There are so many fun and good things to do this time of the year, but sometimes that leaves little time to make meals, much less meals from scratch. Last December I focused on meals that were quick to prepare - check them out in the December archives. I will not do that every week this month, but I will start off the month with a fairly quick and easy recipe. It can use leftovers, too!
Salmon patties (or cakes) are something that I loved when my mother made them, and I’ve made sure to find a recipe that I like. My mom and I always used canned salmon, though, and I never thought about making it with fresh until I saw Wild Alaska’s salmon “burger” meat. It’s just their salmon in small bits, ready to be formed into patties and cooked like a burger. I figured, at first, that I’d use it to make a fairly plain salmon burger. When I started to make supper one night, however, I remembered both all the kale that we had in the fridge and a recipe for kale and salmon patties that I enjoy.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Not only did we have lots of kale, we had lots of leftover cooked kale, sautéed with onions and garlic. I decided to use that instead of fresh kale, and cut out several steps in this recipe. You can potentially cut down on hands-on time by baking these in a hot oven (I’ve seen ranges of 375° all the way up to 500°) for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your patties and temperature of your oven. I haven’t baked mine but plan to try it next time.
This recipe calls for cassava flour to hold them together. The same amount of regular whole wheat or white flour works fine; cassava flour is considered a one-to-one substitute for wheat flours. The cakes didn’t seem to need the flour, though, and I plan to try them without it next time. The egg binds everything together well and the patties do not seem overly wet without the flour.
Two more options come from a recipe I have printed but that has fallen off the internet. First, you can substitute dill and lemon zest for the seasonings in this recipe: 1 tablespoon fresh dill and 1 teaspoon zest. Second, a good summertime vegetable substitute would be zucchini for the kale. It seems like zucchini would make a wet patty, but that recipe does not call for any flour.
To keep this meal quick and seasonal, serve with a green salad and roasted or baked potatoes.
From Made It Love it Paleo
Do you have Thanksgiving leftovers, or are you wondering what to do with your upcoming Christmas leftovers? Turn them into a comforting casserole with local ingredients.
Despite having a lot of guests over Thanksgiving, I had a lot of turkey left over, especially white meat. I like dark meat turkey better because of its higher moisture content. I set out to find a good recipe for the turkey I had, preferably something creamy.
Many casserole recipes of the 1960s were practically a list of cans: a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can of green beans, a can of tuna, etc. - combined into a dish and perhaps topped with cracker crumbs. But a casserole is also a great way to combine leftovers into something yummy.
Once I stopped eating grains I also stopped making casseroles. Too many of my favorite recipes had rice, pasta, white sauce, or bread crumbs in them, and I wasn’t sure what direction to take them instead. Thankfully there are a lot of recipes out there for “paleo” casseroles to help me out.
I found a great paleo recipe, interestingly, on Perdue’s website. While I in no way condone factory farmed poultry, I found Perdue’s recipe to be a good starting point for my own.
Paleo recipes, however, often include non-dairy substitutes. While I am happy for people who cannot eat dairy to have readily available options, I do not see any coconut trees, for instance, around Chattanooga. I do not tolerate coconut that well myself, either, so I substitute regular (local!) dairy in dairy-free recipes. One thing to keep in mind when doing this is fat content. Full-fat coconut milk has a fat content somewhere between half and half and cream.
I think about what I have on hand and what end result I’m looking for when I think about how to substitute for a non-dairy milk. In this case I wanted a creamy casserole and I had sour cream, so I used that in addition to milk. Some cheese would have been a great addition, too. I stirred some in my serving and wished I had put it in the whole casserole.
Don’t be put off by cauliflower rice just because it’s a trendy food item right now. It’s also a local food, unlike regular rice. If I had leftover roasted cauliflower on hand I might have used that instead or in addition to the “rice.” An interesting substitute or addition could be leftover sweet potato or white potatoes. It would change the flavor significantly but would add more substance to the dish.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Another local addition or substitute is squash. I did not have leftover cooked squash or pumpkin on hand, but if you do, this recipe from Paleo Grubs uses it in a casserole to provide a creamy texture. I plan to try it in the future.
Spinach is in season and plentiful right now, but feel free to substitute other greens as desired. I used a mix of frozen spinach, fresh spinach, and a fresh, baby Asian green. Leftover, cooked kale or other cooked greens would work, too. If your greens are already seasoned (e.g., sauteed with onions and/or garlic), you could substitute them for the onion and garlic I’ve listed as well.
