Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Pies!

I told you about the Christmas presents I made. Now what about the people to whom I brought them?

My husband and I enjoyed a fun but picture-free Christmas Eve at my dad's in Vero Beach. My grandparents on that side are proper to the point where they leave the rum out of the jingle bell punch (everybody's jingle bell punch... not just theirs), and I didn't know how well snapping pictures at the table would go over. So my dad's famous crab au gratin casserole will have to be a story for another day. I exercised the eating muscles plenty and rested up the picture-taking muscles for Christmas Day at my mom's.

Visit her blog if you want to hear her whine about leaving the green beans in the microwave overnight. Stay if you want to hear me rave about what a porktastic, cosmotastic, pietastic meal we were treated to.

Stuffed pork loin for dinner, cosmopolitans with a secret ingredient (she knew I'd suffered through the previous evening booze-free!), and a two-pie breakfast for Boxing Day... how much more completely awesome does it get? TWO PIES, PEOPLE. Quiche and apple-cranberry. COUNT 'EM, TWO!!

Now, as far as what the pork loins were stuffed with... I see she hasn't put either recipe up on her blog. Luckily she gave me a copy of one. It appears to be from page 234 of the December 2009 edition of Cooking Light. The unfortunately punctuated title is, "Fruit and Walnut-Stuffed Pork Loin" [sic]. (Or am I old-fashioned for wanting to add that extra hyphen after the word "Fruit"? Tasty Trix? Copyranter? Someone help me out here.) The other one was stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and gorgonzola, and I'm not sure what else. She made it up herself though, so don't expect to find it anywhere else in the known universe. I'm sure if you pop over to her blog and ask real nice in the comments, she'll let you have the recipe.

Boxing Day was spent as it should be... catching up with old friends. This meant my diet consisted of leftovers and takeout. Nothing exciting.

The 27th was my husband's grandfather's birthday, so my mother-in-law pulled out all the stops and served both lobster tails and beef wellington.

I snapped a picture of my beef after it was cut as well, but standard dinner party lighting rendered my camera fairly useless. Which I'm sorry to report, because that beef wellington was TO DIE FOR. The color, texture... everything was perfect. Oh, well. Sometime when you run a food blog, you have to stop, take a deep breath, and remember that food is fleeting. With cooks like the ones in my family, there will be plenty more pictures to take!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Presents

Another year of no money, another year of packaging cheap homemade foods up pretty and calling them gifts. This Christmas it was jam and cookies.

I had made jam before, but never canned it, and was excited to try. This recipe for Florida Citrus Marmalade (see below) was inspired by a recipe for Cranberry Orange Marmalade on page 188 of a Cooking Light holiday edition from November/December 2007. I wanted to see if I could achieve sufficient tartness using grapefruit and key limes instead of cranberries, which aren't native to Florida. In the future I may increase my limeage, but it came out pretty well for a first attempt.

As for the cookies, I made these of the potato chip variety (thanks a million to Brie le Grand Fromage!) and added chocolate chips. I wanted to dip them in chocolate, but there would be days' worth of car travel before many of these packages reached their destinations. As my Florida readers can tell you, the weather fluctuates like mad at this time of year, so I wouldn't want to risk making a melt-prone gift.

Here's what my kitchen looked like while I was making the cookies. Thought you may get a kick out of it:

Florida Citrus Marmalade


8 lbs. navel oranges (about 14 oranges)
2/3 of a ruby red grapefruit
6 key limes
6 c. sugar, divided
3 c. water


Zest two oranges and two limes. Remove peels from these and all other fruits. Chop the fruit and remove all seeds.

Combine chopped fruit and zest in a large saucepan with water and 2 cups of the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.

Add remaining sugar. Simmer approximately an hour and a half.

Meanwhile, sanitize your canning equipment. Pre-wash all jars, lids, and bands with antibacterial dish soap and water. Fill a pot with enough water to completely submerge your jars. Bring to a boil over medium-high and place jars, lids, and bands gently in the boiling water for five minutes or more. For the last minute or so, lower the end of a pair of tongs into the boiling water. When time is up, use the sanitized tongs to remove each piece from the pot and place it on a clean towel.

Spoon jam into the jars while still hot. Wipe anything that spills over the edge with a clean damp towel. Put on the lids and secure with the bands.

