Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Guacamole Song (with Recipe)

Okay, I'm breaking my own rule here because Guacamole really doesn't take long to make at all, but maybe if you count loading this video, writing down the ingredients, and *then* making the recipe, it will take long enough to qualify as something that takes "time to cook," even though there's no cooking involved. If you have dial-up, that's even better. Make sure you check out Rhett and Link's other videos, too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Potted Chicken: An Update!

We've really been enjoying potted chicken recently. Today, I'm making two chickens in my electric roaster and I've heaped it full of russet potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. While teaching 17-year-old Zach to make it today, I decided that I needed to update it a bit with the variations I've made.

For one thing, I've taken to rubbing the chicken with a rosemary spice rub before putting it in the pot. Secondly, I've adapted the way I do the lemons--I don't take the peels off. I've found that it's not only a royal pain, but it also makes it hard to use that wonderful golden goo that's leftover because there's too much lemon pulp in the goo. Also, because it's not in season, I'm omitting the fresh rosemary, and because I'm using the spice rub, I'm omitting the pepper and salt. Also, since oranges are inexpensive right now, I'm substituting some of the lemons with oranges.

Here's the variation:


Potted Chicken with Rosemary Spice Rub


1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. onion salt
1 Tbs. seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
1 Tbs. garlic salt
2 Tbs. paprika
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1 Tbs. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 tsp. cayenne

Combine all the ingredients and blend well.

1 locally-raised, free-range (preferably organic) roasting chicken
6-10 whole heads of garlic, rinsed, cut in half side-to-side (giving a cross-section look). Remove any loose papery skin, but leave heads as much intact as possible
2 large lemons
1 large orange
4 large onions, sliced
olive oil
heaps of baby carrots or cleaned carrots cut into small chunks
handfuls of chunked potatoes, either Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes

In a dutch oven, lay the sliced onions and 4 of the cut heads of garlic. Rub the spice rub all over the chicken, inside and out. Cut lemons and oranges in quarters (or eighths, depending on the size of the fruit). Stuff the chicken with the lemon and orange wedges, several more of the heads of garlic, more onion, and then sprinkle with spice rub.

Top the whole thing with as many heads of garlic and slices of onion as you like. Tuck as many carrots and potatoes as you would like or can fit around and on top of the chicken. Sprinkle with more a bit more spice rub. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake, covered, (I use the cast iron dutch over my mother-in-law got me last Christmas) in a 350 degree F oven for about 3 hours. The chicken will literally fall off of the bone. Dig the garlic heads out, scoop the buttery-soft garlic out of the skins and spread on the chicken or on pieces of crusty bread, like the No-Knead Rosemary Bread or Genovese Basil Bread. Serve the carrots and potatoes on the side. When you've finished the meal, separate the chicken from the bones and skin and use it later for delicious chicken salad. Transfer all of the garlic pulp, juices and soft onions to another container and use it for a stock base or a fabulous gravy for your next batch of redskin mashed potatoes.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How About You: What Are Your Favorite Pizza Toppings?

Last night, we had another one of our pizza-making marathons. 13-year-old Aleks made the crusts, I made the sauce, and everyone pitched in making a pizza.

Having a pizza night is a lot like opening gifts on Christmas morning. I peek into the oven, see that the pie is done, grab the tongs and ease the creation off of the pizza stone, and transfer it to our butcher block island where it's cut and served right from there. Each new pie holds surprises. Last night, Aleks made a buffalo chicken-ranch pizza with fresh sliced garlic and basil, frozen from our summer's bounty. Mine was a white pizza with lots of mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and minced garlic. There's always a combination of interesting flavors. We toss on marinaded artichokes, green olives and feta, or a simple garlic butter, basil, feta, kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Aleks loves to make a dipping sauce for the crust out of olive oil, salt, basil, italian seasonings and red pepper flakes.

What are your favorite pizza toppings? What's the most unconventional pizza you've ever made? If you've never made pizza from scratch, what's stopping you?

Can't wait to hear your responses!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Current Obsession: MacGourmet

Don't you love it when you're not even looking and a great tool falls right into your life? The other day I was searching for some killer writing software, and MacGourmet Deluxe politely waved to me from my Google Search window. Of course I had to go check it out. And since it was designed for Mac, I really had to check it out. And since there's a 20 session full-version free trial, I had to really, really check it out.

Downloading is easy. The learning curve is gentle. Within just a few minutes, with the help of Safari, I was importing recipes from Time to Cook as well as many of my other favorite food blogs.

This is a fabulous find for me because one of my life's goals is to collect all of my recipes in one place, create a cookbook, and give a copy to each of my five children. MacGourmet makes that very easy and even pretty fun.

From the Mariner website, creator of MacGourmet and MacGourment Deluxe, you can:

MacGourmet Deluxe, you can bring your recipe collection into the digital age and back to paper. • Build, print, and share your own cookbook from your recipe collection.

• Use the Mealplan feature to plan and organize meals. Since this is a Mac program, you can Sync your plans with iCal.

• Easily calculate the nutritional content of your recipes.

• Publish your recipes to your .mac account or to your web site.

• Manage your wine collection by recording notes about your favorite wines.

• Import recipes from your favorite online source.

• Create shopping lists from the Weekly Meal Planner or from one or more recipes.

• Store and manage all your cooking notes.

• Organize your collection with SmartLists.

• Plan a meal using the Cupboard find or Potluck find features.

There are a few things about the software that I don't care for, like the inability to customize the layout before creating PDF files, or to customize the preparation, course or categories lists (I'd like to add courses, equipment and categories) and the limited "help" files, but it's definitely miles above my current system of throwing my recipes in a ring binder or in a drawer in the kitchen. Plus, the "Clippings" feature, which allows you to go to any website, select the recipe and import it into the recipe editor, is simply killer and in itself is worth the $44.95 purchase price (you can only do five clippings per session with the trial version). This feature only works with Safari, Camino and Opera web browsers.

When I've entered all of my favorite recipes, I'll print them on cardstock, laminate them, and put them together with a single binder ring. They can even be color-coded according to category, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Kids' Recipes, etc. I have a few recipes like this from years ago and they've held up perfectly.

I also plan to create a cookbook which can then be sent to self-publishing services like Lulu, CreateSpace and CafePress and then given as gifts to friends and family.

If you have a Mac, you really must give MacGourmet Deluxe a try.