Tag Archives: celery

Herbie the Chicken


Or should that be Herby Chicken?

hmmmm

Well, I may have gotten carried away the other day when I decided to defrost and cook a lovely big roasting chicken I had in the freezer.

It was so pretty, big and plump and juicy.

And it was also hot outside so I didn’t want to cook it in the oven, like I should have.

I decided to cook it in the crock pot and I think I outsmarted myself.

I did, actually.

I thought 4 hours in the crockpot would be OK, but it was about 2 hours too long.   My poor chicken fell apart.

And the fresh herbs, well, they kinda over took the chicken and hijacked it.

But the beginning of it was just fine.

I took a half lemon (and cut the skin off and used it in the Lemon Extract)  and two garlic cloves, put them inside the cavity and then browned the chicken in some EVOO and butter.

 

 

Placed the chicken in the Crockpot. Added a half cup of Riesling wine, cause it was sitting on the counter  and I still had a half bottle left from the weekend.

Then I went out in the garden, well, to my herb pots and picked some fresh oregano, mint, thyme and parsley and raided a few leaves off of the Celery plant as well.

Took them in the house, gave them a rinse, then popped the herbs into the pan I’d browned the chicken in, just wanted to get the herby oils released from the leaves and then added some of my Home Made Chicken Stock, about 2 cups worth.

***Hint*** If you make your own stock, freeze it in a muffin tin.  Each depression holds about 1/2 cup.
***Hint***  If you are using fresh herbs, remember that they are a lot stronger in flavour than dried herbs.  In other words, you get more oomph for your recipe.

I then put the herbs on top of the chicken, put the lid on and walked away.

 

If you noticed I did not salt and pepper anything.  The chicken stock was well seasoned and the herbs, well, they took the place of the stock.

After 4 hours, I decided to take the chicken out of the crock pot and it fell apart. sigh.  But all the wonderful liquid in the bottom was good.  I used part of it for a gravy and froze the rest.
I really liked the taste, especially since I sautéed some frozen veggies with some leftover rice for my side dish.

It was a little too herby for my DH’s taste, but I noticed he ate all the breast meat anyway.

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Peas n’ Rice


It’s been awhile since I’ve had some Peas n’ Rice so I thought I would make some this week.    I’m lucky in that I have access to Pigeon Peas here, but if you don’t have any in your store, just use some black eyed peas.   They work very well.    And my version of this dish isn’t as totally authentic as it could be, but I make it to our taste, and we like it this way.   Most recipes call for salt pork, but we like the flavour of ham in this dish.   This is a great way to stretch a little bit of ham to feed a lot of people.

To start with, get your ham out and cut it into little bitty pieces.  Throw in a couple of slices of bacon as well, bacon goes with everything.  You want a fine dice here.    You need about 4 oz. or more.   As I said, this is a great recipe for stretching a bit of meat.   And with the rice and peas, you’re actually getting a lot of protein as well as some complex carbs.   It’s all good.
Saute it in the pan until golden brown,

stir it once in a while as you’re chopping up a green pepper, a stalk or two of celery, and an onion til they are also a fine dice.

Throw them into the pan with the sautéed meat and cook until the veggies have cooked  through, and are getting a little mushy.
When they are just a little mushy, add the tomato paste and stir in to the pan, and let it cook down for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.

And then add the can of drained Pigeon Peas,

And another couple of tablespoons of Tomato Paste, if desired.   I like my Peas n’ Rice with a fair amount of tomato paste.

Then stir it and let it cook for another couple of minutes before adding the rice, water and thyme.   If you have fresh thyme, place 4 or 5 sprigs on top after the rice is added.     Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.

Serve alongside some Bahamian Mac n’ Cheese, and enjoy with a nice cold Kalik.

Recipe

4 slices bacon, finely diced
2-4 oz. ham, finely diced
1 whole green pepper, finely diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
1-2 stalks celery, finely diced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15 oz. can Pigeon Peas  (or substitute Black eyed peas)
1 cup rice
2 cups water
4 sprigs fresh thyme or
1/2 teaspoon thyme

Saute the bacon and ham until they are nicely browned, add the veggies and sauté lightly, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.   Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring frequently.    Add the Pigeon Peas and continue to cook for a few more minutes.  Finally add the rice and water as well as the thyme, cover and let cook until the rice is done.    Serve alongside a grilled meat or Mac n’ Cheese.

