Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category

Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Roasted Chicken and New Potatoes

Roasted chicken is one of those things that I always manage to forget my love for.  I mean, I know I love it, but I tend to forget the whole EXPERIENCE of roasted chicken until I have one cooking away in the oven, crackling and making the house smell like herbs and garlic and chicken and home.  I LOVE it, ok?  And potatoes . . . well, words cannot describe my love for the potato in all its forms.  (I actually don’t keep many in the house because I will make myself SICK on mashed potatotes.  For real: I’ll eat them 3 meals a day if given the opportunity.)

So, I decided to roast that 1/2 chicken and the little potatoes I’d bought at the Market a couple of weeks ago.  (The chicken has been in the freezer, don’t worry.)  And I had some fresh herbs in pots outside, so I raided those.  But if you don’t have fresh herbs, don’t worry: dried will work fine.  🙂

Ingredients:
1/2 roast chicken, about 2 pounds (or 1 whole chicken, butterflied – see below – in which case, double the rest of the ingredients.)
small potatoes, about 1 pound
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Rosemary: either 1/3 cup fresh or 2 Tbs dried
Sage: either 1/3 cup fresh or 2 Tbs dried, crushed OR 1 Tbs dried, ground

The Recipe:
Preheat the oven to 325F (for pastured chicken) or 350 (for “regular” chicken).  If you’re butterflying a chicken, here’s how:  place the chicken breast side down on the cutting board.  Using some REALLY sharp kitchen shears (poultry shears are even better), cut out the backbone.  Turn the chicken breast side up, and spread it as wide as you can.  Place your hand right between the breasts and press down until you hear the sternum crack.  (I know, I know, it’s gross.  But worth it!  This will let you lay the chicken flat in a large pan, and will cut down the cooking time by at least half.)  That’s it – it’s butterflied!

Put all the butter in a cup and stick in the microwave just long enough to soften, but not melt, it.  (It took about 12 seconds for me.)  Mash the garlic and herbs into the butter. 

Lay the chicken in the pan, and using your fingers, peel away as much of the skin as you can: don’t remove it completely, just make a pocket.  Stuff about half the butter-herb mixture under the skin of the chicken, as deep and in as many places as you can (the thighs can be kind of tough, and I just forget about the wings). 

Clean the potatoes and scatter them around the chicken.  Put the remaining butter mixture back in the microwave and melt it.  Pour it over the potatoes, and stir them as best you can, so they’re all coated.

Cook the chicken as follows:
For pastured chicken (which cooks quicker), cook at 325F for about 40 minutes, then turn the heat up to 350 and cook another 10-15 minutes (for crispy skin).
For “regular” chicken, cook at 350F for about 45 minutes, then turn the heat up to 375 and cook another 15-20 minutes. 

That’s it!  I try to let it cool before I inhale it, but I have to admit that the skin is AMAZING while it’s still hot enough to scorch your mouth.  😉 

This won’t need anything fancy to serve with it: just a green salad and maybe some toast or a roll.  (And of course, you’ll have the amazing leftovers for sandwiches or shredded chicken salad later!!) 

Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Mushroom and Asparagus Toss

A couple of weeks ago I bought some mushrooms (from the regular grocery, I’ll admit) and asparagus (from the Market).  But I bought too much food in general that week, and they sat longer than they should have.  By this last weekend, the asparagus was dried out and the mushrooms were ALLLLLMOST yucky.  But I’m trying really hard not to waste food.  So!  I roasted them!  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them afterward, but knew that roasting would buy me a few more days before the vegetables died completely.  As it turned out, I tossed them with some pasta, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella tonight, but I could also have mixed them into some eggs for a frittata.  So I have two recipes tonight: the mushrooms and asparagus, and the pasta toss.  You can cook them at different times or all together, and it will work just fine. 

Ready?

Ingredients:
20 oz sliced mushrooms
2 small bunches of asparagus, broken into smallish pieces
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

The Recipe:
Preheat the oven to 375F.  Toss all the ingredients together and cook uncovered, stirring once, until the mushrooms are brown and the asparagus look dried out, about 45 minutes.

On to the next!  Now, had I known I was going to put those in the pasta, I would have also tossed in some garlic.  I ended up adding garlic powder to the pasta after it was all said and done, but that’s really not the same.

