Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Perfect Anytime Roast Chicken

Two Sundays ago, I made this roast chicken for the first time. I couldn't believe how easy it was, or how well it turned out. Or how much it was exactly as comforting and full of fall flavors as I'd imagined, which is almost never the case with roast chicken which is often dry and lacking a little something. Nope. I overcooked this by a solid 20 minutes and it was still really, really good. And that juicy sauce you see up there? Pure heaven. I mean, it's beer+cider+chicken juice. What's not to like? You may find yourself sizing up possible dipping items, so plan well. Oh, and did I mention it cooks its own vegetables too?

Carrots and parnsips. Which taste like candy and yummier candy. Also, you can use your Dutch oven, not that stupid roasting pan which is stuck in a closet or on top of a cabinet or in some other highly inconvenient location. And it doesn't need a rack. It really is the perfect roast chicken, to be made anytime. Like tonight, if you're still trying to figure out your Rosh Hashanah menu (appley! sweet! double win!) Or on Sunday, when you have the time to roast a chicken. Or anytime! Now if only I can get it to wash its own dishes. Hmmm.

from Lidia.

4 lb roasting chicken
2 tsp kosher salt
2 medium onions peeled and quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into uniform sized pieces. Or a handful of baby carrots. Whatever.
2 medium parsnips, done like the carrots. Oh shut up. You'll like them.
2 T fresh sage leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1.5 C chicken stock
1.5 C beer or ale (make it something you like, and yeah that's a whole bottle)
1 C apple cider

Preheat the oven to 400. Get out your Dutch oven. Get your onions, carrots and parsnips and toss in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves and sage. You're making a nest for the chicken, so make sure they're distributed kind of evenly. Prep that chicken, trimming off the nasty bits, removing whatever lurks inside, salt and pepper the whole beast inside and out. Plop the chicken on top of the veggie bits, breast side down. Pour in all the lovely liquids - stock, beer and cider. Stick the whole thing on the stove and simmer 15 minutes uncovered on the top of the stove. Then, flip him over, so the breast side is up. Then you pop it in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, basting at 10 minute intervals. Roast another 30 minutes (if it's getting too brown, cover it with your Dutch oven lid) again basting every 10-15 minutes. Check the temperature at each basting. Poultry should get to 165 but will continue to cook a few minutes after you take it out. Roast another 10-20 minutes if needed - mine never has, but Lidia's did. Remember to watch the top for overbrowning too! When done, remove the chicken and veggies to a platter. Then put the Dutch oven o'juice back on the stove and cook on medium high (a nice boil if you please) until the sauce reduces quite a bit (half mayhaps, if you are patient). You can be carving the chicken whilst the sauce is doing its thing. Serve with sauce. Resolve to make it weekly at least. It's that good and that easy.

Make it gluten-free:  Beer is NOT gluten-free, so you'll need to substitute. I used half cider and half stock to make up the beer amount and it turned out great!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bed & Breakfast

You know what a bed and breakfast is right? Quaint little inn, where the tasty morning offerings are supposed to make up for the lack of modern amenities enhance the historical charm? Now I want you to imagine just how good the muffins would have to be in order for you to forgive being trapped in your room. Honest to goodness, pulling on the doorknob with both hands, calling any phone number for the main desk you can find from your cell phone (no real phones in an inn mind you), eyeballing the drop from your window to the ground, pounding on your door and shouting for help until the elderly gentleman who was staying across the hall came and liberated you, trapped in your room. Those would have to be some seriously good muffins right?

In the interest of honesty, it took more than just the muffins to placate me. They had to plane down the damn door too, so that we could come and go as we pleased. Muffins alone will not make me okay with room confinement. I require action.

This is not the recipe for the actual pear and ginger muffins provided by the inn, but they are delicious, and will go along way towards soothing any disgruntled houseguests or erm, spouses, that you may need to bribe.

adapted from Nigella Express inspired by a Rhode Island inn that shall remain nameless since I disparaged their door situation

1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1t ground ginger
2/3 C sour cream
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 T honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 C peeled and chopped pears - about a 1/4 in" dice - I used 2 bartlett pears for this
2-3 T minced crystalized ginger

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cups (paper or silicon will work).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and ground ginger. In a smaller bowl, mix together the sour cream, vegetable oil, honey and eggs. Use a fork or whisk to combine well. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry. Finally, add in the pears and ginger bits. Fold in with a spatula and then fill your muffin cups. They will be quite full. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan to a cooling rack. These will last a few days if stored in an air-tight container, but are best right away!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Please Stand By...We Are Currently Experiencing Technological Difficulties

Here's the thing people. Under normal circumstances I have access to three computers. A work computer, my own laptop and my husband's laptop. Allow me to break my current computer status down for you.