I’ve specified using a large pot for this recipe so you can adjust ingredients to suit you before baking. The original chicken casserole recipe I reference looked dry to me, so I kept adding liquids until it looked right to me. Start with less liquid than you think you need, and keep adding until it looks right to your eye. You might like it drier than I do.
Once your casserole is ready to bake, feel free to top with cheese, bread crumbs, paprika, or whatever strikes your fancy - maybe even cracker crumbs!
Inspired by Paleo Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Casserole
2 cups leftover cooked turkey, chopped
1 large head cauliflower
1 large onion, chopped
Fat for sauteing (butter, palm, turkey, olive)
~8 oz mushrooms, sliced
~24 oz fresh spinach
1 - 1 ½ cups milk
¼-½ cup sour cream
~1 cup turkey broth
3 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Printable recipe here
Are you running out of time or oven space today? Spatchcock your turkey!
What does spatchcock mean? Originally it was a term for a culled immature male chicken. These days it, along with butterflying, is a term for a specific way to prepare your chicken or turkey for cooking. When you spatchcock a bird you cut out the backbone, and possibly also the sternum or keel bone, and flatten the bird out. If you’ve ever struggled to get your whole bird of choice evenly cooked you can appreciate how a flattened out fowl cooks more evenly. And it’s faster, too! A medium-sized turkey is done in about 90 minutes.
I started with a 10-pound turkey from Hoe Hope Valley Farm. I saw the idea for butterflying turkey in the November issue of Real Simple magazine. Oddly, the instructions are not available online. I got out my trusty Cutco kitchen shears, ready to cut out the backbone. It was more difficult than I thought! So I sought out help from Google, found a few more photos and was able to proceed.
Here’s what I found:
Overall I found this to be an excellent way to roast a turkey. I saw a lot of recipes for grilled spatchcocked turkey, another great way to save oven space.
When you have the time to brine, I recommend Real Simple’s dry brine formula. When it was time to roast the turkey I patted it dry and rubbed the turkey with butter. The combination of the brine and butter was wonderful. For instructions on butterflying I found meatwave to have the most thorough instructions and photos. Martha, of course, has the prettiest photos of spatchcocking and instructions for carving as well. Serious Eats has a good discussion, too.
Finally, with all the family fun and food we were not able to take photographs. Enjoy this shot of our lovely fall colors instead! Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo by Zachary Cross
Happy Thanksgiving! I have one more recipe for you that can be made ahead with local ingredients.
When I first started cooking I was pretty careful to follow recipes. Even now I’m pretty careful to follow a recipe the first time I make it - unless I find a lot of different versions of the recipe. The internet can make recipe hunting overwhelming sometimes with all the options available online. I’ve found Pinterest to help narrow the search. If I need to broaden I can always go back to the Google.
Potatoes au Gratin, also known as Gratin Dauphinois, is serious comfort food with all its starchiness and creaminess. For years I tried the Joy of Cooking’s recipes for Potatoes au Gratin to the letter (pre-internet). The methods were complicated and the results were hit or miss. Either a roux-based white sauce was used or flour was sprinkled between the layers of potatoes to created a roux, depending on the recipe.
Then Jack Bishop’s recipe arrived in our kitchen. So simple: potatoes, cream, a little cheese, a smidge of garlic and butter on the dish, and salt and pepper to taste. A long cooking time but not a long prep time - with the right tools.
Cutting two pounds of potatoes thinly with a knife, even a good knife, can get tiring quickly. I finally got a mandoline slicer and it is so much easier, faster, and more consistent. I purchased the OXO Good Grips - it’s a reasonable price and has worked well for the slicing I’ve done so far.
I wondered, after my success with make-ahead mashed potatoes, if potatoes au gratin would be a good make-ahead dish. Turns out, yes. According to The Kitchn, “...it only gets more oozy and delicious the next day.” Also, apparently cheese is not traditional, so Bishop’s recipe could be even simpler!
Cheese is an excellent and common addition, though. Choose your favorite cheese, though a variety that melts well is a good choice. I had Fontina on hand, but you will often see Gruyère recommended. Sequatchie Cove Creamery’s Gruetli is a good local option.
Although I like simple recipes I decided to add a few flavors and some extra butter since I’m planning to reheat it. The extra fat really helped the mashed potatoes reheat well.