One of my treasured cook books is this one:

And this is where I go for the recipes, of course I had to put my spin on the Peas n’ Rice.   I’ve made this the ‘proper’ way before, but really like the smoked flavour of the bacon and ham better.

Try this for a little different dish, and something you can share with your family.

Shrimp Salad


I had fun playing around with some ideas for Tapa’s night this month, and I finally narrowed it down, and made a final decision, but it wasn’t easy.

I had thought about making some Sausage Rolls, I have some HP sauce in the cupboard and Sausage Rolls and HP sauce are ‘da bomb’ together.  Whoops, did that date me?  Too bad.   Then I had the idea to make some Pizza bites, but…  that really didn’t excite me.    Then I thought, hmmm, Mini Quiché bites.    I have mini tart pans, and can make a bunch up at a time, I can make one batch vegetarian and the other with some lovely ham and bacon pieces in it them.  But it didn’t get me that fired up.  I mean I have to be excited or at the very least somewhat enthusiastic about what I’m making.    Then I had that “AHA, I GOT IT” moment, whew, that one almost hurt.  IGA had some jalapeno’s on sale this week, and they were a decent price and looked good.   And I needed to replenish my stock of Jalapeno’s in my freezer anyways, so Stuffed Jalapeno’s it was.   And I like to make have a choice for my friends who don’t care for meat, so I decided to cook the shrimp I bought the other day, since I didn’t get them cooked and had to freeze them,

Frozen Shrimp,defrosting

 

 

 

Cooled and ready to peel

and make a Shrimp Salad.    And while I didn’t have any crackers for the Shrimp Salad I did have some Fillo dough in the freezer so I made some Fillo cups.

I found out Fillo dough is rather picky.   It likes to be kept moist, dries out faster than I’ve ever seen anything dry out, but once you’ve got some butter brushed across it, it molds like a dream.  Melt some butter, I think I used a quarter of a stick, just make sure you have a pastry brush handy.    Unroll your sheet of Fillo dough, about three inches wide or so and cut into one long length.    Keep the rest rolled up in the plastic wrapper, it does stay together better that way.  (and make sure you take it out of the freezer about an hour before you want to use it.   It  does not unroll easily when frozen.   Please learn from my mistakes.)  Brush butter across one or two sheets of dough at a time, and stack to the side.   I found it was easy to do that.  Then take a sharp knife and cut that length into thirds.   At this point pick up about 4 sheets or so of the dough and place into your mini muffin or tart pan.  Pressing the dough down into the cup, repeat until all cups are done.   Bake in a 350 deg. preheated oven for about 10 minutes or so until the cups are a lovely light brown.

If you have more dough, cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.   I think you could also flavor the butter with some garlic or …  just to add a little pizzaz.
Set out with the Shrimp Salad and let your guests spoon the salad into the fillo cups.

As you can see I got to the dish a little late in the day, and most of it was eaten already.

Shrimp Salad

1 lb. Shrimp, peeled, cut into thirds, poached in some seasoned water  (I boiled some water with a bay leaf, some peppercorns, cayenne pepper, Natures Seasons and dill)
4 stalks celery, cut into a fine dice
1 tablespoon onion, minced  (could use red onion here for prettiness sake)
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix together and taste for seasoning, then refrigerate.

Prime Rib Roast, Part One


I like to astound, mystify and generally amaze people by my casualness about cooking a Prime Rib Roast. (Y’all know I’m kidding, right?)    So many people get totally intimidated by this cut of meat and while I can somewhat sympathize, I don’t really understand it totally.   If anything, this is one of the easiest cuts of meat to cook.   The problem lies in the fact that it’s really pretty pricey and that is scary in and of itself.    But if you find it on sale, and try to cook one, I think you would be surprised at how easy it can be to cook one.

Roast resting on some celery stalks and with mushrooms nestled beside it.

