Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tuscan Lemon Chicken...Second Attempt

Our second attempt to prepare this delicious chicken proved to be a good thing. (Remember the Cremated Chicken? sad....) I had been wanting to make this dish for a long time...lemon and rosemary have such a pleasant, fresh scent and taste that I thought the combination would be delicious.....and it was!

As we prepared the chicken, we decided to leave the skin on...normally we remove all of the skin when we are cooking chicken. After marinating in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and rosemary for about five hours, the chicken is cooked slowly over low heat, so the skin was certain to impart some additional great flavor.  We weren't me the best part was the piquant taste of that first bite after squeezing the juice from the grilled lemon over the chicken...

Tuscan Lemon Chicken
adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics

4 chicken hind quarters
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest from 2 lemons
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves (about four sprigs)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
2 small to medium lemons, halved

Trim and chicken of excess skin and fat.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with kosher salt (about 1 tsp).  Place the chicken in a gallon zip-lock bag.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and rosemary along with some fresh ground pepper in a mixing bowl.  Pour the marinade over the chicken in the bag.  Seal the bag, removing any excess air.  Rub the mixture so that all pieces of chicken are covered and place in a glass casserole dish. (This is just in case the bag isn't completely sealed.)  Refrigerate the chicken overnight or for a minimum of four hours, turning the chicken over a few times.

When ready to grill, turn the gas barbecue on low heat.  (If using a charcoal fire, prepare the fire on one side of the grill.  Spread about a quarter of the coals onto the other side of the grill.)  Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, skin side up.  Cook for about 15 minutes, until the underside of the chicken is golden brown.  Turn the chicken and cook for another 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.  Using a thermometer, check the temperature.  Chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165° F.

Place the lemon halves on the cool side of the grill during the last ten minutes of cooking.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cover with foil.  Allow the chicken to rest for five minutes.

Sprinkle with salt and serve with the lemon halves.


I am sharing this delicious chicken at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and the Four Seasons Blog Hop hosted by Turnips 2 Tangerines!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cremated Chicken

It is nice to have good friends.  You know the friends, the ones that you have known forever and feel totally comfortable with...the ones with whom you have intertwining histories....memories....stories.  These are the kind of friends who are always got married about the same time...had children about the same time...celebrated birthdays and holidays together...and shared many dinners and bottles of wine over the years.

The kind of friends that you can have wait forever for the delayed dinner and they don't mind.  We share appetizers, wine and stories and wait for the slow-grilled chicken.   It had olive oil, wine, garlic and rosemary marinade...grilled on a low temperature and squeezed with lemon juice before taking from the grill.  Slowly grilling...filling the air with its wonderful aroma...

Why not have another glass of wine while waiting....the temperature isn't quite there...anticipation...hunger....better check back in on the chicken....

Grease fire! Quick...take the chicken....too late...  600° F of late!  What?  The bones on the end of the legs melted away?  That is hot!  Poor Mr. T....what to tell the wife and the guests?   Easy...looks like we have cremated chicken....

Maybe we can cut off a layer and find some chicken...great idea but doubt that it will work....  we did cut down and find a piece of chicken to taste test....  well, we learned that ash on any bite takes over and it is like eating an ashtray.  Yuck....

A few laughs and jokes and another glass of wine...what shall we have for dinner?  We did have Greek Giant Beans simmering in the crock pot, a nice fresh Greek salad and a yummy dessert waiting....what shall we do?  The men jumped into action....Mr. T grabbed a half empty package from the friend drove home (just down the street) and appeared with another package....

It was a fun evening...another story to add to the many we have shared...  It is nice to have good friends!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gruyère, Asparagus and Bacon Quiche

There isn't much quiche made in this house.  We are a house divided...I enjoy it and find it a great way to use up vegetables and bits of leftover this and that.  Mr T., nope, don't like it, don't make it.  Okay, I get it.  I am alone in my love of quiche.   That said, I had decided that I would make quiche to take to my friend.  She had recently undergone knee replacement surgery and we were going to have lunch.

As I considered what was in the refrigerator and what came in the veggie box, I decided that I would use asparagus, fresh spinach, bacon, gruyère and a little Fontina.  I also had two pie crusts in the freezer that needed to be used so I decided to save trying the wonderful puff pastry crust that I had seen, for another time.

While researching tips on making quiche, I visited Chris's blog, Café Sucré Farine, she has some great pointers.  I can always count of Chris for great advice and of course, wonderful recipes....If you are thinking of making a quiche, or anything, for that matter, pay her a visit.

