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Maple-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies 4

Posted on September 06, 2010 by crankycheryl

I have a predilection for inappropriate competitiveness that dovetails beautifully with culinary contests.  And when our fair’s Whoopie Pie competition ended up on a day I knew I’d have free, there was little chance of me missing it.

I’d been there earlier in the week, and had scoped out the scene of the King Arthur Flour-sponsored contests.  I hit the computer for a whoopie pie research and recipe.  I liked the concept, suggested by some, that the whoopie pie was sort of a working class macaron, a lovely little confection that’s always seemed entirely too fussy for me to consider making.

Knowing that my talents lie more in the region of presentation and flavor than technical baking, I decided that interesting flavors were the way to go.  I love the combo of maple and peanut butter, and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Given that KAF was the sponsor, I based my recipe on theirs.  My first try, using butter for the fat, was a failure in that the cookies ran together into flat pancakes.

Luckily, I had time for a second try, when I used organic unhydrogenated shortening to much better, more cookie-shaped, results.

I got to the fair to discover that I was the 10th of 12 contestants to enter the competition.   All I could see of the competitors’ was chocolate, and there’s no way to judge a whoopie pie from its appearance, so I sat down to wait and watch the judges with other Ladies Who Enter Fair Contests.  Together we tried to determine what the panel’s body language meant, and was it bad or good if your plate’s tag was in a particular position and other such arcane things.

Soon enough the agony was over and I didn’t win a ribbon.  When I tried the winners’ entries, I had to agree: a great whoopie pie is cakey and fairly thick; my cookies had great flavor, but were distinctly cookie-ish.   So it’s back to research to find a soft and cakey non-chocolate whoopie pie recipe, which doesn’t sound like too bad a winter’s hobby.  And in the meantime, here’s a really delicious maple-peanut butter cookie recipe for your fall enjoyment.

Maple-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
About 9 sandwiches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

1.  Whisk together:

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2.  In a separate bowl, whip until very light:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or natural shortening, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

When very fluffy and well combined, add in:

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla

3.  Add dry mixture to wet in three parts, and stir just until combined.

4.  Drop batter by the 1/4 cup onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake.

5.  Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

6.  While cookies are cooling, whip together until combined and fluffy:

  • 1/4 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 T. smooth peanut butter

Pipe or spread onto one cookie and top with another and serve.

(And those too-flat cookies from the first batch?  I layered them with sliced local plums and mascarpone cheese and brought it to a friends for dinner after weighting it down and letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Good – like some kind of simple trifle or riff on tiramisu.  I would have doused it with sherry or port but thought I’d leave off the alcohol as if my kids would eat it anyway.  Right.)

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Curses! Greek Veggie Burgers 4

Posted on May 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

I don’t know what is happening to me, but I seem to be turning into Cursing Mommy.

We were coming home from Costco the other day, merging onto the highway.  There were three cars driving in our direction, and two of them merged into the passing lane so we could merge in.   I started to get up to speed and steer into the right-hand lane, but saw that car #3 had not yielded.  This is clearly annoying, but really not an unexpectedly big deal, right?

So what happened next is a little confusing.  A word came out of my mouth that I didn’t really know was in my vocabulary, a word so far beyond polite conversation that I can’t write it here.  It was a word that had Z. in an explosion of delight there in  the backseat:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  What’s a dushbag Mommy?!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  DUSHBAG, DUSHBAG, DUSHBAG!  Mommy said duuuuuushbag.

Proud I was not.

Clearly I have no excuse for what came out of my mouth as I was reading about the recall of all those children’s products and realized I had given the boys the tainted medicine.  Upset, of course, but was it really necessary to provoke E. to ask:

Son of a what, Mommy?

It’s a good thing I’ve got some nice mellow dinners like this one to get myself on an even keel.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Greek Veggie Burgers
yield: about 12

Puree together in a food processor, leaving it just a bit chunky for texture

  • 1 1/2 cups steamed and drained kale or spinach
  • 1/2 c. chopped sauteed mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chick peas, drained

Place spinach mixture in bowl and stir in:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (3/4 c. dry, soaked in 1 1/4 c. boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T. tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg’s
  • 1 t. chopped garlic
  • 1 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried

Form into patties, then place on baking sheet (give a little space around each, but they won’t expand like baked goods so don’t worry too much).  Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and bake for 20 more, until nicely browned.  Serve in whatever burger-y way you like.

