Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chicken, Chicken, Chicken!

Chicken is definitely one of my favorite ingredients for thrifty cooking.  I don't make it that often though simply because between a half of a pig and 2/3 of a deer, we have plenty of meat around.  I finally made one last week and we ate it all week.  A free-range organic chicken from a health food store costs around 18 or so for a 6 lb chicken.  You can get them cheaper direct from the producer, but I called mine and he wasn't going to have any ready for a few weeks.  That may seem like a lot of money, and it is.  But I can feed our whole family off of that chicken for a week!  The first night we had roasted chicken with salad and something else (sorry, it has slipped my mind, kind of like the picture that was supposed to be here - oops).  I had to thaw the chicken out in the fridge for a few days first, but then I rinsed it, and took out the innards (heart, liver, neck, etc).  I put cut up a few cloves of garlic and finely chopped some fresh herbs from my garden (oregano, thyme and parsley) and mixed it all with 1/4 cup of softened butter.  Then I rubbed the chicken all over with this mixture and put it into a dutch oven.  I left the dutch oven uncovered and put it into a 400 degree oven for half an hour. Then I turned the temperature down to 275 and put the cover on.  We were gone all day - I put it in the oven around noon.  We got back around six.  I would have liked to have taken it out earlier, but that is the way it goes sometimes.  The meat was super tender and falling off of the bone.  

Anyway, the next night we had Cold Chicken with Potatoes and Anchovies.  This is a recipe that I got out of Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall's 'River Cottage Meat Book'.  I know that I have mentioned before that he is one of my favorite chefs and cookbook authors. He has a whole chapter on Meat Thrift.  He lists a bunch of recipes for leftover meats.  This one was awesome.  I tried a bunch of new ones this time, just for something different. 

Cold Chicken with Potatoes and Anchovies

This worked out well because I used the rest of the tin of anchovies in the next recipe.

About 2 cups of roughly chopped chicken. 
1/2-1 tin of anchovies, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 winter onion/scallion
Lemon juice
3 medium potatoes, Hugh suggests a waxy potato, like Pink Fir Apple, but I just used some Russets and it worked out just fine.
a handful of parsley, chopped

Combine first five ingredients with about a TBL of olive oil, ideally from the anchovy tin, but regular olive oil works.  Let the flavors blend while you boil the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork.  Slice while they are still warm and toss with the chicken mixture and the chopped parsley.  This was a hit at my house!

The next night was Chicken with Olives, another of Fearnley-Whittenstalls brilliant leftover creations.  This one came out of 'The River Cottage Cookbook'.  He lists his top three leftover chicken recipes.  Yay!  This one Jake wasn't so wild about but the girls loved.  

Chicken and Olive Fry-up

I used about 2 cups of roughly chopped chicken, but you could use a little less or a little more. 
2 cloves of garlic, minced
12 pitted green olives, chopped
A small onion, chopped or sliced
A couple of anchovies, chopped - I always have a few tins of anchovies in my cupboard.  They aren't exactly local, but they add so much flavor, and you don't need many of them to make a big difference.

In a large frying pan saute all ingredients together with some of the oil from the anchovy tin, or a little olive oil, until chicken is beginning to brown and crisp.  Add cooked pasta and toss together. I used a pound of fetuccine, but any kind of pasta would work.  Hugh also suggests cooked Puy lentils, but I felt like pasta.  He also says that he likes to serve it with a dressed tomato salad and that it can work as a cold dish too.  My children liked it both hot and cold.

The next night was Tartiflette.  Another Hugh creation.  This is one of my regular dishes.  It is extremely versatile.  I have used bacon, venison, pork and of course chicken in it.  I used up the last of the onions that I bought at the farmer's market last fall on this, so my onions had better start growing! 


About 2 cups of leftover chicken, roughly chopped
2 onions, sliced
2 medium potatoes, about 1 1/4 lbs.
Scant 2/3 cup of heavy cream
About 1/2 lb of cheese - I usually use 1/2 medium cheddar, 1/2 mozzarella, sliced

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add

The last thing that I made was good old vichyssoise.  This time I used chicken stock instead of pork stock. 

Happy cooking!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch

I picked strawberries with the girls this last week and we had a lot of fun.  We ate a whole bunch fresh, but I wanted to make something with them too.  I used a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch, and I only changed it a little bit.  I used 1/2 a cup of butter instead of a whole cup.  I use organic butter, and that isn't cheap, plus I knew that 1/2 a cup would work since this recipe is very similar to my Apple Crisp recipe. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010


You may remember that I said I was going to make a chilled soup with the stock from some pork chop bones.  I came across a number of yummy cold soup recipes, but I decided on a recipe for vichyssoise.  I changed only a couple of things about this recipe.  I used pork stock instead of chicken stock - and I had just enough.  And I used sour cream instead of heavy cream at the end, because it was what I had on hand.  My picky five year-old pronounced it her FAVORITE soup.  Much to my surprise.    I know this picture leaves a lot to be desired, but I was half-way through when I remembered I needed to take a picture.  Just the thing for a hot day. My daughters sipped it out of big mugs the next day for lunch - it cooled them right down.

PS - I have run across this soup from time to time, but I still had to look up how to pronounce it - vee - see - schwaz!  Or you could just call it Cold Potato and Leek soup.  :o)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I forgot to tell you about my morels!  A few weekends ago we went mushroom hunting with the WI Mycological Society.  We had looked for morels before, but never had success.  We wanted to go on this foray just to see someone find a morel so we could look at it in place and figure out exactly what they looked like in situ.  We actually ended up finding some ourselves!  Hooray!

