Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Savory "Dutch Baby" Recipe to Chase the Chills

So the last few days have made the impression:  it's Winter, fellow foodies, and time for hot, rich, bubbly, soothing and comforting foods!

For Brunch last Sunday, I was thinking pancakes - but then that's always an issue in our home as my much better half is missing the sweet tooth gene.  So, I did what I usually do for inspiration.  I stare into the "fridge, the pantry, the freezer - one or all, depending on what I think I am looking for.  I had a lot of apples and a nice big block of a Vermont white cheddar.  I started trying to remember what those big, one pan pancakes were called and found a note in my food journal re: the "Dutch Baby". The recipe I had was for a sweet Dutch Baby - but I didn't see why I couldn't use the same basic recipe and adapt it to the apples and cheddar.  The Baby works best if baked in a well seasoned cast iron pan.  And it is best if you serve and eat it immediately.  And, like a souffle, it will rise and look absolutely fabulous when you take it out of the oven, and, yes, it will drop like a flat pancake in seconds.  Doesn't matter - it's delicious!!!

Recipe:  Savory Dutch Baby

Ingredients for a savory Baby:  2 or more tablespoons of unsalted butter for the pan; 1/2 cup whole milk; 1/2 cup of regular flour; 3 eggs; 1/8 cup of sugar (obviously the sweet Baby uses more sugar, but you do need a little sugar to get things going); 1/4 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon vanilla; two apples - cored and peeled and cut into 1/8ths; and 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Savory Dutch Baby Ingredients

Preheat oven 425 degrees

Melt a tablespoon or more of the butter in a well seasoned cast iron skillet.  Add the apple slices and allow them to brown a bit - when they are done to your liking, add the rest of the butter or more if you have already used the two tablespoons. You want the cast iron pan nicely buttered.

Cook the Apple Slices in Butter

Mix all of the other ingredients, including the grated cheese,  until well blended.  Pour the blended mixture into the skillet over the apple slices.

Put the mixture in the skillet on a center rack of your oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  Ovens are finicky and different and souffle - type things are as well!

When it's done, it will be starting to darken and be very puffy - again, like a souffle.  Pull it out of the oven and admire it; it will sink down on itself in a few minutes - but that's OK.

Slice it up and enjoy.  The melted cheddar "disappears" into the pancake, but it's flavor comes right through, and the apples will be very carmelized at the bottom of the Baby.  A very delicious combination.  You can dot some butter on it by the slice, which would be gilding the lilly in a very good way!

Savory Dutch Baby

Friday, January 13, 2012

Last Holiday Thoughts & "Chicken Stuffs" - the Recipe

Holiday Thoughts:  I must say that I found this Holiday season very enjoyable - from Thanksgiving on through the New Year.  I have been trying to analyze why I am holding such fond memories, more than usual, of what is always a fun, but hectic time.  And it was hectic:  cooking, home making, decorating, buying and making gifts, seeing friends and family, and being happily surprised.  I was also struck this year at the wonder of our lovely city block - folks beautifully decorating the Point (our little city "park"), and the corner coffee shop and deli folks donating hot drinks and food for our Toys for Tots event. Many of us decorated our homes, and, amidst it all, we managed to get together to exchange small gifts and tall tales.  It was all good. It was what it is supposed to be.

I know that country folks like to talk about the great "togetherness" of their small towns, but our little piece of urban heaven has a lot of that going for it.  I hope we hold on to it.  We have a few Grinches on the block, but they are vastly outnumbered!

Just a Reminder:  Two Farmers Markets remain open all year:  Rittenhouse Market and Clark Park.  And, of course, if you haven't been to Fair Food Farms in the Reading Terminal Market, you must check it out and you'll be a regular.  Another "new" favorite of ours is Green Aisle Grocery on East Passyunk Avenue (on Passyunk between Tasker and Morris).  The owners of Green Aisle are committed to local, seasonal and single producer products.  They also feature some wonderful items made for retail sale by chefs from restaurants in the area. 