I used a recipe from Recipe Tin Eats that is pretty similar to Bishop’s, with more butter, cream, and also some thyme. It is rich! A little serving goes a long way so this is a good recipe for a crowd.
A couple of notes: according to The Kitchn, a shallow pan or dish is best for cooking. I found mine came out fine in a deeper dish. I could have filled mine fuller, too, as the potatoes sink into the dish, not rise up (mashed potatoes rise). In the space where they sank the butter browned pretty dark. I might wipe my dish if I have space left over next time.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Although gratin recipes give temperatures from 350-450° F, I think lower and slower is best, especially for potatoes that you are planning to reheat. The higher temps brown the butter faster, possibly faster than the potatoes can cook. However, there are so many gratin recipes at the higher temperatures that you can choose to cook at whatever temp is convenient. Keep an eye on it at the higher temperatures.
I’ll list Bishop’s recipe and then options from the other recipe I used. Happy Thanksgiving week, whatever you choose to cook!
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut crosswise into ⅛ -inch rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded, about 1 ½ cups
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
Options, inspired by The Kitchn and Recipe Tin Eats:
Printable recipe here
Thanksgiving is on the early side of the month this year and it’s right around the corner! Read on for a round up of the blog’s Thanksgiving recipes and a recipe specifically aimed at relieving kitchen congestion on the big day.
Last year I wrote a post linking to the blog’s previous posts suitable for Thanksgiving, along with a recipe for mashed turnips. Since then I’ve added more traditional holiday recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Mashed Cauliflower. Don’t see a favorite recipe, or have an ingredient you’d like to use that isn’t featured in these lists? Try the search bar above the Archives list (scroll down on a mobile device). If you still don’t see it please drop me a line at heather(at)crossclan(dot)org and I’ll consider it for a future post.
As far as the turkey goes, slow roasting is a new option to try from the blog. This year I’m planning to spatchcock my turkey and roast it the day before Thanksgiving. I’ll post the results on the blog that night so you have an option Thanksgiving Day. Spatchcocking, or butterflying, is supposed to cut the roasting time way down and cook the bird more evenly as well. I’m picking up my turkey this week and I’ll dry brine it a couple days before cooking.
If you are hosting a holiday meal one issue you might face is where to cook all the various dishes you want to serve, or even just keep warm till the meal. For instance, we have an open galley kitchen; it’s pretty small as far as cabinet, counter, and appliance space. We do not have room to roast a turkey and also cook anything else in the oven. I use an electric roaster and that is a big help.
Another way to save space is to make items ahead and reheat at serving time. What and how to make ahead depends on your kitchen set up, items you are planning to serve, and personal preference. For instance, if you plan your meal and find yourself short on stovetop space, but with plenty of oven space, make something ahead and reheat in the oven. And vice versa. However, if you are like our family and are going to come up short with both oven and stovetop space, use an electric cooker such as a roaster or slow cooker. Our roaster also has options to bake loaves of bread or keep individual serving dishes warm.
Mashed potatoes are an excellent choice for making ahead, partly because there are so many ways to do it. From starting and ending with the slow cooker, to making fairly traditional mashed potatoes to reheat in the oven, or a hybrid of the two, pick the method that suits your situation.
Originally I thought of leftover mashed potatoes as only fit for potato cakes (which are a great dish, but not terribly convenient for a large meal). I wondered what it would take to make mashed potatoes fit to heat and serve. Turns out it’s mostly lots of fat: butter, cream, and cream cheese, or possibly sour cream. Besides being yummy these ingredients also keep the potatoes from drying out in the reheating process.
I added slow sauteed onions and celery, an idea from The More with Less Cookbook’s recipe, Potato Filling. That recipe includes egg and breadcrumbs, things that I was not interested in having in my mashed potatoes this time. An egg or two gives a nice poofy texture to the finished dish but eggs are scarce at the market this time of year and I prefer to use them elsewhere.
When making the mashed potatoes be sure not to over mash them since you will be be stirring in lots of extra ingredients. Otherwise, make the texture to your taste: lumpy, smooth, or somewhere in between. I used a regular hand masher and a wooden spoon, while Jeffrey’s preferred method is to use a mixer. Butter your dish of choice, such as Grandma’s slow cooker or vintage pyrex. Once you’ve added all the ingredients per the recipe, cover and refrigerate, up to a few days before reheating. Take your potatoes out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before heating, and up to several hours for a crock. Add a few pats of butter on top, cover or not cover (see below) and heat.
