Roast Chicken with Vegetables

snowman

Hello from snowy and cold Michigan. Cold weather has a tendency to make me think of comfort food and a desire to go in the kitchen and cook something warm and comforting.

To me the classic comfort food is roast chicken. I think why I like this so much is we often had it as a Sunday Dinner when I was growing up. My Dad did all the cooking and he would prepare this for Sunday Dinner while the rest of us went to Church. No, he didn’t go to church but he was a good person anyway. So, it was nearly always roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and his homemade yeast rolls for our Sunday dinner. He didn’t do the roast vegetables which I now prefer to mashed potatoes. But anyway, it was always a good meal back then.

Chickens have been around for a long time. The ancient Egyptians liked to use the roosters for fighting and also developed a system for artificial incubation. Whereas, the ancient Greeks considered the chicken to be a delicacy and prestigious food. A really informative article on the history of chickens can be found here.

Chicken can be cooked in so many ways, probably more so than any other food. It can be roasted, fried, braised, broiled, grilled or stewed. I like to use the whole small fryers for roasting. You can readily find them at the grocery store. If one is not enough, it is just as easy to cook two chickens at the same time.

It was difficult to find historical references to roast chicken but I did find this short recipe which I will quote.

“Grain-Fed Chicken
These chickens are plucked dry, dressed and seared on the fire. When that is done, lard or bard them; roast them. Then serve them.”

Interesting. Right? Above quoted recipe is from La Varenne’s Cookery (The French Cook), a cookbook that was first published in the mid 1600’s.

french cookbook

Roast Chicken with Vegetables

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 3-4 pound whole chicken, neck and giblets removed from the cavity
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots
4 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
8 Cipollini onions or 3 medium sweet onions
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, plus an additional 2-3 sprigs
Seasoned salt, pepper and garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Wash and peel the carrots, and cut into 2-inch pieces. Wash and peel the potatoes, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Peel the onions and leave whole if using the Cipollini onions. If using a larger kind of onion cut into chunks or wedges.

Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer in a roasting pan. Drizzle them with some of the olive oil and sprinkle some of the salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme on them. Toss well and position around the pan, leaving room in the center for the chicken.

Place the chicken on a work surface or cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut off and discard any extra fat hanging around the body cavity.

Brush some of the olive oil all over the chicken skin and season the outside of the chicken generously with some of the seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place one of the onions, the garlic clove and 2-3 sprigs of thyme inside the cavity. Place the chicken breast-side up in the center of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°. The skin should be brown and crisp and the vegetables tender.

Let the chicken rest for approximately 30 minutes before carving and serving with the vegetables.

roast chicken

By the way, photo of Mr. Snowman is courtesy of a family member.

Chicken Marengo (Poulet Saute Marengo)

We are all saddened by the recent tragic terrorist attacks in Paris. I wanted to feature a French dish, a hug, if you will, for the people of France. I was fortunate to have lived for some time in France. Not only is it a beautiful country but the food is wonderful and never disappoints. I can honestly say I never had a bad meal in France, whether in Paris or small towns. There will always be a warm spot in my heart for France.

I picked Chicken Marengo because there is some history attached to the recipe. This version is also very easy. It is adapted from a cookbook that is now out of print: European Cooking, Traditional Recipes from 24 Countries copyright 1958.

Supposedly, Chicken Marengo was created by Napoleon’s Chef Dunand who had very limited supplies to work with after one of Napoleon’s important battles. Napoleon wanted a festive dinner to celebrate his victory at Marengo, Italy June 14, 1800 against the Austrians. Chef Dunand had to go foraging in the town to find ingredients for a festive dinner. There are a lot of different stories about this recipe but it is thought that the original version may have included crayfish and toast topped with a fried egg. Today most versions of the recipe skip the crayfish, toast and egg.

I found a version of this recipe that appeared in an 1882 cookbook: The 366 Bills of Fare by Baron Brisse, in French and English, translated by Edith Matthew Clark. If you are interested in reading Baron Brisse’s unique and interesting cookbook, a free EBook is available for download by Google Books.

