Tomato/Feta Chicken

Tomato/feta chicken

Tomato/feta chicken

An explosion of creativity occurred in my sister’s upscale kitchen this month: my siblings and I collaborated over one of my recipes during a trip home for my mother’s 93rd birthday.  Our three strong cooking minds worked together to perfect a dish I created years ago.

Nearly a decade has passed since I helped a friend every Monday, for she was bogged down in her professional responsibilities; aromatic ailments filled pots and pans, as I prepared her family’s nourishment for each upcoming week.

This particular friend had been to cooking school in Italy.; her excellent input and feed-back sharpened my skills, while I was helping her family.  At her home, I created this recipe for tomato/feta chicken, which Maureen and Paul helped perfect recently.

One thing I learned from my friend was to add the garlic at the close of the sautéing process; she said this keeps it from burning.  I was adding it as I was cooking the meat before this.  My friend’s ingenious tongue could taste the burnt garlic; thus, she suggested that I add it at the very end, which is how I had cooked with this herb since.

However, my siblings suggested that adding it early on allows for more flavor.  My brother explained the proper process: when you add garlic, while sautéing, cook only until you can smell it; then, immediately add the liquid for the sauce to keep it from burning.

My sister employs another method: she roasts lots of whole peeled cloves on a cookie sheet, in a preheated 300 degree oven, for at least an hour (or until golden brown). She stores this in the refrigerator, adding about three tablespoons per four-serving dish while it is cooking; only cook briefly, however, if dish is dry.

After tasting our finished work, I am sold on cooking this herb longer, employing these safe ways.  The following recipe reflects this new directive; here the fresh garlic is cooked for a lengthy time in the wet tomatoes.

There was another point I learned from my siblings’ expertise.  Both urged me not to bother with washing pieces of cut meat; it is only necessary to clean the inside of the carcasses of fowl, where blood has collected.  This has made cooking easier for me.

This tomato/feta chicken is an exceptionally good recipe.  Enjoy it!

Tomato/Feta Chicken  Yields: 6-8 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr.

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 1/3 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

2 lbs chicken tenderloins, thawed  (The frozen ones at Trader Joe’s are all natural.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in the health section in your local supermarket.)

6 medium/large tomatoes, chopped  (Organic is best.)

¾ tsp dried oregano  (Organic is available at Trader’s; it is of excellent quality and very inexpensive.)

1 tsp dried basil

5 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine  (3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader’s is so easy to use.)

1-16 oz package frozen broccoli florettes  (An inexpensive, organic variety is available at Trader’s.)

4 oz feta cheese  (This is best when purchased in a block-rather than pre-crumbled.)

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Steamed brown rice (I prefer basmati brown rice)

  1. Take frozen broccoli out of freezer.  It cooks better when partially thawed.
  2. If chicken tenderloins are frozen, you may thaw them in cold water in about 15 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. In a large heavy bottom frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil over medium/low heat. Add onion and carmelize, cook slowly until dark brown.  Do not crowd onions in pan, or they will sweat and it takes longer to carmelize them.  Stir every few minutes for about the first 30 minutes; then, stir every minute afterwards, as onions begin to stick to pan and browning process accelerates. For more details on carmelizing, see Carmelized Onions and Carrots (2017/06/19).  Set aside when done.   Meanwhile go to next step.
  4. Chop tomatoes and garlic.  Set each aside separately.
  5. Heat remaining oil in another large skillet.  Salt and pepper tenderloins generously; place chicken in hot oil, sautéing over medium heat quickly.  Cut tenderloins with spatula as cooking to check for doneness (should be slightly pink in center as they will cook more later).   As pieces are done, place in a large bowl.
  6. Add tomatoes to hot pan in which you cooked the chicken; simmer over medium/low heat for 10 minutes. Add dried herbs and garlic; cook down to a chunky sauce, about 20 minutes more.
  7. If desired, when onions and tomatoes are cooked, may set aside and finish recipe just before serving.
  8. Just before serving, add thawed broccoli to tomato sauce and simmer over medium heat; cook until vegetables are hot.
  9. Add chicken and onions to pan with tomatoes; heat; stir in feta, crumbling it with your fingers.  Adjust seasonings.  Heat thoroughly, but do not overcook.
  10. Serve over rice; top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Lemon Meringues a la Ude

Meringues a la Ude

Meringues a la Ude

This is the third and final post on my simple 19th century French dinner.  These tart, gluten-free Meringues a la Ude are a summer delight!  They are easy to prepare, though it takes about one hour of light labor.  A child can follow these care-free steps of preparation.

