My husband is a creature of habit when it comes to dinners. He FREAKS OUT when I change a recipe that he loves, and if he had his way, I'd make many of the same dishes over and over. So, when I made Chicken Paprikash for the first time this past weekend and he loved it, he made a declaration. He decided that we need to do a better job keeping track of our family favorites. The easiest way to do that is by just making that a category on the blog, so here it is. Family favorites.
The latest issue of Saveur is the annual 100 recipe, where they publish 100 fabulous things. This year, the issue was especially interesting because all of the articles were user submitted. It was kind of like reading eGullet or my food blogs but on paper. So enjoyable. And the recipes they included (not enough, by the way) were really enticing.
The Chicken Paprikash was written about towards the end of the issue in an article about a woman's mom and the delicious Paprikash she'd make for the family. This was so, so good. It was filling, and rich, and the chicken was moist. It was just amazing, and we all loved it. We ate this Sunday night, and it was much needed, as I had run 8.5 miles that morning. We will certainly be making this again.
A few notes: I cooked it a lot longer than they said, and it was fine (though I had it on extremely low heat). I also just added the whole pepper to the dish instead of reserving some as garnish. Finally, the dumplings were really yummy, but they were HUGE. I think next time I'll use my spaetzle maker so that they are smaller and more tender.
Last week, I got home relatively late from work, but decided that I still needed to make a home cooked meal. We had a ton of groceries in the fridge, and I think everyone is getting sick of delivered food in this household. One of the food items in my fridge was a whole chicken, cut up, so I pulled out Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" and started searching for the easiest option.
Broiled chicken it was! I preheated the broiler, brushed a large casserole dish (you can use a broiling pan) with olive oil and placed the chicken in it in one layer. I then mixed together about 1/2 cup of dijon mustard (I used a combination of coarse grain and regular) and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. The chicken was salted and peppered and placed under the broiler for a minute or two, until it started to sizzle a bit. I then brushed the chicken with some of the mustard mixture and put it BACK under the broiler. In a couple of minutes, I pulled it out, flipped it, basted it again with the mustard and put it back. I repeated this process (broil, pull out, flip, baste) about 3-4 times until the chicken reached a temperature of about 165 degrees and was nice and crispy. Served with leftover cheesy potatoes and a salad, this was a simple and elegant meal that everyone enjoyed and that took just minutes to prepare. Awesome!
I got this email yesterday from my old friend Kate:
I've got a chicken carcass in my
freezer waiting to be made into stock. And I want to use some of that
stock to make chicken soup. Trouble is I've never done either. I
figure you can do this in your sleep - got any great resources to guide
me through the process? I figure I will get a rotisserie chicken for
the dinner tomorrow and use the left over meat for the soup, giving me
a second carcass for the stock so I can make a good amount of it and
stash some away in the freezer. If you have any words of advice I'd
So... I don't really have a set recipe I follow. I kind of just do my thing and it usually works out. I take the carcass(es) and put them in a giant soup pot. Then, I cover them with filtered water. I add a couple of onions cut in quarters, some carrots, some celery (including leaves is GREAT), and some parsnips (this is optional, but makes the resulting stock taste like soup from a Jewish deli). I put the heat on medium, bring it up to a low simmer, turn down the heat to low, and let it all cook for a while. If the water gets low, you can add more. If there is scum on the surface, you can skim it.
When the stock seems "stock-y," I strain it, reserving all of the chunks in a colander. I then start sorting. I discard the onion and celery as they are tapped out, but I slice the carrots and parsnips into coins to be used in my soup. I also take on the ultra messy job of sorting through the carcasses. I pull off all of the good meat and shred it up into bite size pieces. This is also for the soup.
We actually prefer more of a stew with our stock, so I add back in the carrots, parsnips and chicken and then make spaetzle dumplings right into the pot. If this is too fancy for you, you can just dump in some egg noodles (or better yet, get the Hungarian dumplings from a gourmet market). The more noodles you add, the stew-ier the soup with be. You can also not add ANYTHING back into the stock and just use it for cooking.
I know myself better than to promise anything, but today begins July's NaBloPoMo (posting every day in a month), and the topic is food. I gotta at least try, no?
