Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I haven't been cooking

I really haven't been cooking much at all.  Two reasons: I'm sick of doing dishes and Mads asked me to knit her a black and fuchsia hat.  With ear-flaps.  I've never made ear-flaps before and I'm a little freaked out.  (When I finish it, I'll post a picture.)

But today my new silent Bosh was delivered, and I am giddy with relief.  My cuticles are singing Alleluias, and I have retrieved my rings from the dish beside the kitchen sink.   Tonight I will finally roast and simmer those chicken bones that have been sitting in my freezer since January for stock.  I'm going to saute broccoli with garlic and broth and a touch of lemon and toss it with cherry tomatoes and Orzo pasta.  I'm going to make several loaves of bread, one to eat, the rest to freeze, and for dessert I'll whip up a three berry crumble.  If I have any energy left over, I'll make muffins.  Every darn pot and dish (with the exception of my All-Clad saute pan) will go in the dishwasher.  I might not even pre-rinse.  Ok, I'll probably pre rinse.  After all, my dishwasher is new and I don't want to mess anything up this early in our relationship.

  I think I shall call her Betty.

Yummy Chicken Stock, With 2 Secret Ingredients:

Left over chicken carcass, including bones you've snatched your off plates before they could be tossed into the trash. (The bones, not the plates.  Mixed modifer, sorry)

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered

1 leek, washed well to remove grit and cut up a bit.

3 Carrots, just washed and snapped in half

3 Celery ribs, same as above

1 Parsnip (if you don't have one, just leave it out)

1 bay leaf

1tsp of whole pepper corns

4 cloves (This is one of the secret ingredients!  I saw this in The Cooks Bible published by Cooks Illustrated -- these 4 little cloves add unbelievable depth -- Bless you Chistopher Kimball!)

a few sprigs of parsley (or cilantro, also good)

32 oz of Swanson Organic Chicken Broth (the other secret ingredient -- makes very intense broth!  However you can leave this out, and just use water.)(I'm using a lot of !s -- still giddy about dishwasher, I guess)

Water to cover chicken and veggies. (about 4 cups if you are using the above broth, 8 or so if not.  Or what ever your pot will hold -- six cups is fine as long as all the bones and veggies are covered)

Set oven to 400.  Plonk the chicken bones, the onions, carrots, celery and parsnips and leeks on a baking dish and swirl with a bit of oil.  Roast for for 20 min, or if you have the time, up to 45min.

Then, heat a heavy stockpot over high heat and swirl in a bit of olive oil.  Toss in all the roasted stuff, as well as the pepper and cloves.  Let this saute for a second or two and then pour in the store bought broth, as well as the water.  Bring to a boil, then turn it down and let it simmer for an hour, then throw in the parsley.  Let it simmer another hour.  

All these cookbooks tell you to skim the foam, but I never skim because I'm too lazy. Plus, its gross. Once my stock has simmered 2 hours and it looks all goldeny and delicious, I use my skimmer to scoop out all the solids along with any foam that may have accumulated. (If you don't have a skimmer, use a ladle)  I put the solids in a strainer and smoosh them so that any yummy juices goes back into the stock.  

Then I strain the stock itself by putting a piece of cheese-cloth in a colander and setting the colander in a very large bowl or another stock pot. (This also gets rid of any foam.) I'm a spaz,so I never pour the stock from one pot to another because I have actually burned the tops of my feet that way.  (Yes, my feet. Another story, for another time) Instead I use my 4 cup pyrex measuring cup to scoop the stock and pour it into the colander.  This is not as tedious as it sounds, and is preferable to burned feet.

Let the stock cool until you can comfortably stick a finger in it. Then pour it into a glass jar, or pyrex or, if you must Tupperware. I never use plastic because I'm convinced plastic leeches into our food.  Freeze (it's fine for 3 months) or if you don't freeze it, use it in 3 days.

Another little trick: Instead of freezing it all, I measure out 1 cup, 2 cups and 4 cups of stock into different containers and freeze it that way.  Some people like to freeze stock in ice cube trays so you have a table spoon or so at a time.  I never do this because I just wind up making a big mess all over my counter.  

Friday, February 13, 2009

To Hell in a Handbasket

Whenever I get sick, all the household chores seem to go fallow.  I've had this cold for a week now, and it's one of those viruses where I wake up in the morning believing I'm getting better, but by the afternoon, all I can think about is getting into bed with a cup of tea and a hot water bottle.  Of course, when you have children, you can't do this because they need stuff like food, or for you to break up fights, or check homework, or drive one to the orthodontist.  And you can't let your job go, because, well, it's your job.  Plus, the dogs must be walked or they get crazy. Because of this, dishes languish in the sink, and the laundry sits unwashed.  Usually my husband will pick up the slack when he gets home from work -- but he recently had this ankle surgery and can't stand on two feet for another couple of weeks.  Oh, and have I mentioned that our dishwasher is broken?  Right now it's no more than a very large dish drainer.  So we've eaten a lot of pizza lately, and last night we had Chinese food (except for Emma who prepared herself a box of mac n' cheese).

But, I can't take it any more.  I need something green.  So do my kids.  And I need some protein that's healthy, not greasy.  So this morning, while I feel okay and I'm not hocking up a lung, I'm going to make a turkey meatloaf that my gimpy husband, or even my 12 year old can shove into the oven without my help. Since I have no dishwasher, it is imperative that I use as few pots and pans as possible, so, for my green, I'm going to throw some thawed frozen spinach into the meatloaf.  This is actually a great addition, because turkey meat can be a little dry and the spinach helps moisten it up.  And, if I'm feeling too tired to make a salad, or if I can't get the 10 year old in my house to do it, at least I'll know we'll all be getting something green into our bodies.  If I'm feeling better, I might cut up a few Yukon gold potatoes and toss them with olive oil and salt and stick them on a cookie sheet in the same oven as the meatloaf.  But only if I'm feeling better.

Turkey Meatloaf

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (I usually buy these, but if you have an old loaf of french bread, grind them up yourself -- its much better)
1/4 cup of milk
2 or so-pounds of lean ground turkey breast
2 or so pounds of ground turkey thigh
1 yellow onion chopped (I usually quickly saute these, but I won't today, just to keep the dish washing down)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup of ketchup (plus more for the top of the loaf)
1 TBLSP Worcestershire Sauce (or to taste)
1/2 cup of thawed drained frozen spinach
1 TBLSP kosher salt
Several grinds of Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 (unless you're making this in the morning).

combine milk and breadcrumbs and let sit a bit.

combine turkey, onions, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, spinach, salt and pepper with the breadcrumbs and form into a loaf.  
Spread a bit more ketchup over the top and sides of loaf.  Put loaf onto a jelly roll sheet lined with parchment (for easier cleanup). You can bake this right away, or do as I do and cover it with foil and let it sit in the fridge until you're ready to bake it.  If your organized, take it out of the fridge about 1/2 and hour or so ahead of time to let it come to room temp.  I'm not usually that organized.  But it will sit out while I'm waiting for the oven to preheat, and that helps some. 

Bake until the center of the meatloaf reaches 165 degrees -- about 1 1/2 or so hours (longer, by about 15 to 30 min if it was stone cold from the fridge).  If you don't have a meat thermometer, make sure all the juices are running clear when you poke it with a knife. (throw the cut up Yukon golds in after the meatloaf has been in for about 45 min.  If I do this, I might even toss them onto the same jelly roll pan as the meatloaf and let them soak up all the meatloaf juices.  Or you can just shove them onto another rack below the meatloaf.)

Take it out, cover with foil and let it sit 10 minutes while you beg your 10 year old to make a salad.