Food Glorious Food

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21 Feb Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

Wow—my coconut cookie post was a big hit, it seems! So today I’m going to post another recipe, although this time, sadly, I don’t have a picture—we ate these all up before I put my fork down long enough to get out the camera. This picture, therefore, is not the real Oat Pecan Pancakes, but an imposter—a sort of placeholder of pancake-y goodness. Picture or no, though, take my word for it—these are really good, and with the richness of the pecans, perfect for that Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras/pre-Lent splurge.

 

Oat Pecan Pancakes Chez Loupas

1 cup flour (For more nutrition use 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat. You can also use 1/2 white and 1/2 cornmeal for a johnny-cake-like flavor and texture.
1 1/2 cup rolled oats. (You can break these up a bit in a food processor, or use quick-cooking oats, but I like the heartier texture of old-fashioned rolled oats.)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons molasses (You can use dark brown sugar for a slightly milder flavor.)
2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

—–

Stir together dry ingredients—flour, oats, baking powder and salt.

Stir together wet ingredients—eggs, milk, molasses and melted butter.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just to combine.

Let stand for a few minutes. This is important—it will soften the oats and make your pancakes fluffier by giving the baking powder a head start.

Just before cooking, fold in the pecans. Want to keep these crisp!

Ladle batter onto hot, lightly oiled (or buttered or cooking-sprayed) griddle by quarter-cupfuls or so. When bubbles have formed on the top and the edges begin to look dry, flip. The second side will be done in about half the time it takes to cook the first side.

These are utterly heavenly with real maple syrup. They’re pretty darn good with plain old pancake syrup, too.

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01 Jan Freckled Paws and Hoppin’ Jim

 

Kalo Podariko! (“Happy First Foot,” the Greek wish for a happy new year.) The first foot over our threshold this morning (as it is pretty much every morning) was a freckled beagle paw belonging to our Miss Cress. I love her freckles—I’ve given her freckled paws to Seilie, Rinette’s little hound in The Flower Reader. Since Cressie is a typically beagle “merry little hound,” I think she’ll bring us happiness in the year to come.

Living in Texas as we do, we’re also supposed to eat black-eyed peas for luck on New Year’s day—the dish is called “Hoppin’ John,” the etymology of which is obscure. Sadly, the Broadcasting Legend™ and I don’t really like black-eyed peas. Heresy, I know. What we’ve done is create our own version, which we call “Hoppin’ Jim.” Heh. It’s a sort of bean soup made with ordinary white beans and the bone from the Christmas ham, and it is delicious. I’d post a recipe, but none of the things Jim cooks actually have recipes. He’d say something like, “Well, you take the ham bone and put in the beans and some other stuff and simmer it all afternoon.” Right.

I like vegetables—shredded carrots and greens of some sort—in my Hoppin’ Jim, but I have to add those separately so as not to sully the purity of the original.

Warmest new year wishes to all, and God bless us every one.

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09 Oct Saturday Round Robin I-3

I’ve made a big change in my schedule this past week, and it’s turned out to be a whole-life transformation. Isn’t it funny how small things can make such big changes?

Anyway. I’ve moved my writing time to first thing in the morning. I get up, let the doggies out, make my coffee, and start to write. Period. No email, no news, no journal, no morning pages (sorry, Julia Cameron)—just coffee and writing, pure and simple. I am a natural morning person and the Broadcasting Legend™ isn’t, so I even have solitude, with the sunrise gradually lightening my south-facing windows, coffee steaming and doggies curled up on their pillows behind me. I’ve been working till I get to five pages or ten o’clock, whichever comes first. And then, amazingly, I am free. I can manage everything else in the course of the day, because my real work is done and no matter what else happens, I have achieved something important (well, important to me) for that one unique, irreplaceable day in my life.

I know it sounds ridiculously trivial, but for me it’s been a revelation. It is such an enormous relief to have my work done and the rest of the day stretching out enticingly before me. Do I sometimes do more writing (or particularly research and editing) in the course of the day? Why yes, I do. But only because I want to. If I want to take a nap instead (with Nigella Lawson or Ina Garten rambling soothingly about food in the background) I am utterly free to do it.

What special rituals seem to make your creativity work for you?

In other news of the week: Cressie has also experienced a transformation—into a tri-color predator extraordinaire. This week she added a rabbit and another squirrel to her list of victims. You do not want to know the details.

