Category: Tarragon

Sheet Pan Dinner: Spicy Lemon-Tarragon Chicken and Potatoes with Asparagus and Some Ideas About Keeping the Meals Coming

Sheet Pan Dinner: Spicy Lemon-Tarragon Chicken and Potatoes with Asparagus and Some Ideas About Keeping the Meals Coming

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It’s one of the biggest challenges and conundrums of my cooking, blogging, writing, and teaching life. ¬†Folks are so very interested in food, love to chat about it, are crazy about eating, and seem to know lots about ingredients and technique (Food Network and “Top Chef”, I guess). ¬†But somehow they often have an awesome amount of trouble getting into the kitchen and actually cooking. There are myriad reasons and I needn’t name them.

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Asparagus Soup or There’s a New Kid on the Block

Asparagus Soup or There’s a New Kid on the Block

I never tire of the SILVER PALATE cookbook.  In fact, I recently saw a perfect hardback copy  at  a used    bookstore and snatched it up to put away for when my paperback copy -almost 30 years old-dies.  Or for when one of my children or good friends loves something I’ve made and I want to hand them their own copy.  My bent-paged, tattered covered, stained, smeared, and spilled-upon copy is one of the loves on my cookbook shelf.  Within are notes, memories of special times,  thoughts, re-writes (heavier salt back then and more ingredients available now), dreams, and just plain stuff that is still fun to look at and/or cook.  Written back when women were just seriously beginning to need a reason to not cook (actually that’s when the shop hit it big in NY), it hit the market with a big keBANG and, I think, opened up a whole world to a whole lotta people.  Funny, huh?

Think of it.  My cookbookshelf before 1980.  Julia.  James. Betty Crocker.  Joy.  Galloping Gourmet.  I think there were Reader’s Digest and Good Housekeeping books my mom threw in when I got married.  I had a recipe box with 4×6 cards and I was a lot better off than many friends who had 3×5 cards.  GOURMET.  BON APPETIT.  I had those.  When I could afford them.

People cooked from newspapers and church cookbooks.  A lot.  More often, people cooked from scraps of paper quickly scribbled while you visited someone else and wanted a copy of a recipe they had made.  Or, as with my Aunt Marie (Dad’s sister), you sat and wrote recipes while she talked.  That’s how I got my grandma’s pound cake recipe.  I never met my grandma; she died about 1938.  Thank God for my Aunt Marie’s memory.   Thank God for my mom’s memory because the imprints in my mind of watching her cook were of the times she cooked out of her head.   Were there copy machines?  Sure, but only in offices or libraries.  And, if you did copy something onto that filmed sort of paper, what did you do with that piece of paper?  If you were a very organized person or a secretary by profession, you might have punched them and put them in a 3-ring binder with your other typed recipes.  Big if.  I met one person like that in my life.  And I cooked.  People didn’t really have typewriters until (or if)  they went to college, and those were wretched machines.  If you wanted to type seriously you used the IBM at work after hours.  If, by chance, you worked.

I thought I had truly made it to heaven food-wise when I made Sheila Lukins’ Cream of Asparagus Soup out of SILVER PALATE.  One of the first times, it was the day before my daughter Sarah’s baptism (86) and I was cooking for a big celebration.  My sister Helen, who flew in for the occasion,  was serving as both sous chef and dish washer.  Not for the first or last time.  It wasn’t just a celebration of Sarah and her blessed baptism in Spokane, Washington, but it was also a celebration at having another live child.  In 1978, God was good indeed and we had our first lovely boy, Sean.    In 1979, I had had a miscarriage.  In 1982, our daughter Elizabeth died—–SIDS–on July 20.  In March of 1984, our son Ryan was stillborn. 9 pounds 2 ounces.  Sarah, an adopted child, was one who might escape our run of horrific luck and live.  Our families came.  We cooked.  We laughed.   We bought a beautiful white dress and shoes.  We celebrated.  We went to church and laughed.  Came home and ate.  And what we ate was from the SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK!  Cream of Asparagus Soup.  Chicken Marabella.  Things that later became very famous, indeed.

And Sarah lived.

Over the interim years, I’ve made that soup many times in many variations.  I’ve switched the veg to broccoli and added parmesan.  I’ve made it cold and I’ve made it hot.  It’s been in paper bowls and china bowls.  It’s been a starter and it’s been a main course.  It’s been cooked for invalids and small children who don’t like vegetables, but who will eat this soup.   This year, it’s in sweet, tiny cream soup bowls Dave bought me for our 36th wedding anniversary last week; he had to buy them used.  (Below @  Margarita at Pine Creek dinner to celebrate!)

