Saturday, January 14, 2012

Culinary Adventures

The other day my friend Holly asked what I'd been cooking lately.

"I feel like you're always cooking something, like something fun and different."

That's not true, really, since most of the time I'm cooking something basic, but then another friend asked why I don't write about food on here anymore, and I realized it has kind of been a while since I cooked something and wrote about it. To make up for it, here's a pair of simple things I made last week, and then we'll talk about the adventure I went on where I ate chicken.

Chicken that had a bone in it.

But first, look at these tiny mini calzones I made:

mini calzones (2)

They were stuffed with cooked, crumbled turkey bacon and crumbled blue cheese, and they were delicious and easy. You'll need:

1 8-biscuit tube of premade biscuits
Whatever filling you want to put in there

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Open the biscuit tube. Take out a biscuit and press it flat with your fingers so that you have a flat circle of dough.

3) Spoon filling onto half the circle. Fold the other half over, then pinch the bottom edge over the top edge all the way around. Be sure it's pinched closed all the way around, or your filling will leak out.

4) Poke holes in the top with a fork:

mini calzones (1)

5) Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they look done.

The pea and artichoke gratin I made, from a recipe in "Food Network Magazine", took a little more effort. It started with a roux, and I've mentioned in the past that I have trouble with roux, because I either have the butter too hot or I add the flour too fast, or both, but I think I've finally figured it out. When I had to add the milk, my roux was smooth and slightly yellow, like I think it's supposed to be:

pea and artichoke gratin (1)

After that I had to add the peas and artichokes:

pea and artichoke gratin (2)

and simmer for a while. If I make this again, I need to simmer a lot longer, because my sauce stayed kind of thin and didn't reduce down. The recipe in the magazine just said to simmer, and didn't say how long you should simmer for, so I kind of blame them.

The recipe also said that you should make the whole thing in an oven-proof skillet and then put it under the broiler to crisp the cheese on top, but I don't have an oven proof skillet, so I poured the gratin into a baking dish for the broiling, and it came out fine:

pea and artichoke gratin (3)

Except for the part where it was too watery, but, like I said, I can fix that by simmering longer before the broiling.

We also went out to eat this week, and that's where I had the chicken with bones in it. I've mentiond before that some foods gross me out, but I don't know if I've ever mentioned the problem I have with chicken. I don't like skin, and I don't like meat that comes with a bone in it, so normally I only eat boneless skinless chicken breasts.

This is continuously baffling to my friends:

"What about chicken wings?"

What ABOUT chicken wings? Did you not hear me? Bones! Skin! I don't eat ribs, or t-bone steaks (I don't really eat steak at all, actually), and I think I've only had a bone-in porkchop once, at a fancy restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, down the street from where I saw this horse statue in the back of a truck:


And that was in 2006.

I often say I've never eaten chicken with a bone in it, but I think I have maybe once or twice, if I was out somewhere and no other choices were available. Probably at a wedding or banquet, but it happens rarely enough that when we went out this week for Ben's birthday to Wright's Cafeteria I took a picture, mostly to prove to my mom that I really did eat chicken with skin and a bone:

bbq chicken dinner (1)

That was listed on the menu as "BBQ Chicken Breast". Clearly, that's not just a breast. There's a wing or something sticking out of the top there, and it's covered with skin under that crispy BBQ coating. They also had chicken and dumplings on the menu, and I normally would have ordered that instead, but when I leaned over the cafeteria line and smelled the BBQ I had no choice. I was compelled to order the chicken even though I could see that it was horrible and wrong and filled with bones.

And it was so good.

After I peeled off the skin and carefully dug the chicken out:

bbq chicken dinner (2)

We're not going to make a habit of this or anything, but I ate chicken on a bone, and it was good.


Jeannie said...

I am so proud of you! I didn't think you would ever try anything with a bone. Great job!

Sandy said...

That skin would have been the best part.

Joel said...

No! No skin!

Rod said...

Can you imagine Joel on "Fear Factor"? In his episode, they'd have a party at his apartment where people cooked fried chicken.

The audience would be wondering if they turned on the wrong show, except Joel would be running screaming "Nooo, God, nooo!" :)

Todd said...

...and at this party, all of the guests would use their chicken-grease-covered fingers to pick up all of Joel's action figures and rifle through his mail.

Erin said...

Your actions in battle bring you honor. That chicken never had a chance!

Thinkardin said...

I think I understand where you're coming from about food grossing you out. Normally I'm what you would call adventurous when it comes to food, I'll try almost anything once. This Christmas I had my first encounter with candied yams. When I heard a description of this dish I did not believe that anything this weird could exist but lo and behold it does. My sister made the yams and served them but I could not bring myself to have anything more than a small bite and I don't know why.