Butter Roasted Chicken Elbows with Spinach


What I really wanted today was “baby beef” liver or boudin noir or veal sweetbreads or lamb kidneys, of which I had none.  Les abats or offal are tricky things and I’m “offaly” selective when it comes to freshness and source.


What I did have was a big bag of frozen chicken elbows.  There’s no telling when I bought them but they did come from Super Duper.  The elbows were huge, not from any spring chickens but probably from old, worn out, granny layers.  I resolved immediately to roast them longer than usual ;)


I made a quick stir fry of shallots, baby spinach and “lose” mushrooms from the Chinese store in New Jersey.  I’ve never heard of lose mushrooms before but they resembled portobellos with dark, wide striations on the cap.  I refuse to think of this as a misspelling of “loose”  but to assume that the mushrooms are a rare, exotic variety of Asian, voodoo fungi.


In the event that an iron deficient vegetarian stops by and decides to sample the spinach recipe, I sprinkled some of Frugal’s pumpkin seeds on top for a protein boost because I care  ❤


And here’s the omnivore plate, because I care more :D


Butter Roasted Chicken Elbows

2 – 2 1/2 lbs large chicken elbows, pointy thing removed

Choice of your favorite chicken rub ( I used our neighbor Caroline’s Smoked Spanish: cumin, paprika, dry mustard, fennel, black pepper and salt)

1 large knob of butter

Season the elbows with the rub.  Melt the butter in a roasting pan, then add the elbows, skin side down, and roast in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes.  Turn the elbows skin side up and continue to roast for another 30 minutes.



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Cheesy Cube Steak with Egg


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The Bogeyman


The Irish food board, Bord Bia, is an organization that I follow on Facebook because of their fabulous recipes using homegrown Irish ingredients.  I have duplicated many of their recipes and they have always been good, a la Conor Bofin.


Food blogs, whether authored by an individual or organization, have certainly broadened my horizons, in that many times they have discouraged my myopic and stereotypical opinions about other cuisines, pointing out those cuisines’ progression and evolution.  I sincerely apologize for my ignorance, Ireland.  You too England :D


That being said, I have been thrown into an almost suicidal depression this winter by the paucity of good quality food in my beloved country, the U.S. of A.  I have never made puff pastry from scratch, nor have I felt the need to because when I wanted it, it was readily available in the refrigerated section of the French supermarkets.  The only puff pastry I found in the supermarkets here was Pepperidge Farms and there was no butter in it.  

My husband had to pry the razor blade from my hand.  But let’s move on, I took a lot of pictures :)  The recipe called for ham/bacon and I found a nice chunk of smoked ham at the Super Duper.  I think it’s really cool that my, still green, parsley plant flowered.


Just reading this recipe, I salivated.  So many good things in one place; leeks, ham, mushrooms!


I love sauteing with my Paula Deen pan!  I know I’m not supposed to because she is apparently politically incorrect when it comes to “Knee-groes” or whatever she calls us :D  I did buy the pan before I heard of Paula’s contretemps with the P.C. police, but I don’t think that knowing about it would have prevented me from purchasing the pan.  Number 1, they were practically giving them away :D  And number 2,  to some extent, I felt sorry for her.


As we all are, Paula Deen is a product of her environment and we can’t pretend that these environments don’t exist, nor should we pretend that tolerance can be legislated.  In parts of West Africa, children are told that Caucasians are demons whose bodies are turned inside out and that if they are not good, the white man will come for them when they’re sleeping.  When I was in Burkina Faso, children always surrounded me and followed me everywhere until my husband showed up, then poof, no more kids :D  I thought this was hilarious but my husband didn’t.  My sense of humor has always been a lot better developed than his :)


Still, intolerance is inexcusable in any member of whatever society but I think we should tone down our indignation and righteousness in order to save it for things that matter, for example, the sanctioned shooting and murder of Black children.


Of course, after I saw that there was no butter in the Pepperidge Farms puff pastry, I didn’t expect much and I, no baker anyway, was incapable of/uninterested in making the best of a bad product.  I did cut out some pastry hearts because I thought they would be cute.


