Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tarragon-lemon roasted chicken

I've got a thriving tarragon plant in the garden. It's become a bit of a mess, as tarragon tends to do. So, I thought I would switch up my usual roast chicken routine and add a bit of tarragon to the mix. If you've never had tarragon, it's an intense herb with a slight licorice-y flavor and a bit of a tingle on the tongue. But even if you don't like licorice, try it anyway, something magical happens when you combine it into a savory dish. Tarragon is the herb used to flavor bearnaise sauce, which is my all-time favorite sauce. I plan to try to harvest the rest of my tarragon in a few weeks, chop it up, and freeze in cubes. (Or I may just make an enormous batch of tarragon butter and freeze that. That's if I don't just eat it all at once, of course.)

Roasting a whole chicken is definitely a time-consuming task, but it's well worth it, and you'll be able to get at least two to four or more meals out of it (meal 1: eat chicken with roasted potatoes; meal 2: make chicken sandwiches; meal 3: pick most of the chicken off the bones and make chicken salad for sandwiches; meal 4: save the carcass in the freezer to make stock another time).

Here's how to do it.

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees (Fahrenheit). Butter a deep baking dish. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Remove leaves from about three sprigs of tarragon and chop them finely. Blend the chopped leaves into about half a cup of softened, salted butter.

Step 3: Salt and pepper the chicken liberally, on both sides and inside the cavity of the chicken.

Step 4: Wash a lemon well. Squeeze out the juice and set it aside. Stuff the remaining lemon halves inside the chicken.

Step 5: Use 2-3 tablespoons of tarragon butter (set the rest aside for another use) and smear it under the skin of the chicken. (To loosen the skin, gently push fingers underneath and detach it from the meat. By the way, this is also a great technique for flavoring your Thanksgiving turkey.)

Step 6: Place the chicken in the buttered baking dish and add about two cups of water to the bottom of the dish to keep the chicken from drying out. (Feel free to pat a little more butter on top of the chicken if you are so inclined.) Slide the pan into the oven and set your timer for 30 minutes.

Step 7: After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven. Sprinkle half of the reserved lemon juice over the top of the chicken. Then turn the chicken over and sprinkle the remaining lemon juice over the other side. (My only advice for turning the chicken? Use two large spoons or spatulas and be careful. It's not an elegant operation.)

Step 8: From this point on, turn the chicken every 20 minutes or so. Make sure to spend 2-3 minutes spooning the liquid in the baking dish over both sides of the chicken. The chicken will be done in about 2 hours and 15 minutes (to check for doneness, use either a thermometer or stick a fork or knife into the thickest part of the thigh, if the juices run clear, the chicken is fully cooked).

Step 9: When the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving it. In the meantime, you can make gravy with the pan drippings if you so desire.

Simple pan gravy:

  1. Pour the pan drippings into a separator cup and let the drippings divide into two layers. (The top layer will be the fat layer.) Spoon off about 3 Tbsps of the fat and add it to a pan. 
  2. Add 3 Tbsps flour to the hot fat. Let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes. 
  3. Whisking continuously, add the liquid part of the pan drippings (should be about 1 to 1.5 cups) to the fat-flour mixture in the pan. Let the gravy thicken over medium heat. If the gravy is too salty, add a little cream or half-and-half. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pasta with sausage and cherry tomatoes: A quick back-to-school dinner for #SundaySupper

Just a few days ago, it seemed, long months of summer stretched out before me. And now I find myself a week from the first day of school, preparing to shift into the high gear of fall, planning meals, schedules, days. How does time get away like that?

This week, Sunday Supper is about fast and easy back-to-school meals to help you get a tasty meal on the table fast. I've made one of my favorite go-to dishes: pasta with sausage and cherry tomatoes, which takes advantage of the tomato bounty that's still to be found at the farmers market. But the nice thing about this dish is how incredibly easy it is to vary, using what's in season and at the height of flavor and nutrition. I've provided a few suggestions for variations at the end of the recipe. And don't forget to check out what else is cooking for Sunday Supper this week. This group of bloggers has really served up a bounty of recipes that should help you (and me) get a delicious dinner on the table fast.