I am reading Great Maria by Cecelia Holland. For about the leventy-leventh time, but I love this book so much and it is out in a beautiful new edition from Sourcebooks. If you haven’t read it, please put it on your list. You will not be sorry.

I am making a lovely pan of Mexican Lasagna this week, since the Broadcasting Legend™ is going to be out of town and I’m free to eat casseroles every night of the week. (I love casseroles. The BL™ is a large-recognizable-piece-of-meat man.) I take the wonderful chili I wrote about last week, layer it with plain, lightly oven-toasted corn tortillas (the toasting makes a huge difference in the flavor) and a mixture of colby cheddar, monterey jack, and queso fresco tossed with lots of Mexican spices. Then I bake the whole thing till it’s brown and melty and crunchy around the edges. The corners are my favorite pieces.

And finally, did you see the story of Paris Japonica, the white flower that has been determined to have the longest genome ever discovered—fifty times longer than the genome for a human being? Can you imagine what my floromancer heroine Rinette would make of that? Unfortunately I can’t put Paris Japonica into The Silver Casket, because it’s a native of Japan and would have been outside the ken of anyone in sixteenth-century Scotland or France. But! Paris Japonica has a relative called Paris Quadrifolia, known to folklore as Herb Paris or True-Lover’s Knot, and that plant might indeed have been found in damp and shady places along Aberdeenshire streams. Rinette wouldn’t know about genomes, of course, but with her uncanny affinity for flowers she might sense something unusual about Herb Paris. I’ve already worked out just what part this enigmatic plant is going to play in the story…

See you next week!

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25 Sep Catching Up

I am working away on The Silver Casket. One of the most fascinating things is the way Rinette, the heroine, uses her idiosyncratic system of floromancy to characterize the other people in the story. By the time I’m done the “Floromancy” part of my notes will be a book in itself!

Sincere thanks to everyone who has voted for The Second Duchess on Goodread’s “Historical Fiction 2011” Listopia list—“Books we are excited about coming out in 2011.” Are you excited about Duchess? Yay! Please add your vote.

Delicious things I have cooked/baked this week: well, it’s not really cooking, but I made the best carrot and broccoli slaw. Healthy and easy. One bag of shredded carrots and one bag of broccoli slaw—take a handful of each and throw in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a pinch of salt, and toss. (You could shred the carrots and broccoli stalks yourself, of course, but think how much more trouble that would be!)

On the unhealthy but yummy side, doughnut muffins. Mmmm! All the pleasure of a glazed cake doughnut but baked into a muffin rather than fried. Start here for the recipe. I used all butter instead of butter and oil, and cut way back on the nutmeg—the merest soupçon of nutmeg is fine with me. And I glazed them with Alton Brown’s doughnut glaze instead of rolling them in butter and cinnamon sugar. Incredibly good.

Meanwhile, the medical community is still trying to figure out why my wrist is hurting so much. This week, had a new series of x-rays. Should have results next week.

Have been reading Mary Anna Evans’ Strangers (an advance copy of which I won on the DorothyL mailing list) and Deanna Raybourn’s luscious Dark Road to Darjeeling. I have a lovely new-bought extra copy of Dark Road to Darjeeling and signed bookmarks on the way from Deanna, and I will be giving it all away next week. Watch this space!

Cooler weather seems to be tiptoeing into north Texas, thank goodness. This morning it brought some rain with it, and we’re grateful for every drop.

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16 Jun Reality (Food) Bites

A new Top Chef season starts tonight. Yay! I don’t care for “reality” television in general but I do love Top Chef and its more pedestrian (in a culinary sense, at least) cousin The Next Food Network Star, which also just started a new season a couple of weeks ago. Haven’t picked favorites yet, but stay tuned.

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12 Jun Farmer’s Market!

Our little town has had a farmer’s market for three or four years now, but I’ve never been before because I’ve never managed to combine the elements of a) being up and dressed at eight o’clock on Saturday morning, and b) remembering that the farmer’s market happens at eight o’clock on Saturday morning. This morning, however! I set an alarm on my computer to remind me and the Broadcasting Legend™ and I went farmer’s marketing for the first time.

It was fantastic! A huge bag of fresh locally-grown produce (tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn) for a tiny price, plus freshly-baked artisan bread—a gorgeous crusty baguette which is not sourdough, which for some reason has become suddenly unobtainable at our local supermarkets. This one visit is all it took to make us farmer’s market devotees forever.

