You know how when you’re in someone else’s kitchen, you’re a bit lost? Your best and perfect meals just barely turn out? (Where’s the whisk, the measuring cup, the plates, the vinegar, and why doesn’t she buy your brand of butter?) I’ve got a new kitchen and it’s my own. And I’m a bit lost. Not totally, but somewhat.
It’s not that I don’t know it at all. I know this kitchen REALLY WELL; I watched it being built from the studs up. It’s just that it’s new. My stuff isn’t all put away…
WHERE ARE MY THINGS????
and I’m still looking for quite a few kitchen items. Like the rest of my dishes and my every day glasses, which just turned up under the upstair’s bathroom’s sink. My big fear is that all of these boxes just aren’t going to fit in this new kitchen. Or maybe that I’ll just go on in a big mess, never sorting out the stacks and cartons in the garage, spare room, and basement. I can see me at Christmas searching for the –this is no kidding — two-foot can of cookie cutters. (I really haven’t seen it.)
In the meantime, life goes on. There’s still laundry, work, meals, church, blogging… And, to be truthful, the kitchen is functioning. The silverware, for instance, is in its drawer. The pots and pans are in their cabinet with the lids in a drawer next to it since having them in the same cabinet never worked for me. I am able to cook and each day a bit more is settled.
(Above: Cooking at the same time: Parmesan Peanut-Spicy Pumpkin Soup for my day at Aspen Kitchens and Red Wine-Bison Chili with Cinnamon for Dave and me)
(Above: Parmesan Peanut-Spicy Pumpkin Soup is in the fall section of my book SOUPS & SIDES FOR EVERY SEASON, available via amazon.com. )
Or you could go to downtown Colorado Springs and buy it at Poor Richard’s Bookstore (below), where it’s settled in nicely right above a Tyler Florence favorite. YES!
The workmen keep returning to finish small things and I really do believe my kitchen will be totally finished some day. I’m sure I’ll be able to sleep late or stay in my pajamas until ten one day soon. We have a couple of cabinet doors that have to be reordered and a stair rail that needs a facelift. Some trim that came in the wrong color. Other than those sorts of items, the kitchen is done. For now. It took two months, which I always did think wasn’t too awfully long compared to what some people have. We were gone for the first three weeks that included demolition and asbestos abatement. Not too bad.
Sundays are usually days we have a late brunch after church and pretty much call off life for the remainder of the day. Walks, quiet meals, movies, football games, walks, good books–those are our Sundays. We attempt to take it easy and observe sabbath: I seldom cook. It’s wine and cheese or leftovers. Today, though, I truly wanted to cook in our new kitchen. We had had a meal at 9:30 after early worship and then no lunch. Around 3:30, I told Dave I was starting dinner; I was starved. We’d have a meal at the dining room table for the first time in months.
(Below: no art up yet, but table in place.)
I had been dreaming of a one-pan chicken with Brussels sprouts since I had bought the sprouts earlier in the week. Is there anything better or simpler than a one-pot meal? We had a tiny bowl of leftover pumpkin soup for starters, along with a glass of California Chardonnay. We added a glass of merlot for the chicken with Brussels sprouts and potatoes. I’ve said this serves 4, but if you have salad or soup, it’ll serve 6. Happy fall food. Cook on!
If you don’t have a very large roasting pan or skillet, you may have to brown the chicken and vegetables in batches and then add them to a half sheet pan for the oven.
- 5 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (do not peel)
- 30 small-medium Brussels Sprouts–about 20 ounces–peeled of outer leaves and trimmed with a 1/4-inch incision into the stems for even cooking
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Canola oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Crushed red pepper
- 1 whole frying chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Grated zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Sauce, optional (instructions below) or just the pan juices
Preheat oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit.*
- Into a very large bowl or pot, place the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic with 3 tablespoons canola oil. Season generously with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper–or to taste. Mix together well with clean hands. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or roasting pan over medium-high flame; add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until very hot. In the meantime, season the chicken well with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add chicken to hot pan. Brown well on one side without moving–4-6 minutes. Turn over, and add the seasoned potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic to the pan. Stir a bit. Cook another 4-6 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit more crushed red pepper and a bit more salt. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Cover well with heavy-duty aluminum foil* and bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and vegetables are tender.
- Sprinkle with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.
- Serve hot with pan juices or with sauce (below), if desired.
*The dish will cook more quickly at 400 or 425 if you’re in a hurry. I covered the pan to decrease the cooking time. If you’d like crispier chicken, leave it uncovered. You may have less pan juices.
Cook’s Note: You can dress this simple meal up a bit by layering in some sprigs of thyme amongst the chicken and vegetables or you could garnish the finished dish with chopped fresh parsley.
I make sauces by touch and taste, so I’ve done my best to give exact directions here… Add a little Dijon mustard or cook some minced shallots for a couple of minutes in the pan juices if you’d like something different.
When the dish is done, remove the chicken and vegetables to a warm platter and cover tightly. (Or return to oven that’s been turned off.) Place the skillet or roasting pan with pan juices on a burner. Heat over medium flame and pour in 1/2 cup each chicken stock and white wine (or all stock or even stock and water). Stirring well, bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half. Meanwhile, whisk 1 teaspoon corn starch into 1/4-1/3 cup half and half or heavy cream. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pan along with a tablespoon of butter or so. Let cook a minute or two, stirring often, until thickened. Taste and reseason if necessary. Drizzle over the chicken and vegetables at the table or before serving.
Note: You can skip the half and half or cream if need be. The sauce will still be luscious. Just whisk the corn starch into a 1/4 cup water or stock and continue from there.
Sing a new song,