Friday, October 24, 2008

Roasted Chicken

Apparently, when I decide to roast something for dinner, I decide to roast everything. (almost)

I had never roasted a chicken before, but suddenly had a hankering to do so. I had never even really been in charge of the turkey, no matter how much I do for Thanksgiving. For a first attempt, I'd say I did pretty damn well.

With all the apples sitting in my kitchen, taunting me, daring me to try to use them all before they went bad, I knew that at least one had to be used as a part of this recipe. I did some research on the interwebs, and it didn't seem like it would be all that hard. I was expecting to stuff the chicken more like a turkey, but wasn't very disappointed when I discovered that that wasn't the norm. Following a few guidelines, but sort of just feeling my way - this is what I did.

What you'll need:
2 carrots, unpeeled and sliced about 1/4" thick
2 stalks of celery, sliced the same
1 medium onion, diced
1 apple, quartered only (do not peel or core)
5-8 cloves garlic
fresh rosemary sprigs
fresh thyme
1 whole chicken, giblets and all
1 cup white wine (plus however much you would like to drink)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack 1/3 of the way up in the oven so that the chicken will sit in the middle.

Line the bottom of a roasting pan or casserole dish with the carrots, celery and onion. Place a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary on top in center, where you will place the chicken.

Clean the chicken - remove any remaining feathers, remove the giblets and place in the bed of vegetables. Also remove the pieces of fat attaching the skin near the cavity. You can chose to wash and pat dry the chicken. I did not as I didn't want to spread salmonella to my sink and kitchen and figured that roasting the chicken would kill the germs anyway.

Once the cavity of the chicken is empty, sprinkle with salt and pepper, insert garlic, a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme, as well as the apple. The entire apple may not fit. I had to cut mine into 1/8ths to fit more than a quarter. Massage the butter or margarine into the skin all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the bed of vegetables, herbs and giblets.

Place in the oven to roast for 45-60 minutes. I did not have a meat thermometer, so let my chicken stay in a little longer than it probably should have. I'd rather have my chicken be a little dry than under cooked. Ideally, though, you want the meat to be about 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.

Once the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven and the chicken from the pan. Remove the apples, garlic, etc from the cavity. Cover with aluminum foil and let sit while you prepare the phenomenal au jus.

Scrape all the vegetables and giblets from the pan into a bowl, allowing any juices to remain. Pour the glass of wine into the bowl with the vegetables so it can collect any remaining flavor or juices. Then pour the wine, straining out the vegetables into a sauce pan along with the juices from the roasting pan. Be sure to smush the vegetables a bit as you're straining them so you get as much flavor out of them as possible. Turn on the burner to a medium low heat to allow the alcohol to begin to burn off. At this point, check the chicken to see if any juice has accumulated on the plate or in the cavity. If so, add this to the pan now and continue cooking for just a few minutes longer.

Now the sauce and chicken are both ready to serve!

Our meal was accompanied by an attempt at roast vegetables. I say attempt because unfortunately, the rack to roast the chicken on was low and therefore close to the bottom rack in the oven. The vegetables seemed to steam more than roast, but it all worked out.

This one's easy!
Slice and dice your favorite assortment of vegetables and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet.

Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and other spices of choice and place in the oven. After 15 minutes turn over, brush, sprinkle and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Once the vegetables have reached the desired doneness, enjoy!

Eat me, I'm done!!

(also accompanied by mashed potatoes, as you can see)

Apple Pomegranite Tarte Tatin: An Attempt

Until about a year ago, I don't think I had ever heard of a Tarte Tatin. My family tends to cook simple, good food. Desserts are more in the pie, cake, cookie family occasionally straying to blintzes or sufgoniot. And then one lovely friend started talking about the one that she makes as well as the one at Petit Robert Bistro. (a restaurant that is heaven on earth, btw)

So when a recipe for an Apple and Pomegranite Tarte Tatin came in my Bon Apetit, I just had to give it a whirl. And whirl I did....

What you need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 3 cups refrigerated pure pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 medium Golden Delicious apples (about 3 1/4 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored (I used the apples from the excursion, so they were a combo of Macs and Courtlands. I also ended up using 9-10 apples, I believe)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Large pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • Vanilla ice cream (you really don't want to leave this out)

The Making of the Crust
Blend first 3 ingredients. Add chilled butter and blend until coarse meal forms. Add crème fraîche/sour cream. Blend, until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap; chill 1 hour. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to 11-inch-diameter round. Slide onto baking sheet, cover, and chill until ready to use. This part can be done up to a day in advance. Mine was done the previous evening, transported across the city and baked in Cambridge. And it survived just fine.