  • 1 lb pork sausage (sweet or hot Italian-style as you prefer, casings removed)
  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used rombi in this recipe, but most shapes will do fine)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream (+ more as needed)
  • 1 packed cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Start a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. When it comes to a rolling boil, cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain.
  2. While the water starts to boil and the pasta cooks, start cooking the sausage in a wide, deep pan over medium heat (to render out some of the fat), breaking it up into crumbles as it cooks. (If you use turkey sausage, add some oil to the pan before cooking so that it doesn't dry out.) Cook the sausage until fully cooked and nicely browned. Keep the sausage warm on low heat until you've got about 5 minutes left of pasta cooking time. 
  3. Raise the heat of the pan with the sausage to medium high. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for a minute, stirring frequently. Don't let it burn; burnt garlic is awful.  
  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Let them cook for about a minute. 
  5. Add the cheese and the half and half or cream to the pan. Cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1-2 minutes. (Add more half and half or cream if the sauce seems too scanty.)
  6. Season the sauce with thyme, white pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. 
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sausage, tomatoes, and sauce. Mix in the pasta and let it soak in the sauce for about a minute or two. Taste it to make sure the seasoning is to your liking. Serve and enjoy.   


  • When the sausage is cooked, add thinly sliced half-moons of two leeks to the pan and let them soften before adding the tomatoes. 
  • Add a sliced bell pepper at about the same time you add the tomatoes.   
  • Add a cup of frozen peas about a minute before you add the garlic.  
  • Instead of using tomatoes, add bite size pieces of broccoli or cauliflower early in the cook time. 
  • Replace the tomatoes with sliced leeks and sugar snap peas. 
  • Add a cup of steamed, cubed butternut squash and a handful of pepitas after cooking the sauce. 

The Sunday Supper Lineup

Here's the whole lineup of quick back-to-school meals from the Sunday Supper group. Don't forget to tune into the chat on Twitter at 7 EST using the hashtag #SundaySupper

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shrimp Skagen salad in avocado halves: A special treat for a special #SundaySupper wine event

It's Saturday night as I write this. It's been a busy week: I've been buried in a project that has gone on for nearly a year, which I finally completed on Friday night. On top of that, I spent much of last week in a daze (or an amped-out crazy fit) because I injured my shoulder rather severely last week and have had to take painkillers and steroids to cope with the pain and inflammation. It's been a long time since things were going in the right direction. 

Even this week's #SundaySupper event seemed daunting. This week is a special wine event, in which we are working with Schlossadler International Wines, a wine distributor with a popular international wine club that sends you a selection of wines right to your home. I was one of the members of the #SundaySupper group who was chosen to get wines sent right to my door as part of this week's event. Me. Getting a free box of wine to blog about. Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? And to be honest, I was incredibly flattered and excited when I was chosen. But then the reality of the week set in, and I realized I had made this commitment, and I was damn well going to do it, but I wasn't looking forward to it, and I was tired and hurting, and wa, wa, wa. 

Then things began to turn around a bit. On Wednesday, I got the box with three lovely bottles nested inside and a fun little logo on the inside cover. Just getting the box was exciting. A happy, special treat in the middle of a tough and dreary week. 

Then came Thursday. I churned through more work, trying to hit some milestones before quitting for the day, taking my little boy to the park for a while, and dealing with shoulder pain and meds crazies, and trying to look forward to making the food I had committed to make for dinner, because we had invited one of our best friends, Dave, over to join our dinner and our wine tasting that evening. By five, I felt awful and miserably exhausted, again. It was ridiculous. But I kept going. I was going to power through this and have fun dammit! I cleaned the shrimp, made the mayo, made the Skagen salad, halved the avocados, and tried to get some decent pictures of my dish. But the salad slid off the top of the avocado halves, while I grumbled about my bad pictures, and Mike joked about me complaining that my food wasn't photogenic enough. (I suspect there's a lot of kind of thing in food-blogging households.) 

Then we popped open the first bottle of wine, the 2010 Kotuku Sauvignon Blanc, poured some glasses (a small one for me; I didn't want to mess around much with mixing wine and strong medication), and dug into our avocado halves with shrimp Skagen salad and relaxed. Settled into a pleasant evening with great friends, some terrific food, and a great wine, and started to slough off some hard days and enjoy some of the best things about living. What had been a very tough week turned around and became a genuinely pleasant experience. The wine was crisp and refreshing and went well with the shrimp Skagen salad and avocado.