Above is real puff pastry with butter.  My husband’s apple pie, made in France.


No butter, not real, case closed.


In the meantime, Frugal made some wonderful looking spicy pumpkin seeds that looked interesting.  I found some good quality shelled pumpkin seeds at amazon.com.


I sprinkled these with fleur de sel and piment cheveux d’ange.  Really good!  Check out Frugal’s recipe at the link above.

I changed the Bord Bia recipe methods a bit and maybe some quantities.  For the original recipe, go to the Bord Bia Facebook link above.

Bord Bia’s Ham, Leek and Mushroom Pie

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

2 leeks, thinly sliced

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 lb smoked ham, cut into chunks

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

White pepper

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

1 sheet of puff pastry

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of milk

Melt the butter in a saute pan, then add the leeks and onion, sauteing until the vegetables are soft.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms begin to release their juices.  Add the ham and parsley.   Season all with the white pepper, then set aside.

Make a white sauce with the butter, flour and milk; melt the butter, add the flour and stir for 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Gradually add the milk, constantly stirring and continuing to cook until the sauce has thickened.  Stir in the mustard, salt and white pepper, then fold the sauce into the ham mixture and pour into a pie plate.  Cover the pie plate with the sheet of pastry, making a slit on the top to release the steam.

Brush the pie with the egg mixture and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes.


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Crunchy Roasted Cauliflower


Everybody is roasting cauliflower these days, so my recipe is probably not unique.  I just wanted to show off my $5.00 Macy’s plate :D  I ate this as a snack.

Crunchy Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic

1 1/2 cup cauliflower florets

1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Mix all ingredients together and place on a baking sheet.  Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring three times.



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Beef Vegetable Soup


Sooo.  Yesterday I made a pot au feu broth to use for my fabulous pancake topped with sauteed foie gras and whatever else.  Today I made whatever else in the form of a beef vegetable soup using the broth and reserved broth ingredients.


I cut the reserved carrots and beef into dice and cube like pieces, chopping the onion separately to cook with the stock and uncooked vegetables.


But really, this is not rocket science, the broth’s already made and you can do whatever you feel like doing with the reserved ingredients.  I chose to make a soup with the addition of potato, mirliton and a bay leaf.


Beef Vegetable Soup

12-16  cups pot au feu broth, fat layer removed and discarded  (see link above)

2 large raw potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 large mirlition, peeled, seeded and cubed

Reserved onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

Salt and black pepper

Reserved carrot, diced

Reserved beef, cubed

1 handful parsley leaves, chopped

Place the broth, potatoes, mirliton, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a stock pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add the carrot and beef, bring to a boil, then continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.




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Pot au Feu Broth


I think I’m losing my enthusiasm for cooking and perhaps for blogging  :(   Maybe I’ll stop now and teach myself to play the accordion or something.


What am I saying?!  Spring is coming and so is France.  Healed!  Maybe it’s my francophil-ish desire for French market fruits and vegetables, my frustrated need to paw and finger each item before purchase.  I did that last summer at the Scranton farmer’s market and was frowned upon, which didn’t stop me because I was still in my  “c’est mon tour” French mode.  I also hate it that I can’t buy 1 or 2 branches of celery but am obliged to buy the whole stalk/bunch which ends up moldering in the refrigerator with the rest of the vegetables that I unenthusiastically purchased.   Woe is me :D


I wonder how seriously I should take freezer burn…  The internet says it is safe to eat but may affect the taste.


And then again, they might just be “fooling” us like they did with the cholesterol fake out. That’s why I used these flanken ribs for my pot au feu broth.  Browning and boiling with some veg will usually solve any freezer aged issues ;)


I made this broth so that I can duplicate a dish I had in Alsace France; potato pancake in pot au feu broth, topped with sauteed fois gras.  I’ve made this before for M. Parret et al. The recipe for the broth is inspired by James Beard and because I don’t need a large amount for the potato pancake, I’m going to chill the broth overnight, skim off the fat and make a soup from the larger portion of the broth, the boiled meat, carrots and onions.   Stay tuned.

