Celebrate Small might be a good motto for Holidays 2020. A plump roasting hen pulled from the freezer, or bought fresh, along with a handful of fresh herbs is a good starting place. I added cut up oranges, plums and potatoes in their skins to the pan.
Don’t be so hard on yourself this season. Take a deep breath. A one-pan dinner popped into the oven until it’s ready helps make life a little bit easier. Some days I feel I’m doing good to complete this sort of small task, but eat we must even as the world is whirling out-of-control around us. Take a quick walk around your neighborhood while your bird is roasting. Being active makes most things better. A cozy dinner helps as well.
Serve roasted potatoes and fruit in a bowl with lots of the pan juices. You might think leaving the rind on the citrus is a no no, or combining them with new potatoes along with plums and lots of fresh thyme might be odd, but when they roast together with the hen in the pan juices they are simply delicious.
I’ve always preferred a roasting hen to a turkey. They don’t take so long to cook, they stay juicier. I roast hens throughout the year always keeping one in my freezer. I buy local hens, grain fed and usually about 4 to 5 lbs for celebrations. Smaller sizes for everyday.
Thank you for voting for Biden-Harris. Celebrate Small. Take care, wear your masks and be well.
Thyme Roasted Hen with Plums, Citrus and New Potatoes
- One 4-5 lb roasting hen, rinsed & patted dry
- 3 lbs new potatoes, cut in half or quarters
- 6 plums, seeded and cut into quarters
- 2 oranges, rind left on, cut into thick slices
- a large handful of fresh thyme, divided
- Olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place roasting hen on a flat work surface and pat skin dry a second time. Rub skin all over with olive oil. Generously rub in 2 tablespoons of the fresh thyme leaves. Place hen in a large heavy pan. I used a 12 inch cast iron, but any large pan with do. Season bird with salt and black pepper.
- Roast the bird for about 40 minutes then add the new potatoes, plums and oranges to the pan. Pour in chicken broth. Continue to roast until the a meat thermometer inserted into the fattest part of the bird reads 160 degrees, another 30-40 minutes. You want the skin to be crisp and dark golden brown. Serve roasted hen cut into pieces with potatoes & fruit on the side. A chilled wine and a baguette for sopping up the juices on your plate is all you need.
Teresa Blackburn Food Styling
Cobblers are great desserts for any time of the year. They can be somewhat tricky…very easy, but tricky. I am totally turned off if I take a bite of cobbler and find some crust inside that is wet, doughy and sometimes not really cooked. The fruit can be delicious, the spices genius, but if the crust is not crisp then I do not want another bite.
Needless to say, as a Southerner, I have had my share of cobblers and I have had my share of not very good ones. I got this idea from a recipe in the cookbook “Cherry Bombe”. I changed and tweaked and this exceptionally crisp crust cobbler is what I came up with. It is as easy-as-this.
A pint of fresh berries and 8-10 apricots or plums or pluots, lemon infused olive oil, aromatic raw vanilla sugar (more on aromatic sugars here) and your favorite pie crust recipe are the basics.
Fruit not-overly-cooked with a little cornstarch and raw vanilla sugar.
Rolled out crust, randomly cut with a fluted pie cutter..I really like using the one with zig-zag edges. Brushed with olive oil and a generous scattering of sugar. Baked until golden brown.
Crust pulled apart. Fruit and crisp crust layered in baking dish. Cook time is minimal…about 15 minutes because each element is already cooked.
Crunch, crispiness, fruit and a little scoop of ice cream. Not a soggy bite to be had. Life is hard, make it easy on yourself when you can. Be safe, be well. Take care.
VOTE BIDEN-HARRIS, PLEASE, FOR ALL THINGS GOOD IN THIS WORLD.
Crisp Crust Deconstructed Fruit Cobbler
- one 9 inch pie crust dough – your favorite recipe or refrigerator crust works fine
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, I used a lemon infused oil, but any will do
- 1/2 cup homemade vanilla sugar, or raw sugar + 3 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 pint of fresh berries, blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
- 8-10 fresh apricots, pitted and thickly sliced, or peaches fresh or frozen
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- a few tablespoon water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the pie dough out on the parchment. Brush with olive oil and dust with the 3 tablespoons sugar. Use a fluted pastry wheel, or a knife, and cut the dough into random shapes. Pull cut pieces apart just a bit and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Stir together the 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the fruit, add lemon juice and water and toss to coat. Heat until fruit just begins to bubble. Turn to simmer and stir continuously for about 5 minutes or until mix is slightly thickened but still juicy.