Lower jars gently back into the boiling water. Boil for ten minutes, then remove carefully with the tongs and place back on the towel. (The towel is there as a buffer between the hot jar and the cold countertop, a trick I learned from Alton Brown via a recommendation from Peas Love Carrots. This helps prevent spontaneous shattering). A couple hours later, check the tops to be sure they have sealed. If the button doesn't bounce back when you push it, hooray! Your jam will keep in the same condition for about a year. This recipe makes about a dozen 8-oz jars.

I had a jar left over for myself and my husband. Before I left to visit family on Christmas Eve, I had some for breakfast over toast and melted havarti. Yum! A little too sweet, but overall... yum!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Chicken Thighs Stewed With Radish and Arugula

I have often wondered what stewed radish would taste like. A couple days before Christmas, I finally got around to it. Looking back, this recipe probably would have tasted better with white meat, but dark did the job.

Actually, "did the job" may not be the right phrase. My husband flipped out and said it was one of his favorite dishes I've ever made.

Now before you go adding radishes and arugula to all your stews, I doubt I have them to thank for the meal's success. Neither one tasted like much once it had been simmering for awhile. More likely I owe a debt of gratitude to my old humble friend garlic. I used more than my usual 2-3 cloves, which is something I'd definitely do again.

Chicken Thighs Stewed With Radish and Arugula


4 chicken thighs with skin
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin or diced large
1 c. radishes, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Splash Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh mixed herbs (I used flat-leaf parsley and oregano, but any herbs you might associate with traditional Southern Italian cuisine would do the trick)
2 tsp. dried mix herbs (I used marjoram, thyme, and more oregano... note that you can use more fresh herbs here instead; I just ran out)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. diced canned/packaged tomatoes (say it with me... "If you don't can your own, I recommend Pomi")
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. well-packed arugula
1 Tbsp. lemon juice


Season the meat with salt and pepper. Loosen the skin and get underneath if you can do this without ripping it.

Heat the olive oil in a stew pot over medium. Brown the chicken thighs for 10-12 minutes on the skin side; 5 minutes on the skinless side. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it in a covered dish. Alternatively, plate it and cover it with another plate to trap the heat. (Optional: Bellow, "Bwah-ha-ha-ha, heat, there's no escape for you now!")

Add the onion, radishes, carrot, and garlic to the pot and saute for 4-5 minutes. Splash on the vinegar and deglaze the pan. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper and continue sauteing until the onion is completely limp and translucent.

Arrange the chicken thighs over the veggies in the pot.

In a separate saucepan, combine the tomatoes and the broth. Stir well, then pour the mixture over the chicken and veggies. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Remove cover and add arugula and lemon juice. Push the arugula down into the liquid-filled spaces between the chicken using a long utensil such as a wooden spoon or a spatula. Re-cover and simmer 15 minutes more. Distribute the chicken pieces among four serving bowls and ladle the liquid over. Optional: Put bread, rice, or mashed potatoes in the bottoms of the bowls; or prepare a warm bread basket to pass around. Serves 4.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bruschette Three Ways

My mom gave us some lovely garden-fresh produce to bring home following her boat parade party. You don't see tomatoes on this blog too often unless they've been pulverized into a sauce or soup, and the reason for that is because my husband is an extraterrestrial of some kind and dislikes un-pulverized tomatoes. But this time, I couldn't resist leaving them in their original un-pulverized form. I mean, look at them! Aren't they gorgeous?

They're not gorgeous? How can you say something like... Oh, you must be looking at the weird excuse for an eggplant that she so cleverly sneaked into my doggie bag. (Just kidding, I agreed to take it. There will always be a special place in my heart for misshapen orphaned vegetables that nobody loves!)

Other gifted items included dinner rolls and a chocolate bell pepper. I had herbs and cheese in the house, so my mind jumped straight to bruschette. But because of my husband's tomato handicap, I decided to make two different kinds. And because there were two types of rolls, I ultimately ended up with three different kinds.

I won't bore you with recipes, since I made them all the same way, and there was only slight variation among the ingredients. While pre-roasting the eggplant and bell pepper, I sliced all the dinner rolls (some white, some pumpernickel) thinly and sprinkled on some grated cheese. I used parm for the white ones, mild cheddar for the pumpernickel ones; but I imagine you could do this with an infinite number of different cheeses. Then I used the vegetables and herbs in varying combos and popped each batch into the toaster oven at 350 for five minutes.

