Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spinach Lasagna

I have a couple of dishes I used to make often.

Years ago.

Spinach Lasagna and Beef Stroganoff.

Both fabulous, but haven’t really come to mind to make in a long time.

You know how you find other things to cook and old standbys sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

Groom heard about my lasagna. Off and on, since we met, he has asked me to make it for him.

Sometimes not so subtle in his requests.

“ When are you going to make your lasagna?”
“I’m having knee surgery and I’ll recover faster if you make your lasagna, don’t you think?”
“We have some spinach, are you going to make lasagna? “
“Of course, if you’re not in the mood to make lasagna, I could eat Beef Stroganoff instead.”

I gave in.
I made it for him.

Now, I hear “When are you going to make it again. That was too good.”
“I’m feeling like having lasagna, what do you think?”

I froze enough to keep him at bay for a few meals.

He mentioned Beef Stroganoff today.


Spinach Lasagna
Most Liberally adapted from
The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas

Make sauce:

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
½ large Vidalia onion coarsely chopped
1 large spoonful garlic confit
A couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil
Handful of fresh basil
1 tbsp dried Turkish oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-½ cups San Marzano tomatoes and their juice , pureed in the food processor
1 glass red wine

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.
Strain through paper towel or cheesecloth, reserve broth and chop the mushrooms. In skillet heat the olive oil and when wavy add the onion. Cook, stirring until transparent and add the garlic confit.
Chop the basil and throw it in the pan with the oregano
Add the mushrooms, their broth, the tomatoes, to the pan and red wine (Beaujolais is the wine of choice for us) and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350.

Make filling:

1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
1 small spoonful garlic confit
1-½ lbs fresh baby spinach, chopped
3 large eggs
1 lb whole milk ricotta
grate about a tsp of fresh nutmeg
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ lb grated Parmesan Reggiana,
½ lb shredded whole milk mozzarella
1 pound lasagna noodles, uncooked

Put a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil into a medium saute pan over medium high heat. When the oil is wavy, add the Vidalia onion and cook for about 8 minutes until soft and add the garlic confit. Lower the heat and cook for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Chop the spinach. Whisk together the eggs and add the cheeses, nutmeg and coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the spinach and set aside.

Take a bit of olive oil and grease a large oblong pan or two small ones.
Put 3 dry lasagna noodles in pan. Then the spinach mix and then top with some tomato sauce. And repeat the layers until you have used all, ending with the tomato sauce.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil to cover the lasagna. Put olive oil on the side of the foil that will be closest to the lasagna. Bake for 45 minutes covered. Remove foil and bake for 20 more minutes or til lasagna is bubbling and hot through.

Big fat yum.

This is best the second day. It also freezes beautifully. To freeze, cut cooled lasagna into serving sizes. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Store in plastic freezer bags. When you’re ready for some faboo lasagna, take out of freezer and remove foil and plastic wrap. Preheat oven to 400 and cook for 45 minutes or til hot through.

Serves 6

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FG's Well Worth the Wait Chicken with Peppers and Turkey Sausage

The phoenix has risen from the ashes.

Well, not literally, but here we go.

Last night, I decided to cut up a whole chicken.

I saw this video...

and said to myself, “Self, you can do this if Groom sharpens that knife for you.”

He did, and I did.

Then I went to work on this recipe from Patricia Wells’ The Provence Cookbook, one of my faves.

Everything in this recipe is great.

Except one little bitty thing.

The directions.

I followed them.

Ended up with not what I was supposed to end up with. If that’s a sentence.

But that’s okay, where’s there’s a will there’s a way.

It might be a twenty four hour way, but it’s there.

And it worked. And was fabulous.

