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Posts Tagged ‘Rustic Cooking’

I see traffic! (think `I see dead people`tone)

I finally managed to get a picture accepted by Taste Spotting. I had submitted a whole three… I mean it was definitely about time that they acknowledge the greatness that is me. I danced a small victory jig and promptly forced my husband to stare in reverence at the screen where my Cookies and Cream for Grown Ups sat side by side the amazing pictures that grace Taste Spotting. Little did I know the best was yet to come.

I walked away with a smile plastered across my face. Even the rejection from Food Gawker (for the same picture and post) couldn`t get me down. I had managed to get on the pages of Taste Spotting. I knew it was a good thing. I wasn`t really sure why, but the spike on my traffic chart a few hours later confirmed it. I`m too embarrassed to even tell you what my previous high number was (or how excited it had made me).

But I will tell you that Taste Spotting brought in a couple of hundred people to my humble little blog in one day. Well 339 to be exact. You know, in case you NEEDED that information. I`m sure that everyone out there that`s been in the blogsphere for any length of time is humoring me with a virtual pat on the head right now. I know it`s nothing more than a small drop in the big ocean of food blog traffic, but it`s my small drop! I will call him squishy and he shall be my squishy.

For a little while (most of the night) I sat in front the laptop hitting the refresh button on my stats page as faithfully as Desmond down in the Hatch punching in those fateful numbers. The only thing that managed to drag me away, and install some sort of sanity, was the smell of the Chicken Stew warming on the stove.

The call of the stove siren brought me back to what started this blog experience in the first place; my love (ahem…obsession) with food.

Things like stews and soups aren’t really meant to be made by strict recipes. The beauty of this kind of naive cooking is in the simplicity of the ingredients and the straightforward methods of preparing them. The recipe I’m going to set out for is only a guideline, make it your own. Change the amounts, change the ingredients. The only two things that I really recommend you don’t meddle with is browning the chicken and cooking in a slow low heat.

Naive Chicken Stew

1 Large or 2 Small Onion- Medium Dice

2 Cloves of Garlic- Minced

2 Carrots- Medium Dice

2 Ribs of Celery- Medium Dice 

3-4 Large Potatoes- Medium Dice (about 4 Cups worth)

1  Bay Leaf

4 Chicken Legs

3 Tablespoons of Flour

6-8 Cups Chicken Stock

1/3-1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Thyme

1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

1/2-3/4 Cup Frozen Corn

Salt & Pepper 

  • Heat oven to 300f
  • Chop onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and herbs.
  • In a large oven safe pot (dutch ovens are ideal) heat up a bit of vegetable oil and saute the onions untill soft, add garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Add celery and carrots, allow to sweat on medium heat.
  • In a large frying pan heat up 1/3 cup of oil on medium-high heat.
  • Brown both sides of the chicken legs in the oil. Each side will take about 6-8 minutes. You want to make sure you get a really deep brown colouring. Keep the pan on the heat.
  • Add chicken to the pot of vegetables along with potatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Add stock to just cover the chicken and vegetables.
  • Add flour to the hot oil in the pan the chicken was browned in. Stir immediately and continue to do so for a minute or until the flour turns light brown. Add to the pot, mixing to incorporate.
  •  Place in for 40 minutes to 1 hour. When the chicken meat is falling off the bone remove it from the pot and shred the meat.
  • Return the meat to the pot. Check the vegetables, a fork should go through them easily. If not return to the oven.
  • When they are ready add the frozen corn and parsley. Stir to combine. Remove Bay Leaf. Season with the Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Allow it to cool a little and enjoy or refrigerate over night. Stews are always better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to mingle.

Hopefully by the time t.e.b (titillating eatables blog) reaches it’s 1 month-a-versary on the 6th of March I’ll be able to break into the still formidable Food Gawker! I’ve got my eyes on you Mr. Gawker.

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Nooooo!!! (can you hear the anguish in my scream?).

I had almost completely finished a post and it somehow disappeared into the vast depths of cyber space. Pen and Paper would NEVER do this to me. NEVER.

But my blog knows that I could never leave… It’s got ahold of me.

WHAT??!! It just auto-saved a draft of this post, 30 seconds in. Why didn’ t it do that for my almost finished post?

I swear blog if you keep jerking me around like this I will forget your fancy templates and convenient world wide distribution… (I think it knows that I’m bluffing).

So my first attempt at this post had some witty remarks about food trends and stuff. I don’t feel like (there it goes, auto saving again… how kind of it) re-writing it. I feel like being stubborn and giving the middle finger to my screen. Not that that’s going to get me anywhere.

To sum up what I said before: food in 2010 is all about soups, stews and casseroles. Some call this rustic cooking. Some call it home cooking. I’m going to call it naive cooking. In a good way.

na-ive [nah-eev]: 1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.

This is as far from seared foie gras on a bed of watercress with a sprinkling of truffle oil as you can get. This is food lounging in well-worn jeans and a hoodie. It doesn’t need to gussy up to impress because it knows that it’s got it going on just how it is.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’ve got something against fancy food. My culinary education is in classic french cuisine. You don’t get any more pretencious than that, trust me. It’s got a time and place. But that place isn’t here and that time isn’t now.

Awhile ago (years) I picked up a book that was filled with exactly these kinds of recipe. Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid is filled with recipes they uncovered in everyday kitchens all around the world. It’s a hard covered textbook sized book and it scares me. There aren’t many pictures and most of the ones that are present showcase the unique locals from the towns and cities the recipes were picked up in. I like pictures showing the process of a recipe, they give me courage.

So I called myself out for being afraid, there were some mean names used, and then sat down to flip through the pages. These book is so much more than just recipes. It’s full of stories behind the travels and discoveries that brought the book into reality. There’s a section devoted to the rhythm of home bread baking. There’s even a little statement about mistakes: encouraged and natural, almost necessary. My kind of book. I eyes settled on a Ukrainian Honey Cake recipe (no picture) and I got to work.

Although the name says cake, think quick bread, like banana bread. With a lovely taste very similar to ginger bread and a lighter texture than banana bread. So really it’s only like banana bread in the method…

Ukrainian Honey Cake

from Home Baking  by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

2 large eggs, seperated, at room temperature

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of honey

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspooon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, cooled to lukewarm

  • Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350f. Butter a 9×5 inch bread pan, then dust it with flour
  • Using a mixer, or working by hand, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and smooth. Add the honey and  melted butter and mix until blended and smooth.
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add half the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir in. Stir in the coffee, then stir in the remaining dry ingredients.
  • Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into the batter, then stir gently several times. The batter will be quite wet.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely before slicing.
  • Eat plain or buttered, with hot tea or coffee.

The authors point out that nuts, raisins and even more complex spices can be added to the cake. I’m excited to try out different varieties. I think adding in another texture would be a great addition.

Speaking of mistakes. Oh? We weren’t? Well excuse my rough transition…

Bubbles of Escaping Carbon Dioxide- bye bye leavening action.

So speaking of mistakes I managed to turn my oven off without really realizing it (that whole auto pilot thing). I placed my batter into my still hot oven (from some previous baking) and walked away. Twenty minutes later I realized what I had done. Plenty of time for all the carbon dioxide the baking soda had created to completely escape. That being said the cake still turned out fairly light. We can thank the egg whites for that. It’s always good to have a lesson in why we should respect baking soda.

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