Saturday, November 12, 2011

Research tells us fourteen out of any ten individuals likes chocolate. ~Sandra Boynton

Just a short post of interest here...I was talking to a friend at work about fancy restaurants and he sent me this link to the most spectacular dessert presentation I've ever seen.  There are some other videos posted from this restaurant if you like what you see here...

I don't like gourmet cooking or "this" cooking or "that" cooking. I like good cooking. ~James Beard

My mother's praised chicken.

I really like Nigella Lawson.  I like her shows and I have a couple of her books.  I like her relaxed approach to food - she clearly enjoys shopping, cooking, entertaining.  I saw an episode of Nigella Kitchen where she prepared this chicken and I ran right away to my copy of the book to find the recipe.  She calls it "praised" as in a combo of "poached" and "braised" - and I love both of those methods!

First I infused a little olive oil with garlic.  I love this little 6 inch pan for that.

Then I browned my bird in the garlic oil.  She has you sort of flatten out the bird first.

 Leeks, carrots, and celery all prepped.

Everybody into the tub...

Add some vermouth and water...

Here's how I do Bouquet Garni if I don't have fresh herbs.  TIP:  I usually don't measure in cooking (but I do for baking).  So how I 'measure' is to pour the herb or spice into the lid and judge the amount from there.

Those are some parsley stems in there.

Bring to bubble, turn it down low, cover and set a timer for 1.5 or 2 hours.

There's a little bit of active time for this, but it's all in the beginning.  This dish would give you time to relax for a while before dinner, or you'd have time to do another dish that might need more attention.

This chicken is so yummy!  I love doing a whole chicken - my husband gets his white meat and I get my dark so everyone's happy.  Then after dinner I pull all the remaining meat off of the bones.  If I've just roasted it, I will put the extra meat into a container and refrigerate it and make something different the next day with it.  But in this case, I just shredded it and put it back into the water, which has now become a nice broth and is therefore now a nice soup with nice veggies (I removed the parsley stems).  I also put my chicken bones into the freezer, when I get two birds in there, I make stock.


Friday, November 4, 2011

There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love pears, and have heard about poaching them in wine, and finally decided to try it.

Gingerbread with Poached Pears
For the poached pears.
Simple ingredients....could've used another pear or two.

This was not vegan - there was an egg and yogurt in the gingerbread, but otherwise vegetarian friendly.

I don't drink a lot, so I sometimes buy my wine in these little four-packs.  I used two of them for this recipe.  First I brought to a boil the wine, sugar, orange zest and a cinnamon stick, and stirred to dissolve the sugar.  Then I lowered to a simmer and let that set for five minutes.  Then I put in the pears (peeled, halved, and cored) and let them simmer for 20 minutes.  After that, I took them off heat and let them steep and cool for a couple of hours while I made the gingerbread.

These are just in.  After a while in the wine, they darkened up.

Then I got to work on the gingerbread.  

All ingredients present and accounted for...
except a shy egg which escaped its photo op.

That's a LOT of ginger!
I was a little alarmed at how much fresh ginger this recipe called for - 1/3 cup of sliced ginger!

It gets minced in a little food processor.  This much would be kind of a pain to mince by hand.

The ginger and some brown sugar gets cooked a while...

Add some molasses...

Then you assemble the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry in another.  I should have put them in the reversed sized bowls, as you then sift the dry into the wet.

Add the cooked mixture...

Pour into pan (already sprayed with no-stick spray).

Viola!  Passed the clean toothpick test!

I've never made gingerbread before.  This was good, and the ginger in it was just right - not too heavy as I had anticipated.  I guess as it cooks and bakes it mellows a bit?  However, this was not as 'rich' a gingerbread as I have ever had - I guess owing to its appearance in a 'healthy' cookbook.  I think I will try a richer version next time...

I will DEFINITELY be poaching more pears!  Those were delicious!



p.s.  I had a couple of the half-pears left over and served them up in my little Le Creuset mini-pie dishes.  They were a perfect size for this!