Ingredients:
1 batch Mushroom and Asparagus Roast
8 oz dried whole-wheat pasta, long-cut (I used spaghetti, but any long-cut pasta will do.)
4 oz Mozzarella, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped (or buy one of those little jars that are already julienned)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

The Recipe:
If you’re making it all at once, start with the Roast recipe above, but add 2 cloves minced garlic.  After that’s been in the oven about 20 minutes, heat the water for pasta and bring it to a boil.  Add a generous amount of salt (don’t skip this step; it really DOES make a huge difference, especially with whole-wheat noodles) and the pasta.  When it’s done, grab 1/4 cup of the cooking water out of the pan with a glass measuring cup, and dump the pasta into a colander.  Don’t rinse it; put it right back into the pan, and toss the cheese, tomatoes and Roast in there.  Toss it all together, and taste.  Add salt and pepper (and garlic powder, if you didn’t add the garlic to the Roast).  Add some olive oil, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and a little cooking water until you get a consistency and flavor you like. 

If you like, you can top it with a little Parmesan cheese and some red pepper flakes.  YUM. 

How Did it Go?
Better than I expected, actually.  Not as good as the chard pasta, but still good.  I think if I had leftover mushrooms and asparagus again, I might also try putting them in some eggs and milk and baking them up like a quiche.  In that case a mild white cheddar (and maybe a little Dijon mustard) would be amazing mixed in.  You could also just serve the roasted veggies alongside a piece of steak, chicken or fish, with a little cheese sprinkled on top.  Served warm, they might also be good spooned over some salad greens, with the pan juices as a dressing (although that one might need a little salt), and a glass of white wine.  Lots of options on this one!

Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Chard and Tomato Skillet Toss

Sometimes I start dinner by figuring out what the heck I have in my cupboard.  (Usually I’m a decent planner, but sometimes . . . )  So the other night I knew I had to use that giant bunch of chard I’d bought, before it went bad.  I’d had various plans for it, but hadn’t settled on anything, part of the problem being that I didn’t really know how it would taste, plus most of the recipes started out by BLANCHING the stuff.  I’m of the opinion that I don’t generally want to cook my food before I, you know, COOK MY FOOD.  (I don’t blanch spinach for the same reason.)

But I had some onions from the Market (as always – my kitchen is not complete without 5 or 7 onions lurking somewhere), and canned tomatoes (not so much local, but at least they were organic).  So I went to town.  Note below that I did NOT throw away my chard stems.  I found a couple of recipes that used them, so I stuck them in the fridge for the weekend.  I’ll let you know what happens.  🙂

Ingredients:
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch Swiss chard, any color, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained*
Salt and pepper, to taste
a TINY TINY TINY sprinkle of nutmeg

The Recipe:
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, and get to work chopping chard while they cook.  Give them a shove around the pan once in a while to keep them from burning.  (If they look a little unhappy, just lower the heat.)

When the onions are soft, but not brown, add the chard.  Toss it around until it’s all well mixed, and the chard starts to wilt a little.  Now (this is KEY), lower the heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan.  Let it sit there for about 2 minutes – you just want the chard to cook without losing all the moisture in the pan.

Take the lid off and give it all another stir.  Add the canned tomatoes and mix together.  Taste, and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Add the nutmeg (don’t forget: TINY TINY TINY sprinkle) and heat the whole thing until it’s nice and hot. 

If you like, you can serve this over polenta, or mix in some protein.   You could double the recipe for 4 serving-size portions.  You could also add some chicken broth and maybe another can of tomatoes to make soup.  Or you could do what I did and toss in about 8 oz of cooked whole-wheat pasta. 

*If you use pasta, don’t drain the tomatoes.  You’ll want the extra juice to coat the pasta when you toss it.

How did it go?
Man, sometimes you hit the jackpot.  This was AMAZING!  I figured it would be ok, but it definitely became more than the sum of its parts.  And if you use pasta, definitely go with whole-wheat.  Not because I’m a health nut (HAHAHAHAHA), but because the toothsome-ness of the chard and tomatoes cries out for something equally substantial to stand up to them.  White pasta just isn’t going to cut it here.

The chard was a little fiddly to chop, but you can buy it pre-chopped at most grocery stores now.  You’ll need a fairly large package (though not a warehouse-store-sized one) to get enough vegetables, just FYI.  But even if you decide to chop your own, it’s TOTALLY worth it.  Seriously.

Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Fennel and Onion Saute (Pasta Optional)

I had decided a while back to see what happened when I sauteed fennel and onion together.  I knew the onion would get sweeter, and assumed the fennel would too, but I wasn’t 100% sure.  As it turned out, it was pretty good.  It would have been great, but I experimented with some saffron, only to realize that I don’t actually LIKE saffron all that much.  So then I had to compensate with some other strong tastes.  *shrug*  Live and learn!  It was still pretty good, just not GREAT.  But I’d make it again, especially leaving out the saffron!

