Sunday, January 23, 2011

A little late night project...

So--- tomorrow night Scott and I are going (sans children) to a friend's house for dinner in PA.  And it promises to be a rousing good time.  Four women who are highly opinionated- strong willed- VERY funny-- great friends and all around- great to be with girls... and Scott.
Too cool isn't it?
Wish you could be there?
It gets better.
We are meeting in order to have a lovely dinner and time together and to do some planning to introduce our little country church to the very beginning of a conversation about LGBTQ issues and the church.  Just a toe in the water mind you- but the start of some good things, which will include some faith-filled conversations that are LOONNNGGGG overdue.  Especially for a congregation with so many L,G and T people in our midst or in close relationship to our members.
These are good times.
Plus- we are doing this whole event with WINE and bread (beer bread no less) and pasta.  and Scott and I made brownies, plus, even now at 11:13 pm-- we are making FLAN.

Such good things to come.  I will try to post pictures of the event (if we take any) and or the flan in the future-- but in the meantime.  Here's my pre-event prep for our meeting:

I like to be prepared...

Here's scott's:

Yep-- we are different personalities oh yes we are!
I'm thinking Scott should write for the after event blog post.
Don't you think so too?
Can't wait till tomorrow.  Too fun!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When You Can't Get to Biscuitville

So, let me confess. I have never been to a Biscuitville.  But according to their website   and the rumors from my North Carolina friends- and well- their name- they have biscuits!  Real southern biscuits.  I imagine them in my head as buttery, soft, deliciousness.  I imagine them as a base for gravy, as a start for a sandwich with good cheddar cheese, as a breakfast slathered with good strawberry or apricot jam.  In my head- they are iconic.  (ok north carolinians!  next time I'm there- we're having a meet up at Biscuitville!)

That said, I can't wait to go south to get me a biscuit- so I found a recipe for Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits from one of my favorite food network chefs, Ina Garten, and last week we tried them.  They were good.  Not quite as buttery and soft as I'd like, but hearty and delicious for sure.  They would have been great with chipped beef gravy poured over them. Maybe we'll do that next time.  For now- here they are as a starchy side on their own.

Ina Garten's Recipe for these cheddar biscuits can be found at


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 cold extra-large egg
  • 1 cup grated extra-sharpor sharp Cheddar
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk
  • Grey or sea salt on top


Preheat oven to 425.

Place 2 Cups of flour, baking pwdr and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer.  With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.Combine the buttermilk and egg and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.  Mmmmmmm... cheddary bicuity good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brined Fried Chicken

We have been tinkering with this recipe for over a year now.  The impetus for the whole "make fried chicken at home" thing is that the best fried chicken I'd ever had we found at Annie Bailey's (an irish pub in Lancaster) and it is a sweet tea brined, pecan encrusted, piece of deliciousness.  It is one of my favorite foods for sure, but it's a $15 plate of chicken and potatoes and I became convinced Scott and I could do this cheaper and just as well at home.  Eating at home is much easier than trying to eat a nice meal while our kids are talking loudly and falling off of the very high table stools at Annie Bailey's (no need for someone to die while trying to get a good piece of fried chicken).

Epicurious has a recipe for brined fried chicken, but the first time we tried to make it we were worried it was undercooked and so we let it go long enough that the breading burned.  Over time we figured out that we could make it with chicken tenders if we adapted it (less salt, less time to brine) and then it was easier to make sure it was cooked enough on the inside yet only golden on the outside... So we make ours without skin, without bones and yet with all the key ingredients (salt and sugar) it is so, so good.

 Here's our version.

The ingredients that make this dish so finger lickin good.

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon Black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 or 2 bay leaves

For the Chicken:

1 package of chicken tenders (or chicken breasts no bones, no skin)

3 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2-3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper  
Oil for frying 

For brine:
Pour 4 cups cold water into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, and coriander seeds. Allow to cool completely.

For fried chicken:
1. Put the chicken in a glass baking dish and pour the brine over the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

2. Remove the chicken from the brine, remove any peppercorns stuck to the chicken, and let the chicken dry slightly on a wire rack while preparing the buttermilk and flour.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of the salt. In another large bowl, stir together the flour with the remaining salt and spices.

4. Dredge the chicken in the flour. Transfer to the buttermilk, gently shaking the bowl to coat the chicken. Transfer the chicken back to the flour, being careful not to scrape off the batter. Gently shake the bowl to coat the chicken with flour, then transfer the pieces to a wire rack, again being careful not to scrape off the batter. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken and let dry on the wire rack for 30 minutes.
5. Pour the oil into a 5-quart pot and heat it to a temperature of 350°F. Cook over medium heat. The oil will cool to about 300°F after adding the chicken; this is the correct heat for cooking the chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook for an additional 3-6 minutes. If the chicken gets too dark, lower the heat. Drain on a wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken. Serve hot or cold.

One final note-- if you're going to use a lot of oil 
to fry some chicken, 
it only makes sense to thinly slice up a potato or two 
to throw into that oil and the end- and turn into chips.
There were only a few, but they were really really good.  
They were crisp and much tastier than anything coming from a bag 
(sorry Martin's, but even you can't beat Scott's).
Happy frying folks! Enjoy the snow (if ya got it)...