Not just another lemon chicken

Hubby has been retired for a couple years now and has “taken over my kitchen!” He does most of the grocery shopping and cooking of weekday meals. At times I miss the planning and prepping for our meals but am also grateful that it does not all fall on me when I come home from work. I am still in charge of the baking and desserts but it is summer and usually much too hot to bake.

This recipe is adapted, but not too much, from Eating Well via my local newspaper’s Flavor section that comes weekly wrapped around all the ads for the grocery stores and more. I look through this for any interesting tidbits about food, wine, and cooking. I read this recipe and realized I had the ingredients, mostly, and chose a weekend day to cook. And had fun doing so.

First gather the ingredients. And chop and mince as directed. And cook the rice.

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and more
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or thereabouts
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 bag of frozen spinach
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice; I used Jasmine rice.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice and more

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 8×8-inch baking pans with oil or cooking spray. One of these will be frozen. Two meals are gotten out of this cooking episode.

Put oil in a skillet and brown the chicken on both sides. Put on plate and set aside. Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Add a little bit of oil and the onions with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook until golden and soft. Stir in spices and cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring. Put on a plate and set aside.

Add spinach to pan and cook until no longer frozen. Then add lemon juice, the remaining salt, and half the onions. Oh, and add the rice and cook and stir until rice is completely coated, about 5 minutes. This has a wonderful aroma and beautiful color.

Divide the rice mixture between the two prepared pans. Top each half with 4 chicken thighs and then the rest of the onions. You will cover one pan with foil and freeze and the other also with foil but to bake.

So at this point I looked at the chicken and was concerned that I did not brown them sufficiently. So I added a touch of oil back into the skillet and browned the chicken again. Then there were nice browned bits on the pan so I deglazed the skillet with additional lemon juice and then poured this “lemon gravy” on top of the chicken in the square pans. Then wrapped one in foil and stuck it in the freezer to be used within one month or so. At that time it is to be thawed overnight in the refrigerator and about 10 minutes added to the baking time.

Bake the other pan at 375 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer. A thermometer stuck in the chicken should register 165 degrees F.

Reviewing this recipe makes me realize it is more fussy with the various “setting asides” and the numerous spices, than I usually go for but this was absolutely delicious and worth it.

Soupe a l’oignon a la Julia!

I have been enjoying cooking from my “French” cookbooks, one by Julia Child and one by Jacques Pepin. Hubby bought beef broth hoping for some onion soup. We get lots of onions each week so had all the ingredients. Hubby prefers beef broth as it gives a different taste and mouth feel.  I think that is umami.

I chose to go with Julia’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My goal is not to master the art but to experiment with different combinations and ways of preparing food. I really like soups. Hubby likes soups to be more stew-like.  I have adjusted very few items in this recipe. I use slightly less butter than she suggests. This is what I used.

  • 5 cups sliced onions
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 3 Tab flour
  • 1 quart boiling beef broth
  • 3 cups homemade chicken broth, also boiling
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start with the butter and oil and onions in a heavy saucepan. This needs to be big enough to cook the whole soup. And needs a lid. A 4 quart pan is suggested. Slow cook the onions for 15 minutes. Then add the salt and sugar and cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently.

Did I mention Julia writes to count on 2 ½ hours to make this soup?

Now add the flour and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add the boiling liquids and the wine. Simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes.

For serving, add 3 Tab cognac. Now pour the soup into bowls lined with baguette and cheese.

The first time I made this soup I also made baguettes from Jacques Pepin’s Essentials. Real bread made with flour, yeast, salt, and water. We ate 2 ½ baguettes with the soup. And this tasted like “real” French onion soup, not just onions sautéed in broth. And we had gruyere cheese.

The second time I made the soup I halved the broth to just the beef broth, heated not boiling, cooked for the minimum times, forgot the cognac, and did not serve over bread and cheese. It was just as good but did not have that fabulous first taste of “Ahhhhh, this is good soup!”

Stay safe and be well!

French Onion, White Bean Soup/Stew

Every once in a while I get to reading books on food for health. I am looking for that magic dietary change that will cure what ails me. And I don’t want to give up too much. I enjoy food. I enjoy baking. I enjoy my glass of wine and a cocktail or two at times. I enjoy bread and cakes and pies and cookies. Like I said I’m looking for magic! I got my hands on an anti-inflammatory diet crock-pot cookbook. There are some really good sounding recipes in here. I’ve already made the Spanish Rice and am now trying a soup recipe. I am calling it a stew so Hubby will like it, and adding some meat.

This is my variation of the White Bean & French Onion Soup from The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Slow Cooker Cookbook by Madeline Given (the italicized ingredients are my own addition or changes).

  • 4 onions, thinly sliced (I used 4 instead of 2 large onions because my onions were on the smallish side.)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans of white beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (Hooray for me, I made my own with carrot peels, onion peels, celery and a bay leaf. Just boil that up all together for about an hour and then strain.)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup diced cooked ham
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Put the sliced onions, olive oil and salt in the crock-pot and cook on High for 3 hours.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients but not the spinach and cook on Low for another 3 hours. Add the spinach and cook an additional hour.

This makes the kitchen smell good as it cooks. For “stew-like” bowls ladle the soup with a slotted spoon into your bowls. I served this with a toasted baguette. Hubby liked it.

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Salisbury Steak

A while ago a colleague gave me her recipe for Salisbury Steak. Recently another colleague said that was what she was going to try to make for dinner. And then one of you lovely bloggers posted a recipe for them cooked in a crock pot. You know who you are koolaidmoms! And then Hubby bought a package of ground beef when we were grocery shopping. It seems the stars were aligned!

This is the recipe given to me by my colleague: Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms.

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water

I cannot guarantee that I used the exact amounts listed but a pretty close approximation.

Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, chopped onion, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl until evenly mixed. Shape into four patties.

Fry patties in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Add broth, sliced onions, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Transfer to plate and keep warm.

Bring onion mixture to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add to the skillet. Cook and stir until gravy is thickened, about one minute. Pour over patties to serve.

I cooked brown rice and made a salad to complete the dinner.

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It’s all about the gravy!