Monthly Archives: October 2006

Dead bananas

I am unusually picky about bananas. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only a 2-day window in which bananas are OK to eat: when they’re perfectly yellow. Not green. Definitely not brown. Even yellow with speckly brown bits isn’t good. I can’t do it.

Yes, I know the banana is a perfect snack. Good cut up with yogurt, great with peanut butter and whole wheat toast. But brown bananas are double ick, too sweet, really I can’t even pretend to eat them. There are some things you can eat to be polite … this isn’t one of them.

OK, so what to do with the leftover bits of banana. When cutting up for toast, using only a half, what to do? Or when you buy 4, because they’re on sale, then only eat one, the others slipping away into the brown wilderness, inedible. Can’t throw them out.

I freeze them.

Whole, in their skins, just toss them in (they go completely black when frozen). Let them thaw at room temperature later, on a dinner plate, drain off the liquid, then they’re good to go for banana bread (I have a great recipe with pecans and chocolate chips on top), ban-muffins (with or without chocolate chips), and low fat ban-cranberry oatmeal cookies.

And on days when I’m feeling like I need a particularly healthy snack, or when I’m starving and it’s not really suppertime yet, I make a smoothie with the chunks of dead frozen banana.


Ban-smoothie

You need a blender for this. Toss into your blender the following:

  • ½ cup plain yogurt, fat free is healthier (other flavours work, too)
  • ½ of a frozen dead banana (best if cut up into chunks and frozen in a little bag, otherwise the blender has a hard time with a giant frozen banana piece)
  • ½ cup orange juice (or orange mango, grapefruit is too sour, punch drinks have too much added sugar)
  • ½ cup skim milk to thin the mixture enough so that it will blend properly
  • ½ cup of any other miscellaneous fruit

Put the top on the blender, and mix until it’s ready to drink.

I add in whatever else is in my freezer, other dead fruit bits, things rescued and cut up just before they go bad, like a few strawberries, or the end of a fresh pineapple. They just wait in the freezer until needed. Of course, you can also buy frozen fruit mixes in bags from the grocery store and keep for just such emergencies.

If you don’t have frozen banana bits, you can use other frozen bits and some fresh dead banana. Just make sure that some part of this concoction is frozen, otherwise it won’t really get that milkshake consistency when blended.

You may have to add a little bit more milk if it’s too thick and the blender starts to protest. Or if it turns out to be too thick to pour. I like strawberry-ban smoothies, and blueberry-ban. If you don’t have yogurt, you can use ice cream, which in fact tastes better, but isn’t really diet food, whereas the rest of this smoothie is pretty darn healthy.

Somehow this magically erases all of the bad tastes of dead banana. When drinking a smoothie, I feel quite self-righteous, healthy, super healthy, in fact. It’s an amazing thing. Where I wouldn’t touch a dead banana with a ten foot pole, here, with this drink, I actually feel super human. Anyone watching their caloric intake will be happy to have only natural sugars. Small kids think they’re getting a milkshake and don’t know that you’re sneaking in extra daily fruit servings.

Imagine what you could do with a bit of planning… every time you buy blueberries and there’s a few soft ones in the bottom, toss them in a bag in the freezer. The last squishy strawberries. The mango that went soft before you could finish it. And of course, the dead bananas. Blech.

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef

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If you’d like to share our site, cooking letters, the blog, or the amazing illustrated Recipe 1.1 for Roast Chicken with Rosemary, why not click here and we’ll zip off a quick message to your friends to let them know about our site. No spamming, I promise.

 

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Searching for lasagne

Recipe research

One of the things that I want to do at One Roast Chicken is share perfect recipes with you, and that includes meals that don’t dirty every bowl in the house. I like recipes that come together easily, with regular ingredients, that taste better than the sum of their parts. Ones that when served to a guest, or to a prospective mate, they say “c’est vraiment bon” [this is very good].

My goal is to save you from take-out, and rescue you from crappy meals. You shouldn’t have to eat plates of dry pasta, or fish gone wrong, or greasy meat, or chewy vegetables. No, you can sit back and relax, because I’m going to find the best recipes for you. I’ll photograph them, describe what I’ve learned, and best of all you’ll have recipes that work!

At the request of a One Roast Chicken subscriber, I was asked to tackle lasagne … and I can tell you that finding the perfect recipe is a bit of a process. I started with my top three cookbooks (Joy of Cooking, The Gourmet Cookbook, and How to Cook Everything), and I read through the ingredients and explanations. Noodles and cheese and ground beef and tomato sauce. Yet none of the printed recipes sounded fabulous.

I counted the number of steps, the list of supplies, the number of pots that would get dirty, the length of time between when I’d start to cook and when I could eat, and I tried to imagine how the listed ingredients were going to taste all mixed together. Some recipes have zucchini. Some have cottage cheese. Yet others have a separately prepared white sauce layered with the other ingredients (yes, a béchamel sauce, not a cheese sauce, you read correctly, it sounds completely yucky to me).

I will admit that I’ve never been a big fan of most lasagne recipes. Perhaps it’s something about having a big plate full of the same flavour that gets me down. A perfect recipe should have nicely defined layers that hold together when cut, maybe using a homemade spaghetti sauce, with a lot of cheese, something that’s firm and moist without being drippy.

