Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Hopefully the end is in sight -- I started antibiotics and Ben came home from his trip. SOMEthing is bound to improve. My energy level has been so low that yesterday when I took Silas and Eden to the pediatrician, I fell asleep on a bench in the waiting room -- sound asleep -- while they played with those germy toys. No one mentioned it when I woke up... And I have hardly entered the kitchen. The thought of measuring a cup of flour or mixing wet and dry ingredients together has felt utterly impossible. So we've been eating scrambled eggs with Parmesan (my favorite), lots of cereal, edamame, trail mix, and navel oranges. Sunday evening, my friend Kari offered to keep me company through the witching hour. I was so grateful that I mustered up the energy and made Cornbread Chicken Potpie -- what a natural brilliant pairing! And a perfect comfort food for feeling under the weather.

Cornbread Chicken Potpie(adapted from recipesamongfriends.blogspot.com)


-1 T olive oil
-1 T butter
-1 med onion, diced
-1/2 c flour
-2 c chicken stock
-2 c roasted chicken (rotisserie or homemade)
-1/2 c frozen peas or shelled edamame
-i potato diced and boiled
-1 1/2 c carrots chopped and cooked
(I boiled potato and carrots together for 5 or 6 min)
-1/2 t salt
(optional: dash of tobasco)

-3/4 c cornmeal
-3/4 c flour
-1 T baking powder
-1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
-3/4 c milk
-1 large egg
-2 T canola oil

To make filling:
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and unsalted butter together.
Add onion and sauté until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes.
Add flour and mix until blended. Slowly stir in 2 cups of heated chicken stock, whisking well.
Cook mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes.
Stir in chicken, peas, potato, carrots, salt, pepper (and Tabasco®).
Pour into a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish coated with cooking spray and spread mixture evenly.

To make crust:
In a bowl, stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
In another bowl mix milk, egg and canola oil until well combined.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Spoon the batter evenly on the filling.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.

Both Kari and I thought it was one of the best chicken pot pies we've ever had. The filling tasted exactly as a chicken pot pie filling should (and you could top it with a pie crust, instead, if you wanted to) and the cornbread gave a sweet, crumbly southern touch. I will make this again and again.

Last night I discovered that the pie doesn't make great leftovers. Everything dried out a little. So eat it fresh from the oven!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Advil, I love you

Time does fly. Nearly May. Days and days since a post.

Family flew through town last weekend (too short!). And Eden's been walking around our little neighborhood pointing to the bushes, the hot tub, the bouncy ride-on horse saying "I do that with my cousins." The house was full -- we feasted on pad woo sen, went out for dutch babies, poked around the antique market, went to Catalina (some of us -- Silas had his first real sleepover) and got sick.

Fortunately, I think they got out unscathed, but I've come down with a weird disease that involves my going about life as usual and then suddenly being sapped of all energy and achy.

It's been sobering to feel weak like this. And to feel so powerless, drained -- I haven't cooked, haven't gone to the store, got Silas to school 40 minutes late. I'm once again being forced to slow down (this seems to be a theme). So I am, inching through the days, and thinking a lot about Ben's mom who feels weak like this (much more than this) all the time. A brief glimpse of perspective.

Ben's been away and advil has been a miracle. Advil and hanging out at home. And sesame street (the whole full glorious hour of it). And my sister who ended up coming over-town yesterday because of strong winds, who bought me soup and groceries. And friend who offered to make me dinner tomorrow night (!) without even knowing how much I needed it. And a friend who offered to have me over to eat with her family even though she just birthed her fourth child less than a week ago! (fortunately, we both realized that my coming would make me a terrible friend, but she really was serious when she asked).

My body is telling me to stop typing and to sleep, so I must. A LOUD yelling cat in heat is now standing somewhere outside my window that doesn't close all the way. Awesome. And so I go, bed piled with quilts, bedside table with books, cough syrup, and glasses of water. Goodnight.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Sweet Spots of April -- a List of Likes

1. Kiwi Berries (or baby kiwi).
Have you ever heard of these? I never saw them in DC, but here they appear in the market for about a month each spring. The skin is smooth and their taste is soft and sweet, between a kiwi and ripe blueberry.

2. New wines:

Trader Joe's Chook Shed Shiraz (their bottling of Layer Cake) and Sauvignon Republic (far right -- clean and perfect for summer)

3. Time
I seldom make time for working in art journals these days but love when I do. Here are some place cards for a celebration:

4. Chocolate Cake.
A good cake is one of my favorite foods -- breakfast cakes, tea cakes, birthday cakes, cakes with custard, berries, chocolate, jam. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

For my birthday yesterday, I made a chocolate cake. A moist, rich, and intensely chocolate cake. And today I discovered that the day-old version is even better. I wish I had taken a picture to show you because the color of the cake, itself, is nearly black. The cake is sumptuous, one to savor in slivers.