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Cross-Posting from Red Wagon Plants: 0

Posted on March 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

Inspired by Julie’s visit and emboldened by the sunshine, I went out to clear away some of the mess from last year.  I was rewarded with a peek at what’s coming up … just in time for a cold snap this weekend.

3-20-10 Dakin Bfast 001

There was the wintergreen, staying as bright as it’s supposed to.

3-20-10 Dakin Bfast 002

The first shoots of the soon-to-be inedible sorrel I mentioned last week.  I’m planning to harvest its first leaves for salad before I pull it out to replace with currant bushes.

3-20-10 Dakin Bfast 006

Oh, and look – some perky German thyme from RWP last year.  This is making a roast chicken more and more likely this weekend.

And as I was looking at the bare dirt, I had the sudden thought that I have no idea what is going on with it.  Julie, should I get it tested?  What should I do next to prep it?

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Green Wraps & Chocolate Guinness Cake for St. Patrick’s Day 0

Posted on March 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

Filed under the category of “Things My Children Ought to Have Liked but Instead Were the Cause of Great Consternation and Caterwauling” are these wraps that were yummy, simple, adorable, healthy, made with nearly all local ingredients, and a fun twist on St. Patrick’s Day. Dangit.

I had meant to make Green Eggs & Ham for Dr. Seuss’s birthday earlier this month but never seemed to have all the ingredients at the same time.  Then fresh spinach arrived from a friend’s CSA share, and off we went.

Green Egg Wraps with Bacon
Makes about 6 wraps

Place in a blender and puree the heck out of:

  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, well washed, stems removed
  • 2 eggs

Pour the egg-spinach mixture into a medium bowl and beat in:

  • 4 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste

In the meantime, cook:

  • 8 strips of bacon (a couple of extra never hurt)

And warm up:

  • 4 or 6 whole grain wraps

I do both of these in one easy, lazy step by placing the bacon on a rack on a broiler pan that fits in my convection oven and broiling it for 10 or so minutes, until it’s as crispy as we like.  At the same time, I place the wraps on top of the oven.  They end up just warm enough and I’m not fussing with extra dishes or labor.

While the bacon’s going, cook the eggs in a skillet until set.

Into each warm wrap, place:

  • 1 slice of cheese (we used Muenster)
  • 1 piece of bacon
  • a couple scoops of green eggs
  • favorite add-ins: tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, hot sauce, jalapenos, whatever you like.

Then wrap ’em up and serve.

For dessert we made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.  It was great, and I even lucked out and found some cream cheese frosting in the freezer to thaw to put on the top.

However, I would note that when a recipe calls for a 9″ springform pan, it really and truly doesn’t mean an 8″ springform pan.  Not that that’s a mistake you would ever make.

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Cross-Posting from Red Wagon Plants: The Garden Season Starts 0

Posted on March 16, 2010 by crankycheryl

[I’m excited to be doing some blogging over at Red Wagon Plants’ great site for the season.  I’ll cross-post here so you can read along with this season’s kitchen garden adventures if you like.]

Oh, my garden is perfect in March – all imagined blue blossoms and bursting red tomatoes and lush with shiny leaves.  I can picture it so well in these days before reality has arrived.  But still, I’m excited for the real thing, the dramas and surprises and smells and harvest.  And I’m looking forward to sharing my amateur garden adventures here on the Red Wagon Plants blog this season.

Last week Julie from Red Wagon came over to talk about our plans, and we took a stroll around my Burlington condo, looking at the remnants of last year’s garden that haven’t yet been cleaned and gotten ready for the season.  It isn’t pretty, but there’s all that March imagination – and there was Julie with her excitement and amazing knowledge.

opt-legs-shadow

We talked about my goals, and looked at the space.  Within a general theme of edible landscaping, I want to grow:

  • Beautiful plants that we can enjoy through the season.
  • More of the things I never get enough of through our CSA share (especially tomatoes).
  • Plants that will help with my gift-giving for the holidays.  Last year I made some crazy nasturtium liqueur and I want to do more with cordials from the garden.  Plus I’m aspiring to make hot sauce to share.

