Month: September 2012

Lemon Honey Roasted Chicken

Chicken leg quarters are a great addition to the home cook’s weekend repertoire. They’re economical, and I often find them more flavorful than boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

I first came across this recipe in the Washington Post while reading an account of the challenges of cooking and eating in a home you’re trying to sell (nix garlic and pungent foods; bake some cookies!). Indeed, two of the best parts of this recipe: it doesn’t use a lot of dishes, and it makes the house smell divine. Leftovers make for a great lunch.

The original recipe calls for chicken drumsticks and thighs, which I would use when feeding a group or kids; when cooking for one or two people, leg quarters seem a little less fussy to me. The original also uses haricot verts, which are green beans’ skinnier, more delicate (and more expensive) cousin. Use them if you can find them, but green beans are a fine substitute.

The Post suggests serving it with crusty bread for soaking up pan juices. I also like it with potatoes or sweet potatoes, or a green salad.

Lemon Honey Roasted Chicken

Adapted from The Washington Post, April 11, 2012

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons (1/3 to 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup honey, divided

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

4 chicken leg quarters

Kosher or sea salt and black pepper

1/4 cup cool water

12 oz. green beans (or use harictos verts, if you can find them)

Combine the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the honey, the oregano, garlic and oil in a gallon-sized resealable plastic food storage bag. Massage the bag from the outside to combine the contents. Add the chicken; season with salt and pepper to taste. Seal the bag, pressing as much air out as possible. Massage to work the marinade into the chicken. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour (refrigerate if desired).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or roasting pan at hand.

Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up in the pan, keeping as much of the marinade on them as possible. Discard the remaining marinade. Pour the water around the chicken. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of honey evenly over the chicken. Roast for 45 minutes, turning the dish or pan from front to back halfway through the cooking. The chicken should be cooked through and browned in spots.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the green beans for about 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cool water to stop any carryover cooking.

Add the haricots verts to the baking dish or pan, snuggling them into the pan juices and around the chicken in small bunches. Return to the oven and roast for 5 minutes.

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Parmesan Cauliflower

While eating and drinking my way traversing across New Zealand, I experienced an interesting mix of cuisine: a lot of amazing wine, too much bad British food, and some delicious fare featuring fresh ingredients prepared simply.

One dish I couldn’t get enough of was a creamy, cheesy cauliflower dish served at an adventure lodge in River Valley on the Rangitikei River. Of the eight or so dishes on the family dinner table, I kept going back for more of this cauliflower. I finally asked the cook how he made it, and was surprised at just how simple it was: Parmesan, cream and cauliflower. I’ve lightened this recipe to use Half & Half, but feel free to indulge more with cream or cut back by substituting milk.

Sorry, no pics for this one — it’s not the most photogenic dish, especially after dark on white china.

Parmesan Cauliflower

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons flour

2-3 cups Half & Half (use more if you like more sauce, or expect leftovers

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)

1 medium head cauliflower, steamed or roasted

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually pour in Half & Half, stirring constantly. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Whisk in cheese. Add cauliflower. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bacon Spinach Quiche

I am not a morning person, and I am always looking for make-ahead breakfast ideas.

If I don’t get enough protein in the morning, I am invariably famished and sneaking down to the ABP in the basement of my office building for a sugary carb fix before 10:30.

Quiche seemed like a great solution: versatile (what leftover veggies are in mt fridge?), with protein and vegetables, as well as portable. Leave off the crust, and they’re pretty guilt-free.

But I’ve been experimenting with quiche recipes off on and on for about six months, and they always turn out watery. Turns out, eggs release water when they cook, without the right balance of fat in the liquid. You can’t substitute milk or half and half for the cream. Vegetables should be pre-cooked and sufficiently drained of excess moisture, especially for a very watery vegetable such as zucchini. Also, oven temperature matters: 400 degrees seems to work best.

This recipe is a starting point; substitute whatever vegetables and cheese you have on hand. A little salt is good, but be careful not to over-salt, especially if you’re using a salty cheese such as Parmesan.

Many cooks prefer to make quiche in a tart pan, and remove the sides when cooling. I don’t own a tart pan, so I just use a pie plate. This may be too much filling for a tart pan; start with 2 eggs and 2/3 c cream.

Bacon Spinach Quiche

4 slices thick-cut bacon (I used Trader Joe’s applewood-smoked bacon)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced, if desired
4 c baby spinach (half a package)
3 eggs
1 c cream
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c shredded Parmesan (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, cook bacon. Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the fat; crumble. Remove all but one tablespoon of grease from the pan. Reduce heat to low. Add onions and saute for several minutes. Add garlic and continue sauteeing until onions begin to get translucent. Add spinach. Cook for an additional two minutes until spinach has cooked down. Transfer mixture to a cutting board to cool slightly. Run a knife through the mixture several times. Blot excess moisture from the vegetables with paper towels.

Lightly coat a pie plate with cooking spray. Spread bacon crumbles and spinach over the plate. Whisk together eggs, cream, salt and pepper; pour into pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

Place pie plate on a baking sheet and carefully slide into the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the filling has uniformly puffed (wait for the center to puff), browned and set. Transfer to a cooling rack. Let set for at least 5 minutes before serving.