Thursday, January 29, 2009

Baby Bok Choy with Pancetta

I have fallen in love with pancetta. I still love the smoky goodness of bacon, but sometimes the smokiness can overpower a dish. Pancetta is basically bacon without the smoky flavor, which brings another profile to the table.

I have just begun cooking with it, and have just started to discover the possibilities of this other kind of bacon. Mostly I am using it with vegetables. Not too bad a start, I'd say.

It's pretty basic. First I rendered the pancetta in a large skillet and let it get nice and crispy. Then I added diced shallots and cooked them until they were translucent. Next I added chopped baby bok choy, a little salt (allowing for the saltiness of the pancetta) and pepper, and cooked it until the bok choy was just starting to wilt. I added about a fourth of a cup of chicken stock, lowered the heat, covered the pan, and let it steam for about five minutes. After I cooked down most of the liquid, I added just a touch of cream.

And that's it. Takes about half an hour and goes with just about anything.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pot Roast

Before I talk about pot roast, I have to send a shout-out to the CTA. Yes, the CTA. I left my bag on the bus last night. The bag that contained my wallet, my cards, my checkbook, my money, an extra set of keys to my apartment, the book I was reading, and the shawl I have been working on for the past three years. I totally freaked out, as I'm sure you can imagine. I called the CTA as soon as I got home but they said I would have to call back in the morning. I was a wreck, but finally talked myself into going to bed since there was nothing I could do about it, but of course I couldn't sleep.

My phone rang around 11:00 PM. It was the CTA saying they had my bag. I was able to sleep after that and I even had a little adventure going down to the terminal at Erie and Pulaski to retrieve it. And not only did they have my bag, but everything was still in it. I mean everything - the money, the cards, the checkbook, the shawl (which I'm a little embarrassed to admit was the thing I was most upset about - everything else was replaceable even though a hassle; the shawl would have been gone forever.)

So thank you CTA. Not just for keeping my bag safe for me, but for taking the extra trouble to call me so I would not have to worry a minute longer than necessary.
And now for the pot roast. I have created a braising monster, and it is a very good thing. A friend sent me an email asking if I knew what stewing beef was because it was an ingredient in a recipe she was going to make. I wasn't sure, so I thought I would take the question to my new best friend at the Apple Market and see if he could help me figure it out. He thought maybe they were talking about beef shanks (turns out he was right), but one of the other suggestions he made was a beautiful chuck roast, which was so beautiful that of course it came home with me.

It was a big piece of meat, too big for any of the pans I usually use, and I have recently realized that my lack of a dutch oven that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven is a serious lack. The only pan that would work is the roasting pan I had decided I no longer needed and keep in my donation pile. Seeing as how this is the second time I have pulled it out to use since deciding to get rid of it, I am seriously reconsidering that decision.

I wasn't sure it would work on the stovetop, but I positioned it over two burners, heated up some oil, and went to work on the vegetables. I decided to sear the meat in the oven instead of in the pan. It was a technique I had just watched on "The Barefoot Contessa" on the Food Network (I'd link but there's an annoying video that loads automatically). You season the meat, then roast it for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. It saves some time - you can get the vegetables started while the meat is in the oven, and it doesn't smoke up the kitchen as much.

At first I thought the roasting pan wasn't going to work on the stovetop. It is designed for the oven, where the heat flows all around it. There is not much natural conductivity so the parts that were directly over the burner got quite hotter than the rest of the pan. I had to stir constantly, and it took longer than it would have in a Dutch Oven. It did work in the end, though.

But I think I will be buying a Dutch Oven before too long.

Ina Garten used leeks in her dish, so I decided to use them in mine. I can't say that I particiularly noticed their presence, but the overall effect was a resounding success so I would use them again. The beauty of this and all of the other braises I've done so far is that it doesn't really matter what you put into it. Everything contributes, but nothing else is necessary. Except for the onion and garlic, I guess.