The recipe makes a lot of batter, so I made a few cupcakes for Silas and Eden as well. I was planning to pipe marshmallow fluff into the center but I lost momentum only making two so used the fluff as frosting instead (a VERY sticky frosting -- not ideal but cheery with sprinkles). Turns out the cupcakes would have been GREAT with marshmallow centers -- the simple sweetness with the slight bitterness of the chocolate -- next time.

note: The ganache I made using Giradelli semi-sweet chocolate, and it was nearly too dark for me, though I preferred it the second day. Next time I think I'll try 2/3 semi-sweet and 1/3 milk.
The cake we all died for:

(from Orangette.blogspot.com)
This recipe makes two 10” layers, three 8” layers, or roughly 36 cupcakes.

3 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate, such as El Rey (my preference) or Callebaut
(I used giradelli semi-sweet bars here -- great)
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process; I use Ghirardelli)
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. If you’re making cupcakes, line the wells of your pans with fluted paper liners, or grease and dust them with flour or cocoa. If you’re making larger cakes, grease pans and line bottoms with rounds of wax paper. Grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another (very) large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon-colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed, bracing yourself against puffs of cocoa-and-flour dust, until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans. Bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes, or 50 to 70 minutes for larger cakes, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cakes completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and remove cupcakes, or invert larger cakes onto racks. If making larger cakes, carefully remove wax paper. Cakes may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Ganache Frosting

1 lb fine-quality semi-sweet chocolate, such as El Rey or Callebaut
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs light corn syrup
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter

Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 ½- to 2-quart saucepan, bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable. You may want to place the bowl in the fridge for a bit, but stir it now and then until it cools to your desired consistency. Spread.

5. Tree Pose
It's been a week of waiting. And waiting -- the every-fiber-of-your-being-bent-toward-something kind of waiting: waiting to find out if you're pregnant, if you got the job, if your book was accepted, what the diagnosis is -- is intense.

As I was talking with my mom about the waiting process earlier in the week, I pictured standing in tree pose. Tree pose is like waiting -- if you focus on the center line of your body and engage your muscles, you can wait there, but if you flail and lean to either side, you'll fall.

This week, each time my heart started racing and I felt my edges squiggle out of control, I closed my eyes and gathered my self in tree pose until I could picture myself there, centered, held to that middle line, letting God hold me as I waited.

6. A Cheese Party Menu:
-favorite cheeses
(manchengo, blue, goat with herbs, mimolette, ST PAT wrapped in nettle leaves)
(sun dried tomatoes for the goat, thick honey for the soft nettle-wrapped, a sweet Sauterne for the blue)
-radishes served with unsalted butter and coarse salt
-salad of mixed greens, roasted beets, avocado, and pine nuts
-wine and, of course, a little champagne

7. Ranunculus, loose and fully bloomed

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

By the Way

I have never seen anyone eat a chocolate bunny the way that Eden did (and yes, that's a chewed up peep in her left hand):

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Week

e g g s

t h e b a c k b a y b l o o m i n g

d a n c i n g, s i n g i n g, "I f a a a n - c y! I f a a a a a n -c y"

s u n d a y b e s t w i t h a u n t k j

d u t c h b a b y
ben and i have gone to plums cafe for dutch babies every easter morning that we've been in california. the day silas was born, my brother max launched the dutch baby-for-a-new-baby family tradition (he sent this picture hours after Silas's arrived), which has gone so far that to announce their pregnancy, my other brother eli and his wife hollie sent a picture of themselves holding a hot dutch baby in their kitchen. to say the least, my family loves a good dutch baby.

for easter this year, my sister kaia joye and i made our own dutch babies and served them hot with butter, fresh lemon, jam, and powdered sugar.
joy of cooking has a decent dutch baby, but this recipe involves whipping up the batter in a blender, which gives the dutch baby extra lift. the pancake (like a giant popover) will fall very quickly after you pull it from the oven, so be ready to serve and eat!

d u t c h b a b y p a n c a k e s w i t h l e m o n a n d s u g a r
from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life

2 T unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/2 c half and half
1/4 t salt

Preheat the oven to 425
In oven, melt butter in 8 " cast-iron skillet or pyrex pie plate
Once melted, brush up sides of pan.
In a blender, mix eggs, flour 1/2-and-1/2, salt until well blended.
Pour into warmed skillet and bake 18-25 minutes
Dutch baby is ready when center looks set and edges are golden
*Serve immediately*

a c a d b u r y e g g

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Tonight before Silas went to bed, we read the story of the good Samaritan, which begins with a man riding a donkey being ambushed and robbed.

Silas, looking at the picture: Where is the bunny?
me: What?
Silas: The bunny. Where is it?
me: What bunny?
Silas: The bunny.
me, rereading the paragraph: Ooh, no, not bunny, money. They took his money.
Silas: Why did they take his money?
me: I don't know. It wasn't very nice of them--
Silas: OH, I know, I know about that. Taxes.

I have never mentioned taxes to my son, but apparently someone has.