We were so excited!  We are probably going to spend every morel season for the rest of our lives looking for morels.  Beginners luck, I am sure, but so exciting!

Anyway, we took them home and fried them up with some butter.  Absolutely wonderful!!!  I looked through a whole bunch of recipes first, but decided to go with simple for our first time.

The top mushroom is a Pheasant Back.  It is edible, but not supposed to be that great.  We didn't end up eating it.  The morels were too wonderful to compete with.  Always make SURE that you know what you are eating.  That is one of the reasons that I joined the mycological society.  I have some great guidebooks, but that is no replacement for someone who actually KNOWS.  I can hardly wait for morel season next year!

Dining alfresco

I love eating outside, and in the spring, summer and fall we eat outside all of the time.  I was planning a picnic, but we ended up eating these at home, which was probably a good thing considering how messy they are.  I used this recipe for BBQ ribs and it was very easy and very, very good.  I didn't even change the recipe for once.   

We ate hamburgers outside the other day too....

With a tall cool glass of a strawberry drink I mixed up for something different.  All I did was mix some strawberry syrup with water until I liked the taste.  Super simple.

We had friends over a couple of nights ago and made pork chops on the grill.  We are having a heat wave in Wisconsin right now, and it is too hot to cook inside.  I kept it simple and just put salt and pepper on both sides of the pork chops.  Then my husband, the grill master, put them over indirect heat for 20 minutes and about 4 minutes per side over direct heat.  I also cut up some russet potatoes and put them in a foil pouch with some sea salt and olive oil.  Those went on the grill over direct heat, for about 30 minutes.  Added some popovers and salad.  Good friends, good food, very wonderful time. 

The next night we cut up the remaining pork chops and made sandwiches with the leftover hamburger buns.  Potatoes again.  Nice cool meal for a beautiful night. 
I am going to use the pork chop bones for a stock.  I just need to use the burner on the side of the grill and it rained today.  That was really nice for cooling things down a bit, but it was still too hot to cook outside.  Tomorrow.  I think that I will make some kind of cold soup.  Hmmm....

Venison Round

Once again, I didn't take a picture of the first night's meal.  But here is what I did:  I thawed out a venison round roast and cut it into pieces about 1 1/2 inches thick.  I trimmed off all of the silverskin and excess fat and then put them between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Then I pounded the crap out of them with a meat mallet, dredged them in flour and put them in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  I cooked a few minutes per side until medium-well done.  I had never tried this with venison before and I think that I would do things a little differently next time.  I think that I would dredge the meat in a beaten egg first and then in cracker crumbs instead of flour - just to give it a bit more texture.  Then I think that I would only cook them to medium-rare.  I served them with salad and bread.  They were pretty good, but like I said - I will do things differently next time. 

Next night - I cut up the venison and stir-fried it with garlic and veggies.  I started the rice first, and then chopped up all of the vegetables.  I used kale, beet greens and winter onions.  I chopped the garlic very fine and kept it separate.  Then I heated about 2 tsp of olive oil in my wok (you could use a frying pan instead) and added just the garlic. 

I stir-fried the garlic for about 30 seconds before adding the vegetables.  After these had wilted I added the meat - I added it last because I didn't want it to overcook.  When it was heated though I served it on a bed of rice, with roasted asparagus and popovers.


This is one of many recipes that I have used for popovers.  This is the one that I grew up with and it is always a hit.


1 cup bread flour - this is one recipe that I haven't gotten to work with wheat flour yet - but I will keep trying.
1 cup milk
2 TBL salad oil - I use a bit more than this.
2 TBL sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs

Mix everything and beat really well with an electric mixer (very, very well - you want to get air in there!).  Pour into a very well greased popover pan (I used a muffin pan for years - it works fine - but only use eight of the cups).  Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

I like to put butter and jam on mine, but they are great plain too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tis the season - for Rhubarb and Asparagus!

So, once again this post is late.  I wrote it on the 12th and took a picture of the rhubarb streusel, but I didn't get a picture of roasted asparagus until the 18th (even though we ate it almost every night), didn't post it until now, and now asparagus season is over.  Although, if you cut back your stalks later in the year, they will produce some new delicious shoots for you - don't overtax the plant though.  

We were recently visiting family and Jake's aunt had made this great rhubarb streusel.  I just had to have the recipe.  Now that the rhubarb in my garden is finally big enough to pick I am going to give it a try!

Rhubarb Streusel     (double for 9x13 pan)

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 cups rhubarb (cut-up) - I added a bit more rhubarb - I had picked too much from the garden.

Beat eggs and sugar, add rhubarb.  Mix and put in greased 8x8 pan ( I must confess that I didn't grease the pan and it turned out fine).

Mix like pie crust and sprinkle over rhubarb
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I think that next time I am going to reduce the sugar a little.  I added more rhubarb, and since I didn't have much experience with the recipe I added the amount of sugar recommended, but it was still a bit sweet - I thought.  I will keep you posted.

The other thing which is coming up in my garden, which I have mentioned before, is asparagus.  Please, please, please buy your asparagus fresh.  The stuff from the store is almost totally worthless.  I am not just saying that because I grew up on a produce farm and we grew asparagus.  I crave it in the spring and since I haven't been able to find it around here and my garden cannot keep up with the demand I recently caved and bought some from the store.  Yuck.  Ick, and Phooey.  It was tough, starting to fern out and generally awful.  Find a farmer near you who grows it.  Granted, not all farmers are equal, but I bet it will be better than store bought!  Since I neglected to post a photo of roasted asparagus in my previous post, I will do so now.  Happy eating!