Photos by Zachary Cross
I tried heating both in the oven and in the slow cooker. The crockpot took much longer, but when oven space is at a premium, or if you need to transport your dish and keep it warm, the longer time is worth it. As far as taste goes they were both good. I left the oven version uncovered to try it out with a browned crust and that was our favorite. You may notice that I have the potatoes in a bowl in my crock pot. Although I used a lot of potatoes, once mashed they did not fill the crock pot. I was concerned that they might not be visible so I used the bowl to hold them and raise them up. I did not find this made much of a change in the time I expected them to take. I put boiling water in the bottom of my crock; some sources recommend not running a crock dry. I cooked on high and the potatoes took about two hours to heat thoroughly. I did not stir the potatoes as I figured that would be best for the texture. I also figured I would forget on a busy day such as Thanksgiving anyway. Many recipes I’ve seen say three hours on low with stirring.
When it comes time to cover Grandma’s dishes to go back in the fridge, don’t use plastic wrap! Cheri Miller sells lovely beeswax/cloth wraps that mold to the shape of many sizes of bowls. Super Bee, Bees Wrap, and My Plastic Free Life all have more information on these wraps.
Remember to shop at the market on Tuesday, not Wednesday, Thanksgiving week and have a happy holiday!
Serves 10-12 as a side
1 med-large onion
2 stalks celery
¼ cup butter
5 lbs of your favorite potatoes (mine are Yukon Gold), peeled or not
½ cup butter, melted or softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¾ cup cream, warmed
Salt and pepper to taste
Pats of even more butter, for topping
Herbs such as chives for serving
Printable recipe here
Do you want something new for your Thanksgiving or everyday table? Try this quick and easy recipe with local cauliflower that's now available.
Photos by Zachary Cross
I love cauliflower and look forward to the season beginning each fall. Cauliflower is a bit more temperamental than other brassicas like broccoli and cabbage that can have a longer season. It’s worth the wait! It will depend on weather, of course, but the farmers I talked to have theirs planted under cover and harvest should be staggered all winter.
I like cauliflower cooked and served straight up with a little butter and salt. I’ve enjoyed, too, though, all the new cauliflower recipes that have popped up with paleo-style eating where some people avoid certain starches. Cauliflower has proved a good substitute for white potatoes, rice, and some kinds of breads.
While I won’t tell you that cauliflower rice and pizza crust are just like the original, they are both yummy and a nice change of pace. Also, you’ve automatically eaten a serving of veggies! Mashed cauliflower, however, will almost sneak by as mashed potatoes.
I’m not interested in replacing mashed potatoes, but this is a tasty and even easier recipe. No peeling potatoes; the cooking time is a bit shorter; and you can whiz them with an immersion blender. Bonus: cauliflower does not get gummy with over blending, it just gets smoother and creamier.
This is another recipe that I do not measure precisely but I’ve gotten it down to some basic guidelines. It’s about: 1 pound cauli, 3 cloves of garlic, 3 Tbsp of butter, and salt to taste. That makes about four servings as a side dish so adjust as necessary.
Use your your whole cauliflower, trimming any hard spots (usually the stem end), large leaves, or black spots smaller than little dots. That beautiful cauliflower in the blue bowl above? It’s not as pretty on first sight. But it’s fine underneath. Watch for places where those little spots get bigger and cut them out. While cauliflower leaves are edible I find the largest ones to be tough and cut those off. It’s a similar situation for stems. They will usually soften up fine without peeling (cut them up a bit), but the ends get tough.
The garlic adds flavor and is surprisingly mild. Garlics differ in strength, though, so if you have an especially mild or pungent garlic, adjust as desired. The garlic adds a bit of a root vegetable, and I think that contributes to the taste and texture as well.
A big difference I’ve found between potatoes and cauliflower is that potatoes will soak up butter all day and just get yummier while cauliflower gets runny if too much is added. For best texture start low and add rather than try to subtract. I’ve found three tablespoons to be a consistently good amount for a pound of cauliflower.
Prep your cauliflower, break apart the florets, cut up the stems and steam or boil with the garlic. This takes as little as ten minutes, but you do want it to be tender, so give it longer if necessary. I’ve always boiled the cauli and garlic in a bit of water together, then drained. Steaming is another option I’ve seen online, as well as sautéing the garlic separately. I think boiling mellows the flavor better, but it is also draining away some of the nutrients.