After dinner, we decided to try one of the other wines, the 2006 H.O. Becker, Kerner Auslese, which comes in a rather wildly pinkish-red bottle, but turns out to be white. According to the flier that came with the wines, it's a cross between a Riesling and a grape named Trollinger. (Also according to the flier, it's a "Jacuzzi" wine, a phrase that makes me shudder.) I typically love Rieslings, but most I have had are on the dry side. This particular wine had a beautiful flavor, but was a bit too sweet for my taste (I could easily imagine reducing it to a syrup to drizzle on something). The flier suggested pairing it with mixed greens, balsamic strawberry vinaigrette, and Stilton cheese, so I got some Stilton out of the refrigerator (which I had purchased with just this eventuality in mind), and we had a post-dinner snack of Stilton and wine. The salt of the cheese was just what was needed for the sweetness of the wine.   

And now we come to tonight, when I felt obligated to try that last bottle of wine, the 2010  Ernst Holler, Blaufrankisch, with a dinner of turkey breast sauteed with smoked paprika and a side of creamed corn, both fresh from this morning's farmers market, and I was delighted. This was definitely my favorite of the group: The color is extraordinarily deep, dark, and beautiful (I am sure I have mentioned I've got a thing for color before, right?), and the flavor is just a little spicy and a little smoky and gets better and more complex as it stands in your glass.

And so in the end, this box of wines turned a crummy week into a week of trying new things, of pairing foods with wines, of elevating the everyday (and certainly the lousy day) and making life a little more special. And this may be the lesson I have to learn from this week: You may have to go above and beyond to make life special and worthwhile, but if you don't, what's the point? It's all just drudgery if you don't. At any rate, I want to thank the people at Schlossadler for turning my week around. 

The recipe for Shrimp Skagen salad is incredibly easy and very festive. It's a typical Swedish party dish and can be served on toast, in a baked potato, or in an avocado half as I did here (the creaminess of the avocado is especially rich and wonderful with the creaminess of this salad). (Like the Skagen toast recipe I made for Swedish midsummer a few months ago, you can find most of the ingredients at IKEA; I know it's not local, but in this case, it seems kind of necessary.) The recipe for the dish follows, but don't forget to skip to the end of this post to find the whole list of great food and wine slated for this week's #SundaySupper. Also, there's a special discount for free shipping for anyone who wants to join Schlossadler's wine club.

Shrimp Skagen salad in avocado halves

  • 1 500-gram bag of frozen northern shrimp, defrosted, peeled, chopped (set a few whole ones aside as a garnish)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream, or creme fraiche
  • 1-2 Tbsps herring roe, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill (or 1 tsp dried), to taste 
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved
  • thin lemon slices, halved

Mix the shrimp, mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, and herring roe in a bowl. Chill for an hour to let the flavors come together. Top the avocado halves with a tablespoon or two of the mixture and garnish with thin lemon slices. 
Now, grab a glass of wine and join this week’s special #SundaySupper wine event. Here are some of the great recipes featured during this event, and don't forget to follow the hashtag #SundaySupper on Twitter at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.   
But the fabulous recipes don’t stop there, there are more amazing recipes to pair with these fabulous wines:
Wine Pairings by  ENOFYLZ

Join us at 7pm ET for our #SundaySupper Chat with @schlossiwines. Follow along on twitter by using hashtag #Sundaysupper or using Tweetchat.  We love to feature your recipes on our #sundaysupper pinterest board and share them with all our followers.
We have a special discount for all participants: Free Shipping when you join The Wine Club by Schlossadler Wines use code FFSS1.
Next Shipment is October 2012 ~ Halloween Day  Ghostly Whites, Haunted Red for all friendly spirits everywhere.
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bacon and Cheese Quiche for #SundaySupper and #CookForJulia

Who doesn't love Julia Child? Her crazy high-pitched voice, her fondness for butter and wine, and above all her enthusiasm for life and food. She was a great light and a great inspiration, especially for people who love food and for late bloomers.