Gruyère, Asparagus and Bacon Quiche

Two pastry pie shells (I used Marie Callender's Pastry Pie Shells)
8 slices thick-cut bacon slices, chopped, cooked until crisp, drained
1 shallot, minced
2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
12 spears asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
6 eggs
2 cups half and half
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place the asparagus in a microwave-safe container along with one tablespoon of water.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Remove from the microwave, rinse with cool water and drain well.  Set aside to cool.

In a frying pan, oven medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until crisp, about 7-9 minutes.  Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, to drain.  Reserve a little over one tablespoon of the fat, add the shallot and cook until softened, about one minute.  Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt, white pepper, nutmeg.  Add the spinach mixture to the bowl and stir.

Divide and place the asparagus and bacon on the bottom of the unbaked pastry shells.  Sprinkle the cheeses over the asparagus and bacon.  Pour in the spinach mixture.

Place the quiche(s) on a baking sheet.  Bake until the filling is set and the crust is golden, 35-40 minutes. (The quiche is done when the filling doesn't "jiggle" when shaken.)  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly.  Cut the quiche into wedges and serve warm.

Note:  Quiche may be prepared the day before, cooled, covered with foil and refrigerated.  To reheat, remove the foil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 325° F. oven until heated through, approximately 40 minutes.


Since I don't make if very often, I decided to make two so that we would also have it for dinner.  I am happy that I did.....I do believe Mr. T. was surprised and has changed his mind about quiche! He said that it was the best quiche that he has eaten.....truly, my previous favorite quiche, made with ham and swiss cheese, has been replaced!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Moist Cherry Bread with Cherry-Almond Glaze

Last night my daughter, Lindsey, sent me a pin for a Cherry Bread that she thought might be good to serve at her Book Group meeting on Sunday evening.  I thought it looked good and decided to take it on a "test drive" today.   Averie at Averie Cooks aid that she was trying to recreate the cherry bread from her that her grandmother made.  She and her mother put their heads together and came up with a pretty good recipe.

Lindsey was excited that the bread was "retro" came from a 1948 cookbook.  I wonder if I should tell her that I have a few cookbooks that were published then even though they date before me!  What makes a cake "retro" is probably the shortening that is an ingredient in my Betty Crocker Cookbook or maybe it was the maraschino cherries and juice?  It really makes no difference...retro or modern...the cake is moist and delicious!

My daughter's directions were to not skimp on the glaze...I am thinking what she really wanted was a nice layer of cherry-almond frosting!  I will save that for Sunday!

Moist Cherry Bread 
with Cherry-Almond Glaze
adapted from Averie Cooks

1 jar (10 oz.) Maraschino Cherries, juice reserved
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup reserved cherry juice (Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup for the glaze.)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cherry Almond Glaze
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar ( plus more to adjust to a consistency you prefer)
1/4 cup reserved cherry juice
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven:  350° F.

Grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan with butter and dust with flour.

Place a strainer over a measuring cup and strain the juice from the cherries.  Reserve the juice.  Place the cherries on a cutting board and roughly chop.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to mix.

In the mixer bowl add the eggs, canola oil, sour cream, cherry juice, vanilla, and almond extracts.  Mix on medium speed until blended.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing completely before each addition.

Sprinkle a little flour over the cherries (This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan). Reserve 5-7 pieces of cherry for the top and fold the remaining cherries into the batter.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Place the reserved cherry pieces on the top.

Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes.  Check the bread at 50 minutes.  It the tester does not come out clean allow the bread to continue baking.  (Baking times vary by be certain to keep an eye on it!)  When done, set the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes then loosen the bread and turn it out onto the rack to cook completely.

Cherry-Almond Glaze
Whisk the confectioner's sugar, almond extract and cherry juice in the mixer (or by hand) until smooth.  Add additional confectioner sugar until the glaze is at the desired consistency.

If you prefer a snack cake, bake in an 8-inch square pan, just adjust the baking time.

If you prefer a "layer" of frosting, I would recommend that you make a  cherry-almond flavored buttercream.

Cherry-Almond Buttercream Frosting
1/2 stick butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
4 Tbsp Maraschino Cherry juice
1 tsp almond extract

In the mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the cherry juice and almond extract.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioner's sugar until you reach the desired consistency.

Whether you are hosting a Book Group, dreaming of pink and red for Valentine's Day or just thinking of George Washington and the cherry tree, this cake is quick, easy, moist and tasty!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mulligatawny Soup

Soup was never part of Indian cooking until the British brought their love of it to India during their years of power and influence, from the late-19th century to the mid-20th century.  As the two cultures came together, the Indian cook was charged with making the soup that the British wanted served with their meals.  At the same time, many upper-class Indian households adopted British customs in numerous ways and soup became a familiar dish served in Indian households.