Long story short, I ended up with the following combos:

1. White bread, parm, roasted eggplant, roasted bell pepper, herbs
2. White bread, parm, chopped tomatoes, herbs
3. Pumpernickel bread, mild cheddar, roasted eggplant, roasted bell pepper

I tossed the eggplant and bell pepper with olive oil, salt, and black pepper before roasting. In fact, the first bite of eggplant I got was covered in black pepper, and the way my mouth recoiled I thought it might be tannic. After I had chewed a split second longer, I realized this wasn't the case, but I still thought the eggplant might have bred with a hot pepper or something. Eggplants and peppers are in the same family, so considering how ugly the the little guy was before cooking, you can see how I might have jumped to this conclusion. I even went so far as to call my mom and ask if that could have happened, like if she'd planted the eggplants and hot peppers next to one another or something. It took me until my next bite to learn that I just hadn't stirred well enough.

In any case, the rest of the roasted veggies were very enjoyable, if a bit lacking in the black pepper department. My husband and I ate our bruschette with green salads, which made for a welcomed light lunch after a night of stuffing ourselves at the boat parade party.

Off to Harvill's! Got a lot of work to do in the kitchen before a string of Christmases is to commence. I'm grateful to have so many loving family members within a couple hours' drive, but I am able neither to host nor to buy gifts for everyone this year, which means I must contribute a mutant amount of cooking, baking, and canning instead.

Hope to find time to post again soon. After the holidays, stuff should pretty much go back to normal. This means you'll start seeing Chickenless Cooks of the Week again. What interactive activities would you enjoy? Do you guys want to do another TV Dinner or Baffling Ingredient? Would you like to see something new? Let me know!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Latkes at a Christmas Party

Actually, my mother considers it more of a "Winter Solstice Party." Whatever you choose to call it, it's the party she has every year when the boat parade goes by her lakefront house, and everyone stands down on the dock waving and shouting, "Merry Christmas!"

Do I have pictures of said boat parade, you might ask? Heavens no. Do I have pictures of the latkes I brought to wish everyone a Happy Whatever the Heck It Is You Celebrate? Yey-ah! (Ironically they were a little late if you celebrate Hanukkah.)

I got this recipe off the incredible blog Las Vegas Food Adventures. Yeah, I know, you're waitin' for it... "What did she change?" Well, this time, it was nothing. Nada. Not a single...

AAAAAAAUGH!! I can't take the LIES!!! I used olive oil instead of vegetable, damn it!!!!!!! Are you satisfied?????!!!!!

Well, if so, you oughtn't to be. Because they turned out looking like horrid gray blobs instead of the pristine brown beauties in the original picture. Did they taste great? Sure. Did they go over well at the party? Definitely, but only because there was such dim lighting that I didn't get any decent pics of the final product until we had them for breakfast the next morning:

Awwwwwww, yuck, gross! What is that gray blob on the plate next to my mom's beautiful fruit salad? Did someone hock a... or cough up a... oh, wait, no, that's just my dumb ass using olive oil. Okay, phew. Thought that might actually have been cat barf there for a sec.

To make it crystal clear, this was no fault at all of the original recipe's. They would have been perfect if I had followed along verbatim. But the only oil I keep on hand in large quantities is olive. So my mom's party mood lighting is practically a Christmas miracle in my opinion. It allowed me to rake in the compliments that Las Vegas Food Adventures so deserves for this tasty Jewish-inspired dish.

Happy Hanu-kwan-rama-solst-mas! (Please let me know if I'm forgetting anyone, and I will make an addendum.)

P.S. If you had to pick one type of oil to keep in your house, which would you go with?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ask for Pics of My Kitchen, and Ye Shall Receive

Mae over at Peas Love Carrots (where you can currently read everything you ever wanted to know about celebrity preservationists, by the way) asked me to post some pictures of my new kitchen. I'll admit I was hesitant. My husband and I have made some progress in that there are no longer a chest of drawers and a full laundry basket in the middle of the floor. And God bless Ikea and Target for any clever storage solutions you can pick out despite the mayhem. But is it virtual-dinner-party-suitable? Er, no.

On the other hand, I don't have a recipe to share with you today. I ate a delicious yet uninspiring omelette for breakfast (read: eggs, cheese, spinach, salt, pepper). And though my husband and I made a late-night raid on his office to collect leftover goodies from the party, I am happily munching one now without knowing whether it's ham or turkey... really, if anyone from the Weekly is reading this, please help me out! No offense to whomever brought it; it's very tasty. I just haven't the faintest idea what it is.

Therefore, in a move that is uncharacteristically personal for this particular blog...

Say hello to my kitchen, my cat Panzram, my half-full trash can, my defunct Aerogarden, my as-yet-unsold tennis rackets and golf clubs (feel free to make us an offer), my floor that hasn't been swept since we moved in despite the wellie-weather we're having, my empty wine glass from which I drank OJ this morning; and of course...

