Thursday, August 6, 2009

So um...

Who's reading out there? What do you think? What do you want more of (besides posts -- I already know I'm slack)? Drop a line or comment! Thanks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beets my heart...

Yes, I ripped that title straight from a side dish at Tupelo Honey.

Anyway, beets! I freaking love them. I think that beets are highly under-appreciated. I guess some of you folks feel like they taste like dirt. Am I right? Maybe it's an acquired taste. I felt the same way when I had my first taste of Scotch. Now, just ask me what I think of a great Scotch.
I grew a whole slew of golden beets this year, and made sure to pull them out of the ground when they were still young and tender. The flavor stays mild that way, the flesh more tender. Yum!
Beets have to be one of my favorite things to grow, next to a wide assortment of crazily-colored tomatoes. There's just something cool about yanking them from the earth -- kind of like buried treasure.
Beets are great roasted, but who wants to roast things in August? Ugh, trust me, I'm still roasting chickens, making stocks and all of those other things that turn my non-air conditioned house into a steam bath. However, if I can cook with as little heat as possible, I'm a happy girl. I already run hot as blazes. Yes, yes -- the fiery sort indeed.
In the summer, I love my beets marinated then enjoyed raw in a salad with fresh mint and some goat cheese. Nothing finer. There's something about crunching into marinated beets that makes me feel like I am consuming something uber-healthy, straight from the earth, packed with energy-giving nutrients. Well, that is pretty much the case.

So, to make a marinated beets salad, you want to ideally start with young, fresh beets. I love golden beets because they don't stain the ever-living bejeesus out of everything.

Here's what you need:
beets, peeled and chopped smallish
green onion
salt and pepper
goat cheese
seasoned rice wine vinegar
high-quality olive oil

Simply add your chopped beets, a small amount of mint, sliced green onion and a healthy dash of rice wine vinegar to a bowl. Drizzle in some oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sound easy? It is. How much of everything? Oh, who cares. Just toss it in there. Let it marinate for a while.

Then, spoon your salad over some fresh lettuce leaves. Garnish with other raw veggies, like the cucumbers in the picture, fresh from my garden. (please use your own cucumbers -- you may have the ones from my garden only if you ask nicely). Finish with a sprinkle of goat cheese and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Super easy green bean recipe

OK, I'm really not usually a huge fan of store-bought sauces, but I do make a couple of exceptions. Black bean sauce from Kikkoman is one. I could eat it with a spoon. It has everything you want in a good black bean sauce: not too sweet, good and salty with a pungent ferment flavor. I hope I didn't turn you off with that last part.
Green Hill Urban Farm, the local farm that I purchase from, has an abundance of green beans right now. Green beans in black bean sauce are a great alternative to the typical green bean dish.
You need:
about a pound of beans
at least 3 T of black bean sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
one jalapeno, cut into thin strips
dash of rice wine vinegar
vegetable oil
Get a pot of salted water boiling on the stove.
Chop your beans into about 1-inch lengths, then blanch them for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Drain them, then shock them in iced water.
Heat your oil in a wok or skillet. Toss in jalapeno and garlic, saute for a second, then add your beans.
Throw in a dash of vinegar, a plop (yes, I said a plop -- look at the picture) of your black bean sauce, a bit of water to thin it all out if necessary and stir.

Cook for maybe two minutes and serve.
What an easy dish, huh?
I served my beans with brown rice and a sesame-glazed chicken leg.

Four words that'll make you go yummmm...

Pimento. Cheese. Mashed. Potatoes.

I know, right?
There's no picture because I ate it all right up. I can't take credit for it, unfortunately. Actually, a man came over and cooked me dinner the other day and he made those for us. I know, good guy to have around, right? Anyway, it's so simple, and comes out this beautiful yellow that looks strikingly pretty next to something green -- like green beans, for example.

So, just boil your potatoes, drain them and let the steam come out for a while, then mash them with some cream, butter, store-bought pimento cheese, white pepper and salt.

Easy but genius.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shrimp salad tacos

You know what is the very best on a hot summer day (besides the beach)?

