Saturday, February 7, 2009

I'm back, did anybody miss me?

Maybe not, except for Gene, Max, Rose, Buck and all of the other two and four legged creatures who get fed at the Ironhorse Farm. Mind you, Gene does all of the feeding, but I feed Gene, so I guess I have some importance around the place. I have been to see my Mom, Jake, Kelly and David. They all live close to each other in suburbs of Birmingham, in Shelby County Alabama. I had a great trip. My intent was to nurture my family, but they reversed roles and I came home nurtured too. Family works like that. I drove almost five hundred miles, alone, but not really. You see I took my cell phone, my link to the world, and my IPOD, my link to sanity and to the music world. My drive in both directions was a treat. My eyes were lenses, if only they had been cameras, I would have more to show you.  I only took a few real photos on the way home.  My photos do not do the rural countryside of Georgia justice. Red clay roads abound.  Dignified, unpainted barns and houses make me wish I could hear all of their stories.  The remnants of cotton crops already harvested lying in fields, and groves of pecan trees tell the tale of making a living.  The people in this area of Georgia look like they have always lived within their means.  Looks may be deceiving, but I hope not.
It has taken me a couple of days to cycle through doing not much in the kitchen arena but I am semi ready to get started again.  I had frozen my version of Ina Gartin's Chicken Stew(no pearl onions, added mushrooms instead) and I am planning to embelish it with a batter that I have used on an older recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.  Then after we eat I want to make Nigella's Granola.  I was excited to find the Brown Rice Syrup the recipe calls for  at the Whole Foods in B'ham.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (if in hurry, use rotisserie chicken from grocery store)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 4 teaspoons Chicken Soup Base
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter (I reduced this to only 1/2 stick and it turned out terrific.)
2 onions chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups carrots diced
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 potatoes, peeled, and cubed
Sliced mushrooms (I added because we like them)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with
salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside and cool
enough to handle, then remove them from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken
into large dice. You should have 4-6 cups of cubed chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a
large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to
15 minutes, or until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for
2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute,
stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add carrots and potatoes, simmer over medium-low for 15 minutes or until tender. Add the
chicken, peas, and parsley. Mix well.
This is where I stopped with Ina’s recipe. The night I made this, I divided the total into two casserole dishes, topping one dish with "ready to bake" store bought frozen biscuits, plopped them on the stew and followed the recommended temp and cooking time on the package. The second casserole I did not top with anything and covered it with plastic wrap and froze for a later time.    I defrosted my saved stew overnight in the fridge and topped it with the batter (recipe below) and it was delish!

Biscuit Batter Topping
1 1/4 cup self rising flour
1 tsp salt (optional) 
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, mixed with 1 tsp. baking soda 
1 stick butter, melted
dash pepper

Mix the flour, buttermilk, salt and pepper together to make the batter.
Spread onto the stew and pour the melted butter over all and take a fork and poke at it to distribute the butter.
bake at   for 425 for 50 minutes. *note; Next time I will heat the stew for 20 minutes prior to adding the biscuit batter topping and then spread to batter and bake.

Nigella's Granola adapted from Feast

Dry ingredients:
5 cups rolled oats
2 to 3 cups raw almonds or pecan halves, or a mixture
1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
¾ cup sesame seeds
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
Wet ingredients:
¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir to mix well. In a small
bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients. Stir to mix well. Pour the wet
ingredients over the dry ones, and stir well.
Spread the mixture evenly on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35 to 40
minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Set a timer to go off every ten minutes
while the granola bakes, so you can rotate the pans and give the granola a good
stir; this helps it to cook evenly. When it’s ready, remove the pans from the
oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and set
aside to cool. The finished granola may still feel slightly soft when it comes out
of the oven, but it will crisp as it cools.
Scoop cooled granola into to a large zipper-lock plastic bag or other airtight
container. Store in the refrigerator indefinitely.
Yield: about 10 cups


1 comment: