Cooking with Annie: Episode 8 – Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

To help stretch the groceries in the house, this meal turns into three meals with a couple of simple techniques.  The roast chicken is one meal.  The broth that gets made with the bones can become soup.  And any leftover meat can become a third meal.  I’ll share the broth and the leftover meal in future episodes, but for now, roast chicken is one of the simplest meals that we love to have over and over.

If you are in a hurry, butterfly or spatchcock the chicken by cutting the chicken through the breastbone and laying it flat on a baking sheet. It will reduce the cooking time by about 45 minutes.  The herbs in the variation are a classic blend, Herbs de Provence, but not always the same.  The ones I like to use are thyme, rosemary, basil, savory, and lavender buds.  Others I’ve seen added are fennel, marjoram, and mints.  Most grocery stores carry a pre-mixed version, so it’s not necessary to buy each herb individually.

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables
1 (4 1/2 pound) whole chicken
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus extra for the vegetables)
several grinds fresh black pepper (plus extra for the vegetables)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices (or 3 cups baby carrots)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub the chicken outside and inside with the paprika, salt, and pepper and place on a roasting pan with the onion, parsnips, and carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours or until the legs feel loose in the joint and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Whisk the mustard into the pan to make a pan sauce, adding a little water if needed to loosen the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Variations
Lemon Garlic Chicken
Follow the instructions above and stuff the chicken with one whole lemon cut in half and two heads of garlic. If butterflied, place the chicken on top of the lemon and garlic, then roast.
5-Herb Chicken
Follow the instructions above and add 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence to the paprika, salt, and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Hang in there!

Cooking with Annie: Episode 6 – Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Onion Omelette

Yesterday I spent the day outside in the light and warmth – listening to the birds and breathing fresh air.  While I was in the garden, walking wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of wood chips from the large pile out in the front yard to the walkways in and around the garden out back, I found myself repeating a mantra to myself.  As there is so much that is not within my control right now, my mind moved to all of the things of which I am in charge and do control.

I am in charge of the food I choose to eat.  I am responsible for how I move my body each day.  I can choose to be outside no matter what the weather.  I am the one who chooses what I buy or don’t buy.  I am the one who is in charge of how I treat my family, the kindnesses I offer others, the way I greet my fellow humans.  I can choose to wait before I speak.  I choose grace.  I choose intention.  I choose surrender.

The word surrender has a connection to the phrase, “I quit”.  But that’s not what I mean.  I surrender to the things I cannot change.  I surrender to peace – in my mind and in my space.  I surrender to something greater than myself.

And I felt better.  And continued to walk the heavy wheelbarrow of wood chips to the garden – creating new pathways and adding a layer of freshness to the already worn paths.  And I felt better.

Annie
safe, calm, kind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 2 – How to Use What You Have

I’m hearing a number of people talk about not being able to find one or more ingredients at the grocery store these days.  This makes menu planning, something I highly recommend for all sorts of efficiency reasons, difficult.  Does one still plan and then change the plan according to what is available?  Or does one go to the store without a plan and then create a weekly menu once the selections are made and purchased.  Well, I’d propose that both could be true. The question really becomes, HOW to be flexible and HOW to think creatively about what’s on hand.

This has always been true for those of us who have gardens or buy from a farmer’s market.  Sometimes certain ingredients are just not in season, in stock, or ready for harvest just yet.  Even with that, our current challenges are causing us to exercise our flexibility muscle even more than usual. In this latest video, I talk about what we picked up from our farmer this week and how I think about creating a menu around the fresh ingredients we were lucky enough to bring home.  Here’s a list of what we got and then some of what we ended up making through out the week.  While they aren’t recipes, per se, they are guidelines and ideas.  Have at ’em!

Large yellow carrots
Carrot Salad – Grate and toss with diced tomato, some radish micro greens, a minced green onion, some minced sorrel from the garden, evoo, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Sliced Carrots – Serve with preserved lemon hummus made with garbanzo beans.
Steamed Carrots – Toss with a little butter and fresh dill.

Baby Orange Carrots
Pan-roasted – Sear in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  The leftovers became a carrot, ginger, coconut soup.
Fresh – As a snack with dip or not.

Rutabaga
Mashed – Peel and cut into chunks just like for mashed potatoes.  When tender, drain the water and mash with a little butter and creme fraiche.  To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish and I was wrong to be so skeptical.  They were delicious.