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25 Apr Un Gentil Huteaudeau

I just love words.

At one point in The Silver Casket, the heroine Rinette faces off against Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, soon to be Mary Queen of Scots’ second husband. Now Darnley may have been tall, blond and good-looking, but Queen Mary’s own uncle the Cardinal of Lorraine described him scathingly as un gentil huteaudeau, which pretty much means “a pleasant nitwit.” Heh. The male Paris Hilton of the 1560s. Huteaudeau appears to have been an idiom along the lines of what today we might call “a dumb cluck,” because in the sixteenth century it also literally meant “young chicken” or “pullet.”

The word is preserved not only in the Cardinal’s disparagement of Darnley, but in a traditional Scottish dish called “Howtowdie,” a chicken stuffed with skirlie (savory sautéed oats with onions), roasted (or boiled) and served on a bed of spinach with “drappit eggs” (poached eggs). Intrigued? Here’s a link to a lovely authentic recipe:

Ishbel’s Traditional Scottish Howtowdie

I’m not sure about the poached eggs, but the skirlie sounds pretty yummy. I love cooking from the periods I write about and I think I will have to try this!

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12 Apr Arms and the Beagles

To whom do these lovely and mysterious arms belong? (No, not the Venus de Milo, silly.) Who is sitting on our couch playing with Cressie and Boo? Why, it’s Agent Diana, in town for a conference and here to spend some very intense time discussing The Silver Casket.

It was wonderful to meet Agent D. face-to-face for the first time. We devoured incredible prime steaks, exotic chocolates steeped in fruit and liqueurs; saganaki, spanokopita and tzatziki; and lovely cupcakes. Did we do anything but eat? Heh. Well, yes. We spent hours talking about The Silver Casket, books, The Second Duchess, books, the conference, books, promotion and bookstores, and oh yes—books.

Agent D. is now on her way back to New York after waving a sad goodbye to the beagle duo, and I’m on my way back to my hermitage to write up notes on everything we talked about…

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07 Mar Bean and Bacon Soup

Today is a dreary, rainy day, and what could be nicer on a rainy Sunday than homemade bean and bacon soup?

Read the other day in Cook’s Illustrated—one of my very favorite magazines—that rather than just soak beans, one should brine them. Yes, I know, our mothers all taught us not to salt beans before cooking them. But Cook’s did all kinds of tests and determined that soaking overnight in salted water (two teaspoons of salt per quart of water) yields better-seasoned and more evenly cooked beans in the end. So we shall see! I put my pound of great northern beans in brine last night and later today will make my soup.

As for the soup recipe itself, well, it’s never quite the same. Take some nice lean bacon and cook it crisp. Drain it and put it aside; discard most but not quite all of the bacon fat; in the remaining bacon fat sizzle up some chopped veggies, onions and celery and carrots and whatever else you like. Then add the brined beans (drained and rinsed), enough water or chicken or veggie stock to cover it all, and simmer for a couple of hours.

When the beans are tender, whizz the soup with an immersion blender (or puree about half of it in a regular blender), add more stock if it’s too thick, add some greens (I like spinach) and continue to simmer just long enough to wilt them down. Then add back in the crumbled crisp bacon, adjust the seasonings, and serve. Heavenly, and despite the bacon, very healthy. The trick is to use a smallish amount of bacon and discard most of the bacon fat. It only takes a teeny bit to produce wonderful bacon flavor.

Mmmmm, bacon.

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18 Dec Book Shopping, Day Eighteen

New Classic Family Dinners by Mark PeelNew Classic Family Dinners by Mark Peel jumped into my shopping cart for the cover photo alone—just look at that delectable little chicken pot pie! The most comforting of comfort foods, yet executed with elegance and restraint. And gorgeously photographed.

Mark Peel is the chef/owner of Campanile, an award-winning restaurant in Los Angeles. In this book he takes traditional, best-loved family dishes (meat loaf, barbecued ribs, hamburgers, pork chops, macaroni and cheese, tuna noodle casserole, chocolate pudding) and realizes them in a beautifully polished style—not so much “re-imagined” with a bunch of fancy additions, as made into the most perfect, most refined version of the simple original dish. That’s what makes this book a fabulous gift for plain home cooks (like me) as well as more ambitious foodies.

