Sunday, January 29, 2012

Apple Bread Pudding and Exciting News

Dear Readers - we are delighted to announce that we will now be writing a column for our local newspaper, the Somerville Journal. We will still post here, of course! Today's post is for Apple Bread Pudding which we reference in our upcoming column.

Keja is so good about freezing things that would never even occur to me, and then sharing her summer bounty with me. She's a good friend. This year she froze apples (I know, who knew!). We wanted a hearty, warm dessert for the lamb and brussels sprouts and also needed to use up some bread, so came up with this.

Apple Bread Pudding

12 oz stale bread cubes, between 1/2 and 1 inch 
2 cups milk
2 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
½ cup rum (we used Folly Cove Rum from Gloucester's own Ryan & Wood Distilleries)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup dried coconut flakes
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup brown sugar, split in half
4 TBSP unsalted butter
3 cups frozen (or fresh) apples

Preheat oven to 375.

Put bread cubes in a large bowl.

Mix milk, buttermilk, eggs, rum, cinnamon, coconut, raisins and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl. Pour over bread.

In a frying pan melt butter. Add remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and apples and stir to coat apples. Pour everything from the pan into the bread. Mix well and spread into a 9x13" pan with at least 3 inch sides. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until top is starting to brown.

And the recipes posted in our column:

Leg of Lamb

1 whole lamb leg

In a small bowl blend:
2 TBSP mint jelly
1 TBSP olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper

Rub mixture over the leg of lamb. Place in a roasting pan and roast at 375 for ~ 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes until a thermometer in thickest part of leg (not touching bone) reads 126 degrees for medium rare. 

Oven Root Fries

3 medium potatoes sliced into French fry size
1 large sweet potato, sliced same as potatoes
4 medium beets, sliced same as potatoes

Put potatoes, sweet potato, and beet sticks on a cookie sheet. Toss in 1 to 2 TBSP olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Spread them out evenly.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chicken on and off the bone

Sometimes, I get lazy and make soup by tossing a whole lot of veggies and sometimes a little meat in a pot with chicken broth and simmering it for a while.  Then, I go to Whole Foods and think that their mom's chicken soup is better than mine.  With all due respect to Whole Foods cooks, that's mass-produced salad bar fare.  I pride myself in at least doing the down home recipes that I know better than a soup and salad bar.  I guess if I'm so busy that we're eating supper at Whole Foods I should let myself off the hook a little for not making a better chicken soup.  But of course, I'm so busy because I'm an overachiever, so instead, I have to prove to myself, and my son, that I'm the mom and I make a fantastic chicken soup.

But first, I'm low on chicken broth.  And the best chicken broth is made with roasted chicken bones.  So first comes roasted drumsticks, which are so good there almost aren't any left for the broth and soup.  But I save just enough, and realize I've got roasted chicken along the way, which is a key I'd almost forgotten to the best mom's chicken soup.

serves 4 or better yet 2 with leftovers for broth and chicken soup for 4

8 drumsticks
1 T large grain sea salt
1 T dried oregano
2 tsp. roughly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 large cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
8 shallots

Blend together spices and garlic in a bowl.  With your hands, rub all over the drumsticks.  Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Heat oven to 350.  Peel shallots and cut in half.  Lay the chicken and the shallots in a roasting pan.  Roast for 45 minutes, turning chicken once halfway through. 

serve with Oven Fries
1 large russet potato per person
Peel potatoes, slice into fry shapes, and place in a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes (and up to all day in the fridge).  Remove potatoes from water, pat dry, lay on a baking sheet and toss with 1 T olive oil, 1 tsp. coarse sea salt, and 1 tsp. ground black pepper.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.


4 roasted drumsticks with skin, flesh removed and set aside for the soup
1/2 onion, quartered
1 large garlic clove, smashed
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sea salt
5-10 peppercorns
6-8 cups water

Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, tasting for salt

1/2 onion, chopped medium-small
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, sciced
1 carrot, sliced into 1/8" rounds
2 small or 1 large parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/8" rounds
2 mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup rice
chicken from 4 roasted drumsticks, roughly chopped
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Saute onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, celery, salt, and pepper and saute 3-5 minutes longer, unitl onion begins to brown.  Add carrots, mushrooms, and parsnips and saute 3 minutes longer.  Add stock, rice, and chicken.  Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taco Salad to Fool the Kids

I am not one to fool my children into eating things they normally don't like; I am more of a briber, cajoler, or outright demander when it comes to eating. I want them to learn that foods that they've never tried should be, lest they are missing what might become a favorite, or at least an experience, and that suffering through something you don't love is okay. Short of actually serving something they consider gag-worthy, which luckily for me is rare, I expect my children to eat what I put in front of them. I worry that tricking them to eat a food they don't like, or think they don't like, may actually reduce their willingness to try a new taste when and if they discover the cover-up. So many times my children will announce that they don't like something (fully knowing they've never tried it) but after trying their "no thank you" helping, realize they really do enjoy it. No tricks.

That said, I have no issues with how others get their kids to eat. Every child is different and I do not pretend to have all the answers. And, I guarantee you that my son does not pick the healthiest option in the school lunch offerings. So, when the opportunity came to pack delicious, healthy ingredients into a school meal, I jumped.

Our public school system is looking to expand their lunch menu to include foods from other cultures and have asked for submissions. Keja and I are always up for a challenge so did a little brainstorming and came up with something tasty, packed full of veggies and protein, and named something that we hope will sound yummy enough to make it onto the lunch tray: Tacos in a Bowl. My kids were the taste testers and it passed with flying colors. 

Tacos in a Bowl

serves 6

1 large onion, ~ 1 1/2 cups, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 teas. salt
1/2 teas. ground black pepper
1/2 teas. Mexican oregano
1/2 teas. cumin
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large green pepper, chopped, ~ 1 cup
1 1/2 cups canned pinto beans, drained
2 cups Romaine or other crunchy lettuce, chopped
1/2 lb. corn tortilla chips

Optional toppings:
chopped cilantro
chopped avocado
grated cheese
sour cream or plain yogurt
tabasco sauce

Heat a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add oil and onion and garlic and sauté for ~ 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add ground beef and cook until browned, ~ 10-15 minutes, stirring a few times in order to break meat up into small pieces. When cooked through, add salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin, stir in well, and take off heat.

In a large bowl, add meat mixture, tomatoes, green pepper, beans, lettuce, and chips. Using tongs, stir well, gently breaking up any chips that don't break on their own as you stir.

Serve with any or all of the optional toppings (we recommend everything!).