...that current bane of my existence, the temperature dial on my cantankerous oven... grr...

Have fun! It's kind of like one of those bar games where you circle the objects in the picture. Only it's my life. Yay.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baked Brie (or, "The First Dish From My New Kitchen That I've Had the Guts to Post About")

By that, I mean my kitchen was so clogged with furniture and boxes for two weeks that I was embarrassed to let people see how I lived. And this is me we're talking about- not embarrassed that a tape measure once appeared in the background of a photo I posted, but sure as hell embarrassed of how big a tornado would have had to hit anyone else's apartment in order to make it look the way it has during my first weeks of residence here.

Luckily, this gave me a bit of time to get used to my new kitchen; including the new arrangement of equipment, the new not-so-double-wide sink, the old ottoman that newly lives underneath the new counter, and the new oven that is charmingly off by somewhere between twenty-five and fifty degrees. Cozy and romantic, I know. Let's just fantasize that it's in Paris rather than downtown Orlando, shall we?

Cue accordion music...

Tape poster of Eiffel Tower over window...

And let's bake some brie.

Baked Brie a la The Chickenless Chick's Sister-in-Law


1 wheel of brie
A few shots' worth of brandy
A couple handfuls of brown sugar


Heat oven to 350.

Put the brie in an overproof dish and dump most of the brown sugar on top of it. Pour the brandy over. Dust the remaining sugar over the top.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. The cheese usually oozes out of the wax (as you can see, I just cannot figure out my impossible oven... it was plenty soft, but I never got any oozage). Serves approximately 12 as an appetizer.

This particular recipe was inspired by my sister-in-law's, which uses Jack Daniels and is very tasty. The brandy was my husband's idea, and at this point I have no idea how it turned out, since he needed it for his office Christmas party. Would that we could scrape together the money for two wheels of brie!

Anyway, the Paris fantasy was over a little too fast, so I have another somewhat depressing activity for us: Let's pretend we're back at the Chickenless Chick's old house! Here were some of my Thanksgiving leftovers.

From top to bottom:

1. Smoothie made from plain Greek yogurt, banana, OJ, ice, and leftover cranberry relish
2. Quiche made from eggs and leftover Spicy Grand Marnier Rabe
3. Parfait layered with plain Greek yogurt, almonds, and leftover cranberry relish

If you didn't get to see my Thanksgiving recipes, you can find them here.

Did I cry during that little trip backward through time at all? Of course not. The Chickenless Chick would never cry because she's a hack who can't find work and can't afford to live in a space with more than one room. Never.

On a cheerier topic, come the Northerners' growing season my husband and I will be interning on a farm, and then I'll wonder what the big deal was about letting go of a dinky little house in the suburbs. Hooray! We've been searching Colorado for internships on a whim, being that neither of us has ever been to Colorado and we've both heard positive things. We'd like to go with a permaculture program, but would take on pretty much any learning experience with zeal. Though we have loved our time here in Orlando, and my husband loves his current job, we are both more than ready to begin this next stage of our lives. Managing a small permaculture farm of our own is the ultimate goal. Eventually I hope to open a slow food restaurant on the property as well (getting ahead of myself, since I have no idea where said property is yet). If you'd like to follow our internship adventures, be sure to bookmark Doveland Farm. Currently I don't spend as much time on it as The Chickenless Kitchen, but that will change this summer I'm sure.

In the meantime, prepare to indulge an epic slew of fantasies spun here on Livingston Street.

Addendum: The brie was a big hit at my husband's office party. I got the last tiny bite of it, and I have to say I prefer my sister-in-law's. Not enough contrast between the brandy and the brown sugar. Maybe if you served it for dessert instead of an appetizer, with wafer cookies instead of bread or crackers, it might work better.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fun With Thanksgiving Side Dishes

My husband was on a roll this week. Thanksgiving is the one holiday a year that he uses a kitchen for anything other than cooking Ramen noodles. Specifically, he makes his mother's cranberry relish, which is the awesomest four-ingredient dish I know of. But this November he outdid himself. Not only did he cook macaroni on our recent camp-out, he also dreamed up an Asian-inspired peanut stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. Needless to say the logistics were left to me. But I will allow that the cooking demons must have possessed him this past week. When we showed up on our host's doorstep last night, we carried both The Chickenless Chick's Mother-in-Law's Cranberry Relish and a brand spankin' new 5 Spice Peanut Stuffing (not to mention some farm-fresh broccoli rabe courtesy of Green Flamingo).

