Posts from the ‘Chicken’ Category

Support Chicken Pot Pie, and Our Military

Downtown Seattle 2008

I am back from Pennsylvania with something other than food on my mind. Well, food with side of politics. Politics and food go hand in hand in countless ways, but this is not about low wages, or the mass amount of people living without food and/or clean water. This is a different kind of politics. A politics of friends, of family, acquaintances, and strangers.

As we were arriving in Seattle, there was an announcement to please remain in your seat as there was a sergeant escorting the remains of a fallen solider on board. As I anticipated the disrespect and rudeness that comes from most citizens, my mind completely focused on those two soldiers. I stopped thinking about the last bus we missed because our flight was late, and realized how completely ridiculous it was to care about it in the first place. I felt guilty, and welcomed something important to put things into perspective. I didn’t talk for the last twenty or so minutes of the flight. I held Jim’s hand.

The captain came back on the intercom to again remind us of the solider, and asked for a moment of silence. If I hear one person on their cell phone telling someone they just landed and blah, blah, blah, I was going to verbally punch someone. I hate this anyway. You are going to be off the plane in a few minutes. What did you do before there were cell phones? That’s right. You got off the plane and met your loved one. Crisis averted.

Surprisingly with only one cell phone call, everyone remained silent. The solider took his long walk down the aisle. (If there are empty first class seats, I think these should be given to military personnel) As he approached first class a few started to clap. He stopped to talk to the flight crew, who couldn’t have been more respectful, and articulate about the importance of what was happening on our flight. That pause sent everyone out of their seats and right for their carry-ons.  A sense of embarrassment flooded over me, and I was so disappointed. They couldn’t wait one more minute until he exited the plane. The world is full of selfish, unthinking people. I am glad I am not one of them, and that I fell in love with someone who is not one of them.

As the woman who had been checking her phone for the last hour sighed louder and louder, we enjoyed seeing all the rows in front of us exit the plane, making her ignorance wait even longer.

We walked off the plane to the next flight of people watching the line of fireman and police pulling a coffin from the plane. The plane we just rode for 6 hours and had no idea a part of our military and someone’s family was also on his way home.

With our arms around each other and tears falling, we watched. A women, a baby. Hands shaking, kisses on the cheek. It was dark and wet.

The first flag draped coffin I have ever seen in person.

Some looked on like it was a car accident. If they could no longer see they just walked away. Older people always going on about life experience were some of the most inconsiderate. The ones who tell us younger liberals we don’t know what patriotism is. I at the very least know what patriotism isn’t by watching most of you.

You don’t have to support the war to appreciate that your fellow citizens are waking up everyday, away from home, away from friends and family, their own bed, good food, and their own freedom.  No sleeping in, cuddling, having a beer with a friend, relaxing on a weekend, going on vacation, attending a wedding, or a birthday. Hell, just everyday things like grocery shopping, going for a walk, taking out the garbage, washing their car, sitting next to their kid.

Labor Day parade, Wilkes-Barre, PA- 2009

 

Labor Day parade, Wilkes-Barre, PA- 2009

I didn’t write this post to solely depress you. Of course food is involved!

If you want to do something that isn’t blue, red or even purple, do it with food.

Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers from around the country who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic military men and women who are currently deployed in a war zone. Our goal is to show our support and send a little bit of home to remind them that we appreciate all that they do for our freedom.  Find out more here: http://www.bakinggals.com/

If you know a military family, take them some food! Life is hard enough, making dinner can sometimes feel impossible. The stress of feeding themselves and their kids (if they have them) is now gone because of you. Make their kids lunches for school too! Find out what they like first of course. For those who still want to cook, but could use some help, or conversation, bring some ingredients over and cook with them.

Here’s a divine little chicken pot pie I made, that would make a great travel companion to a soldier’s home.

