A full weekend of cooking (15, 16, 17, 18, 19)

When I write it all out, I cooked entirely too much over the weekend. However, a person’s got to eat. And apparently I get to write all about it, too.

Thursday: I marinated some chicken for (#15) Spicy Yogurt Chicken. I wasn’t thrilled with this, but I honestly think it had more to do with my own preparation of it, rather than a flaw with the recipe. The spicy yogurt was tasty (and spicy) enough. It had saffron, which I’m always excited to get an opportunity to use. And the leftover yogurt was pretty after I properly heated it (bye-bye, chicken!) and mixed in some green beans.

My flaws? I didn’t thaw the chicken before I tossed it in the yogurt before work, and it was out of those 3-pound bags of chicken, which I hadn’t used in quite a while. I turned on the oven as soon as I got home from work, but I forgot to turn it up to the proper temperature (425) from my default (350), so it took extra time once I realized I had to turn it up. And I prefer my chicken to be seared on the outside, which generally means I broil it – and this didn’t get that texture that I like because I didn’t cook it how I should have.

Alex asked me if I got a picture while we were eating. “Meh,” I responded.

*****

Friday’s dinner was (#16) Chicken Pot Pie. This was excellent. I had some chicken thighs in the crockpot with an onion, 4 carrots, and two stalks of celery. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make with this chicken soup, but I settled on pot pie because I’ve made chicken and dumplings many times in the past – it’s not (nearly as) exciting, and we were having a friend over for dinner.

So I used the sauce recipe from the Bride and Groom Cookbook (a wedding gift – and I made the food alone), and my usual pie crust from my 2000 Betty Crocker Cookbook. I deboned the chicken thighs, and tossed it and all the vegetables in a Corningware dish, along with a bag of frozen peas. Then I made a roux (very exciting), added some cream (which I actually happened to have), and added the chicken stock. I was so involved with the process of making the sauce and trying to thicken it that I almost forgot to season it! Luckily, I remembered after I had poured half of it in the casserole. Prior to that, my pie crust almost didn’t come together because I was flustered and had left out the additional tablespoon of margarine I should have put in. (I got to work that into the dough by hand.) I only used a top crust.

Chicken Pot Pie

Eventually, everything came together, and it was delicious. I’ll probably eventually make it again, and when I do, I’ll add the potatoes that I should have put in originally.

*****

My task for Saturday was (#17) French bread for this month’s theme dinner. The theme this time? Soup. I got to try 6 different soups, plus chocolate fondue and a raspberry dessert soup, without making any of them. I had wanted to make two breads, but I didn’t really have the energy on Saturday.

French bread was fun. I used the standard recipe out of my red cookbook. You start off by making a sponge with about half the flour, the yeast, and some water. Cover it and let sit until bubbly, then add the rest of the flour to make a dough. Knead and let rise, then shape into loaves. Then put the loaves in the fridge for at least 4 hours to let the flavor develop. Then pull them out of the fridge to let them come to room temperature/rise. Mist them with water (for a good crust), then bake with a pan of water in the oven to create steam.

French Bread, fresh from the oven

I wasn’t too impressed with the way they looked before I baked them (they never look like the pictures in the book), but they did have a nice crust and a good texture on the inside. I was able to cut it very evenly. I wish I could have bread like that every day, but aside from bakers, who has 10 hours to devote to breadmaking a day? That said, while it was a process, it really wasn’t all that hard to do – it was just several steps with long periods of waiting. I wish I could make this again, but I can’t count the same recipe twice. I’ll have to find another (perhaps similar) bread recipe to try.

*****

I really wanted a sweet breakfast on Sunday morning, but by the time Alex got up, he didn’t want to go anywhere. I couldn’t stand the thought of having leftovers (it was actually lunchtime already), and didn’t feel like making that many pancakes since I couldn’t halve the recipe. So I found the recipe for (#18) the German Apple Pancake, aka a Dutch Baby.

German Apple Pancake

I’ve seen recipes like this before, and always had avoided it because of the high egg content, but today I was so desperate to have breakfast that I didn’t look at it very closely. It wasn’t until I’d already cracked open 3 eggs that I noticed the negligible flour content (a quarter cup). I made it anyway, and during the 30 minutes it baked I came up with a backup plan for myself (cinnamon toast with some apples on the side).  My skillet which I baked the “pancake” in was very cold to start, so I think that’s why it didn’t puff up like it should have. I tried one bite, and gave it all over to Alex. It’s the only time, in 6 and a half years, that I’ve ever made eggs for Alex. I certainly didn’t mean to! The apples were delicious, although a bit too sweet for my taste since I had Jonathan apples instead of Granny Smith.

Sunday was the day I had chosen to roast a chicken. I’d wanted to do this for a few weeks now, and you can’t really roast a chicken during the week if you’d like to eat at any decent hour (which is about 10 minutes after I get home from work). I decided to make (#19) Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Garlic Paste, which I had printed out a while ago. It included (5 measly) juniper berries, which I’d had for a while but hadn’t used. Rosemary and garlic are two of my favorite seasonings, so I really enjoyed this paste. I rubbed it under the skin of the chicken as well as on top, although I certainly didn’t debone or butterfly the chicken like the recipe said to.

I wasn’t quite sure the right temperature at which to roast a chicken – I think the only other time I’d done it was a year ago. I really liked Alton Brown’s treatment of turkey, which involved cooking it hot for a little while, and then cooking it low. I found a Julia Child recipe that did the same thing – bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then at 350 until done. I didn’t want to overcook it, so I set my meat thermometer (which I ADORE) for 160, since I knew it would rise to 165 (at least) after pulling it from the oven.

What a pretty chicken
Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Garlic Paste

It was a very pretty chicken. [Edit: I made this again, using a tablespoon of dried rosemary in place of fresh. It works well, too! I really enjoyed the garlic and rosemary, and the chicken was peppery, with a woodsy hint of pine from the juniper berries.] I whole-heartedly approved. And I sure hope I approve of the stock that it becomes in a few days, too!

5 thoughts on “A full weekend of cooking (15, 16, 17, 18, 19)”

  1. One way to make making bread easier (so you do it more often) is to make a batch of dough, knead it, then put it in the fridge. If you use a dough hook on a mixer, you could let this work while you’re getting ready in the morning, or make it the night before. After 8-16 hours, you just need to pull it out, shape it, let it proof a while, then bake. Make 2x the recipe, and the second batch of bread (made in the next day or two) will taste even better as the yeast have time to make more flavorful compounds that get absorbed into the dough.

    1. I will have to try that. When you double the recipe, you can’t just double the yeast though, can you? (I don’t think you can just halve the amount if you halve the recipe, either.)

      1. Especially with longer rise times (like when retarded in the fridge), amount of inital yeast measure is not really important. For a double batch, you’d be fine with a single measure of yeast, double would work faster, 1.5x is probably the sweet spot for economy & speed.

    2. Actually, the problem I have with bread is that even if I let it rise when I get home, I still can’t eat it quite as soon as I’d like to because of the proofing. I suppose I should readjust my thinking, though – if I’m not eating until 6:30 or so anyway because I’m making dinner, that’s probably enough time to proof and bake some fresh bread too.

  2. We made this chicken on Sunday night (didn’t butterfly it either), the leftovers went into a pot pie last night, and the bones into the stock pot (broth is now frozen awaiting use). Loved the idea of rubbing the paste under the skin and the flavors that came from it. I wish I could give you some clippings from our rosemary bushes out front – they are getting quite large!

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