Friday, February 4, 2011

Of Greek Bazaars and Giveaways

Ohhhh hai 2011! Me and 2010 didn't work out so well with the blogging. New job and stress and all that fun stuff. Things have started to calm down...sort of...with that, and because it's so frickin' freeeeeezing outside, now seemed like a good time to get back to the grind of blogging. I can't make any promises on frequency, but I will TRY my hardest to do at least once a week...2 if I'm uber inspired. I also have a new facebook fan page for the blog, so go check out!

Now that we've gotten that out of the way.

Am I the only one who not only looks forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners at the end of the year, but also the annual Greek Bazaar at the Greek Orthodox Church? Because I shamelessly do. All those delish foods have me enraptured, but I have to say my faves are the Greek chicken, moussaka, and the loukoumades (honey balls). Really, if I am being honest, they are all my faves. Soooo...I thought to myself, Self, why can't we try making the Greek chicken? Doesn't seem like it would be too hard/complicated. It's been 3 months, so I attempted to recreate taste/texture from memory. I think it was pretty successful! Whoever first thought of matching tomato + oregano + CINNAMON should have won an award. Not surprising, with all those genius thinkers/philosphers from "back in the day." I will apologize beforehand and say that I eyeballed the spices/herbs so don't freak out over palm measurements. I will attempt to give estimated exact measurements...but be sure you taste. Go forth ye, and taste heaven in your mouth. Recipe at the bottom.

Now, 2nd item on agenda: THE FIRST GIVEAWAY. Yes, you heard correctly. I have uno beverage cookbook entitled "Hot Drinks" by Louise Pickford to giveaway to one lucky reader...if there are any out there! I picked this up for a steal a few months ago, never used (I just have too many cookbooks), and you will have to pardon the slight tear on the dust jacket due to the jumble that is my apartment. It has what looks to be some SLAM BANG recipes, perfect for this time of year! The back blurb says "Delicious recipes guaranteed to warm you up on the chilliest of days." It has such delicious recipes as "Warm Banoffie Smoothie" (ohhh Banoffie pie, you saucy minx...), "White Christmas," "Traditional Mexican Chocolate," mulled wine, other warm drinks with spirits (heck yeah!) and even homemade chai. The pictures are gorgeous, too.

To enter: Comment below and tell me your favorite food to cook up when the weather is being sheisty outside. Contest will end at 11:59 pm EDT on Friday, February 11, 2011. I will pick a winner at that time via Please make sure you include a valid email address in each entry so I know how to get in contact with you. If I don't hear back from you within 48 hours, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

For extra entries:

+1 Friend me on Twitter @DevonTheFoodie and tweet this giveaway: "Greek Chicken and Cookbook Giveaway from The Gastronomic Goddess, @DevonTheFoodie." Comment separately back here to let me know you friended me/already friended me, with your Twitter name and that you Tweeted this.

+1 "Follow" my blog by clicking the lovely button on the right side. Comment separately that you did/already do follow my blog.

+1 "Like" my facebook fan page and repost on your status regarding the giveaway and tag the fan page, and comment back here separately that you did.

+3 Blog about my post/giveaway and link it back here in a separate comment.

Greek Chicken


2-4 chicken leg/thighs, dried with paper towel and dredged in flour
1 28 oz. can of crushed or diced tomatoes
1 small onion, peeled, halved and thin-sliced
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
large palmful of dried oregano (maybe 1-2 Tablespoons?)
small palmful of dried marjoram (maybe 1-2 teaspoons?)
small palmful of cinnamon (maybe 1-2 teaspoons?)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
Large palmful of sugar, to taste


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat a large cast iron or steel Dutch oven on the stove to medium-high heat. Add olive oil, and when heated, add flour-coated chicken to pot. Brown on both sides for a few minutes, then remove from pot to a nearby plate.

Add sliced onions and minced garlic to the same pot, stirring, cooking through until fragrant and translucent.

