Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Roast Chicken of 2010

This December 31st, The Mighty Bay Leaf and Wife Of Mighty Bay Leaf are foregoing the festivities, ball-drops and what-have-you, and kicking it at home with the dog and a Yankee Magazine recipe magazine, Christmas courtesy of Sister Of Mighty Bay Leaf.

Behold modified recipes! Rather than give you an ingredient list, I'll just all-caps what you need:

Our main course was a roast CHICKEN, a dish that became a favorite of ours in 2010. At the behest of the good folks at Yankee, we plopped the BIRD straight onto our VEGETABLES, rather than on a rack, though we swapped out turnips and beets, both anathema to yours truly, for multi-colored CARROTS and a giant PARSNIP that looked more like a mandrake root out of the film adaptation of The Chamber of SECRETS. Don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

So you roughly chop some CELERY, and the aforementioned vegetables, and place them in the roasting pan with some ORANGE wedges and ROSEMARY stalks, as well as a dab of VEGETABLE STOCK. Don't forget to SALT and PEPPER that action too!

Meanwhile, you're going to stuff your 4 lb chicken with orange slices and rosemary stalks. "There's rosemary coming out of that chicken's butt!" If you complete this step properly, your own significant other will exclaim this just as you're about to carve it. Oh, and as a side note--if you have access to a local, free-range chicken, The Mighty Bay Leaf highly recommends it.

Rub your chicken down with some OLIVE OIL, and salt and pepper liberally. If you're more into genetically enhanced, factory-farm produced chicken-animals, you may season it conservatively. Just a little political humor for you. Ahem.

Now, the timing for a 4 lb roast chicken is 30 minutes at 450 degrees, then 40 minutes at 350. The Mighty Bay Leaf is not above admitting to you that he cooked his bird upside down, which, don't do. If you like crispy skin, this might not be the proper timing/temperature for you. But I will say that the meat will be perfectly cooked and very, very juicy. So there.

Remove your chicken to the cutting board or wherever you like to cut 'er up. Remove the orange and rosemary from the roasting pan, and strain the stock into a small, hot saucepan. Whisk in a couple tablespoons of BUTTER and a spoonful of FLOUR, which of course becomes HEAVEN, I mean GRAVY. Provided you peeled your vegetables before you roasted them, serve them as a side!

For a second side, we modified another Yankee recipe, and made Curried Butternut Squash. This can be similarly accomplished by peeling and cubing a BUTTERNUT SQUASH, and finely chopping a small SPANISH ONION. You cook these in some VEGETABLE OIL until the onion is translucent (contemporary cookbooks love the shit out of the word "translucent"), and the squash is a little soft. Then you add a BAY LEAF (KAPOW!), CURRY POWDER (we had a little Madras curry powder that we swiped from my moms), CUMIN, and powdered GINGER. Stir it around 'til you're happy with it, then add some VEGETABLE STOCK, but not too much, cover it with a lid, and let it simmer for a while. Then discard the bay leaf, add some RAISINS and toasted WALNUTS (I forget what kind of nut Yankee recommended, but I just went with walnuts instead 'cause we had 'em). Yankee Magazine also said to add cooked rice to this, which, no. Don't do that. But when you're finished, feel free to serve with a sprinkling of SCALLIONS.

When you're finished, you'll be that much closer to the New Year, which in your case will probably mean 2012!

Behold the finished plate, and a begging dog!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Mighty Bay Leaf

This post isn't so much a recipe as it is an appreciation of that most humble of ingredients, the bay leaf. That shelf inhabitant that everyone has, and every recipe calls for, but few can guess what it's good for besides exercising the eyes once it's time to fish them out.

However, this year I've come to love the bay leaf as an ingredient of faith. I can't always pick out its flavor but I trust that it's doing something. This might make me a rube, but there are plenty of other things that do too, so no biggie.

Anyway, if you're skeptical or curious as to what exactly a bay leaf or two can do, throw one or two or twelve in the water next time you're boiling pasta, and eat a few plain noodles before dressing them up further. Subtle, but delicious.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leftover Adventures, Issue No. 1

You will need to have leftover:

Swiss cheese
Cheddar cheese
Heavy cream
Half and half

You will also need:

Chohula chili garlic hot sauce (seriously)
Noodles of some sort
Salt and pepper
Chicken stock

So.... you've got lots of stuff leftover in your fridge from other recipes and who knows when or how you'll get to use them next? I do I do! But forget about measurements here, we're going to wing it.

1. Chop a medium spanish onion and saute in... a lot of butter. A lot of butter is important. At first I just used a little butter, and then it all went away into the onions! I needed more butter. So will you.

2. The reason you need more butter is because you're making a roux. Or something damn close. Take a few spoonfuls of flour and sprinkle them into your onionsandbutter. See? The butter soaks up all the flour and you get a nice little paste-wad/ball of onions.