- Butter a smallish baking dish with butter. Scrape half the fruit mixture into the baking dish. Top with half the baked crust pieces. Add remaining fruit and top with remaining. crust pieces.
- Place in oven and bake just until heated and bubbly. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a really easy treat.
Recipe adapted from “Cherry Bombe – The Cookbook” published by Potter
Just a Google away you can find all about the birth, life and death of John R. Lewis. Just a Google away you can sift through the important facts, as well as the minutiae. Just a Google away you can see movies of marches, videos of beatings, hear his speeches and we can learn what it meant to be such a man. We should all be grateful.
There was a proposal recently in Nashville to rename 5th Avenue North to Rep. John R. Lewis Way. From the first I, and many of my neighbors who are lucky enough to live on this street, were pretty thrilled about this proposal. We felt proud. While some of us celebrated, the proposal quickly became a “bone of contention” for others in the neighborhood. I am still thinking on this. Why anyone would be against this street renaming other than a few “inconveniences” is fraught with anxiety about where I live and what this all says about my neighborhood. Could people possibly be worried about property values going down, is it because Mr. Lewis was black, does it remind others about our very checkered history with racism right here in Nashville. I would rather not have to think on this, but I find I need to. Our neighborhood association board voted against the name change. It seems that our street will partially be renamed, but not all of it, and for that I am disappointed in us as citizens.
Just a Google away you will find that John R. Lewis went to college in Nashville. Much of Nashville was a pivotal location in the Civil Rights Movement, with Lewis leading successful sit-ins at then segregated lunch counters on 5th Avenue North. Some against the renaming of our street to honor John R. Lewis said “we should do more”, I say what could be more long lasting and visible than driving down Rep. John R. Lewis Way every day coming and going, reminding us of him and his goodness. I would have been proud.
Just a Google away I also discovered that one of John R. Lewis’s favorite foods was “Sweet Potato Pie”. So today, in honor of the most honorable of men, I will share with you one of my favorite sweet potato pie recipes from chef and author, Edna Lewis (no relation to John R. Lewis). It is one fine pie. Make your own “Food-for-Thought Sweet Potato Pie”, slice it and share it, take a bite, and remember.
We must take comfort in the small things. Say their names. BLM.
Food for Thought Sweet Potato Pie
- 2 cups fresh cooked sweet potato pulp, well mashed (Edna Lewis says “sieved” which I did not do)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 (small) eggs, separated (I used large and recipe worked great)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup melted butter
- 1 and 2/3 cups (whole) milk (I used half & half)
- Two unbaked pie shells (I used refrigerator pastry, you can make your own as well)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg whites until frothy.
- Put all other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. (This is how I “sieved” the sweet potatoes.)
- Fold frothy egg whites into the sweet potato mixture. Pour into pie shells and bake for 40-50 minutes until set. (Cover loosely with foil if crust starts to get too brown.)
- Cool 30 minutes before cutting.
My Note: I had never been a big fan of sweet potato pie as most I have eaten have been dense and cold. This pie has a light, airy, almost soufflé quality. It must be the addition of the frothy egg whites. Either way, eaten while warm is a pretty divine culinary experience.
Original recipe by: Edna Lewis, Chef and Author
I wrote this “ode” to Summer and Crowder Peas a few years ago…seems like a lifetime these days…2017. I was pretty pleased that one of the images was chosen for the July-August 2020 “Edible Nashville” magazine cover. It is an image that means a lot to me as it tells one of my little life stories of summer and family and how I try to continue to keep some of the strings of my current life tied to my past.
Learning how to be alone and be a part of the process of living at the same time is pretty much a full time job these days. So, I am re-sharing this post in hopes that you will share what you are doing with me during this “summer of our discontent”. Thank you Jill at Edible Nashville for reminding me of some of the good things.