I showed Julie my challenging spots – the north-facing edge that faces our neighbors’ units where I grew red-veined sorrel last year (pretty leaves, but unwieldy and inedible).  Julie suggested currants, which will tolerate lots of shade, plus give us flowers and fruit.

opt-north

We looked at the north-east corner where I don’t have anything except one gooseberry bush planted.  Julie wondered about making this shady spot a garden for pollinators – bees, birds and butterflies.  She pulled out her laptop and pulled up a long list of plants that could be in the shade.  We agreed on:

The longest side of my house faces east, which means a short day of direct light.  Last year, I had grown leeks (never got bigger than scallions), chard, kale, and other greens there, along with a big patch of nasturtiums.  After talking about what I wanted, we settled on:

  • Rhubarb (I’ve been interested in rhubarb for a while but because I have young children, I’ve been scared of the leaves that I had always heard were terribly toxic.  Last year I learned that it would take 10 lbs. of leaves to reach actual lethal levels, so I now can relax and allow it in the garden.)
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Bronze fennel
  • Bulb fennel
  • Chives
  • Chervil
  • Meadow rue

We walked around to the south, where we talked about taking advantage of the heat and light and growing pots of tomatoes and vines along a south-west wall, and putting in a container with:

opt-south-wall

So our plans are big, and the plants are growing.  Can’t wait to get started.

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Malty, Gingery, Orangey Truffles 7

Posted on January 02, 2010 by crankycheryl

Truffles are, I think, one of three or four perfect desserts.  They’re not at all fussy to make, but they are always a treat:  luscious, full of flavor, and small enough to really savor.   Perfect for a New Year’s Day brunch.

After a few minutes standing and doing eeny-meeny-miny-mo at the bulk section of our co-op, I decided to make these with malt-sweetened chocolate.  It’s much less sweet, and has a nicely malted flavor.  After all the excess of the season, it was a nice reprieve, and wasn’t even rejected by the wee ones.

By the way, all the pictures except for the one at left were taken by my friend Cynthea.  My lust for a DSLR camera is now officially at full tilt.

 

Malty, Gingery, Orange-y Truffles
Heavily adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe
Yield: about 30

1.  Using your microwave, or in a bowl set over simmering water, melt together:

  • 10 oz. malt-sweetened dark chocolate chips, or bars chopped fine (You can probably find this at your local health food store or in the health food section of your large supermarket.  If you can’t find it, go ahead and use regular dark chocolate, but you will then have Unmalty, Gingery, Orange-y Truffles.)
  • 3 T. unsalted butter

When softened, stir and set aside.

2.  In a small heavy saucepan, heat:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 T. light corn syrup

until simmering.  Remove from heat and whisk in:

  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 t. orange blossom water

Pour over chocolate and butter mixture, and let stand for a minute or two.  Beat together well with a rubber spatula, until very smooth.

3.  Spread chocolate mixture into a pie plate or glass pan.  Refrigerate for an hour.

4.  Once chocolate has set, scoop out nascent truffles with the larger side of a melon baller.  (Don’t worry – they’re not supposed to be perfect little spheres at this point.)   Place a piece of parchment on a plate or cookie sheet, and refrigerate for half an hour.  (This timing matters if you want to make them immediately.  Longer than half an hour and they’ll be too hard to work, necessitating some time at room temperature for malleability.)

5.  While the truffles are becoming workable, chop:

  • 1/4 c. crystallized ginger

into 1/4″ dice and put aside.

6.  In a pie plate, mix together:

  • 1/2 c. raw sugar
  • 1/2 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 pinch dried orange peel
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 t. malt powder (if you use sugar-sweetened chocolate)

7.  When the chocolate is set but workable, take each one and place a piece of ginger in its little indentation and then roll in your hands until it becomes something of a ball.