"Chicken Stuffs" - A Super Comfort Cold Weather Recipe:  My better half has talked for years about the dish her Mom would make that they all loved and went crazy over. During the week after the holidays I finally talked her into to checking with her Mom and making it.  You must try it.  Now she's the youngest of nine, so I am offering here the recipe for 2 - 4 people.  The most important aspect of this recipe, called "Chicken Stuffs" by my in-laws, is that you must, must make it with a real "old hen".  Stewing chickens in a supermarket are only a month or so older than all factory produced chickens and they have not laid eggs.  A genuine old hen has had a free range life of producing eggs, pecking the ground for goodies, living a good 2 - 3 years.  These hens actually appear thin; rather long and narrow if you will. They are the ONLY chicken that will withstand the 3 plus hours of cooking that this recipe demands.  Ours is from the Livengood family - the Livengoods are at many of our local Farmers Markets all year around.  You may have to put an order in for an old hen.

Ingredients:  One old Hen - again, this may not necessarily be a supermarket "stewing" chicken - you want an old hen; a large onion; a couple of large carrots; 3 ribs of celery; 1 cup of whole milk; whole black peppercorns; bay leaf; parsley; thyme; oil or butter; flour

Method:  Cut up the Chicken - split the legs, take off the wings, cut down the middle of the breasts, remove the backbone and remove the neck.  This cutting of the chicken does NOT have to be "artistic" - you just want the pieces of a size so that you don't need too much water in the pot to cover. Chop the onion, one carrot and 2 ribs of celery, large dice or small half moons are fine.  Saute the vegetables in the smallest amount of oil for 2-3 minutes, just until you can smell the onions.  Add the cut up chicken to the pot, including the back and the neck if you have it (do not add innards).  Barely cover everything with water.  Simmer - do NOT boil - for one (1) hour.  Then add some whole peppercorns, not more than a teaspoon of salt, a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf or two.  Simmer for another two (2) hours.  Note:  if you did this to a supermarket stewing chicken you would have broth and tasteless strings, with an old girl you'll have broth and tender tasty meat.

Remove the chicken from the pot.  Strain the broth into a bowl - be as fussy, or not, as you want.  When cool enough to handle, pick all the meat off of the bones.  Make a light roux  with 2-3 tblsps butter or oil and an equal amount of flour (you want a color similar to coffee with lots of cream) . Chop another carrot and rib of celery (chop nicely now, this will be in your dinner)  and add it to the roux.  Toss to coat.  Add the strained broth back to the pot.  Reduce until it looks like the right amount of sauce for your chicken, add salt to taste.  Add the chicken back to the pot and warm through.  Taste and add more thyme if you'd like.  Finally add about 3/4 to 1 cup of milk.  Warm through and serve over rice. 

Serving Suggestion:  a green salad and some warm dinner rolls make a nice well rounded dinner and the rolls are wonderful for sopping up the brothy sauce of chicken stuffs.  Enjoy!

A plate of "chicken stuffs"

Paula Dean to Represent Diabetes Meds!

Paula Dean has type 2 diabetes and apparently will be a paid spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company's diabetes medication! Pretty interesting stuff. The queen of high fat, processed ingredients (and I love some of her recipes) will have to make some changes! She has been a staunch promoter of the misinformed concept that it's too expensive to eat fresh, seasonal food. She has often been quoted as saying, "People have to feed their families; I help them do that". Yep all the way to regular glucose tolerance tests, eh Paula? It should be interesting to see what she does with her show now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Food Cold Remedies; The Foodist Needs Help!

The Foodist has been hit by the cold/flu bug that is rampant in our neighborhood and in our home. My much better half has been battling all sorts of symptoms all through the holiday season. My belief that I was too tough for the bug has proven to be flawed. So, I am sniffling, sneezing, congested - the whole package - and pretty low on energy, so I have been contemplating those foods that not only comfort us when we've got a bug, but foods that actually have some impact on what ails us. So far (Day 2), I have been putting down a lot of herbal tea with honey, soft scrambled eggs & toast, and of course, chicken soup. Are these foods affecting what's got a hold on me? I have no idea but I feel that they are making Me "better". I'm wondering what other folks find comforting and/or curative. Please share! If this unseasonable weather continues, we're all going to be very happy to know about all of those things that comfort and cure us!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Cheese Counter @ Fair Food Farms

Do NOT miss the new all local cheese counter/case at Fair Food Farms in the Reading Terminal Market! We had a great time today having our selection of great, local cheeses cut to order for us. It's a great addition to FFF. Do stop by and enjoy the products of our regional cheese makers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bread Pudding Accomplished!

As promised, I just finished putting together my first winter beating comfort food, Bread Pudding.

To the left, the basis of the bread pudding: Panetone from Wild Flour Bakery.

