicken pieces and trim off any nasty bits. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. Put the chicken into the buttermilk, turning each piece to make sure it's coated. Let the chicken rest in the buttermilk at least two hours, but overnight if you have the time.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a large dish mix the flour and essence until well mixed. Dip each piece of chicken in the flour mixture until it's thoroughly coated and there are no real wet spots. Pour the oil into your pot (the reason for a deeper pot is to avoid as much splattering of hot oil). You want it to be about 1" deep. Heat the oil to 360 F.

If you're new to frying, keep your eyes glued to that temperature, you'd like it to stay near 360, don't let it get too high or two low. Mine went up and down and up again, I was constantly adjusting my stove burner from high to low. When you add the chicken (only drop in a few pieces, DO NOT do all at once), the temperature will drop, so keep that in mind. Fry for three minutes on each side until it is a nice light golden brown. Then remove and place on the baking rack. Continue frying chicken in batches until it's all done.

Place your rack of chicken on its sheet pan and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Ina says to cook until it's not pink inside, but I recommend using a meat thermometer instead so you don't wreck your beautiful chicken by checking on it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

My very first Hippo and Nigella post. I'll admit, I didn't select this recipe because it spoke to me more than the others. It was a very practical choice. First, it didn't require self-rising cake flour. Additionally, I had raspberries that needed using. They were good. Not great, not I can't wait until I make these again. Just good. I think they need more lemon. Maybe a lemon glaze? They're definitely worth experimenting with. And for the raspberry haters out there, you might consider blueberries instead. Also, this is the very first time I used my silcone baking cups. They are reusable, and they don't take half your muffin with them when you peel them off. What's not to like?

adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

1/4 C butter, melted and cooled
1 1/3 C all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/3 C sugar
1/4 t salt
juice and zest of 2-3 lemons - Nigella only called for one. From her directions, it seems clear she's expecting you to have about a half cup of lemon juice. Maybe she just has better lemons than I do, but I had slightly less than a quarter cup of juice from one lemon. I used another lemon too and still didn't have a half cup of juice. I'd really make sure I was getting that half cup.
1/2 C milk
1 large egg
1 C ish of raspberries - You don't need to be precise with the berries, a smidge under or over will hurt no one.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and zest. Right here, I had a problem. You need to make sure you wash your lemons well when you use the zest, because the skin is where all the pesticides and gross things you don't want to eat are concentrated, but also, it's where all the lemony flavor is. Make sure you dry your lemons thoroughly before zesting, and maybe even let your zest dry before adding it to the flour mixture, because otherwise, the zest bits will want to clump and no one wants one bite of all zest and a pan of muffins that are less lemony right? Okay. Combine your lemon juice and milk. The juice will curdle the milk, that's okay. Beat in the egg and the melted butter. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the raspberries. Raspberries are very delicate and will break if treated roughly. Unless you want your muffins to be all pink, go slowly and gently. Pour info muffin cups and bake for about 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool for 10-15 minutes. For those who want to experiment, and maybe confirm this as a dessert rather than breakfast product, you might consider a lemon glaze of 1/3 C sugar and 1/3 C lemon juice heated and stirred until clear. You would pour this over the muffins while still hot so they absorb the glaze.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fall Preview

Summer is coming to a close, but sadly, no one has mentioned this to the weather, which seems to have something to prove after the slow start with those temperate days in June. This past week has been brutally hot on the East Coast with oppressive humidity. The kind of air that closes in on you, sits on your skin and slowly smothers you. The kind of summer day where you just want to shout Come On, Rain.

So it was pretty ridiculous dedicated of me to whip up something that required having the oven at 425 degrees in my unairconditioned kitchen. But the thing is, I had leftover ricotta that needed using up, and for whatever reason the only thing I could think to do was make calzones.
I know, I even have a recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. But once I got the calzone idea in my head, I couldn't let go. Luckily they were delicious, and I made enough to have leftovers tucked away in the freezer for when fall actually arrives.

adapted from Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals 2

2 C ricotta cheese (I use part skim)
pinch nutmeg
black pepper
1/2 C Parmagiano Reggiano
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted (you can use canned, drained if you can't find frozen)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large dough - pick up at your local pizza store, most will sell it to you even if they don't have a case showing that they do.
2 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
tomato sauce for dipping.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the ricotta, nutmeg and black pepper. Add the spinach to the ricotta and mix well. I never like how well the spinach is chopped, so I always run my knife through it a few times before I mix it in. No one likes stringy spinach pieces. Add the minced garlic. Chop your artichoke hearts so that their bite sized (maybe 1" chunks). Mix the artichokes into the ricotta and spinach.

Pizza dough is easiest to work with at room temperature. Divide your dough into quarters and reshape each into a small ball. Work with one ball at a time. Roll out the ball into a circle about 8-10" in diameter. Don't let the dough get too thin, it may break. Cover half the dough with your ricotta mixture. Top that with your cheese. It should look like this:

Then fold over the top, and pinch along the sides to close it. I sort of fold over the bottom edge so it covers the top. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Garlicky Roast Beans

When I was a little girl, my father used to travel for business. Not all the time, but sometimes. When he went away, my mother would not cook. I don't blame her. She cooked amazing meals whenever he was home, she deserved the break. At night, Daddy would call to check in on us and he'd always ask me if we ate our vegetables. My mother would be standing across from me nodding yes, regardless of what we'd had for dinner. When we hung up, she'd say "tomato sauce is a vegetable" or "the broccoli in the chicken with broccoli counts." I grew up just like my mother. I eat my vegetables. I do. But my husband is the one always checking, always asking, always making sure that I eat them.

All this to say, oh my god, I would eat these beans EVERY night. Without someone checking up on me. I'm also pretty sure that this treatment can be applied to other vegetables and I intend to find out. They are salty and crispy and garlicky, just delicious. I made them with these beans, called romano beans, that I found at the farmer's market. In theory they're available through the end of September, which is good, because as soon as Ryan had tasted one, his main concern was where our next beans were coming from. I'm not exactly sure myself, but we'll find them, oh yes, we'll find them.

from The Boston Globe

1 lb romano beans
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 springs thyme halved
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. I did mine in the toaster oven and only had it at about 425. Toss the beans with the garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil on a large sheet pan. Spread out in a single layer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until browned, turn them over about halfway through.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Hippo and Nigella

I am in love with this book. It is so incredibly full of delicious sounding recipes that I am tempted to start at the beginning and simply cook my way through it, skipping only Flora's Famous Zucchini Cake on page 18, because I detest zucchini. It could be my very own version of Julie and Julia, only it would be The Hippo and Nigella. I haven't actually made any thing from it yet (for many reasons including but not limited to, a lack of self-rising cake flour, a husband who had surgery on a bicep tendon and can only use one arm forcing me to devise more and more menus that do not require cutting, sheer summer induced laziness). Nigella is kind enough to provide several variations on each recipe to please those of us who always want to tinker with a perfectly well-tested recipe. Also, she is a delight to read. I've never seen any of her cooking programs, so this is my only Nigella exposure, but anyone who points out that her cake stuck to the pan a bit and you can just cover up any imperfections with extra confectioner's sugar is my kind of chef. Anyway. Go out. Get yourself a copy. Grab some self-rising cake flour and we'll meet back here. Okay?


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