Roasted Chicken

I want to make sure I have this recipe saved somewhere for future use.

After getting a Costco rotisserie chickens for awhile  (I read somewhere that the Costco bird is actually the only one that is most cost effective in terms of purchasing a cooked bird vs roasting your own), I decided to attempt my own roasted chicken.  I had come across a simple roasted chicken in a cast iron pan.  I like the versatility of roasted chicken because they can be used for various applications and in multiple recipes and last for more than one meal.

  • ~5 lb chicken from TJ’s
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Seasoning (thyme, rosemary)

I basically rubbed the chicken with the seasonings (salt, butter, thyme, etc).  The center of the bird was stuffed with some garlic cloves and whole sticks of rosemary.  I rubbed the outside of the bird with olive oil (another time I used butter).  I also did one where I would separate the skin from the meat and put seasoned butter in there.

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Initially the oven at 450 F and dropped to 400 F when the chicken was placed in the oven.

Cooked for 90 minutes at 400 F.

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And done.  Surprisingly you don’t have to cover it at all or turn it or anything.  The meat also comes out very juicy.

Very simple and easy recipe and you control what is in the bird.  I had read that one reason the Costco rotisserie chickens are so tasty is because the seasoning that goes into the skin contains MSG.  While I know MSG inherently isn’t necessarily super bad for you, the fewer ingredients in a dish I think is probably overall better for you.  I’m glad that I have this recipe in my arsenal now.

-StewsCat

Pita Bread

Pita Bread

So I’ve definitely struggled with what I can make to help us get through the week for lunches while at work.  In the past I’ve done tortillas, loaf bread, and sandwich bread rolls.  D suggested I could make pitas.  So I looked up some recipes and in true me fashion tweaked it to create my own version of things.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour

I started by adding the yeast and sugar into the water and letting it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then I proceeded to make a poolish with the water/yeast/sugar and whole wheat flour.  I mixed this up thoroughly and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.

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You can see that it is a pretty wet mixture. To the poolish I added the olive oil and the AP flour.  This dough is less water % than many of my breads so came together fairly easily and I hand kneaded for about 5-8 minutes.  I formed the dough into a ball and coated it with olive oil and let it rest for about 1.5 hours.

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Before rising

After the dough doubled in size, I punched down the dough and deflated it.  The dough was then divided into 8 balls.

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Each ball was then placed on a floured surface and a rolling-pin was used to roll out the dough into about a 6-8″ disc shape.  I had read that there are two different ways to cook pitas.  The oven method creates a great “puff” but the downside is that you don’t get the nice brown spots from the stove top method.  I elected to try both to see which one I felt was better.  I didn’t get the nice separation of the pita as I expected with the stove top method.  I used a cast iron pan for stovetop.  The oven I had at 450 F and a baking sheet (pre-heated).

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Rolled out dough

For the pita in the oven, I palmed the dough disc and flipped it onto the baking sheet.  These I cooked for about 3 minutes (sometimes a little more).

The stove top pita stayed flat but I cooked them for about 45 seconds on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second side.

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Here’s a side-by-side comparison of stove top vs oven-baked.

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Stove top on the left, oven on the right

Overall they came out decent, though a little dry.  Not too bad and something that may go into the rotation for lunches.

-StewsCat

 

New (to me) pizza dough recipe

New (to me) pizza dough recipe

I tried a new pizza dough recipe this past weekend – mostly due to my lack of planning.  I oftentimes start putting the dough together the night before to allow the yeast to essentially knead the dough with a long fermentation.  However I forgot to do this so woke up on Sunday realizing I needed a quicker recipe.  I have done my usual same-day bread recipe for pizza dough but was wondering if there was another option.  After some google searching, I settled on a recipe that sounded fairly simple yet good.  This recipe is adapted from Roberta’s (a well-known pizzeria in Brooklyn, NY).  I didn’t have any 00 flour so just used AP flour for the entire recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 306 g AP flour
  • 8 g fine sea salt
  • 2 g active dry yeast
  • 4 g olive oil
  • 200 g warm tap water

I combined the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  In my measuring cup, I combined the warm water, olive oil and dry yeast.  I allowed the yeast to bloom for a few minutes before mixing it with the flour/salt mixture.  I kneaded/mixed the dough in the bowl for 3 minutes.

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I then covered the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 15 minutes.

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I proceeded to knead the dough again for 3 minutes within the bowl.  I was a bit surprised how much the dough had formed up into a cohesive ball.

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Earlier in the day I had made some pasta so had a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter that was floured.