3. Here's where I effed up for the first time. But feel free to make the same mistakes because it all worked out in the end. I added roughly 2/5 of one of those tiny containers of heavy cream, and began to thin out the rouxball over medium heat. It was still incredibly thick. So I added the same amount of half-and-half. It became thinner glue, but glue nonetheless, and there was no room for cheese. So...

4. I had a small carton of chicken stock. I added this. This thinned it out way too much. I fretted. I sprinkled some nutmeg and hot sauce in there to console myself. Then I began stirring in cubed ham, swiss and cheddar cheese. The cheese slowly melted, but the sauce was still more like soup.

5. So I added 7/8 of a box of dried pasta straight into the pan. And stirred, and stirred, and stirred. I kept it on low heat, with a lid on. And prayed that it wouldn't take 5 hours to cook the noodles. But it didn't, and it was great!

This isn't your grandmother's macaroni and cheese, but only because she's on a low-fat, kosher diet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cardamom Dinner Rolls

Cardamom Dinner Rolls
adapted from Martha Stewart's website (gasp!)

The Mighty Bay Leaf generally prefers not to bake. Measurements are scary. Chemistry = blah. I messed this Martha Stewart recipe up real quick and had to run to the store on Christmas Eve to get more butter. But behold! Like the Star of Bethlehem, these glossy dinner rolls pictured on the right are LEGIT, actual dinner rolls that I made all by myself. It's a good thang.

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • So.... yeast. Neat. You just shake it onto the warm water in a bowl and wait for five minutes, 'til it stinks and foams.

    Next, you mix all of the..... oh screw it. Just click the link to Martha's recipe and add cardamom to the dry mixture. Also, you can sprinkle cardamom on top of the rolls after the egg wash, just before baking. Next time, I'd even sprinkle a little sugar.

    The recipe says this yields 30, but I got 29 from it because I'm not exact and also because THAT'S HOW I ROLL.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Shrimp Pizza

    You're gonna need:

    1 medium spanish onion
    Some minced garlic
    Red pepper flakes
    1/2 lb cooked shrimp
    1 fresh plum tomato
    Pecorino romano cheese
    Fresh cilantro
    Salt & pepper
    1 pizza shell or homemade pizza dough
    Olive oil

    1. Saute spanish onions in olive oil, with minced garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.

    2. When onion is just about done, throw in 1/2 lb of chopped, cooked shrimp.

    3. Spread this deliciousness on your pizza shell (not going to name any brands here, but you know the one).

    4. Slice one plum tomato and PUT IT ON.

    5. Grate some pecorino romano cheese and PUT IT ON.

    6. Chop up some fresh cilantro and PUT IT ON.

    7. Grind some black pepper RIGHT ON.

    Oven at 450, cook for 11 minutes.

    Hot damn.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Mustard/Horseradish Sausages w/ Roasted Carrots & Polenta

    You will need:

    Four sausages (ours were mustard/horseradish sausages, about 1.5 lb total)
    1 medium yellow onion
    1 medium purple carrot
    1 medium yellow carrot
    brown sugar
    vegetable stock
    chicken stock
    cheddar cheese
    salt & pepper
    polenta (one of those neato little polenta logs)
    olive oil
    hot sauce
    brown mustard
    1/2 + 1/2

    Okay. So........

    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop your peeled onion and carrots. Toss them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and arrange on foiled baking sheet. Where does one get purple and yellow carrots? Damn if I know. We got lucky and found them at a local co-op. I think purple makes carrots taste better. Roast these things for 20 minutes.

    In the meantime, melt 1 TBSP of butter in a small saucepan at medium heat. Cube your polenta log, and add to saucepan with a bit of vegetable stock. Or chicken stock. Whatever. You're going to be eating sausage anyway, but you might have a carton of vegetable stock already open in the fridge so DON'T WASTE IT. When the polenta starts to soften with the heat, mash it with... a masher. Stir in a little 1/2 + 1/2, and some more stock to thin it out if too much liquid boils off. Turning down the heat helps with this as well. Also, cube up a wee bit of sharp cheddar cheese and throw this in there too. Stir occasionally on low heat. Don't forget a little bit of hot sauce if you please. I like "Cholula", the chili garlic variety.

    Also in the meantime, in a large pot, melt another TBSP of butter. Then add your sausages and a little stock. Let these cook and brown a little, with the lid on. Once they're cooked through, the carrots and onion should be done roasting. Take these out and add them to the pot. Add some more stock, a spoonful of brown mustard, and a pinch of brown sugar. Stir it up!

    I served this dish by putting the polenta at the bottom of the bowl, and ladling the sausages, vegetables, and broth on top.