Tag Archives: eating

How to make chicken stock

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I don’t know why I left that newspaper in there. To prove that I’m still alive?

Chicken stock is one of the most addicting things you can make, second only to roasting a chicken.  I make roast chicken at least once a week because it is cheap, easy, and so fricken good that you find yourself nibbling on the bones and licking the cutting board.  Perhaps if you’re very good, dear readers, I will show you a video that my friends and I made while drunk about how to make the most delicious roast chicken you will ever eat.

Actually I haven’t seen the video yet and I will have to screen it before bearing my drunken soul online.  It may be that I just end up writing out the recipe ;)

The other amazing thing about roasting a chicken is making stock.  SO simple.  SO many uses.  AND there’s no real wrong way to do it, which makes it practically idiot-proof.  All you really have to know is 1) how to boil liquid and 2) what good chicken broth tastes like.

First you need a chicken carcass, preferably fresh.  That being said, I’ve used the remains of one of those pre-roasted birds you get for $5 at the grocery store (don’t you judge me) and I’ve used a chicken carcass that I had sitting for in the fridge 3 or 4 days (seriously, stop with the judging).  You’re going to boil the hell out of it anyway, so don’t feel guilty if after three bottles of wine and a roast bird later, you’re not really in the mood to do more cooking.  I’ve also frozen a carcass for later and that has worked out pretty well.  Not QUITE as flavorful, but it works.

First you place the carcass in a stock pot.

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Cover the carcass (yes, I admit it, I like writing ‘carcass’) with just enough water to cover it.  Sometimes it floats, don’t worry about it.

If you happen to have some celery or carrots, throw those suckers in there too.  I like to keep my stock simple because I’m rarely sure of what I’m going to do with it, but if you want to get crazy with herbs and onions, please do.  Just remember that whatever you put in your stock, you’re going to be straining the bleached remains of it out, so don’t get too attached and be mindful if you’re using anything with a strong flavor.  Edit:  My new ingredient staple is about an inch cube of raw ginger.  FRICKEN AMAZING.

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Because of my particular roast chicken recipe, I don’t usually need to season my stock and I’d actually advise that you shouldn’t anyway — unless, again, you have some sort of divine master plan that requires salty stock. I also caution against garlic cloves (which I NEVER say) because, well . . . I dunno.  It kinda just ends up tasting like garlic juice to me.  Also lemon.  Please don’t put lemon in there or accidentally forget to take out whatever you stuffed the bird cavity with.  It sucks.

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Once it’s on the stove, I like to bring it to a boil and then turn it down to a healthy simmer.  I find that simmering for long periods of time doesn’t blanch the carcass ( :D ) quite so quickly and the simmering allows the flavors to really come out.  I also like to leave the lid off so that the water boils down — makes for a richer flavor, in my opinion.

Here is where my instructions will fail you if you need specifics.  Honestly, I don’t know how long you should let it simmer.  I’m thinking three to four hours-ish.  I usually just go about my daily business and check on it now and again to see if it tastes good yet.  If the water gets too low, I add more.  If I added too much and it now tastes like chicken water, I turn up the heat and let that sucker boil down some more.

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Heathily simmering

How I know it’s done is by one of two methods:

1) The carcass falls apart when you swirl it with the spoon, or

2) More telling, when the chicken and/or vegetables taste like nothing.  That’s when you know you’ve boiled the taste out of them (which is the plan, Stan).

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The cloudier the broth, the richer the flavor.  Avoid chicken water.  It’s really awful.

When you’re satisfied with the taste, strain all the tasteless crap out of it and then you can either use the stock immediately or freeze it and use it later.

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I have a little tiny lame strainer and so straining an entire steaming carcass is hard enough without also juggling a camera, so sorry

I like to freeze it in 1-2 cup increments (I write on my tuperware in sharpie, which amazingly comes off, but to be safe you might want to use a dry erase marker. . . or write on tape. You’re clever, you’ll figure it out).  Some people do it in ice cube trays, but who the hell only uses an ice cube of stock?

So there you go!  One Classy Dame Chicken Stock.  Get to work!