Lasagne trials

I started on the lasagne quest about two weeks ago. What was first a survey of my cookbooks and cooking magazines, soon became an internet search for potential perfect recipes. Trial #1, last week, involved uncooked noodles (a necessity, I think, in order to reduce work and the number of dirty pots). Trial #1 used homemade meat sauce (which takes time and didn’t make quite enough so I kind of ran out). The final verdict on #1, which included 9 noodles and 3 kinds of cheese, was that it was dry and unremarkable, and tasted altogether too much like my favourite cannelloni recipe. Why make lasagne when cannelloni is great already?

Trial #2, this week, included using two big jars of store bought sauce, with extra real sausage meat and red pepper flakes thrown in. I increased the noodles to 12, and replaced the ricotta with cottage cheese. I bought my mozza sliced (less work than grating it myself, and cheaper than pre-grated). At dinner on Thursday this week, Trial #2 was a bog of goopy noodles, and was much too salty. But here’s some good news. The next day, for lunch… it was quite great: it was drier, held together better, the flavours melded, and the saltiness had disappeared. But to cook a recipe only to claim it’s better served the next day? That certainly smells like effort. Too much effort for me.

Therefore, my search continues. I’ll report to you as I make progress. I think the ideal recipe will include a combination of prepared sauce spiced up with real meat … but at that point, why not go all the way and make homemade sauce with a bit of canned tomatoes and tomato paste? The jarred sauce is probably too salty, and therefore hard to adjust for different palates. I’d like something that isn’t too salty, but will that necessarily mean homemade sauce?

Rest assured that I’ll come up with something that I deem to be fabulous, and that I won’t share it with you until it’s perfect: easy, quick, worth the work, better than take-out. Because if it’s not better than take-out, what’s the point?

Anyway…

Welcome to the blog for One Roast Chicken. Here’s where I share bits and tricks about cooking, menu planning, and ideas to help you get dinner on the table. It’s my plan to get you inspired, to get you cooking, to make it easy enough for you to try.

And I’d love to hear back from you. Any ideas you have, any successes or failures, any pictures you’ve taken of recipes you’ve made … for example, have you made Chicken with Rosemary yet? (you have to register to receive the recipe). We’d love to share in your success stories, and hey, send me a picture of your completed bird and we’ll post that, too!

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

 

Tell a friend …

If you’d like to share this site, this un-blog, and the amazing illustrated Recipe 1.1, why not click here and we’ll zip off a quick message to your friends to let them know about our site. No spamming, I promise.

 

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Can you really have pizza for Thanksgiving?

We really do eat quite a lot of roast chicken at our house. Not just because it’s my signature dish, or because it makes the house smell fab, or because I’ve named a website after it [http://www.oneroastchicken.com] – no, really, I like the leftovers. I like making chicken broth with the bones, fat, skin, onion peels, celery tops, carrots that are a little bendy from too much time in the bottom of the fridge. I like freezing the broth in glass mason jars (that in the summer are used to make strawberry rhubarb jam).

There’s something very ‘un-martha’ about defrosting the glass jars of broth in the microwave, scooping off the neatly separated fat, and using the liquid … well, I use quite a bit for cooking rice. And chicken noodle soup with short egg noodles or long spaghetti noodles or alphabets depending on which one I grab first.
I super love making curried chicken with the leftover dark meat, with carrots and small red potatoes with their skins left on. Served with rice cooked in even more broth, of course. It’s a meal in a bowl which makes for a good Friday night, eat-on-your-lap kind of meal (right now we’re watching Sex in the City, starting with season 1, as A.’s never seen it before, and the DVD is fabulously equipped with French subtitles).

On Thanksgiving weekend, just past, we’d had enough chicken and variations. The husband asked for homemade deep dish pan pizza and apple pie. Oh, I’ve got so much to tell you – how I took Nick’s online request for Dutch apple pie and went on a research adventure and came up with a spectacular pie that was both tart and squish in all the right places. I’ll tell you more about how to make a really great Dutch apple pie in another letter…

But really, you need to know this. What apple pie wouldn’t be complete without some kind of cool, sweet accompaniment. Whipped cream, maybe, or ice cream. I’ll confess I don’t like ice cream very much. I can take it or leave it. A. picked out the cheapest no-name brand of vanilla, the kind in the soft cardboard box with the lid that never goes back on properly. So while the pie was cooking, while the pizza was rising, and A. was playing guitar at the dining room table, I had a flash of genius. What if … what if I added stuff to this cheap ice cream?

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Start with a medium sized bowl. Put four large scoops of vanilla ice cream in the bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. It’ll look like a lot but frozen foods need lots of extra flavouring. Add ½ teaspoon real or artificial vanilla extract. Add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or not). Stir until the cinnamon is well blended. The ice cream will begin to melt a little, which makes it easier to stir. Scoop into a lovely serving dish, swirl the top so it’s beautiful, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for half an hour or more.

I’m not kidding, it was amazing ice cream. It was almost (nearly but not quite) better than the pie, is that even possible? I can seen other variations in my future, maybe crushed shiny peppermints with peppermint extract, or nuts with almond extract, or fresh sliced strawberries and a tablespoon or more of dessert wine… I mean, why not?

It starts here.

Welcome

… to the blog for the One Roast Chicken website. Here’s where you can come to learn new bits and tricks about cooking, menu planning, and all ideas around getting a meal on the table. That’s my plan. To get you inspired, to get you cooking, to make it easy enough for you to try. And I’d love to hear back from you. Any ideas you have, any successes or failures, any pictures you’ve taken of recipes you’ve made … for example, who’s made Recipe 1.1 (Chicken with rosemary) yet? We’d love to share in your successs stories, and hey, send me a picture of your completed bird and we’ll post that, too. You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com. Thanks and bon appetit! [http://www.oneroastchicken.com]