FG’s Well Worth the Wait Chicken with Peppers and Turkey Sausage
Adapted from
Patricia Wells’ Fricassee of Chicken with Chorizo and Peppers

1 3-4 pound chicken, cut into 6-8 serving pieces (by you, if you wish)
Coarse seal salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 large spoonful garlic confit
2 cups chicken stock
4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
A couple of good squirts sun dried tomato paste ( I use the Amore brand in the tube. Great stuff!)
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 large links turkey Italian sausage with fennel

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add a couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil. When it’s wavy, add the butter. Season the chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. As soon as the butter foams, add the chicken and brown until golden on all sides. You may have to do this in batches.

Remove the chicken to a platter.

Add the 2 large links of sausage and cook on all sides until brown. Remove from pan. Add the onions to the fat and let cook, covered until soft and golden. This should take about five minutes. Then add the garlic confit and cook about five more minutes. Return the chicken and sausage and any juices that have accumulated to the pan. Add stock, tomatoes and paste. Cover and cook over low heat, turning the chicken to coat with the sauce. Let this cook for about 25 minutes *. Add the peppers and cover and cook for 20 more minutes. Season and serve with rice or pasta.

Serves 4.

This was where the recipe detoured for me. After 25 minutes, there was a whole lot of stock left over. Liquidy. So, if this happens to you, remove the chicken and cook the sauce down uncovered over medium high heat. Or, you can do like I did. Take it off the heat, let cool and refrigerate until the next evening, defat the dish, reheat and serve over the rice. It was truly wonderful.

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes and Olives

There’s something to be said about lamb shanks.

Talk about your cheap but effective meal.

They are highly impressive at table.

They make the house smell like you are flat in the middle of Tuscany, or Morocco or France, depending on how you are preparing them.

This is one of Bittman’s best.

Your guests will think you’ve outdone yourself.

Which, of course, you have!

Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
4 lamb shanks, about a pound each
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups sliced red onion
A large spoonful garlic confit
A couple of sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1-½ cups assorted olives, pitted
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add lamb and brown on all sides, season as you cook. Remove lamb and add the onions. Cook over medium heat until soft and goldenish, about 10 minutes. Add garlic confit and thyme and cook one minute then add the chicken stock and the tomatoes and stir. Add the browned lamb shanks and turn them once or twice, season to taste, cover and turn heat to low.

Cook for 30 minutes, turn the shanks and add the olives. Cook for an hour until shanks are very tender. Meat falling off bone is good sign!

Garnish with the Italian parsley and serve.

Serves 4.

Can be adapted to slow cooker with great ease! Fabulous with smashed potatoes.

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Roasted Chicken with Orecchiette in a Greek Tomato Sauce

As the sun fades in the west, the roast chicken of the past two posts comes to a good end.

It’s stocked the freezer with, wait for it, stock.

And having been picked clean by a professional chicken picker, aka Groom, it has yielded yet another memorable meal.

Thanks to The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, the left over chicken found itself in one hell of a tomato sauce seasoned with cinnamon, crushed Aleppo pepper flakes and Turkish oregano. Topped with a bit of creamy goat cheese, the only thing missing from this meal was the belly dancer.

No, wait. I was here.

You gotta do something to keep the spice in life.

Roasted Chicken with Orecchiette in a Greek Tomato Sauce
Liberally Adapted from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper

A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
½ large Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
Small handful Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
1 tsp dark wildflower honey
½ glass red wine
Big spoonful garlic confit
28 ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes
1-½ cup diced roasted chicken
Orecchiette or a “hollow” pasta to catch the sauce
1 ounce creamy goat cheese

Heat olive oil til wavy in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. When wavy add parsley, onion and a generous pinch of coarse salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Cook until onions are soft and golden and add sun dried tomato paste, garlic confit and dark wildflower honey and combine well. Let cook for about five minutes and then add red wine and the San Marzano tomatoes and their juice. Season well to taste, and let cook for about 10 minutes until thick. Add diced roasted chicken. Let simmer for 10 minutes .

Cook orecchiette , drain and add to the tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 ounce of creamy goat cheese to pasta, stir and add a remaining.

Serves 3 generously.

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Roasted Chicken Stock

I used to make chicken stock the easy way. A tablespoon of chicken base and water added to a recipe.
Too much salt that way.
Not very creative or healthy, really.

