Category: Recipes

Roast Chicken Recipe

Yes, I posted a roast chicken recipe very recently. I do not need a Twelve Step program for chicken addicts, okay?  I can quit making roast chicken any time I want.  I just don’t want to.  And I have an excuse;  Whole Foods had Mary’s Air Chilled chickens on sale for half price last week.   Who could resist?   They are cleanly fed, humanely raised and not processed with a hefty chlorinated water soaking to increase their weight without giving the consumer any extra protein.  Plus I really don’t need a soupcon of swimming pool flavoring in my chicken.

This time I kept the bird whole and doused it with my new favorite rub, Santa Maria Seasoning from Scott’s Food Products.  It’s a coarse salt,  pepper and garlic powder (plus multiple secret spices, I am sure) rub I use on steak, pork and chicken and somehow it works on all of them.   They have not ever sent me products.  I buy it myself and if it was awful I would say so!

Anyway,  after spicing it all over, I drizzled olive oil on top.  I put the chicken in the pan breast side up for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.    Then I flipped it and turned it down to 325 degrees for another 20 minutes.  When doing this technique you  turn the oven off after the final 20 minutes and assemble the rest of your dinner, run a short errand, it doesn’t matter.  This seems to “set” the meat.   But don’t go to the movies, okay?   It will cool off too much.   And you may well eat a bunch of junk and ruin your dinner.

I can't tell you how tender even the white meat was. The pan had excellent juices for "au jus" we put over the sliced meat.

My late mom was a fretful cook who worried about food poisoning as a hobby and used to check chicken’s doneness by wiggling the drumstick (it should really give) and poking it often with a fork to see if the juices ran clear (no pink).   This is a torment-free,  leave-alone, way of cooking a chicken I much prefer.  By the way, I always roast the giblets right alongside.   It makes the “jus” really delicious.   Roasted chicken liver is amazing even for liver haters.  The heart , kidneys  and the meat on the neck (not the bones, duh) go straight to the dog.

 

How to Make Asparagus

We live a ten minute drive from acres and acres of farmland dedicated to fresh produce, so our local farmer’s markets are embarrassingly good. Asparagus is typically $2 to $3 a bunch, and has that wild, fresh-out-of-the-ground taste.   I know lots of people put cheese or hollandaise sauce all over their asparagus, and only eat the tips as the stalk is fibrous and ropy when badly cooked.   Well it need not be inedible and disguised with cheese sauce. Asparagus is easy to do perfectly.   And you don’t have to buy one of those stand up special steamers at Williams Sonoma, either (unless you are just trying to get one of those offbeat wedding gifts for a cousin).

You do have to trim the stalks, and you do this by holding a spear in two hands and bending to see where it will naturally break.   Snap it off and you have taken off the tough end.  If you want to even up your bundle of ends so they do not look ragged, trim them a touch with your kitchen knife.    I would clean ’em up for a guest but for just us – meh.   You’ll place the stalks in a flat saute pan with very little water, half an inch at most.

In the pan, waiting for the water to boil. Note the ragged, "no guests tonight" ends.

When it boils, cover with a tight lid.    Cook for about 3 minutes,  Seriously.   You have a little wiggle room on this but don’t forget about them, or you will be eating the tips only.

Perfectly bright green. The interior should look whitish as in this photo.

Take them right out of the water and serve.  If planned as a cold course, put them on a plate in the fridge.  Just before serving, drizzle olive oil, fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt over them.     This same technique makes perfect green beans, as well, with a slightly longer and more forgiving cooking time.   I have gotten a lot of asparagus haters to enjoy them, without even mentioning the ancients’ belief that they had aphrodisiacal properties.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

I don’t like cinnamon.   But I like Snickerdoodle cookies.  Somehow, they aren’t very cinnamony even though the cookies are rolled in a cinnamon and sugar mixture before baking.  I tweaked a good recipe for them after we broke down and bought some frozen dough from the Girl Scout on our street who needed to make her quota.   After reading all the chemicals and stabilizers on the ingredient list on the side of the leaden plastic bin the “Gourmet” dough came in, I very quickly got out a mixing bowl.    And so:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and  get out a baking sheet.  I have a teflon baking pan I have been using forever.  The dough is buttery so don’t grease the pan.  It messes up the intended crunchy texture.  Another weirdness is I don’t use a mixer since I hate cleaning the equipment.  I just soften the butter so mixing is easy and use the back of a soup spoon to incorporate the ingredients.   Please, feel free to use a mixer, but  don’t overbeat once the eggs are in.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups white sugar or Zukar brand cane sugar, which I use quite a lot

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar  (some say it ‘s not necessary but it makes the cookie nice and crumbly)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Some bakers call for 1/4 teaspoon salt. I leave this out as the baking soda is salty enough.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and eggs.  Mix well. Meanwhile,  measure out the flour into a big enough cup or bowl so you can add the cream of tartar and baking soda.  I run a knife through so the flour has this worked through a bit.   Mix the flour etc.  into the egg, sugar and butter.  It takes some persistence as this is a stiff dough.  You’re then going to make little 1 to 1.5 inch dough balls and roll them in:

2 tablespoons white sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.  I always end up with extra, so put more sugar in it and you have enough for cinnamon toast the next day.

