Roasted chicken with new potatoes, onions, and garlic.
May 8, 2013, 11:33 pm
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Is there such a thing as too much garlic? Probably. Eventually. That roasted garlic french stuff was too much garlic. If your very polite friend says you smell of garlic then tries to backpedal by saying it might be her husband, that’s too much.  Tonight was not too much garlic. In fact, Himself request more garlic next time this stuff is made and he may be right.

Sigh.

I need a kitchen camera. Just a cheap one, that it’s ok if grease gets splattered on it. I am cautious with the Nikon D90 W/fancypants lens. O yes, can take great pictures but not in the kitchen with all the stuff everywhere. Thus, no pictures but if you have any kind of imagination…bear with me because this was the kind of meal that made me sigh with satisfaction and wish I had a bigger stomach.

Did you know May 4 (my birthday!) is International Respect For Chickens Day?  I respect the chicken. I respect it’s dedication at providing eggs and it’s commitment for giving it’s life that we may have fried chicken, roast chicken, chicken broth, chicken pot pie, and King Ranch Casserole.

honor the chicken

My favorite roast chicken. It is how I honor the bird who gave it’s life for me. I want to treat it with respect, not shove it in a can and coat it in mayonnaise.  So, I use a bird that has lived a long enough life to get a layer of fat on it. (no wonder my thighs…but really…at my age…whatever). A roasting hen, not a fryer. Also, little new potatoes, the red kind omygoodness so creamy. And Vidalia onions. Not Spanish ones or yellow ones or white ones, but Sweet Vidalias grown right up the road about 15 minutes from here. Sweet enough to eat raw in a salad but also amazing when roasted in chicken juice and fat omygoodnessyespardonwhileiclosemyeyesandsigh. Also garlic. the biggest cloves you can find. I used 6 or 7 cloves and it was suggested that perhaps a whole head might be better because we were all sort of fighting and stabbing each other with forks to get at the roasted-in-chicken-juice garlic. I caught Himself picking through the bowl of potatoes hunting for garlic.

Easy peasy but this is the first time I’ve done it this way and I tell you what, it’s happening again because….chicken juices and fat and potatoes and onion and garlic are quite possibly the second most delicious thing ever (right after that little fatty tail on a ribeye that’s been cooked to medium rare perfection on a hardwood charcoal grill). And SO easy!

Ok, here’s how you do it:

Roasted chicken with new potatoes, onion, and garlic

1 5-6 pound roasting hen, washed and dried inside and out

Several long stems of oregano from the garden

olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper

2 pounds-ish red new potatoes, cut in half (I have no idea how much…I had about 12 of them)

1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin

6-7 fat cloves of garlic (or a whole head, if you trust me), lightly smashed and peeled

Put the potatoes, onion, and garlic in a large roasting pan

Set a rack over the veggies.

Put the chicken on the rack, coat it in olive oil,and salt and pepper it. Stuff the oregano up inside the body cavity.

Roast at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes per pound of chicken.

When the chicken is done (crispy and golden and the leg is loose when you mess with it) set it aside to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then cut into pieces. Put the vegs in a bowl and pour the pan juices all over them.  Keep a wooden spoon handy for whacking hands of anyone who tries to pick out the garlic, or eat the really crusty potatoes first. Also whack the hands of anyone picking the skin off the chicken because that’s COOK’S PRIVILEGE.  The Son Who Ate With Us opined that the potatoes would be excellent as hash alongside an omelet. Next time I’ll have to make more because there was only enough left for Himself to have for lunch tomorrow.  However, I am not sure that there will ever be enough of those potatoes.

There was a salad to go with:

1 Vidalia onion, sliced thin

2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse

1 large can little black olives

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (loosely packed)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and whizz up.

Pour the dressing over the onions and let sit for an hour or so.  Right before serving, mix in the tomatoes and olives.

This would also be good with some feta cheese thrown in, or maybe those little bitty pearl mozzerella balls.

Use your imagination to figure out what a golden brown roast chicken on a bed of crispy new potatoes, roasted sweet vidalia onions and buds of roasted garlic look like. Close your eyes and imagine the aroma of all those sweet roasted vegetables and a chicken stuffed with oregano. Imagine the family drifting in on the wafting scent like what’shisname Jetson when whatsername Mrs Jetson cooked something, feet flapping and riding the waves gently…

Maybe for Mother’s Day I’ll get a small kitchen camera that I won’t worry about getting greasy or floury.

Also…someone needs to invent smell-o-vision. srsly.

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Roasted garlic salad dressing
April 23, 2013, 11:06 pm
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Ok, the last post was a Proceed At Your Own Risk sort of thing.