I was going to use red wine but I had forgotten that I used up the last of what I had on my pork chops and I had taken my last full bottle to a friend's house. Vegetable broth worked just fine. But I have beef shanks defrosting in the refrigerator and a nice bottle of Marco Real Tempranillo sitting on the shelf, so I will be reporting on that soon.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


2-1/2 pound. bone-in chuck roast
3-4 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 leek, washed well, halved and sliced
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth, plus water as needed
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.

Let chuck roast come to room temperature. Season well with salt and pepper and roast in the 400 deg. oven for 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and cover loosely with foil while the vegetables are being prepared. Turn the oven down to 300 deg. F.

While the meat is roasting, heat oil in dutch oven or roasting pan that can be used on the stove and in the oven. Add onions, carrots, celery, leek, and fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until onions and celery are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add paprika and cook for an additional minute. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the meat to the pan, nestling it into the vegetables. Add vegetable broth and enough water if necessary to cover the meat about two-thirds of the way. Add thyme and brown sugar and stir it into the broth.

Cover the pan and place it in the oven. Cook for two to three hours in 300 deg. oven, checking after two hours to see if the meat is tender. The meat is done when you can shred it between two forks.

Remove the meat from the pan. If the sauce is thin, simmer it over medium heat until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve with rice, potatoes, or noodles.

Created 1/18/09

Exported from Home Cookin 5.7 (

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cole Slaw

Ever since I posted the Vegetarian Hundred last week I have been thinking about cole slaw. I have a family recipe that I love, but after the first day it gets watery and the dressing doesn't really stick to the slaw. It also gets tedious shredding up all of that cabbage and grating the carrots, and I can never shred the cabbage fine enough. I mentioned in the post that I haven't made it in years. Mostly it is due to these issues.

But the post got me thinking about cole slaw in problem-solving ways. The most obvious solution to the tedius cabbage shredding and carrot grating is the food processor. My father embraced this appliance immediately and applied it to anything and everything he could find. He used it vigorously, and chopped everything so fine that it was almost liquid, which is not a good way to enjoy cole slaw. But I figured I could be a little more judicious in the processing, and stop before it got to be too fine a texture.

So I tried that, and I was able to stop at the right time for the cabbage and carrots to be finely grated, but not so fine that they lost their texture. The onions I chopped manually. There's not that much and it chops quickly and easily, and part of the problem in my memory of my father's attempt was that the processed onion liquified more than the cabbage and carrots, thus contributing to the problem of the watery dressing.

I had two ideas to help combat the watery aspect of the dressing. First, I added less milk (I know, kind of a "duh" thing but still, sometimes it takes real thought to overcome these obstacles). Second, I did not use any salt. That seemed to solve that problem. I just added salt to the individual servings.

I'm so happy with this new method of mine. And cole slaw goes well with just about anything.
1 medium-sized head green cabbage
4 large carrots, peeled
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
crushed black pepper to taste


(All of these amounts are approximate - adjust to suit your tastes)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar

Quarter cabbage and remove the core. If using food processor: chop roughly and process, one quarter at a time, until you have a rough chop. Be careful not to overprocess. Place all of the cabbage into a large bowl. Cut carrots into roughly two-inch pieces and process, also to a rough chop, also being careful not to overprocess. Add to the cabbage. If not using food processor: cut the cole slaw into a fine shred and place in a large bowl. Grate the carrots and add them to the bowl. Add the chopped and the crushed black pepper.

Combine the dressing ingredients into a two-cup measuring cup or bowl. Start with the lesser amounts and taste and adjust until you have about 1-1/2 cups of dressing. Pour over the vegetables and mix well.

Can be eaten right away, but it is better after the salad has had time to absorb the flavors of the dressing. If you want salt, add it to the individual servings.

Adapted from family recipe.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chicken with Kumquats and Roasted Vegetables

Two years ago I bought a pint of beautiful kumquats at the Green Market. I remember having them around the house at least once when I was young, but I don't remember what anybody did with them. I do remember tasting them once. They were sour, and not at all like the oranges they resembled. I did not feel the need to try them again until I saw them at the market.

I had a vague idea of cooking them with chicken, so I put them in the refrigerator and made a mental note to get some chicken during the week. And promptly forgot all about it, until a few of weeks had passed and I ran into them at the back of the produce drawer.

Kumquats, like most citrus, keep pretty well for a while, but these were definitely past their prime. I hate to admit it even now, but I had to throw them away. I did not see any more kumquats at the market that year, so I missed my chance.

I saw them again a year later and yes, I did buy them. I stopped and got chicken on the way home so I would have no reason not to make it right away. I decided to throw the chicken and kumquats into the slow cooker with some sprigs of thyme, onions, white wine and water. I had previously come up with the brilliant idea of painting the rusted inside lid of my water bottle with nail polish to seal the rust and keep it from falling into the water, which it was starting to do.

The dish cooked up beautifully, and smelled heavenly when I lifted the lid off of the slow cooker. I eagerly served up a plate over some brown rice and took a bite. And it did taste good, except that there was a nasty aftertaste that I couldn't quite identify. Until I realized that it tasted the way nail polish smells - a sharp varnish-y smell that goes straight to your brain. Apparently, the fumes from the nail polish permeated the water. It probably would have been ok to eat it, but I couldn't get past that nasty aftertaste. So much for my second attempt.

There was a third attempt. This time I ran into the kumquats at Treasure Island quite unexpectedly. I chopped up all the vegetables and the kumquats and threw them into the slow cooker while I defrosted the chicken that had been in the freezer for a few months. After it was defrosted, I realized it might have been in the freezer longer than I thought (so much for Operation Freezerburn.) Bottom line, I did have a bag full of frozen chicken bones and backs in the freezer as well, and it made some excellent chicken stock. But still, no chicken with kumquats.

Until last weekend. Treasure Island had kumquats again and by now I was determined that I would successfully make this dish. I remembered to buy a chicken at the Apple Market the next day and went to work that night.

With great success. I went with the oven instead of the slow cooker since it's so cold outside. And came up with a winner. Chicken and kumquats are a natural pair. Honey takes away the sourness, and the citrus brightens everything up beautifully.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


For Chicken:

1 2 to 3-pound chicken, cut into quarters
1 pound boiler onions, peeled and halved (large ones quartered), or 1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 pint kumquats
1/4 cup honey
10 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
salt and pepper
olive oil

For Vegetables:

5 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal 1-and-1/2-inches thick
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 head of garlic cloves, peeled
5-6 medium sized new red potatoes, cut into 1-and-1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil

For chicken:

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.

Cut kumquats in half. Don't worry too much about the seeds, but set aside about 10 halves that look juicy and don't have seeds. Thinly slice those halves.

Pour small amount of olive oil into the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Layer the kumquat halves (not the slices) and onions in the dish. Pour honey evenly over all, then swish everything around until
it is well coated in the oil and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Lay 6 sprigs of thyme on top.

Arrange chicken pieces over the bed of onions and kumquats. Insert the reserved sliced kumquats under the skin of each piece. Pour another tablespoon or so of oil over the chicken, then season well with salt and pepper. Strip the leaves off of the four thyme sprigs and sprinkle them, along with the marjoram, over the chicken.

Cover with foil and bake for one hour covered, then another half hour uncovered, until chicken is done.

Prepare vegetables while chicken is baking. Arrange in a roasting pan and coat well with olive oil. Add the thyme, salt and pepper (to taste) and mix well. Place in the oven with the chicken and bake until
vegetables are just tender, about 40 minutes.

If the chicken is done before the vegetables, remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil to keep it warm.

Remove the thyme sprigs and discard them. Strain the liquid from the kumquat and onion mixture and use it to make couscous (add water if there is not enough liquid). Discard onions and kumquats.

Serve chicken and vegetables over the couscous.

Created January 10, 2009

Exported from Home Cookin 5.7 (

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pimento Tuna Melt

The high tomorrow looks like it's not going to crawl up past zero. It's a good time to hunker down with some good, solid comfort food. Unfortunately, I decided to make a batch of tuna salad before I knew it was going to be so cold.