Note the spacing.

Space them 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Last time, I set the timer for 8 hours instead of 8 minutes, but luckily a certain smell beckoned me into the kitchen and I got them in time.

Mmmm.

Voila, as they say in Paris.  I think Snickerdoodles would sell well in France.  But how to translate the name?

Roast Chicken

Raise your hand if you like dry chicken.  Thought not.   My multi-year quest for moist oven-roasted chicken has been realized  over several attempts in a row. To do this, I did not climb any mountains, fight a lion or find a sword in a lake. Unfortunately.   Still, I  present you with The Grail.    You need a 3-4 pound chicken (ha),  plain Greek yogurt, a head of garlic, and some  kind of steak or poultry rub.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   If you have a gas oven, even better, but electric will do.    I have done this with grocery store non hormone chickens, organic chickens, sometimes even farmer’s market just-plucked. It always works.    You split the chicken in half along the breastbone to butterfly it. Spread is as flat as you can in a roasting pan.  Then you season it all over with poultry rub (non spicy).  I like Santa Maria rub, lately, a salt and pepper rub sold at Whole Foods.

The chicken is pretty flat. You get even cooking and white meat stays moist.

This time I put about 2o whole cloves of garlic under the skin all over the chicken, with a few under the open cavity.   I don’t always do this.

The flat side of meat pounder opens garlic very easily.

Then I slather the chicken with about a cup of thick plain Greek yogurt.

This is the secret to moistness. High heat melts it into the chicken.

I cook it in the high heat for about 35 minutes, which a restaurant chef told me was TOTALLY WRONG.  You are supposed to slow cook chicken then blast high heat at the end.   Not when the chicken is wearing yogurt sunscreen, it seems.   After 35 minutes (check earlier for brownness as your oven may be “fast” or slow),  you flip the bird with your handy tongs so the white meat does not dry out.    Cook it another ten  minutes at the high heat, then lower it to 325.   This will go another 20 minutes or so, and, in a pinch, you can turn the oven off right now and go get your child from gymnastics, walk the dog, or whatever.  I’ve done it this way, trust me.  There is a lot of residual heat which keeps cooking the chicken.  After 20 minutes (or when you get back), flip the chicken one more time and give it one more blast at 425 for about 5 or 10 minutes.

Yeah, it's a tad too brown for professional purposes. Tasted great, though.

I serve it with brown or white rice, and, often, an iceberg lettuce salad with sliced oranges, dressed with oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.   Pepper on oranges is a surprisingly delicious flavor if you have never had it.

This is a very refreshing salad, a variation on a Sicilian orange, olive oil and pepper salad Grandpa Romano makes.

House Salad Dressing at Chez Romano

About 100 years ago in the 1980’s, I watched some British gadabout on PBS doing a really awesome canal trip in France. He was a movie producer of note (no, I can’t remember his name) and made a point of stopping to buy wine like every 1/4 mile. Good for him.    He also ate really well and trotted out his adequate French to buy local ingredients for his staff to cook.  Yeah, he traveled with a staff.  Of course.   Like he was going to cook for sound and camera.   The man had wine to drink! And I consider anyone who can go on a multi week canal trip with a staff, crew and get all expenses paid by someone else on the off chance it will be aired on t.v. a truly brilliant producer.

At one of his stops, he bought lettuce picked straight from the field.  Then it was prepared into a salad the right way.   You put  a small puddle of mild olive oil into a big bowl.  You dash vinegar into it.  You grind pepper on it and dash in salt.  You whisk it and then put the leaves in, coating them lightly.  If you are really fancy, you switch up the vinegar, add dry mustard or red pepper flakes, or some grated cheese, a mashed up garlic clove.  You get the picture.

Anyway, ever since, I have done dressing like this, though often in a mini food processor so I have extra and can use it another day.

Fig Balsamic Vinegar, Seasoned Rice Vinegar, Canola Oil, Olive Oil, Oregano. Mix and match.

Not really sure what a puddle measures out to, but I’d bet it’s under 1/4 cup. A dash is a quick slug.  Beware vinegar bottles without that little dropper thing.  You’ll be dumping out the sour puddle in the sink (the dog won’t eat it) and starting over.

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