I thought the recipe would be in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child but couldn’t find it in Volume one (the only volume I have). Further research found that Amazon Prime has several seasons of Julia Child’s cooking shows available for view. To my delight, one of the episodes is Chicken Napoleon (Poulet Sauté Marengo), Season 6, episode 19. She is funny because after she talks a little about the history of the recipe, she pulls out a huge sword and starts chopping up the chicken for the recipe. In this episode she includes shrimp, French fried eggs and large triangle croutons, following closely to what the original recipe may have included. She notes that crayfish were not available in her area. It is interesting that she includes brandy in her recipe and flamed the chicken. But I’m sure Napoleon never traveled without his French brandy.

Chicken Marengo (Poulet Sauté Marengo)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 chicken, cut in pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, as needed
1-2 cups white wine
2 peeled and quartered Roma tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup button mushrooms
4 small, white onions
salt and pepper

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or frying pan.

Brown the chicken in the olive oil on all sides until golden brown. Remove the browned chicken from the pan. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the quartered tomatoes and sauté for an additional minute. Return the chicken to pan with the vegetables. Pour the wine over the chicken and vegetables. Add enough wine to the half-way point of the chicken. Cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until chicken is done. Serve in the wine sauce.

Chicken Marengo

I saw the below quote in an online article from Voice of America News titled Americans in Paris Undeterred by Terrorism and it expresses my sentiments exactly. The article is written by Carol Guensburg and can be found here

“Paris is the same – yesterday, today, tomorrow – this beautiful, magnetic City of Light.”

Grilled Bourbon Beef Tenderloin

Everyone in this family loves Beef Tenderloin. And why not? It is a very tender and lean cut of beef, full of flavor. Unfortunately, this bad boy is such an expensive cut of beef that it is relegated to very special dinners.

With Christmas practically here, it is a good choice for Christmas dinner.

While this recipe is for a grilled tenderloin, the tenderloin can just as easily be roasted in the oven at 350° until desired doneness.

I prefer the grilling method and, if you can, try it that way.

We all know that man has been grilling meat since the stone age. “When you think about the history of grilling, you could say that it goes back throughout the history of man. From the time fire was discovered, we likely began cooking our meat over an open flame” according to an article in Tourism and Food.

I learned how to grill using a charcoal grill but now I use a natural gas grill because it is easier to start and requires less cleanup. I used a two burner gas grill for this recipe.

The marinade in this recipe is adapted from a recipe by Paula Deen and the original recipe can be found here.

When preparing this recipe, you will need to allow time for the beef to soak in the marinade for the number of hours.

This is a main dish sure to please all beef lovers in your family. But be sure that it is not overcooked or it can turn into a bland piece of meat

Grilled Bourbon Beef Tenderloin

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup Jim Beam bourbon
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 small sprig of cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

1 (3-5 lb) beef tenderloin, silver connective tissue removed

Prepare marinade by combining the bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, cilantro leaves, Worcestershire sauce, water, and thyme in a bowl. Fold the tail end of the beef back underneath itself so that it is of uniform thickness and secure with butcher’s string. Place meat in a dish or extra large plastic Ziploc baggie and pour marinade over meat, cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or up to overnight, turning meat over several times.

Prepare grill to a medium high temperature (350°-400°). When grill is ready, place meat directly on the grill’s hot rack and grill each side over medium heat with the lid closed for approximately 5-10 minutes or until well seared on both sides. At this point, use the indirect method of cooking for the remainder of time: Turn burner off directly under the meat, and turn the other burner on to medium temperature. Cook for approximately 45-60 minutes longer with the lid closed until desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer for best results to determine doneness. For rare, look for an internal temperature of 130-135°F, medium rare 140°F and for medium 155°F.  Let meat rest at least 30 minutes before carving and serving.

Serve with horseradish cream sauce on the side, if desired.

Beef Tenderloin

 

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie with Kahlua Cream

I have always liked Pecan Pie but no one else in the family really cared for it until I made this version with chocolate chips.

With Christmas nearly upon us, we start thinking about decadent desserts that we may only eat once or twice a year. However, I make this pie at least three times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and for my daughter’s birthday. If you are looking for a decadent dessert to serve for a special dinner, you will want to make this Chocolate Chip Pecan pie. It is sure to be a hit.