And you do want to drain it well! That’s the key to good texture. Drain well (and don’t make the mistake we once did and set it aside in the cooking water to drain later. Whoops, lesson learned!), add cut up butter, sprinkle some salt, and blend with a hand blender. If you prefer chunky textures use a potato masher. Or try your favorite way of mashing potatoes. I found a mixer to be a bit difficult to use with it but it worked.
Taste and add butter and/or salt as needed. Garnish with pepper, chives, and whatever you think looks pretty. Serve in the same style of bowl as your mashed potatoes and see who can tell the difference by looking! Or tasting, for that matter.
1 pound of cauliflower (1 med-large head)
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Garnishes as desired, e.g. pepper, chives, parsley
Printable recipe here
It’s harvest time and you’ll find a new batch of corn products at market right now, including grits for your breakfast or as an anytime comfort food.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Brad Swancy from Riverview Farms Milling recently brought this season’s milling to the market and, wow, it is so fresh! I tried the grits and the corn smell and taste are wonderful. Riverview Farms Milling also brings cornmeal, polenta, and popcorn to market. Located in Northwest Georgia, the milling operation is part of the larger Riverview Farms, “...a second generation organic farm, and a diversified, self-sustaining operation that supports livestock, veggies, & grains.” The grits I tried are an heirloom, white dent corn, Hickory Cane dent corn.
Corn is an interesting plant. It has gone from a nearly inedible grass, to the staple of indigenous American peoples and scorn of Europeans, to now the staple crop of the world. Maize is what most of the world calls it and what its Latin name, Zea mays, sounds like. Corn, on the other hand, is in many countries the name for any type of cereal grain.
Whatever you call it, there are many ways to prepare it, starting with the whole corn. Native peoples all over the Americas nixtamalized their corn. They soaked it an alkaline solution, washed, then hulled it. This produces hominy corn, softer and easier to work with than the original. The change in flavor is, for example, the difference between corn chips and tortilla chips. Nixtamalization also changes the nutritional makeup of corn, making available nutrients, especially niacin, that were originally unavailable. When Europeans and others began cultivating and eating corn many did not know about nixtamalization, or did not know of its importance. In people with monotonous diets, primarily of corn, this led to a deficiency disease called pellagra (warning: unpleasant photos of the skin condition caused by the disease). Doctors were puzzled by pellagra for decades, with many not willing to believe that corn-heavy diets were the cause.
A diet with a wide variety of foods makes nixtamalization less of a concern, but it’s a simple process if you want to try it at home. Simple in part because we do not have to gather wood ashes to get the process started, we can simply pick up a box of pickling lime at the grocery store to make lime water. Find the full process here.
Whether hominy or not, grits are a classic southern food. They are tasty with just a little butter, or well-seasoned and served as a side with shrimp, sausage, or other meats. I’ve been making a casserole of grits and cheese for a long time. These days I often make a double batch of grits for breakfast, then use the leftovers to make a casserole at supper, either that night or later in the week. When I make grits for breakfast I serve them plain and let everyone add butter and/or cheese to their tastes in their bowls. Then I add the remaining ingredients when it’s time to make the casserole. I use an immersion blender to help mix the ingredients into the stiffer grits. I followed the recipe this week to make sure it works and made a few adjustments to the original. If you find yourself short of cheese, butter, or eggs, the casserole is pretty flexible. Give it a taste before you bake it and adjust as necessary. Cream or milk is not used in this recipe but can be added to change the taste or texture if desired. I’ve found the baking temperature to be flexible as well. Feel free to bake it at a different temperature to accommodate another dish. I’ve tried up to 425° successfully. Adjust the baking time to fit the temperature.
Adapted slightly from The More with Less Cookbook
Bring to a boil in a saucepan:
3 cups of water
1 cup grits
1 tsp salt
Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Turn off heat.
⅓ cup butter
2 cups shredded cheese
3 eggs, beaten
Turn into buttered 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 275° for 1 hour or 375° for ½ hour.
Add, before baking or to serve, hot pepper sauce, hot peppers, or a green garnish.
Printable recipe here
Finally, some chilly weather! Broccoli-Cheddar soup is a classic and easily made with local ingredients.
I often do not cook with recipes. Sometimes this makes sharing a recipe difficult as I am cooking by eye and by taste and have no idea how much of each ingredient I’ve used. I did pay close attention last time I made this soup so I could share it with you.