Ingredients:
2-3 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can anchovies, drained
pinch red pepper flakes
2 small onions, sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced
1 tsp capers
1 tsp caper brine
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
juice from 1/2 lemon OR splash of white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste – optional
Fresh, grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling – optional
(NO pinch of saffron.  ;))

The Recipe:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil.  Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper and allow to heat. Mash the anchovies into a sauce with the back of a spoon (it’ll work, I swear).  Add the sliced onions and fennel, and toss well.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring periodically.  When the fennel and onions are nice and soft, add the remaining ingredients and heat through. 

If you want to add substance to the meal, cook some whole-wheat pasta and toss the whole shebang together.  Taste, add salt and pepper if you want it (you might not – anchovies are salty and the red pepper will give it some kick), and some Parmesan cheese on top.

How Did it Go?
All things considered, it went well.  I originally added a teeny bit of saffron right after the onions and fennel.  It took me several minutes to figure out what the weird taste was in my vegetables!  (In my defense, I wasn’t sure if it was the fennel, since I’d never cooked fennel that way.  But it wasn’t.)  At that point I figured I was going to need some strong tastes to counter the saffron, which is why there are capers and mustard in this.  But honestly, even with the saffron, it was pretty good – one of those things where it isn’t to MY taste, but I can tell that other people would like it.  So if you know you like saffron, by all means leave it in, and leave out the capers and brine.  (I think the mustard would still work.)

I did end up tossing it with some pasta just to give it some heft and stretch it out a few days, but you could also increase the overall quantities and just eat a big pile of veggies.  Sausages would be good sliced into this too (the German or Italian kind, not the breakfast kind).  And it was really pretty to look at, with the pale green of the fennel against the creamy color of the onions.  Sort of monochromatic, which I like, but if you hate that sort of thing, just use red onions for more color.  😉

Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Broccoli Salad

I bought some broccoli at the Market a week or so ago.  I thought about it before I bought it, simply because I’m a little broccoli-ed out.  Broccoli was always my go-to frozen veggie, and I’ve been known (on lazy nights) to zap an entire bag of frozen broccoli, douse it with lemon juice, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and a little olive oil, and call it dinner.  I have consumed more than my fair share of broccoli over the years, ok? But I figured, what the heck, this is fresh (and abundant at the moment), and I already know I like it.  Nothing to lose, right?  Right.  Unfortunately, I was still too lazy to feel like actually, you know, COOKING it.  So, salad!!

Ingredients
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs each: lemon juice, white wine vinegar (you can use 2 Tbs of just one of those, but it’s better with both)
1/2 tsp each: dried oregano, dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper (Yes, it’s a lot, but not as much as you think it will be.)
2 Tbs half-and-half
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 broccoli crowns, chopped
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
4 oz salami, sliced (optional)

The Recipe
In a large bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, basil, pepper and half-and-half.  Whisk in the mayonnaise until everything is smooth.

Add the broccoli, cheddar and salami and toss until everything is evenly coated.  (It’s not a lot of dressing; just enough to flavor it.  If you like a lot of dressing, add another 1/4 cup of mayo and another Tbs of half-and-half.)

How did it go?
YUM.  That’s how it went.  (And well-deserved after that beef-and-pasta stuff.)  It makes a great main dish with the cheese and salami, and because the broccoli was fresh, it stayed crunchy (even coated in dressing) for a couple of days.  I also noticed that it was better after a few hours in the fridge: the garlic sort of mellowed in the lemon juice and vinegar.  (If you’re serving it right away, you might want cut the garlic by half.)  I ate this for lunch most of the week and was sad when it was gone.

Recipes From the Farmers’ Market: Cheesy Pasta Casserole

I started out calling this “Beefy Pasta Casserole” because that sounded more like something out of the 1950s (more on why that was appropriate below), but decided that name just lent itself to too many inappropriate jokes.  (Bet you wish you could un-read that sentence!)

I made this initially because I was at a restaurant the other day and ordered a burger.  But in an effort to avoid Sad Cow, I left the meat off.  (The server was WAY confused: “We have a bean patty!”  “No thanks, I don’t care for them.  I’m good with no meat.”  “So . . . do you want chicken?”  “No, I’m good.”  “But . . . wait . . . you just want the vegetables????”  Alllllllrighty, then.)  So I ended up with a hamburger bun, buttered and – er – “garlicked,” piled with grilled red onions, swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms.