Pot au Feu Broth

3-4 slabs of flanken ribs or about 2 lbs of meaty, marrow bones

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large whole onion stuck with 4 cloves

2 whole shallots

2 leeks, trimmed

4 small carrots

4 sprigs parsley

1 whole head of garlic, outer skin removed

Salt to taste

Brown the ribs all over in the vegetable oil, then place in a large stock pot.  Add the onion, shallots, leeks, carrots, parsley, garlic and salt.  Cover with 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, then boil for 3 hours.

Drain the stock, reserving the meat, onions and carrots for a future soup.  Cool the stock and refrigerate overnight.  Remove fat layer and discard.



Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Dacha on the Delaware


On Sunday we went to Vadim’s and Galina’s for a late lunch.  They have a beautiful European style country house whose living room picture window affords an uninterrupted view of the frozen Delaware river.  The gazebo next to the river was built and decorated by Vadim.


My idea was to get a photo of the house during the daylight hours but we were delayed and distracted by a very old and very fat chihuahua shivering and whining at the kitchen door. When we called the number on the tag, the people were very defensive and denied all knowledge of the dog, supposedly not understanding how we got their phone number. The dog also had a senior citizen owner’s tag attached and was very well cared for.  My husband and I imagine that on the way back from dumping Mom at the senior citizen’s home, not wanting to bother with taking the dog to a shelter and really too stupid to remove the tags, this brilliant couple threw the dog into a snow drift and accelerated home.  The woman told me to never use her phone number again.  I assured her that I wouldn’t but that the animal shelter probably would.  These people are polluting the gene pool!  Simpleton b*****ds.  Anyway, too upset to think straight, I didn’t think about photographing the outside of the house until this morning and also there was so much to see inside of the house!


Every painting, carving, decorative flourish, sculpture and woodwork was created by Vadim.  This bench says, “Love thy neighbor.”


Upstairs and downstairs, each wall was covered with Vadim’s paintings.  We were dazzled!


Like the Louvre, we’ll have to visit the house again and again to see everything and also because the ambiance is so relaxed and comfortable and we adore Vadim and Galina :)  A Russian balalaika painted by Vadim.


In Russia, Vadim received a teaching degree in history but has worked in various art media for most of his life.  When we asked why he had not shown some of his pieces in a gallery, he replied that he had but didn’t like the gallery scene.  Galina says that he can’t bear to give up anything because he considers them his children :)


When Vadim is not painting the table tops, he takes a break in the kitchen.  This is his homemade gravlax.  Delicious!


Galina made these scrumptious, meat stuffed blinis.  They went down a treat with a chilled vodka ;)


As if it was not enough that they have this wonderful, art filled dacha on the Delaware river, they also have this, intelligent,  talented, handsome, composer, producer and guitarist son, Benya Barshai.  Blood will tell.  Check out Ben’s work on this website.  I wonder what happened to our kids….  :)


I did bring a Jamie Oliver inspired bruschetta topping to share, however the original recipe included chilli but, not wanting to set Vadim’s and Galina’s little Russian souls on fire, I substituted with roasted sweet peppers :D


Jamie grilled his vegetables over charcoal, probably in the summer, in clement weather. The top of the stove worked just fine for me.  I grilled these in a non stick pan with a cast iron skillet on top.


This is a good recipe and I will make it again.  Thanks Jamie.


Vegetable Bruschetta Topping with Roasted Peppers

1 large aubergine

2 large courgettes

Olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1/4-1/3 cup chopped roasted red pepper

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small bunch mint leaves, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Score the aubergine and courgettes, then sear in a hot non stick skillet with a cast iron skillet pressing down on top until the vegetables are brown.

Place each vegetable half in an aluminum foil packet, then sprinkle with the olive oil, the zest and half of the lemon juice.  Seal the packets and roast in a 400 F oven for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Remove the skin of the aubergine, then chop the aubergine flesh and the courgettes, then place in a bowl. Add the the remaining lemon juice, the red pepper, the garlic, mint, salt and pepper to the bowl, mixing well to blend.

Serve with baguette slices or whatever.







Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, English, Food and Wine, Hors d'oeuvres, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments