Allright y’all, i’ve never done one of these regular weekly update things before. As such, i make no promises that this will last longer than, say, this week. But i’ll try. And, you know, it’s such a catchy title.
There is only one way to begin Foodie Friday. With everyone’s favorite chef question: what is the #1 essential kitchen item that i simply can’t cook without? Knee-jerk reaction, i’d say a good knife, because my good knife is my favorite kitchen thing. But it’s not actually the most essential. You can totally get by with shitty knives, it’s just frustrating. I did it ’till last xmas – thanks Mom and Dad!
No, what you need is The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
It’ll put you out $15 at just about any bookstore if you opt for the paperback. And if you only ever buy one cookbook, this is the one you need. It’s remarkably unintimidating; the recipes often call for canned foods (which can easily be replaced with fresh if you’re into that kind of thing), and they all include prep and cooking time estimates (note, estimates – give yourself some leeway if you’ve never done this before). This is the cookbook i turn to when i realize that, say, i’ve never actually made a casserole. It is the place to go for those traditional staple recipes, and there are a lot of them.
Mostly, though, i don’t use recipes. What can i say, i learned to cook from my dad, who cooks like he does everything else – start with a good idea of the basics and then throw shit together and hope it works. So why the hell am i bragging on a cookbook? The important part of this cookbook is everything that isn’t recipe. It has cooking tables for about everything (how the hell do i cook quinoa?). It has shopping guides (what’s a star fruit? how do i buy fish that’s not funky?). It has photo instructions for some of the more complicated basics (how to knead bread. “hard ball stage”? are we still cooking?)
If you’ve never used a kitchen before this is the second best way to learn. The best, of course, is to have a friend, family member or lover teach you in person (the latter is highly recommended as the most fun – but don’t give up on cooking if you burn a few things due to distraction). And if you’re an expert, it’s still the best $15 you can spend on your kitchen.
Oh, and for full disclosure, the ancient binder version of this my folks had was “my” cookbook all through my childhood, so it’s got a special place.
To stay on topic: here’s my favorite recipe from that cookbook (it’s not in the very newest version, though).
Disclaimer: by recipe, i mean how i cook it with what i happen to remember of the recipe. Sorry guys, that’s just how i roll. I’ll try to put in quantity estimates, but it’s not really how i cook (unless it’s baking). So, Rule #1. Never trust the recipe (or me). Taste your food. If you don’t like it, change it! That said:
Curry-Honey Chicken and Veg Roast (recipe after the jump)
Sauce (the important part)
1/2 stick Butter
1 or 2 Tablespoons chopped onion (optional) – this is the only part that involves work, so if you’re feeling lazy, it works just as well to just put onion in the roast instead of the sauce =)
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Mustard – Dijon or any brown/fancy sort have way more flavor for cooking with than plain yellow, but if that’s all you’ve got, it certainly works.
1 or 2 Tablespoons Curry powder
Melt butter in a little saucepan on low heat. Add onions (if you want) and cook for a minute or so (you’re adding them to the oven for a long while, so they’ll really cook there, you just want to get some flavor out of them here). Add everything else and cook till it’s melty and runny and you can pour it all over your food.
First, the sauce is awesome, so it’ll probably be good on anything you can put sauce on.
Ingredients: (all optional)
Meat (or not, as i usually do) – chicken peices, i’m partial to drumsticks. I’m sure other meats would work well too, just nothing too big or whole ’cause it takes a lot longer and doesn’t sit and soak in the sauce.
Veg – i usually use potato, onion, carrots, and mushrooms – good roasty veg. But fresher, greener things like summer squash would be quite good as well.
Pasta makes a really good filler in place of the meat (or if you are using meat it’s still a good way to stretch the meal a little farther and soak up the sauce).
Preheat oven to 350. Chop the vegetables up into bitey pieces. Put in 13 x 9 baking pan. Pour on sauce, mix it up, cover it (aluminum foil – if you don’t have anything to cover it with, just stir it a few extra times in the middle so the top doesn’t burn) and stick it in the oven. About halfway through, pull it out and stir it up a little because the stuff on top will be dry and unsauced. Bake ’till chicken is done (sorry, it’s been a long time since i’ve done it with chicken, so i don’t know a time. Best option is getting a meat thermometer and checking it that way. 2nd best is just cutting into it to make sure it’s not bloody.) If you’re not using meat, cook it ’till the potatoes are done (or the onions if you, like me, only eat onions that have been cooked to death) – about 30 minutes. If you forgot to check the clock, it’s getting close when the sauce smell wafts into the other room (where you’re hanging out because it’s way too hot to chill in the kitchen with the oven on).
Put it on a plate and eat it. (On top of the pasta, if you’re doing that.)
Hope y’all had fun. Feel free to (please!) ask questions or make recommendations – i’ve never done this before!