YOU GUYS.  It was AMAZING.  So I decided to try and recreate it at home, minus the “burger” construct, but using pastured beef (aka Happy Cow).

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Tbs butter
3 medium onions, sliced thinly
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sugar
8 oz. Swiss cheese
1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves minced garlic
2 10-oz. packages sliced mushrooms
2 Tbs flour
1 cup half-and-half or milk

The Recipe:
Combine the butter, onions, baking soda and sugar (to carmelize) as directed here.  Layer them across the bottom of a glass baking dish. 

In the same pan you cooked the onions in, cook the beef.  Layer that over the onions.  Sprinkle about half the cheese on top.

Back in the pan, sautee some garlic until fragrant.  Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the flour, and cook for another 5 minutes or so.  Add the milk or half-and-half and cook until the sauce thickens.  Pour that over the top of the baking dish, top with the remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

How Did it Go?
YOU GUYS.  It did NOT GO WELL.  I’d added the half-and-half to try and thicken it up at the end, but no dice.  I essentially baked a sauce.  So I tried to fix it.  I added 8 oz. penne pasta, cooked, and stirred the whole thing together and rebaked it.

YOU GUYS.  It still did NOT GO WELL.  Frankly, it tasted like the 1950s, and NOT in a good way.  You know that kind of indefinable, beefy-but-bland-but-rich sort of taste that you get when you cook from an old cookbook?  It tasted like THAT. 

Now honestly, once I added the pasta, it wasn’t THAT BAD.  It wasn’t inedible, and in fact I did eat most of it over the course of several lunches and dinners (mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to throw out $7-a-pound ground beef) – but it honestly wasn’t GOOD, either.  Plus, it was a pain to fix, what with all the cooking in the pan and transferring to a baking dish and cooking and transferring and cooking and . . . you get it. 

I thought about not publishing this at all, but I’d already decided that I’d publish the bad ones, too.  Mostly I decided to do that so that I wasn’t throwing things out and re-cooking just for this blog (because my wallet canNOT handle that – see above re: $7-a-pound).

On the plus side, I think I figured out how to make something that still has all the garlicky, buttery, onion-y, mushroom-y goodness of that sandwich, but doesn’t involve tasting like the 1950s.  (Hint: I’m starting with a salad next time.)  I’ll post it eventually.  😉

Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Carmelized Onion Quiche

Well.  Technically this isn’t QUITE a quiche, because I didn’t bake it in a crust, and because it’s overloaded with cheese and milk.  I like it better that way, though – so it’s almost custardy and gooey with cheese.  Doesn’t hold together as well as a standard quiche, but holy cow, it’s GOOD.  This is a fun one to bust out for casual parties, because it always goes over well and although the onions are a little fiddly, there’s nothing hard here.

Ingredients:
1 lb onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs butter
8 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella
8 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 oz. diced ham (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

The Recipe:
For the onions:
Melt the butter in a large pan.  Add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Really, this takes a while, but it’s not hard, and you don’t need to babysit it much.  Just check in and give them a shove around the pan from time to time.)  Once you see brown bits on the bottom, increase the heat to high and stir until they’re brown and soft.  (Add a splash of water if they start to burn.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a large baking dish, and spread the onions across the bottom.  Add the diced ham, if you’re using it, along with about half the Swiss and half the Mozzarella (you don’t need to be exact – just eyeball it).

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until they’re combined.  Add the half-and-half, nutmeg and the salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture over the cheese and onions in the pan.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese across the top of the eggs.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Take the foil off and bake for 10 minutes more.  Be aware that this won’t ever quite set, and that’s good: you want that custardy consistency.  But keep an eye on the top, and when it starts to get nice and brown, pull it out of the oven.  This is good hot or at room temperature, but unlike regular quiche, I wouldn’t serve it cold.  The texture would get weird.

How did it go?
Well, since I have to admit that I’ve been making variations on this recipe forever, I guess that’s an indication that’s it works well!  Honestly, this is prime comfort food.  And if the amount of cheese and half-and-half horrifies you (clearly I am not a fat-phobe, for better or worse), you can safely reduce both by about half.  That will give you a dish with the consistency more like a “regular” quiche, and one that you can serve cold.  Raw cheese works fine, but I wouldn’t use raw milk.  As I discovered with the Kale Gratin, raw milk tends to separate into curds and whey in the oven – yeeecchh.