Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Favorite Roast Chicken

When I was living in NYC there was a place in Spanish Harlem near my apartment called El Coqui. It was a small take-out restaurant that had some counter seating and they served "cuchifritos", which are fried snacks.  They also had these awesome rotisserie chickens that they served with yellow rice and beans.  The meat was really juicy and had great flavor along with this perfectly browned crispy skin.  I sometimes get a hankering for the chicken and since I'm far away now, I've had to think up a recipe to satisfy our craving.  This one comes pretty close!  I serve this with a yellow rice mix and some Goya black or red kidney beans warmed up with a teaspoon of dried minced onion and some salt and pepper.

My Favorite Roast Chicken
4-6 pieces of chicken (skin on, bone in, dark and/or white meat)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons each cut up into 8 chunks
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon Adobo
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
3 Tablespoons white wine (optional)
fresh ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and pat dry the chicken and place in a roasting pan big enough to fit all the chicken and lemon chunks snugly in the pan.  Mix the parsley, Adobo, garlic powder, and Lawry's together in a small condiment dish.  Pour the olive oil over the chicken and lemons and make sure it covers everything evenly.  Then sprinkle the dry ingredients over the chicken and lemons.   Splash over the white wine and a few turns of the pepper mill and it's ready to go into the oven.  Cook for about an hour, basting a few times throughout, or until the juices run clear and the skin is browned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Timer Tip #1 - Lemony-fresh

To banish strong odors on your hands from cutting up onions and garlic, try rubbing a cut up lemon on your fingers and massaging in the juice. Hopefully you haven't nicked yourself while chopping said onions and garlic or this may sting a bit.  Pat dry and your hands are odor free!  If you don't have any lemons, you can keep a soap on hand that contains lemon extracts.  My mom turned me on to this one made by C.O. Bigelow Chemists.  If I had a blindfold on I'd think there was a lemon right under my nose!  It smells so good!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chili Warm-Up

We're right smack in the middle of winter in Central New York.  We've got cold weather, along with a lot of (beautiful) snow...a record 70 + inches for December alone!   This is the type of weather that makes me want to cook comfort food like Chili!  Here is a recipe I tried out this week.  It's not too hot however if you do like it spicier, you can adjust the heat to your liking.   One important thing to remember about dishes like chili and soups is it will taste MUCH better the second day.  So make this one night, put it in the fridge overnight and enjoy for dinner the next night.

adapted from the Marlboro Chili Roundup Cookbook
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 pound of ground beef
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 of a milk chocolate bar, broken into small pieces
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes (regular or fire-roasted)
2 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1 15-oz. can of kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz. can of black beans, drained (or you can use all kidney beans)
Garnishes: oyster crackers, grated cheddar cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, etc.

In a large pot, saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften, then add garlic.  Stir frequently, to avoid burning, for about 5 minutes until the onions have carmelized.  Remove from pot and set aside.

In the same pot (add a teaspoon more oil if needed), cook ground beef.  Stir frequently, breaking up the beef so it looks crumbly.  Once the beef is cooked through, drain the fat from the pot.  Return the cooked onions and garlic back to pot with the meat and add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the beans.

If there is not enough liquid to cover the mixture, add just enough water to cover (maybe 1/2 cup).  Mix well and bring the chili to a boil and then reduce the heat.  Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Add beans and simmer for an additional 15 minutes and then serve.  Makes 4 (hefty) portions.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Paste Makes Waste

Have you ever used tomato paste in a recipe and ended up with most of it leftover and wished it didn't have to go to waste? Sure, there are ways to save it by freezing it into tablespoon-sized portions by using a ice cube tray, then putting them into a plastic bag once they're frozen and then back in the freezer, but that is, well, a bit of a pain. In an issue of Food Network magazine in the 'Hot Tips' section they touted the reasons to use tomato paste in a tube. You can use just a small amount for a recipe and since the tube is airtight and can be resealed, it will keep in the refrigerator for a long time and there will be no need to defrost those little ice cubes of tomato paste! I picked up this tube of Amore brand tomato paste at my local supermarket. They have other kinds like herb and garlic pastes as well. So unless I have a recipe that calls for a whole can of paste, I'll be reaching for the tube from now in tonight's chili recipe!  I'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year all! I hope you enjoyed your holidays with family, friends and, of course, good food. One of my favorite gifts this year is this book: Encyclopedia of Cooking. It is 768-pages of everything cooking - not just recipes. It gives information on all the different types of food (i.e. oils, butter, vinegars, salt, pasta, fish, fruit, meat and grains) and the best to use for a particular recipe, how to select fresh food and the best techniques for preparation. The recipes range from simple to imaginative and there are tons of pictures, which I love in a cookbook. This book also lists staples you should have on hand such as baking items, rice, spices and extracts, for example, that can be used in a number of recipes. There is also a section that lists basic equipment that is useful to have on hand. It's like having your own culinary instructor in one book!

Needless to say I'm excited to dive into this book and am sure it will inspire many new posts this year! I'll leave you with a quote for the New Year that a colleague at work emailed me.

"We will open the book. It's pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and the first chapter is New Years Day."
-Edith Lovejoy Pierce