Sunday, June 23, 2013

Apricot Poppy Seed Bread

About four days ago, I stopped at a local fruit stand that's set up in Fernbridge, California.  The apricots looked stunning, so I got a basket of them.  However, even eating two and three at a time, the two of us didn't get through them fast enough and they were getting pretty ripe.  So I made a bread out of their puree today.  It came out pretty great!  I was stoked!  Firm, but moist.  ( time for that now!)  It smelled a lot like pumpkin bread when it baked.  I actually doubled the poppy seeds that I listed in the recipe and we both liked twice as many... but I sort of figured for the general public, halving them would be better.  Tasty bread!  It'd be yummy with a whipped apricot and cinnamon cream cheese!  Didn't have any cream cheese though.

Man, this is some newer Anti-Flag and I'm not real familiar with their later stuff.  I listened to a lot of their earlier music.  But this song... it just keeps getting stuck in my head.  It's catchy... despite or because of the hi-hat?  I can't decide.  Anti-Flag's "If You Wanna Steal".  -jen

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Yields:  1 loaf
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds fresh apricots, peeled, pitted and pureed until smooth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricot
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the apricot puree, eggs, butter, vanilla, almond and mix well.  Add the dry mixture and mix just until combined.  Fold in poppy seeds, pecans and apricot.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.  Test by sticking a knife or tooth pick in the middle to make sure it comes out clean.  Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chicken In Gravy Over Barley

A few weeks ago, the idea for this meal came to mind... I don't even remember why.  But it's one of those delicious southern comfort foods.  I originally was going to put it over white rice... but the fact is, we really prefer barley over rice.  I think I've mentioned that before.  And it went real well with this chicken in gravy.  It was actually quite fast to make tonight because we'd baked 8 chicken thighs the night before.  So I just used the leftover chicken for this.  It'd actually double just fine for a potpie filling, too!  Or over biscuits if you wanted to get real southern!

Man, I put this song on a comp a few weeks ago for our work commutes... and the song just won't get out of my head!  I was a fan of the original... but this version is so, so much better.  Down By Law covering "500 Miles". -jen aka zigzag, heheh

Time:  40 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Servings:  4-6
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups barley
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 a teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add barley and stir to coat.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring until the barley smells toasty.  Add water, soy sauce, sage, thyme, coriander and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and turn heat to low.  Simmer for 35 minutes.  (Do not lift lid or stir!)  Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  You can make the chicken gravy in about the same amount of time it takes the barley to cook.

Time:  25 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy-Medium
Servings:  4-6
  • 3 tablespoons chicken fat (if your chicken didn't render this much, use butter for remainder)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups of water with chicken bouillon cubes or chicken base)
  • 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste (some chicken broths are saltier than others)
  • meat of 4 baked chicken thighs, shredded (see below for baking instructions)
In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat chicken fat and butter.  Add carrots, celery and onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Carrots should be fork-tender, meaning a fork slides easily into them.  Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir until absorbed, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Whisk (using an actual whisk!) in chicken broth, sage, thyme, chives, the three peppers and salt, if needed.  Continue whisking until gravy has thickened to desired consistency, turn heat to low, add the shredded chicken and cook for a few minutes until chicken is warmed.  Serve over herbed barley.  (Or use for the inside of a potpie!)

Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
  • 4 medium chicken thighs, skin on
  • choice of seasoning (salt & pepper if nothing else)
  • olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (simply for ease of clean-up) and drizzle foil lightly with olive oil.

Season the bottoms of the chicken thighs, the place face-up on pan.  Lift skin from meat and season both under the skin and over the skin.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Chicken should be at 165 degrees, and juices should run clear.  If cooking the gravy recipe above, then reserve the chicken fat!