Add your tomatoes to the pot, stirring well. Throw in your oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and stir again. Make sure you scrape up any bits from browning the chicken on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon while stirring. If you used diced tomatoes, this next step is optional. I used diced and mine were rather large "dice" so I used a quick whiz of the immersion blender to make the sauce more cohesive, but still with a "rough" texture. You do not want this completely pureed to death. Add chicken back to the pot, spooning the sauce all over, put a lid on it, and stick it in the oven for about 45-55 minutes, until your chicken is meltingly tender and the sauce has reduced slightly.

Plate your chicken, but add the palmful of sugar and the pats of butter to the sauce and stir thoroughly. The sugar helps to take the acidic bite off the tomatoes, and the butter lends a bit of richness to the sauce. Spoon the sauce over chicken.

I recommend serving this with a Greek salad and plain rice, or you can substitute your water for chicken broth when making the rice. Add some butter or olive oil (just a bit) to separate the grains and for taste. Spoon any extra sauce over the rice as well. Enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Staff of Life

"Man cannot live by bread alone" -- I'm sure there are some out there who vehemently protest such a sentiment. My mother would probably be amongst those ranks; she declares it impossible to resist if freshly baked bread is put in front of her. While I don't consider myself a Bread Zealot (a Dairy Zealot, yes, but that's another post entirely), I do love me some good bread. The added bonus is that it's a vehicle for some amazing taste sensations such as chevre, REAL BUTTER, and delicious jams, curds, marmalades, and tapenades. Literally, anything tastes good with some kind of bread. Kind of amazing, huh? Such a simple food, and yet it has been so maligned in recent years, and definitely in the top five Worst Foods For Your Waistline.

Well, I don't buy it. As with everything, it depends what you put in it. It's not a mistake that every single culture's cuisine has some type of bread in it. We've all heard the evils of White Foods (white flour, white sugar, white salt even). Normally, as a nutrition-follower of the Weston A. Price Foundation (, I do try to avoid these things and stick with properly prepared whole grains (souring, fermenting, soaking, sprouting). But, living in a modern society where devitalized white foods are prevalent, that can be hard to do all the time. In the interest of furthering my bread-making skills, which just happens to be on my 2010 New Year's Resolution list, I have taken to making some breads made with white flour. I consider it all splendiferously delicious practice; buying sprouted whole grain flour is quite expensive, as I don't have a grain mill, and it's cheaper to mess up on white flour breads!

The homemade bread revolution that is sweeping the nation in the last 2 years or so has been due to a select few books that have different takes on the "no-knead" method. The NY Times has published recipes from the top few schools of thought, I believe. The one that caught my fancy seems, to me at least, to be the most popular: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I lay the blame for my enchantment and fascination thoroughly with another blog obsession of mine, I checked out Jeff and Zoe's cookbook site, got the recipe for their brioche and made it (my first foray into bread and I happen to pick one of the most finnicky types to make, and it works! YOWZA!). There's nothing like bread slathered thick with butter. But when an opportunity arises to consume bread that is literally loaded with butter, and slathered with more butter postbaking, just throw in the towel and go willingly. In that moment, you will taste heaven. You laugh like you think I'm joking.

So, to cut to the chase, I bought the book. I've been making a few dough recipes from it; so far, the brioche (with bread, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate-filled buns), and olive oil dough (foccacia and the most amazing homemade pizzas EVER). After relaying my early triumphs to my 94-year-old grandmother, she reminded me that she liked oatmeal/multigrain breads with some nuts in them, in a not-so-subtle hint to get in the kitchen and bake grammy some bread! I obliged...but after I decided to tinker. The oatmeal bread recipe in the book called for a few things I didn't have, nor felt like buying (wheat germ? oat bran? these filled me with nightmares of militant vegans), and it didn't contain nuts like grammy wanted. Thus, I present you with my adaptation. Enjoy discovering that you *can* make delicious bread in literally minutes. Slap some flour on you like you spent the day in a wrestling match with a 5 pound bag and present it to loved ones, family and friends, saying, "oh this bread? I just threw it together, ain't no thang!"; they won't believe you, they'll think you spent the whole day kneading away, and that you're the best thing since sliced bread!

Sorry...I just really couldn't resist that one. Anyway, this is dedicated to grammy Dottie. <3

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread (adapted from Oatmeal Bread in Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

Makes three 1.5 pound loaves, and you can double or halve the recipe.

