First, I must brag on myself and tell you that I butchered my first chicken this weekend! That’s right. I bought 2 whole chickens, removed the complimentary neck, gizzards and liver, then began removing the appendages of the little birds and breaking the breast bone and back. I can see why people prefer to buy the pieces pre-cut. However, I was pleased to get a total of 4 breast halves, 4 wings, and 4 legs for a grand total of $7.00! It is more work, but you get more for your money AND you get a little anatomy lesson. You get to see all the joints and tendons and how they’re connected. I enjoyed it, but Ben chose to stay out of the kitchen. Here’s a video I found after I’d cut up my chickens. I got my instructions from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman.
My chicken pieces could almost pass for pre-packaged chicken pieces, so I will consider this a successful first time at chicken butchering.
These lovely chicken pieces were used to make a delicious grilled chicken recipe from the July 2008 Fine Cooking. The glaze smells so wonderful as its cooking. I used fresh rosemary right from the back yard and its flavor along with the sweet apricot preserves, spicy red pepper and tangy vinegar made a tasty glaze for the chicken. The amount of glaze is perfect for the 12 pieces of chicken I used, but making a batch and a half would not be a bad idea.
You can make the glaze a day ahead, cover and refrigerate it. Just be sure to warm it up again before you plan to glaze the chicken so that it will be easy to spread. (more…)
Ben and I grill steaks a few times a month and I usually make a potato or creamy rice dish as a side along with a salad or steamed veggie. I was in the mood to try something a little different to have with our incredible New York strips this past Saturday. I found this recipe for roasted mushrooms in a Food Network cookbook called Making it Easy.
I changed the recipe in the cookbook just a bit. I used less oil than called for (with great results) and added a few tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley. I used half button and half shiitake mushrooms. We loved these mushrooms. They were a nice accompaniment to the steak and also a very tasty snack later that night cold from the fridge when I had a craving for these yummy salty, garlicky fungi.
I recently planted some rosemary in the back yard, so I was excited to use some of it for this recipe. It is so nice to open up the back door, walk into the yard and just cut off a few sprigs of rosemary. Let’s just hope I can keep the plant alive!
Garlic and Herb Roasted Mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used half cremini and half shiitake)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
5 smashed garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
2-3 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 450°.
Clean and prepare mushrooms. Be sure to remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms, they are too tough to eat. I halved some of the larger cremini mushrooms and left some whole. They should all be about the same size.
Toss mushrooms, olive oil, rosemary and parsley on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast mushrooms for about 25 minutes until golden. Once or twice during baking, move mushrooms around on the sheet.
Remove from the oven and pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of water on the baking sheet and scrape up brown bits from the pan and toss the mushrooms.
There is no excuse for not having posted in almost a month. But I have been so very busy! I have been cooking and baking and traveling and building compost bins and planting rosemary and starting an herb garden and watching classic movies and reading books and tutoring for the past 27 days. Well, I guess there are excuses afterall.
I spent the first weekend of April in central Texas to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. It was quite a success. I have never seen my mom so surprised and pleased and beside herself with happiness! All my sisters were there, Aunt Susan, Aunt Laurie and my cousin Ruthie came from California to surprise my mom. My mom’s Dad and wife Marj were there, also from Cali, and my cousin Julie came from Denver. With my sister Lisa coming in from NYC, we had a lot of the nation represented. It was great.
My trip began with a drive to Austin from Amarillo, an 8 hour trip, with a puppy who got carsick. Woohoo! After the first two vomitting episodes (within the first two hours) she slept the remainder of the trip.
My sisters got to my parents house on Friday. The party was Saturday afternoon. The theme for the party was a Swedish Fika which is basically a coffee party with cookies, breads and a cake.
One thing we knew we wanted was a princess cake, or Prinsesstårta. This is a Swedish cake swelling with whipped cream, sponge cake and jam, all covered in light green marzipan exterior, powdered with confectioner’s sugar. A pink rose is placed on top. Unfortunately, not many bakeries have this on their menus. We didn’t feel quite experienced enough to make these cakes ourselves. However, a few years ago we took a Swedish baking class at Central Market in Austin. They made this cake at the class, so we contacted Central Market and they agreed to specially bake the princess cakes. They were beautiful and delicious. It is a rich dessert not for the faint of heart or those counting calories. Special thanks to Central Market. They did a tremendous job.
Traditionally, Swedes serve 7 different kinds of treats at a Fika. We had 7 sweets and also a tray of herring, cheeses, meats and bread.
Pickled herring is a food thing I just do not understand. Smoked fish I love. This stuff though, I am just not a fan.
My Aunt Susan has a talent for writing songs and she has done this for many family weddings, birthdays and aniversaries. She takes a familiar tune and writes lyrics about the couple or person being honored. Here we are singing a song for my mom to the tune of “Wouldn’t it be Lovely” from My Fair Lady. Susan changed the title to “Isn’t Becky Lovely”. I had this song in my head for days afterward.
Here is the birthday girl with here sisters, Susan and Laurie.
The birthday girl, sweet husband Dennis and the daughters.
The next day the ladies went to Fredericksburg to shop, eat dinner and stay the night at a Bed & Breakfast.
Shopping downtown. This PETA acronym stands for People Eating Tasty Animals.
The B&B is called the Hoffman Haus. My mom and sisters stayed in the Basse House. It is the largest and sleeps 6 people, has a full kitchen and a litte living room in the center.
None of these pictures do the place justice, but let me just say that it was perfectly lovely. The weather was wonderful, our room was incredibly comfortable with a slightly rustic feel. Many of the walls of the house are exposed stone. There are wood floors and comfy furniture. I sunk it to the bed and couldn’t move for about 10 minutes.
Breafkast, a piece of spinach quiche, sausage, fruit and a lemon cranberry muffin, was delivered to our doorstep in wooden picnic baskets. I will go back here if I ever get the chance.
We ate dinner on Sunday at The Nest. The restaurant is an old house so our table of 10 had our own little room. All the food was wonderful.
French Onion Soup
Field green salad with goat cheese, pear slices and pecans
Roasted Quail with a port demi-glace over grilled vegetables and polenta
Profiteroles and coffee ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce
It was such a treat to see my mom so happy. We might have outdone ourselves on this party though, so we will have a hard time pleasing her for the next big birthday!
A few years ago I took a cookie decorating class at Central Market with a friend. While my first few attempts at these fancy decorated cookies were not exactly bakery quality I learned some really helpful tips that I’ve practiced since then. I’ve made cookies for my cousins’ and sisters baby showers, a wedding shower and of course for Christmas. Last week was my spring break, so I made some for Easter. It’s a time commitment. About 4 days all said and done. However, definitely worth it in my opinion. I have made the cookies from scratch in the past, but to save time I’ve been using a sugar cookie mix from Betty Crocker which works pretty good. I followed the instructions on the bag for cut-out cookies and then chilled the dough in the fridge for about an hour before I rolled it out. Watch them closely when baking or they’ll burn, and I don’t know anyone who likes burnt cookies.
We used the egg-shaped cookies as place cards for Easter lunch on Sunday. Lunch, by the way, was spectacular. Ham, corn pudding, roasted rosemary potatoes, green beans, rolls and lemon tarts. I stuffed myself silly and had to take a nap when we got home. The sign of a good meal.