Grilled chicken

This turned out to be awesome. I like the grill pan thing because you don’t lose the smaller vegetables. I grilled the chicken skin side down (salt, pepper, garlic powder [love that stuff], oregano and something, maybe sage) right over the flames until the skin sorta charred then I put the grill plate on the grill, threw the vegetables (green and red bell peppers, onions and crimini mushrooms which I had tossed with olive oil and a dab of balsamic vinegar, onto the plate and put the chicken skin side up on top of all of it.

The grill pan, by the way, from Sur La Table is a million times better than the hideously expensive one I bought at Williams-Sonoma. The SLT pan came with 2 other sized pans for considerably less than the one single, overly-complicated (read: hard to clean), poorly shaped pan that warps over high heat that I got for much more money at WS.

Oh, and, Pepperidge Farm Baked Natural, etc.

Last night when I was sufficiently hungry I tried these again and it occurred to me to look at the ingredient list. To see, you know, all the naturalness. As well as the soy sauce content since they taste like crunchy soy sauce.

Uh, yeah, not all that “natural.” The multi-grain part is pretty far down on the list and there’s no soy sauce, although there is soy lecithin which I am imagining is not what I taste that tastes like soy sauce. I enjoy the “contains 2% OR LESS cheese powder,” so there may be none at all. For that matter they could put contains 100% or less M&Ms because there is certainly less than 100% of M&Ms in them.

The soy sauce is a mystery but they still taste filthy. I made grilled chicken for dinner, details tomorrow.

Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals Cracker Chips

Yesterday Loralyn came over to watch the West Wing (though this did not occur because I do not know how to use a DVD player) and we ended up just talking. But in the mood for cheese and crackers I walked over to the store and bought a bunch of different kinds of crackers. These, the Pepperidge Farm “Baked Naturals,” (whatever that means) Simply Cheddar, multi-grain cracker chips were disgusting.

I have no idea what exactly “natural” means here, it is just like any other cracker/chip sorta thing. I get the multigrain idea since there were some different textures and black seedy type things going on. But the most remarkable thing was the “cheddar” of which there was nothing discernable at all. Instead there was the distinct flavor of soy sauce.

I gave one to Loralyn to try without telling her what it was. She said, “Oh! Soy sauce!” Maybe soy sauce makes things natural.

My suggestion would be to avoid them. Stick to those little fish crackers if you have to buy a Pepperidge farm product.

Champagne chicken

I had about a quarter of a bottle of leftover champagne. It makes the best sauce for chicken. Using my rockin’ Le Crueset nonstick pan on raging high, I sauteed 2 chicken breasts (salt, pepper, sage, thyme), in a little olive oil, skin side down for 4 or 5 minutes, flipped them over when they were brown, turned the burner to medium and sauteed another 4 or 5 minutes. I took them out of the pan at that point, set them aside covered, added some very thinly sliced onions and deglazed the pan with the champagne. I then added about 2 tsp of dijon mustard and let it reduce for a few minutes, swirled in a TB of butter and put the chicken in to hotten up a little. It was awesome.

Mom’s meatloaf

Meatloaf is a touchy subject and your mother’s meatloaf is either the stuff of dreams or nightmares. My own mother’s meatloaf is the best. There is none better. I have loved it all my life and when, as a child, it ended up in my lunch bag as cold meatloaf sandwiches, I was in heaven. (Cold, it must also have yellow mustard on it.) As an adult, while I rarely eat like this, occasionally I treat myself and make it. Though I make it without the bacon strips on top as she made it. Not that I don’t like that but, Jesus, it’s fattening enough without it. Horseradish, onions, green peppers and ketchup are, in and of themselves utterly delicious. My mother’s recipe adds dry mustard and sage into the mix of bread crumbs (I use soda crackers) and egg binder. I’m not sure if the egg needs to be there but I put it in. My mother nestles pepper strips in between the bacon strips that lay across the top. I prefer to put the chopped peppers right into the damn thing. Then I cover it all with ketchup.

The hard part is not eating all of it in one sitting. This time I saved half for lunch. 

Pink lemonade cake

I am a fan of the souped-up box cake. My favorite cake is my aunt Florence’s orange cake which I make as a sort of comfort food for myself from time to time. Particularly around my birthday. It’s not my birthday without Florence’s orange cake, a yellow cake with lemon pudding and orange juice. I saw this pink lemonade cake on line in a video. Paula Deen chortling her way through this simple, oddly white-trash process with her son. I really hate it when these cooking people get their kids and grandchildren involved. Lidia Bastinich’s unpleasant son gets on her show and I think, “Why???” He’s unattractive, seems like he can barely stand her, and is plain surly. And then her damn grandchildren. Who watches these shows to see grandchildren? Ugh.

Anyway. The pink lemonade cake is a concept I can get behind. White cake mix, pink lemonade granules, grated lemon. I added sour cream to make it denser and cut the sweetness. I used cream cheese, butter frosting instead of the straight-up butter frosting Paula uses.

Paula is a lot like this cake, on the edge of too sweet. But I generally enjoy her and I like her recipes. And I cannot imagine why Anthony Bourdain gets on her (or anyone’s) case. It’s TV. It’s entertainment. Who the hell cares? I met her once at the Fancy Food show in New York. She was adorable.

Indian spices

My niece, Bridget, brought me a lifetime’s worth of spices from India when she returned from her semester abroad. Cardamom pods (green), cumin, turmeric, coriander and cayenne. I am a little daunted by Indian food since I have the highly critical Ashish watching my every move when I make it. I make an awesome biryani that I love but he finds inauthentic. His comments are usually something along the lines of “it’s good, but it’s not Indian.”

Tomatoes, continued.1

Tomatoes in the winter aren’t that great. Though there are some fairly decent ones, mostly they are just on the decent side of adequate. As someone who grew up eating only tomatoes out of the garden, and who worships the ground tomatoes walk on, if they could walk, I sometimes get a fierce need for them. One way I can make them taste better is a few hours in the oven at a low temperature. I tossed small romas with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and roast them in a 250 oven for a few hours. The results are amazing and work in all sorts of situations. Here I added them to a salad of mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts and onions.