These lemon meringues are effortless, because it’s another recipe from Louis Eustache Ude’s The French Cook, 1813.  However, the lemon filling is mine.  Ude also created the easy, delightful chicken a l’oignon of this series.  (See 2016/07/04.)

This man’s incredible mind conceived elegant foods with the simplest preparations. His extraordinary talent placed him in the illustrious palace of King Louis XVI, before the fall of the monarchy.  After 1795, he taught England his secrets.

Teaching young Nat how to cook.

Teaching young Nat how to cook.

I discovered this privileged information in The Delectable Past, Esther B. Aresty, 1964, Simon and Schuster, New York, N.Y.  It is easier yet for us today:  We have the electric mixer to beat the egg whites!

Organic cane sugar works well for this receipt.  However, you may splurge and use regular refined cane sugar (C & H is a good brand.)

I tried to make the meringues with coconut sugar, which was a huge disaster.  Sucanat (evaporated cane juice) won’t work either.  It is not fine enough to be incorporated in the beaten egg whites.  So stick with cane sugar-either organic or regular.

19th century French costumeThis post includes a photo of my period costume for my 19th century French meals, which I wear when doing public events.  It is very beautiful, though it is quite bulky on me now.  I weighed 226 pounds when my costume designer fashioned it.

My Lord has healed my body and mind!  The result is a very voluminous dress on my small frame.  This is joy unspeakable-health and more health!

 

Meringues a la Ude with Lemon Filling Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Yields about a dozen gluten-free meringues.

3 large egg whites (save 2 yolks for filling)

2 pinches salt

1 cup of sugar (organic cane sugar is best; available in 2 lb pkg at Trader Joe’s, or cheaper in 10 lb pkg at Costco)

1/2 tsp lemon or orange extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

  1. Separate egg whites in a large bowl.  (Save 2 yolks.)  Add salt.  Beat the egg whites until very stiff.
  2. Add ¾ cup of sugar very slowly-a scant teaspoon at a time.  Keep the beaters going constantly.  When all the sugar is added, continue to beat for several minutes.  Beat in extract.
  3. Add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, softly folding it into the stiff egg whites.
  4. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spoon egg whites on the paper in small mounds, about 2 ½ inches long, in the shape of an egg.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  6. While warm, gently cut an indentation in the meringue with a small sharp knife.  Scooping delicately with your finger, make a hollow in each meringue.
  7. Cool completely.
  8. Fill each meringue with lemon filling just before serving.

Lemon Filling (about 3 cups, enough for a dozen meringues)

3 medium organic lemons (regular lemons will have taste of pesticides)

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup sugar (organic cane sugar is best)

¼ tsp salt

2 cup cold water

2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 tbsp of butter

  1. Clean and zest lemons.  Set aside.  Juice lemons.  Set aside.
  2. Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Add water.  Mix completely with a wire whisk.
  4. Beat in egg yolks thoroughly.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Boil 1 minute more, or until thickened.
  6. Add butter, lemon zest, and juice.  Blend well with whisk.
  7. Remove from heat. Cool in refrigerator.  Cover the top of filling with a piece of plastic wrap once cool.
  8. Spoon filling into meringues just before serving.
  9. Serve open face.  The tart, yellow lemon filling shouts summer’s blessings!

Carrots au Beurre

Carrots-au-beurre

Carrots-au-beurre

This three-part 19th century dinner, which started last week, reflects the new Classic French cuisine.  This era in culinary history became popular, as the Napoleonic age followed the French Revolution.  Then self-made men, following the example of Napoleon, rose in status and wealth.  They had to learn the ways of entertaining, or how to be amphitryons (hosts).

Cook books of the time reflected these needs of this new non-aristocratic class. A forty year lapse in the publication of cooking instructions existed prior to the beginning of this new period.  One important recipe book, with the dawning of this new day, was Le Cuisinier by A. Viard.  It was published during the entire nineteenth century.  However, its name changed with each new political upheaval.

First printed in 1806, Le Cuisinier Imperial was named after the Emperor who loved classicism.  This passion of Napoleon gave the new cuisine its name-Classic French cuisine.

The book’s title changed to Le Cuisinier Royal, when Louis XVIII became king in 1814.  Other name conversions reflected the politics of the century.  It became Le Cuisinier National, when Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic.  Then it went back to employing “Imperial” when this man declared himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.

The cook book was known by Le Cuisinier National once again, when France became a republic in 1871.  It has remained such.

