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Chicken and Biscuits

8 Jan

Chicken and Biscuits

All good things must come to an end, and so it was that our whirlwind season of feasts and gluttonous repasts was over. Yet we resist and fought bravely to the end, carrying into January our still-vivid dreams of rich gravies and sauces—not to mention a newly cultivated appreciation for post-meal naps. But even so, ringing in the New Year always produces that mysterious effect of switching on a heart-achingly enthusiastic resolve to actualize long neglected goals or to just start afresh. For me, I revived the ever perennial resolve to adopt a lifestyle of well-being and fitness; yet good food and taste, those cannot be sacrificed. So this was going to take a bit of creativity. I knew the key was to begin by making small compromises that won’t make you fall off the bandwagon by mid February.

My newfound commitment would  be tested on a particularly cold Monday, the eve before the so-called polar vortex would assail London and when  a particularly daunting evening of legal research loomed. Sure, my first impulse was to order-in greasy Chinese—nothing better than mysteriously non-perishable, battered goodness.

But good choices were made that day. I steered myself towards my well-stocked fridge and tasked myself with putting together something that’s going to be satisfying for my conscience and my stomach.

It starts with a chicken broth—so purifying after the onslaught of flavours from last month which, by the fifth holiday dinner, seemed to run into each other. Fortunately, a typical post-holiday send-off from my family usually includes a jar of chicken or beef broth. So my broth of choice is familiar yet full of taste and goodness, so simple yet still complex. I have chicken thighs in the freezer, and lots of it. So I brown them a little and add them to the broth to make a hearty soup. I like  soups a little on the denser side, toeing into stew territory—so I added a little flour to my aromatics, browning in butter, to make a roux. Then in goes some white wine (the drier the better) and the best chicken stock you can find. Top it off with a few sprigs of thyme and bay leaves.

While all that was getting to know each other in my soup pot, I felt butter biscuits were in order, just to indulge a tiny bit. They turned out really flaky and buttery and complemented the chicken really well. Take a bite between spoonfuls of soup or dunk them in the broth. I’m almost reminded of a really good chicken pot pie.

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN SOUP

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1½ lb lb. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 medium carrots (about 1 lb.), peeled, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 small celery root (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups peas
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves

BISCUITS

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

CHICKEN SOUP

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook skin side down until, 8–10 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Carefully drain all but 2 Tbsp. fat from pot. Add carrots, celery root, onion, peas, and leek; stir frequently until softened and beginning to brown, 8–10 minutes.

Add butter; stir until melted. Add flour and stir constantly until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add wine and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, 5–8 minutes.

Add chicken, broth, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 35–40 minutes.

Discard herb sprigs and bay leaves. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool slightly; shred meat, discarding skin and bones.

Return shredded chicken to soup. Season with salt and pepper

BISCUITS

Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add butter. Using your fingertips, blend until pea-size lumps form. Add buttermilk, sour cream and chives.

Using a fork, mix until just combined. Gather mixture into a ball and knead in bowl just until a shaggy dough forms, 3 or 4 times.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface and pat into a ¾”- to 1”-thick round. Cut out rounds with a 2” biscuit cutter or small glass. Gather dough and repeat patting and cutting. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet; brush with egg.

Bake biscuits until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Revised from recipe via Bon Appetit

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A Game of Thrones Feast

24 Aug
The day I set myself a deadline was the moment I begin to fall behind on publishing new posts (planning ahead? Never again). But as promised a lifetime ago, here are some of my recipes inspired by the best moments of literary gastronomy in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.
I had too much fun coming up with these recipes and I really should have remembered/bothered to write down the methodology. Thankfully the process is pretty straightforward thanks to Martin’s tireless attention to description; all I had to do was take the break down of ingredients he offered for each dish and do some additional recipe research on the interwebs to come up with a palatable concoction. In the end, these recipes should stay true to descriptions available in the books but have been frankensteined with influences from other recipes and my personal penchants. Feel free to rework any of these for yourself! Also, I have a found a great project over at inn at the crossroads where two dudes are working their way through all the meals mentioned in the books. It’s a great reference, totally recommended! 

Sister’s Stew


“We have a guest to feed. Bring beer and bread and sister’s stew. The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white. She served it in a trencher hollowed out of a stale loaf. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley, and turnips white and yellow, along with clams and chunks of cod and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter”

“There’s three kinds of crabs in there. Red crabs and spider crabs and conquerors. I won’t eat spider crab, except in sister’s stew. Makes me feel half a cannibal”

“Though there were stranger spices than salt in this sister’s stew. “Is it saffron that I’m tasting?” Saffron was worth more than gold”



Ingredients

  • 1 round sourbread loaf 
  • 1 can coconut milk 
  • 8 cups vegetable stock 
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed 
  • 2 white turnips, cubed 
  • 1 carrot, cubed 
  • 3 celery stalks, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced 
  • 1 cup pearl barley 
  • 2 cup corn kernels 
  • 1/2 cup green lentils 
  • 1/4 lb. clam meat (fresh or preserved) 
  • 1/4 lb. crab meat (fresh or artificial)
  • saffron threads 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • olive oil
  • 4 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • Yield: 4 servings