I love tuna salad, and it is comfort food of a kind for me, but more a cool summer pick-me-up than a rich hearty make me feel all warm and toasty inside when it's below freezing outside kind of comfort. As the temperature dropped, my thoughts turned to ways I could warm it up a bit.

And I thought about tuna melts. I had some leftover cheese from a batch of pimento cheese I made earlier last week. It's also more summer pick-me-up than winter warm-up (what was I thinking?). I toasted up some bread, covered it with the tuna salad, and layered slices of cheese on top.

And it was ok, but not spectacularly so. It needed something, but what?

I'll tell you what (no, not "chicken but", which for some strange reason pops into my head lately whenever anyone says "you know what?").

What it needed was pimento cheese. I can't believe it hasn't been done before, but I Googled "Pimento Tuna Melt" and, while I got quite a few tuna casserole recipes and several delis who offered both tuna melts and pimento cheese sandwiches on their menu, I didn't find any reference to anyone who used pimento cheese on a tuna melt.

And now I won't have one any other way. The pimentos give a whole new dimension to the flavors in the sandwich, and the cheese melts into a warm, gooey mess on top of the tuna salad. I suppose the fact that I used my own home-made whole wheat bread made the dish all the more tasty.
To make a tuna melt:

Turn on the broiler. Toast the bread. Put it on a cookie sheet and spoon tuna salad on top. Drop pimento cheese by the spoonful over the tuna salad. Put the cookie sheet under the broiler for about 2 minutes, checking frequently after the first minute to make sure it doesn't burn. Leave it under the broiler until the cheese is hot and bubbly, and has browned some. Remove from under the broiler and enjoy.
You can find my pimento cheese recipe here. I don't believe I've ever shared my recipe for tuna salad before. Everybody has their own way of making it. This is mine.


This is more a method than a recipe - adjust any/all of the ingredients to your own taste

4-6 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine
3-4 stalks celery, diced
1/4 small onion, finely diced
2 5-oz. cans tuna fish, well drained
pickle relish
garlic powder, cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Combine eggs, celery, onion, and tuna fish. Add a few teaspoons-full of pickle relish and about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. Sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper and salt and mix well. Add more mayonnaise if necessary to desired consistency. Taste and adjust any seasonings as desired.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Vegetarian Hundred

I've spent the past few days restoring the photos I deleted from my previous posts so I didn't have time to write anything new for Thursday. That's the first post I've missed for a while, but I didn't have anything pre-written and I just didn't have it in me to put one together. I had a lot of catching up to do at work and I was pretty much done by the time I got home.

I have managed to take a few walks, though, even in this cold weather. And I've been busy in the kitchen as well, preparing more fodder for future posts.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to balance the Omnivore's Hundred list I posted last month. Barbara over at Tigers and Strawberries has come up with a Vegetarian Hundred to complement Andrew's list at Very Good Taste. He's done a Christmas version as well, but I think that's a little overkill. Besides, I am not familiar with most of the items on that list - must be a British thing.

I did better on this list than I did on the Omnivore's Hundred. There are about five or so items I can't say for sure whether or not I have had so I left them unbolded.
The Vegetarian Hundred

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked - got the recipe from my go-to Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook and it was very good.

2. Tabouleh - the first time I had it was at a party in Austin sometime in the '70s (think hippy/crunchy). Basically, a bowl full of bulgur with a little bit of cucumber, tomato and parsley for garnish. Put me off it for a long time, and then I had some at a Middle Eastern Restaurant and loved loved loved it.

3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam) - Just about the best thing in the world. I've made strawberry jam, but did not have it around when I made the bread. It was pretty darned good on my home-made biscuits though.

4. Fresh figs -

5. Fresh pomegranate - healthy, tart and fresh. Many people seem to have found my quick trick for getting the seeds out to be helpful.