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Neopolitan Cheesecake Ice Cream Cake

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Our tradition for M Fox’s birthday is that I make him whatever kind of cake he wants.  This sounds really boring except that M Fox has the cake taste of an eleven-year-old.  Usually the cake comes with a lesson for me.  One year it was chocolate chip cake with Oreo frosting: the lesson was if you don’t want all the chocolate chips to sink to the bottom of the cake, drudge them in flour before adding to the batter (also works for raisins, I’m told).  The next year it was a double layer cheesecake, one chocolate, one vanilla: the lesson of this cake was that Alton Brown’s cheesecake (the vanilla) is way more delicious than Martha Stewart’s (the chocolate).  Also, stacking cheesecakes is fricken scary business and also makes one slice so humongous that you want to die after eating it.

This year?  He wanted a Neopolitan cheesecake ice cream cake.  Bring it, said I.  It actually turned out pretty good, believe it or not.  I did a vanilla cheesecake bottom (thank you again, Alton), chocolate ganache middle, and strawberry ice cream layer on top, with an Oreo (or whatever the Trader Joe equivalent is) cookie crust.  The moral for this one?  Ganache freezes into rock.  If I were ever to make this again, I’d probably do a simple brownie recipe so that you could actually cut it (shout out to my Facebook baking friends for the great advice!)

So here is the recipe for this ridiculous cake I made.  What’s great about this cake is that because you have to freeze it, you don’t have to eat it all in one week — you can draw it out for as long as you want!

Warning: I am not a precise baker/cook/photographer/person/anything.  I’m just not.  I kinda just go with it until either I like the look of it or I ruin it.  That being said, I think this cake turned out pretty damn good and I can only imagine what it might be if someone who actually read all the directions first gave it a go!  Also, none of these photos are pretty.  I’ll leave that to the food bloggers.

The Cookie Crust

It’s pretty simple.  I food-processed the hell out of about 25 cookies, mixed in about 3 tablespoons of melted butter and pressed it to the bottom of a wax paper-lined pan.  The wax paper is important — when you freeze this baby, it will make it easier to actually get it out.  If you want more cookie, use more cookie.  If you need more spackle (butter), add more spackle.  Then I baked it in a 350 degree oven until it was more solid — not burned, but the butter wasn’t so wet.

Science, people.

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Layer 1: Cheesecake

I pretty much followed Alton’s recipe because the man is a genius (if you haven’t ever brined a turkey Alton-style, you really really really should).  The only thing different is that I made the cake in a regular brownie pan instead of a spring-form because it would be easier to deal with and would make the portions less insane.  Because of this, I obviously didn’t use any of the graham cracker crumbles for the sides or the crust.

Alton Brown’s Cheesecake Recipe

Filling:
20 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Brush some of the melted butter around a 9 by 3-inch cake pan. Adhere parchment to the bottom and the sides. (Didn’t do this in cake or spring-form pan, just a brownie pan)

In a mixer with a paddle attachment (I don’t have a mixer, so I just did this in my food processor), beat sour cream for 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and sugar and mix on low for 30 seconds and then turn up to medium. Scrape the bowl. In a separate container, combine vanilla, eggs, yolks, and heavy cream. With the mixer on medium, slowly pour the liquid mixture in. When half of it is incorporated, stop and scrape. Continue adding the mixture until the rest of the ingredients are incorporated.

Once completely combined, pour into the cooled crust.  Lower oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Place cheesecake into a preheated water bath, in the oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and open the door for one minute.

Close the door for one more hour. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours to completely cool before serving.

No, but seriously:  Watch his video about the bath thingie — it’s on the recipe link.  It’s totally worth it.  It seems stupid, but just do it.  You can’t tell in the photo below, but there is water in that bottom pan.

