Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Simple Roasted Chicken

Simplicity, we strive for it, and what is simpler than a humbly roasted chicken.  A well roasted chicken is an art worth mastering.  This winter I have roasted a chicken weekly after finding the perfect simple recipe from "Buvette" by Jody Williams.  Every chicken I have roasted is so delicious, I have repeated making roasted chicken week after week.  The chicken is the constant, but what I pair with it varies with my visits to the farmers market.  Then there are the leftovers which also vary depending on my cravings, Mexican tacos, French crepes or lately, LOTS of soup (winter you can go NOW).
Today the menu is Super Simple  Roasted Chicken, Cheese Souffle and a Seasonal Winter Citrus Salad.  Tomorrow "Clean Slate" inspired Chicken, Kale and Sweet Potato soup.  (I transformed my roasted chicken carcass into my soup broth.)

Super Simple Roasted Chicken
adapted from "Buvette" by Jody Williams

1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon kosher coarse salt
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 3-4 lb chicken ( Bell & Evans Organic Air Chilled Chicken is my choice)
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 F
2.  In a mortar and pestle grind together the fennel seed, salt and Herbes de Provence.
3. In heavy roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken, place the chicken in the pan and drizzle lightly with the olive oil.
4.  Season the chicken all over with the fennel mixture.
5.  Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  (Thigh temperature should  measure 165 F when done.)   Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Recipe can be doubled for extra leftovers!

My Seasonal Winter Citrus Salad inspired from The Cooks Atelier (see below)

My favorite cookbooks NOW
"Buvette" ~ Jody Williams
Turning the pages of this cookbook immediately brings a smile to my face, a sense of calmness and comfort.  It is an old world feel with simple real food.  Not only do I want to visit the restaurant in New York City or Paris for the food, but also the atmosphere.  Check out the website ( and you too will understand what I mean, buy the cookbook now to taste the amazing food, every recipe I've tried has delighted me and my family!

"Clean Slate" ~ Editors of Martha Stewart
The start of every new year re energizes my focus to eat healthy and more mindfully.  Since the first of the year I've been cooking my way through "Clean Slate" and feeling healthier and longing for the next satisfying recipe.  Another full proof cookbook by the Martha Stewart team.

Two blogs I stumbled across this week The Cooks Atelier ( and Well Plated by Erin (  The Cooks Atelier got me dreaming of what I want "my world" to look like and and Well Plated by Erin hit a nostalgic button for my home state of Wisconsin and got me thinking of supper clubs and Brandy Old Fashioned. (Yes, I did make an Old Fashioned that night!) Pin It

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Valentine's Day Cocktail

Sometimes I feel like I am ahead of the trend curve and then there are other times when I am running to catch up.  A trend with staying power that is worth chasing down is the craft cocktail movement.  Being a wine lover, I was slow to join.
It all started last year when I was celebrating my daughter's graduation.  We were out to eat at a favorite restaurant Bistro VG in Roswell, GA.  The cocktail menu and wine list were presented and I was set to order a glass of wine when my sister suggested I try this Champagne cocktail with St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur).  As they say, the rest is history.  I am now a St. Germain fan and I joined the craft cocktail movement. When dining out now, I  actually look at the cocktail menu with great delight and anticipation and order a cocktail and then a glass of wine with my dinner. Having a cocktail is my new ritual.  The "new" craft cocktail movement is about creative and fresh ingredients, it's fun, exciting, and tasty!
On a recent vacation to Hawaii it was my personal mission to try a new cocktail each day.  So  as we watched the sunset after enjoying a beautiful day, we treated ourselves to a Hawaiian craft cocktail.  If you are planning a trip to Hawaii anytime soon,  don't miss stopping in for a cocktail at the Monkey Pod in Kapolei or just check out their cocktail menu on line at for some inspiring cocktails.
Hawaiian Sunset Ritual
To get a little more back ground on the craft cocktail revolution, check out the documentary "Hey Bartender" on Netflix.
While I am no mixologist, I do plan on spending this Valentine's Day at home for dinner and thought I would create a craft cocktail for this special occasion  My ingredient list includes:   Sparkling Wine, St. Germain and fresh juice from some seasonal blood oranges.  Every cocktail needs a name so since it is for Valentine's Day I thought I would name it Cupid's Kiss (LOL). Cheers and Happy Valentine's Day.

