Thursday, March 22, 2012

March is Confused.

Greetings! Aren't you all enjoying this wonderfully warm weather we are having? I know I am but I keep having this dreadful feeling that April is going to come in with blizzards and hail storms. Is it possible, I don't know but I just can't bring myself to believe that this amazing weather is going to last.

Even if this weather doesn't stay, I'm going to make this salad. It's perfectly light, crunchy, and refreshing. It makes me think of summer.
I hate black licorice and most things anise, but fennel is delicious. The anise flavor is very subtle and with such strong flavors in the dressing, you mostly just get the "crunch" from the fennel, and not the flavor.

Fennel Orange Salad
adapted from Shutterbean

1 head green leaf lettuce, cut or torn into bits
1 orange, segmented and juice reserved
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (cut off the fronds first)
1 Tbsp of the reserved orange juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar

Toss the lettuce, sliced fennel, and the orange in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Give it a taste to see what else you want to add. I usually add more juice and more vinegar. I like it tart. Pour over the veggies and toss to combine. Munch away!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

From Bacon to Bean Burgers

Before I moved in with DB (dearest Boyfriend), I was a bit nervous about what the whole experience of living together would be like. Did he leave hair in the sink? Toss his dirty clothes on the floor? Wear the same outfit for weeks at a time? What I mostly worried about was whether my cooking would match up to that of  his mother. She was a stay at home mom throughout his childhood and man, she can cook! Her style is more down-home, while mine tends to be a bit fancier. I worried, would DB scorn my taste for balsamic vinegar (yes!), could he live without bacon for weeks a time? (yes, but with reservations)
 While I do cook things other than black bean burgers, risotto, and tuna salad, some of those recipes don't make it here. (sorry!). Before we moved, I made one of the best purchases I think I could have made. No it wasn't a memory foam bathmat or super suction vacuum. Mad Hungry, Feeding Men and Boys, by Lucinda Scala Quinn.  Almost every recipe from this book ends up DB- approved but I think this chicken recipe is one that would get not only his approval, but his mom Maggie's as well!

Flat Roast Chicken
slightly adapted from "Mad Hungry, Feeding Men and Boys" by Lucinda Scala Quinn

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds.
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice, I used bottled
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

Preheat the oven to 400*. Use kitchen shears (or if you don't have any like me, use regular scissors and swear a lot) cut out the backbone of the chicken. If you don't know which side has the backbone, look for the side that has the little "tail". Cut on either side of the "tail". Voila!. Flip the chicken cut side down and press firmly on the breastbone to flatten it. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. A little rosemary would probably be excellent here too.

Heat the oil in a large 12 inch ovensafe skillet until very hot. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until very well brown, 3-5 minutes. Flip the chicken skin side up (be careful not to tear the skin) and put the skillet in the oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the skillet from the oven with mitts (the handle is hot!) and let rest for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, garlic,and red pepper flakes to the pan drippings and swirl to mix. Alternatively, you can remove the chicken to a cutting board, add 1 TBSP butter to the drippings along with the lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes and simmer until slightly thickened.

Carve the chicken (I do this in the pan. Fewer dirty dishes!) and serve with the sauce. Biscuits make an awesome side. Enjoy!

Note: sometimes if the drippings are very hot, adding the lemon juice and garlic at the same time will cause the garlic to turn blue. This is due to a chemical reaction between the acidic lemon juice and a compound in the garlic and is perfectly safe to eat. It only happened to me once but is interesting to see.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I promise I haven't died!

Life has just been so crazy lately! I haven't even had time to cook, let alone photograph it. I'll try to get something up soon.

Here's a cute picture of my ferret Bandit to get you by.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chicken and Potato Braise for a Lazy Day

I can't believe it's January and  it has yet to have snow. Sure it's flurried a few times but nothing sticks for more than a few hours. I was hoping to have a picturesque kind of winter, with billowy snowdrifts and shining icesicles. Alas, it it raining and flooding the yard instead. Ah well.

With weather like this, I just want to light some candles and bundle up on the couch with a good book. Add a bowl of this steaming hot chicken stew and we've got a date.

This recipe comes adapted from Cooks Country Magazine. If you need a belated Christmas gift (Valentines Day is coming up too!) for the foodie in your life, I highly recommend this magazine. I have yet to have a recipe be a total flop (though the cookies I just made were kinda flat and migrated together into one large pancake...serving size= 1 cookie. Whole pan eaten without guilt.)
The recipes are endlessly tested and each is accompanied with an explaination of what the cook tried and why it did or didn't work. Brilliant.   *this is not an advertisement*

On to the food!

Chicken Bon Femme
serves 2-3

1 1/2lbs skinless chicken thighs
3 slices bacon, chopped
3/4 pounds baby red potatoes, washed and halved
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp white wine vinegar (originally called for white wine, use 1/4 cup or so)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp dried parsely

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Chop up the bacon. I use scissors for this and it's a lot easier than trying to cut it with a knife. Cook the bacon in a dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat until crisp then set aside.

Those big pieces in the back were for me :-)

Crank the heat to about medium high and then add the chicken. Cook it until well browned then remove to a plate. If you used thighs with the skin, remove it and discard.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and use this to brown the potatoes, cut side down. It'll take about ten to 15 minutes but will smell awesome. Once the potatoes are brown, stir in the onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook another minute. Stir in the broth, vinegar,  most of the bacon bits (save some for garnish), and hot sauce. Bring this to a boil and add the chicken pieces to the pot, pouring in the delicious juices. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley and reserved bacon. Serve and enjoy.

Happy Belated Christmas from Wesley the ferret!