Gorden Ramsey’s Chicken Pie

  • 3¼ cups chicken stock
  • Leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 1¼ pounds in total
  • 10 ounces pearl onions or shallots, peeled
  • 7 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound, or 1 recipe, basic short pastry
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

Basic Short Pastry
makes about 1 lb
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. fine sea salt
6 tbs. cold, unsalted butter, diced
4-6 tbls.  ice water
Place the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Blitz until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. Tip into a mixing bowl, add 4 tbls. of water and stir with a knife until the dough just comes together. If it seems too dry, add 1-2 tbls. more water. (Try not to make the dough too wet, because this results in a crumbly pastry). Lightly knead the dough into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
Pie

Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the thyme leaves, then poach the chicken breasts until just firm and cooked through, 10-12 minutes. With a pair of kitchen tongs, transfer the poached chicken to a plate and let cool.

Tip the boiling onions into the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue simmering until both the onions and mushrooms are tender, 4-5 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions and mushrooms to a large bowl.

Increase the heat under the stock and boil until it has reduced to 1¼ cups. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the onions and mushrooms. When the stock has reduced, pour it into a pitcher.

Return the pan to the heat. Melt the butter in the pan and stir in the flour. Keep stirring over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Gradually pour in the hot stock, stirring until smooth. Simmer until thickened, 5-10 minutes, then stir in the cream and bring back to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce should be thick and creamy. Pour it over the chicken and vegetables and mix well. Let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Divide the pastry into two portions: two-thirds and one-third. Roll out the larger portion on a lightly floured surface to a circle large enough to line a pie dish or pan, or a casserole, that is 9-10 inches in diameter and 1½-2 inches deep. Line the dish and trim off the excess pastry. For a good-looking result, put a pie bird or pie funnel in the middle of the dish. Spread the filling evenly in the dish.

Roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid for the pie and cut a cross in the middle to fit around the pie bird. (If you’re not using a pie bird, cut a small cross anyway, to serve as a steam vent.) Brush the pastry rim with the egg wash, then drape the pastry lid over the pie and press down around the rim to seal. Use a sharp knife to cut off any excess pastry around the rim, then crimp the edges. If you wish, decorate the pie with pastry leaves made with the trimmings. Brush the pie top and trimmings with the egg wash and sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling from the steam hole, about 35 minutes.

Little house vent.

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It’s About the Engagement, Chicken

If you have wished for it, hoped for it, never wanted it, always wanted it, sometimes wanted it, got it then questioned it, got it then were all smiles, or had it arranged for you, this chicken may be for you.

I heard about the “engagement chicken” after I was engaged, but for some reason I held on to the recipe. I was intrigued, sad, and understanding that a few pounds of poultry was all that was standing between a girl and her happiness.

As I started to plan for my October wedding, I thought of the engagement chicken. Jim and I have been engaged for five years, and for the first couple years without a wedding date in sight, strangers had no qualms about telling us a long engagement means a short marriage, or asking when the wedding date was, disappointed at the looks of “we are already married.” In our eyes. To me the engagement is the commitment.  Maybe this should be called commitment chicken. I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of their wedding day for their entire existence, or even for my entire dating existence. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be married. I don’t need to pay $65, and get a piece of paper from the government telling me I am on the up and up with my love life. Then I met Jim. I realized not only did I want to marry him, but I would probably be the one to ask first. On a weekday night, in bed, in our studio apartment, with a bed loft two feet from the ceiling, reading together, I started complaining about my crappy job, something we both did all the time, and in the middle of my rant I gained a best friend and lover for life. He asked, I said “are you serious?”, and the rest has been making history. We toasted with Pabst Blue Ribbon (in chalices), and talked about what had just happened. We had talked about marriage before, and knew it could be in our future, but were happy getting to know each other and enjoying our new life together, but that night asking, and saying yes, just felt right.

I was fortunate to be given my late nanny’s engagement ring for my 18th birthday by my grandfather. I was also fortunate is was a perfect, beautiful diamond in a white gold setting that I loved. I am not a fan of gold jewelry. My grandfather had very good taste. If the ring had anything to do with how much he loved her, he loved her very well on a new cop’s salary in the 1950’s. I couldn’t get her band sized down because it was white gold, so Jim and I got to contribute to our ring by picking out a new band, that is very similar to my nanny’s.  So I have got the old, and the something new covered, now for the timeless devotion.