Confession:  I wasn’t paying attention to the directions and I ended up leaving the oven door open for the first 20 minutes or so after turning the oven off.  Oops.  It still seems fine, but probably only because the layer isn’t very thick.
While the cheesecake was in the fridge for the allotted time, I prepared the other two layers.
Layer 2: Chocolate Ganache
As I mentioned, I would highly suggest doing a brownie layer instead unless you like chiseling chocolate through ice cream and cheesecake.  I ended up just eating around it.  That being said, I’m not really a dark chocolate person to begin with and I also avoid chocolate chip ice cream because I hate eating chocolate ice rocks in the middle of my sweet, sweet creamy goodness.  I think a brownie layer would be better, although getting it out of the pan might prove a little more difficult.  Anyway, here is what I did.
Ingredients:
-One of those big honking 1 poundTrader Joe’s chocolate bars.  I used very dark chocolate to counter balance the sweet
-Butter
-Milk or Heavy Cream (I think I used heavy cream)
Directions:
1) Chop up chocolate so that it’s in smaller pieces and put it in a metal bowl.  I’m sure there’s a perfect size, but I just hacked at it.
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2) Put the metal bowl with the chocolate over a sauce pot of water and let the water boil.  Add butter and a couple splashes of milk/cream until the mixture is melty enough to spread.
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Did I mention science?  I think I did. . .
I poured the chocolate into a wax paper-lined cookie sheet of the same size as the brownie pan I used for the cheese cake.  I let that mutha cool in the fridge.  IMG_0993
Once it was a solid item, I took it out of the pan, peeled off the wax paper, and just let it hang out on the counter for awhile.  I used the same cookie sheet for the ice cream.
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Layer 3: Strawberry Ice Cream
Obviously you can use whatever ice cream you want, I just grabbed Haagen Das because it’s a pretty dense ice cream.  I let it melt in its little canister to make for easier spreading and then started spreading into my cookie sheet.
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And then I realized that I had not put down a layer of wax paper.
And I dug it all out, washed the pan, lined the stupid thing, and started over.
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LINE IT WITH WAX PAPER, for God’s sakes.
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While the ice cream was soft, I put the layer of chocolate on top and then returned it to the freezer so they would meld together.
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Construction

I literally just put on layer on top of the other.  You can think of a better way to do this, go nuts.

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I put the whole thing back in the freezer and took it out about 15 minutes before I wanted to serve it.  The first piece looked like a horrible accident, but after that it cut very nicely!  I was going to experiment with putting popsicle sticks in the top so that they could be little pops, but, meh.  Next time :)

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Happy birthday, M Fox!

It’s Fun to Stay at the YMCA, Julia

This weekend my friend B and I decided to take a page from Julia Child’s book. Several pages, actually. She bought me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas last year (10 days ago. . . weird) and I decided that I was going to try and expand my cooking repertoire, which pretty much consists solely of easy American dishes and a few Italian American dishes. And pie. We decided on a menu, pretty much centered around sauces (yeah, oops), and bought ingredients. I felt emboldened as I had already made a bechemel sauce with cheese for macaroni a week or two previous which had turned out simply HEAVENLY. And it was so easy! (Also, let me say now that I am going to butcher the spelling of several French words in this blog and I am far too lazy to go to the cook book and look up the correct spelling. Those who judge can kiss my aspartame). I remember that after seeing Julie and Julia a few months ago, that I had been in a bookstore a few days later and picked up Julia Child’s book, just to see what it was like. I opened to something totally insane like how to pluck and tie up your own chicken and I put it down, frightened and intimidated. Then I kicked myself for doing something so consumer-liciously obvious–God, think of all those other people who had gone to the bookstore to be like Amy Adams. Stupid me. . . but I was really glad when I got it as a gift (hehe). After the successful bechemel, however, my fears of being too stupid for the book vanished, my confidence in my ability to turn words on a page into a culinary masterpiece at full strength. B happens to be a very good cook and has a good instinct for it, so I knew I had a good wingwoman for anything more complicated.

First of all, it was absolutely, positively a BLAST. We bought a bottle of wine and drank most of it while cooking, speaking loudly and obnoxiously with an atrocious Julia Child accent (or, at least in my case, since I’ve never actually heard Julia Child speak, Meryl Streep’s Julia Child accent) that goes to prove that my boyfriend is the most patient and tolerant man that a woman could ask for. Referring to each other as “Julia” for entire evening, we stumbled through three sauces–a bernaise sauce, a white wine and tarragon sauce whose French name I don’t remember, but something like “escargon” or something, and a hollandaise–and gnocchi. We decided to put the bernaise on the gnocchi, pan fry some chicken for the white wine sauce and put the hollandaise on steamed asparagus. We also bought a delicious loaf of par-baked bread to dip in the sauces.

