Friday, June 20, 2014

Honey Mustard Chicken Wings

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, but we have already had many hot sweltering days. There are also some of summers best foods coming into season, and so I decided I wanted corn on the cob for dinner, and opted to make honey mustard chicken wings to go with it. My honey mustard wings are somewhat sweet, and wonderfully sticky. I like using wings instead of different chicken pieces because they cook evenly and are super tender when the sauce gets finished. The recipe is very simple, and my only real pointer is to let it cook the full hour and to use a larger shallow metal baking pan. I use the bottom of my broiler pan. You will get a darker, stickier sauce in metal than in glass. You can of course use different mustards in this and different chicken pieces.

Honey Mustard Chicken Wings

3-1/2 to 4 lbs of chicken wings, tips removed and cut into two pieces each
1/2 c. of butter
1/2 c. honey
1/4 cup yellow mustard
salt, pepper and dried red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange chicken wing pieces in pan in a single layer and salt, pepper and sprinkle with red pepper flakes to taste.

In a microwaveable bowl, melt the butter and then whisk in the honey and the mustard. (If you lightly spray the measuring cup with spray oil, the honey will slip out easily into your bowl.) Pour over chicken pieces in the pan, and toss chicken around to evenly coat.

Place pan uncovered in oven and cook for 60 minutes, turning chicken over in the sauce every 15 minutes or so. You will get to an hour of cooking time, and you may still have a lighter, not quite sticky coating on the chicken. It is certainly still tasty at this stage, but I leave it in a little longer if necessary to get a more browned, sticky sauce. Remove chicken from oven and let cool a few minutes before serving. This will allow the sauce to set up a little and adhere better to the chicken.

For anyone concerned about the amount of butter, a fair amount of it remains in the pan, so unless you scoop the sauce out, you avoid a fair amount of it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Amish Blueberry Cake

This is a basic butter cake, with blueberries added. It's called Amish because it came from an Amish cookbook I purchased at a quilt show, titled "Amish Cooking" and has no title and no editors named. Just another mass produced volume for sale at such venues. Anyway, it is a very easy recipe, and very flexible. Add different fruit, more variety, add some dried cherries or add more blueberries. Swirl some jam in the top, like I did in this picture. I have cooked it in every size and shape pan, and it always comes out great, just watch the timing.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1/2 c butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup of blueberries
sugar and cinnamon, mixed for a light sprinkle on top

Cream the butter, and add the sugar and totally mix until creamed again. Add the eggs and half the flour, sifted with the salt and baking powder. Stir, and add the milk. add the rest of the flour mixture and the blueberries, stir just enough to incorporate everything.

Oil and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan. Pour in batter, sprinkle top with a little sugar and cinnamon mix. Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is starting to get golden and a knife or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Nectarine Pie--or "you'll never eat peach pie again" pie

The filling should be gooey and sticky and the crust should be flaky and light.
I prefer pie over cake any day, and I have always said that if you want the best peach pie in the world, make it with nectarines! They are slightly more tart, easier to peel, and have lovely red tones that make a beautiful colored pie filling. I also believe they aren't usually as bruised as peaches get at the market.

My nectarine pie recipe was discovered in a used cookbook I bought at a thrift store, and it can be easily adapted. Here, I added some blueberries. How many? I am not sure, I just dumped some in, maybe a good handful? The cookbook I have is the "Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook" edited by Nell B. Nichols and magazine staff members. (I also have their complete bread cookbook, which is also a wonderful mini bible of basic bread baking information.) This pie edition is dated 1965 and has a definite mid-century "please your man and feed the farm hands" tone about it. It has some kick ass pie recipes, using everything from fresh fruit to frozen lemonade. I truly believe pies are the mother of invention in the kitchen, the epitome of making do with what's on hand.

So, here is the original Nectarine Pie recipe, exactly as I found it (no blueberries like in the pictures). I buy a lot of old cookbooks and always browse through for the most used recipes, usually identifiable because the pages are so stained.
If you look closely, you'll see the recipe below as well as one for Plum-Delicious Pie! A Bonus!
Nectarine Pie

Pastry for two crust pie (recipe follows)

5 c of peeled, pitted and sliced nectarines (I usually use 10)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/4 tsp mace
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
1-1/2 Tbl butter, cut into small bits and pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
If you end up with a few little slivers of peel, they will add a bit of the rosier color to the filling.
Combine nectarines, lemon juice, sugar, flour, mace, salt and lemon peel, place in a pastry lined 9-inch pie pan. Dot top of filling with butter.