Shrimp salad. It's so easy and great served cold any which way you so choose.

I like a good, spicy, Mexican/Spanish-style shrimp salad wrapped in a tortilla with some shredded cabbage. So summery and easy to eat when the heat makes you want to convert to a liquid diet. And! Great with Coronas.
Here's what you need:
1/2 pound shrimp
one avocado
about 1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 lime
a handful of summer herbs -- I chose cilantro, basil and marjoram from my garden. You want to stick to the sweeter herbs (ie: no sage or rosemary, please!)
ear of corn
sour cream (a dollop)
wedge of red cabbage
tortillas (I prefer flour taco-sized tortillas)
hot sauce -- I am partial to Sriracha

First, start roasting your corn. I like to broil mine, lightly oiled, in the toaster oven. Grilled corn works well, too.

Then, peel and de-vein your shrimp, reserving the shells for later use. Ziplock them and freeze -- it'll make great stock (which I'll be showing you how to make another day)

Get a small pot of salted water boiling, and a small pot of ice water waiting to shock your blanched shrimp. Once the water boils, throw your shrimp in and cook until right when they turn pink -- you want them cooked through, but don't overdo it. Overcooked shrimp are mushy. Yuck. Drain the shrimp then throw into the ice water to cool.

Meanwhile, mince your onion, peppers and herbs. Toss them in a mixing bowl. Chop the shrimp small and toss that in, too.

Halve your avocado, remove the pit, then slice it right in the shell with a butter knife, first lengthwise then back across your original cuts. Add that as well.

When the corn is done roasting, slice it off the cob, and toss that in your bowl, too.

Put a dollop of sour cream in the bowl and a generous squirt of hot sauce. Squeeze your lime in here as well. Mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to add about two teaspoons of smoked paprika at this point. As it's kind of hard to find, I didn't include it in the ingredients list.

Serve with tortillas and lime wedges. Garnish with shredded cabbage. Don't forget the beer!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


This week when I went to go pick up my veggies from Green Hill Urban Farm (, I had a special treat waiting for me. I'm sure I squealed like a little girl. What was I so excited about? Freshly-dug potatoes in several different colors (I guess you could say I'm easily amused) sitting like little dirty jewels in a produce box. Pretty.

Young potatoes are one of my favorite sides, especially when they are multi-colored. They don't require much -- a little butter, salt and herbs, or a simple dressing for a potato salad served room temperature or chilled. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you may have gathered that I eat a lot of salads in the summer. The trick is making them hearty enough to garner meal status.
This salad is hearty enough. My friend agreed that it was a "man salad." When asked to expand, he said through a full mouth, "It has meat and potatoes." Indeed.

So, here's what I used:
two scallions, green parts only
two already cooked pieces of bacon (if you are vegetarian, consider using cooked smoky tempeh strips)
handful of parsley
half of an avocado, sliced
garden-fresh assorted lettuces
a couple basil leaves
4 or 5 tiny young potatoes, cut into somewhat equally-sized pieces
Not pictured: 1/2 a lemon juiced, 2 T of apple cider vinegar, a quarter cup of Theros extra virgin olive oil
First, put some salted water on to boil. Once it is rolling, add the potatoes. You will cook them until just tender. The time depends on the size of your cuts. Just keep checking their level of doneness with a fork.
Meanwhile, chop the bacon, scallions and herbs into fairly small pieces.
Place your chopped items in a bowl, then add your vinegar, then your lemon juice and then your oil. Mix it all together.

Drain and cool your potatoes, then add to the oil mix and toss.

Pour the entire mess over your lettuce, then add the avocado. Salt and pepper to taste.
Super easy summertime meal.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Very Scrappy Dinner

So, I thought I would post a picture of what I (and the roommate -- yes I feed her. It helps her tolerate my late nights) had for dinner last night. No recipes, just a picture and a list of ingredients. Why? Because I feel like people overthink food. Dinner doesn't have to be this big "thing." Of course I believe that we should take note of how blessed we are to have the opportunity to eat well every time we sit down to a lovely meal. That's not what I mean.

