Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting My Groove Back

I've been so out of it with blogging lately - both in reading everyone else's and keeping up with my own. As I mentioned in my previous post, I just wasn't cooking anything interesting. I couldn't make anything worth sharing. That's not a good position to be in for a food blogger! I blamed Paris of course. How can I eat the food in that wonderful city and come home to my own cooking and hope to ever be happy again?

I needed my groove back soon or TERP would die!

I started to come back to the real world this weekend when Sunday night, SPP and I celebrated his birthday at The Iron Forge Inn. Even after Paris it's still my most favorite favorite favorite restaurant in the world. It helped me remember that I do dearly love the Good Old US of A and its deliciously varied cuisine. Heck, as we sat and ate our meal, we mused not so much on our meals in Paris (which we had certainly done enough of) but of our meals in Wyoming earlier this year.

So now that I was feeling local food love again, I still needed some ideas for what to make. I was still drawing blanks.

I decided to play the Random Recipe Game. You pull a random cookbook and open it to any old page and make whatever recipe it tells you to.

I closed my eyes and pointed at my cookbook shelf. I came up with this one. It's called The Uncommon Gourmet by Ellen Helman.

I picked this up while bored and browsing in my favorite bookstore probably 15-20 years ago. I was just really starting to get into non-dessert cooking in those days and would gravitate to any random cookbook. I never thought to grab the classics like Joy of Cooking or anything by Julia Child (Mom had those and I could always borrow them). I was looking for new, fresh, unknown recipes. (Ironic since I've developed a love of vintage cookbooks over the years.) The book isn't famous and I don't know much about the author, but it's filled with easy and interesting recipes (including delicious desserts like apple cake and chocolate amaretto pound cake).

The recipe I opened up to was in a section that centered around Thanksgiving recipes. Opposite the page that contained a recipe for herb roasted whole turkey, was a recipe for roasted turkey breast with peach chutney. It sounded good to me!

Oh wait, Sir Pickypants has made it clear he doesn't like peaches. Okay. Time to adapt. Time to get the creative juices flowing. Oh wow! I was about to get creative and make someone else's recipe my own.

Peaches were out of the question, but what about apples? He's not fond of them, but will eat them in certain forms. I decided to stick with the classic Granny Smith as they hold up well to cooking and don't get overly juicy when you cook them.

Next I thought about the small supply of hot peppers I had in my fridge. How about I make it a little spicy and add one of those. Would apples and jalapenos work together?

While in the produce department picking up the apples and onions, I saw a pint of cranberries staring at me. What if I made apple-cranberry chutney?

Now I was on fire. I hit a roadblock though when I reached the meat department. I know I can always get a whole turkey breast at Whole Foods (if I don't mind paying through the nose for it) and I just assumed my local, pedestrian A&P would have one. You know what they say about assuming?

I ended up with chicken. I didn't have time to roast one whole, so I bought one already cut up. As other food bloggers have been known to say, don't judge me. I poured a mixture of white wine and butter over them then sprinkled them liberally ('cause I do everything liberally ;-))with salt, pepper, and paprika. Into the oven at 350 for 40 minutes.

Here is my crazy pile of chutney ingredients. I know I say that one shouldn't load a recipe down with too many ingredients, but there is a difference between multiple competing flavors and the synergy of the right combination. I had apples, cranberries, jalapenos, brown sugar, cinnamon, coriander, chili powder, cayenne, balsamic vinegar, pecans, golden raisins*, onion and garlic.

Cook it all down to a delicious mess.

I served it with crispy roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli with garlic butter. It was a wonderful melange of tastes and textures: sweet and sour with just enough heat on the back of your tongue.

I loved it when SPP came home and said he could smell dinner as he came down the hallway and how good it smelled.

Chicken with Spicy Apple-Cranberry Chutney

1 whole chicken cut up into 8 pieces
2 Tbl butter
1/2 cup white wine
Salt, pepper, and paprika (enough to make your chicken pieces look well sprinkled)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter and mix with wine. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for 40 minutes and serve with chutney.

Spicy Apple-Cranberry Chutney
2 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and finely minced
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup cranberries
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup balsmic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tbl finely chopped cystallized ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne

Heat oil in a large pan. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook until they are very fragrant.

Add apple slices. Cook until they begin to soften. Add remaining ingredients and stir together well.

Bring to a simmer and simmer about an hour or until craberries have popped, apples have cooked down, and everything is thick and not at all watery.

Serve over chicken pieces.

*Yes, it's true, I don't like raisins and I used them. This is the funny thing about raisins. While I HATE them in my desserts and don't ever eat them out of hand, I do enjoy them in some savory foods. I like how they can counter spiciness. It's a weird quirk of mine.


Bunny said...

Wow! You really came up with some darn good dinner here girl! Lovin all the flavors!

bellini valli said...

Talk about getting your groove back!!!!

Melissa said...

Nothing wrong with a lot of ingredients as long as they all complement a dish instead of make it a mess, right? This sounds wonderful. And kudos for finding inspiration by playing roulette with your shelf - I should do that more often!

The Blonde Duck said...

I've never had a chutney.

The Blonde Duck said...

I hope you had a good Halloween!

The Blonde Duck said...

Happy Wednesday!