I ended up having some people over for dinner last night. So I butterflied a big roaster chicken and roasted Julia Child style simply with fresh herbs (you can see the chicken in the photo at the bottom of the page – that was what it looked like as it went into the oven – I forgot to take its picture when it came out).
I served with a fresh mixed green salad to which I added a simple balsamic mustard vinaigrette, and the starch was homemade gnocchi with mushrooms. Dessert in case you were wondering was sliced fresh strawberries from Kimberton Whole Foods.
I have previously given you my gnocchi recipe. So use that as your guide to rolling them out until little logs and slicing them into bite-size pieces, but the dough composition is different and here’s how I did it:
1 egg beaten
4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium sized (not huge) potatoes roasted skins removed and smashed up
1 cup of ricotta strained to remove any extra liquid – whole milk is best
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
About 2 cups of flour, maybe less – add half a cup at a time to your dough to see. You don’t want a dry dough with gnocchi, it should always feel not quite sticky but more elastic.
1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves dried, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt.
Basically you mix it all together until becomes a dough but don’t overwork it. Then I throw a cloth over my bowl and allow the dough to rest for at least half an hour.
When your dough has rested, break off pieces of the dough and roll into little logs and slice into bite-size pieces from the log. You can roll them off the edge of the forks so they have those lines in them or you can cook them just the way they are.
After I make my gnocchi I lay them out on a large baking sheet on parchment paper and put it on a shelf by itself in the refrigerator till I am ready to cook.
The sauce is pretty simple:
Melt one stick of butter which is half a cup in a sauté pan – a large sauté pan because you will be adding the gnocchi to it later.
When the butter is melted and starting to bubble just a slight bit, add half a large red onion diced. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Add one finely grated medium sized carrot.
After the onion starts to turn slightly translucent, add thinly sliced baby Bella mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms, and a handful of white mushrooms. Basically you should use one 8 ounce package of shiitake, The same size package of baby Portabella mushrooms also known as crimini, and about 4 ounces of white mushrooms.
Next add a handful of fresh sage leaves chopped into small-ish pieces and about a teaspoon of dried rosemary or if you have fresh dice up a smallish twig.
When everything seems to be cooked together fairly well but not mushy remove from heat.
I do the mushroom mixture ahead of time and not at the same time I am cooking my gnocchi because there is not enough time.
After the mushroom mixture is cooled use a slotted spoon and remove the vegetables to their own bowl for the time being. Leave the butter and liquid from mushrooms in the bottom of the pan.
Boil a large pot of salted water and when everything is really boiling toss in all your gnocchi.
The same time you are boiling your gnocchi bring the pan with the butter and the mushroom juices back up to heat. You may have to add about another tablespoon of butter and do add a scant 1/4 cup of white wine. (Last night I was roasting a chicken as I was making these gnocchi for a side dish so I also tossed in 2 tablespoons of pan juices. ) You need that mixture to reach almost boil but not cook off. Also toss in two or three whole sage leaves.
The gnocchi will cook probably in about 3 to 4 minutes – when they all are bubbling to the surface and bobbing around, use a slotted spoon to remove them.
Put the gnocchi immediately into the pan with butter and wine that should be really bubbling at this point. Move the gnocchi around gently to brown slightly. As you are moving the gnocchi around gently add back the mushrooms and red onion to heat again.
Be careful with your gnocchi they are a slightly delicate things but once everything is browned through toss half a cup of grated Parmesan on on top and some diced flat leaf parsley if you choose. Toss one more time into a bowl and serve.
So that being said, I recently discovered Himalayan Indian Grocery in Exton (Marchwood). They have a fun assortment of oils, spices and teas and chutneys. Some fresh produce (they have some unusual varieties of eggplant), some dairy (you do have to watch for expiration dates) and a large frozen section of all sorts of Indian foods. I also found rose water to bake with there – hadn’t seen that in a while. Anyway, I bought a Tandoori marinade pouch that I mixed with plain whole milk Indian yogurt, and made delicious Tandoori chicken which we grilled. To accompany that I created a Jasmine rice with a blend of curry and masala spices and raisins, chopped almonds, a smidgen of fresh basil.