8.  Roll in the sugar mixture firmly, so that all sides are covered.  Repeat for all.  A few minutes of chilling won’t hurt, though they’re best at room temperature.  (Do you know why this is always true of chocolate, by the way?  It’s because it melts at just about the temperature of the human body, and so you get its peak flavor if it goes onto your tongue warmer rather than cooler.)

 

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Peppermint S’more Cookies 1

Posted on December 23, 2009 by crankycheryl

You know, I’m not trying to make a food-blog career of self-deprecation.  I know that if you tell people that you’re a complete loser often enough, they will tend to start to believe you.

So I’m not a complete loser, no.   I’m creative and funny and have a great sense of flavors and textures and sense of culinary adventure.

But I do frequently find my food ambitions a bit at odds with my native talents.

To wit: my plans for Peppermint S’more cookies for gift giving.  Now I have perfectly wonderful cookies I make every year.  They’re a crowd pleaser that always have people looking at me with love in their eyes and requests for the recipe.  I could have made them.  Everyone would have been happy!   But no:  this was to be the year of the homemade s’mores.

So I made the graham crackers from the envy-inducing Smitten Kitchen.

And marshmallows from Alton Brown:

This was where I first erred.  I should have made the graham crackers and let them cool completely before getting started with the marshmallows.  Instead it was sort of a simultaneous production.

While I was saying something on the order of, “Oh fudge,” I began to temper the chocolate.  As far as I can tell, the process is a carefully guarded secret that its keepers obscure with bizarre instructions involving precise temperatures, exact percentages of chopped chocolate, spreading on marble slabs and the like.  Here’s how it started in my make-shift double-boiler:

It was around this time that I realized the marshmallow mix was done and was about to begin to set.  So with further muttering, I scraped the fluff out of the borrowed stand mixer and spread it into its pan to firm up.  After a few hours, I came back, sliced it into squares and placed them on top of the cooled grahams.

I thought I had done what I was supposed to with the chocolate, so I used a pastry brush to spread it on the cookies.  I placed it on the rack to cool just a little and then sprinkled some with chopped candy cane.  (Not all of them, oh mint-hating Mom, don’t worry.)  They looked good!  Like this:

And I packed them away in coffee bags (perfect for cookies).  Then a couple of days later, leopard spots began appearing in the chocolate, meaning I think that the heat had gone too high in the tempering process.  And when I ate one of the extras, the marshmallows that had started so billowy and nice had a sort of al dente quality.  Dangit.  But still:  homemade marshmallow!  Homemade graham crackers!  Made for you with love!

And next year?  Back to the cookies.

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Saffron Chick Pea Snack Mix with Chile Pepitas, Currants and Crispy Onions 0

Posted on December 11, 2009 by crankycheryl

We’re off to our first holiday party tonight and I wanted to bring something that was delicious and vegetarian and nut-free.  And interesting.  And special without being ridiculously expensive.  And do I hear healthy?  Yes, I think I do.  And it doesn’t have to be kid-friendly because the boys are staying home with a sitter (don’t feel too bad – their day started with a pancake breakfast with Santa and continue with getting a tree and then making cookies).

Rummaging through the cupboards yielded some saffron and a couple bags of dried chick peas and a couple of onions.  So I picked up some pumpkin seeds and currants and got to work.

Please do allow yourself hours upon hours to make this.  It’s nearly all hands-off time, but do account for it in your planning and just use the time to scrape the dust off the menorah, or explain again why your children can’t open their presents today, or ponder whether a hearty “Happy Holidays Friends!” on your Facebook page is an adequate holiday card.

Saffron Chick Pea Snack Mix with Chile Pepitas and Currants
Serves 6 (probably)

Cook:

  • 1 bag dried chick peas (really – just go ahead and use the dried ones, which are cheaper, healthier, and easy enough to get ready to use)

Boil for two minutes, then cook in a covered heavy duty pot over low heat until soft, about 2 hours, depending on how fresh they are.  (It’s also easy to do in a crockpot on low overnight if you’ve got one … which I allegedly do but can’t find the insert for.  If it’s at your house please tell me.)