Cupid's Kiss

1 part St. Germain
1 part freshly squeezed blood orange juice
Sparkling Wine
Mint leaves and raspberries

1.  Using a jigger, measure the St. Germain and blood orange juice.  (I used the larger end and did one part each of St. Germain and blood orange juice.)  Pour the St. Germain and blood orange juice into a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake!
2. Strain off the ice and divide the mixture into a Champagne glass and top off with sparkling wine. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a raspberry. Pin It

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Essentials from Trader Joes

1.  Organic Cranberries from WISCONSIN - Cranberry Sauce recipe posted November 2014
2.  Cornbread Mix - Herbed Corn Bread Stuffing recipe posted November 2010
3.  Chesnuts - for the Herbed Corn Bread Stuffing
4.  Brussels Sprouts Stalk -  Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Applewood Bacon recipe posted November 2009
5.  Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon - for Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Applewood Bacon
6.  Cinnamon Sticks - for Cranberry Sauce
7.  Organic Canned Pumpkin - for Pumpkin Pie
8.  Turkey Gravy - for my guests, I do not like gravy so I don't make it (they don't have to know).
9.  Wild Hot Smoked Sockeye Salmon - for an appetizer
10.  Le Rustique Camembert, Basque Cheese, and Unexpected Cheddar - just a few favorite cheeses
11.  100% Greek Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil - my favorite all purpose, got to have it in the house olive oil!
12.  2012 Caymus Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon - because Thanksgiving is a celebration.
Happy Thanksgiving!  

Pin It

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cranberry Sauce

Most families have a set traditional Thanksgiving menu.  Everyone has their favorite dishes that are a must beyond the turkey, but turkey can get complicated too - brined, kosher, smoked, fried or roasted!  I believe adding or changing some of the side dishes keeps the Thanksgiving menu interesting and for a foodie, lots more fun.  And then, there is the cranberry sauce.  I have struggled with finding the "perfect" cranberry sauce, not too sweet and no nuts (suggests my husband).  It seems every Thanksgiving I have changed my cranberry sauce just a little and then of course, I forget how exactly I made it the Thanksgiving before and if it was a success.  This year I started testing cranberry sauce recipes early, as soon as the fresh cranberries appeared on the market.  A cranberry sauce from Thanksgivings past made with port was my starting point, I do remember that.  I also remember adding orange juice or orange rind in the past and receiving family member's approval.  Citrus is a nice refreshing touch with the bird. Experimenting and tweaking spices with wine pairings in mind and I have created my 2014 Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce.  It may change next year, but I will know where to find it - ALWAYS RAVENOUS!
Just an added note ~ since I've made a few cranberry sauce batches, if you are lucky enough to have leftover cranberry sauce, a spoonful mixed into your Greek yogurt in the morning is a nice way to start your day....a few nuts for some is a nice addition too.

Cranberry Sauce

1 cup Ruby Port
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup tangerine juice
12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
2 star of anise

1.  In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients except the cranberries.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 4 minutes. 
2.  Add the cranberries and bring mixture to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Cool and then refrigerate. Pin It

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Roasted Stuffed Squash

(from left front, Kabocha, Delicata, Golden Nugget, Butternut and Acorn) 
The variety of autumn squash available seems to have exploded.  Whether I am at the farmers market, grocery store or Trader Joes the number of different squash has caught my attention.  I started buying (collecting) different squash not really sure how I would prepare them.  In recent years, Butternut squash had become a favorite, cubed and oven roasted or taken a step further and pureed into a soup.  But my current squash collection had expanded beyond Butternut squash to Kabocha, Delicata, Golden Nugget and Acorn.  I really wanted to buy more, I was intrigued with the different shapes and colors and curious how they may vary in taste.  But some self control took charge and the realization it was early in the squash season.
Oven roasting has always been a favorite, it brings out the sweetness and concentrates the flavors. I was also thinking about Thanksgiving...maybe my squash would be a new side dish or a vegetarian alternative.  I decided to roast and stuff my squash.  The stuffing options were limitless.  I searched my pantry and refrigerator and decide on (found) the following;  sprouted rice trio of brown, red and wild rice, leeks, garlic, pecans, parsley and chicken. (This variation would not be vegetarian since I had some left over chicken.)  For additional flavor I added salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, zhoug (a Middle Eastern condiment/spice blend of coriander leaves, parsley, chili, garlic, cardamom, and cloves.)  I felt like the stuffed squash were a warm up for preparing my Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing, it occurred to me that my cornbread stuffing could also be used to stuff the squash (take note for vegetarian Thanksgiving guests).
Roasted Stuffed Squash
adapted from the
3 squash, I used Golden Nugget, Delicata and Acorn
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1-1/2 cups leeks, halved and thinly sliced
3 cups cooked rice, I used TruRoots Sprouted Rice Trio of brown, red and wild rice
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Zhoug
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup Fontina, shredded
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F
2.  Cut the squash in half from stem to root end.  Scoop out the seeds.  Place squash halves in a baking dish cut side down.  Fill the baking dish with hot water to fill the pan by 1/4 inch.  Cover with foil.
3.  Roast the squash for 30-50 minutes.  The roasting times will vary depending on the size and type  of the squash.  Remove the squash halves as they become tender when poked with a knife tip.
4.  While the squash is roasting, in a large bowl combine the stuffing ingredients (all remaining ingredients except the cheese and olive oil) and mix thoroughly.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.
5.  When all the squash is tender turn them cut side up in the baking dish.  Brush the inside of the squash with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fill the squash halves with the stuffing mixture and top with the cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and stuffing is warm.   
Half a squash serves one person. 