Peel’s voice is friendly and accessible and the photographs are simply stunning—this is not only a book to cook from but a book to curl up with on a rainy Saturday afternoon. For example, when he’s writing about his chocolate pudding he says “If Jell-O Pudding could fantasize about becoming something great, this would be it. Lighter and less intense than pots de crème, the creamy, comforting pudding with a whisper of mint added to the chocolate is very popular at the restaurant. We serve it in whiskey glasses. Note how little peppermint extract is needed here. You have to use this ingredient with caution. Mint is delicious right up to the point where it turns awful.” Heh. Now that is my kind of chef.

New Classic Family Dinners by Mark Peel, with contributions by Martha Rose Schulman and photographs by Lucy Schaeffer, is available at Books-a-Million, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and of course your favorite independent bookstore. For these last few days before Christmas, shop in a brick-and-mortar bookstore to save expedited shipping charges.

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18 Sep By Request: Lumbago

Early 17th-century drawing of human musculature showing the loins, by Jehan CousinHad a good chuckle at Lisa Brackmann’s comment about why plumbago is called plumbago—“I would have gone with ‘it’s plum-colored and can be used to treat lumbago.’ For that matter, what IS lumbago?”

Ask and you shall receive. The word “lumbago” dates to early in the seventeenth century and comes from the late Latin lumbago, “weakness of loins and lower back,” which itself is from the Latin lumbus, “loin.” Here’s a fellow from an early 17th-century book of “anatomies” [Cousin, Jehan. Livre de pourtraiture. Paris: Jean Leclerc, 1608] who has obligingly taken off his skin to show us his musculature; his loins are indicated by the number 3. For more fascinating historical books of anatomy, see the Research section of the Wonders and Marvels website. I particularly like the ones in which the subject is rather coyly peeling back his or her own skin and muscles in order to display the organs beneath. What were the artists thinking?

“Lumbago” has rather fallen out of use these days, in favor of “Owie! I just threw out my back!” Perhaps we should bring it back. Or perhaps this evening I’ll tell the Broadcasting Legend™ I’m going to cook him a nice lumbus of pork with potatoes, apples and sauerkraut. Mmmm!

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03 Sep Guilty Pleasures

…having nothing to do with history. Well, maybe only a little.

  • Top Chef. Jennifer Carroll for the win! That chocolate bread pudding with peanut butter sauce sounded delectable, but people—what’s the point of posting a recipe calling for 120 egg yolks and 5 1/2 gallons of heavy cream, which ends up serving 100 people? Cut it down a little. Top Chef website fail.
  • Homemade Apple Crostata. The Broadcasting Legend™ brought home a bag of Granny Smith apples by mistake, and so I’ve been baking up a storm. Delicious as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or as a breakfast pastry with a wedge of cheddar cheese. I don’t really follow a recipe—I make piecrust the old-fashioned way (rubbing the butter into the flour by hand) and just mix up the filling as the spirit moves me—sliced apples (skin left on, please), a little lemon juice, a little white sugar and brown sugar, a pinch of salt, a sprinkling of flour to thicken, and of course lots of cinnamon.
  • Attention Deficit Theatre. I love Mad Men and these are the best recaps ever. J. Kristin Ament is a hoot and a half.
  • And speaking of recaps, History Spork, from Two Historians. This comes with a hat tip to the best agent ever, Diana Fox. Needless to say I love historical movies but I sometimes follow along with commentary much like this. Although I’m nowhere near as funny.
  • The Daily Digital. The adventures of my friend Laurie, her husband Philip, and their wonderful beagles. I’m nowhere near as funny as Laurie is, either.
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06 Jun National Doughnut Day (A Day Late, but Who’s Counting?)

Sprinkles! My favorites!This morning at the crack of dawn (well, not quite, but almost) a little boy rang our doorbell and delivered a box of doughnuts. Why, you ask? Well, a couple of weeks ago that same little boy worked his little-boy wiles on the Broadcasting Legend™ and convinced him to buy a box of doughnuts for some sort of school fund-raising project. (We live a few blocks from an elementary school and the neighborhood is awash in cute kids selling stuff.) Why doughnuts? Because yesterday was National Doughnut Day. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as National Doughnut Day. The things you learn from second-graders!

Where did the word “doughnut” come from? Well, according to my beloved Online Etymology Dictionary, it was first recorded about 1809 by Washington Irving, who took a break from managing the first viral book-marketing campaign to describe them as “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or ‘olykoeks.’” So clearly the first doughnuts were hole-less, and actually resembled nuts. And hog’s fat. Yum.