I think that many of us have this rigid idea of what a meal should entail -- that certain vegetables perform certain tasks, that there should be exactly this much protein to this much starch, that sort of thing. For example, too many people think of vegetables as a side player to a protein, or they think that beans go with rice and tortillas.

The best meals come, at least for me, when I "Iron Chef" it. That's how I refer to the act of cooking with whatever the heck I already have. Since I started getting the CSA boxes from Green Hill Urban Farm (, I've been doing that more often. It's an awful lot of fun to spread a rainbow of seasonal produce across the counter, stare at it for a few minutes, and come up with something fun to make with it.

It doesn't take much to be creative with food, just a fairly well-stocked pantry. A few whole spices and a mortar and pestle, a couple types of oils and vinegars, and a good selection of dried beans and grains should supplement any assortment of veggies to make a fine Iron Chef-style meal. Oh, as always, I highly recommend making and freezing your own chicken stock -- such a great thing to have on hand:

Thinking creatively about food helps to avoid waste, too. Instead of rushing out to buy a bunch of stuff you don't need to make dinner tonight, look in your fridge and see what needs to be cooked. Do you have scraps of 6 different vegetables sitting in your fridge about to turn into compost if you don't do something with them? Well, sounds like soup waiting to happen! Or, perhaps a really eclectic vegetable "ragout" over quinoa, like in that picture up there.

The ragout came about after I surveyed my very modest pea harvest from this spring. Not enough to be a major feature in a dish (man, I've been dreaming about spring pea risotto. Oh well). So, I chopped up some baby chiogga beets, purple broccoli, fennel and chard from Green Hill, some baby golden beets, oregano, snow peas, English peas and pea shoots from mine. I sauteed some red onion and garlic, threw in the veggies, then added chopped tomato, chicken stock, white beans, a touch of rice vinegar and some extra Theros olive oil. Covered it, steamed it all for a bit, then served it over quinoa. Probably would have been pretty awesome with some Moroccan spice added to the mix, but salt and pepper was just fine as well.

So basically, this post is meant to encourage several things:

1. Try not to waste food. Visit this link for some interesting stats on poverty and food waste in America:
an excerpt:
Almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. 700 million
hungry human beings in different parts of the world would have gladly accepted
this food.

2. Be creative! There are no real rules beyond keeping your food safe for people to eat.

3. Consider planting a garden. It's amazing how far you can stretch your food dollar when you can supplement your meals with things growing right in your yard. Saves on fuel if you only have to travel 20 feet, too.

4. Keep your pantry stocked with spices, dried grains and beans, and other non-perishables. They make your life so easy.

5. Consider supporting your local farming community by joining a CSA .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Soup

Really? Who wants soup in the summer?

Actually, chilled vegetable soup can be one of the most refreshing, simple meals around. I personally like to make a big batch of soup in the evening when it is cooler, chill and have it the next day for a fuss-free meal.

If you are a Green Hill Urban Farm CSA member, beets, fennel, mint and radishes are going to be familiar friends for a bit. I know plenty of people that are awfully frightened of some of those items. No need. If you know how to properly play with your food, you may begin to realize how incredibly refreshing late spring/early summer veggies can be.

I adore pureed beet soup with yogurt. It's super simple and hearty, but refreshing at the same time. Here's what you need for the soup:

1 small white onion
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks of celery
3-4 beets
1 1/2-2 quarts chicken or veggie stock (I tell you how to make chicken stock in previous posts --
sprig thyme
tsp whole coriander seed
tsp whole cumin seed

Chop up the celery, garlic and onion. Also chop the beet stems -- no reason to throw them away. Reserve the greens from your beets. They make a fine side dish sauteed with some garlic.

Meanwhile, heat up some oil in a sauce pot. Sweat everything you just chopped on medium heat. While that's happening, chop your beets. Be prepared to stain your cutting board. That's just life with beets. If you wash up fast, it shouldn't stick around forever.