6. Indian dal of any sort - I love me some dal. I've made masala dal, with great success.

7. Imam bayildi - I love the story behind this name and have been wanting to make it for a while. Maybe now I will remember.

8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu - I have had pressed tofu, spiced tofu, and Chinese tofu. I just don't know if I have had them all together.

9. Freshly made hummus - I have broken a couple of blenders trying to make creamy hummus. I finally mastered the art here.

10. Tahini - Well, if you have had freshly made humus, you have had tahini. Add yogurt and lemon and you have had tahini sauce. It's not something I would think of having by itself, but I have tasted it.

11. Kimchi - I've only had it once and I don't know how authentic it was. It was ok.

12. Miso - The first time I had miso soup was when my Japanese neighbor made it. It was delicious, and the first time I realized that I liked tofu, when it wasn't trying to be something else.

13. Falafel - There was a cart off the drag at UT in the mid-seventies where I had my first falafel sandwich. It was unlike anything I had ever had and I loved it.

14. Potato and pea filled samosas - Many times. It's especially good with tamarind sauce.

15. Homemade yogurt - my sister made this. It was ok, but didn't seem any better than the organic brand I usually buy.

16. Muhammara - I wrote about it here.

17. Brie en croute - One word: Yum!

18. Spanikopita - Not the first Greek dish I would put on a list like this.

19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes

20. Insalata caprese - One of my favorite salads. The best I ever had was at Topo Gigio's in Chicago, mostly because of the black pepper they used. It was fresh and sharp and had the most amazing bite - I've been looking for that pepper ever since.

21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards) - Not all of these, but the ones I have eaten I have eaten often. I love me some stir-fry.

22. Freshly made salsa - I think I have the best recipe. (Who doesn't?)

23. Freshly made guacamole - People tend to overcomplicate this. Avodaco, salt, pepper, a little garlic and onion, maybe some tomato and cilantro and that is it. And no chilies, please. I'll add those when I eat it if I want them.

24. Creme brulee - for the longest time creme brulee was the basis on which I judged a restaurant.

25. Fava beans - I've never had the opportunity, nor have I made the opportunity. I actually think I might have had them once but I can't remember.

26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles - Yum!

27. Fattoush - There was a restaurant down the street from the knit shop that made a kick-ass fattoush salad that they would add grilled chicken to on request. They are gone now and I haven't found a restaurant in my neighborhood that comes close.

28. New potatoes - All the time. Baked, boiled, broiled, fried, mashed - you name it.

29. Coleslaw - I'm very picky about my coleslaw and don't care for most restaurant versions. I haven't made it in years, though.

30. Ratatouille - My mother actually made a pretty good ratatouille. I can't get all of the vegetables to be done at the same time. The eggplant is undercooked and the zucchini is mush.

31. Baba ganoush - I make this fairly regularly.

32. Winter squash - I went really wild with the winter squash this year. There are so many delicious varieties out there these days.

33. Roasted beets - I usually boil them but they are really good roasted.

34. Baked sweet potatoes - I think I actually prefer them to white.

35. Plantains - Never met one I didn't like. I went nuts over Chifles' plantain chips when I first discovered them.

36. Chocolate truffles - much better than actual truffles in my book.

37. Garlic mashed potatoes - oh yes.

38. Fresh water chestnuts - I don't know if I've had fresh, but they are one of my favorite ingredients in Chinese cooking.

39. Steel cut oats - best oatmeal ever.

40. Quinoa - it may have been the recipe, but I did not like this when I tried it.

41. Grilled portabello mushrooms - I am not particularly a fan.

42. Chipotle en adobo - these have become ubiquitous, but they definitely have their uses.

43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal - I have some in my freezer at this moment.

44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas - both and I love them. Corn tortillas made in a taco restaurant in Mexico City where ladies sat in a corner making them - best tacos I have ever had hands down. An old housemate used to make whole wheat flour tortillas and we couldn't keep our hands off of them, even though it made him really mad. We were shameless.