Pin It

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Upside Down Apple Cake

For some reason, I recall past memories more readily when there is food involved.  Take for example, apples.  I started thinking about my memories of apple picking.  The first memory that came back was Ellijay in northern Georgia at R and A Orchard with my family.  I remembered the apples hanging plentifully on the trees looking like a still life waiting to be painted.  We had a great time, and picked more than our fair share of apples.  (I blogged about it back in October 2009).  Then I remembered apple picking in southern California in the mountains of Julian.  Julian is known for their apple pies, so delicious they inspired me to pick and bake my own back then.  Gosh, I miss those apple pies and the apple aroma of that apple mountain town!  Still letting my mind wander, the fall hikes in the countryside of Germany were recalled and picking apples along the path.  The apple trees would be so heavy with apples, sticks were placed to support branches.  Often ladders were left leaning on the trees waiting for the harvest to resume.  The taste of those countryside apples still lingers in my mind, they were crisp and sweet and so appreciated on some of those way too long hikes.  And then I remembered what I think was my first apple picking.  I was in high school and as part of the tennis team, we would run across town to the practice tennis courts. The neighboring property to the courts was lined with apple trees ~ some even had branches that hung over the fence, to our delight!  Now those apples were crisp and TART, but we didn't care we greedily picked and ate.
This fall, I have purchased apples from my local farmers market.  The apples come from Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and almost every week there is a new variety to sample.  Check out their website  They have a comprehensive list of the apples they grow and an informative description of those apples.
Apples bring back nostalgic memories of autumn, not only picking, but also baking.  Pies, crisps, cakes and strudels, I've eaten them all.  This year, I made an Upside Down Apple Cake, it was pure heaven and another food memory to recall for the future.  The Upside Down Apple Cake is the perfect excuse to take a break, enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake while watching the leaves fall.  Maybe even a new addition to your Thanksgiving desserts.

Upside Down Apple Cake
adapted from Food and Wine magazine, Joanne Chang

1 cup maple syrup
3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
optional for serving; creme fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour a 10 inch round cake pan.
2.  In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until maple syrup is reduced to 3/4 cup.
3.  Pour the reduced maple syrup into the cake pan and covering the bottom completely with the maple syrup.  Arrange the apple slices on top of the maple syrup in a concentric circle, overlapping the slices. Repeat with an inner circle.  Fill the pan completely with apple slices.
4.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
5.  In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  In 3 alternating batches, beat the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.
6.  Pour the batter over the apple slices and smooth evenly.  Bake for 90 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cake on a rack for 45 minutes.
7.  Run a knife around the cake and invert it on to a serving plate.  Serve with creme fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Pin It

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

 The other day I had an amazing Roasted Cauliflower Soup from my local bakery.  It was so good, yes, it inspired me to attempt a recreation at home.  I have made Roasted Cauliflower Soup before, but with cheese.  What can I say, it was NOT a favorite and somehow, I wished I had just roasted the cauliflower added some Parmesan cheese and eaten it, end of production. But this Roasted Cauliflower Soup had more layers of flavor.  There was fennel and lemon, so clean tasting and like most soup it was filling and satisfying.  Once again I went on a recipe search with Google, trying to pin point what I thought I had tasted.  Combining a few different recipes I developed a KEEPER of my own.  The Roasted Cauliflower Soup I had from my bakery was made with vegetable broth, however, I just happened to have some homemade chicken broth on hand.  **HUGE chicken broth tip here! I have been reading and cooking out of "French Roots" by Jean-Pierre Moulle and Denise Lurton Moulle. When making chicken broth I have always made it starting with a raw chicken. In "French Roots" Jean-Pierre advises to take the leftover roasted chicken carcass add onion, bay leaves, thyme and water to a large stock pot and simmer for about one hour. Easy and delicious chicken broth!!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
inspiration from Theo's Brothers Bakery
adapted from

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 small to medium fennel bulbs, cored and quartered
2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth, homemade if possible
1- 14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 lemons, juiced - or to taste
Italian parsley, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F
2.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine cauliflower, fennel and apple.  Toss with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.  Spread the vegetable/fruit mixture on the lined baking sheet in a single layer, salt and pepper the mixture.  Roast for 25 minutes. Stir and turn mixture after 15 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large pot add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add the  onions cooking until translucent about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes.  Add roasted cauliflower, fennel and apples, chicken broth, and garbanzo beans to the pot with onions and garlic.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Cool slightly and then puree in blender.  Return puree to pot and warm thoroughly.
4.  To serve sprinkle with dukkah and parsley.

Dukkah is a Middle Eastern nut and spice blend.  I purchased mine at Trader Joes. I also use it on eggs, vegetables and pasta dishes. Pin It