I love to shell peas. It’s very relaxing and meditative. Repetitive chores can be like that. I used to shell peas with my Grandmother sitting on the back porch on scorching summer days. It’s so easy to forget the small things we love to do isn’t it? Every summer I purchase some fresh peas to shell. It’s not something I share with anyone else as it is my time alone to think about things while gently sliding my fingernail down the length of each shell to open it up to reveal the soft, light green pea nestled inside.
Beautiful shells with all their shades of purple and brown. The peas are ready to be simmered in a bit of water with some salt & pepper and a generous pat of butter. I always freeze some for winter soups.
Here’s a link to a pretty delicious salad I made last summer using Crowder peas. (Almost No Cooking) E.A.T. Late Summer Salad with Crowder Peas, Homegrown Tomatoes & Cucumbers
Stay Cool. Shell some peas. Peace. Wear your Mask. Say Their Names. Vote
This pie is not perfect. I am not a fan of perfect, but a lover of the wonderful imperfections that make up all of the things I consider beautiful. I learned many years ago this is what is known as wabi-sabi. I have always been this way and really do not have much patience with folks who like “everything just perfect”. Years ago I did not know it was a real thing, a traditional Japanese aesthetic. Wabi loosely means rustic simplicity, a beauty that is neither permanent nor complete. Sabi is to take pleasure in the imperfect. This is my Wabi Sabi Peach Pie, my favorite kind!
This pie is made using store-bought pie crusts with a scattering of freshly grated nutmeg on the bottom, fresh peaches, a splash of Lillet Blanc Dessert Wine and Hibiscus Vinegar, granulated cane sugar tossed with a bit of cornstarch, fresh lemon zest and juice. That’s all.
Refrigerator pie crusts have gotten a bad rap. They are quick and easy and can be gussied up with herbs and spices. They always stay crispy, even the bottom crust and the flakiness is just great. I keep them on hand in my freezer as a pantry staple, especially in the summer for quick pies and cobblers.
Fresh nutmeg grated over the bottom crust.
Spring-form pans are my favorite “pie pans”. You can remove the sides of the pan for easy slicing. I cut the top crust into strips with a fluted pastry cutter and then placed the strips over the filling in a loose concentric circle pattern. A dusting of sugar and this pie was ready for the oven.
I love all the crispy, crusty edges, no sogginess and perfectly imperfect.
Warm pie, cold ice cream. The “wabi” and the “sabi”.
Wabi Sabi Peach Pie
- 6-8 fresh ripe peaches, peeled & sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup Lillet Blanc Dessert Wine (or any white dessert wine)
- 1/4 cup Hisbiscus Vinegar (or you can use pomegranate or cherry or apple)
- 1 cup granulated cane sugar + extra for topping
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or 1/4 ground)
- 1 box (2 crusts) store-bought pie crusts (or enough homemade pie crust for top and bottom crust)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove one pie crust from packaging and place on lightly floured surface. Give it a few rolls with a rolling pin. Place in the bottom of a spring-form pan fitting it into the bottom and partially up the sides. Don’t worry if crust edges are not even.
- Scatter nutmeg over the bottom crust.
- Remove second crust from packaging and give it a few rolls with the rolling pin as well. Using a crimped pastry cutter cut into strips.
- In a bowl toss together the peaches, lemon juice and zest, Lillet and hibiscus vinegar.
- In another bowl toss together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add this to the peaches and toss well.
- Fill bottom crust with the peach filling.
- Arrange strips of crust over the top of the filling in a loose concentric circle. Strips can overlap to cover the pie. Sprinkle extra sugar over crust.
- Place filled springform pan on a sheet pan and place in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly and thickened.
- Remove pie from oven and place on a cooling rack. After about 20 minutes. remove the springform sides and continue cooling. Pie is wonderful sliced while warm and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Summer memories of childhood can be real, or imaginary, but most likely a combination of both. My paternal grandmother was a big part of my early life in West Tennessee as I have mentioned in other posts over the years. She was a very good cook, a gardener, she kept chickens for eggs and for Sunday dinners. She picked berries in the summer to make jams and jellies. She sewed and loved to sit on the porch in the summer shade shelling peas and talking about her life.
