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Chicken in Milk: Strange, but True
Oct 15th, 2013 by

After browning the chicken I poured the grease into a baking dish and roasted potatoes, carrots, parsnips and apples for a side dish.

After browning the chicken I poured the grease into a baking dish and roasted potatoes, carrots, parsnips and apples for a side dish.

This was a pretty simple recipe, albeit an odd one. You basically put a chicken in a pot, brown it on all sides, remove the grease and then add milk, lemon zest and a cinnamon stick. The result is a tender, juicy and sweet, chicken with some unexpected flavors. I’d definitely make it again.

The recipe came from Jamie Oliver. I followed that recipe but took the advice of another cook who recommended cooking it covered for the first hour. Get the recipe here.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Audio Slideshow: Roasted Applesauce
Sep 28th, 2013 by

Click on image to watch a short video on how to make roasted applesauce from scratch.

Click on image to watch an audio slideshow on how to make roasted applesauce from scratch.

Not sure what to do with all of this season’s apples? Make applesauce. Not sure what to do with all that applesauce?

Put it on pork chops. Mix it in yogurt. Add it to oatmeal. Swap it for oil in box cake-mixes. Swap it for sugar in recipes and save about 670 calories per cup. Toss it in a smoothie. Pour some in pancake batter. Spread it on a cracker, a piece of toast, plain bread, or a peanut butter sandwich. Freeze it for later. Eat it with a spoon. Dab a little behind your ear instead of perfume.

OK. The last one is a joke. But you get the point. Applesauce is versatile. And here’s an easy recipe that includes using the skins: the most nutritious part of the fruit that will help keep the doctor away. Read over the recipe below and watch the audio slideshow (above) before you start chopping all of those apples.

Ingredients:

  • Large apples: 9. Try using three different varieties for a more complex flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: 2-3 tablespoons.
  • Cinnamon: 1 tablespoon.
  • Lemon Juice: About 1/4 cup.
  • Brandy: One shot.

What I did:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash apples. Cut into quarters and core.

Place apples cut-side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until apples begin to turn to mush.

Let apples cool for about 10 minutes and then put them in a food processor.

Add brown sugar and cinnamon and pulse in food processor until well blended.

Add lemon juice and brandy and pulverize in food processor until well whipped and skins disappear.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mushrooms Stuffed With Nepitella Pesto
Sep 4th, 2013 by

Nepitella is a natural with mushrooms.

Nepitella is a natural with mushrooms.

It came to me in a dream: nepitella pesto. I thought that maybe I had invented the idea but a quick search online turned up one reference to it at a restaurant in New York called Osteria Morini.

There they team nepitella pesto with buffalo mozzarella on crostini or with fresh whipped ricotta topped with peas and asparagus. I’m sure that doesn’t taste bad, but what were they thinking? Everyone knows nepitella pairs perfectly with mushrooms and artichokes: everyone, in the small minority of people in this country who have heard of nepitella.

So let me let you in on the secret. Nepitella is an herb that grows wild in Tuscany (and in my driveway after I transplanted a small plant from my grandmother’s garden about 15 years ago). Some describe it as a cross between oregano and mint, but I believe it’s more like a cross between basil and mint. And I wouldn’t think of cooking mushrooms or artichokes without it.

So when I was inspired to try to make nepitella pesto the logical use for it was to stuff mushrooms with it. And the result was perfect.

The pesto by itself, without any cooking, was much stronger than a basil pesto: more earthy and with a sharp bite, almost spicy flavor. But when it cooked inside the mushrooms, the taste mellowed into a more mild buttery flavor: still very earthy but without the sharpness of the raw nepitella pesto.

If you’d like to try this, finding nepitella will be a challenge, but a search online revealed a few places that sell the plant. Or just stop by my driveway: there this evasive plant grows wild in cracks and along narrow dirt patches along the fence.

NEPITELLA PESTO:

Ingredients:

  • Nepitella leaves (washed, about a half a cup)
  • Pignoli nuts (about 1/4 cup)
  • Garlic (4-6 cloves)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
  • Parmesan cheese (About 1/4- 1/2 cup; Imported, freshly grated. Don’t use the stuff they sell in a jar; Or use freshly grated Romano and/or Pecorino if you’d like to save some money.)
  • Kosher salt and pepper.

What I did:

Put nuts and garlic in food processor with a steel blade and process for about 15 seconds.

Add nepitella leaves, salt and pepper.

With processor running slowly add the olive oil until it’s completely pureed.

Add cheese and process for another minute.

If you don’t use it right away, put in refrigerator with plastic wrap touching the top or with a film of olive oil on top. This will prevent discoloring.

To Stuff Mushrooms:

Pull off stems, clean caps with paper towel.

