Witches’ Roasted Chicken

I love this time of year, where street fairs fill the weekends and there is a touch of mystery of the season, in the air. The leaves were cascading down from their branches and the overcast sky completed the scene as small crowds stopped at booths, that had decorative wooden witches and black cats embroidered on puffy woolen pillows. It was a little quiet this year but it must have been the chill in the air that kept everyone home. I have to admit, it was chilly and used that excuse for a hot cup of snicker doodle flavored coffee. (It was delicious.) And although we enjoyed ourselves, I couldn’t wait to get home and make a nice roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and earthy shiitake mushrooms. The Halloween spirit got me in the mood to make a chicken that a true witch would approve of! lol The chicken is very juicy as it sits in the buttery porchini broth and gets basted with it and knobby-finger-looking-fingerling potatoes complete the meal! Serve with a red leaf lettuce salad tossed with an olive oil and pear balsamic vinaigrette. I added a touch of truffle oil to make it more special and it was delicious! This serves 4. Enjoy all!

  • 1 5 pound chicken
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, halved if too big
  • 4 tablespoons, unsalted butter
  • 1 porchini mushroom bouillon cube
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 6 small garlic cloves, left in skin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 whole purple basil leaves plus more for garnish, green basil is fine too!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. With a sharp knife, carefully cut down the back of the chicken, so you are able to open the chicken so it lays flat in the pan. You can cut down the other side and remove the entire back and reserve it for stock, if you like. (I ended up doing that and added cabbage, carrots, beans and scallions and it’s a nice way to start the meal, especially on a chilly autumn day.) If you feel uncomfortable cutting up the chicken, you can always ask the butcher to do it for you. After this last time, I think I’m going to invest in a nice pair of kitchen shears, to make this task easier. Lay your chicken down, skin side up, in a turkey roaster, or any pan big enough to hold the chicken, potatoes and mushrooms in one layer. Surround the chicken with the potatoes and garlic cloves. Dissolve the mushroom bouillon in the hot water and pour over the potatoes and garlic.

Divide 1 tablespoon of the butter into four pieces. Take your 4 basil leaves and stuff one under each of the legs and each of the breasts along with a piece of butter. Take 1 tablespoon and cut into small pieces. Top the chicken with the butter. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter to the potatoes. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, remove the pan and add the mushrooms. Baste the chicken, potatoes and mushrooms with the liquid from the bottom of the pan. Roast for another 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes is up, baste your chicken and vegetables again. Place back in the oven and roast for another 40 minutes. Remove your chicken and let it rest for 5 minutes, covered, before you carve it. (If you want more of a crispy skin, you can place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes, watching it through the oven window, so it doesn’t burn.) Garnish with some strips of basil. The roasted garlic cloves taste delicious when spread on the potatoes or chicken!

Checkerboard Tomato, Mozzarella & Ricotta Cheese Salad

One of the best things about summer are ripe juicy thin skinned tomatoes. Mmm…so end-of-the-summer-delicious when combined with mozzarella, ricotta cheese, basil and topped with a good extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground pepper and a good crunchy salt like Maldon. I like to serve this with a nice bread, extra olive oil, salt and pepper on the side. And if you want a little extra kick, you can serve a nice balsamic vinegar on the side also. I think this is a nice spin on a traditional Caprese salad and doesn’t take much more effort. If you want, you can always omit the ricotta cheese and throw in more Ciliegine. This serves 2, so double and triple as needed. Enjoy and have a great weekend! :)

  • 9 cherry size tomatoes, halved
  • about 6oz. ricotta cheese
  • about 1/2 a 8oz. container Ciliegine mozzarella, left whole
  • a few basil leaves, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt

This recipe is for the amount pictured so it can give you an idea of how much this makes. This is would be great for a party! I used a 1&1/4 inch cookie dough scoop to form the ricotta cheese balls. Once you are ready to scoop, alternate the rows between tomato and Ciliegine and tomato and ricotta cheese. Sprinkle the basil over the mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and ground pepper. Serve at room temperature.

*If you have any ricotta left over, June 25ths’ post, “String Beans & Pennoni” is a great way to use it up. ;)
You can check it out here at: http://blisshousehappiness.blogspot.com/2012/06/string-beans-with-pennoni.html

Ditalini & Dandelion Greens Soup

Cooler, rainy weather has arrived! And that calls for soup! For anyone that isn’t familiar with dandelion greens, they are a super bitter green that you can toss into salads combined with a milder one like bibb lettuce. Or you could saute them with a little olive oil and butter for a simple way to dress them and really enjoy the green for what it is. If you aren’t a fan of bitter greens you can still make this soup using spinach. And for a leaner version instead of the pork sausage, you can use chicken or turkey sausage. For a veggie version, you can use veggie broth and throw in some cooked beans and wild rice. Great way to use the leftover pesto from Monday’s recipe (July 16th post). This serves 4. Soup tastes great warm! Enjoy!

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens, about 4 cups tightly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta, cooked
  • 1 pound bulk Italian pork sausage
  • 32 oz. chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried mushrooms. I used champignon but any kind will do, if large just chop them up a little bit.
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, minced
  • 4 eggs, cooked over easy
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Trim the tougher stems of the greens and roughly chop them, into small pieces. In a dutch oven, saute the sausage, stirring it and breaking it up often. Once the sausage is cooked through, stir in the garlic and the mushrooms. Saute for about five minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. This soup is low in broth so you can always add more. Once it boils toss in the dandelion greens and the sun dried tomatoes. Cook on low heat for ten minutes. Toss in the pasta and give your soup a good stir. Adjust the seasonings if needed. If I’m not using my own chicken broth and using store-bought I like to get low sodium because you can always add more salt but you can’t take it away. Once your soup is done, you can make your eggs in the butter. Ladle your soup into bowls, top each bowl with an egg and you can top with pesto or leave your pesto in a bowl to pass around. The soup is so good once your break the yolk, it thickens the soup beautifully and adds such great flavor.