She was not a formally educated woman, but was a country woman of her time who knew how to do things and I learned a lot from her including how to make one of my favorite summer spreads which she called “minnow cheese”. As in “would you like a minnow cheese sandwich for lunch”? The silly play on words always delighted me.
I cannot remember what kind of cheese she used, but I make my “minnow cheese” with a sharp or medium white cheddar hand grated for better texture. A small jar of chopped pimientos to about 3 cups of shredded cheese is just about right. Pimiento cheese sandwiches are iconic in the South. Every family had their own recipe or variation on this cheesy spread.
A splash of pickle juice, chopped fresh dill from our little garden, freshly ground Organic Flower Pepper (thank you forever Jesse Goldstein), and a generous spoonful or two of Duke’s mayo. That is all you need to make this summer classic. We like it spread thickly on slices of Dozens Bakery Harvest Rye Bread lightly toasted with a few leaves of crisp lettuce. It is also delicious as my grandmother served it on thick white bread slices plain and simple.
Biting into one of my Grandmother’s sandwiches of minnow cheese is a very real summer memory. It is a memory that comforts me in these very not-so-comforting times. Do you have special memories of summer foods from your childhood? Have you been cooking more comfort foods lately? What are they?
Here you go…..have a bite. Here is a link to another Pimento Cheese post I did a few years ago.
I often escape from my “outside life” into my “inside life” both methaphorically and physically. These days more so than ever. My outside life is partially on hold as I am sure yours is. My inside life is rich and full and can really be whatever I make it to be.There are various “inside rooms” that I go to. There is the “reading room” which is often my bed or sofa. I have my “South office room” that is not actually in my real office, which is upstairs or North, but is wherever I land downstairs with my laptop. There is “la petite cafe” which is our deck for enjoying drinks and meals al fresco, rather than sitting at our kitchen counter.
Some days the room previously known as the kitchen might be the “the room of earthly delights”. Those are the days when I make craveable delicious desserts such as this cake.
Densely chocolate and easy to make this is a cake to soothe both your “outside and inside life”. It is a cake that will make staying inside more tolerable and nice. Has the way you use the rooms in your home changed recently? Do you think of your home differently and see new uses for old spaces? Do you, like I do, give them names to specify their use? What are you baking in your “room of earthly delights”?
Do something sweet for yourself….then share it.
This recipe is from one of my favorite cooking books “Modern Baking – cakes, cookies and everything in between” by Donna Hay, published by Fourth Estate and can be purchased online or at many bookstores. My written recipe is directly from the book with a few minor changes.
Glazed Dark Chocolate Cake
Ingredients for cake:
- 250 grams unsalted butter, chopped
- 200 grams 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/3 cups milk (330g)
- 1 cup caster/superfine sugar (220g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar (175g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1 3/4 cups self-rising flour, sifted (260g)
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (35g)
- 200 grams 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 100 grams unsalted butter, chopped
- 1/4 cup corn syrup (90g)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a tube pan or Bundt pan well.
- Place the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth.
- Whisk together in a large bowl the milk, both sugars and the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate-butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until well blended.
- Add the flour and cocoa and whisk until combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until the caked is baked inside when tested with a skewer. Invert the pan onto a wire rack and let stand for 15 minutes before removing the pan. Let cake cool completely.
- For the glaze place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Add the oil and stir to mix.
- Place the cooled cake on a wire rack over a tray and spoon on the glaze. Allow glaze to set before moving the cake to a serving plate. (I had glaze left over which I stored in the refrigerator in a glass jar and used a a topping for scoops of ice cream. Delicious.)
Recipe from: “Modern Baking – cakes, cookies and everything in between” by Donna Hay published in 2018 by Fourth Estate
I do believe certain foods are curative, not to mention comforting. Chicken soups are both of these things. Chicken soup is my go-to, my default, for comfort. Lordy Mercy don’t we all need all the comfort we can create right now? I know I do. Healthy, hearty, full of vegetables and broth, it is so very easy-as-this.
I started with half a store-bought broasted chicken tossed into a pot along with some carrots and celery, dried thyme leaves, salt, black pepper and water. After cooking down for a while, I removed the chicken pieces and pulled off any chunks of meat left on the bones and added back to the pot.