An hour ahead of  time, soak barley and lentils in water before preparation. Begin by preheating oven to 400° F. Then soften onions, garlic, celery and carrots in a skillet with butter, 5 minutes should be enough so as to wilt them but not burn them. Transfer vegetable party into heavy bottomed pot where they will join the vegetable stock, turnips, potatoes, corn kernels, and soaked barley and lentils. In another saucepan, simmer coconut milk and toss in a few wisps of saffron. Gently stir to incorporate the flavours
Remove coconut milk and saffron mixture and add to stew. Continue to simmer the stew at medium heat.
About 40 minutes into the cooking process, stir in the seafood and fresh cilantro, leaving some intact cilantro leaves for garnish. Stew simmers some more for 10-15 minutes, seafood flavours will marry nicely with the creamy goodness of the stock just before serving. Meanwhile, hollow out the bread loaf by cutting about 1 inch off of the top with a serrated knife. Using your hands, continue to hollow out the bowl but taking care to leave 1/2 inch of bread on the bottom to prevent leaking. Brush the inside and outside of the bread bowl with olive and toast in preheated oven for 5-8 minutes. This elegant and rustic preparation can be used for a number of other stew recipes of your own. Serve stew in bread bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro and saffron threads.

Cornbread Stuffed Quail Drowned in Butter


“This evening they had supped on oxtail soup, summer greens tossed with pecans, grapes, red fennel, and crumbled cheese, hot crab pie, spiced squash, and quails drowned in butter. Lord Janos allowed that he had never eaten half so well.”

Ingredients

  • 8 whole quails
  • (unless you are partial to hunting, they can be found in some grocery stores and almost all asian grocery stores all ready to roll, no need to debone or de-skin. Otherwise, I cannot help you, child)
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 cups of cornbread, roughly broken up 
  • 1 large carrot, diced 
  • 2 medium onion, diced 
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped 
  • 3 tbsp cayenne
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups water
  • yields : 4 servings

To make the corn bread stuffing, heat oil in skillet over medium heat and saute chopped onions, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes. In the same skillet, turn down heat to low and add the crumbled cornbread and water. Mix well. Season with pepper, cayenne and paprika. Add just a dollop of honey and incorporate well into the stuffing right before taking it off the heat. Set aside a for bit. Lay the quail on a clean work surface and completely stuff the cavity with delicious stuffing. Brush the birds with honey and place in lightly buttered baking dish. Make sure the legs and wings are tucked in close to the body as well  to keep them from burning. Roast for approximately 15 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and you can stand the anticipation no more. Meanwhile, make a emulsified butter sauce for drowning of said birds. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a sauce pan. Combine with the wine, lemon juice and honey. Bring to a boil on high heat and allow to slightly thicken, stir occasionally.Pour butter sauce over cooked quails and serve with extra stuffing on the side.

Old Bear Mormont’s Hot Spiced Wine


 

“The Old Bear was particular about his hot spiced wine. So much cinnamon and so much nutmeg and so much honey, not a drop more. Raisins and nuts and dried berries, but no lemon, that was the rankest sort of southron heresy.”

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle inexpensive red wine (preferably full bodied, not dry, a chardonnay works really well here) 
  • 3 tbsp honey 
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar 
  • 2 sticks cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger 
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg 
  • 1/3 cup of raisins and slivered almonds each. 
  • 4 star anise 
  • 1 whole nutmeg, grated 
  • 6 whole cloves 
  • 1 1/2 orange juice 
  • yield: 4 servings


Simmer the orange juice on medium for 5 minutes with all the ingredients above except the wine. Bring to a boil until mixture achieves a syrupy consistency. Turn the heat down to low and add the bottle of wine, stirring until consistent. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes until warm and fragrant. Be sure to keep the heat on low so the alcohol from the wine won’t burn off. Ladle into glasses with dregs or without and serve with a stick of cinnamon.

Sansa’s Lemon Cakes

“Gods be true, Arya, sometimes you act like such a child,” Sansa said. “I’ll go by myself then. It will be ever so much nicer that way. Lady and I will eat all the lemon cakes and just have the best time without you.”

“Sansa, you must be very hungry. Shall we have a bite of boar together, and some lemon cakes?” “Lemon cakes are my favourite,” Sansa admitted.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted 
  • 2 cups regular sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 cups creme fraiche
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 cup confectioners’ sugar 
  • 3 tbsp water
  • Yields a dozen mini cupcakes or six large cakes


Preheat the oven to the magic number, 350°F. Grease and flour silicone muffin or cupcake trays or use conventional trays with paper cups. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar in to a frenzy until fluffy (approximately 5 laborious minutes) Beat in eggs one by one and add lemon zest as well as vanilla. Fold in the creme fraiche and set aside. Combine in another bowl, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to this creamed butter and sugar be sure to stir in order to incorporate air. Fill your greased and floured tins .Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature for 10 minutes before proceeding. Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl to remove chunks. Add lemon juice, vegetable oil, and zest. Add water gradually until a desired “glaze” consistency is achieved. Dip the tops of the warm cakes into the glaze and serve.



There you have it! I hope all you Game of Thrones nerdlings out there either find each other or force feed GoT season 1 down your friends’ throats so a westerosi feast may be in order once season 2 airs in…ugh 2012?

 

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