“Food historians generally agree pecan pie is a twentieth century invention inspired by traditional sugar pies and sweet nut confections. It is a favorite of the American south, as are pralines and other pecan infused foods. Late 19th century newspapers offer pecan pie recipes.” Reference from Food Timeline found here

I grew up in the South but really don’t remember eating Pecan Pie until an adult. There is a mall in Pensacola, FL that was built on a former pecan tree plantation and still had a few trees growing when I lived there. I suppose the fallen pecans were up for grabs because we would sometimes go and collect a bucket or two of them. The pecans then made their way into various desserts with at least one pie for me.

Pecan pie is a custard pie with pecans being the centerpiece of ingredients. The custard filling is nearly always made with Karo syrup. This recipe uses Karo light syrup.

The nuts should be both chopped and whole for maximum pecan flavor and texture while still allowing for easy slicing of the pie.

This pie has both chopped and whole pecans adhering to the above. To make this pie even more rich and decadent be sure to serve it with the Kahlua Cream.

I found this recipe many years ago from Woman’s Day.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie with Kahlua Cream

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 frozen ready-to-bake deep dish pie crust, thawed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Karo light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Place oven rack in lowest third of oven. Heat oven to 350°.
Scatter chips evenly on the thawed crust.
Mix syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, and salt together until well blended.
Stir in the 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Pour evenly over the chocolate chips.
Arrange pecan halves on top.
Bake 50 minutes or until crust and pecans are browned. If crust begins to
darken too quickly, cover with tin foil.

Kahlua Cream: Beat 1⁄2 cup heavy (whipping) cream and 1 Tablespoon Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted.  (Optional)  

 

Jack-O’-Lantern Sugar Cookies

Halloween, the night of October 31, that the kids in the neighborhood dress in costume and solicit candy or other treats door-to-door will soon be here. So it is a perfect time to make sugar cookie cutouts in the shape of jack-o’-lanterns.

It’s easy to transform a basic sugar cookie dough into delightful Halloween treats. Using cutters shaped like the jack-o’-lantern or your favorite spooky cookie cutter you can cast a magic spell over you family’s Halloween. The jack-o’-lantern is my favorite symbol of Halloween so that is my choice of cookie cutter.

I used a Williams Sonoma jack-o’-lantern cookie cutter that allows you to “Just press firmly to cut the edges, then depress the spring to release delicate shapes embossed with fine detail.”

jacolantern cookie cutter

cookie cutter

“The jack-o-lantern actually started from an old Irish folk tale, based upon Stingy Jack who liked to steal from his friends and play mean tricks on his family. When Stingy Jack died he was not allowed into heaven but was forced to wander with only a turnip with an ember as its light.

On all Hallow’s eve the Irish used hallowed out turnips as their Jack’s lanterns originally. However, immigrants to America, found pumpkins more plentiful than turnips.”*

*Source for the above can be found at Pumpkin Nook

So began the tradition to use a hollowed-out pumpkin in which holes are cut to represent facial features and lit with some sort of light, the jack-o’-lantern.

I discovered the recipe for this cookie from a 2002 Taste of Home Magazine but the same recipe is available on a lot of recipe web sites.

The cream cheese adds richness to a classic sugar cookie and the cookies practically melt in your mouth. The recipe below is only slightly varied from the one in the Taste of Home magazine.

Jack-o'-Lantern Sugar Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

1 cup butter, softened
3 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon orange food coloring, gel type if available

In a bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Beat in egg yolk and extract and then add the food color. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with your favorite cookie cutter dipped in flour. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

jackolantern cookies

Tips for making the cookies: If the dough comes out of the fridge too hard, just let it stand for a while until easy to handle. And if you take too long to make the cookies and it becomes too soft, put it back in the fridge to let it chill. Also, make sure the dough is on a well floured surface for rolling and dip cookie cutter in flour before each use and flour the rolling pin well also.

A 2-1/2 inch cookie cutter will yield approximately 4 dozen cookies. I used a 3 x 2-3/4 inch cookie cutter which yielded 21 cookies.

