IN MRS.BUTTERFINGER’S KITCHEN …. BUTTERMILK BISCUITS AND SOUL

I warm my soul  in my kitchen.     Cooking replenishes my soul  when the events of the world leave me feeling sad,  exhausted and drained.    It is pleasure to  cook for my family and friends.    My kitchen is the heart and soul of our  home.    We prepare food because we must eat.   True.   When we bake  we  bring more to the table.   More of ourselves,  more soul.   We fill our home with the fragrance of baking.   Making luscious cakes, rich brownies, flaky pies we indulge our selves, and we indulge  those we love.

Our  grandchildren, Kate and Andrew,  indulge their family and friends  when they bake biscuits served with honey to accompany a roast chicken.  A lovely idea I have taken to heart.  Golden, crisp roast chicken served with mounds of delicate, flaky biscuits and sweet honey.  A delicious alternative to the ubiquitous bakery baguette.

I recommend you make these frequently.   Repetition will make you a better cook, and it is so very, very good for the soul.    It should take just twenty minutes or so from start to finish to make biscuits.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour,     1 tsp salt,     4 tsp baking powder,     1 tsp baking soda,      3/4 cup cold unsalted,     1 1/4 cups buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 450degrees F  Makes about 16 biscuits

Mix your dry ingredients then cut in the butter.  Use two knives, a pastry cutter or your food processor.   Don’t over process you want some tiny lumps of butter to remain.  This makes your biscuits flaky.

Dump the flour mixture into a large mixing bowl, and make a hole in the middle of the flour

.  Add the buttermilk and mix using the handle end of a wooden spoon.  This little trick stops you from over mixing your dough.  Mix just until  the flour mixture starts to come together.

Now( still in the bowl)  knead it lightly six or seven times gathering it into a large rough ball as you do this.   Do this quickly.    Have a light touch.

Put this rough mixture onto a lightly floured board and pat the dough to the thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Cut with a biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet about one inch apart.   Gather the left over scraps together to form rough biscuits.  Don’t press or kneads these pieces, it will toughen them.   Bake 15 minutes.

Serve immediately!   Slather on butter and honey and indulge with your lovely roast chicken.

Chefs notes:  You can do some prep ahead of time.  Mix the flour mixture and butter and store  in the fridge until needed.  Then all you have to do is just add the buttermilk and bake.

 

THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN WITH GARDEN FRESH GREEN BEANS . . . an exotic summer creation.

The dog days of August.  Hot, gritty,  rift with boring burgers.   Chicken masquerading as burnt offering.      Over-done steaks.  Our heart and soul cries out for something different.  A little exotic.     A culinary creation that has your taste buds crying for more.  This is  answer to end of summer doldrums.  THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN.  It’s a doodle to make.  The recipe is easy to double.   And best of all one of the star ingredients is at its best right now –  garden fresh green beans.

THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN does have a lovely story.    An important gentleman of my long acquaintance had a friendly running competition with a visiting  surgeon.   It was all about who could prepare the most outstanding dinner.    He dished up this dish and the surgeon from Boston declared him the winner.  That a creation this delicious goes together so easily takes it out of the ordinary and into the superb.  A definite four stars.

THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS is simmering away in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

 

CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER (a.k.a. Picnic Chicken) . . . a Paris classic . . . Poulet Grille a la Diable

 

The winter rain that falls in Paris comes down in silver threads,  and streets  glisten and reflect the light.   Moisture fogs the windows of cafés and bistros and turns them into welcoming beacons of comfort.

Down the street from my little house in Paris is a tiny bistro. The wooden chairs and the tiny black and white tiles on the floor show their age.    Decades of patrons have worn them to comfortable perfection The tables are close together. The menu is chalked on a blackboard.   It is where you want to be on a cold, damp, raining winter night.

The chilly night calls for something hot and fiery,  á la diable.   Diable is associated with anything hot and fiery. You will find various versions of this classic chicken in cafés and bistros all over Paris.   Chicken or meat seasoned with mustard and hot pepper then coated with bread-crumbs.