Half a head of cabbage chopped up and seared with a good splash of olive oil and a generous sprinkling one of my favorite spice mixes, Tajin. Do you know this mix? It is a Mexican seasoning made with chile peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice. It is often sprinkled on slices of fruit such as mango, melon and pineapple in Mexico. Tajin makes a great margarita or bloody mary rimmer and a fabulous rub for slabs of meat or fish. It can be found in most supermarkets and international markets everywhere in the United States. Once again another reason to say Viva Mexico!
Tajin seasoned cabbage seared in my favorite Lodge Cast Iron skillet just until slightly softened then added to the pot of chicken soup. It is just so very easy-as-this.
Be safe, eat as well as you can, take a walk, wear a mask and talk to friends.
Chicken Soup with Tajin Seared Cabbage
- half of a store-bought broasted chicken, in pieces
- 2 quarts of water
- 3 carrots, cut into pieces
- 3 stalks of celery, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 head of cabbage, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Tajin seasoning
- Add the chicken pieces to 2 quarts of water in a large pot. Toss in carrots and celery, thyme leaves, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
- Remove chicken pieces from the broth and let cool slightly. Pull all the meat from the bones, discarding skin and bones as you work. Add meat back to the pot.
- In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium high until it “shimmers”. Add the cabbage to the skillet and toss gently with a spoon to coat with oil. Sprinkle the Tajin seasoning over the cabbage and continue to toss as cabbage cooks for about 5-7 minutes and is slightly softened.
- Add cabbage to the pot with the chicken. Bring to a low boil. Turn to simmer and cook for about 15 more minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread and additional Tajin to sprinkle onto bowls as desired.
Warm, cozy blanket-comfort food to me is toasted bread with a smear of butter melted down into the nooks and crannies with a spoonful of homemade marmalade.
A large bowl of citrus, Blood Oranges, Tangelos and Red Grapefruit, about to go south quickly, was sitting on my kitchen counter this past week. Most was left over from my last photo shoot which now seems ages ago. During “normal life” I cannot bear wasting food, so the peeling and slicing began. I find the making of marmalade as comforting as the eating of it.
Beautiful day, warm and breezy, windows open….Tulip and Honeysuckle blooms catching the breeze by the kitchen door. A good day for marmalade.
After rescuing all the good rind and flesh from each orange and grapefruit, I squeezed all of the leftover pieces for the juice adding it to the bowl.
I learned a few years ago that it is not necessary to be a totally crazy person when peeling the rind from the citrus to make sure none of the pith is left. My marmalade is still very tasty and not bitter with a little pith still attached. The slow simmer in the sugar-liquid mixture takes care of it.
Hot, thick, wonderful marmalade ready to be jarred and eaten.
What are you making to comfort yourself while being sequestered at home? I bet something cozy and delicious. Dishes that make you feel wrapped in a soft blanket? I hope so. Stay home, stay safe. This too will pass.
Comforting and Easy Three-Citrus Kitchen Marmalade
- 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of citrus rind thinly sliced, and flesh, seeded (Grapefruit, Blood Oranges, Tangelos are what I had on hand, but any combination works)
- any leftover juice from citrus
- 2.5 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup St. Germain Liqueur
- 1 1/2 cups natural apple juice
- Add all of the ingredients to a non-reactive cooking pan…stainless steel or enamel works great. Stir ingredients well to blend.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring every now and then.
- The citrus rind should begin to look transparent after 45 minutes. Mixture will thicken as it cooks so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t scorch or burn. You can add a splash more juice or water if need be.
- Wash 4 small half-pint canning jars and rims in hot soapy water and rinse well. Drain dry on a clean dish towel. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Fill clean, dry jars with hot marmalade mixture leaving 1/2 inch unfilled at the top of each. Wipe drips from jar edges. Add rims, and screw lids on firmly, but not too tight yet.
- Place filled jars on a baking tray and put in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Remove jars and let cool on a wire rack. Lids will “pop or ping” to seal as they cool down. Lids should be “concave”. When jars are totally cool, tighten screw lids. If any jars fail to seal, then store in the refrigerator.