 I’m not sure many china manufacturers make them any more.  A gift for someone who loves to make first course soups, something that most people gave up doing before they were born.  But I like a soup to start.  I like the feeling of seeing that little bowl on the table and thinking, “Something besides salad!”  Or, “How warm!”  Or, “How fun!”  Or, “What will it be??”  It’s a smooth and easy start for a meal and can be just as veggie as salad.  People feel very special when you make them a first course soup.

Our friends Susan and Charles came to dinner last weekend; I made nicoise.  (Above at their son’s wedding-Charles is hidden)

Dave grilled tuna for it.  I love nicoise.  So does my sister.  So does Sue.  So does Dave.  I like it with salmon and asparagus, too.  But I like to best with ahi.  I’m so spoiled.  I eat it just as easily with canned tuna, which I did in France with my sister.  For a first course.   Before a huge plate of roasted chicken.  With sweet, ceramic, cold pitchers of white wine.  Ah, France.
But, what for a first course?  I kept having asparagus soup running through my head.  For whatever reason, I wasn’t thinking SILVER PALATE.  I’ve made this so many times that I had to be in the middle of making it, thinking of where it came from, to remember to grab SILVER PALATE and look to see if there really was a recipe for this soup!  It had become my own.  I barely thought about its provenance.  But the more I cooked, the more I remembered… and pretty soon the book was on the counter and I was back all those years cooking for Sarah.  Cooking for Elizabeth, for whom I never cooked (though I cooked, ate, and nursed her), the anniversary of whose death is today.  Cooking for my family; being grateful for not only Sarah’s baptism, but for my own.  Thanks to Tom Trinidad, I now know that.
And, of course, the soup isn’t the same soup as in 1986.   I have more experience in the kitchen, more experience with soup (one of my favorite things to cook), and more experience dealing with the grief of loss and the joy of addition.  By now, I grow lots more herbs and use them differently, though I certainly grew herbs in the 70’s and 80’s when I couldn’t get them in stores like now.  (If you want to pay 4 bucks.) 
 I know now how to get canned broth to taste better; I’ve always made homemade broth, but don’t feel too bad anymore if I don’t.  I now know what a few drops of Tabasco can accomplish and that there is no substitute for onions, carrots and celery.  I know now you needn’t add a ton of whole cream, but can throw on a “T”-tiny (as Susan says) spoonful of sour cream and a few chopped herbs and locate a whole nother planet in that bowl. 
Thanks, God, for the new kid on the block.  For what it taught me about making soup.  For the memory that impressed itself over and over as I recreated this food for more people I love. 
Alyce’s Asparagus Soup
via SILVER PALATE and a few years
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
1 shallot, ditto
2T butter or olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
6T fresh tarragon (or 2t dry), divided
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
2# asparagus, chopped, woody ends in garbage
1 1/2-2 quarts chicken broth, unsalted
6 baby carrots or 3 regular carrots
1 stalk celery with leaves
4-6 drops Tabasco
1/4 c low-fat sour cream
Lemon rind
In a 4 or 6qt stockpot, heat butter or oil over medium-low, and add chopped onions and shallot. Saute about 10 minutes and then add garlic.  Cook another 5 minute or until veg are very soft.  Add salt, pepper, tarragon, parsley, and asparagus and let flavors marry by cooking a minute or two or three, stirring and smelling as you go.  Oh, tarragon.
  Pour in 1 1/2 qts chicken stock and add the carrots and celery.  Drop in the Tabasco. Carefully.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 40 minutes or so until all the veg are  very tender indeed.  As it cooks, add more broth if it seems too thick.   Taste and adjust seasonings. 
 Carefully puree in batches in blender (hold down top with a big towel) or in the food processor. 
Remove to pan and serve hot or let cool and chill to serve cold.  Top with a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkle (not too much) of tarragon and a grate or two of fresh lemon rind.
July
It’s happy.
It’s sad.
Thank God for asparagus soup.
Sing a new song,
Alyce
———————————————
Two-Dog Kitchen and New from around the ‘Hood
Including a “New Kid on the Block” in 2010
Emily-home overnight!
Skippito joins the fray.  He belongs to Mary Pat, but will be our cat when she travels.  I guess he’s our 1/3 cat.
Outside with next-door neighbor and herder, Moss.
Moss loves to try and herd cats.
He doesn’t know you can’t.
Trying.  Never giving up.  It’s a good thing.
Ribs or Turkey Thighs—Happy Birthday, Dave and Jean!

Ribs or Turkey Thighs—Happy Birthday, Dave and Jean!

Summer ‘cueing is one of Dave’s favorite things, I’d guess.  Perhaps it’s one of mine, too.  I  escape some of the main dish cooking (I don’t know from grill-), though I have to come with menus.  I’m sure some husbands will come up with words like,

“I would really like ________________for dinner,”

but not my husband.  He exercises his right to choose in restaurants and not even always there.  Often, I’ll be torn between one entree and another.  To make sure I get to taste both, he’ll order one of them and let me order the other.  I know.  He’s quite a guy.

