Simon & Garfunkle Chicken

My cousins, Joe & Tammy, fed us this dinner about 20 years ago. It is great! We usually skip the sauce but sometimes serve regular gravy along with the chicken. Make sure you use a large enough baking dish to accommodate all the vegetables.

1 4 1/2 lb. chicken
salt
2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1 1/2 tsp. dried ground or rubbed sage
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
Freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
5 Tbsp. olive oil
4 small russet potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
8 large shallots
4 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
minced parsley

Sauce:
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into 6 tabs

Preheat oven to 425F

Combine rosemary, sage, thyme and pepper in a small bowl.

Rub chicken with salt. Using half the herb mixture, rub some of the herb mixture inside the chicken and put 1 bay leaf in the cavity. Rub 2 tbsp. oil on chicken and rub on herb mixture. Place in large baking pan.

Surround chicken with potatoes, shallots and carrots. Toss with remaining oil and herb mixture. Add remaining bay leaf.

Bake chicken upside down for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over and continue cooking until done, approximately 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours total. Toss vegetables occasionally. Temperature in the joint where the leg attaches to the body should be 185F. Remove from oven, rest 15 minutes. Keep warm if preparing sauce.
Sprinkle vegetables with minced parsley if not preparing sauce.

Sauce:
Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup and degrease. Add enough stock to measure 2 cups.

Add vinegar to baking pan and bring to boil over medium heat; scraping up any browned bits. Boil until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add stock mixture and boil until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in parsley. Serve sauce over vegetables and chicken.

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Beef Chili

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, March 2003.

I also use this recipe for a vegetarian chili in which I substitute additional beans and diced vegies (such as zucchini, mushrooms, and/or carrots) for the beef.

This recipe is best made ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld.

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 bell pepper (red or green), finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
cayenne pepper to taste (1/4 tsp. is too much for my eldest daughter)
1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
1 can / 2 cups cooked kidney beans (16 ounces) (pick your favorite bean, I also like, white beans, black beans and pinto beans here)
1 28-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown. Add the spices and cook a few minutes until darkened and aromatic.

Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the meat. Stir and break up the pieces until no longer pink. The meat should just begin to brown.

Add the beans, tomatoes and salt; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for about an hour. Stir occasionally. Remove the cover and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally until the chili is dark and slightly thickened. If the chili begins to stick, add a little water.

Serve with lime wedges and condiments.

Here is what may family likes with chili and tacos:

Shredded lettuce
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour Cream
Sour cream blended with a chipotle pepper
Diced avocado
sliced scallions/diced red onion
Finely chopped cilantro leaves (ok, I’m the one who likes this)
Sliced pickled jalenpenos
Hot sauce to spice it up for those who want it hotter

Pickled Peppers

From “Ball Blue Book, The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing

Peppers

Pickled Peppers

4 quarts hot peppers
1 1/2 cups salt
4 quarts water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
2 cloves garlic
10 cups vinegar
2 cups water

Wear rubber gloves to prevent burning hands.

Cut two small slits in each pepper. Dissolve salt in 4 quarts of water. Pour over peppers and let stand 12-18 hours in a cool place. (If you want to add carrots or pearl onions, add the cleaned and prepared vegetables to the peppers 1 hour before the salting is complete.)

Drain, rinse and dry thoroughly.

Combine remaining ingredients; simmer 15 minutes. Remove garlic. Keep boiling.

Pack peppers into hot jars. Pour boiling brine over peppers, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Add caps.

Process 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Yield about 8 pints.

This recipe calls for long peppers, if you use cherry peppers like I did, it is easier to use wide mouth jars.

Canning Notes:
Home canning is great but serious business. My mom canned everything but I am seldom that brave. Foods that are acidic or packed in an acid brine may be processed in a hot water bath. All other foods must by pressure canned. Be sure to be familiar with canning processes before undertaking canning for the first time. Bacteria love to grow.

Wash jars thoroughly. Place, inverted jars in a large pan with water to heat and steam jars for about 10 minutes. Keep the jars in the water bath until ready to use.

Wipe the top of the jar with a clean towel dipped into the boiling water before adding the lids. A dirty rim will not seal.

Dip the lids & rings into the hot water before placing on the jar. Use only new lids.

Don’t skip the hot water bath, the water must cover the top of the jars by at least an inch. A deep stock pot or canning pot is needed.

Falafel

My thanks to “The Shiksa in the Kitchen” blog for the courage to make falafel. Her blog has pictures and step by step directions, so in my tradition here are the barest minimum of steps. My ingredients vary only slightly.

This amount makes too much for two people. But we like leftovers.

1/2 lb. chickpeas, soaked for 12 hours in enough water to cover by 3 inches (yes, this requires planning ahead)
1 small onion
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup parsley
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. flour (chickpea flour or white)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground corriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
black pepper
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. paprika
Oil with a high smoke point for frying

Soak the chickpeas 12 hours. Drain. Place the chickpeas, cilantro and parsley in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a coarse paste forms.

Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.

Form into small balls about the size of a golf ball and fry in 2 inches of hot oil until golden brown.

Serve in pita bread with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onion, cucumbers. Top with tahini sauce or tzatziki

Tahini Sauce
In a small bowl stir together 2 tbsp. tahini, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and enough water to make a thin sauce. Add salt to taste.

Blueberry Mini Cakes

I copied this from our old neighbor, Chris. I know it came from a respectable magazine so my lack of sufficient instructions comes from my laziness in copying. Sigh.

These look like muffins but as the name says, are really cake. Yummy.

Streusel Topping
3 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
Mix flour, sugar & cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter until fine crumbles. Set aside.

Cake:
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup whole blueberries

Preheat oven to 375F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and beat well to blend. Mix in milk. Stir in flour, by hand, until just blended.

Drop a spoonful of the batter into each muffin cup. Add 2-3 blueberries and top with another teaspoon of batter. Be careful not to overfill the cups. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over the cakes.

Bake 22 minutes

I think this will make 24 cupcakes. My original directions say to use mini-muffin pans. No quantities. It makes much more than 24 mini-muffins.

Mussels in Butter and Wine

From Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2 cups white wine
1/2 cup shallots, minced
8 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
6 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. thyme
pepper

1 bag mussels, about 2 pounds, scrubbed and de-bearded

2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

In a large pan with a tight fitting lid, add the wine, shallots, herbs and butter. Boil 3 minutes.

Add the mussels, cover the pot and steam until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Remove the mussels as they open and place on a large bowl/plate. Pour the sauce over when done. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

You may strain the sauce through cheesecloth to get rid of any sand, we just pour it over.

Scoop some sauce into little bowls for dipping the mussels in as you eat them to rinse off any remaining grit.