Cooking on Wood Cook Stoves

Wood Cook Stove

My husband has always enjoyed cooking on a wood cook stove.  I on the other hand will stick to my gas stove top.

Biscuits or pie from the oven are quite a treat to indulge. There is that distinctness of country flavor conventional ovens and stoves can’t compete against.

I’m so happy when the house gets cold and he can finally light it up and send wonderful aromas throughout the house. Our kitchen is open rafters to the roof so the aromas go up into the loft and back down the stairwell with the help of a fan set on reverse.

A collection of iron ware is essential although as shown above you can use stainless steel off to the side away from extreme heat.  We haven’t been able to replace all the iron pieces we once had after our house burned down year’s ago… one of the downsides to using fireplaces and wood stoves.

Ironware

My husband’s specialty is fried chicken.  He has it down to a science.

Frying chicken

Frying chicken

Frying chicken does not have to be on a wood cook stove so for purposes here, I will say use the same methods on your own preferred stove top.

Ingredients

One whole fryer or cut up pieces of a whole chicken

Flour Mixture

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp chile powder
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp coarse ground pepper

Liquid Mixture

2 cups milk, skim to whole, no preference
2 eggs

Frying ingredients

1/2 cup canola or sunflower oil  (vegetable oil tends to burn)
1 stick unsalted butter

Utensils

A ten-inch or twelve-inch skillet

One shallow bowl for liquid and two shallow baking dishes for flour mixture and one platter for chicken

Preparation and Cooking

Cut up and clean the chicken pieces.

On medium heat place your skillet with 1/2 cup canola or sunflower oil with one stick of butter

With a fork, blend the liquid mixture together in a shallow bowl, like a salad bowl but big enough to fit a chicken breast in.

Mix together ingredients of flour mixture and pour half into one baking dish and the other half into the second baking dish. This is for double dipping.

Dip each piece into the flour mixture then the milk mixture then the second flour mixture. Lay each piece onto a platter.

To gauge the heat of the oil, it should be rippling across the top but… drop a bit of flour mixture stuck on your fingers into the skillet of oil. The oil should bubble.

You want the largest pieces of the chicken to go in the hot oil first. Place the breast in and allow to brown slightly on both sides. Add the thighs next turning as with the breast. The wings go in last. When all pieces have browned nicely on both sides, cover with a lid. Steam for eight minutes. Remove lid turn chicken pieces again until crisp on both sides.  It takes about 18 minutes to fry all the chicken.

Frying chicken is not easy the first time or second time around. It is something you have to acquire a flare for. Even I have not fried chicken because I could never improve over my husband’s chicken. There are some dishes I don’t waste valuable time learning.

Note:

Just a reminder, always clean thoroughly all utensils and counter space and sink.  Raw chicken is dangerous. Cleaning can be done while the chicken is frying.

Bruschetta With a Bell Pepper Topping

bruschetta with pepper topping

A nice appetizer is bruschetta with a bell pepper topping.   I simply can’t resist the colors of bell peppers.

red, yellow, red bell peppersChop the peppers

chopped bell peppersChop an onion, mince a clove of garlic and some basil.  Put in a jar and cover with olive oil.  Allow to marinate over night.

bell peppers in a jarTake a baguette and slice in bite size pieces.

Toast the slices and before serving brush the slices with olive oil along with roasted garlic.

Top with the marinated peppers.

Chicken Cashew

Cashew ChickenOn my last post I wrote about regional foods I enjoyed.  One region I forgot to mention was Asian.  For the most part I like Asian infusion. I find newer recipes come with a little less sodium.  Not that I have a problem with water retention, I just don’t like waking up the next morning with swollen hands and puffy eyes.

I use to watch Martin Yan of Yan can Cook along side with Julia Child.  I’m revealing my age.  Yan goes back to 1978 with his first TV appearance. Yan was as entertaining as Julia Child.  I have one of his cookbooks, Chinese Cooking, I have used often over the years.

My recipe is a derivation from Yan’s cookbook.

Marinade

One tbls. oyster sauce *
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Ingredients for Chicken Cashew

Two skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbls cooking oil
2 tsps finely chopped garlic
Eight to 10 green (snap) beans or asparagus cut into one-inch pieces. You can use snow peas if preferred.
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
One tbls Chinese Rice Wine or Dry Sherry *
One tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water (remember this combination)*
2/3 cup roasted cashews

Combine the marinade above. Using a medium size bowl, zip lock bag or baking dish, add the chicken cubes making sure all are coated with marinade. Cover and set aside for about 15 minutes. Make sure your dog can’t get to them because the chicken needs to be at room temperature before cooking.

Prepare the other ingredients. Take a wok (if you have one or know how to use one, I don’t) or a large wide frying pan (I use) and place over high heat. Add the cooking oil, swirling to coat the whole pan. Add the chicken and garlic. Stir-fry for approximately two minutes. Add the green beans, carrots and stock. Cook for about three minutes. Add the rice wine and cook for another minute. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue cooking until the sauce boils. Add the cashews, mix in well and you’re done.

This recipe serves four.

My notes:

*Use the combination of cornstarch and water shown above to make sauces for any meal.

*I use oyster sauce in many combinations.  I mix with beef stock, soy sauce and corn starch and a little garlic, maybe add some mushrooms and ladle over steak. Yum!

* It is a must to have in your larder, Sherry, Marsala, Port or Brandy.  One can spend a lot of money or just go to the end of the wine aisle and find less expensive bottles.  Yes, they do contain alcohol but the alcohol cooks out, any chemist can prove this.  So don’t be afraid to have these wonderful flavoring agents available.