I offer how I built the dish, but as mentioned, you can find hundreds of recipes - and one important note:  if you are using regular bread, not a fruit filled, sweet bread like panetone, you will want more sugar than I used here.

It took virtually no active time.  I had about a loaf of panetone.  I used a quart of whole milk, 6 farm fresh eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla, a tablespoon of sugar,  2 tablespoons of cinnamon and whisked it all together. I used 2 large pats of butter to grease the baking pan. I tore up the panetone into pieces and spread them out in the buttered pan -  the size of the pieces is entirely up to you.  I baked it, uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

By the way, I skipped the apples - panetone has such great dried fruit in it already, I didn't want to interfere with its own flavors.
whip together milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon

Pour the milk mixture over the torn panetone which has been spread in the buttered pan
Out of the oven and resting

Some options if you want to add another layer of flavor would be whipped cream and/or caramel sauce.  Bread Pudding keeps well in the 'fridge for a few days.  Enjoy!

And please share your winter beating comfort dishes!

Lifting Post-Holiday Spirits with Bread Pudding!

I find myself rich in Panetone - that wonderful Italian fruit cake that, in my opinion, far surpasses the traditional English version.  We actually eat it every Holiday season.

At any rate, this year we scored three loaves of Panetone made locally by Wild Flour Bakery - well known at many of the Farmers' Markets -  and now carried by Green Aisle Grocery on Passyunk Avenue.  I have about one and 1/2 panetone's left - I have been keeping them cold and wrapped well. Wild Flour's Panetone is among the best I have ever had.

So - now is the time for Bread Pudding!  I am just getting started on this one so I will post a picture later, but if you have these, or really any breads, laying around and looking towards being tossed soon - they will be perfect for this ageless dessert.

I think I am going to add some thinly sliced apples too.  Because I have them.

Most Bread Pudding recipes consist of milk, some eggs, cinnamon, maybe some sugar and vanilla, and of course the bread - you can find as many recipes as you have cookbooks.  I'll let you know which one I've used when I post the final product.

PS:  it's also a good excuse to get your oven on for awhile (warms up the room) and to fill at least your first floor with the fabulous aroma of baking.  Another way to lift your spirits on a cold and gray day!

What are you cooking on the coldest day of winter so far?

"Hunkering Down" for Winter. What Do You Do?

A Happy 2012 to All.

Those delightful days we refer to as "the Holidays" sure do come and go in a whirl, don't they?  By now, many of us are feeling the downside of that whirl.  Lots of food, drink, entertaining, seeing friends and relatives, more food, more drinks, . . . and then, Boom!, it's over.  That said, the fact that it's over is a good thing and the concept of "hunkering down", cocooning,  and staying close to hearth and home are all meaningful behaviors on the part of we humans at this time of year.  They are adaptive behaviors designed to surface as our outside environment becomes harsher -  the temperatures drop, snow falls (oh, please, soon?), and darkness falls earlier - we need to adjust; to cook, eat, exercise, deal with our gardens and shop for our resources in a very different way.

How are you coping with the entry into the long winter?  What are your tips for staying upbeat when there's no gardening to be done, no choice of numerous Farmers Markets, and when it's really cold outside?  What are your favorite dishes to make at this time of year?  What are the challenges to trying to shop locally and seasonally that you experience? What are your feelings about Snow and Snow Days? How are you maintaining your home environment without breaking the bank with your heating bill? Are you reading Seed Catalogs and dreaming of Spring? Do you feel like you are in even a bit of a hibernation state? Is this your favorite time of year or a time for you to "get through"?

Please share your  thoughts and your tips for enjoying Winter.  I will do the same in the next few posts.  I think we can learn a lot from each other, including, tips on staying warm, entertaining ourselves, and some satisfying and warming recipes that can be made with what we have available now.

A favor:  due to the help of some of the dearest people in my life, this blog is now "networked" on Facebook and whenever I write a new post, it should also post on Facebook.  I need a bit of help to keep it there - mostly a vote of "like" from you.  Also, I would really, really love it if those of you who visit the site regularly - and I know many of you do - would click the "Follow" button at the top pf the Blog page.  It requires nothing of you and you will receive notifications, etc. in line with the fact that the Blog is of interest to you.  Thanks very much in advance.

Now, let's talk Winter!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wishing You a Sustainable, Local 2012!

The Philly Foodist Blog is being tweaked as we speak to make it more accessible, and easier to join.

Please bear with us as we test our changes.