Friday, February 8, 2013

Cooking Club: the rest of January

Why hello there!  I am excited so say that I think -- with the exception of some old desserts posts -- this is my last catching up post.  Can you imagine?  Posting about recipes from the month we're still in?  I know you can't wait.

I posted the other day about January's enchiladas recipe.  We had three other recipes, and I made two of them together:  

1.  Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon Garlic Green Beans from the Real Simple website chosen by Catherine at Bailey Dailies
3.  Garlic and Onion Biscuit Ring from Tasty Kitchen "chosen" by Jennifer at Redheads Plus One

Pan-Roasted Chicken
Verdict: New favorite.  The vegetables, especially, were phenomenal.
Cook it again: Absolutely.  Probably sooner than later.
Cost factor:  We don't typically have fresh green beans or lemons in the house, but we've usually got potatoes and chicken. So maybe $15, give or take, to pull the whole thing together.

Garlic and Onion Biscuit Ring
Verdict: I'm in love.  This comes really close to mimicking my favorite rolls from growing up in NY, and it's easy enough to make with every meal. Or make as every meal.
Cook it again:  YES. 
Cost factor: Nil.  Every ingredient is a staple in our home. ($5-ish if you have to buy it all.)

I made and served these two together, and it made for a pretty (and pretty delicious, if I say so myself!) meal.  For those of you who aren't big fans of lots of pots, this takes one bundt pan and one casserole dish, (well, and one mixing bowl), so besides being easy to prep, it was easy to clean.

The recipe for the pan-roasted chicken called for lining the bottom of the casserole dish with thin slices from one whole lemon, but when I printed it out the reviews almost all seemed to say the lemons were too much and made it almost too bitter.  Other reviewers who didn't use as many lemons raved; I like lemon, and I like lemon chicken, but I can't stand wasting food, so I used slices from about half a lemon.  It was just about perfect, and I think next time I may add a few.

The green beans get tossed in a lemon "vinaigrette" (there's no vinegar, but fresh-squeezed lemon juice, garlic, oil, and salt and pepper), and laid on top of the lemons in the casserole dish.  

Repeat with quartered small red potatoes, and arrange them around the outside of the casserole, and then repeat with bone-in chicken breasts, and arrange them on top of the beans and bake for an hour.

I'm using tongs here to toss the potatoes, but you also take them out with the tongs (same thing with the beans) to preserve as much of the vinaigrette as possible for the chicken.  If you pour it into your dish, you'll need to make more vinaigrette and that may make it overly lemon-y.

When the chicken's done, you take it out and let the veggies roast another 10 minutes.  When I did this step I threw in the biscuit ring (see below), so that everything was ready at the same time.  (The directions didn't say anything in particular about what to do with the chicken while you wait, so I put it in a bowl and covered it with foil to keep it moist and hot, and that was all it needed.)

before I covered it with foil.
sorry.  cell phone photo.

It was about as easy as could be and was absolutely delicious.  The chicken stayed moist and the vinaigrette was flavorful but NOT bitter or overpowering.  Everyone -- even our uber-picky-of-late kids -- ate it and went back for more.  (Point of fact:  I *only* will eat fresh green beans, and these were wonderfully seasoned.  I also love red potatoes and these roasted nicely.  I couldn't get enough!)

The biscuit ring was brilliantly easy and I can not believe I never thought to do anything like this before.  (This is exactly why I love this cooking club -- I get fabulous ideas and learn entirely new techniques and tricks!)

You dice and sautee a cup of onions, melt half a stick of butter and stir into it the onions, garlic, and poppy seets.  Then take a tube of Pillsbury Grands! biscuits and dunk each biscuit into the melted mixture and layer them around a bundt pan and bake for 15 minutes or so at 400.  That's it.  And they are amazing.  If you like onion rolls, you'll be in heaven. 

Bonus Recipe:  Herbed Goat Cheese Spread from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (pg. 22)

Verdict:  CAM and I loved it.  Mick thought it had a bit of tang, and WHM -- well, he doesn't like anything lately.
Cook it again:  Yes.  Especially when my parents come to visit.  But I'll add garlic.  Mmmm.
Cost factor: $10ish?  Fresh herbs and goat cheese add up. 

Growing up, we always (ALWAYS!) ate dinner as a family, and at some point after dinner, my parents would bring some snacks into the living room as our not-very-formal dessert.  Pretzels, potato chips, Oreos, and ice cream (not all at once!) were the typical fare, but my mom's favorite was (and still is) cheese and crackers.  She didn't necessarily have a wide variety of cheeses -- certainly nothing exotic -- but cheddar and port wine, or slices from a brick of something, or even (I'm not ashamed, I still love it) EasyCheez.  One of her favorites is Alouette.  (If you are not familiar with it, it's very similar to Rodele.  If you're not familiar with that, get thee to your grocery store's cheese section, pronto!  Don't forget to pick up some crackers!)  

This recipe comes very close to the Alouette and Rondele garlic and herb cheese spreads and was wonderfully easy to make.  (The kind of easy where friends can surprise you and you can serve this within five minutes, if you have the ingredients on hand.)  Take 12 oz of goat cheese and put it in a food processor with fresh chives and fresh thyme (I had the chives but had to use dried thyme), some milk, some olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Blend until creamy.

It came only in 8-ounce and 4-ounce packages.  Thank goodness they added to 12 ounces or Mick, who picked these up for me, would have been doing the old hot-dogs-versus-buns calculations on the fly!

I have terrible luck finding things in our local grocery stores.  Chives were available, but thyme was not.  But definitely make this with fresh herbs if you're able.

Not the prettiest picture, but hopefully you can see it gets nice and creamy. 
I didn't take a posed cheese-on-cracker shot, which is a shame because it really is very pretty when it's not all messy in the food processor.  Sorry!

Spread on crackers ... whatever.  Dip your finger in and lick it a million times if you prefer!  It's really good and keeps nicely.

(I might bake some potatoes this weekend and use the leftovers to mix into the potatoes when they are done, instead of cheese and sour cream -- mmmmm, I can taste it now!)


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