So I just took the dough and placed it on the parchment paper, divided the dough in half, and formed two balls.

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I let the dough rest under a towel (I used my water bottle sprayer to mist the top to maintain moisture) for about 3 hours.   The dough continued to rise.

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After 3 hours of rest

I preheated my oven to 545F.  I took one ball of dough and on a well-floured countertop flattened the dough out into a pizza shape.  I then topped it with marinara, mozzarella, mushrooms, zucchini.

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About 1-2 minutes before the pizza was done, I removed it and topped it with some prosciutto.

Et voilà

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The above recipe makes 2 good-sized pizzas.  I did like this recipe because the dough seemed sturdier than ones I’ve made in the past.  It was easy to create the pizza shape and didn’t rip/tear like some of the ones I’ve created.  Overall I thought the taste was decent.

-StewsCat

Semolina egg pasta

Semolina egg pasta

I picked up some semolina durum wheat flour at the local specialty grocery store (Corti Bros.).  I had been making some egg noodles for pasta the last few months with AP flour.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make a dough entirely out of just semolina so looked up some recipes.  I found that you can do a 50:50 semolina:AP flour mix.

  • 100g – Semolina durum wheat flour
  • 100g – AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Avocado oil (we don’t have any olive oil in the house currently)

I started by weighing out the flour and adding the salt.

I mixed it together with my fingers because I don’t have a sifter.

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Then I created a well to place the eggs and oil.  I used a fork to scramble the eggs. img_20161117_153628

I slowly mixed in the flour with the egg mixture and continued to mix and then knead for about 5 minutes, creating a cohesive dough ball.

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I let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1.5 hours (I read you should let it sit for at least an hour but can let it sit for multiple hours if needed).  In the meantime, I started work on the sauce.  I already had some plain San Marzano tomato sauce that I had made previously for pizza.  Now I just needed to make the other ingredients added to the pasta and the sauce.

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I sautéed some chicken sausage, then vegetables and finally added in the pre-made tomato sauce.

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Then I went back to work on the pasta dough.  I broke off between a golf ball and tennis ball sized piece, flattened it into a disc and floured it.  I have a small hand crank pasta machine.  One half of it has rollers of adjustable thickness to gradually thin out the pasta dough.  On the thickest setting I ran the disc of dough through once.  Then I folded this in half, re-dusted with flour, and put it through again.  I did this 4-5 times before then gradually decreasing the thickness (from 7 to 3).

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The other half of the pasta machine has 2 different rollers of various widths for pasta.  This cuts the thin length of dough into actual strands of pasta.
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What I’ve learned is that after you create the strands of pasta, you need to liberally dust/cover the pasta strands to prevent them from sticking together.  The great thing about freshly made pasta is that it cooks super quick.  I boiled up some water and salted it and then added the pasta.  I cooked the pasta for about 3 minutes and then drained out the water and added some oil to the pasta.

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Then I added the sauce (veggie and sausage) to the pasta and mixed it in with the pasta and et voilà!

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Bon Appétit!

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-StewsCat

Random cooking / running

Made it out for 7 miles today.  I decided to go a different way on the bike trail.  Ran near Cal Expo (the big expo in Sacramento that holds the annual state fair).  There is a lot of dry grass and such behind cal expo between the fairgrounds and the river.  A lot of fires break out in this area, some suspect due to transients.  On today’s run I went towards this area and saw the aftermath of one of the recent fires.  On my way back I headed towards Sac State.  Near the big pedestrian/bike bridge (Guy West Bridge) next to the school I saw a cool sight.  There were two young adult deer just grazing in the grass between the river and the berm.  I ran about 20 feet from them on the bike trail and they didn’t even spook.  One of them looked up at me warily as I ran past but the other one just kept right on munching on the dry grass.  Given that there is a lot of foot/bike traffic in this area, these guys must be so used to people that they know nothing bad is going to happen.

Sometimes I wish that I still ran with my phone since I could catch pictures of these interesting things I see.  I definitely enjoy not running with a running belt, but I know that I should carry my phone on my runs more often.

For lunch I didn’t have much around the kitchen so decided to make a quick bread.  I combined some AP flour with greek yogurt, garlic powder, salt, baking powder, chopped jalapenos from our raised vegetable bed, and water.  I let it sit for 20 minutes then baked it at 425 F after rolling it out flat.  I bake it for around 30 minutes.

I also sliced up some zucchini and coated it with olive oil and mixed in some chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and bread crumbs.  This I also baked at 425 F.  I then heated up some pastrami with mozzarella and topped the bread with it.

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A little dry but not too bad.

-StewsCat