Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday food-fest happened to fall on Mom’s birthday this week! How fortuitous is that? I asked what she wanted for her birthday dinner and her only response was “buttermilk pie.” I told you already that she’s been known to have dessert for dinner, right? So I asked if I could make her spinach and feta chicken courtesy of Veronika (find the recipe here) and she was fine with that. I decided to make homemade potatoes and some steamed broccoli to go with it. Then I happened upon this recipe in Martha’s Everyday Food for baked onion rings (something that happens to be one of my mom’s favorite foods) so although it didn’t really “go” with the yummy chicken, I decided to make them anyway for an appetizer. Hey, it’s all about mom, right?
I started with the pie (of course) and at the risk of sounding like a broken record here, I will tell you once again how delicious this pie is (click here for the recipe. Do it.). Here’s a picture for good measure. We did blackberries this time for variety, but I have to say that after trying raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, the raspberries were my favorite (and mr’s too, he said “no contest.”) Mom and dad are partial to the strawberries. I don’t know, you decide!
Then I moved on to making the chicken. It’s a pretty straightforward chicken recipe, and though it does take some time, it’s not the most difficult thing I’ve ever made. My first (and worst) problem occurred right away, however, the second I opened the package of chicken. I grabbed out a breast, and lo and behold, my breast had ribs attached! What??? Does chicken come like that? Apparently yes, it does, and I don’t like it. I had inadvertently grabbed the skinless (but thoroughly boned) chicken breasts instead of the skinless, boneless chicken. Let me recommend: if you make this recipe, DON’T do that. It’s gross. As I cut away at the ribs while trying very hard not to touch the chicken meat at all with my hands, all I could think about was this:
I prefer to work with chicken breasts that are ambiguous in shape and nature. Then I can pretend it wasn’t a living, breathing bird, unwittingly walking around about to get its head chopped off. I can picture it starting out like this:
Millions and millions of chicken breast trees in a chicken breast tree orchard, just ripe for the picking. That’s how I prefer my meat.
When mr came home and found me looking pretty much like this:
he was kind of confused, to say the least.
He had to run to the store to get the feta that I hadn’t been able to get that morning since the store I went to was sold out. (Doesn’t that always happen to me?) It took him 30 minutes to find the feta, and because I had left my phone in the car I later got about 5 messages with a running commentary about finding feta cheese and how impossible this feat is when a) you don’t know what it looks like and b) there are no less than 4 cheese sections at the store. Fortunately he finally located it and made it out alive.
Anyway, the rest of the chicken cooking went fine. I think I cooked my spinach too long again and my medium onion was rather on the small side, so next time I will definitely get a larger onion and use all of it (I didn’t know I liked caramelized onions, but they are GOOD!) and I think I may use a little more white wine (not that I’m a lush or anything, it just really adds to the moistness of the chicken...) (ok, maybe I’m a lush...) (just kidding, I really don’t drink). Everyone loved the chicken - as I thought they would. It’s a very yummy recipe.
I started on the onion rings and soon learned that there’s a reason you get these in a restaurant and not at home. It’s so you don’t have to make them yourself. They are a little frustrating. It’s kind of hard to get the breading to stick all around the ring, because it’s such an odd shape. They really don’t get evenly coated. Biggest tip from this attempt: use the food processor, like it says. I don’t have one, so I used a meat mallet. (I used a meat mallet on the chicken, too - don’t worry I have two - and if you didn’t already know this, a meat mallet is a GREAT way to get some frustration out!) Anyway, I’ve been wanting a food processor for a long time, and this is just one more reason to get one! They did have a really good flavor, we thought, so I will try this one again, but I think I’ll wait until I have a food processor.
My mashed potatoes turned out WAY better than last time! Thanks to my friend, Jaime, who suggested Yukon Gold potatoes (They actually didn’t HAVE yukon gold potatoes at the store, but the suggestion opened me up to other potato possibilities which is why I tried red ones and they worked really well! I know, I know, common sense... but I'm a novice. Next time I’ll try yukon gold!) Aren’t they beautiful? The way potatoes should look. I added sour cream and butter, a little of each and some garlic salt. Yum.
And, because it seemed sacrilegious to desecrate the buttermilk pie, I got a little chocolate cake for the birthday candles. (alright, it was an excuse to get something chocolatey. I didn’t have it in me to make a buttermilk pie AND something chocolatey AGAIN, but I wanted chocolate. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it ALL...)
Mom said it was the best birthday present, but mom’s have to say stuff like that.
And the lesson I learned with this meal is that chicken breast PLANTS are much easier to work with than actual chicken breast. I will read the packaging much more carefully next time.