Once the onions are translucent in the pot, add your stock, then the chopped beets and thyme and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it back down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, toast your whole cumin and coriander over medium heat. Once toasted, crush in a mortar and pestle or use a coffee grinder. Trust me, it is worth it to buy your spices whole like this. They last longer and taste better. Add the cumin and coriander to the soup. Go ahead and throw in a bit of salt at this point, too.

Alright, for the yogurt that you will top your soup with, you need:
6 oz plain yogurt -- thick Greek style is the best
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
few leaves mint, chiffonade

How do you make mint chiffonade? Stack the leaves, roll them into a cigar shape, slice thinly. There you have it.

Folks, I overdid the mint. Don't use this much.

Mix it all together. A fine alternative to mint, by the way, is dill.

After everything simmering in your soup is soft -- give it about 30 minutes or so -- go ahead and throw it all in a blender or food processor and puree. Add cold water if you need it. Chill soup, then serve with the yogurt on top, some good crusty bread and a salad.

The salad that I made was pretty simple, but seems fancy:

Shaved fennel and assorted radishes from Green Hill (shaved on a mandolin slicer)

Sliced apples, goat cheese, romaine

Theros olive oil and fig vinegar (you can substitute balsamic), salt and pepper.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Support local everything!

Welcome Green Hill Urban Farm CSA members! Every week I'll be posting recipes that will help you find creative uses for all of those fabulous veggies that Mike Fortune and company are sending you home with every Wednesday. I'll be focusing, at least initially, on no-heat "cooking" for all you people (like me) that don't have AC and don't need to add any extra heat or humidity to the house. If you already are a reader of the Scrappy Gourmet and would like to learn more about Green Hill, visit their website here: The good news is that they happen to have room for more CSA members -- about 30. Support your local farmers!

Check out the recent story I did about the farm in the Mountain Xpress:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Low or no-heat cooking.

It's not even summer yet, and it's freaking hot. The last thing that I feel like doing is slaving over a stove. So, I like to dream up ways to have well-rounded meals that involve minimal or no heat. Salt and acids are your best friend when it comes no-heat "cooking." Both help veggies -- like kale for example -- break down to something a bit more edible. Munching on a raw kale leaf just doesn't sound great, but massage it with some salt, sesame oil and rice vinegar, and you have a great, refreshing summer salad or side. Here is a picture of some lovely kale that came from Green Hill Urban Farm, as well as some radishes which will form a great salad.

The radishes are optional for this dish. They came in my Green Hill CSA box with the kale, so I thought I'd just throw it all in there. (want to learn more about Green Hill and how to get enrolled in their CSA program? Visit this link:

So, to make marinated kale ribbons, here's what you need:

1 bunch kale, stems stripped away

2 T tamari/soy sauce

1/4 cup seasoned (sweet) rice wine vinegar


2 T toasted sesame oil

Now, here's where I tell you that you need to go out and buy yourself a cool toy. You deserve it. Head out to your local kitchen supply and grab yourself a mandolin slicer, pictured below with a radish that it perfectly julienned in seconds flat. Watch your fingers, please.

Stack your kale leaves on top of each other and roll into a cigar like so:

Then slice into ribbons like so:

Put your kale ribbons and julienned radishes into the bowl. Next, add all of your liquids.

Throw in a pinch or two of salt, get your hands down in that bowl and massage away. The salt will pull a lot of liquid out of your veggies. Let it all marinate for a while, at least 10-15 minutes, then pull the kale out of the dressing and serve. This dish keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. In my opinion, it's best the next day. As always, if you feel like you want more vinegar or tamari, add away.

Optional additions to your ribbons include fresh ginger and/or garlic, toasted sesame seeds, sliced red get the idea.

Eat your ribbons alone as a refreshing salad or with other items as a side dish. Here is my own low-cook dinner that I had on this hot hot evening:

Flash-seared Copper River salmon with kale ribbons. On top of the fish is some avocado relish (white onion, avocado, tomato, lime juice, salt. Also fresh dill, cilantro and Theros olive oil from Green Hill). In the background is some whole wheat French Bread from Annie's bakery in Sylva with more Theros olive oil infused with garlic, rosemary and thyme from my own garden. The fish only took a minute to cook, everything else was no-cook. Very healthy stuff and my house is much cooler (if you consider 79 degrees to be cool).