Drain well, then lightly blot with a kitchen towel.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500.

Slice thickly:

  • 2 red or yellow onions

Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, then spread on a baking sheet.  Place in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, turning a couple of times.  You want these to get crispy, but not completely charred, so keep an eye.  When done, remove, cool, crumble into large-ish pieces and set aside.

When the chickpeas are nearly cooked, mix together well in a small bowl:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 generous pinch saffron

 

Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to crush the saffron threads, and continue crushing and stirring until the oil turns bright yellow.  Mix into  the chick peas and combine well until they’re a uniform color.  Spread onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, and put into the oven.  Bake until browned and crunchy, which will take at least 2 hours.   When they’re done (don’t hurry them), take them out, and set aside.

While the chick peas are cooking, combine:

  • 1 c. pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 – 1 t. cayenne or chipotle powder (make ’em nice and hot)
  • 1 T. olive oil

 

Spread on small baking tray.  I toasted mine in the toaster oven on the 2nd highest setting.   Or you could put them in the oven you’re already heating for 10 minutes or so, until they’re nice and browned.  Set aside.

 

Turn oven down to 200.  Combine pepitas and chickpeas with:

  • 1 c.  dried currants
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. dried powdered orange peel or lemon peel
  • dash – 1/2 t. chipotle or cayenne powder (optional)
  • reserved onions

Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Voila!   Yummy, interesting, vegan, gluten free, low-carb, spicy and a little sweet.  Enjoy.

 

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Southwest Sweet Potato Soup (Vegan) 0

Posted on December 09, 2009 by crankycheryl

Oh, the winter has arrived and I’ve stopped home for a quick warm lunch before I go back out into the snow to pick up the boys.  Here’s what I’ll be finishing the last bowl of before I run off, fingers crossed that we get at least a sled run or two in before the snow turns to rain.

This was inspired by a most-delicious soup I recently had.  It’s quick to make if you’ve got the leftover sweet potatoes, good and good for you.    And this being the season of delicious temptations, this version is so virtuous that you should just feel free to eat the 2nd (7th, 12th) mini-quiche or pig in a blanket.

Vary the amounts of the milk and broth as you add them, depending on how moist your sweet potatoes are, and – 0f course – the taste and consistency you want.

Vegan Southwest Sweet Potato Soup
4 dinner servings

  • 4 cups leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 c. soy (or rice, or almond) milk, or whole milk or cream if you’re not concerned with this being vegan
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. chipotle powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 t. powdered lemon peel
  • 1 – 2 c. vegetarian broth (I used the Better than Bouillion ersatz beef variety)

A child of mine eating something with a vegetable in it. Your mileage may vary.

 

Blend everything in your food processor, blender, immersion blender, or favorite pureeing device until very smooth.  Heat until bubbling and serve.  Some crackers would be nice, as is a sprinkle of chipotle.

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Braised Chicken with Olivia’s Stuffing 2

Posted on November 25, 2009 by crankycheryl

I’ve missed you, CrankyReader.  I was out of it there with all the working I was doing, and then last week crankyGreg said something to the effect of:

There’s something glorbity smorking about the mammary cache of the Tostito smookity-do, so we’ll have to transmogrify existing posts over to Bluehost, where we’ve already registered the dominoes and have 72 hours.

I nodded, sliding across the kitchen to reach Z., who was trying to duck as his brother was evoking piercing whines by shooting imaginary lightning bolts.  I tried to ignore, but quickly found myself shrieking, “You – the lightning bolts aren’t real!! You’re okay!  And you – your brother was not put on Planet Earth for you to whomp every time you feel bored!  And stop taking my kitchen tools!  And where the heck are your socks?”

 

Yep.  And then everything broke and I whined about it a lot.  And as a bonus I have tremendous blogger guilt, since it’s the day before Thanksgiving and I haven’t been able to post about the first product I’ve been sent for review in time for it to mean something.