Put clean caps in a baking dish that has been greased with a small amount of olive oil.

Spoon in nepitella pesto and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

You can serve it as is or with a shaved piece of parmesan cheese on top and/or a pignoli nut.

Cocktail Pitcher Inspires 60s Dinner Party
Nov 12th, 2012 by

This is the cocktail set that inspired a night fit for a Mad Man.

This is the cocktail set that inspired a night fit for a Mad Man.

My parents had this cocktail pitcher and glass set from the 1960s and it’s been sitting on a shelf in the RootsLiving butler’s pantry for years gathering dust. So we decided to put it to good use by throwing a 1960s dinner party.

We knew the night would have to start off with some cocktails so deciding on that was no problem. We made a pitcher of Manhattans.

But food for a 60s dinner party could go several ways. Should we go the bean sprout hippie route complete with grass brownies for dessert? Or should we go the chic fondue route, a la Mad Men style?

We chose the latter, minus the fondue.

If you haven't had iceberg lettuce in awhile, try this.

If you haven't had iceberg lettuce in awhile, try this.

We served the Manhattans with appetizers of deviled eggs, tiny pigs in a blanket, and potato chips with onion dip.

For the main course we had beef stroganoff, served with a wedge salad.

And for dessert we had ambrosia, made with Cool Whip.

Surprisingly, some of the easiest things to make got the most raves: don’t underestimate a good onion dip or the power of Cool Whip.

Here are the recipes:

Appetizer/Cocktail Hour

Main Course

  • Beef Stroganoff (This recipe varies from the traditional by serving it over sourdough toast rather than noodles. I also used Delmonico steaks, cut up into 1-inch pieces instead of the tri-tip roast.)
  • Wedge Salad (This made me like iceberg lettuce once again.)

Open up a few cans and you've got ambrosia.

Open up a few cans and you've got ambrosia.

Dessert

  • Ambrosia Salad (I omitted the maraschino cherries and instead used some canned fruit cocktail. I also forgot to buy marshmallows but the dessert was fine without them and plenty sweet.)
  • Tom and Jerry Cocktails (This is a very old favorite, especially in winter. If you’ve never tried this you’re missing out on some great cocktail history. Make it with coffee for an after-dinner dessert.)
Find more recipes in the Food section.
Beef Bourguignon II: An Easier Recipe
Nov 9th, 2012 by

This is a good recipe to keep in your repertoire now that colder days approach.

This is a good recipe to keep in your repertoire now that colder days approach.

Here’s a quicker and easier recipe than Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon.

With temperatures in the 40s yesterday I was looking to make something in my dutch oven. So I looked on the Staub website and found this recipe. It’s time consuming (needs two hours in the oven) but pretty simple to make and dirties only one pan: your dutch oven.

Once you crisp the bacon, brown the beef, and saute the mushrooms, you throw everything back into the dutch oven and wait 2 hours for it to be done. I don’t have the steamer insert so I didn’t make the potatoes as described in this recipe on the Staub website. Instead I opted for mashed potatoes and some crusty bread.

Beef Bourguignon (From the Staub Website)

Ingredients:

  • Salt, to taste
  • 5 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms, stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 2 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup beef broth, divided
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. whole pearl onions, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 3 cups red Burgundy wine or Pinot Noir
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
What I did:
Heat a 5 qt. cocotte over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.

Add the mushrooms to the cocotte and cook until golden and just tender, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the plate with the bacon.

Season the beef generously with the salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, warm the cocotte. Working in 3 batches, brown the beef on all sides until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a plate.

After the last batch of beef is browned, deglaze the cocotte with 1/2 cup beef broth, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Return all the beef, bacon, and mushrooms to the cocotte. Add the flour, stir to coat evenly, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the carrots, pearl onions, garlic, and tomato paste to the cocotte. Add the brandy and simmer for 30 seconds. Add the wine, remaining beef broth, and bouquet garni to the cocotte and increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the liquid to a boil.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Check the stew and give it a stir. Continue cooking the stew, covered, until the beef is fork-tender, 30 to 45 minutes more. Taste the liquid and season with salt and pepper, if desired, and discard the bouqet garni.

Spoon the beef bourguignon into a shallow bowl. Serve with potatoes and garnish with parsley.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

What Do You Do With Watermelon Radishes?
May 17th, 2011 by

These radishes have a crisp, clean taste. And they're mild.

These radishes have a crisp, clean taste. And they're mild.

This is as simple (and colorful) as it gets.

My friend Kristi recently gave me some watermelon radishes she got from a local farm as part of her CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery. I never heard of them and asked how to prepare them.

“Eat them raw,” she suggested. “They’re very good with hummus.”

So I washed and peeled them, and then sliced them into disks. They go well with hummus and make a colorful, healthy appetizer.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

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