There is a recipe for buttered carrots in these pages which date back two centuries ago.

In 1964, Esther Aresty documented the history of European and American cuisine in her account The Delectable Past, from which I got the above information. Here she improved on this delicious recipe from Le Cuisinier by pureeing this vegetable in a food mill.  I have augmented her outstanding method with easy, modernized steps utilizing a food processor.

You’ll be immensely pleased with this memorable dish. A comfort food of all comfort foods!

Carrots au Beurre Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s  The Delectable Past  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Yields: 4 servings.

½ cup pecan pieces

1 lb. carrots (organic is best and also very inexpensive)

2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen-I prefer French-cut frozen beans from Trader Joes)

¼ cup whipping cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, or to taste

½ tsp salt, or to taste (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket)

1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 265 degrees. Roast pecans on a small cookie sheet for about 40 minutes, or until light brown when piece is broken. Set aside.
  2. Spray carrots with 97% distilled white vinegar mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Let sit three minutes. Rinse thoroughly and scrape with a sharp knife. (Scraping, as opposed to peeling, saves the vitamins which are just under the skin.)  Cut into ½ inch pieces.  If the carrot piece is thick, cut it in half.
  3. Cover with water in a medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat until soft.
  4. In meantime, steam green beans in a medium saucepan.
  5. Place the hot, drained carrots in a food processor. Add cream, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Blend until carrots are a smooth mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Place pureed carrots in the center of a vegetable platter. Surround with green beans and top with roasted pecans.

Note: You may double this recipe. Leftovers are great!

Chicken a la Oignon

Preparation of Chicken a l'Oignon

Preparation of Chicken a l’Oignon

I will be giving easy recipes for a complete 19th century French dinner over the next three posts.

The main entrée for this meal is Chicken a l’Oignon (chicken with onion.)  This receipt was created by Louis Eustache Ude, chef to King Louis XVI at the time of the French Revolution.

Our chef of renown escaped France during the tumult and moved to England; here he wrote the cookbook The French Cook, published in 1813.  His English was poor.  Thus he lapsed into his native tongue when he couldn’t recall the proper English words.  The title Chicken a l’Oignon demonstrates this trait of Ude.

His food preparations tended to be very simple and exceptionally elegant. This is a perfect example.  Here thinly sliced onion is stuffed under the skin over the breast meat of a roaster.  You do this by gently making a cavity under the skin with your hand.  The onion juices seep into this succulent meat as it is roasted to perfection.  The results are tantalizing!

The ease with which you make this dish will astound you. Trust me it will become a family favorite.

Be sure to save the carcass for bone broth. Instructions for this will follow in the future.  Meanwhile freeze your leftover carcasses until you have three.

Note: Bone broth is a power food, extremely high in protein.  It is packed with nutrients that aid the digestive system and build up your adrenal glands.  One cup of regular chicken stock has one gram of protein, while one cup of bone broth has nine grams of this essential food item!  The manner of preparation makes all the difference in producing these two diverse broths.  Also, buying prepared bone broth is highly expensive.  Making your own is practically free!

Watch for this efficient, easy recipe in a future post.  Save your carcasses in the meantime.

Chicken a l’Oignon Adapted from a recipe in The Delectable Past, Esther B. Aresty, 1964, Simon and Schuster, New York, N.Y.  (Yields: 4 servings)

4 ½-5 pound chicken (Foster Farms is all-natural and inexpensive)

1 very large yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly

Spray oil (both an inexpensive canola spray oil and coconut spray oil)

Salt and pepper (Real Salt is best, available in the health section of your local supermarket)

Steamed brown rice (I prefer basmati brown rice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Wash the inside of the chicken.  Pat outside dry.  (It isn’t necessary to wash cut meat; only whole fowl, where blood is caught inside the carcass.)
  2. Cut off excess fat at neck.  Salt and pepper inside of chicken.
  3. Gently working your hand under the skin, make a cavity between the skin and the breast meat.  Go down into the thigh meat with your fingers.  Be careful to not tear skin.
  4. Gently stuff onion slices in the cavity over the breast meat, pushing them down over the thigh meat area by the legs.
  5. Using the cheap spray oil, thoroughly spray the inside and top (underside of top and edges too) of a broiler pan.  This makes cleaning extremely easy!  Place chicken on pan.
  6. With good quality spray oil (coconut spray oil is best) spray the chicken well.  Salt and pepper generously.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes for each pound.  Legs should move fairly freely when done.
  8. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
  9. Serve with steamed brown rice.