Monday, May 25, 2009

A rambling ode to spring and life in general...

So, it appears as though I may be inching steadily closer and closer to my goal of writing about food for a living. These past few weeks have been a beautiful whirlwind, and I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to live in such an amazing place. I thought that Asheville had it going on culinarily speaking before, but now I am truly blown away by the passion and thoughtfulness of the people around me that are making this place such a haven for foodies.

My morning began with an interview with the extraordinarily gifted Susi Gott Seguret, the force of nature that directs the Swannanoa School of Culinary Arts (SSCA) over on the grounds of Warren Wilson College. Susi spends much of her time in France (we spoke via web cam), but makes magic when she returns to Asheville. The SSCA is a yearly event that features all sorts of kitchen workshops headed by incredible (mostly local) talent. She spoke about the recent truffle festival in this area, and that led to a conversation about the culinary gold to be found in these parts. Though most of our markets don't exactly offer the selection of bizarre animal organs that can be procured in her neck of the woods, we do have access to an astounding array of humanely raised meats and heirloom veggies -- something to be proud of. Susi is bringing molecular gastronomy pioneer and mad chemist Herve This to Asheville to kick off this year's SSCA with some really intriguing demonstrations. Check it:

Already moving beyond the tremendous wave of inspiration he sparked with
Molecular Cuisine, his current innovations are with a new science called “Note by Note Cooking”, where each specific flavor in each dish represents a note which, coupled with other flavors, compose a musical piece and, together with a sequence of dishes, make up a symphony for the palate.

I can't tell you that I understand exactly what the heck that means, but it sounds fascinating. Susi says that all of the classes are very immersive and open to all skill levels. I highly recommend checking them out if you are in the Asheville area (or can manage to be this summer) -- and yes, registration is still open. Look for my interview with Susi in the next issue of Verve.

I also spent the past few days kicking it around Green Hill Urban Farm interviewing a farmer, Mike Fortune, who has his hands very full with several acres of land where he farms bio-dynamically and organically right on the edge of urban(ish) West Asheville. Mike, at age 30, is part of a wave of young farmers in this area that are highly dedicated to the stewardship of the land that has fallen to them. We will be featuring Green Hill on the cover of the Mountain Xpress on July 17th, and it should be worth the read. Green Hill is just another one of those places in Asheville that feels like a bustling hive of creativity, and despite its serving a large number of CSAs, feels more like a thriving community center than a business. I'll likely post a podcast of the interviews from my session on the farm -- they will make an entertaining listen. Learn more about Green Hill here:

Today I also had the fortune to visit with Sally Eason of Sunburst Trout Farms, the burbling trout streams of which are fed by waters that flow downstream from the pristine Pisgah wilderness. She was a pleasure to talk to, and the interview I had with her will form a great story for the upcoming food-centric issue of Verve. The farm itself is absolutely stunning -- the kind of place where butterflies are flitting around a backdrop of a million shades of green. Today there was even a double rainbow. It was almost stupidly beautiful. The trout that are netted in the streams on the property are gargantuan as far as trout go, and they are gorgeous in color due to a specially developed, patented all-natural hormone and animal byproduct-free feed that the fish are given. While many fisheries add all kinds of nasty things to the feed to give the flesh of their fish color, Sunburst gives their fish the same antioxidant found in blueberries to make them look like this:

This was tonight's dinner. Yes, indeed I said a blessing -- been blessing this food all day. Incidentally, everything on this plate is local, save the cooking oil and butter that I used. You better believe that there's some butter on this plate. What we have here is some gorgeous Sunburst trout (thank you, Sally!) with white wine and brown butter over local purple potatoes tossed with Green Hill dill and more butter. Over on the other side of the fish is some garlic-sauteed kale, also from Green Hill (thank you, Mike!). Yes, I eat like this by myself. There is absolutely no reason to reserve meals like this for special occasions, especially when there is so much good food around us. Plus, it only took 20 minutes tops to put together. Spring/summer food, especially fresh, just-from-the-ground food doesn't need much -- a little garlic, salt and pepper and -- yeah -- butter. Get yourself to the farmers' market! For dessert I'm eying that strawberry cobbler that I made from the abundance of berries in my garden. Thank goodness for simple pleasures.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking a breath...