45. Frittata - I've had many egg plates resembling frittatas, but I don't know if I can say I've ever actually had one.

46. Basil pesto - Several years ago my sister started making basil pesto. She has since branched out and makes all kinds of interesting varieties. All of the ones I have had are delicious.

47. Roasted garlic - I have some in the oven right now. It makes my knees melt.

48. Raita of any type - Only in Indian restaurants.

49. Mango lassi - I'm more interested in this than in salted lassi, although I have been told I would like that more than I thought I would.

50. Jasmine rice (white or brown) - many times with Thai food.

51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry - Tofu. Yum!

52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie - soup (delicious) and in this amazing stew.

53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette - I would have some if it were offered, but it's never my first choice.

54. Quince in any form - I'm curious about this.

55. Escarole, endive or arugula - All three (even together).

56. Sprouts other than mung bean - alfalfa, radish, sunflower - and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

57. Naturally brewed soy sauce - I wouldn't seek it out.

58. Dried shiitake mushrooms - I'm sure I've had these but not sure enough to say.

59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…) - blue potatoes are smooth and creamy.

60. Fresh peach ice cream - years ago when I didn't like peaches, and it was awesome.

61. Chevre - Goat cheese - many times in many ways, all delicious.

62. Medjool dates - another thing I used to hate and now love. These were especially delicious.

63. Kheer - Well, I've had rice pudding at an Indian restaurant so I'm going to say I've had this.

64. Flourless chocolate cake - Wasted on me.

65. Grilled corn on the cob - Um, yeah.

66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili - And I haven't cared for most of the ones I've had.

67. Tempeh - Chicago Diner does wonderful things with tempeh. I've never cooked with it.

68. Seitan or wheat gluten - I don't think I've had either of these.

69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese - Oh yeah, baby.

70. Sweet potato fries - I prefer my sweet potatoes mashed or roasted, but fries have their uses.

71. Homemade au gratin potatoes - Never made it or had it made for me.

72. Cream of asparagus soup - It's ok, but I'd rather just eat asparagus.

73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip - ditto. I'd rather just eat an artichoke.

74. Mushroom risotto - I've never actually had mushroom risotto. I've had plenty of other kinds.

75. Fermented black beans - Never by themselves, but in Chinese dishes.

76. Garlic scapes - Here.

77. Fresh new baby peas - Do sugar snaps count?

78. Kalamata olives - So much better than the black olives that come out of the can.

79. Preserved lemons - I am very curious about these, but I have never tried them.

80. Fried green tomatoes - Once. Wasted on me.

81. Chinese scallion pancakes - Fabulous. I could make a meal out of them.

82. Cheese souffle - Can't believe it, but I've never had it.

83. Fried apples - What?

84. Homemade frijoles refritos - Por seguro!

85. Pasta fagiole - Nope. Hmmmmm.

86. Macadamia nuts in any form - Might just be my least favorite nut.

87. Paw paw in any form - No, but I remember some kind of song about someone doing something in the paw paw patch.

88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind - Of many kinds.

89. Paneer cheese - Saag Paneer, anyone?

90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!) - I'd like to try this.

91. Fresh pasta in any form - Completely different taste and texture than dried.

92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps - Tasty.

93. Green papaya salad - Don't think I'd like this.

94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes - I don't think I've had this without meat.

95. Pickled ginger - Love this stuff.

96. Methi greens - This is fenugreek, which I also haven't tasted.

97. Aloo paratha - Something new to try. I think I would like this.

98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish) - Nope.

99. Okra - I like okra once or twice a year, but the slime gets to me pretty quickly.

100. Roasted brussels sprouts - I actually like brussels sprouts, when they're cooked properly.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Baked Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Onions and Garlic

I somehow deleted most of the recent photos from my blog posts, and have spent most of the day restoring as many as I could. I wish I could say it was some stupid Blogger glitch, but I did it my own damn self. It will take me a few days to restore them all. Sigh.