I’ll take Krispy Kremes, thank you.

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03 Apr Tzatziki Time is on the Horizon

Cucumber blossom (from last year)
I think the frost is over, and I’m about to sow my cucumber seeds. Mmm, fresh cucumbers straight from the vine! That means TZATZIKI!

Tzatziki is a Greek sauce for souvlaki and gyros, although we gobble it up as a dip with pita triangles (or, to be frank, with just about any sort of chip we can lay our hands on). If you can find thick Greek yogurt, use that—it’s turning up in grocery stores more and more. If you can’t find Greek yogurt, use regular full-fat yogurt, well drained.

There are as many recipes for tzatziki as there are Greek cooks. Here’s the Broadcasting Legend™’s version:

1 quart plain full-fat yogurt
1 cucumber
1 clove of garlic
The zest of one lemon
Kosher salt to taste—start with half a teaspoon
2 teaspoons of dried dill
Fresh dill for garnish

The night before (don’t you hate it when recipes start with “The night before…”?), strain the yogurt. It’s easy—line a large strainer with cheesecloth (a couple of dampened paper towels will do in a pinch), put it over a glass bowl, and scoop in the yogurt. Cover the whole shebang lightly with more cheesecloth or paper towels and leave it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, discard the liquid in the bowl. In the strainer you will have delicious thick yogurt. Put this yogurt into the rinsed and dried bowl. Rinse the strainer because you’re going to need it again.

Peel, seed, and rough-chop the cucumber. Put it in a food processor (yes, we take the easy way) with the garlic clove, the lemon zest, the salt and the dried dill. Process until combined. Leave it slightly chunky so your tzatziki has some texture. Drain this mixture in your strainer. Press down hard. The idea is to remove as much liquid as possible so your tzatziki is delectably thick.

Add the cucumber mixture to the yogurt and fold them together well. Taste and add salt if necessary. Divide into serving bowls and garnish with sprigs of fresh dill.

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12 Mar Hambone and Bean Soup à la Broadcasting Legend™

Me: Give me the recipe for your wonderful bean soup! I want to share it with the world.
Broadcasting Legend™: Recipe? What recipe? You know I don’t cook from recipes.
Me: All right. Just talk me through it. I’ll write it all down.
BL: Well, first I bake a fabulous ham with cherry preserves and mustard and brown sugar glaze…
Me: Not the ham recipe, the soup recipe.
BL: That ham was really good, though. And hambones don’t just materialize out of thin air, you know.
Me: We’ll do the ham next time. The soup?
BL: Oh, all right. The night before I want to make the soup, I put a pound of navy beans to soak, in plain cold water with just a little bit of salt.
Me: (writes)
BL: The next day I drain the beans, rinse then, and put them aside. Then I take that big, meaty hambone and simmer it in a pot of water with secret seasonings.
Me: This is a recipe. You’re suppose to tell us what the seasonings are.
BL: Damn. You’re tough. Okay. Let’s see. A little bit of kosher salt because the ham’s already pretty salty, freshly ground black pepper, a cup of dry sherry, chopped onions. Oh, and my secret secret ingredient, celery powder. The celery flavor really cuts through the richness.
Me: Why not just put real celery in it?
BL: Is this your recipe or mine?
Me: Sorry. Go ahead.
BL: After a few hours I take the hambone out of the broth and shred off the meat. Then I put the meat and the soaked beans into the broth and let it simmer some more.
Me: By this time the house is really smelling good.
BL: Half an hour or so before supper, I taste the broth for seasoning, and add another one of my secret ingredients—a touch of cayenne pepper for heat. Just a little. Then I stir it up with the immersion blender. Breaks up some of the beans and makes it creamy. Not too much—I still want whole beans and chunks of ham.
Me: (writes and drools a little)
BL: Then I put in a couple of handsful of chopped carrots and simmer it all until the carrots are tender. Voilà! Hambone and Bean soup à la Broadcasting Legend™!
Me: (having stopped taking notes and started getting plates, pouring wine, and slicing a nice crusty bâtarde) Let’s eat!

(Note to self: next time, take a picture of the bean soup with the wine and the crusty bread and everything, before it’s all eaten up.)

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11 Mar The Worm Moon

Let's start calling it the Robin MoonWorm Moon? Who would name a full moon the Worm Moon? And in my birthday month, too.