This one involves the same ingredient- roasted garlic, but with MUCH happier results.  The recipe was taken from Epicurious.com, found during a search for a broccoli salad recipe that didn’t involve raisins or cheese. I didn’t make the salad exactly as the recipe said, but I did make the dressing as such and I must say it’s probably the tastiest dressing I have EVER made. Ever. Even better than the garlic and lemon peel and black pepper sauteed in olive oil and blended with rice vinegar, which is my favorite for fresh salad greens from the garden in May.

This stuff. Wow. Rarely (with the exception of a friend’s coconut pie exchanged for sewing services) have I wanted to take something and sit on the kitchen floor, assume a defensive posture hunched over it like some sort of hyena guarding an antelope carcass, and eat it with a spoon. Calories be damned. This is so good it’s worth a little cellulite.

Creamy and amazing and OF COURSE there’s no PICTURES. But, you know what mayonnaise looks like. And buttermilk. Imagine the fresh Spring chives cut from a pot on the patio, and pepper from a grinder on the kitchen counter.  Imagine a couple of golden heads of roasted garlic, oily and gleaming in a pie pan. Close your eyes and breathe in the aroma. Now imagine a 23 year old outside, manning the grill and tending the beefsteaks cooking on it. But the salad is the star of the show, no doubt. As per usual, I didn’t make the exact salad it called for. I never do. BUT, as it was a broccoli salad I was looking for, that is what was made.

I don’t really like broccoli, unless it’s in a salad with a delicious dressing, or drowning in a cheese soup. Broccoli has unpleasant childhood recollections attached to it. I was forced to eat it, and I don’t like being forced. However, if it had been presented with this stuff on it, I would have eaten it and asked for more.

Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing.

2 heads of garlic

a little bit of olive oil

1 cup mayonnaise…c’mon, use the good stuff. I like Duke’s but that might be a regional thing.

1/2 cup buttermilk

1-1/2 tablespoons of minced fresh chives. yes. Fresh. not dried. please. Not dried.

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon celery seed (Epicurious recipe said 1-1/4 teaspoons celery salt but I never use the stuff and have to watch the salt anyway)

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground (yes, please) black pepper. I have no idea how much I put in. Probably more than that but I like the stuff.

Cut the garlic heads in half through the middle (how do I explain that?) so each clove is cut in half…get it?  Drizzle each cut side with a bit of olive oil and wrap them all together loosely with aluminum foil, or (like I did) put them in a cake pan and cover with a pan lid.. Roast at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Check after that to see if they’re soft and turning golden. If not soft yet, put the lid back on and put them back in the oven, heat turned off, for about 10 minutes.

Put all the other ingredients into a blender (ok, Epicurious said get all fancy and precious and mix everything by hand blah blah blah) and whiz up (or mix gently by hand with a wire whisk made by Turkish metalworkers who’ve been doing it for generations and using methods passed down from their ancestors…whatever). When the garlic is done, pop each clove out (SO EASY!) from the papery skin and drop into the blender with the other stuff. Whiz it up again.

Taste it and adjust with salt and pepper and try to restrain yourself from hiding in a closet with it and a spoon and eating the whole blender full then serving the salad with a disappointing Ranch dressing from a bottle.

Now, the salad I made was 1 head of Romaine lettuce (Epicurious said use a bunch of overpriced hearts of Romaine but I am feeding Philistines who wouldn’t know a heart of Romaine from a bag of iceberg), chopped kind of small. I hate big pieces of lettuce. Also 2 heads of broccoli, florets cut VERY small then the stems shredded like cole slaw, and a fresh spring onion (from the garden of my 14 yr old) chopped fine.  It could possibly have been improved with the addition of something like sunflower seeds or pepitas, but I didn’t have any of those.

Admittedly, I probably ate too much salad, if such a thing is possible.
“too much salad”…did I just say that?

I will probably reek of garlic tomorrow, as will Himself, but if both people in a romantic relationship eat too much garlic, no one who matters will notice.



All that fresh produce!

I’ve decided to attempt vegetarianism for the Summer. Not out of any real uppity sort of Save The World And The Baby Animals sort of thing, just…I don’t know. An evaluation of my diet resulted in the realization that I don’t *NEED* meat. Sure, I like a steak as much as the next person, if it’s cooked properly, and I LOVE me some smoked bacon…but to need it? No. Notsomuch.

I already eat quite a bit of whole grains, bake all our bread (except for the occasional English Muffin someone brings in…and bagels.), and cook with legumes. Now that school is out for the Summer, #4 son (he’s 13) will be released from the concern of digestive side effects from the beans. He doesn’t particularly mind them, but everyone else in the classroom does.