I have made baked chicken enough times over the past year that I have finally mastered it. I haven't made it enough times that I have gotten sick of it. At least I hope not because it is easy to make, lasts for a few days, and gives me plenty of backs and bones for killer slow cooker chicken stock.

One trick I have been using is to bake the chicken over a layer of quartered onions that serve as a roasting rack. The first couple of times I just threw the onion away - after all, its job was done. But I kept thinking there was a better use to which I could put it. The next time I made it, I peeled some cloves of garlic and threw them in with the onion. I pulled them out and ate them with the chicken, but I threw the onion out again. It just looked like all the flavor had been cooked out of it.

Then this last time I decided to try something that might give the onion a fighting chance. Instead of quartering it, I sliced it. I peeled about a head's worth of garlic cloves and chopped about a pound of fingerling potatoes in half. I layered everything in the baking dish and seasoned it all with salt and pepper, then poured a little olive oil over the whole thing. I placed the chicken pieces over the vegetables and seasoned them, adding thyme, marjoram and a little basil.

I baked the chicken for about an hour and a half in a 350 degree F. oven. It was delicious, as usual. And the onions, garlic and potatoes worked beautifully well together. The potatoes were soft and creamy, the garlic was roasted to sweet perfection, and the sliced onions had caramelized, adding a bit of texture.

Green beans with almonds rounded out the meal. I blanched about a pound of beans, then warmed them up in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I threw in some toasted almonds at the end and stirred in about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice right before serving.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Baked Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Onions and Garlic

Makes 4 servings

1 2-3 lb. chicken, cut into 4 pieces
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
1 head's worth of garlic cloves, peeled
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, cut in half on the diagonal
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange onions, garlic cloves and fingerling potatoes on the bottom of a 10 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Arrange chicken, skin side up, over vegetables. Pour the other tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken and run it into the skin. Season well with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the marjorm, thyme and oregano over the chicken.

Bake in the oven approximately one-and-a-half hours, until the chicken is done. If the skin starts to burn, lightly place a piece of foil over the chicken pieces.

Serve the potatoes, onion and garlic as a side dish to the chicken.

Created December 6, 2008.

Exported from Home Cookin 5.7 (

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Caribbean Vegetable Stew

Happy New Year! The coming year will certainly present its challenges, but I am confident that things will get better, even if that's only because it doesn't seem like they can get much worse.

I don't really make resolutions for the new year, but it does seem like a good time to take stock and start fresh. I am taking a page from my niece's book and setting goals for the coming year, rather than making resolutions I know I will break.

Among my goals are to walk more and to eat more healthfully. I have been walking every day since I got to Austin and I plan to continue that habit once I get back to Chicago. I have also been inflicting some of my healthier recipes on my family down here. They seem to be enjoying them and that makes me happy and keeps me motivated to keep cooking them.

If you are looking to start the year on a healthy note, you can't go wrong with this Caribbean Vegetable Stew. It's spicy and sweet and loaded with all kinds of vegetables that have all kinds of good things in them. The original recipe called for okra and had no corn, but the combination of flavors seemed to call out for corn so I switched them around. The beauty of this dish is that you could pretty much add any vegetable that you like, and omit any that you don't want.

This makes a big pot of good. When I am cooking for myself, I immediately freeze half of it so I don't get tired of it. I am happy to say that with my brother's family it didn't last long enough to be a problem.
Home Cookin Chapter: Soups and Stews


2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger, or 1 tsp dried ground ginger
2 cups vegetable broth or water
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups frozen corn
3 cups black beans
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped raw or roasted cashews

Heat oil in 4-quart casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes. Add cabbage, wine, serrano, red pepper flakes, and ginger. Continue to saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and sweet potatoes. Bring stew to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, salt, several grindings of pepper, and lime juice. Simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in the corn and black beans and simmer until they're heated through.

Taste for seasoning and stir in the cilantro. Top each serving with a sprinkling of chopped cashews.

Adapted from The One-Dish Vegetarian, by Maria Robbins (St. Martin's Griffin, 1998)

Exported from Home Cookin 5.7 (
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