Holy Moly, whatever angels watch over writers who need work have been extremely kind! I apologize for the lack of posts, but expect to be ready to start tending to the Scrappy Gourmet blog in about one week from today. In the mean time, please check out my articles in the current issue of Verve magazine, Bold Life and in the upcoming as well as current issue of Carolina Home and Garden Also, on the 17th of June, check out the Mountain Xpress for my cover story about Green Hill Urban farm, a 4-acre biodynamic and organic farm in the heart of West Asheville.

Friday, May 15, 2009

To all my Asheville people...

A young local girl -- only 9 years old, to be exact -- has been diagnosed with Graves disease. She is going through some very aggressive treatment and, as you might imagine, it has become quite costly on her young family. I will not even get into our health care system on this blog, as that's not what this is about, BUT...
Anyway, the wonderful folks at Sunny Point bakery and cafe have decided to pull together to raise some money for this family. If you haven't been to Sunny Point yet, I have no idea what you've been thinking. Get your butt over to West Asheville. I know that this is short notice, but the benefit dinner -- yes, dinner only -- is this coming Monday, May the 18th, from 5-9pm. A portion of all of the proceeds from food sales will go to the family. The servers will be donating 100% of their tips. Yep. As my friend Kelly-Anne said, "It is a reminder of how blessed we are to belong to such a supportive and wonderful community." Indeed. Visit this link for more information:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

By the way...

I promise this blog will be about something other than chicken soon -- even some vegetarian meals to come!

How to juice a chicken...

Mmmm. Chicken juice. Alright, all kidding aside, see all this?

That's almost a gallon of chicken stock. It's pretty concentrated, as you can tell by the color. Do you have any idea how much a gallon of organic chicken stock costs in the store? An absolutely ridiculous amount, considering that it's essentially made from scraps. Make no mistake, though, this is liquid gold to a serious home cook. It livens up pasta sauce, rice and tons of other grains. Risotto cannot exist without chicken stock -- and risotto is astoundingly cheap to make if you know make your own stock. Risotto, trust me, is on my agenda to show you.

Ready to make chicken stock?
Here's what you need:

A deep stock pot
your leftover chicken frame (picked over bones), cleaned of all stuffing
2 onions
3 small carrots
3 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
I also like to throw in thyme as it is crawling all over my yard, but this is non-essential.

Instructions: Throw everything in the pot (removing peel from onions to keep the bitter away), cover with cold water (a gallon and a half, approx.), bring to a boil, turn down heat, simmer for several hours or until you have to leave the house or go to sleep or something. That's it. Really. You don't even have to chop anything up small. I cut the onion into 1/8's and break the carrots and celery up with my hands. And you thought this would be hard.

Set a colander over a deep container and pour the stock through the colander. Toss out your solids. You are done with them. Do not, as I did groggily one morning, pour half of your stock down the sink reserving the solids before you realize what you are doing. Oh, you think, who would be stupid enough to do that? Just you wait.

Cool stock down as quickly as possible by setting it in a sink full of ice (this keeps it from staying at a dangerous temperature for too long and breeding harmful bacteria). After cooling, put into containers and freeze what you won't use right away -- don't forget to label with the name and date!

So, to be clear, this is essentially what got me started on the roasting whole chickens thing in the first place. It is so nice to have cheap food for a week and, as an extra bonus, have nearly free chicken stock on hand all of the time. Plus, I promise that you will feel like a bit of a culinary bad ass once you start making and storing all of your own stocks -- and that is worth plenty in its own right.

Lazy girl's supper...