Daikon Radish
Radish Salad – Grate and toss with garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, sesame oil, and tamari.
Radish Pickles – Slice thinly and toss with salt.  Let rest for at least 30 minutes and then add apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Greens
They all got sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper and then became a part of other meals.  I’ll often use greens in place of the carbohydrate at the meal.  So for example, if we are having lamb stew with mashed potatoes, I’d skip the potatoes and substitute the greens.

Pea Shoots
Pea Shoot and Quinoa Salad – Mix with dried blueberries, spiced pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and tangerine balsamic vinegar.

The list above is just an example of what could happen in your kitchen.  It was based entirely on my pantry and ingredients we already had on hand.  Yours might look completely different, but hopefully this gives you a starting point from which to begin creating in your own kitchen.

So what do you have in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with it?  What recipe do you want to make with an ingredient you can’t get right now?  Ask away!  I can help.

Annie
#staysafe, #becalm, #bekind

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake – In Honor of Maine Maple Syrup

This cake, like many delightful life events, came to me by accident.  You see, it’s maple syrup time here in Maine and many of our friends with maple trees are boiling their sap.  Their weekends are taken by all-day boils and then sometimes even staying up late to tend the wood fires.  They are surrounded by steam, wood smoke, and enveloped eventually with the ultimate reward of sweet maple syrup.

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake

We don’t have maple trees on our property, so this is not a family ritual for us, but to honor our friends and the heritage of Maine maple syrup, I wanted to create a cake without sugar and to replace it with maple syrup.  While I was at it, the idea of using coconut oil, a healthier oil than canola or vegetable oil nudged its way into my process.

This lovely number is delicious, if a tad less moist than the original cake.  I then conjured a glaze with a maple liqueur, given to me by a favorite Canadian guest, and the results were addictive.

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake
1 teaspoon salted butter and flour for the pan
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups grated zucchini; about 1 medium (or a portion of a huge one)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Glaze
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons Gélinotte or other maple liquor

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour one 9- x 13-inch pan. In a large bowl thoroughly mix the oil, maple syrup, zucchini, and vanilla extract. Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Glaze
Combine the butter, syrup, and liquor in a small bowl and while the cake is still warm, brush the top with the glaze mixture. It may seem like a lot at the beginning, but it will soak in (and be delicious). Cool in the pan and slice into 12 or 16 pieces.

Serves 12 to 16

 

 

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime

The other day someone asked me, “What do I do to cover up the smell of fish?  I like it, but sometimes it just tastes and smells too strong.”

Pause.  Beat.  “Ahhh, okay, how ‘bout let’s talk about how to buy fresh fish first.”  Because it shouldn’t smell fishy at all.  The adjectives and phrases that should be coming to mind are something in the vicinity of briny, salty, like the sea, like an ocean breeze that travels across the water picking up moisture and the scent of it’s inhabitants.  NOT, whew!, dang, this stinks!, but maybe I’ll eat it any way.

This is as true for the taste of fish as well as the smell.  It should feel silky on your tongue and almost melt in your mouth.   It should suggest of the sea, not hit you over the head with a low-tide mouthful.

To buy fish well, you must ask to smell it before you buy it.  (See the above for what it should smell like.)  You must also look at it.  You want pieces that are full, firm, and shiny but not watery.  They shouldn’t be dry on the surface or be in anyway falling apart.  If you are buying whole fish, look at the eyes.  They should be clear, not opaque.  Don’t be afraid to offend the fish monger, the good ones understand.  Even the smell of the store is a hint.  It should be and smell clean and yes, with a hint of fish, because after all that’s what they are selling, but the scent of ocean is what you should come to mind when you walk in the door.

Be brave and ask questions.  Develop a relationship with your local fish monger.  Who knows, they might even grant you a fish story or two.

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime
2 pounds of salmon, skin removed and cut into 4 to 6 salmon fillets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
6 ounces spinach; about 8 cups lightly packed
zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; about 1 lime
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
pinch of salt, if needed
wedges of lime for garnish
lime zest for garnish

In a deep dish platter, marinate the salmon with the vinegar, tamari, and pepper for 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Reserve the marinade.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the salmon, top side down, cover with a lid, and pan-sear for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and sear for another 2 minutes or until the salmon is still slightly darker pink in the center. Remove the salmon from the pan to a platter and return the pan to the heat. Add the green beans, garlic, ginger, and reserved marinade and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the beans are bright green and hot all the way through.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, zest, lime juice, pomegranate seeds and hot beans. Taste for salt. Transfer the greens mixture to individual plates or to a platter and serve the salmon on top. Garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.