 

I will admit that I have a big soft spot for Olivia’s Croutons.   They’re from adorable Charlotte, Vermont, and are a darned good product.  Once I spotted them in a Wild Oats in south Florida and squealed so loudly the woman next to me dropped her seitan.  (Ok.  I’m making up that last bit.  But I did get kind of excited to see them there in the tropical heat.)  When I got an email from someone at the p.r. firm who’s now handling their marketing, it was easy to accept some of their stuffing to review.

 

(Total disclosure: I’ve had coffee and baked goods and sometimes network with Nicole from pmg.)

 

If you’ve been reading along with me, you know that I believe that the job of cooking is primarily to use what you’ve got.  In this spirit, it’s hard to imagine ever buying croutons or stuffing, since there’s always leftover bread needing to become something or other.

 

But if I were to turn into someone who bought such things, Olivia’s would get my business.   And for testing purposes, I was delighted to have an excuse to make something from Molly Stevens‘s excellent “All About Braising.” And what a delight to find that I somehow managed to have nearly all the ingredients around for:

Braised Whole Chicken with Bread Stuffing and Bacon
Adapted from Molly Stevens’s All About Braising, a cookbook you should own if you don’t already
Serves 6

The Stuffing:

In a large dutch oven, heat over medium heat:

  • 4 T. unsalted butter, or mild-flavored vegetable oil

When rippling or foaming, add:

  • 1 1/2 c. finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2/3 c. finely chopped inner celery stalk, including leaves

Cook for a few minutes, or until nearly translucent, then place in a large bowl and mix in with your hands:

  • 2/3 c. finely chopped good ham (didn’t have it: used turkey bacon)
  • 1/3 c. pine nuts
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 bag Olivia’s Stuffing, or 5 cups stale mild white bread with crusts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Set bowl aside.
The Chicken:

Preheat oven to 325.

Rinse and pat dry:

  • 1 6 – 7 lb. roasting chicken, trussed

Then sprinkle generously with:

  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

In the bottom of a large flame-proof dutch oven or large pot, heat:

  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. olive oil

Add and cook until the onion is lightly translucent and golden spots appear on all vegetables:

  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

With heat on medium-low, add and bring to a gentle boil:

  • 2 t. mixed fresh herbs – I used sage and thyme
  • 3 strips of lemon zest, removed from fresh lemon with peeler or zester
  • 1/2 c. dry wine (Stevens calls for white but the only thing I had in the fridge was an off-dry riesling so I went with a red)
  • 1 c. chicken stock

Place a couple of cups of the reserved stuffing inside the chicken, being sure to leave plenty of room for it to expand.  Place the chicken in the pot, and cover, including the legs, with:

 

  • 5 strips lean bacon (wished I still had some VT Smoke & Cure around, but was forced to use more turkey bacon since that’s what I had)

Bring back to a gentle boil, cover, and then place in the oven.

In the meantime, take the remaining stuffing and place it in a casserole dish for which you have a cover, pour:

  • 1 1/2 c. chicken stock over the top, and place it in the oven.

Cook chicken for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer reaches 170 when it pierces the thigh.  Remove chicken and stuffing from oven.  Using a carving fork and knife, or two wooden spoons, or your giant waterproof oven mitts, remove chicken from the pot and place on a rimmed cookie or half sheet pan.  Raise the oven temperature to 425.  Place the chicken back in the oven for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.  (If you like crusty stuffing, you can scoop that onto the cooking sheet too, but cover it with foil or parchment after 10 minutes so you don’t burn it.)

In the meantime, remove any herb stalks and then puree the cooking liquid with your blender, immersion blender, or food processor, being careful of steam and splatters.  (I left in the lemon peel, Stevens removes it.  You decide whether you want it in or out.)  Pour the resulting liquid back into the pot and place over a low heat until barely boiling.  Stir in:

  • 1/4 c. heavy cream, light cream, or half-&-half

and turn down heat.  Stir until thickened.  Keep warm.

Remove chicken (and stuffing) from oven and let sit for 15 or 20 minutes so the juices settle to make for better and more beautiful carving.  To serve, I placed right on top of baby spinach leaves, which got all nicely wilted and kind of pleasantly oily and were otherwise delightful.

 

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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