How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

More Jam Chicken

Perhaps because we had enjoyed the sriracha hot jam chicken so much just a fortnight ago, I bought another roasting chicken -- this one organic and free-range -- during pre-blizzard food shopping yesterday. I was prepared to repeat the make-shift "recipe" I had used before, but true to the spirit of this project, Pam found a nueva receta in one of our oldest cookbooks. Clarification: the book is old, having been printed as I graduated from high school, but it is new to us, a thrifty find librarian Pam made on the free-to-good-home bookshelf in our university library.

On page 314 of the 1981 ring-bound edition of The New Cook Book from Better Home & Gardens, she found "Chicken with Currant Glaze." My first reaction was to think about the small remnant of a package of currants in our cupboard, but this was quickly made moot by the second line of the ingredients list: "1/3 cup red currant or raspberry jelly." Remembering that I had also purchased a nice local raspberry jam, I knew we had a winner for a hearty dinner I could prepare between bouts of blizzard shoveling.

Again using the upright roaster, I put Canadian whiskey in the well this time, and then prepared the chicken (with a simple rub of olive oil and a dusting of salt and black pepper. I roasted it for just over an hour, until it reached an internal temperature of 165F. A sign of changing standards is that the book calls for a temperature of 185F, which we now know as "dry" and which explains a lot of over-cooked poultry in our pasts.

At that point, I whisked together in a saucepan the ingredients for a proper sauce: the jam, 2 T lemon juice, 1 T butter, a dash of cinnamon, 1 T water and 2 t cornstarch. Pam kept mentioning that this book was for novice cooks, and I should have paid attention to one of its beginner tips. As I should know by now, the cornstarch works best when mixed with water and then added. I could not whisk out the clumps that were formed. I did make a nice, thick sauce, though, and passed it through a sieve before brushing it on.

Baking for about 15 minutes more at a moderate 350F, the glaze got just a bit crispy. The result of the cooking method and the selection of humanely-raised chicken was an exceptionally succulent meal. It paired well with the mashed potatoes I refried during those final 15 minutes and with the Malbec we selected.

Vegetarian Chili with Corn Bread Topping

This recipe comes from the New York Times Cooking page. It was labeled under vegetarian comfort food, a description with which I heartily concur. This was a little complicated, and made a hella dishes, but it was worth it in the end and made for excellent leftovers.

I deviated a bit from the recipe, as I had no cardamom (pods, or otherwise) at the beach house where I made this, a problem which I will rectify once this third-major-snowstorm-in-as-many-weeks clears up. Neither did I use lentil beans, opting instead for simple kidney beans. I also skipped the ketchup, and did include freshly ground cloves. It all ended up with a nice spicy kick.

I used plain yogurt in lieu of buttermilk for the topping which made it more thick and therefore couldn't really be spread, but rather glopped onto the casserole. It did turn out nicely browned, and tasty. We were also surprised at how easily everything came out of the dish, in neat little rectangles.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hot Jam Chicken

A bold flavor from Stonewall Kitchen.
If three or more things are needed at the grocery, we make a list. And jam was on the list -- as in jam for our usual breakfast of local eggs, English muffins, juice, yogurt, and free-range coffee. This fuels our mornings without overfilling us, and most importantly does not require us to make decisions early on a weekday. Aside from deciding whether to add jam or not. In any case, jam was on the list, and I got a nice one from Stonewall Kitchens (we get much more local when we can, but this is our go-to). When reaching for the jar of strawberry-peach, I noticed its shelf neighbor: pineapple sriracha.

That looks terrific, I thought, but it might be a bit much for breakfast, where Tabasco on the eggs is sufficient heat for me. Plus, my bride is not a huge fan of pineapple. I picked it up though, knowing that I could do something with this and poultry.

And indeed I did! I selected a day when I knew I would be home a couple hours ahead of Pam, and made a plan to get started that morning -- which was today. I whisked a generous dollop of sriracha sauce and a generous shake of salt into a large bowl of milk. Yes, milk. I then rinsed a small, organic chicken and placed it in the bowl, adding a bit more milk to submerge the chicken. I placed the bowl in the fridge and then headed out for a full day of teaching. All day I was brining as well, without even thinking about it!

When I got home, I noticed that the tiny bit of chicken above the milk line was not soaking, so I turned the bird over and put it back in the fridge for another hour.

Then I got to work, first turning the oven on to convection at 375F.  In a small saucepan over low heat, I stirred together about 1/4 cup each of honey and the pineapple sriracha jam, until a thick sauce formed.

I then filled the well of our upright ceramic chicken roaster with port and sherry. We happened to have a smidge of the latter, so I emptied it into the well first. The well only holds about a half cup of liquid, which of course will moisten the chicken from its interior cavity. I placed the chicken onto the support (which contained the wines) and then spooned the sauce over it, covering the chicken as well as I could. I tucked the ends of the wings into small notches I made in the chicken "armpit" so that they would not get singed.

I placed it in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes. I then chopped a few small potatoes into 1/2-inch dice and placed them in a casserole, where I coated them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Looking at an earlier use of the upright roaster, I am now reminded that I could have placed the potatoes in the same pan as the chicken. The casserole, of course, resulted in a slightly crisp potato side, which I have made a staple of my cooking.

I continued on convection, lowered to 350, for about another hour. I would recommend checking for doneness by the usual means (clear-running juices or an internal temperature of 165), but I did not do so because the battery was dead in our kitchen thermometer. That does not excuse my failure to pierce the skin to inspect juices, but I just knew that we had lucked into perfect timing.

I transferred the chicken and potatoes to a platter and found that the chicken was so tender that it nearly carved itself. Crispity as could be on the outside and succulent on the inside, this was a very fine roast, and its sweet-hot flavor paired deliciously with the Provence rose that I had chilled.

Total time: 10 hours; Active time: total of 30 minutes (10 minutes each of three times)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Sequel Was Better

A very Good Read
Having had a romantic holiday last week, we turned to the romance portion of our cookbook cabinet, where I found a new recipe idea. Or so I thought: we had tried the avocado and sun-dried tomato fettuccine recipe from Intercourses just after said holiday four years ago, but I had forgotten.

Pam noticed the repeat this morning, as she continues to review all of our entries for our new especialidad de la casa tag.  She is adding that tag to every recipe we post that is either completely original to us or such a major modification that we consider it our own. I am glad we had forgotten this one, because the 2014 review suggests a dish we would not have made for a special occasion (which our 33rd Valentine's Day together most certainly was).

I did the same recipe that Pam had done earlier, with just a couple of changes. First, I think I used some basil, and a bit more of the scallions. The sun-dried tomatoes I used were not packed in oil. I think I did add a bit of oil. A much more important difference is that I blended the ingredients in the bowl with a spoon, not a blender. So it was a medley, not a sauce.

Finally I did not include any cheese, but I did top this with plenty well-cooked, crumbly bacon. I think we substituted parm the first time because our vegetarian kid was dining with us. As I made this, I realized that this might succeed as a vegan dish with the use of a good bacon substitute.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Monte Hayes-Boh

As we learned from The Great Monte Cristo Sandwich Incident of 1997, a certain decadent sandwich looms large in family lore. Discovered at a favorite watering hole when we met as college students, it has been an infrequent but important part of our history with food.

(NOTE: Many entries on this blog are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, simple, and/or healthy. This is not one of those entries, though some ingredients were locally sourced, and we would love to hear from any readers who make substitutions.)

This story begins on a rainy Saturday morning in our weekend home, trying to figure out how to have a good breakfast without leaving the house. (We failed on that count: after we committed to this plan I realized we had none of our usual Crescent Ridge milk, so it was off to the market for some Stonyfield. No regrets.)

Milk aside, Pam noticed a combination of ingredients on hand that led her straight to the Monte Cristo concept, but with waffles instead of bread. This breakfast is pretty straightforward, once the waffles are complete. To facilitate bringing all of the components together, Pam prepared a fruit/yogurt smoothie before I began the rest. Coffee, of course, had been prepared much earlier.
I had all of the other ingredients ready for assembly by the time the waffles were complete. I placed them on plates in a warm oven so that they everything would come together at optimal temperatures. Waffles are an area of continuous experimentation at Whaling House; these were very close to the gingerberry waffles I prepared in October, except that I left out the ginger and forgot the vanilla. 
Just before the second waffle was complete, I lightly fried some deli turkey in an indispensible cast-iron skillet and topped it with a couple of slices of cheese until it was melty and bubbly.
As soon as the second waffle was complete, I spread some local berry jelly on one of them.
The hot deli slices went right on top of that.
This tableau (which includes the smoothies Pam had just made and some fairly-traded, organically-grown, fresh roasted and brewed Nicaraguan coffee) was nice for a photo, but was also an extension of our prep area. With the second waffle in place, we sprinkled some powdered sugar on top, and then divided this enormous sandwich.
A close-up of my half of our invention:
The Monte Hayes-Boh

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Simple Egg Supper

Breakfast for dinner is never a bad idea. Last week I made a variation on Breakfast Tostadas with Cumin Roasted Fingerling Potatoes gleaned from this list of The Only 40 Egg Recipes You'll Ever Need.

We didn't have fingerling potatoes, but we did have a whole host of baking potatoes, which I diced into an approximation of the fingerling size. I skipped the guacamole because we didn't have any, and didn't feel like shopping, and I used a chile-pepper flavored cheddar instead of the Cotija cheese. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe. It was an easy weeknight dinner. One we will likely have again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Friend's Night In

While James was out of town earlier this month I had the chance to catch up with a friend whom I see a lot, but don't get to talk to as much as we'd like. I invited her for dinner and made a variation of  Cowboy Skillet  - a recipe I found on when I searched for recipes with eggs, potatoes and sausage (three ingredients I had in abundance). The food was good. The company was charming, and the whole evening was simply hygge.  I really need to have friends over more often.