Serves 4 to 6

 

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

Easy and Healthy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday will surely see me on the couch with a wide perimeter given by my family (football viewing is an active sport for some).  Before the big day, though, I’ll do some prep work so that we can all snack and graze while I watch.  May the best team win!

Appetizer Menu for Super Bowl Sunday
Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
Baked Brie variations
Homemade Crackers
Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Tartlet
Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
Endive with Green Pea Hummus

healthy appetizers by Elizabeth Poisson

Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
When you trim artichokes immediately rubbing them with lemon juice can help keep them from turning brown.For those new to artichoke eating, break the leaves off of the artichoke and use your teeth to gently scrape the meat on the inside of the leaf. Discard the leaf. Once the leaves are gone, use a spoon to remove the choke (the fuzzy part) and enjoy the artichoke bottom.

2 artichokes, leaves and stems trimmed
1/2 lemon (plus extra for rubbing)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cover 2 artichokes with water in a small saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate. Add the lemon and salt. Bring the water to a boil with the cover on and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with the Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip.

Serves 4

Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
The curry flavor will increase the longer you let it sit.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or less)
several pinches of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes 1 cup

Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Let’s have some fun rooting for our teams!  Go Pats!

Endive with Green Pea Hummus

Here’s a healthy appetizer for Super Bowl Sunday or a snack for any day that doesn’t have football in it.  Recently posted on Diane Atwood’s blog, Catching Health, this simple recipe for green pea hummus is packed with healthy vitamins.  Serve with endive, as in the recipe, or with all sorts of cut veggies to add color to your appetizer spread.

endive with green pea hummus by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Just remember, it’s only a game…

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Kale over Basmati Rice

Thump, thump, thump, clang, clatter annnnd done.  That’s the sound of me racing to the kitchen to make dinner at halftime last night.  Yes, the Patriots played and I was glued to my seat the entire game save a hurried trip to the kitchen.  Even though I grocery shopped last week, this weekend’s snow storm left us a little light on ingredients.  Rather than brave the roads and the storm (or leave the game for any reason), I rummaged in the pantry and dug into the freezer to find a group of ingredients that could make a quick dinner.

Halftimes and football games not withstanding, rummaging and digging for ingredients which then become a delicious meal is, without question, one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen.  It’s actually also a little calming.  Rather than having so many options with a wealth of ingredients, the restriction of “what’s on hand” actually makes the creation process easier, with only a few choices rather than unlimited options.

It’s also, for many, a different way to think about cooking.  Rather than planning a menu and shopping to that plan, which I also highly recommend, the rummage and dig method, or “freezer diving” as I like to call it, is a perfect way to reduce waste, use up what’s on hand, and spend a little less at the grocery store.

Hope you like this quick, healthy meal!

thai peanut shrimp and kale over basmati rice

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Baby Kale over Basmati Rice
Rice
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shrimp and Kale
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/2 tablespoon minced lemon grass
1/2 Thai chili, seeds removed and julienned
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger: about 1/2 ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 3 cloves
4 cups light packed baby kale
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (16 to 20 count)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Rice
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Add to the boiling water, cover and remove from heat after 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.  Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp and kale.

Shrimp and Kale
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and then the onion and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon grass, chili, ginger and garlic and sauté for another 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kale and the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp. When everything is well incorporated and at a simmer, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 4 minutes watching closely until the shrimp just turns pink all the way through. Serve over basmati rice with garnishes.

Serves 4 to 6

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts

Poached Salmon with Aspragus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts by Elizabeth Poisson

Last month I shared Lemon Poached Salmon with Horseradish and Caper Aioli and have another to share as a companion recipe.  This salad goes nicely with the salmon and is a good one for this time of year when we are all interested in fare that is light and healthy.   I mean, you haven’t jumped off the veggie wagon yet, right?  (Me either 🙂 )  I think I know what we are having for dinner tonight!

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts
There are two ways to prepare the orange sections for this recipe. One is simply to peel the orange and separate the sections. The second is to peel the orange with a knife, called supreme or supreming (I mean how does one actually spell this word?), by slicing off the top and bottom and running your knife between the flesh and the rind. You then run your knife along both sides of the section membranes to remove only the flesh. This is a nicer way to serve the orange, but also a bit more complicated. Choose whichever suits your comfort level..

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for both sautéing and the salad)
2 cups asparagus thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1 bunch or 15 to 20 stalks
3 cups lightly packed arugula
1 ounce shaved Romano cheese; about 1/4 cup
1 orange, sectioned, “carcass” reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice; about 1/2 lemon
2 pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and spread out to cool quickly. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the “carcass” of the orange on top of the greens and toss gently with your hands. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Still on the veggie wagon