Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Roasted chicken with chipotle

It’s no secret that I love mayonnaise, much to my mustard-loving family’s dismay. But when I was going through my collection of Great-Grandma Blanche’s handwritten recipes, I came across a dish called chicken mayonnaise and realized that this love had just skipped a few generations.

Chicken mayonnaise, as my great-grandma made it, was a concoction that involved, of course, lots of mayonnaise. But it also called for gelatin, nuts and a whole mess of other ingredients that when combined could stretch one small chicken into a feast that could easily serve 20.

“Perfect for that Fourth of July party,” I bet you’re thinking! Perhaps. But I decided to make another type of chicken mayonnaise instead.

Back in March, I had completely sworn off chicken after an encounter with a grocery-store rotisserie chicken left me in bed for three days. I wasn’t happy with this decision, as I adore chicken—be it fried, in tacos, in chicken and dumplings or in sour cream enchiladas. But, well, if you’ve ever suffered through the post-traumatic shock of a bad bout of food poisoning, you know how I felt.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grilled stuffed peppers

A couple of weeks ago, my mom told me she was going on vacation and I kindly volunteered to house sit for her in Houston. My initial plan was to take advantage of her spacious air-conditioned kitchen that not only has counters but also a dishwasher and an in-sink disposal. (These are all luxuries not found in my NYC apartment.) Not to mention she’s within driving distance of my two favorite grocery stores: Central Market and Fiesta. Cooking at my mom’s place in Houston was going to be a dream vacation!

Everything was perfect until I tried to start cooking. I’m so used to my tiny kitchen— which is small but has everything I need within reach—that I just couldn’t function properly in my mom’s palatial space. So I decided to not cook at all for a week and instead eat as many different things as I could while I was in Houston.

I admit, eating my way through Texas is not bad work—even when you’re consuming up to eight meals a day. Of course, this was research for my book so I can’t tell you everything that I ate as I want there to be some surprises when the book comes out next fall. But do know that there was a lot of this:

and this:

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Honey lavender ice cream

honey lavender ice cream

I missed the bluebonnets this year. This makes me sad as I understand it was a banner year for our state flower. But I do have a few trips to Texas planned this summer, so I hope to see some color, such as the fields of lavender found in the Hill Country this time of year. Yep, in that part of Texas as bluebonnets are to spring, lavender is to summer. And while nothing can compare to a blanket of wildflowers, I’d say that the lavender is still pretty stunning.

Lavender is now in season, and if you were to take a drive through the Hill Country you might see row upon row of this light purple flower. But lavender hasn’t always grown in Texas.

Many years ago, Texan photographer Robb Kendrick was on assignment in the Provence region in France. While there, he was struck by the temporal and geographic similarities between the Hill Country and the Provence. He was also struck by the beauty of the lavender. When he and his wife returned to Texas they started the first commercial lavender farm outside Blanco, which spawned a new industry in the Hill Country.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Deviled ham salad

deviled ham salad

After a full day in the kitchen, I like to take a walk to clear my head. On a recent stroll, I spotted a friend holding court in a neighborhood Southern restaurant. He had just moved to New York and as I hadn’t seen him in a while, I popped inside and said howdy. We decided to order some light snacks and saw deviled tasso listed on the menu. What’s that, we wondered? We ordered it and after one bite, I realized it was nothing more than a variation on my old favorite, deviled ham.

Deviled ham also made an appearance at a Derby Day party. A friend had found a can of Underwood’s Deviled Ham and brought it to share with the other guests. She’d never eaten it before but was intrigued by the iconic white can with the grinning devil. (Does anyone know what deviled, when applied to food, actually means?) I hadn’t seen that can in years, but I instantly remembered how much I loved deviled ham and pickle sandwiches when I was young. I decided it was time to make a batch of my own.

I didn’t have to look far for a recipe.

deviled ham salad

At Christmas, my cousin Susan brought her famous ham salad to our family gathering and the big bowl of it was gone in about a minute. We spread it on buttery crackers, a perfect vehicle for the ham salad that was filled with flavors spicy, tangy and sweet.

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