The reason it’s called the Worm Moon, or so the tale goes, is that in March the ground at last become warm enough to bring earthworms back to the surface, which means robins will return (why didn’t they call it the Robin Moon? Much nicer-sounding) and the earth itself will soon be ready for tilling and planting.

Other names for March’s full moon are Crow Moon, Crust Moon (because the snow would thaw during the day and re-freeze at night, forming an icy crust over the surface, Sap Moon, and Lenten Moon. It’s the last full moon of Winter.

In other news, my revisions are proceeding apace. Both doggies seem to have recovered from their gastroenteritis. It’s (once again) gloomy, rainy, thundery and lightning-y today, but all is not lost—the Broadcasting Legend™ is making bean soup from scratch, with a ham bone and everything. Mmmmmm. Perfect rainy-day food. Tomorrow I’ll post his recipe.

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22 Jan Sixteenth-Century Chicken

Yesterday I posted a recipe I used to bake chicken in the here and now. Just for fun, here’s a recipe the cooks in Barbara’s kitchen might have used for a somewhat similar dish.

A Ferrarese court kitchen in the sixteenth century, from Libro Novo by Cristoforo di Messisbugo

Take parcelly, Sauge, Isoppe, Rose Mary, and tyme, and breke hit bitwen thi hondes, and stoppe the Capon there-with;
Colour hym with Safferon, and couche him in a erthen potte, or of brasse, and ley splentes underneth and al about the sides, that the Capon touche no thinge of the potte;
Strawe good herbes in the potte, and put thereto a pottel of the best wyn that thou may gete, and none other licour; hele the potte with a close led, and stoppe hit aboute with dogh or bater, that no eier come oute;
And set hit on the faire charcole, and lete it seeth easly and longe till hit be ynowe.
And if hit be an erthen potte, then set hit on the fire whan thou takest hit downe, and lete hit not touche the grounde for breking;
And whan the hete is ouer past, take oute the Capon with a prik;
Then make a sirippe of wyne, Reysons of corance, sugur and safferon, And boile hit a litull; medel pouder of Ginger with a litul of the same wyn, and do thereto;
Then do awey the fatte of the sewe of the Capon, And do the Siryppe to the sewe, and powre hit on the capon, and serue it forth.

I love the language. “Couch him in an earthen pot.” “The best wine that thou may get.” This actually sounds pretty good, once one puzzles out the directions.

Recipe for “Capons Stwed” courtesy Cariadoc’s Miscellany.

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21 Jan No-Soup Chicken Breasts

Last night for some reason I wanted to bake chicken breasts. Usually I sear them quickly on top of the stove and finish them in the oven, and very good they are, too, but variety is the spice of life. My challenge was a) I didn’t have any gloppy canned “cream of” soup, and b) I didn’t want to spoil my beautiful chicken breasts with gloppy canned “cream of” soup anyway. So I played a riff on a baked dip recipe I love and made these. They are just as easy as the canned soup variety and so much better. Really.

I don’t measure in a conventional sense unless I’m baking. So bear with me here.

Start by pre-heating your oven to 375.

Mix together:

Artichoke hearts. I used canned ones (drained, of course). Frozen would work, too. Maybe ten or twelve. Chopped up, not too finely.

Mayonnaise. It does have to be the real thing. Lowfat and fat-free mayonnaise separates in a particularly nasty way when you try to cook with it. I used about half a cup.

Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded, in about the same amount as the mayonnaise.

Canned chopped jalapenos. A couple of tablespoons. This is kind of a to-taste thing. You can leave them out entirely if you don’t like jalapenos.

This will look like cole slaw when you’re done with it.

Rub a baking dish with olive oil. Salt and pepper your chicken breasts (I had two, because there are two of us. You may have one, or four, or twelve. Adjust the sauce ingredients proportionally) and arrange them in the dish. Cover them with the artichoke-parmesan-mayonnaise mixture. Make sure all the meat surface is covered because that’s what keeps the meat beautifully moist. Sprinkle with a little hot Hungarian paprika if you’re feeling crazy. Bake for about thirty minutes. This may vary a bit depending on how many breasts you’ve got in there. They’re done when there’s no pink left in the middle.

Serve with egg noodles (what I used last night, because the Broadcasting Legend™ is particularly partial to noodles), rice, or pasta—farfalle would be good.

These were delicious, quick, and so much better than the canned-soup variety. Sorry, Campbell’s.

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