Corn Salsa with a Southwest Flare

corn salsa with southwest flare

I can not choose a culinary region of flavor I love most…be it Southern, Italian, or Southwest.  As soon as I try to pick my favorite food, I stop and think of another.  I know food regions I don’t like and stay clear of them completely. But one region of culinary essence I savor is that with a southwest flare.

A great side dish to kick up the heat with this recent cold front is this creamed corn salsa.  Derived from the recipe book I bought from Georgia Grille. It’s a little on the hot side so if dressed in layers, you’ll be removing one layer at a time.

This was served with black beans along with the entrée, pork tenderloin marinated in an apple cider/chile concoction.

Ingredients

One package frozen creamed corn
2 tsp Kosher Salt
Two green onions (scallions), diced
One large shallot, diced
One can diced tomatoes
One jalapeno, diced
1-1/2 tsp Chipotle in Adobo, puréed

Prepare frozen creamed corn according to package instructions. When cooked, add the green onions, shallot and let cook for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and jalapeno, cook a couple of minutes more and then add chipotle. Continue to cook five more minutes.

Is it chili or chile?

…that depends.  Are you talking about a soupy mixture or a fruit of the capsicum group? Since neither spelling begins with a capital “C” then it isin’t about the country.

There have been strong debates as to where the best chile’s are grown and New Mexico takes pride in being the “chile” capital.  For this distinction, in 1983, the then governor of New Mexico declared the spelling end with the letter “e” and had a full legislative body to back him. The new spelling ending in “e” became a congressional act of New Mexico.

If you sit down at a table with a bowl of soup mixture, the word ends with the last letter being an ” i “.

Chili spelled with an "i"

…but if you go to the grocery to buy the fruit itself, the word ends with an ” e “.

Chile Pods

If you were to buy the pepper in powder form, look at the spelling.  If the word ends with the letter “i” there are more ingredients included than dried peppers.  If the powder is spelled with the last letter as an “e”, it is pure, dried, ground chile pepper.

chili and chile powder

Ingredients for chili above.

Two lbs. beef, pork or in this dish, venison, cubed
One large sweet onion
1/4 cup flour
Two cloves garlic, finely chopped
One small can tomato paste
One large can diced tomatoes
28oz. can beef broth
Four Tbls. New Mexico chile powder
One Tbls. ground cumin
One tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Two stalks celery including leaves, chopped
Two tsp salt
Three Tbls. apple cider vinegar
One bell pepper, seeded and chopped
One poblano chile, seeded and chopped

Preparation
Cut up or chop all ingredients above. In a dutch oven, brown the meat. Remove from the oven and drain on a paper towel lined platter. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic and poblano chile. Add meat back into the dutch oven. Sprinkle the flour over this.

Now, add tomato ingredients along with beef broth. Add apple cider vinegar.
Allow to simmer for one hour.

Add all the dry ingredients (spices and herb) along with the celery and allow to simmer for 1/2 hour longer.

Home Chef’s note:  I find adding herbs and spices towards the end more flavorful.  They simmer long enough but not so long they lose flavor.

Comfort Food With a Dash of Fancy

Stewed Chicken

After all the holiday eating, I was looking for ole’, reliable, comfort food.

I thought about fried chicken, but that seemed too carby after the holidays.  With fried chicken comes mashed potatoes, then gravy, maybe biscuits, etc. etc. Nope, too soon.

We just had roast beef and my husband would be smoking  pork over the weekend.

I decided on stewed chicken thighs.

Add a mixed green salad with poached pears, a sprinkle of pecans and a drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette. Compliment that with a nice Chianti and you have comfort food with a dash of fancy.

Ingredients – Serves two

Six chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
Rubbed Sage
One sweet onion, chopped
One garlic clove, chopped
One green bell pepper, chopped
One large can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes ( I use only Muir Glen Organic Brand)
One 10.75oz. can Puree
White Wine (optional)

Salt, Pepper and rub some sage on the chicken thighs.  Pan Sear them.

In a separate pan, sauté the onion, garlic clove and green bell pepper.

Back to the chicken thighs…

When they are nicely browned, add a 1/4 cup liquid (preferably white wine) and scrape the crud off the bottom of the pan. This is the good stuff. It’s the secret to flavoring.  Now add the onion, garlic and bell pepper from the other pan. You can deglaze that pan as well and add to the pan of chicken. Add a little bit more liquid and then add diced tomatoes and the can of puree.

Let simmer for about 20 minutes.

New Year’s Morning Breakfast

poached eggs on toast

A great way to start the New Year off is with a light but filling breakfast.  Poached eggs on whole wheat.  Yum!

I feel like those women on the Activia commercials.  During the holidays I don’t seem to eat as routinely and welcome the quiet beginning of a new year.

Poaching eggs:

Three cups water
One Tbls. vinegar
New eggs aka fresh but only if you have chickens. Old eggs definitely don’t work.

Bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Break an egg into a small bowl and then slide the egg into the boiling water. While counting to 10, break another egg into the bowl and on the count of 10 slide the egg into the water. Boil for two minutes. After removing one egg, count to 10 and remove the other egg.

Mimosa

2 ounces orange juice
1/2 ounce triple sec
champagne

Pour juice and triple sec into a champagne flute and the top with champagne. One can make this without triple sec. I happen to run out of it and just used the orange juice by itself with the champagne. It was satisfactory.

Cheers to a new beginning.