Apple Turnovers

Fall trees

Autumn is here and with it comes the beautiful colors of the season. The leaves changing color are a sight to see. This time of year in western Michigan means that fresh local apples are plentiful. Wonderful desserts are just waiting to be made from them. One easy and fairly quick dessert is the Apple Turnover. Combining apples and prepared frozen puff pastry allow you to turn out great tasting Apple Turnovers. Puff pastry has a flakiness and puffiness that a pie crust just doesn’t have. By using already prepared frozen puff pastry from your local grocer, the apple turnovers are a snap to make.

I couldn’t find much on the history of Apple Turnovers but did discover this snippet of information:

“A turnover is a sort of small, typically individual pie or pasty, in which the filling is placed on one side of a piece of rolled-out pastry and the other side is then turned over’ to cover it, forming a semicircular shape. The term is first recorded at the end of the eighteenth century: an old woman preparing her turnovers, commonly called apple-pies’ (Sporting Magazine, 1798). It is occasionally used for savoury fillings, such as meat, but a sweet fruit filling is the norm, and, as the above extract suggests, most turnovers are in fact apple turnovers.” Cited in Food Timeline

This recipe is based on one that my Dad made when I was a child (he was the cook in the family). Of course, he would have used a homemade pie crust instead of puff pastry.

Apple Turnover

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Apple Turnovers

Ingredients

3 cups peeled and diced Golden Delicious apples, or your favorite cooking apple
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 package (2 sheets) Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (or your favorite brand)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Combine the apples, cornstarch, vanilla extract, cinnamon and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook stirring frequently for 5-10 minutes, until the apples are softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Defrost puff pastry per package directions and lay out in one flat sheet on the floured surface. Divide the sheet into four equal squares using a very sharp knife.

Spoon 1-2 tablespoons apple mixture into the center of each square. Don’t overfill the square. Fold the puff pastry from corner to corner to form a triangle shape. Seal and crimp with a fork. Brush egg wash evenly over the top of the turnovers. This will give the pastry a nice golden color when baked. Cut 1-2 small slits in the top of each filled pastry.

Bake each batch for approximately 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Note: Puff Pastry works best when cold. Work with one Puff Pastry sheet at a time, keeping the other one in the refrigerator until ready to use.

apple turnovers

Amish Apple Pie

Golden Delicious Apples

Here in Michigan, locally grown apples are starting to appear at the farm markets and yes Fall weather will soon be upon us. Fall weather makes one think of apple pie. Apple pie is good anytime but I like to make this Amish Apple Pie as soon as the local Golden Delicious apples are available. This is a very good apple pie recipe that I discovered years ago. This recipe is from Marcia Adams and her 1988 Cooking from Quilt Country, a wonderful cookbook filled with Amish recipes and information on the Amish people. The cookbook is readily available from online book sellers.

Apple pies have been around since Medieval times and I think we should all be glad they have stood the test of time. Here is a sample of a Medieval recipe for an apple pie, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Medieval Apple Pie Recipe

The interesting thing about this recipe is that it has whipping cream in the filling. It is a delicious apple pie with a perfect balance of sweet and tart. This pie is similar to what in the US we call a “Dutch Apple Pie”. Dutch apple pie is one that refers specifically to an apple pie with a crumb, streusel, topping.

This pie is always requested for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. For a long time, it was my daughter’s favorite pie, until she discovered Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie.

Amish Apple Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Amish Apple Pie

Streusel
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Speck of salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Filling

4 large apples, Golden Delicious or other baking apples (4 cups)
1 unbaked 10 inch pie shell
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a food processor bowl, mix the first 6 streusel ingredients. Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly; it should still have a dry look to it — don’t over process. Add the nuts and then set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and thinly slice apples; there should be 4 cups. Place apples in the pie shell.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Beat the egg in a medium bowl, and add the cream and vanilla. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture and blend. Pour over the apples. Bake for 1 hour in the lower one-third of the oven.*

*After 20 minutes baking, sprinkle streusel over the top and continue baking approximately 40 minutes longer, or until the top puffs and is golden brown.

Amish Apple Pie