I’ve been making Prime Rib Roasts for many years, and had a blast cooking these roasts when we were out camping in the wilds, away from civilization, (we didn’t even have electricity or running water), just an RV with a large oven.   I insisted on the large oven when we bought our Motorhome and have never regretted it.  However,  I digress, or got sidetracked or …

If you’ve ever cooked a roast, you can make a Prime Rib Roast, it really is that simple.    I still don’t know if I was fearless or stupid or …  but the first time I cooked a Prime Rib Roast I cooked a 16 pound one.   And guess what?   It was fine.  In fact it was downright good.   And what made it even better, we ate it while we were camping out in the woods.   Just something about cutting into a big old hunk of meat, way out in the backwoods.  (sorry to any vegetarians who are reading this).    It was primitive and good, or is that good and primitive?    And it also made quite an impression on my fellow campers.    And when a local store happened to have a killer sale on the roasts a while later, I did it again,only this time I cooked two of those roasts, again while camping.   In fact for years, that’s the only time I made Rib Roasts.  While we were camping.   And then watched everyone fighting over the rib bones that were left.    I’m not talkin’ about the dogs either, sigh, what grown men will do when faced with something like a big ol’ meaty bone.   Gets that primitive streak going, I tell ya.

At any rate, over the years I’ve refined and refined my technique and I think I finally have it almost perfect, at least til the next time when I make it a little different   tweak it some more.

There are a few basic rules that I always follow.

1) Pick the most appetizing piece of meat that you can, if the butcher is impatient with you, tough, it’s your money.   I don’t like a ridge of fat running through the middle of the roast, and have rejected a lot like that.   For my taste, it makes the meat too greasy.   Take a look at both ends of the roast.   And my own personal preference, I don’t like the meat cut from the bone.  (unlike the picture above, it was the best looking roast I could find that day)  While it may make the meat easy to carve, it also loses a lot of juice and I don’t think the meat is as tender.

2) Take it out of the fridge for at least 2 (two) hours before cooking, to warm up a little, it cooks so much more evenly when it’s close to room temperature.

3) I forgive myself if it isn’t perfect.  Life happens.

4)  I use my meat thermometer!  This is really, really important.  If you have one of the wired kind, like a Polder, great.  I monitor the roast constantly, I watch the temperature, and in the past adjusted the oven temp all the time.   But not any more, I finally got one of  the best, most perfectly cooked roasts  this week.  (and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take a picture of it after it came out of the oven, sometimes I really tick myself off.)

5) Make sure you buy a roast that’s big enough.    I usually figure on 1.5 lbs per person.  YUP, 1 1/2 lbs per person.    That is, if you’re cooking a roast with ribs.  The rule of thumb for most people is that you get two servings of meat per rib.   So if you have a 4 rib roast, you have 8 servings of meat.  You can Google all the sites you like and they’ll pretty much tell you the same thing.   But, they just don’t know my family.   Some of the members like the ” OH MY GAWD” cut, which is a little bit larger than life.   Trust me, I’ve seen them consume it and look for more later.   My BIL could make a decent dent in a roast, as does my DH.   I made a two rib roast the other day, and didn’t have much left over.    I like having leftovers, so I will cook a roast just a little bit bigger than I think I need.   But I don’t always get them.

Since this post is getting a little long, I’ll close for now and detail how to make the perfect roast in the next post.

Shrimp Etouffee and Beignets


I attended the monthly cooking demo at the Crooked River Grill this past Wednesday, it’s held every month and every month we get to see and taste new foods, well the Shrimp Etouffee was new to me.   I’d always wanted to try it, and finally got a chance to.   The guest chef was Ivanhoe and her husband Cliff and in the spirit of Mardi Gras they made some New Orleans style food.    Ivanhoe stressed the fact that making the Roux was the hardest part of putting together the Etouffee.   You need to stir and stir and stir and stir the roux mixture in the pan until it turns a lovely chocolate color.   If you don’t keep stirring, you can burn it very easily.   I know, the last time I made GumboI had to start the Roux over again.  I just didn’t admit it that day.We had some lovely Potato Corn Chowder and Salad to start with,

Potato Corn Chowder with crab

then we were served with the Shrimp Etouffee,

Shrimp Etouffee

and for afters, Beignets.  Click on the link, this is the recipe that Ivanhoe used.   And they were tasty.

Frying the Beignets
Ivanhoe busy with the Beignets

Did you know you can powder a bunch of Beignets by dumping some powdered sugar in brown paper sack, then placing the Beignets in there and shaking the whole thing up?

After the Powdered Sugar dunking
Throw the Beignets in,
And shake them up.

I’ve breaded fish and chicken doing this but have to admit to never doing some thing like Beignets.