I used to hate even the smell of broccoli-cheddar soup. I think it was a combination of the sharp cheese and also of overcooked broccoli. Also, many “cream of” soups have a lot of flour in them to make them creamy, especially in the low-fat 90s when cooks started reducing cream and needed a replacement.
All the cream of… soups I’ve made for a long time are potato based. This makes them creamy without any flour so are appropriate for folks eating gluten-free. They will also be creamy with minimal fat but are definitely yummy with plenty of cream!
I make this a bit differently every time and I encourage you to try different variations. It’s good to be at least flexible as ingredient availability can change. For instance, when I made this soup for the photograph I had 1 ½ pounds of broccoli and barely one pound of potatoes. It was still yummy, and the difference, while perceptible was small. I have used a mirepoix as my base before - a combination of onions, celery, and carrots - and that is good, too. For this batch I made a quick stock of shitaake stems, but often I use only water. And I had no cheddar cheese. I used Monterey Jack instead and in the future I’d like to try one from Sequatchie Cove Creamery.
In addition to variations in ingredients there are differences in preparation. The simplest way is to make everything in one pot and blend it up when you are done. Blend it completely for a smooth texture or leave some chunks if you like. Or, steam some of the broccoli and/or potatoes in separate small pot(s) to add in after blending. It’s all up to you.
Photo by Zachary Cross
Serves ~ 6
1 small to medium onion
2 Tbs butter
1 pound broccoli
1 ½ pounds potatoes
Salt to taste
1 cup milk or cream
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream to serve
I thought about sharing a soup this week, but it’s too hot for that! Instead, this week’s recipe is for something seasonal that can be appreciated room temperature or cold: apple kuchen.
Photos by Zachary Cross
This is not a guest post but it was made by a guest chef: my older daughter, Lexi. She’s had an interest in cooking, and especially baking, for a long time. Since I discovered that I have a wheat allergy I’ve stopped baking with wheat and also most grain flours. Lexi has filled the void my decreased baking has left.
We discussed both the pronunciation of kuchen (we learned koo-ken from Mennonites) and the definition. Basically, it means cake in German. One of our favorite dessert recipes, though, from The More-with-Less Cookbook is for peach kuchen, and it’s more of a custard pie. Turns out that is a Käsechun, a cheesecake, specifically Pfirsich-Käsechun. The M-w-L recipe uses sour cream or yogurt for the custard, something I found odd but yummy (we’ve always used yogurt). Now I learn that German cheesecake is made with a German cheese: quark. It sounds a bit like Greek yogurt in that it’s strained and a bit tangy. It’s not yogurt but an acid-set cheese - not one made with rennet - and I’m excited to try making it in the future.
Lexi made more of a traditional sheet cake with an apple topping, so it’s an Apfelkuchen. There’s no streusel on it, though it sounds like it doesn’t need it. Jeffrey pronounced it “moist, but not the least bit gummy.” It certainly smelled heavenly, I suppose the combination of cinnamon and apples. And it was gone in less than 24 hours!
The blog post this recipe comes from is a bit of an advertisement for White Lily flour. Lexi used regular all purpose flour, but made sure to sift it thoroughly to keep it light and fluffy. The cake is in the post is very white, Lexi’s version is a lovely golden color from the pastured eggs she used. She also only used 3 apples “because I sliced them so thin,” and it sounds like that was plenty. They were Winesaps from Wheeler’s Orchard, plenty tart in place of Granny Smiths.
From Chocolate, Chocolate and More
4-5 medium Granny Smith Apples
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups White Lily All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, add vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Alternating, add flour mixture and sour cream, starting and ending with flour. Mixing just until each addition is incorporated into batter.
Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan. (I line mine with parchment paper for easy removal of cake to a serving tray.) Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Peel, core and slice apples into thin slices (about 16 slices per apple) place apples in a single layer across top of batter.
Combine sugar and cinnamon for topping. Sprinkle over top of apple layer.
bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and let cool 30 minutes.
Prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over top of cake. Serve cake still warm or can be served cooled.
Store in refrigerator.
A rotisserie chicken is a modern convenience food. It’s ready for you to eat (and even still hot at the store!), can be served as a traditional carved bird, or it can be shredded to use in other dishes - and it’s cheap! Take a little hands-on time, though, and a long, slow cook in the oven, and instead have your own tender and tasty chicken that’s locally and humanely raised.