I can’t talk about engagements without mentioning one of my oldest friends, Melody. She got engaged on St. Patrick’s Day last year, and will be getting married a few weeks before me in October. The reason why her engagement is extra special to me is because Melody is one of the best people there is. She is funny, caring, smart, a beauty, and she can belt out Janice Joplin like nobody’s business. She has also dated jerks. One in particular. You know who you are. And then there was James. Wonderful, caring, understanding, smart James. I met James for five minutes and knew he was a good egg, and a good egg for Mel. She deserves someone very special, because she is very special. James has filled that space, and Mel’s heart. I wish them my best. They will be heading off to the Peace Corps together next year, which has been a lifelong dream for Mel. I could not be happier for any two people, or cats for that matter. She is also doing me the honor of officiating at our wedding, which I couldn’t be more thankful for. Is tu mo ghra.

And now, there ain’t nobody here but us chickens.

This chicken is fine, but needed something. At the very least butter and cayenne. Add whatever herbs or spices that you like, and it will be much better.  I also broiled mine to crisp up the skin a little. If you’re boring, I mean healthy, and don’t eat the skin, then skip this step. I also had a longer cooking time. Make sure to check with a meat thermometer!

Engagement Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken (approx. 3 lb.)
  • 2 medium lemons
  • Fresh lemon juice (1/2 cup)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Wash chicken inside and out with cold water, remove the giblets, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander until it reaches room temp (about 15 minutes). Pat dry with paper towels. Pour lemon juice all over the chicken (inside and outside). Season with salt and pepper. Prick the whole lemons three times with a fork and place deep inside the cavity. (Tip: If lemons are hard, roll on countertop with your palm to get juices flowing.) Place the bird breast-side down on a rack in a roasting pan, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn it breast-side up (use wooden spoons!); return it to oven for 35 minutes more. Test for doneness—a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should read 180 degrees, or juices should run clear when chicken is pricked with a fork. Continue baking if necessary. Let chicken cool for a few minutes before carving. Serve with juices.

Here is another recipe for engagement chicken from Ina Garten.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/engagement-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html

dowry

/dowri/

noun (pl. dowries) property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.

— ORIGIN Old French dowarie, from Latin dotare ‘endow’ (see DOWER).

In my opinion these are engagement potatoes. Some of the best I have ever had. I thought they might be overpowering with too much rosemary, but they were perfect.

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

1/4 c. butter

1 1/2 tbls. chopped fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, or more if you like

2lb Yukon gold potatoes

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 1/2 tsp salt, divided

1/2 cup or more heavy cream

1/4 tsp or more freshly ground pepper

Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Heat butter, chopped rosemary, and garlic over low heat, while potatoes are cooking. I put the pan on my back right burner while the oven is on. It is lower than low. If yours does not get as hot as mine do it on low, but keep an eye on it.

*Starting at age 14 worked in a small, family owned, Italian restaurant making pizza, and we always had a pot of butter with chopped garlic on the top of the oven without having a burner turned on.  We used it for everything. It mellowed the garlic without overcooking, but stayed liquefied, just asking to be poured on anything your were eating. To this day, the best garlic bread I have ever had. Clams casino, pasta, white pizza, I am sure there was a salad or two I put it on. Butter garlic memories that I carry on.

2. Cut potatoes into 2-inch pieces,  cover in cold water by 1 inch, season with salt, and add the sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium high and boil gently until tender. Drain, and remove rosemary.

3. Add cream to butter/rosemary mixture, and warm.

4. Put potatoes back on turned off burner that you just cooked them on. Add cream/butter mixture, mash, salt, pepper, parm, and cream as desired.

Jim got these twee sprouts at the market, and I knew they would be perfect for some Brussotash. Inspired by the Bon Vivant’s Brussels Sprout Corn Hash and Bacon. Check out her blog: http://theepicuriosity.wordpress.com/

Use your favorite succotash recipe. I make succotash with peas, green beans, Lima beans, edamame, butter beans, and fava beans, but for some reason never thought of Brussels sprouts. We all have flaws.

Brussels Sprouts

Corn

Onion

Bacon

Heavy Cream

Salt

Pepper

Cayenne

My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.
Elizabeth Taylor