Then I decided to make it on top of the stove, bubbling away for a couple of hours, strain the stock and freeze.
Took up a whole day once I finished.
Not an efficient use of my time, really.

Now? The Beast takes over.
My slow cooker. A venerated family favorite.
Ok, I’ve only had it for a year. But it’s venerated all the same.

Last night, around nine, the stock ingredients went into the Beast.
I set the timer,
Slept through the bubbling, cooking part.

Got up this morning, defatted the stock, froze it in 1 cup batches.

Took me 30 minutes.

The Beast, in its place of honor, smiled as only a stainless steel, venerated family retainer can.
And it spoke to me.

I think it said, “ What took you so long, dear?”

And with that, a great big thank you goes out to Feeding Groom fans. This is FG’s one year anniversary posting (I'm a day late..oh well) and without your support and comments and major help, this blog would not be around.

Raise a glass to yourself and FG and here’s to many more posts to come!

Roasted Chicken Stock

2 well picked over roasted chickens
The tops of two large leeks you saved after using the white parts
A carrot, broken up
4 large cloves garlic, smashed
A couple of bay leaves
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 bunch of parsley (you know the type, you’ve almost used it all up and it’s mostly stems)
Cold water to cover

Adjust ingredients to the size of your slow cooker. You can always cut up the chicken to fit.
Set slow cooker on LOW for 13 hours. When done, strain into large bowl, mashing down on the cooked ingredients to get all the flavors.
Strain the fat out of the stock to your desired fat quota.

If you don’t have one of these gadgets, get one. They come in several sizes…mine is 20 years old but any will do a great job for you!

Makes 3 quarts.

Et voila, you have perfect chicken stock ready for your next adventure in the kitchen.

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Henry Fielding's Roast Chicken

Every person should have a meal like this.

There’s not a food group left untouched after this is over.

Granted, Tom Jones and Mrs. Waters are characters from The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling by Henry Fielding.

It does make you wonder about Fielding.

Logically, he must have enjoyed his food.

And his dinner companions..

Seems to me Fielding put his life experience whole heartedly into his work.

And then the movies came along and put it on the screen.

I don’t know about you, but I have never quite looked at roast chicken in the same way since.

Henry Fielding's Roast Chicken
Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s Table

1 3-4 pound chicken
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425.

Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Heat a couple of good swirls of olive oil in large cast iron or oven proof skillet until hot and the olive oil looks wavy. Place chicken on one side in the skillet and brown over medium to high heat for 3 minutes or so. Turn it over and brown on the other side for 3 minutes.

Put the skillet in the oven. Roast chicken uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn on other side and roast for another 20 minutes. Then turn chicken on its back and baste with juices from cooking and roast it breast side up for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and place it breast side down on a platter. Pour drippings from skillet into a bowl and set aside to allow fat to rise to the top. Do not rinse the skillet. IF you are making the fabulous pasta side dish, read and follow those directions.

If no pasta for you, just the chicken, deglaze the skillet by adding a couple of tablespoons dry white wine, or red wine or water, whatever you have handy, and stir to melt the juices over high heat. Add to drippings in bowl and skim off and discard as much fat as you can. Serve with the chicken.

Serves 4 generously.

Pasta with Manchego
Adapted from Jacques Pepin's Table

10 ounces medium sized pasta (I used penne but shells are best)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup freshly grated Manchego cheese

Cook pasta and drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking water. Put the skillet the chicken was cooked in over medium high heat. Add the pasta water and bring to a boil, stirring to get the juices in the skillet and put this liquid in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta. Skim off about 3 tbsp fat that has risen to the top of the bowl with the original drippings. Add the fat to the bowl with the deglazing liquid. Add remaining ingredients and toss well.

Serves 4 generously.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

If you haven't, go vote.

Exercise your right to state your opinion about the way things are done.

Join the march.

And hit the enjoy button for a little GroomMusic on the subject. Click the play button on the top left of the page.

We can change things.

Starting today.