Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Few from The Family Meal

I've made a few dishes from The Family Meal over the past few days. I wish I'd made more, but grouper and swiss chard from the farmers market looked too good to pass up over the weekend. They derailed the things I'd planned to cook from this book. Tell me, is there a more beautiful vegetable than swiss chard? I can't resist their rainbow stems. I don't even care what it tastes like. I must buy them. The farmer said that the stems can be sliced up and used like celery. Anybody ever try that? I've always ripped the leaves off and thrown the pretty stems away, because I didn't know how to use them. I digress...

First up: Roasted Chicken (pg 282). Technically, this was supposed to be "Roasted Chicken with Potato Straws," which sounded mighty impressive, until I read through the recipe and saw that it calls for a bag of store-bought, chip-aisle potato straws to be dumped alongside the chicken. Puh-lease. Potato straws: omitted.
Despite that irritation, this was a wonderful roast chicken recipe. The skin is rubbed with salt, oil, lemon zest, and a powder you're supposed to process of rosemary, bay, thyme, and peppercorns. It wasn't a big enough amount for my food processor to do the job, so I just chopped up those herbs and rubbed them on. For additional flavor (or maybe just for the aroma. I'm not sure. Either way, it's good), shove sliced lemon and whole cloves of garlic into the bird's cavity. One thing that made this recipe different than how I normally roast a chicken was that you roast it face down for 25 minutes, then flip it and finish it off breast-up. The meat was tender and moist, and I thank the flip for that. The pan sauce turned out a lot greasier than I think it was meant to, but it tasted good. I need one of those gravy separator gizmos.

Conclusion: Loved it. Nothing better than a good roast chicken. 

Instead of the lame potato sticks, I made Cauliflower with Bechamel (pg 260). I burned my roux on the first try, but it was easy enough to start over. I may have overcooked my sauce. It was thick, like a paste. In the book's picture, it pours. This didn't pour. Tasted good, though. I dolloped it onto the cauliflower, sprinkled it with parmesan, and broiled it until the top browned a bit. The hint of nutmeg in the sauce was nice with the salty parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. I was sure Charlie would like this, but he refused to try it. Maybe next time.
Conclusion: Liked it. I never make cauliflower, because it doesn't taste like anything (and anyone who says it's a good replacement for mashed potatoes is delusional). With this sauce, it's earned a spot in my regimen.

Lastly, I made Baked Apples (pg 106) one night, for an easy, hands-off dessert. Butter, sherry, honey, and cinnamon go into/on the cored apple, then it bakes for an hour.
 Dessert doesn't get much easier than that. With a barely-sweet whipped cream, drizzled with the pan juices, this was a perfect dessert. It was like insta-pie, in which you never miss the crust. This is one apple I could eat every day, and if I did, I wouldn't feel too terrible about it. Omit the cream, and I wouldn't feel bad about it at all. Why would you do that, though?
Conclusion: Loved it.


  1. I've been wanting to pick up a copy of that book - but so many things to cook, so little time, lol. Yeah, chard stems are yummy - try roasting them with butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Yum to that cauliflower too!

  2. Everything looks delicious, especially those apples. I admit that I too love chard and would have been distracted as well. Sadly it is not available here yet but hopefully soon.

  3. Yay! Glad these three were positive recipes for you.

  4. Alice Waters has a fabulous gratin recipe for red or rainbow chard which uses both stems and leaves. Probably somewhat similar to your cauliflower except the bechamel sauce is not so thick. basically you saute the chopped stems in butter with a chopped shallot, then add the shredded leaves and cook a few mins more. remove, make the white sauce, mix and pour in baking dish, dot with whatever cheese you like ( I use goat cheese) and breadcrumbs. A great gratin!

  5. Looks like I am now able to post. First let me say Matt is a veryucky man! My all time fab vege is cauliflower cheese. And those apples look so good too
    That should say LUCKY man but I cant go back up. Stupid technology.
    Also fav not fab.

  6. Hi Brigit! :-) You're right--Matt IS a very lucky man. I'm going to go tell him so right now. hehe.

    Stacy--that chard gratin sounds awesome. Adding goat cheese can only be a good choice! Mmmmmm.