And Then the Filling...
Boil pomegranate juice in heavy large saucepan until reduced to scant 1 cup syrup, about 15 minutes. This too can be done ahead. Not to mention this syrup ends up being magic I plan on making regularly.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Spread room-temperature butter evenly over bottom and up sides of heavy medium ovenproof skillet (10 inches across top; 8 inches across bottom; 2 1/4 inches deep). Sprinkle sugar evenly over butter. Cook over medium heat without stirring until mixture bubbles all over, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stand apple quarters on 1 end around edge of skillet, leaning 1 cut edge against pan side and fitting snugly. Stand as many apples in center as will fit. Sprinkle apples with allspice and salt.

This picture is post pomegranate syrup, but I would like to point out how lovely and tightly packed my apples were. This lead to some boiling over onto the stove, as you can see.

Cook apples over medium-high heat without stirring until thick, deep-amber syrup bubbles up, adding any remaining apples as space permits (apples will shrink as they cook), about 20 minutes. This will not cause burning or sticking, as you may fear. Pour 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup over (mixture will bubble). Cook until juices thicken again, 4 to 5 minutes (syrup will be deep amber). Remove from heat.

Using spatula, press apples gently toward center, then down to compact. Slide crust over apples. Press crust down around apples at edge of skillet. Cut 4 slits in top for steam to escape.

Bake tart until crust is brown and juices at edge are thick and dark scarlet in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove skillet from oven; let stand 1 minute.

The bubbling over and spilling continued whilst my tarte tatin was in the oven. But the crust is a lovely golden brown.

I couldn't wait to see the lovely apple pattern when I finally flipped it. To do so, place a large plate over the skillet. Using oven mitts and holding plate and skillet firmly together, invert tart onto plate. Carefully lift off skillet. Return any apples to tart that may be stuck in skillet.

Apparently I fail. It looks like apple mush. At this point, I was hoping the lovely smells eminating from the kitchen were more indicative of how it would taste than the aesthetics. Let it cool at least 15 minutes. Serve Tarte Tatin warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and drizzle of remaining pomegranate syrup.

Thankfully, it tasted wonderfully. Maybe the Goldens will/would hold up a little better. Maybe I over packed my tarte? Uncertain. What I do know is that vanilla ice cream drizzled in pomegranate syrup is now one of my most favorite desserts.

Btw, this is what it was supposed to look like:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blogger fails me and I cry.

me: what's wrong with bloggggerrrrrr
Deepa: oh good lord
go to bed
it will be fine in the morning
me: but I won't have my laptop at work with me in the am!
Deepa: wait do you hear that?
that sound?
what IS that?
me: whine whine whine?
Deepa: the worlds smallest violin!
i can HEAR it!
me: lol you're such a bitch ;-)
Deepa: preens
me: whatever. i'm going to go bake a pie
Deepa: hahaha

Eff you Blogger. I didn't want to tell you about roasting a chicken or going to Maine anyway. (okay, I will, but it might take a few days unless it decides to start behaving later tonight)

Weekend Mini Break

Relaxation, pretty leaves, and hiking were the goal for this past weekend. With the Berkshire's all booked up with people from around the world wanting to get a taste of fall in New England, we decided to head to a less populated place this time of year - The Ocean. Fortunately for us, Maine has the best of all worlds - ocean, leaves, hiking, and small town quaintness.

The weekend was perfect.

We spent one day hiking. Look, that's part of the Beehive. There were rungs cause it went right up. And I wasn't scurred. Not even once. Look at me, I'm growing. Or the Andes made most other mountains seem trivial. Undetermined.

This is one of the views from the top, plus our feet. There's little in this world that can beat leaves and ocean.

A view from the bottom of what we'd just climbed. We took The Beehive up and The Bowl back down.

Yup, those are his feet in the water. They were numb for the next half hour. I let my feet touch the water too, but I definitely didn't hang out. I might have gone running up the beach.

After a lot of hiking we had some delicious tea, soup and popovers with home made jam. Second day was spent wandering around town, in and out of shops. I loved this clock. Around mid afternoon it was time to head back to the city.