I toss the butter with the filling, because I always forget to put it on the top.
Adjust the top crust on the filling, flute edges together and cut some vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape. (I like to make a lattice top on this pie so I can see how gooey the filling gets. It should be sticky before removing from the oven.)

I can not say often enough, cook long enough to get the juices in the filling bubbly and sticky.
Bake in hot oven about 45 minutes or until crust is browned and juice begins to bubble through the vents on top. Cool for at least an hour before serving.

Flakey Pastry Dough
(recipe adapted from Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook, a fabulous collection if you can find it)

This makes two 9" crusts

2 c. sifted, all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. of butter or lard, or a combo of both (have it slightly softened, not quite room temp)
4 to 5 Tbl. of icy cold water

Put flour in a mixing bowl with the butter, cut into smaller chunks). Add salt and pinch the butter with the flour using your finger tips until you get a coarse crumbly mix. Add the water a couple tablespoons at a time. You want just enough to allow the crust to hang together in a ball. At this point, handle the dough as little as possible.  Divide into two balls.

Lightly flour your counter or work surface and roll out dough to about a 10 or 11 inch circle, and use according to your favorite recipe. This makes a nice flaky crust.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What's on Hand--Pork Roast with Dried Cherry and Apple Stuffing

Sliced pork roast, with rolled up stuffing of dried cherries and granny smith apples
Most of the time, I have basic ingredients around and have certain plans for what I am going to cook. I bought a 2-3/4 pound pork roast the other day, and had intended on doing something similar to a Chile Verde with it. But this morning, knowing I was going to cook it ahead of time anyway, I shifted gears and made stuffing  in a rolled up roast. Pork and apples or applesauce is a classic (and I have another blog post with stuffed pork chops). But in this case, I had some dried cherries to add to the mix and cooked the whole roast stuffed and rolled up.

So here is what I had on hand:

2-3/4 lb pork roast
1/2 green apple, diced
1/2 c dried cherries
1 shallot, diced
1/2 rib celery, sliced thin
1/2 c of panko breadcrumbs
Splash of sauvignon blanc (about 1/2 c?)
@ 1/2 c orange juice
olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder

I started out by inexpertly cutting the roast into a long flat piece, not really butterflying. I just picked a side and cut in about an inch deep and kept going until the piece all the way opened up. I will stress the non-expertise because it's not a task that should make people reluctant to try this. Just be careful not to cut yourself, go slowly. I salted and peppered and added garlic powder and let it sit while I made the stuffing.

Make sure you season the interior of the meat before rolling it up
I heated a saute pan with some olive oil, added the apple, celery, cherries, shallots, and sauteed until the apple started to soften. I added half the white wine and let that cook down, and then added the panko and a good drizzling of olive oil over the top. I sauteed it another minute and adjusted the taste with salt and pepper.
The panko adds a nice texture, and actually captures the pan juices into the stuffing
I then placed the cut meat on a cutting board that had two very long strings length wise under the pork. (These would be used to draw the roll up tight and tie it together.) I pressed the stuffing down along the pork and then rolled it up by hand.

I left a gap so on the start of the rolling I could get a good tight start after the first roll
I tied it off with a total of three lengths of kitchen twine and then placed it in a medium hot skillet with a little olive oil. I salted, peppered and garlic powdered the fat layer on the outside and seared the surface all over.

Any of the pan juices and stray bits and pieces can be added to the roasting pan
I placed the rolled roast into an oval baking dish with the small amount of stuffing that did not fit in the roast, about 1/4 c. of white wine, and about 1/2 cup orange juice and another drizzle of olive oil.

There will be additional meat juices, but this allows for some moisture and flavor  before that happens
I placed the pan in a preheated 325 degree oven, and roasted it for about an hour, or until the internal temp of the meat reached 145 degrees. I basted it once or twice with pan juices. While basting, I took a fork and mashed the cooked loose fruit  just a bit more to incorporate it into the pan juices.

There were a lot of pan juices and mashed with the fruits, it made a really nice sauce. You could actually puree it, but I like it more textured.
When the roast hit 145 degrees, I removed it from the oven, covered it with foil and let it sit about 20 minutes. I removed the strings and sliced it, serving it on a nice puddle of pan juices.