My recipe for CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER is a riff on a recipe by Patricia Wells.  Her book, THE PARIS COOKBOOK.  To read or cook from it  is pure delight.   I use French Dijon and coarse-grain French Dijon, a whisper of cayenne pepper, a dusting of red pepper flakes .  It goes together quickly.  Almost before you finish singing La Marseillaise you  top it with a little butter and pop it in the oven and bake it (despite the name).     Pour yourself a glass of sauvignon blanc (it goes well with the chicken)  and voila!   That’s it.

Here’s the very, very best part of this recipe.  I think it tastes better the next day.    It is NOT left over chicken.    You can double or even triple the recipe.   Don’t be concerned about the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne called for in the recipe.  For some wonderful and unexplained reason they become just a hint of spice.   This is the chicken recipe to serve again and again and call it your own.  Tweak the spices.  Add a little more of this.   A little less of that.  To go with the chicken I roast chunks of  Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in a glug of extra-virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  This chicken recipe is known in our home as PICNIC CHICKEN because it is so delicious eaten cold the next day.  The flavours absolutely sing.

I always pack  Poulet GvillÉ a la Diable  in my big wicker basket  when Theadora, The Tin Man and myself head to the summer sandy Paris Beach.  We lounge on the beach next to Pont Neuf bridge.  Full size palm trees provide shade, and the passing parade of chic Parisians in beach attire provide the entertainment.

This no-fail chicken recipe that speaks of good things with a decided French accent awaits you in MRSBUTTERFINGERS kitchen.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

(Paris photo by Patrick Horpar)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A SPECTACULAR ONE POT RECIPE . . . BASQUE CHICKEN

Take some brilliant red peppers, add a red onion, toss in tomatoes and garlic and create alchemy with chicken and chorizo.  The combination is rich and welcoming and fills your kitchen with the most delicious aroma.   This spectacular recipe is one of those dishes that are the heart and soul of your kitchen.

This is an adaptation of a favorite Daniel Boulud recipe.    Chicken legs  and or thighs, slowly simmered until the meat falls from the bone delivers great flavour.

The recipe for this very French dish BASQUE CHICKEN awaits you on MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

ROASTED VEGETABLES AND CHICKEN POT PIE

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Of all the one dish meals I make this one is hands done my absolute favorite.   It is this recipe for ROASTED VEGETABLE AND CHICKEN POT PIE I go to when I really want to wow family and friends.  It tells them how important they are to me.

The secret is the way the vegetables are prepared.    They  are roasted deeply golden and take on a sweet caramelized flavour.  They colour and flavour the glorious, rich  sauce .  The sauce seductively cloaks the succulent chicken.  Then the buttery, crisp puff pastry sublimely tops everything .

You can assemble the pie (except for the crust) ahead of time.  This makes it the perfect entertaining dish.  For large groups the recipe is easily doubled and baked in two dishes.  This is a stellar one dish wonder.  It takes chicken pot pie to delicious new heights.     The puff pastry is courtesy the frozen food counter so how deliciously easy is that.  Comfort food at its finest.  Pop over to MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for   ROAST CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE POT PIE

THE PERFECT INDULGENT CHICKEN LIVER PATE

CHICKEN LIVER PÂTÉ

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There is nothing more divine than a perfectly executed pâté.   It is heaven on a plate.   You can make a lunch out of it.  Serve it before dinner.  I have even spread it lavishly on morning toast.

 Over the years in our various restaurants we served both  rustic, coarse country terrines and silky refined pâtés.   They are impressive as a first course and  having a good recipe in your repertoire will make your reputation as a sophisticated, good cook.

This recipe has just a few basic ingredients.  There is no legging it about town shopping for exotic food.  The main ingredients are chicken livers, unsalted butter, cream and seasonings, but the results are nothing short of spectacular.  The recipe goes together quickly and should be made the day before you plan to serve it.    During the holiday season I made it for a dinner party a few days before Christmas, and then served it again for Christmas morning brunch.  Left-overs, tightly covered, keep well in you refrigerator for several days.