We'll definitely be back. There's more trails to hike, leaves to see and ocean to enjoy.

Happy Fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best Brunch Ever: Challah French Toast

With Rosh Hashanah comes round challah. Living on my own, I can't get through half a loaf on my own before it gets stale and unenjoyable, even with the help of boy. Good thing challah makes such good french toast.

Wanting to bring in the new year with a little extra sweetness, as is the tradition, and the bread being challah, I modified the batter ever so slightly from typical french toast.

All my measurements are approximate - cooking is more of a feeling thing for me than a science.

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 to 1/3 round challah, cut into approximately 1" slices (regular challah works just as well. raisin challah adds an extra kick, too.)

Beat together eggs, milk, honey, vanilla and spices.

Heat a fry pan or skillet and add butter, margarine or PAM to prevent sticking.

Dip bread in egg mixture, saturating both sides. Move to pan. Fill the pan with slices without allowing them to touch.

Brown slices on both sides. Once both sides are a deep brown, remove from heat and cover with aluminum foil or place on cookie sheet and place in oven until all the bread is done.

Plate, serve and enjoy!

We had ours with turkey bacon, chicken apple sausage and mimosas. And of course drizzled it with 100% maple syrup.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Pass Out Queen

Matt makes fun of me, almost nightly, for passing out. Sometimes on the couch, sometimes on the bed, but almost always prior to the intended sleep time. (since I have more things I want to do - no not that, dirty, dirty readers)

I attribute this phenomenon to how I'm constantly going going going during the day/evening/night, so the moment I stop, my body takes the opportunity to make me stop full halt. Stupid body.

Some of the activities I've been unable to get to include posting all the food I've been cooking lately. Be it the challah french toast to fuel our apple picking excursion, or all the resulting goodies, I have a lot of posting to do!

Recipes to come include:
Challah French Toast (afore mentioned)
Roast Chicken with an apple shoved up its bum
Apple Cake
Chicken Stock (thanks to afore mentioned chicken)

Recipes to come after I make them this weekend:
Apple Pomegranite Tart Tatin
Apple Crumb Pie
Apple Sauce

Possible recipes to come this weekend:
Roast Turkey w/Apple Shallot Stuffing (I will be pained to not make my grandmother's)

I really am looking for more savory recipes to use all these apples in.... ideas anyone?

Proven Wrong

I'm a big enough person to admit when I'm wrong.

Anyone that has known me for any significant period of time has probably heard me dis Connecticut, my home state, time and again. It's a big suburb. It's boring. Much of the state is close minded. It's boring. I'm sure there are worse states, but I'm not familiar enough with any of them to speak knowledgeably about the subject. Suffice it to say, I've always thought Connecticut to have few redeeming qualities and suck a lot.

Today, Connecticut proved me wrong. (at least a little) The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that under Connecticut law, gay marriage is not illegal. Therefore, gay marriage is now legal in Connecticut!

I have a theory that this may just be to one-up New York and their decision to recognize other state's marriages, but I'll take what I can get.

On a related note, Jefferson sent this to me today:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oodles of Apples

Yesterday, being a typical fall day in New England, boy, friends and I decided to venture out in search of apples. The orchard we ended up with was a "buy a bag" orchard. $20 for half a bushel, and half a bushel we got.

Now the quandry: what to do with all the apples.

So far, the following has been proposed/thought of:
Apple Crumb Pie
Apple Butter
Apple Sauce
Apple Tartarin with Pomegranate
Apple Strudel

But half a bushel is a lot of apples. Does anyone have recipes to share? Hopefully ones that don't go bad easily? or are easy to distribute?

Btw. Girl at Bolton Farm Stand's apple pastry window sucks at the customer service thing. We stand in line for 40 minutes. I only want one or two cider donuts. The rest of our crew is getting assorted various pastry so we get in the 5 or less donut line. Three customers from glory and no more individual donuts are being served. We didn't want to cut the other line or wait another 40 minutes so banked on sympathy. None was had. No individual donuts. And she couldn't sell donuts from that line. Fine. I'll just take my cider. Talk was had of a visit to another farm stand to get me a donut. Instead, my friends got a puppy. And puppy always trumps donut.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Omnivore's 100

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I feel like 30 isn't too bad considering all the things I can't/won't eat... How do you fare on the Omnivore's 100?