The South Indian cook merged the Indian dish, rasam, which was a watery broth of lentils and ground spices, with vegetables and meat to create a satisfying soup. Thus, an Anglicized version of  "pepper water" was created.  Milagu means pepper and thanni means water...put together you get Mulligatawny or "pepper water", a rich curried soup originally made with peppers.

Over time the recipe has changed to suit differing tastes in Western cultures.  While peppers may not always be included on the ingredient list and yogurt may be substituted for coconut milk, the recipe most often includes chicken stock, onion, celery, apples and almonds.  Cooks can prepare a mild curry soup, or adjust the spiciness of the dish by using peppers or additional spices!

Mulligatawny Soup
adapted from Cafe Lynnylu

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, ground
3 cloves, ground
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp spicy smoked paprika
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, diced (bite-size pieces)
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled, chopped
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2-2/3 cup red lentils (2/3 cup rice may be used)
2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Select from Garnishes:  fresh chopped parsley, toasted unsweetened coconut, toasted sliced almonds

Combine garlic and spices in a small bowl.

Prepare celery, onions, carrots and leek.  Place in another small bowl.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the chicken and in batches saute until lightly browned.  Remove chicken to a plate.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the Dutch oven.  Add the celery, onions, carrots and leek as well as the garlic and spice mixture and blend well.  Add one cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.

Add the chicken to the vegetables in the Dutch oven.  Add the remaining chicken stock and the lentils. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Blend in the yogurt and apples.  Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.

(Remove any grease, if necessary.)

Stir in the lemon juice and blend in the cream.

Taste and adjust seasonings and spices as preferred.


So what motivated me to make Mulligatawny Soup?   Besides the fact that I have missed Indian Cuisine and lately seem to be on a roll using Indian spices, it was The Secret Recipe Club and the blog I was assigned, Cafe Lynnylu.  Lynne's blog is not unfamiliar to me as I was assigned her blog in June.  How fun to come back and get to find another recipe to share.  Lynne is an avid cook, a food and lifestyle photographer and loves to travel. Her blog is evidence of her career and her interests...gorgeous photography and recipe after recipe!  I loved having the problem of selecting just one recipe..and this time it was her Mulligatawny Soup.

I was not disappointed!  The soup was wonderful and very close to what I remember eating when I was in India many years ago.   I did adjust the spices by adding some spicy smoked paprika and reduced the amount of garlic, I threw in an extra carrot...mine were small... and I substituted lentils for rice.   The flavors were fantastic with just the right amount of spiciness for us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Heirloom Radishes....Really?

I am a radish lover.  I remember my dad handing me a lightly salted radish when I was a little girl...there was something about the sharp flavor and crunch that I loved and have continued to love. Given my love of radishes one would think that I would have learned about heirloom radishes ages didn't since it did not, I can be happy today with my discovery:  Black Spanish Radishes!

The root vegetable with the dramatic black exterior that was in our veggie box this week was none other than the heirloom Black Spanish Radish, a cousin to broccoli and kale.  The charcoal black exterior is rough due to the tiny wrinkles covering a snowy white flesh.  These ranged from three inches to four inches in diameter.  It has a crisp, peppery, pungent flavor which is said to improve with age.

This heirloom variety of radish has been enjoyed during the winter months in Europe for the last 600 years and in Asia long before that.  The Black Spanish Radish is hardy and easily kept in the root cellar over the harsh European winters.  These radishes were enjoyed during Medieval times both raw and cooked.

The Black Spanish Radish was also important medicinally and said to be important to one's well being. The radish supports a healthy liver and gallbladder, aids in digestion and detoxification, and is high in nutrients. No wonder they were a regular part of the diet.

I decided to roast the radishes along with a few other root vegetables and I must say, I really liked them.  Maybe roasting curbs the sharpness that I was told to expect because I found them quite pleasant and not over powering....worthy of including again.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Preheat oven:  425° F.

1 small sweet potato, peeled
1 large red-skinned potato, peeled
3 carrots, peeled
1 Black Spanish Radish, peeled
1 turnip, peeled

Cut all of the vegetables into chunks 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches.  They will shrink as they roast.

Place all of the vegetables on a baking sheet.  Drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss well to assure a good distribution of oil and seasoning.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once.  Test to be certain they are tender before removing from oven.

Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve!

Note:  I know cauliflower isn't a root vegetable but I had some in the frig and decided to toss it into the mix!


I almost forgot....I also read somewhere that the Black Spanish Radish makes one younger....and given the amount of radishes I have eaten,  I am ten years younger today!