Now to the cupcake of it all….
They are, I will warn you, semi-homemade from the cupcake side.
Creamsicle Orange Cupcakes with Coconut & Ginger Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting
I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl I added 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon of vanilla or orange extract (pure not imitation), 4 tablespoons real mayonnaise, 6 tablespoons honey, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup canola oil. Mix with mixer until blended and a bit frothy. Add cake mix, blending on low until mix incorporated and then about a minute and a half on med-high. Add 1/2 cup shredded coconut to batter. Incorporate. Pour into cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners – the recipe will make 24 cupcakes. When a toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are baked.
Bake 18 to 21 minutes (as per cake box directions). Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes before carefully removing cupcakes.
When cool, frost. I already told you how to make my frosting in the banana cake recipe. OMIT the banana and cinnamon and add 1 teaspoon ginger. Also add 2 tablespoons orange juice.
These are cupcakes that keep best in fridge in a cupcake container – the frosting will melt when too warm.
Feel better now?
But seriously, this blog is a mixed bag. So it is and never will be all Suzy Homemaker – after all I am not all Suzy Homemaker. I blog first and foremost for myself as this is my creative expression.
Any vegans in the room need to turn away from the page now. We’re talking chicken. And I love chickens. I am also a fan of Chickenman in West Vincent and am hoping he doesn’t get run over by the road master of West Vincent or the peace love and eminent domain lady and the lawyer of reinvention either.
But I digress. And besides, I bet Chickenman would love my home cooking as well as witty political repartee n’est–ce pas?
Back to cluck…so easy to wander down a rutty path towards politics when discussing chicken dinners. After all chicken dinners are the staple of most politicians.
And yes, as per above photo I do know where chickens come from. No, I will not be doing my version of Little House on The Prairie and fetching a chicken and slaying it for dinner. Mine came from the market.
It’s summer I don’t want to stuff anything except maybe the occasional tomato or deviled egg. But today has been thunderstorm city and who knows if it will keep on not raining or not, so oven it is.
I love roast chicken and this is the plan B roast chicken when you don’t feel like stuffing.
First I clean out my chicken and remove the gizzards (which I freeze for homemade stock another time.)
Then I June Cleaver it with my cleaver. Oh ok: translation: I place my raw chicken breast side down on a non-wooden cutting board and cleave her open (see photos). Then I place her breast side up and spread out on a little roasting rack in a pan I have lined with that half parchment half foil paper, foil side up (easier clean up – sorry – it is Friday and I don’t want to be slave to kitchen.)
Then I look for two little skin pockets that I help along with a little paring knife (see photo) and I stuff 4 cloves of garlic sliced under the skin (evenly on each side) along with the herbs I have handy and fresh outside – oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary, 2 bay leaves.
Then I channel my inner Julia Child but not to the point of Paula Deen and I rub the chicken with a pat of butter (ok so maybe it is like a tablespoon plus a smidgen.)
Then I rub on the skin salt, pepper, a little garlic powder, oregano, basil, smoked paprika, regular paprika, tarragon, cumin, and dried Valencia orange peel. Look, I don’t go THAT overboard, a dash or this and a dash of that until it smells good going in the oven. Omit what you don’t like.
Into a pre-heated 350 degree oven it goes. I have seen recipes that say different things with regard to the internal temperature and doneness, but I just let my meat thermometer do the thinking and when it says done for poultry I haul it out of the oven and rest the cluck for at least 15 minutes with foil on top. Tonight’s bird is 6.74 lbs. so it will cook about 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.
A note is halfway through I always sour a roast, whether it is chicken, turkey, pork, beef, etc. I sour it with whatever wine is open. I don’t drown it, just refresh it.
Tonight I have fresh corn and a salad to accompany my cluck.