The Chickenless Chick's Mother-in-Law's Cranberry Relish


4 c. fresh cranberries
2 c. granulated sugar
1 navel orange (skin and all!), diced large
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier


Combine all ingredients in a food processor or paddle blender and process until you achieve a relish-y consistency. Serves 12.

5 Spice Peanut Stuffing


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. shredded Napa cabbage
1 carrot, chopped
3/4 c. chopped scallions
3 slices day-old bread cut into 1/8's
1 c. pre-roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped roughly
1/4 c. dark sesame oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. veggie broth
3/4 c. cooked brown rice


Heat the oven to 350.

In a wok or other saute pan with high sloping sides, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high. Add the cabbage, carrots, and scallions. Saute 2 minutes. Add a quick dash of the soy sauce and continue sauteing until soft, another 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Spread the bread squares out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for a very, very short amount of time (start checking after three minutes). They're done when they're crisp but not quite brown. Combine them with the peanuts in a large mixing bowl. Turn the oven up to 375.

Once the vegetables have cooled, combine them with the bread and peanuts.

In a small bowl, whisk the sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, spice powder, and brown sugar. Stir this sauce into the bread, peanuts, and veggies. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof casserole dish. Pour the veggie broth down the sides so that it distributes itself evenly throughout the dish. Bake at 375 for 70 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes after the 40 minute mark. Remove from the oven and combine with the rice. Serves 8.

Spicy Grand Marnier Rabe


8-10 large leaves broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, chopped or sliced thin
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 of a fresh chile pepper, de-seeded and chopped
Salt 'n' pepper
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
1/4 c. veggie broth
1 tsp. orange blossom honey
1/4 c. almond slivers


Blanch the broccoli rabe in salted boiling water.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, lemon zest, orange zest, chile pepper, and salt 'n' pepper to taste. Saute about 5 minutes, then add the blanched rabe and cranberries. Saute about 5 minutes. Add salt 'n' pepper to taste. Saute a couple minutes more (until you feel that you could comfortably eat it). Add Grand Marnier and veggie broth. Saute until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Stir in the honey and almond slivers. Serves 8.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Playing Catch-up

I spent last week apartment hunting, job hunting, and Green Flamingo-ing. The fruit of my labor in the apartment department (heehee, it rhymes) is a ridiculously cheap studio just around the block from my present amazing location. Now, I know that being culinary types yourselves, you probably see the word studio and think, "Uh-oh." But this one boasts a kitchen area- complete with appliances- that may have more counter space than my current house. So even though I'm garage-selling off about three quarters of my life before the second of next month, I couldn't be happier. My only two stipulations were must be located in a low-traffic area where I can let my cat outside and must have a workable kitchen. This pad has both those covered, and at such a low price that I instantly looked at my husband after seeing it and said, "We'd be idiots not to do this."

In the Green Flamingo department (aw man, that one doesn't rhyme!), we finished digging our aquaponics pond- affectionately dubbed The Hole- this past weekend. I hope to have pics up on Doveland Farm later today. I will also have more shots from the New Smyrna Beach Farmers' Market, where Liz and Mary of Green Flamingo sell both raw vegetables and canned specialties like the pickled okra at the top of this page.

But for now, to pursue an aspect that is more specifically cooking-related, here is the Green Flamingo kitchen... which we made this:

It's a spicy pasta dish with fresh-caught sheepshead and veggies grown on the premises. My husband's and my Sunday morning fishing trip yielded nothing big enough to eat, so we obtained the sheepshead from a local seafood co-op. Seagoing meats are my favorites, and though I don't normally eat fish for environmental reasons, I will eagerly make an exception if it's locally and sustainable caught.

Macaroni el Diablo with Sheepshead and Broccoli Rabe


2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 habanero pepper, de-seeded and chopped
8-10 large leaves of broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
3 sheepshead fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
6 servings dried macaroni
1 24-oz can unsalted tomato puree
Salt, pepper, and dried Italian herb mix to taste


Salt and pepper the sheepshead chunks and set aside.

Cook macaroni according to package instructions and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and habanero. Saute about five minutes or until the onion is translucent. Toward the end of cooking time (when you have about a minute left to go), add salt, pepper, and Italian herbs to taste.

Add broccoli rabe and continue sauteing until it has wilted. As before, add salt, pepper, and herbs toward the end of cooking time.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the sheepshead and cover to cook, stirring only occasionally so that the chunks don't fall apart.

Add the tomato puree and macaroni. Stir. Let it warm through for a couple minutes, then stir again and taste for salt, pepper, and herb content. Add a little more if needed. Let simmer fifteen minutes. Serves 6.

This has been dubbed a Chickenless Chick Cooperative recipe, as the ingredients (other than the sheepshead and butter) were suggested, gathered, and in large part cooked by Green Flamingo intern Steve. The reconstituting of the macaroni can be attributed to my great sport of a husband, so turns out all I did was come up with the idea for "spicy tomato-y fish pasta thingie" and do the prep work. A valiant team effort with superb results.

Who else is excited about Turkey Day?! I'll be spending it with friends here in Orlando. What are your plans?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Did That Man Just Say "Pumpkin" to Me?

On Tuesday, November 3rd, I issued the 30 Rock TV Dinner Challenge. The object was to come up with a dish inspired by the show, cook it by Sunday the 15th, and post your results. Sunday the 15th was yesterday, and here I am sliding in under the wire with my own entry, inspired by a Tracy Jordan line from the (aired) pilot. I looked forever and couldn't find the video clip I wanted to use, or for that matter the full episode. Unfortunately the comic value of this line, like most of his lines, depends on the delivery. While I encourage you to rent the DVD if you're really curious, here is a brief description to set the scene:

Tracy is at a restaurant with Liz and his entourage. The waiter announces that their special is pumpkin ravioli. As he walks away, Liz tries to say something business-related to Tracy. He shushes her and says, "I'm going to ask you a question and I want you all to be completely honest... Did that man just say 'pumpkin' to me?"

See? Funnier when he says it. I was rolling on the floor. Sigh. Strike one.

Here's strike two:

Yes, that is actually supposed to be a pumpkin ravioli. Note to self: Mixing wheat germ and all-purpose flour does not make whole wheat flour. It makes... whatever the hell that is.

So there I was yesterday with a bowl full of ravioli filling and not enough eggs to make more pasta dough. I racked my brain trying to think of something pumpkin-y that would be equally offensive to Tracy Jordan, and finally came up with this savory pumpkin pie.

I wouldn't call it a home run (the recipe could use a little tweaking), but at least I managed to avoid a strike three.

Savory Pumpkin Pie With Chickpeas



2 c. flour
2/3 c. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
4-5 Tbsp. cold water

*Though pie crusts are generally similar, I found this one on Cooks Recipes a couple years back.


1 pie pumpkin weighing about 3 lbs
2 shallots, chopped
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. Mexican-style crumbling cheese (I imagine feta would result in a similar texture, but the flavor would be completely different)
2 eggs
2 c. cooked chickpeas


Heat the oven to 450.

Mix the butter, flour, and salt in a large bowl and add 4 Tbsp. of water. Continue mixing. If the dough sticks together in a big ball, there's no need to add the last Tbsp. of water; if it still seems dry, add water slowly until the mixture reaches a dough-y consistency. Separate into two dough balls of equal size. Wrap each in plastic and store in the refrigerator.

Cut out the pumpkin's stem, grasp it firmly, and scream, "blargh!" as if you are holding a human heart.

Quarter the pumpkin... I know, I know. But look, my husband and I did it even without the proper type of knife. Instead we used two improper knives. And a lot of cursing. So you can too. Don't be a wuss.

Scrape out the yummy seeds and leave them out to dry for roasting later. Wrap the quarters in tin foil and roast them at 450 for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the shallots and herbs in the olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

When the pumpkin is finished cooking, remove and turn oven temperature down to 375.

Scrape the pumpkin out of its skin into the bowl. Add the butter and salt. Combine using a large spoon or potato masher. Set aside to cool for about ten minutes, then incorporate the eggs and cheese crumbles.

Stir in the chickpeas.

Butter two 9" pie tins.

Roll each dough ball out flat on a well-floured surface to a diameter of 12".

To transport, fold each crust into quarters. Place these in pie tins with the points of the quartered crusts at the center. Unfold the crusts and press firmly into the tins. If needed, trim the edges using clean kitchen shears. Flute or crimp as desired.

Distribute the filling evenly between the two crusts.

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until barely browned on top.

Cool about ten minutes before slicing. Each pie serves 6 as an entree or 8-10 as an appetizer. To reheat, simply bake at 350 for ten minutes.

Thank you to all who participated in my first TV Dinner Challenge. There will be more to come. As always, I welcome your ideas for shows to use; as well as your ideas for new challenges in general. Please feel free to leave your suggestion as a comment or email

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.