Most evenings, you likely stumble home tired and the last thing on your mind is cooking, especially when it's hot. Say, for example, you also have a half picked-over chicken lurking in your refrigerator because some writer convinced you that you would get a million uses out of it. What's for dinner? This:
A nice bed of lettuce, some chopped tomato and some chopped avocado make a great summertime meal -- especially for a girl like me who tends to eat more than three meals a day. Add some dressing, serve with good bread and you're done. You could add some cheese if you wanted to. I like my salads kind of spartan, however. If anything, though, I'm trying to teach you to be loose and use whatever's available, so just go for it.
I'm going to throw out a few more ideas for the roasted chicken, tell you how to make a stock and then leave the yard bird alone for a little while. I think that you get the picture. HOWEVER, should you have any requests for recipes or need to find yet another use for chicken, please do not hesitate to ask. I will indeed take requests, especially if you bribe me.
Chicken ideas:
Chicken tacos with rice and salsa
Chicken pasta with pesto and tomatoes
Chicken salad sandwiches
Chicken Caesar salad
There, so I've given you at least five different ways to use up your bird. Be creative -- it's how you learn. Plus, if you learn to stretch your food with cheap ingredients, it can go far. Think, for example, about adding plenty of celery, grapes and onions to your chicken salad. After about a week, pull the rest of your chicken if you haven't used it off of the bones, pack it into a Ziploc, label it with a sharpie (include the date) and stick it in the freezer. Now you have chicken for future chicken salad. This may seem obvious, but most people that I know do not use their freezers enough. Learning how to not throw away food is a big step toward saving money and -- get this -- freezers are more efficient when full.
By the way -- the bones are not trash! Next I'll tell you how to make stock.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chicken chicken chicken, I'm a finger-lickin' winner

So, now that you have this giant bird that you've brined and roasted (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check the archives for brining and roasting), what do you do with it?

The legs make great individual meals with a simple starch and veg. The picture at the top of this post is a chicken leg that I simply ripped off the bird with my hands 30 minutes after it came out of the oven (sounds kind of primal, doesn't it?) accompanied with some bacon Brussels sprouts and brown rice. Think you don't like Brussels sprouts? Try this recipe:

This is what you need: 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, a sprig of fresh thyme, 3 thick pieces of bacon, a good chunk of butter and, of course, some Brussels sprouts. I'm not very keen on exact measurements unless I'm baking, hence the pictures. You'll need salt and pepper and cooking oil, too.

Get a pot of salted water boiling (about 1 1/2 T of salt should do) Meanwhile, chop the very bottoms off of the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half. Once you've done this, throw them in your boiling water and blanch them just until they turn bright green. Have a bowl of iced water waiting for your sprouts. Once they turn bright green, drain the sprouts, then toss them into the iced water to make sure that you shock them into not cooking any further.

Now, chop your garlic, thyme, then start cutting your onion. Slice the top off, leaving the root intact. Then place it sliced side down, and cut the onion in half through the root. Pull the peel off, then slice each half fairly thinly, say 1/4 inch, keeping each slice about the same thickness. Next, chop the bacon into little pieces.

Heat 2 pans on medium heat. Throw the bacon in one, a little oil in the other. Heat the oil for a second, then add the onions. The bacon will render its own fat, so it doesn't need any extra lube. Let the onions cook for a bit, stirring them once in a while so that they don't burn. Cooking them slowly will caramelize the sugars. You want to cook the onions until it they are a nice, nutty brown. If things start to burn a bit, turn down the heat -- all stoves are different.

Almost done here, still need to get a bit darker.

The bacon needs to be stirred around, too. Once it gets close to crispy, pull it off the heat. It will continue to cook a bit in its own fat -- don't discard the fat, that's the good part! When both onions and bacon are done, combine and set aside.

Next, heat the butter up over medium-high heat in a heavy, large pan that is big enough to accommodate the Brussels. Let the butter get nice and brown without burning it -- brown butter tastes nutty and extra yummy. Then throw in your Brussels and the garlic. You don't have to stir them too much. In fact, letting them brown brings out a nice, toasty flavor.

Then add your onion and bacon mixture to your sprouts, along with the thyme. Let cook together for a bit, and salt and pepper to taste.