Monday, April 1, 2013

You Know I like my Chicken Fried: Fried Chicken and Biscuit Recipe

Zac Brown Band's Chicken Fried song always gets me thinking about Fried Chicken.  I hear about my grandmother's fried chicken all the time.  Don't we all?  It's one of those legendary meals that all southerners talk about.  But at least in my house, is not made very often.  Like once in a blue moon.  I'm not saying I don't know why it's not made very often (dredging a big ol' piece of chicken, with the skin, into a coating of flour and then taking it for a swim in a vat of hot grease...I can feel my arteries closing.)   But, all things in moderation.  Right?

Yesterday seemed like the perfect day to conger up some memories from the old days, whip out the cast iron skillet, and go for it.  My dad and I took a trip to Whole Foods, got the freshest little chicken we could find, and we were on our way.  I guess I should pause and say that what really got our mouths watering in the first place for fried chicken was this little cover right here.
Tell me your mouth isn't watering.  This recipe calls for an overnight marinade, so you have to plan for it.  This one is not the traditional southern buttermilk marinade, but a spice rub.  Oh.  Mygosh.  It really was the best fried chicken ever.  I am convinced.  The spice rub flavored the chicken through and through.   The crust was perfectly brown and crisp.  This is the kind of recipe that becomes legendary, is passed down for generations, and has the grandkids talking about how good Grandma's fried chicken is. Don't you want to be that  Grandma one of these days.  Then trust me, save this recipe.  Speaking of legendary, this biscuit recipe is a keeper too.  I found it in Cook's Country.  It is, hand's down, the best biscuit recipe I have tried.

THE BEST Fried Chicken EVER, and Honey Rosemary drizzle
The original recipe is found here

The World's Best Fried Chicken

by Bon Appetit
Keywords: Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Peanut oil (for frying)
Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.
Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2" baking dish.
Pour oil into a 10"–12" cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4". Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.
Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.
Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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Honey Rosemary Drizzle

Keywords: sauce
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
Tie 3 rosemary sprigs together with kitchen twine and use as a brush to slather the honey over everything from biscuits to chicken.
Bring honey, 1 sprig rosemary, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes before serving. Dip the rosemary brush into the honey and use to drizzle over the chicken.
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The Best Buttermilk Biscuits EVER
Recipe from "Cook's Country"

Buttermilk Biscuits
by Cook's Country
Keywords: bread
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1. CHILL FAT Cut butter and shortening into 1/2-inch pieces and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
2. MIX DOUGH Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in food processor until combined. Add chilled butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. KNEAD DOUGH Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Stir in buttermilk until combined. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly, 8 to 10 times, to form a smooth, cohesive ball. Roll dough into 9-inch circle, about 3/4 inch thick.
4. CUT BISCUITS Using 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut rounds (do not twist cutter, press straight down) and arrange upside down on prepared baking sheet.
5. BAKE BISCUITS Bake until biscuits begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack and let cook 5 minutes. Serve warm.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

What do you mean he don't eat meat?...that's ok. I make Lamb!

I absolutely love that scene in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", when the family is blown away that someone has come to dinner and does not eat meat.  But no worries, there is lamb.  I am by no means a vegetarian, however on a weekly basis I really don't eat that much meat.  My sister has been a vegetarian for the last 7 years, and has taught me a lot about eating balanced plant based meals, while being careful to include all necessary nutrients that can be missed in a meatless diet.  In looking back at previous posts, I have not been vegetarian conscious.  In tonight's post, I wanted to celebrate the fun and versatility a big basket of veggies can provide.

For this particular meal I was inspired by my friend, Bridgett.  She posted an array of greek/mediterranean inspired dishes on Facebook.  It took me a mere 10 minutes before I whipped out the grocery list and headed out to recreate the spread.  So fresh and delicious.  Thanks Bridgett!

Hummus or Hommos or Houmous or Hommus...I could keep going, trust me. 
In my search for delicious hummus recipes I began find more spellings for this one seemingly simple dish than there are ingredients in the thing.  Hummus is actually one of the earliest known prepared foods, with a long history in the Middle East.  However the earliest found use of its commonly known spelling hummus, wasn't until 1955 (which was actually translated from the Turkish form of the word humus.  According to Webster's Dictionary, Hummus means chickpeas in Arabic.  If this wasn't enough about the creamy delight, you can find more than you will ever want to know about it here.

I posted a different recipe for hummus earlier, which is similar to this one.  The biggest difference is that this recipe uses dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight and cooked, as opposed to canned.  The difference in texture is unbelievable.  If you think about it far enough in advance, I would definitely recommend this one.  

Israeli Hummus

Inspired by Food and Wine
1/2 pound dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
7 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Paprika and cayenne, for garnish
Pita bread, for serving

DIRECTIONS In a medium bowl, cover the dried chickpeas with 2 inches of water and stir in the baking soda. Refrigerate the chickpeas overnight. Drain the chickpeas and rinse them under cold water.

In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with 2 inches of fresh water. Add the garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Rinse the chickpeas under cold water. Peel the garlic cloves. In a food processor, puree the chickpeas with the reserved cooking water, the olive oil and garlic cloves. Add the cumin along with the tahini and lemon juice and process until creamy. Season the hummus with salt and transfer to a serving bowl.

Sprinkle the hummus with the red pepper and paprika. Serve with pita bread.

This salad is a great summer recipe.  Light, fresh, and filled with great summer produce.

Greek Salad

Recipe inspired by "Dad's Greek Salad"

6 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dill weed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large plum tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1/4 red onion, peeled, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
A heaping half cup crumbled feta cheese

 Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, oregano and dill weed together until blended. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewhisk before using.)

 Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, olives in a bowl. Toss with dressing. Sprinkle cheese over and serve.

Fresh, Hot Pita

Lately, I have been experimenting with recipes from the book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  One of my favorites is the pita.  The cool thing about this book is there are a few master recipes that you can choose from, and from there create a variety of breads.  I chose the classic boule recipe and then turned it into pita.

This recipe will make up to 16 good size pitas.  It can easily be halved.
3 cups luke warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6  to 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour

1.  For the luke warm water, I use hot tap water.  It should register around 100 degrees F.  Warm water will rise the dough to the right point in 2 hours.

2.  Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl, or preferably in a resealable, lidded (but not airtight) food container.

3.  Mix in the flour-KNEADING IS NOT NECESSARY! Add all the flour at once, measuring it by scooping in a dry measuring cup and leveling the top with the back side of a knife.  Don't pack the flour in the cup or the measurements will be off.  Mix with a wooden spoon, high-capacity food processor fitted with dough blade, or heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.  This will be done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

4.  Allow to rise.  Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you are using.  Do not use screw-topped bottles or jars, which could explode from trapped gasses.  Allow mixture to rise at room temperature, until it rises as much as it can and begins to flatten on top, approximately 2 hours.  The dough is ready to use at any time now!

HOWEVER, the longer the dough rests in the fridge, the better it gets.  I have kept unused dough in the refrigerator for up to a week.  It begins to develop a delightful sourdough flavor.


1.  Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a baking stone.  When you are ready to bake the pita, cut off a grapefruit sized piece of dough, about 1 pound. This will make 4 pitas.  If you want to bake only one pita, you can cut off a piece the size of a lime, about 1/4 of a pound.

2.  Dust the surface of the dough with flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter of a turn as you go.  Place the dough on a floured cutting board.  If using the 1 pound size, cut the dough into four equal pieces. (Or keep it large for an extra large pita!)

3.  Using a rolling pin, roll the pieces out into a round with a uniform thickness of 1/8 inch.  You will need to keep adding flour and rotate to prevent sticking.

4.  Depending on the size of your stone, you may need to bake one or two at a time.  Place the round(s) on the stone and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed.  This is the exciting part!  It blows up like a balloon!
5.  When you remove the pita, wrap it in a clean cotton dish towel and set on a cooling rack.  The pitas will deflate slightly as they cool, and soften.  The space between the crusts will still be there, but may need to be nudged apart by a fork.

(see the greek salad recipe picture for a look at the deflated pitas)

As I said before, just pull from the dough throughout the week for freshly baked pita everyday.  So easy!


Lastly, I got really brave and decided to create my own Dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves.  This recipe was AMAZING! I will definitely make it again.  However, I will make it when I have a lot of time on my hands.  It is time consuming.

Dolmades or Dolmas

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe found here.

 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and diced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained (I couldn't find a jar, but found a vacuum pack at a Mediterranean Grocery)
2 lemons, juiced

 To make the filling, coat a large saute pan with 1/4 cup of the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and lemon zest and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pine nuts and rice, saute for 2 minutes, stirring to coat.

Pour in just 1/2 cup of the chicken or veg. stock and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente (not fully cooked, being a little chewy), about 10 minutes. Scrape the parboiled rice mixture into a bowl and add the dill and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

Now on to the grape leaves. Bring a big pot of water to a simmer. Blanch the grape leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain, then trim the stems and any hard veins from the leaves. Pat dry with paper towels.

To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. (The original recipe didn't say to do this, but I found it was easier to roll if I laid two leaves end to end as below, as opposed to one leave only).  Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the middle of the leaves.

 Fold the end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar – it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. 

Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling. Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven, or wide deep skillet, seam-side down in a single layer. Pour the remaining cup of broth, remaining olive oil, and the lemon juice over the dolmades, the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls, add some water if necessary. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool.

 After a meal like this, no one can say being a vegetarian is boring. Nobody.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Blast From the Past

In going through some old photos, I found a few I hadn't thought about in quite some time. Step back in time with me, if you will, about 4 years ago...dooleedoo...dooleedoo...dooleedoo. My friend Devon and I were determined to break our way into the food industry. We talked food trucks. We talked restaurants. We landed on Farmer's Market. We decided to try our hands at selling hot, fresh baked goods. And we didn't discriminate. We provided for 2 and 4-legged friends. Oh yes. We were known as none other than...Scones and Bones.
I have to say we were pretty successful, as long as your definition of success means we had many customers, who came back weekly, and bought all of our wares. However if your definition of success involves $$$$, then sadly, we were not. Oh well. We had a GREAT time. Here is a blast from the past, along with a couple of recipes to boot.

Freshly baked peanut butter dog bones, and beef bones
Peanut Butter Dog Treats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup peanut butter (all-natural or organic)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine oil, peanut butter and water. Add flour, one cup at a time, forming a dough. Knead dough into firm ball and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Dill Cottage Bread and Rosemary Boulle
Dill Cottage Bread

1/2 C milk
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp butter
1 pkg yeast
1/2 C warm water
2 1/4 C regular AP flour
1 Tbsp minced onion
1/2 tsp dill
melted butter

Scald milk, remove from heat, and stir in sugar, salt, and butter until dissolved. Cool. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add milk mixture. Stir in flour and add onion and herbs. Stir all together. Let rise 45 min. Stir down and continue to stir about 1/2 min. Turn into 8’’ greased loaf pan. Bake about 40-45 minutes, or until golden and begins to pull away from the sides, at 350 degrees. Brush with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with salt. Cool.

Bacon Cheddar Scones, Whole Wheat Beer Bread, Herb Flat Bread

Bacon Cheddar Scones
(Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen)
For the scones:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly slices
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.  (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.

Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture.  Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated.  If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk.  Slice the dough into 8 to 10 wedges.

In a small bowl combine the egg and water and whisk together.  Brush each wedge lightly with the egg wash.  Transfer the scones to an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

A sampling of our collection

Cheddar Jalapeno Pinwheels

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

Cranberry Orange Scones

Cream Cheese Orange Pinwheels