Saturday, April 9, 2016

Frugal Femme Two Week Menu #2: Week One, Saturday: Simple Roast Chicken, Stuffing Bread, and Feta, Avocado and Red Onion Sald

Hello Everyone.
I got my tomato plants today!!! 

I don't know who did this vintage picture of a tomato, but I can't decide if I think that it is cute or disturbing.

I got Beefeaters, because my husband says those are delicious, and Brandywines, because the little sign below them said they were Amish, and I thought the name was pretty and sounded liked a little village that you would find in England.  Fortunately, this attraction to the name of the tomato worked in my favor because this is what Wikapedia has to say about Brandywine tomatoes:

The Brandywine tomato plant is an heirloom cultivar of the species, with large potato-leaved foliage and which bears large pink beefsteak-shaped fruit, popularly considered among the best tasting available.

Since I want to eat these, best tasting is fine by me.  I also got a pepper plant called Fooled You.  I can't find any information on them, but they are supposed to taste like a seedless jalepenno peppers. And I got red onion bulbs.  I honestly don't know if any of this is going to work and I'm going to be able to eat it but I am hoping.  I'm good at growing herbs, but I have never tried vegetables so I am excited and nervous.  The point to this is, if you have the space, growing your own herbs and produce is a smart, frugal thing to do.  At the very least, grow yourself some herbs.  I grow all of my herbs in pots in the back yard but, before I had a house, I would grow my herbs in pots in a window that sunshine for most of the day.  They didn't get as large as some of outdoor herbs do, because I couldn't put them in as large of pots, but they lasted all year long and I was able to have fresh basil in the middle of winter, so there are some advantages to growing herbs indoors. 

Fresh herbs are some of the most expensive items that you can purchase in the grocery store.  When you go to buy fresh basil or rosemary you pay $5-$8 for the herbs and you get about a tablespoon's worth.  If you grow your own garden, you pay $2.50 for the plant, $1.50 for the plastic pot (If you buy the inexpensive pots--I know of people that eat the large gallon buckets of ice cream and then, once the ice cream is gone,  they clean it, decorate it, poke holes in the bottom and use those for pots) and between $5-$10 for the dirt.  I know that is $14.00 compared to $5.00, but those store bought herbs will last you one meal. I planted my herb garden two years ago when we first purchased the house and I have eaten and used those herbs for the last two years almost every night.  Even if  I've only cooked 300 times this year, just for one herb alone, if I would have bought fresh from the store,  I would have spent $1500!!!  Let's forget about the fact that I would more than like use two or three different herbs. So it is a definite savings.

Well, I can just get dried herbs may be your reply.  Yes, you can, and dried herbs will work, but they are not as tasty as fresh herbs.  Having fresh herbs in your dishes is one of those tricks that turns your dinner from just being a necessity to a luxury.  Think about all of those famous chefs and cooks that put out cookbooks and shows -  they all use fresh herbs.  And they charge hundreds of dollars for their meals in their restaurants.  You can reproduce those flavors in your own home if you use fresh herbs. 

The meal that we are making tonight is one of those meals. Tonight, the main dish is not one of my recipes, but one by a well know chef, Thomas Keller.  It is my husband's signature dish and is the one that he teaches to all of our single male friends so that they can impress when they invite a special someone over for dinner.  It is amazingly simple, once you learn the technique, and is a great way to roast a chicken when you would like to use the leftovers in several dishes through out the week- as it simply tastes of chicken and very little else.


My Husband's Version of Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

Below is the official link for how to make this dish, but I have included how my husband did it tonight because I have more pictures.

1 whole fryer chicken
kosher salt
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Carefully clean the bird, making certain to clean both the outside and inner cavities.  Remove the organ meats that are often included with the bird before you start cleaning the bird.

3.  Once the bird is thoroughly clean, pat it dry, both on the outside and in the inner cavities.  It is very important that they bird be as dry as you can possibly make it.

4.  Truss the bird.  This is something that my husband does very well and that I have to have a diagram every time to do.  I have taken a picture of every step of him trussing the bird, but am horrible at describing it so I am also including a link to the Thomas Keller himself showing you how to truss the bird.
5.  Put the bird in a roasting pan and liberally sprinkle with the kosher salt.  This will create a naturally crisp and salty skin that is delicious.

6.  Place the bird in the oven and let cook for about one hour.  This is, honestly, the scariest part.  You don't baste the bird, or add butter or do ANYTHING to the chicken while it cooks.  And it is going to smell like it is burning and the oven is going to smoke.  But the chicken is not burning and your oven is not on fire so, just remain strong and just let the chicken do its roasting thing.
7. After about one hour, check the chicken to see if it has cooked all the way through by testing the chicken with a meat thermometer.  The chicken is done when the thermometer reads 165 degrees.
8.  Take the bird out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.
9.  To make a "gravy" put the fresh time directly into the juice and let it rest for 15 minutes while the chicken settles.  Baste the chicken with the thyme juices every 10 minutes until you are ready to serve the chicken.

10.  To serve, carve the chicken and put on a serving platter.

Tip:  Two people should have about 2-3 cups of meat leftover after dinner from a bird this size.  We are going to use the meat to make a couple of our meals for the following week.  Also, save the carcass.

Tomorrow I will give you a recipe on how to make your own super easy stock in the slow cooker.

Stuffing Bread

I love making bread on the week-ends, because I have the time.  I doubly love a bread that I can produce, in its entirety, in the bread machine.  Then I can feel like I am baking when, in truth, I am reading a novel, working on this blog or watching a movie. This bread smells like Thanksgiving and is a delicious bread to serve with meals.  It goes especially well with chicken and will be used in some of the next week's meals.

1 1/4 cups water (70-80 degrees - about the warmth you would make for a baby bottle)
1 egg
3 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery seed
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. (once packet)  active dry yeast

1.  In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer.  (For me, this would be place all ingredients in the bread machine in the order that I have them here, but some machines are different.


2.  Select basic bread setting.
3.  Choose crust color (I like a medium crust for this bread.)
4.  Bake according to bread machine directions.  (Check dough after 5 minutes of mixing.  If the mixtures seems too moist, add a tbsp. flour if it seems too dry, add a tbsp. water.)

Bread dough should have this consistency.

This recipe yields one loaf of bread and it can be served warm or at room temperature.

Feta and Avocado Salad with Red Onions

This next recipe is based on a recipe I read in Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson.  Here recipe involves nigella seeds and pomegranate seeds.  Both of which are probably delicious, but I don't usually have things like that in my kitchen.  So here is my version of her salad.

1/2 red onion, peeled
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
8 ounces feta cheese
1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 ripe avocado
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1. Slice the red onion VERY thinly and then slice the slices in half creating half circles or half-moons of the onions.  Put the sliced onion in to a small, non-metallic bowl and pour the vinegar over the onion.  Make sure all of the onion is submerged.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave to steep.
2. Once the vinegar is done working on the onion, the strips will all be a beautiful bright color the whole way through.  I like her description where she says: "When the vinegar's done its trick and the onion strips are lit like shards of a stained glass window, get on with the rest of the salad"
3.  Get out two plates and divide the feta between them, breaking it up into uneven chunks.
4.  Sprinkle the feta with the mustard seed.
5.  Peel and remove the pit from the avocado, then cut the flesh into strips.  Again, I like her description of "long, thin, gondola-shaped slices".
6.  Arrange the avocado around the feta on each plate. 
7.  Trickle with extra-virgin olive oil. 
8.  Place the red onions on top, as many as you would like for your personal taste.

Tip: The pickles onions can be made one week ahead and kept in the refrigerator in a container with an airtight lid.

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