Here’s Ivanhoe’s recipe for the Shrimp Etouffee, and pardon me Ivanhoe, but I added a few details to clarify the recipe instructions.

Shrimp Etouffee recipe

2 lbs. Crawfish tails or Shrimp
1/2- 1 stick butter (1/4 lb.)
1/4 cup Olive Oil (she uses light)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
Tony’s Chachere Famous Creole Seasoning
Paprika
1/2 cup flour
4-5 cans Chicken Broth
Kitchen Bouquet (vegetable seasoning and coloring)

Make a roux with 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour and stir, stir, stir over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan until it is a nice deep brown and gives off a nutty aroma.   To the roux add the chopped onions, garlic, celery and green pepper.   Cook an additional 5 minutes or so and then add the chicken broth, whisking well to incorporate the liquid.   This will thicken quite nicely.   Add liquid until it gets to the consistency you prefer.   Meanwhile, take the crawfish or shrimp and put in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkled liberally with the Tony’s seasoning and then put 2 tablespoons of butter on top and microwave on high 3-5 minutes.   Take out of microwave and add to the pot.  Stir well, let it simmer 10 minutes, then sprinkle a couple dustings of paprika on top.   Mix well and simmer 10 more minutes.   Taste and add Tony’s seasoning and salt to taste.  (I might add here, if you use salted chicken broth, you might not need additional salt).  If it’s too thick, add a little more liquid, if too thin, whisk in some flour and water.
Serve over rice with some Fresh French Bread.
Serves 8-10 people.
All in all, a good time was had by most.

Home Made Chicken Stock


I keep referring to my home-made Chicken Stock, and realized that not everyone makes their own, but I do, so I wanted to share my process.   For me it’s an easy to do thing, and I always try to have a couple of containers of stock in my freezer, they come in so handy.   And if the freezer is getting a little ‘small’ cause of all the stuff I’ve frozen, I just make the stock a little more concentrated.   Wait a minute, I should do that anyway, it makes more sense, less space, more stock, a win win situation.

The absolute best base for stock is an old laying hen or rooster, but these days, we just don’t have access to old chickens, so we have to buy chickens from the store.   I make chicken stock year round, in the summer it goes into the crock pot, and in the fall or during colder weather, I do it on my kitchen stove.

And I make chicken stock when I’ve got all the ingredients together.  I save the celery leaves from the celery I buy, they freeze well, so I don’t need to go out and buy celery.  I halve and stem the onions, just wash them really well, but don’t bother peeling the onion. You wouldn’t believe the nice golden color the peels impart to the soup.   And I always have carrots on hand.   You don’t need to peel them either, (but I do), just cut them in half and dump them in.

 

Last but not least, chicken bones.  You can save the carcass from a roast chicken, a rotisserie chicken, or the leftovers from the fried chicken you made the last week.  Any leftover bones are fair game in my house.  If you make Chicken Wings, save the tips, and use those.  A couple of weeks ago I made a chicken dish and since chicken breasts were on sale for .99/lb. I grabbed a large package.  It meant I had to bone them out for my dish, but that’s easy and just takes seconds to do.   And I ended up with the bones from several breasts.  So I threw them in the oven and baked them til they were a nice golden brown.  Because I didn’t have time to make chicken stock that day, I just bagged them and chucked them into the freezer.

Basic Ingredients for this batch of Stock
Chicken bones (I used the bones from three breasts, browned in the oven)
Celery Leaves ( the tops from two stalks)
Carrots (one large carrot)
Onions ( one onion, halved)
Bay Leaf (if you like)
Water  (8 cups)
Salt and Pepper to taste, at the end.

Now here’s where the fun begins.  You can add several layers of flavor to the stock with some of the following:    Saute the onions, celery and carrots in a little olive oil before adding them to the stock.  Or roast them in the oven and let them brown a little before adding to the chicken bones.   Brown the chicken bones and then add them to the veggies, doesn’t matter, it’s all good.   Most important, let it simmer for a long, long time.  I didn’t add salt or pepper until the end, I wanted   to taste the stock, and then I only add the least amount of salt and pepper.  And then I simmer it and simmer it and simmer it.   OK, so I just simmer it on the stove top for about 3 hours, with the lid on for the first 2 hours.   The last hour is the one I use to help concentrate all that chicken  goodness.  I take the lid off and watch it.  And I want to stress this again, don’t dump in all the salt and pepper in the beginning, if you reduce the broth, you won’t reduce the salt, you’ll just concentrate it.