Because I am so fond of her, I knew I had to participate in this week's #SundaySupper event, despite a nasty flu-like bug that has left me aching and feverish. This week's #SundaySupper is all about honoring Julia Child, who would have turned 100 years on August 15, by cooking some of her recipes. The last words of her introduction to The Way to Cook express some of the ideals of the #SundaySupper group: "The pleasures of the table--that lovely old-fashioned phrase--depict food as an art form, as a delightful part of civilized life. In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

After flipping through my copy of The Way to Cook, I decided to make a bacon and cheese quiche with a scratch-made crust, which may have been a little ambitious given the fever I've had all day, but hey, it's Julia, you know? How could I possibly just go and buy a crust?

This is the first pastry crust I have ever made, and I am happy to have finally tried it. I feel capable of making more pies, tarts, and quiches now (honestly, if I didn't have a bunch of book chapters to clean up for a client, I'd do it again tomorrow). Let me be clear, this wasn't easy. Making a good pie or tart crust is a difficult, fiddly business. But it's remarkably satisfying. And it tastes good and buttery, and it's nice, crisp, and flaky. The base recipe is also easy to repurpose for savory or sweet uses, so if you learn to make this one crust, you can make a lot of different tasty treats.  

For the quiche shells, I deviated only in one respect from Julia's recipe. In place of the vegetable shortening required in the recipe (which I don't feel comfortable using because it's a mystery ingredient to me), I used lard. (I was so excited to find a source for local, grass-fed pork lard at the farmers market this morning; I know, call me a food nerd, it'll make me happy.) Let me explain a little about lard. Before the invention of hydrogenation, "shortening" was equivalent to "lard," which is white pork fat. Lard doesn't taste porky at all, it is a clean fat that is solid at room temperature (and very easy to make yourself). It prevents the formation of long strings of gluten, which means that your dough will be tender, not chewy like bread. If you don't want to use lard, just swap it out with vegetable shortening.

OK, so let's get to work. (And don't forget to skip to the end of this post and check out all the other tasty recipes and blog posts that are part of today's #SundaySupper #CookForJulia event!)

Ingredients for the Quiche Shells (Butter Dough)
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 tsp salt (for savory tarts) OR 1/4 tsp salt and 2 Tbsps sugar (for sweet tarts)
  • 6 ounces chilled, unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 ounces chilled lard (or vegetable shortening, if you must)
  • 1/2 cup ice water (plus a few extra drops as needed)
You will also need two 9-inch tart pans (or you can use two 9-inch pie pans), plastic wrap, tin foil, pie weights (or dried beans), and extra butter.

Instructions for the Quiche Shells

I recommend making the shells at least a day before you plan to make the quiche. You can also shape the crust in the tart pan and freeze it for another day.

First, mix together the dry ingredients: the flours and the salt (or the flours, the salt, and the sugar).

Then, add the flour mixture and the diced cold butter to a food processor. Pulse the flour and the butter about 5 to 6 times (don't overwork this). Next, with the food processor running, add the lard (or shortening). Then add the ice water and pulse again about 5 to 6 times. The mass in the bowl should be loose and clumpy.

If you pick up a fist-sized clump of the dough, it should just come together. If it's too dry, add a few more drops of water. 

Turn the loose, clumpy mass out onto a baking board (if you have a marble board, now's the time to use it). Just barely mash it all together and make two flat discs. (Keep in mind that you want to work this dough as little as possible.) Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least two hours and up to two days to let the gluten relax.

After you've let the dough chill, roll it out on a floured board. (Keep the dough cold. If it gets too soft to work with, just chill the dough again for 20-30 minutes and start over.) Roll it out to a diameter of about 12 inches (about an inch larger than the tart pan). Then roll the dough onto the rolling pin. Butter the tart pan.  

Gently roll the dough on top of the buttered tart pan. 

Push down the extra dough to thicken the side walls of the tarts. Cut off any excess dough by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan. Use any extra dough to fill holes as needed. Prick the dough all over and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Here's where you can freeze the dough to bake it another time.)

When it's time to bake the shells, preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a sheet of tinfoil and place it butter side down on top of the raw dough. Place either dried beans or pie weights on top of the foil, filling the pan. Slide the pan into the oven. 

After 15 minutes, take the pan out of the oven (be very careful if you have a pan with a bottom that separates from the ring). Remove the pie weights or beans and the tinfoil. Prick the dough again and slide back into the oven for another 4 to 5 minutes to get some nice color. 

After you take the shells out of the oven, let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then remove the pan and let them cool completely. 

Ingredients for the Bacon and Cheese Quiche Filling

(This is enough for one shell. Feel free to use the second shell for another filling, or wrap it carefully and freeze it.)
  • 6 slices bacon, sliced into pieces (of course, I used the Haskins' incomparable bacon
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (cheddar would be good too)
  • salt, pepper, grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs plus enough heavy cream, half and half, or milk to get 1 1/2 cups
Instructions for Assembling and Baking the Bacon and Cheese Quiche

Place the shell back into the tart ring or pan for stability. 

Cook the bacon until it's crispy and let it drain a bit on paper towels. Line the bottom of the quiche shell with the pieces of bacon. 

Sprinkle all but a tablespoon of the cheese on top of the bacon. 

Mix the eggs with the cream, half and half, or milk (just enough to break up the yolks and disperse them evenly throughout the custard). Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. I also added some fresh thyme from the garden. Pour the eggs into the shell and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top. Slide into the oven for 30-35 minutes until the eggs have puffed and browned.  

Let the cooked quiche cool on a rack for a little while, slice, and enjoy.

You can find other quiche fillings and lots of other great Julia Child recipes at these #SundaySupper blogs:

#CookForJulia Breakfast
Râpée Morvandelle by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings 
Croissants by Cookistry 
#CookForJulia Lunch
Tuna Salad Nicoise by Magnolia Days 
Blood Orange, Walnut, and Rocket Salad by Granny’s Down Home Southern Cooking 
Croque Monsieur by Webicurean
Spinach and Cream Cheese Pancakes by Happy Baking Days 
Julia’s Chicken Salad by My Trials in the Kitchen 
Pissaladière Niçoise (Onion Tart with Anchovies and Black Olives) by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Provencal Tomato Quiche by Are you hungry?
Quiche Lorraine  Spoon and Saucer 
#CookForJulia Dinner
Boeuf Bourguignon by Chelsea’s Culinary Indulgence
Orecchiette Con Broccoli Di Rape and Sausages by Doggie at the Dinner Table 
Boeuf Bourguignon by Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks
Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms with Baked Cucumbers and Boiled Potatoes (Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne with concombres au buerre) by Kimchi Mom
Salmon en Papillote by Girlichef
Poached salmon with cucumber sauce by Katherine Martinelli
Lobster Souffle and Deviled Chicken by Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends 
Roasted Chicken with Julia’s Mustard Marinade by The Meltaways
Wild Mushroom and Herb Stuffed Chicken by Mama Mommy Mom
Puree of White Beans with Garlic and Herbs (Brandade á la Soissonaise) by Avocado Pesto
Poulet au Porto by Family Foodie 
#CookForJulia Sides
Hollondaise over Blanched Asparagus by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Scalloped Potatoes with Milk, Cheese, and Garlic (Gratin Dauphinois) by Home Cooking Memories 
Ratatouille by Basic N Delicious 
French-style country pate by There and Back Again
White Bean Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips by Momma’s Meals
Oeufs à la Diable by What Smells So Good?
Soubise by The Weekend Gourmet
Ratatouille by Cupcakes and Kale Chips
#CookForJulia Desserts
Cream Cheese and Lemon Flan by Juanita’s Cocina
Strawberry Sherbert in Cooky Cups by Cravings of a Lunatic
Creme Brulee by Wine Everyday
Mousseline Au Chocolat by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Peach Tarte Tatin by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cinnamon Toast Flan by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Dark Chocolate Crepes by Family Spice
Crepes Fines Sucrees by Mangoes and Chutney
Pommes Rosemarie:Apples Rosie by The Daily Dish Recipes
Espresso Soufflé by Chocolate Moosey
Best Ever Brownies by In the Kitchen with Audrey
Orange-Almond Jelly Roll Cake by Mrs. Mama Hen
Orange Spongecake Cupcakes by Mama’s Blissful Bites
Orange Mousse with Greek Yogurt by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Wine Pairings: Relishing Food and Wine; Thanks to Julia Child! by ENOFYLZ

The fun starts every week at 3:00pm ET by showcasing fabulous recipes. At 7:00 pm ET, we will start our live chat. Join us on Twitter by using hashtag #Sundaysupper or using Tweetchat. See you there!