Oven-fried Chicken; Black & White Burritos

Despite my lack of cooking inspiration last week, I did whip up some oven-fried chicken and a batch of Black & White Burritos.

I’ve never mastered fried chicken, so I cheat and do mine in the oven. Just preheat the oven to 400°F. Clean chicken (I use 4 legs and 4 thighs) and soak the pieces in some milk. Coat with seasoned flour or bread crumbs (or flour, then back in the milk, then bread crumbs). Put 1/4 cup margarine and 1/4 cup shortening in a 9″ x 13″ pan and place in the hot oven for about 5 minutes or until the oils melt. Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully dip each piece of chicken into the melted oil and then turn over so the skin side is down, both sides have been oiled, and all the pieces are arranged nicely in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes (uncovered). Turn the pieces over and cook for 30 more minutes or until done.

I usually roast some potatoes in olive oil, garlic, and rosemary on a sheet pan in the top half of the oven while the chicken is “frying”.


My Cast Iron Frying Pan

I’ve been cleaning out the frig this week (stuffed shells and ravioli from the freezer, fried rice to use up left-over rice), so I’ll be adding a few essential recipes to the blog even though I haven’t actually cooked them yet this year. But first a story . . .

Some of you may wonder whether my inspiration to keep a food diary came from the pile of recent “My Year With Food”-type books. You know, the year with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking or the Year Eating Locally or the Year in some marvelous French or Italian Cuisine. Actually, my inspiration came from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

All the stories of loss and people escaping with only the clothes on their backs made me think about what I would really miss if some disaster struck my home. What should I have ready to grab before disaster hit? Of course the cats would be my first concern, but what about all the “things”. The books, CDs, LPs, tools, papers, photos, etc.?

When I thought about it I realized that what I would really want to rescue is my well-seasoned cast iron frying pan and my favorite recipes. I recognized in the stories about refugees cooking red beans & rice, or gumbo, or jambalaya to restore their sense of “home” that I would want to be able to do the same.

Twenty+ years ago I bought a set of three unseasoned cast iron frying pans for about $10. (Yes, this was before you could just pay extra and buy them pre-seasoned for you.) I carefully coated them in oil and baked them in the oven to start the seasoning process. Of course, the real seasoning came from years of use. I also discovered that the best way to keep them well-seasoned was occasionally to fry up a bunch of bacon. (Another reason I never lasted long as a vegetarian 🙂

The one I would want to take with me is the well-blackened, smooth to the point of being virtually non-stick, 10″ frying pan. I’m sure there are other kitchen gadgets, doodads, pans, and dishes that I would miss, but the well-seasoned frying pan is what I would grab before running out the door. Besides, it would make a good weapon if I needed to defend myself in a riot. 😛

As for the recipes, I knew I couldn’t take my whole bookshelf full of cookbooks plus the recipe card boxes plus the 12″ thick accordion file filled with loose pages of recipes. It occurred to me that I should make copies of all my favorite recipes and put them together into a single book. Of course having a digital backup would be good too. Thus began my project of typing up recipes some of which have already appeared on this blog.

Today I add a few more essentials: Mom’s (Dolores’) Meatballs/Meatloaf recipe and my variation on Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken from Keo’s Thai Cuisine.


Last night I watched parts of the “Debate Double Header” from New Hampshire.  I’ve been ignoring much of the campaign hoopla because it seemed way too early.  Obama’s strong showing in Iowa caught my interest so I thought I’d tune in to see what they all had to say.  Also, the Clinton camp had called me in the afternoon and seemed dismayed when I said Hillary wasn’t my first choice and the only reason I gave them was that nearly 30 years of Bushes and Clintons in the White House was enough for me; time for a change.  Thought I should see if there were other reasons as well.

The six Republicans went first.  I avoided most of that debate by cooking and eating dinner (more below), but I managed to hear enough to notice that everyone (R&Ds alike) seems to have jumped on the “change” bandwagon.  Most of them seem to miss what kind of “change” is really needed.  Not just new policies, new laws, new ways for the government to stick its nose into my business . . . rather a change in attitude.  Away from the politics of fear and “grab everything you can for yourself”.  Towards a sense of hope, possibility, and working to make sure that the means of advancement are available to all.  A generosity and compassion rather than greed and hard-heartedness.

I’m not sure any of the ten will be able to deliver even a moderate amount of “change”, but Obama and Edwards are the only two who even seem to be talking about real change in real people’s lives.  We’ll see what the next few months bring . . .

Back to dinner–Pork Cutlets “l’ orange” (breaded pork cutlets simmered in orange juice until tender), mashed potatoes, broccoli, and salad.  Nothing fancy.  Just “good eats”.

New Year’s Comforts

The days surrounding New Year’s Day have been filled with comfort food. I got tired of leftover roast chicken and roasted veggies, so I turned the remainder of the chicken into homemade Chicken Pot Pies 🙂 I mostly followed the recipe for Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie from the FoodNetwork, but I cheated and used “canned” biscuits (Grands) on the top. Yummo!

Then on New Year’s Eve I gathered with some friends for Mac & Cheese plus Mixed Greens Salad with Blueberries, Blue Cheese, and Pecans with Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze & Cherries for dessert. Of course there were various liquors to round out the evening. Good food, good friends, much chatting & laughing, plus Die Fledermaus to entertain us.

Happy New Year!

Holiday Baking

Here’s a summary of all my holiday baking (finally finished Christmas Eve). This year I made:

  • Panettone (from Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s The Bread Bible) After several failed attempts using recipes from the internet, I went to the “Bible”. It took three and a half days, but was worth it. Finally a panettone I could eat! A few more tries and it might be good enough to share.
  • Ginger Thins (Actually, the recipe from the container of candied ginger said these were Ginger Snaps, but they were not.) Consulting The Joy of Cooking I found two recipes, one for Ginger Thins and one for Ginger Snaps. The second batch, using my modification of the JoC recipe, came out as “snaps”, or as JoC says ‘Like “boughten” ones in texture, but with a dreamy flavor.’ You can find my version of the recipe on the Recipe Index page, under Joyous Ginger Snaps :).
  • Spritz Cookies I have the old Mirro metal-type cookie press and make two different flavors of Spritz cookies in several different shapes (Sour Cream Cinnamon in dog, camel, and star shapes; Lemon Cream Cheese colored green in wreath and Christmas tree shapes). I did a total of three batches this year (2 LCC and 1 SCC).
  • Date Bars These always seem “healthy” despite the 3 sticks of butter and 2 cups of brown sugar 🙂
  • Rugelach My second attempt at these delicious treats. I make the apricot/cinnamon/walnut kind with a cream cheese dough. The recipes came from Ina Garten and Lynne Rossetto Kasper, though I think Lynne’s recipe was originally from Lora Brody via Rose‘s Christmas Cookie book.

I also made Cranberry Fruit Conserve from Ina Garten‘s recipe (cranberries, apple, oj & lemon juice, raisins, and sugar).

I’m now on a break from baking. Last night I roasted a chicken stuffed with herbs, lemon and garlic and served with potatoes & carrots roasted in rosemary, garlic, S&P, and olive oil. Plenty so that I don’t have to cook again until next week, leaving time to read and watch movies.