He can be sure of getting all the beer, though, because I don’t drink beer.  It never fails, however, that if there’s a new beer (stout is his favorite, but ales are up there), he’ll want me to taste it.  A Bud tastes like a Taddy Porter to me, so it’s just wasted.  To be nice, I keep taking a sip, and often say, “Not bad!”  But you probably won’t see me order beer any time soon.  Though I often look at the new 55 calorie can and think, “Why can’t I like that?”
In the last couple of weeks, Dave has grilled ribs (for hours and hours and hours) and turkey thighs (for hours and hours and hours) and I don’t know which I liked better. 
I’d like to get him to write this, but he’s a little busy most days.
 
Making sure I have my dinner.
Or my breakfast.
I like  pancakes cooked outside.
So, in honor of the Fourth of July and Dave’s birthday ( which is the Third) and my sister Jean’s birthday (the first), I give you Dave’s latest ribs or turkey thighs and, because this is, after all, my blog, my French-Vegetable potato salad.  It goes wonderfully with either and is all you need.  That and a nice jammy (ok,ok) California zin.  Maybe some homemade ice cream.

                                                                Eat this, not that.

Dave and His Ribs and Thighs  serves 6-8  or 4 really hungry folks

2 racks of pork spareribs and  4 turkey thighs
Rub is Memphis Shake from Food Network Kitchens GET GRILLING–we doubled it
  1/2 paprika
   6 T brown sugar
   4 T dried oregano
   4T granulated garlic
   2T ancho (we used chipotle) chili powder
   4t kosher salt
   2t celery salt

Leave rib racks whole and rub all ribs and turkey thighs well with rub.  Refrigerate 2 hours.

Light grill and heat to medium-low (about 250 F).  Lay out ribs , evenly spaced, and cover.  Cook for about  1.5 hours hours, turning occasionally. Meantime, make sauce  and French potato salad (below).  Add  thighs to grill and continue grillin for another 1.5 hours or so until thighs register 170 F on instant-read themometer.  Apply sauce over ribs and thighs with a brush the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Sauce:  (GET GRILLING, PAGE 218)
  makes 2 quarts
4 T canola oil
12 cloves garlic, smashed
4T tomato paste
2T chili powder
2 T paprika (we used smoked)
2t crushed red pepper
1/2 t allspice -ground
Double pinch ground cloves
4 c ketchup
4 c water
1 c cider vinegar
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c brown sugar
2T kosher salt
2T soy sauce
2T worcestershire
1T plus 1t dried mustard (like Coleman’s
2t freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Heat oil in a large saucepan.Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, red pepper, allspice, cloves and cook for 3 min until paste is dark and thick.  Add the ketchup, water, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, soy, Worcestershire, mustard, black pepper, and bay leaf.  Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the flavors come together, about 30 min.  Remove and discard bay leaves before using.

French Potato and Vegetable Salad with Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1/2# (24 oz or 9-10 medium) red potatoes–cut larger ones into halves or fourths

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, sprig of tarragon (to flavor water)

1/2# fresh asparagus, chopped

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-1″ pieces (could use yellow squash)

1/2 ea medium sweet yellow and red peppers (any color combination fine)

1 c broccoli florets, cut into 1/2″-1″ pieces

1/2 small red onion, chopped finely (4-5 tablespoons)

5 spring onions (white and green fine) sliced thinly

Dressing (see below–make while potatoes cook)

In a 4 or 6 qt small stockpot, place potatoes and just cover with water. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and a sprig of tarragon (or 1/2 t dried). Bring to a boil, lower heat a bit to keep from boiling over, and cook for about 12-15 minutes, until almost, but not quite, tender. (Make dressing. and set aside.) Add asparagus, zucchini and broccoli for the last few minutes. When potatoes are done, pour all into a colander in the sink and immediately pour back into pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour 1/2-3/4 of the dressing over the hot vegetables. Add the chopped fresh sweet peppers, reserving 2T for garnish. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and garnish with the reserved chopped yellow and orange peppers and a sprig of tarragon. Serve warm, at room temp, or cold.

Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced or grated

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

3T white wine vinegar (I like Chardonnay, but any will do.)

9T extra-virgin olive oil (the best you have for this salad)

1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t fresh ground pepper

2 drops hot sauce, such as Tabasco

1T chopped fresh tarragon (plus 2 extra sprigs, one for potato water and one for garnish) or 1 t dried

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil, whisking with all the time or after every addition. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and tarragon. Whisk until well-emulsified. Store in a covered jar so you can shake the dressing right before each use.

      Sisters–Helen/left and Jean/right   Happy Birthday, Jean!

Two-Dog Kitchen and the ‘Hood

 

Start of the herb garden
Porch Tarragon–Will bring it in for fall
Wine group last week
Cherries almost ready!