So…vegetarian it is. I will still eat eggs,and dairy (occasionally) in the form of high quality cheeses and yogurt and butter on the breakfast toast. For some (probably hypocritical or poorly thought out) reason I have issues with the chicken farming of birds we eat, but no such sensitivities toward the poor hens that churn out eggs day after day like avian Pez disensers. I also know with relative surety that dairy cows tend to be well cared for…the ones around here are, anyway.  I also know of a source for local yard eggs and have a friend who has a friend with a cow, so it is possible I may have a source of Real Milk.  That investigation is for later. Too much change at one time is upsetting to the balance of the universe, and I don’t want that on my conscience.

Now, I am not forcing this lifestyle and philosophical change on my family.  They are men. They want meat. I know this. They don’t mind the (very) occasional meatless meal, as long as it has plenty of pasta in it, but to tell them NO MEAT for an entire Summer would invite all sorts of hysterics and grumpiness and they are, for the most part, good men and I want them to be happy. Therefore, I will grill them small pieces of meat to enhance the (whatever) was prepared for supper.  I am taking the Asian approach, that uses meat as a side dish or even a condiment rather than The Main Event. Unless there’s steak, which will totally be the centerpiece of the meal and I surely will set aside my principles for that.  And ribs, probably.

Ultimately I would like to replace the farmed meat, bought from the store as red blobs wrapped in plastic, and replace that will real meat, from animals that lived in the woods and ate the abundant flora of the Deep South, and were not inoculated against everything with all kinds of antibiotics and given growth hormones and fed dead stuff.  Venison is abundant here, as are feral pigs, rabbits, squirrels…rabbits and squirrels are nice substitutes for chicken.  There are hunters in the family and friends list, who are currently being bribed with promises of homemade smoked jerky in exchange for meat.

But for now, it is not hunting season, and it’s too hot to be eating all that meat anyway, so I am making tasty salads.  Today’s version is an adaptation (and absolute alteration into being no longer recognizable) white bean salad, that I got the recipe from….I think it was an old issue of Fine Cooking.  Anyway, it uses white beans of some sort. I’ve made it with cannellini beans, but being where we are, I can only find those in cans, and with the salt issues, canned is Not Allowed, so I use dried navy beans.  Also, the local produce market, which conveniently sells  (wait for it….) LOCAL PRODUCE had a buncha stuff, so I bought it, thinking “hey, this would be good,so would that, oo look at these!” and by the time I was done, the recipe was no longer recognizable as the one from Fine Cooking and I really don’t care.  So here’s what happened (pictures? Fie on pictures. I am too busy flinging and chopping.)

1-1/2 pounds navy beans.

a whole pot full of water

Put the beans in the water (after washing them and picking stuff out), put the pot on simmer and ignore it for (hmmmm….how long? Let’s call it 4 hours) When the beans are done, nice and soft, look in the pot and realize you cooked too many, and take out about 4 cups of the cooked beans, and use them to make hummus. White beans make tasty hummus with a wonderful texture.

Drain the rest of the beans and set aside.

Now, you want these:

4 ears of fresh local  (and almost too young to pick ) corn. Cut it off the cob and saute in a little olive oil until it has crusty brown bits on it. Try to restrain yourself from peppering it right then and eating it out of the skillet.  If you can’t, be sure and buy some extra corn.

2 small zucchini, cut into small pieces.

4 roma tomatoes, also cut into bits.

The idea is that you want about the same amount of each vegetable by volume, and about the same amount of beans as you do all of the vegetables combined.

2 avocados, cut into small chunks and tossed with a little bit of lemon juice to keep it from browning.

3 green onions, chopped

a good handful each of flat leaf parsley, basil, and oregano. Fresh, please, not dried.

Toss everything together, then make the dressing (O so COMPLICATED…)

1/2 cup olive oil (if I were Ina Garten I’d say Good Olive Oil which translates into $20 per 1/2 pint…but I am not…so use what you have)

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic (next time I’m roasting a head of garlic and using that. The whole thing)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Put this stuff in a jar with a lid and shake it all up.  Pour over the salad and stir well. Serve it all with some crusty fresh bread that’s all warm and lovely.

Now tell me, who wouldn’t want to eat that in lieu (thanks to Ruth for telling me how to spell that properly) of some lump of factory raised meat that might make a man grow boobs?

Also…you could totally use cucumber in there too. however, Terry is allergic to to them so I sub with the zucchini in these sorts of recipes.