You will find yourself making this elegant  CHICKEN LIVER PÂTÉ  over and over again.

FRICASSEE OF CHICKEN LEGS WITH LYONNAISE POTATOES

 

BEL’OCCHIO   …   the beautiful eye

Fricassee of Chicken Legs with Lyonnaise Potatoes

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There is a very good reason why we return again and again to the classic dishes like Fricassee of Chicken.   This tried and true recipe delivers a rich depth of flavour that has you moping up the very last of the sauce with bits of crusty bread.  White wine, chicken stock and double cream creates the magic that  enhances this often neglected part of the chicken. You can use all chicken thighs or all chicken legs if you wish. The crisp combination of onion, garlic and  potatoes  compliment this dish. The dish presents beautifully  and makes a wonderful dinner party main course.   Click on FRICASSEE OF CHICKEN LEGS  for this delicious recipe.  Bon  Appetit dear friends!

SICILIAN BRAISED CHICKEN … (Pollo Agrodolce)

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There as many ways of making Pollo Agrodolce as there are good Sicilian cooks.  What makes this dish so delicious is the ying and the yang of sweet and sour flavours.  You  can add almonds or pine nuts, some basil or mint instead of parsley.  You can make it with red wine and red-wine vinegar.  Some recipes for this dish  are spiked with saffron or anchovy, and some contain hints of orange-flower water.  The constant through all of them is the cooking down of vinegar and sugar until they infuse the meat and vegetables with their combined sweet but slightly sharp flavor.  With all these tantalizing options this recipe for SICILIAN BRAISED CHICKEN should be tucked in your apron pocket.

LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF PEACHES

Life becomes very, very good when you take delivery of a box full of peaches.  Peaches picked just hours ago.  Perfect, big, juicy peaches.  My dear friend and neighbor Angela  shared this incredible bounty with me.  We  thought all these peaches, so little time.

Peach cobbler

Peach pie

Peach ice cream

Peach crisp

Peach up-side-down cake

Vanilla poached peaches

Peaches eaten over the kitchen sink.  The juice running joyfully down your arms.

Peaches grilled on the barbecue and served with French vanilla ice cream.

Peach chutney

Brandied peaches

Peach Melba

Or … the most sublime dish to come out of ROXY’S BISTRO’S kitchen.  Peach chicken with sweet red peppers and sweet red onions, laced through with brandy and indulged with cream.   Grown men would swoon over this decadent dish.

Life is just a bowl of peaches!

BASQUE CHICKEN AND CHORIZO

 

The very best part of autumn is filling your kitchen with the rich, welcoming  aromas of one-pot dishes and casseroles.  These are dishes that are the heart and soul of your kitchen.

 

 

This is my adaptation of a Daniel Boulud recipe.  It uses the brilliant red pepper  so  prolific in the markets.  Chicken legs, slowly simmered until the meat falls from the bone delivers great flavour.

 

BASQUE CHICKEN AND CHORIZO SAUTE   …  serves 4-6 people

4 oz dry chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 tb extra-virgin olive oil

6 whole chicken legs, split  (around 3 1/2 lbs)

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 thick strips

2 medium red onions, thinly sliced

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 large thyme sprigs

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 cup drained San Marzano whole tomatoes

3/4 cup dry sherry

2 tsp sweet paprika

3/4 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tbs shredded basil

Crusty French bread, for serving

Saute the chorizo in a deep skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned and some of the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the chorizo to a large plate.

Heat the olive oil in the skillet.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until well browned, 15 minutes.  Add the chicken to the chorizo.

Add the bell peppers, red onions, garlic, crushed red pepper and thyme to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until barely softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, sherry, paprika and cook  until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Put the chicken and the chorizo into a large baking dish and cover with the sauce.  Cover and bake in a 350 oven for around 3/4 of an hour.   Remove the cover and bake for 5 or 10 minutes more so the sauce thickens.  Stir the basil into the sauce and serve with crusty bread.

Bon Appétit