Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's a Nice Day for a Roast Chicken

Okay, so the rain and the cool weather is getting old now. Thursday was another one of those cool rainy days we've been having so much of lately. Seemed like a good day for a roast chicken. I don't normally make roast chicken during the summer, because it's too hot to turn the oven on, but Thursday was chilly enough the oven needed to be turned on, just to warm the house up a bit.

I made my standard roast chicken: stuffed the cavity with a cut up lemon and some fresh rosemary; rubbed the skin with olive oil and sprinkled on salt, pepper, sage and thyme. Perfect chicken every time.

As much as I like roast chicken, I really dislike picking the meat off the carcass after dinner, but it must be done. The leftover meat went into the fridge (turned into quesedillas for dinner the next day and many lunches after that) and the skin and bones became a lovely stock:

I used half the stock to make a batch of frijoles for dinner on Friday, and the rest went into the freezer for another day.

The first blueberries arrived at the farmer's market over a week ago. So last weekend I made a blueberry crisp

and today I made a blueberry pie

It looks like the time has come to buy my blueberries by the flat and start to freeze them for the winter. I froze 3 flats last year (they were cheap) and am hoping that I'll be able to do the same this year, but I'm afraid the wacky weather might not be so good for the blueberry harvest.

Speaking of harvesting, I picked my first batch of peas last weekend:

Got about two spoonfulls worth. Thank goodness I bought a pound of peas from the farmer's market to go with them.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beer Bread

The weather has been strange, and Thursday was pretty chilly, at least by June standards. And on a chilly day, the best way to warm things up is to bake bread.

I wasn't in the mood for a yeast bread, not even the relatively quick Cuban bread from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Bread. I decided to make beer bread. I found the recipe year's ago in the Creme de Colorado Cookbook, and it is very easy: 3 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 3-4 tablespoons sugar, and a 12 oz bottle of beer. Mix it up, put in a greased loaf pan, pour a stick of melted butter over it, and bake at 350 for about 50-55 minutes. Easy.

Many years ago I cut the butter down to 1/2 a stick. Tastes just as good but isn't nearly as greasy. Now, the same recipe appears in Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Bread but with an interesting twist: he adds 1/2 cup of chopped fresh oregano to the batter. I decided to give it a try, especially since my oregano is trying to take over the herb garden. Harvesting 1/2 a cup worth sounded like a pretty good idea.

And yes, it was. The oregano gave the bread a completely different flavor. Very tasty. A good way to keep the herbs in the garden in check, use up a cheap bottle of beer, and get a fresh loaf of bread for dinner.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I learned something interesting about carrots yesterday.

I bought a beautiful bunch of carrots from the farmer's market. They were long and thin with lovely, fresh green tops. So I wanted to cook them yet preserve their shape, in other words, not peel them. They were so thin that most of the carrot would disappear if I peeled them.

So I looked up carrots in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madsen. And she said that if you put the carrots in cold water, brought the water to a boil, added salt, and cooked them, the skins would slide right off. And you know what? They did. It was lovely.

So I boiled them, skinned them, then sauted them in butter with onion and parsely, and ended up with this:

Okay, there were more of them. I took the picture after dinner, not before. But you get the idea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Strawberry Chiffon Pie

It's strawberry season. And I always make, at least one time during strawberry season, a strawberry chiffon pie.

It's a classic. Mashed strawberries gelled with unflavored gelatin; folded into merangue and whipped cream, chilled until set (this pie takes some time to put together). It's tasty, creamy and airy; one of the best pies around. I brought it to a cookout on Saturday and it was a hit. I should try some of the other chiffon pie recipes around (raspberry, orange, lemon).

Last night for dinner I made the Asparagus and Smoked Trout Frittata from the NYT website . (I meant to take a picture before we ate it, but in the rush to get food on the table kind of forgot.)

Okay, this was excellent. First of all, I loved smoked fish, and asparagus, and together they were great (actually I kept nibbling at the trout when I was cutting it up -- we're lucky it made it into the frittata). DH said it was a little salty, a side effect of the fish, but that didn't bother me. I would be happy to make this again. I would also be happy to buy some slabs of smoked trout and eat them right out of the package.

Peas were at the market on Friday, so I bought a pound (shelling or English peas, not snow peas). We had them for dinner, with a little butter and chives. Very tasty. My peas should be ready for harvest this weekend. I won't get a whole meal out of them, but they'll supplement this week's market purchase.