This batch is lovely and browned from the chicken bones I browned first, and it’s simmered long enough that I’ve managed to reduce the 8 cups of water to two ice-cube trays full of stock.
I put it into ice-cube trays and will use it to flavour gravies, just plop a nice concentrated cube into the gravy and VOILA!, instant flavour.

So now you know how I spent part of my day.    I can now go to the freezer (as soon as these freeze), take out a cube or two and throw it into some gravy, or some soup to oomph it up a little.  Whenever I like and it will be all good.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo


I tasted this Gumbo just before Christmas, we’d been invited over to a friends for dinner and it was so good.   (people have been known to invite me over, I don’t do all the cooking around here)

I love Gumbo anyway, but have to admit I’ve never made it from scratch, well, I now have a new recipe in my arsenal.    In fact, I made it the other day for dinner.   I did make a few minor changes to the original recipe, but hey, I’m the cook.   And don’t you forget it!    Sorry, I got carried away there.

I didn’t cook as much chicken as the recipe called for, but I did use the full amount of vegetables.   Veggies are good for you, aren’t they?

And this is more a note to myself, that when I put chicken stock in the freezer, to label it better.   I accidentally put some of my super charged (highly concentrated) stock into the gumbo by mistake, but was able to correct it.     And on the whole, the recipe was good.   Next time I make it I will try to use a some red or yellow bell peppers, more for the contrasting color than anything else.   I also didn’t make the full recipe of Roux either.  Something about a half cup of oil and a full cup of flour, I thought it would be too much for the three half breasts of chicken and one link of Andouille sausage I used.

Start with browning the chicken in a little oil, then set the chicken aside while you cook the roux.

This will take you a good half hour or so,  until it turns a rich dark brown.

 

You need to pay attention, cooking this over a low heat and stirring, and stirring and stirring.    I think next time I make this I will use a little butter in with it, just to add another layer of flavour.
But while it’s cooking you can chop up the vegetables, for that you need three of my fav’s, a green pepper, an onion and celery, or if you’re not into multi-tasking, just chop the veggies first and set them aside.

Chop up the celery, and onion quite finely, then rough chop the green pepper, and don’t forget the clove or two or three of garlic.  Especially since I forgot to get a picture of that.   And then the very important chile pepper.   I threw in a couple of Chile de Arbol peppers, but next time, I think I’ll add a couple more.   Not too sure where this Danish girl got her love of spice, but I do like me some spicy food.

Chop up the onion, mince the garlic and slice the sausage.   I used one link of the Andouille Sausage here.

 

Next, dump the chopped up veggies and sausage into the pan with the roux and stir it around, coating the veggies.  It will look a little odd at this point.

Pour in the stock while stirring, otherwise it kinda glops together.

Place the chicken into the veggies and stock, add a bay leaf and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken and veggies are done.  And next time, I’ll cut the chicken into smaller pieces when I serve it.  These were a little unwieldy.   Even though I’d cut each piece of chicken into three.

Add either some fresh okra or some canned okra at the end, let that simmer for a few minutes, and then serve over rice.

We had enough for dinner and three lunches for me.  *giggle*, so I threw the rest into the freezer and now I have lunches.

Here is the full recipe.

Chicken Gumbo 
3 lb Chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces
1/2 cup oil
1 cup flour
2-3 dried red chili peppers or 1-2 fresh chili peppers
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz andouille sausage or garlic sausage, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Dash Tabasco  (I use Crystal Hot Sauce)
Salt and pepper
4 oz fresh okra  (I used one can of okra, could also use frozen here)
Cooked rice

Heat the oil in a large saute’ pan or frying pan and brown the chicken on both sides, 3-4 pieces at a time.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
Lower the heat under the pan and add the flour.  Cook over a very low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring constantly until the flour turns a rich dark brown.   Take the pan off the heat occasionally, so that the flour does not burn.   Add the chili peppers, onion, green pepper, sausage and garlic to the roux and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat, stirring continuously.  Pour on the stock and stir well.   Add the bay leaf and dash of Tabasco if desired, and return the chicken to the pan.   Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
Top and tail the okra if using fresh, and cut each into 2 or 3 pieces, if okra is small, leave whole.   Add to the chicken and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and serve over rice.