Throw Away Your Microwave
By Elizabeth Norcross
Life and technology have kept me out of the kitchen for the past couple of months and
I can’t wait to cook for myself again. Stuffed Cornish Game hen with my mother’s sage dressing is on the menu. I baked chewy cinnamon Snickerdoodle cookies this afternoon.
I plan on having home cooked food for the rest of the week.
I think I must be one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t have a microwave.
It’s one appliance that has never graced my kitchen. It’s not so much what
the little box represents health wise, but moreover what it does to the social graces
that occur amongst a meal being shared. There is no food ritual with a microwave.
No wafting smells, what could be better than the smell of baking cookies.
Although a microwaved russet under the guise of being a baked potato is a culinary crime.
My favorite time in my family as a kid was Sunday afternoon lunch. It was
the one time everyone had to be at the table. Grace was said. The roast was
nice and rare, mashed potatoes had a few lumps of melted butter, warm and yellow,
inviting and comforting.
That same tradition was held in my second family when I was married, the difference
being a more efficient manner of eating due to microwaving and the table being wiped down in a matter of minutes.
I always have the same feeling after a microwave meal. A feeling of being let down,
a little sad. Plastic microwave dishes covered with plastic wrap hanging with condensation. Sad. I wonder if wafting cooking smells releases some sort of serotonin or endorphins. Kids, adults, everybody feels better walking into a house with a pie baking.
This winter I got into making things like sweet potato crisps. Any root vegetable was in danger of being sliced and baked. Now kale is in season and that’s one of the best greens
to crisp – spinach and beet greens, are good, but kale has that little extra something that makes a great crisp with little effort.
Artichokes are also in. Yesterday I got the biggest most delicious artichoke I’ve ever had. It was from California,’ “Ocean Mist” Long Stem Artichokes’. It fed two of us. It was absolutely perfect, meaty and sweet.
The other thing I have a yen for is Martha Stewart’s Banana Bread. The idea and delight in serving fruit bread and muffins arose years ago when dining at K-Paul’s Kitchen in New Orleans when it was still a hole in the wall. I love the contrast in flavor and texture to the meal. My grandmother had a favorite restaurant that served popovers for Sunday brunch. Delicious but kind of filling. This is the best banana bread recipe - the secret is the 1/2 cup of sour cream that gives it such golden caramel color and great texture. Cut a slice into halves or quarters or make little mini muffins.
I say throw away your microwave.
Julia says Bon Appetit.
1 bunch kale
1 Tbls olive oil
Preheat oven 300*
Wash and pat dry the kale. Remove stem and center rib. Cut into large pieces. Place in a bowl and rub with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for about ten minutes.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350*. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat to incorporate. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla, mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about an hour and ten minutes. Let rest for ten minutes and turn out on a rack
Stuffed Cornish Game Hen
The Cornish Game Hen is in fact a hybrid chicken, male or female that was bred in Connecticut the 1950’s. It’s all white meat and perfect for a single serving or stuffed will serve two. It is versatile and succulent.
1 2lb. Cornish Game Hen
8 ounces stale breadcrumbs
3 Tables. butter
2 Tables. Chopped onion
2 Teaspoons Bell’s seasonings
1 Tables. Chopped fresh parsley
1 Tables. granny smith apple
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon mince garlic (optional)
Boil water and melt butter (Hold pan aside and butter and add tablespoon oil to brush after trussing). Place breadcrumbs in bowl and add chopped onions, seasonings and
herbs. Mix together, add butter 1/3 butter and water (not too wet); then stir in egg yolk.
Stuff the Hen and truss. Brush with oil and butter. Cook for 40 minutes or until crispy
A nice chilled Pouilly Fuisee goes well with this, or chilled Pellegrino.
There are Snickerdoodle recipes going back hundreds of years, and many of them call for butter. The recipe I use calls for vegetable shortening (which I ordinarily avoid like the plague), but I use either a mix of shortening and freshly rendered lard, or 100% lard.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
2 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp sugar to roll cookies in
2 cinnamon tsp to roll cookies in
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Cream shortening and sugar, beat in eggs and vanilla, and add dry ingredients.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in bowl for rolling.
Form dough into 1 inch balls, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet, one inch apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies just barely color. They may crack on top - that just means you're doing it right. They shouldn't spread out too much.