Is that rotisserie chicken really inexpensive? Although it will depend on the store and day, usually no. There are loss leaders or fresh chickens nearing their sell-by date that a store decides to use, but, generally, the rotisserie chickens are just smaller than the fresh chickens you will buy in the same store.
What about the convenience? If you’ve made a special trip to pick one up, you’ve spent more time than prepping a roast chicken takes. Certainly they look and smell appealing when you’re already shopping and hungry, but a little planning ahead can mean that the chicken is already prepared for you at home.
How was that bird raised? A chicken purchased at the grocery store is definitely going to be factory-farmed. Even if you shop at Whole Foods it may not be raised the way you might think. You probably have seen information about the 5-step animal welfare rating. Looking at the Global Animal Partnership site shows that a chicken has to be at least step 4, and more likely step 5 or 5+ to compare what you’d get at market. Step 1 is barely one step up from the lowest level of care. Right now at the Chattanooga Whole Foods a rotisserie chicken is Step 2 and on sale for $7.99. You get what you pay for: Step 2 provides little improvement: enrichment activities and no cages but a life all indoors.
What is a busy locavore to do? Make your own! There are many ways to roast chicken that take different amounts of prep and cooking time. The October issue of Real Simple has a recipe for chicken with 10 minutes of prep, then 2 ½ - 3 hours on low heat to roast without any attention needed. The long time does make this likely a weekend project. If you’ve purchased your chicken frozen, great, leave it in the fridge till the weekend and it will hopefully be defrosted and ready to go. (I feel like chicken takes forever to defrost so I’m a little cynical about how long it takes.) If you’ve bought it fresh on Wednesday, will it still be good Saturday or Sunday?
I went down a reddit hole trying to figure out safe poultry shelf life via the internet. I’ve waited until the weekend to cook Wednesday’s fresh chicken myself, but I wanted to make sure it was safe enough to recommend! The USDA’s official recommendation is to cook your fresh poultry 1-2 days after you get it home. This is a recommendation intended for poultry purchased in a supermarket or similar store. I wondered, though: how long does it take for a fresh chicken to get from slaughter to store? How long does it sit there before you buy it? Vegetables and fruits can be days or weeks old, eggs can be months old, surely chicken suffers a similar fate?
Yet, it turns out, you don’t want to eat your chicken too fresh! You can eat it within a half hour of slaughtering but wait much longer than that and you need to let it rest for at least 24 hours. Some sources say 4 or more days for best flavor. I find this fascinating! According to an NC State poultry professor, chicken can reach the store a day after slaughter, but should be consumed within 14 days at the latest. Two weeks is a long time. But note: chicken needs to be keep at 40 F or below during that time. Please be safe and bring a cooler or insulated bag plus ice packs to market if you’re going to hold your chicken over.
Not only is your chicken going to be local but some of your seasonings will be as well. Rosemary and thyme or oregano are sturdy herbs that can stand up to long cooking. They’re readily available at the market, and thyme and rosemary grow well unprotected through the winter. Salt, pepper, and lemon round out the seasonings for a tasty chicken that goes well with many dishes that is able to stand alone as well. Lemon thyme could be used as a substitute for the lemon zest. The lemon itself adds moisture to the chicken but with long and slow cooking it shouldn’t matter too much. I’m going to try lemon thyme with this week’s chicken.
Photo by Heather Cross
Real Simple’s recipe doesn’t mention this, but I learned from Martha Stewart to loosen the skin on the breast and rub it with fat and seasonings directly on the meat as well as on the skin. She also puts thin rounds of goat cheese under the skin and arranges sage leaves (sage is another good herb for roasting) nicely on top. It’s pretty but not necessary for a yummy bird.
For your side, roasted veggies are a natural match. Usually I roast at high heat, but roasting veggies alongside chicken or other meat is pretty traditional. Real Simple recommends a separate pan of veggies; you decide which you would prefer. And if you roast plenty of vegetables you will have the beginnings of plenty of meals for the following days.
From Real Simple Magazine October 2017
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or thyme
1 lemon, zested
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3½ -to 4-lb. chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine salt, rosemary, oregano, 1½ ￼teaspoons lemon zest, and pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and rub all over with oil. Season with herb mixture, inside and out. Halve lemon and place inside cavity.
Roast until chicken is pull-apart tender (grab a leg and wiggle it; it should easily come away from the bird), 2½ to 3 hours.
Printable recipe here
Photo by Zachary Cross
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