Work computer which cannot under any circumstances be used for anything other than work = dead battery.

My own laptop = dead power cord, leading to a dead battery.

My husband's laptop = at work with him. For all of the million bajillion hours he works.

Which means a) computers don't like me and b) I'm typing this right now on my mother's itty bitty netbook. So I suppose I could type up a recipe for you. Maybe I could. But it would be without a picture. And a picture is worth a thousand words, and I am not the type of person that has an extra thousand words lying around. I am the type of person whose computers all fail at the same type in some type of computer-based anti-blogging conspiracy. So I beg of you. Do not abandon me. I have AT LEAST 4 yummy recipes. Ready to go. With pictures. Just as soon as I can get the whole pictures part of that happening. And as soon as I actually, you know, type them up instead of just having them scribbled on notepaper in my kitchen and story ideas sloshing around in my brain. You could vote on which one you want first though! In my only tech-savvy move of the week - a poll!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hold Yer Horses - It Ain't Fall Yet

Look, they might be selling, but I'm not buying. It does not matter how many ads for school supplies, football games or Halloween costumes I see on TV. It does not matter that the school children are all safely tucked into their classrooms. It doesn't even matter that I succumbed and turned the page in my calendar so that it reads SEPTEMBER. As long as the weather is still in the eighties, it's just not fall. There are no stews or soups simmering away in my kitchen. I have no plans to begin my annual pumpkin bake off in which I try to bake and consume as many pumpkiny treats as I can. I just can't do it. I'm still struggling with my decision to turn off the air-conditioning.

Luckily, I still have some recipes left that aren't trying to hurry summer out the door. These lettuce cups are sort of seasonless, but are delicious and really sort of low effort if you're into that sort of thing.

from blogchef

1 lb ground turkey (or beef, whatever)
1 T vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion (about a medium onion)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 T soy
1/4 C hoisin
1 t rice wine vinegar
2 T sesame oil
1 t sambal
1 C cashews
head of lettuce (hey, I only had romaine, so I made do, although Boston would be nice)

gluten-free note: make sure to find gluten free soy sauce and hoisin (Premier Japan makes a gluten-free hoisin). Rice vinegar is gluten free and sesame oil should, although check the label of sesame oil for additives. Sambal is gluten-free as far as I'm aware.

Put the oil in the pan and heat the pan to medium. Toss in your onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add your ground meat. Break up the meat as it browns (5-10 minutes). Then add soy, hoisin, vinegar, sambal, sesame oil. Toss gently so the sauce is throughout the meat. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, then add the cashews. Scoop the warm mixture onto your lettuce leaves. You can fold these up to eat them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cheddar Biscuits

When I grow up, I want to be Ina Garten. I want a gorgeous house, a loving husband, amazing gardens, friends visiting all the time. I want to be both a talented chef and smart enough to work in the White House on nuclear energy policy (no really, she did). The problem is, I'm kind of already grown up and my chances aren't looking too good. Right now, just about the only list item I've accomplished is a loving husband (which is pretty important as far as list items go, but not really much headway on the whole list). Oh well. At least I can make her food, this time, cheddar biscuits that are just delicious.

from Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

2 C flour - plus more for rolling out - I'd make sure you've got at least another 1/2 C to a C in the house because these are some sticky biscuits.
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 sticks (12 T) of salted butter. If you use unsalted, it says 1 1/2 t salt, but I think that's WAY too salty, so be careful.
1/2 C buttermilk shaken (I didn't have buttermilk, so I used 1/2 C milk + 1 1/2 t vinegar - let it stand for 10 minutes - magic buttermilk substitute)
1 egg
1 C grated cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 425F.
Put the 2 C of flour and the baking powder (and salt if you insist) in your stand mixer. Quickly mix to combine. I usually chop the butter up a bit and then toss it in and blend until you have a nice sandy texture. In a small bowl (or heck a large glass measuring cup if you're lazy) combine the buttermilk and the egg and whisk it a bit with a fork to combine it well. Then pour that into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Finally, toss the cheddar with a bit of flour, add that to the other ingredients and give it a final mix. Prepare a highly floured surface for your kneading and rolling. Pour the dough onto the surface and give it a quick knead (Ina says about 6 times, I say, get it to come together and not stick to everything under the sun). The roll out the dough. Ina says to cut it into biscuits using a knife (check out her recipe for details) but I used a glass (I don't own a biscuit cutter) to make round biscuits. I put them on a Silpat mat. I did combine and reroll the scraps to get more biscuits and got quite a few more than she did. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are browned and cooked!


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