Taste and see …

Comfort food at its best August 29, 2011

Filed under: Dinner — F. Penner @ 6:41 PM
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After a weekend of wondering whether the tornado was going to take me away, or if I was going to lose my power, or if the rain was just going to wash us all away, and not really eating anything that constitutes ‘real food’ in anyone’s book (baked veggie sticks, cookie dough, tortilla chips… although there may have been a few fruits & veggies in there) I wanted something real.  Something comforting & delicious (obviously!), but I wanted to eat an actual meal.  Thankfully, I hadn’t lost power, so I didn’t have to throw anything out – I went looking in my freezer & fridge, and found some chicken drumsticks and some potatoes.  I then raided my cupboards and found some canned green beans that were ‘best by’ last Monday.  I double-checked online to make sure they were safe to eat, and voilà!  I had my homemade, comforting, delicious ‘real’ meal – oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  Total American comfort food.

As I was getting the chicken ready, I remembered that a while back I had roasted a whole chicken, and saved every last bit of that bird that I could.  I’d already made stock from the bones, but I still had a whole container full of the drippings – which meant I could make gravy to go with my mashed potatoes!!  Sweet!  I’ve really only ever made gravy when I make shepherd’s pie (and I think I may have attempted it for the 2 times I’ve ever made roast beef) but I know the general idea.  So after getting the chicken, potatoes & green beans underway, I threw 2 tablespoons of the chicken drippings and 2 tablespoons of flour in a pan, let that warm up and mix up so I had a nice roux, then added 3/4 of a cup of water from the potatoes (right before I drained them) and 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock.  Then I let that cook ’til it thickened, seasoning it with salt & pepper, and then (for any Bridget Jones fans) – I sieved it, but not because it was lumpy… Since I had used the chicken drippings, there were bits of chicken in the gravy that I didn’t really want.

Gravy before sieving...

... and after - ready to go on my potatoes! 🙂

I didn’t use any kind of recipe for the chicken or potatoes – never have.  I think this meal was probably one of the first meals I ever cooked back in high school – my mom was getting her master’s degree, so she’d leave me directions for dinner when she had class.  I dredged the chicken pieces in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and added a little bit of olive oil drizzled on the bottom of the pan and over the chicken, then cooked it at 375° until it got golden brown (although I do have a thermometer that I probably should have used…).  As for the potatoes, I like mine with salt, pepper, butter, milk, and cream cheese (or sour cream).  Soo good!!!

the end result - yum!!


Cooking with Renee July 10, 2010

Filed under: Dinner — F. Penner @ 8:14 PM
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I made dinner with one of my friends the other night because she wanted to make Chicken Cordon Bleu but didn’t know how.  Neither did I, really, but I’d eaten it before, and I knew the general principle, and how hard could it be, really??  So I got all the stuff we needed, she came over, and we cooked!  We made the chicken, mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli. It was all very yummy (and I didn’t get any pictures so there are no visuals) and it was good girl time!  We also watched ‘The young Victoria,’ which was really good if you haven’t seen it.

We started with the chicken – pounded it out like the recipe said – and got all the coating stuff ready.  Then I decided that maybe we should get to the potatoes because sometimes those take longer than I think they should.  So we left the chicken, peeled and cut the potatoes and got them going, then went back to the chicken.  I didn’t have any plastic wrap, so when it says to pound the chicken in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, well, I didn’t do that :).  Which probably made rolling it up a little more difficult.   Which possibly made coating the pieces in the panko more difficult.  Oh well.  It still tasted yummy!  It took longer to cook than the 20-25 minutes the recipe says.  Maybe we didn’t pound it thin enough?  Or maybe I just need to get a meat thermometer.  And the broccoli… I don’t think I’ve roasted broccoli, but let me just say – it was good.  You should make this recipe.  Alton Brown knows his stuff.  Broccoli + olive oil + garlic + panko + cheddar cheese = wicked good!


Cauliflower, potato, and cheese soup March 30, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 6:42 PM
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I try to plan my menus around what the weather’s going to be for the week – more so in cooler weather, probably because I tend to want comfort food more when it’s grey and gloomy, or just cold.  It was cold and rainy (again!) for several days, so I decided to try a new recipe from the book, New England Soup Factory Cookbook, by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein.  It came through the office at some point, and I thoroughly enjoyed looking through it, so I bought it.  The majority of the recipes make a huge amount and since I’m only one person (and I don’t think I own a pot that’s large enough their full recipes) I haven’t made any of them ’til now.  I halved the ingredients for this recipe, and it still made a ton!  I posted my halved recipe, so if you want to make the full batch, just double everything! 🙂

Cauliflower, potato, and cheese soup

adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook

  • 1 Tb. salted butter
  • 1 whole clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 1/2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (*I just used 2 – I’m not sure what I’d do with half of a potato… but the orig. recipe calls for 3)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onions, celery, cauliflower florets, and potatoes.  Sauté for 10 minutes.  Add enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add the cheese, cream, nutmeg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper.  Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth.

Of course, I goofed a bit when making this.  I forgot to get celery at the store, so that’s not in my soup.  But it still tasted fine!  And I also didn’t think until I was eating the soup that it would be good with a nice piece of bread – something soft and chewy inside, but crusty.  Next time ’round…

Since the halved recipe still made way more than I want to eat in the course of a week, I froze a little to test it and see how it thawed.  It seemed all right, although I know generally cheese soups shouldn’t be frozen… I have seen some sites that say you can, you just have to gradually bring the temperature of the soup down (room temp. to fridge to freezer) and then do the same when reheating it.  I guess I’ll find out if that works when I reheat the batch that’s in my freezer!!


Chicken!! February 21, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 7:20 PM
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When we got hit with those blizzards a couple weeks ago, I had already planned on taking the time to roast my first whole chicken, turn it into stock, and then into soup.  And the weather was obliging enough to keep me inside all weekend (and a couple of days in the middle of the week too…) so I took advantage of being stuck inside to do all this.  I was also initially going to start my blog that weekend, but that didn’t happen, as I got stuck on coming up with a good name.  However, since I am wicked proud of the fact that I did all of this (and that it all tasted good!), I’m making it my ‘real’ first post anyway. 🙂

Having never done any of this before, I went searching online for a good roast chicken recipe, and finally settled on Julia Child’s recipe. I got my shopping list together and found everything I needed, fortunately. I have to say, I was a little concerned about the 1/2 cup of celery leaves – but I just pulled all of the leaves that I could out of the whole celery bunch and it seemed to work out okay. I prepared the chicken the way Julia said to, and a couple of hours later pulled it out of the oven.

I also made Crash Hot Orange Potatoes to go along with the roast chicken – they were soo! good…

After the chicken had cooled, I pulled it all off of the bones, and put the bones into a bag until the next day.  When I woke up, I got myself all ready for a day of busy work while I let the stock simmer on the stove.  I had already looked through various recipes for chicken stock, and decided that I didn’t really need to follow a specific one.  They all seemed to have the basic ingredients of: carrots, onions, and celery (or ‘mirepoix’), so I put the bones in my biggest pot (which was just big enough) along with the mirepoix and a couple of bay leaves.  And of course salt and pepper.  My house smelled so good all day!!  And after letting the stock simmer for several hours (I think most recipes said 4 hours or so?  I might have let it go for closer to 5) it looked ready to be strained and put aside for chicken soup.

So I strained it – several times, because there always seemed to be sediment or whatever left in the broth.  After the 4th time, I decided that was good enough,

and put it back into the pot so I could let it cool off overnight.  Church had been canceled that afternoon, so I had all day Sunday to make my soup (which I actually forgot to take pictures of… oops!  next time…).  Once again, I just winged it – I had also been looking at a few recipes for chicken noodle soup, and it’s one of those things you’ve generally had enough times that you know what goes into it.  So I skimmed the fat off of the stock (yum!), threw the stock into my Crock-Pot along with more mirepoix (sorry – I like that word :)), the chicken, and water, and let it simmer on ‘low’ all day.  Once again, it smelled soo! good in my house.  I think that’s a large part of why I like cooking – it just tends to smell wicked good!!  I made my noodles separately because in my experience, the noodles always absorb too much broth and then you have to add more, which is a pain.  Plus I knew I was freezing most of the soup, and I really didn’t want mushy noodles.  Ick.  But the soup was yummy.  And I have now successfully roasted a chicken, made stock, and home-made chicken noodle soup – woo!! 🙂