Last night we had Chicken Milanese. I sliced chicken breasts very thinly, dredged them in egg and panko (seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder) and then pan fried them in extra virgin olive oil. Once they were cooked, I popped them into the oven on low to keep them warm. Then, Dylan stepped up to help.
We grabbed a few leaves of basil from the garden along with some cherry tomatoes. These were all thrown into a wooden bowl with some capers and some baby arugula. She chopped everything up and then I added a bit of olive oil. No vinegar was needed due to the capers. I also threw in a bit of shredded cheese (an Italian blend that was lurking in the fridge).
The kids ate the chicken breasts plain. The adults topped them with the arugula mix for a delicious Milanese.
On the side, we had gemelli tossed with raw, chopped cherry tomatoes, black pepper, olive oil and chunks of fresh mozzarella. Such a nice summer meal.
Because I haven't yet purchased those Green Bags that Stefania just raved about (I am shocked that these actually work, and excited to get them), I was faced with the task yesterday of finishing up every last item that Dylan and I bought at the Farmers' Market last week. The radishes went into our Greek Salad, and I made some tea with the mint, but we still had snow pea sprouts and chives. Dylan decided that her school lunch would be chicken salad, so I incorporated everything into that. She declared it delicious, and even twittered (yes, Dylan is now on Twitter - too cute) about it:
Here's what I did:
Spring Farmers' Market Chicken Salad
1/2 chicken, meat removed (we did a mix of white and dark, but most people prefer just white meat, in which case, do that - maybe 2 breasts) 6 chives, minced 1 oz. sprouts (we used snow pea shoots), chopped 3 stalks celery, chopped fine mayonnaise to taste
Late yesterday at work, I realized that I had no plans for dinner, didn't want to take the kids out, and couldn't bear the thought of another home-cooked meal snubbed by my children.
After thinking things over, I decided to stick with a tried and true kids' favorite, the casserole. Now, I know this might be surprising to those of you who consider me a food snob, but sometimes we all crave comfort food, and sometimes we all need a dish that is easy to prep and leaves very few dishes in its wake.
The other day on eGullet, someone linked to the top 100 recipes piece on the Food Network site. Number six was this casserole, and something about it hit home for me. It just seemed like it would be so comforting and easy. It totally was, and both kids ate it. (Cue applause.)
I made a bunch of changes, so feel free to do so yourself. I used frozen Trader Joe's french green beans (broken up) instead of canned. I added frozen peas. I omitted the water chestnuts and pimentos. I used a touch less mayo. I used dehydrated minced onion instead of a fresh one sauteed. I used organic cream of celery soup. Oh, and I used Jasmine rice instead of a wild rice blend. To add to the ease of preparation, the rice I used was the precooked kind from the Trader Joe's freezer section - it cooked in 3 minutes. For the chicken, I didn't have any cooked chicken on hand, so based on a past recommendation from City Mama herself, I used the ultra premium canned chicken from Trader Joe's. And, it was perfectly good.
Just a quick note to say that I am alive and well. Just trying to get used to this working mom gig! I am finding that it is very tiring to do all of the things I have been responsible for at home while undertaking a new and very demanding job. BUT, I love, love, love my new job, so all will be fine, I am sure.
This was crockpot week, by the way. I made a very yummy Moroccan Chicken and Lentil dish that was emailed to me by Susan of Friday Playdate.
Moroccan Chicken and Lentils
1 8oz package baby carrots 1 and 1/2 cup lentils, uncooked 1 and 1/2 pounds frozen chicken breast 2 T minced garlic 3/4 t salt 2 t salt-free Moroccan rub (or 3/4 t ground turmeric, 1/2 t ground red pepper, and 1/2 t ground cinnamon) 1 box chicken broth
Place all ingredients, in order listed, in a 4- or 5-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for 5 hours, or cover and cook on high setting for one hour; reduce to low setting and cook for 7 hours.
Yield: 6 1-cup servings.
I also experimented with making my ribs in the crockpot. I sprinkled them on both sides with Old Bay seasoning and garlic powder and then I covered with water. I set them on low all day. When I got home, my plan was to throw them into the oven with BBQ sauce. They were delicious, but the "all day" part was just too much. The meat fell off the bones before the ribs even made it out of the crockpot. I think that 5 hours on low would be sufficient. Next time I'm going to have my babysitter turn the crockpot on for me after lunch.