Since this isn’t that Julia Child-wannabe Julie girl’s blog, I’m not going to go into the serious details, but basically, Julia Child is a genius. When she said that the potatoes were going to leave a film at the bottom of the pan when they were done (yeah, B and I had no idea what the hell that meant either), they did! When she said not to use the milky substance at the bottom of the melted butter (???), there it was! And we didn’t use it! When she said that the gnocchi shouldn’t be boiled or else it would disintegrate, boy did it disintegrate in the most beautifully French way possible. Fortunately we had doubled the recipe and had leftover so that we could make the most delicious mashed potato balls EVER. Also, B and I have a really horrible track record for making gnocchi–the first time, while, again, hilarious and fun, was. . . well. . . it’s always edible, but it’s not gnocchi. I guess this time was better, but, man. . . it really doesn’t seem as easy as it sounds. The moral of the gnocchi story is that when Julia says to make the gnocchi 3 inches by 1 inch in diameter, YOU JUST FUCKING DO IT. Don’t second guess this woman–I don’t care how inane or ridiculous or whatever it seems, just do it! She even says at the beginning of the book, very frankly, “Look. I studied at the Cordon mother fucking Bleu. I’m not making this shit up. So just follow what I say and you’ll be good.” And it’s true. More than with any other recipe that I have followed, she has your back, our little Julia.

Anyway. Aside from the gnocchi debacle (at which point we were tipsy enough not to care and used packaged tortellini to supplement our resounding failure), the sauces were DELECTABLE. I mean, really, just absolutely gorgeous and delicious. Now, I’ve never had hollandaise, bernaise, or white wine whatever sauce before, so frankly, I could not know what I’m talking about, but they were good, so even if they were a bastardization of what the French masters wanted, they all turned out great!

Ahh. But here is the sauce moral of the story. NEVER make three rich French sauces for one meal. I seriously had a butter hangover this morning. We used FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER and A DOZEN EGGS in these three sauces. No fricken joke. Thank God there were five people eating the dinner or else we would each have literally eaten a stick of butter. My heart feels like it’s going to explode. I can feel a little butter ball choking my arteries as I’m typing this. Delicious, but so conceptually gross. One of those sauces would have been PLENTY. Even the three boys who devoured our meal, who seemed to love every bite, were a little staggered. Oh yeah, did I mention that we didn’t end up eating until midnight? Did I also mention that we started at 7pm? Frankly, if I were to make any of these sauces again, it would probably take about a half hour for each of them (except the hollandaise, which we did in a blender, sanctioned by Julia, and took 6 minutes, seriously). I think the gnocchi is what made this insane.

Also, shout out to M Fox for helping with the dishes :)

I woke up this morning, literally rolled out of bed so I could beach myself on the couch, and found a gym. The YMCA (TITULAR LINE!!!) is having this great promotion where January is free. And, for GOD’S SAKES, I’m going. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even feel good anymore and the French sauces just kicked it into the abyss. Bleck.  The boyfriend and I went and worked out for about an hour and boy did it feel good.

Also, I couldn’t find my discman (no, I don’t have one of those new-fangled mp3 contraptions, sue me), but I DID find my WALKMAN. Take THAT 2010. I had just recently uncovered all these mix tapes that I made in high school and went to town. I forgot about DENI!! Holy shit!! Waaaay back in the day, my high school friends and I went into what was once a pub and brewery (we didn’t sit at the bar, obviously) and now is a Mike’s Subs (lame), there was this guy whose name was Deni performing. Stupid name, maybe, but for some reason I LOVED his music. Apparently he sampled a lot of The Matrix movie into his stuff, but since I hadn’t seen it (and didn’t care. . . saw it later and still don’t care, actually) I didn’t see it as the kinda nerdy DJ guy that he was. I remember feeling so trendy that I had discovered this cool new artist at a PUB, no less. Anyway, when I heard one of his songs on the mix tape, my chubby German thighs kicked into high gear on that elliptical. It didn’t know WHAT was coming.

The conclusion. I think that this may become a delicious tradition. Lots of wine, French food, and a guilt-induced work out the next day.