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (I used Celtic sea salt)
1/4 cup neutral-tasting oil, plus more for greasing the loaf pan
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking type), plus more for the top
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Mix the yeast, salt, water, milk, maple syrup, and oil in a 5-qt. bowl or a lidded container; you don't want it to be completely airtight.

2. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients without kneading. You can use a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food process with dough attachment, or my work-horse of choice, a heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook (I love my Kitchen-Aid). Use wet hands to incorporate all of the flour if you're not using a machine.

3. If you didn't mix the dough by hand in a storable container, put the dough in one now, cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temp until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), for approximately 2 hours.

4. You can begin using the dough immediately after this iniitial rise, but it is MUCH easier to handle when cold; it's going to be a wet, very sticky batter. Refrigerate the dough in the non-airtight, lidded container and use over the next 8 days. Over that time, the dough will take on a more sourdough taste, giving you a more artisan-like product. If it gets gray at all on top, don't worry and don't throw it out, just throw a little dusting of flour on it and mush it in. If it's moldy (fuzzy), then yes throw it out. If it gets a little brown liquid on top or smells very "alcohol-like" - don't worry. Pour the liquid off, use the dough; it's just the yeast.

5. READY TO GET YOUR BAKE ON: Grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan (yes...I know you're greasing a non-stick pan...just do it. You'll thank me later). Dust the surface of the dough with some flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound portion, which is about the size of a canteloupe (or, to be accurate, if you have a food scale you can weigh it out). Dust the piece with more flour, and quickly shape it into a ball and stretching the surface under to the bottom while rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.

6. Elongate the ball into an oval and put it into the prepared loaf pan. Allow it to rest and rise for 1 hour 20 minutes, or just 40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough. ***I used a fresh ball, and I had to let it rise for longer than 40 minutes, every time I've used fresh dough from the book...but this could also be due to the fact that I have a silicon loaf pan that allows the dough to expand a bit sideways rather than up as much as a metal pan with rigid sides would ***

7. Twenty minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, with an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8. Sprinkle the loaf with some tap water after wetting your hand, and sprinkle some rolled oats on top. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray (I just use an aluminum 8 x 8 brownie pan), and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.

9. Allow to cool before slicing or eating. And might I make a few suggestions? It makes a mean turkey sandwich, or toast it and slather with butter, apple or apricot butter, fromage blanc or chevre and a bit of fig jam.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Of markets, cook-offs and super clubs

So, this past Saturday, May 1, was the "soft opening" for Lancaster's Eastern Market, which is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend (Saturday, May 29). Of course, I had to work and was unable to attend. There are several new vendors I'm excited about, including a new raw milk vendor, a female duo bakery (I saw their luscious photos on their facebook page), and a local soap maker using grassfed tallow (I screech with glee every time I think about it!!!). There are a few new farmer-vendors as well, added to the standard mix of regulars. I am excited! Once Eastern Market opens, I pretty much forget that Central Market exists unless I have a specific reason for going.

//Insert rant//

Central Market, I believe, is run by 3 market managers who are all about making money. I've heard some rumors of dealings, not sure if they're true, but what I've heard suggests that they want to know how much you're making every year and if they aren't satisfied you can lose your stand; there's a waiting list. Also, Central Market can be very "hodge podge" in its offerings - very limited local organic offerings, some local produce, and a lot of shipped in produce (which I take serious, serious issue with), as well as a lot of prepared food, meat vendors (only 1 that's grassfed local), eatery stands...and the one type I hate most, neck in neck with the stands that sell shipped in produce, would be the kitsch and Amish kitsch stands. When I think Farmers Market, I think producer-only, meaning that EVERYTHING grown or made to sell there is from the producer/vendor...and I'm not really keen on having non-food related stands there.

Enter Eastern Market: run by a nonprofit (I think??), appealing to the real food/sustainable movement folk, producer-only, not over-run by kitsch or eateries - there's a nice balance of foods, eateries, and artisans. They also run an Artists Market where local artisans sell things like hand-spun and hand-dyed wool yarn (!!!), jewelry, greeting cards, unique artsied-up baby clothes, etc. Eastern Market has a greater community feel to it than Central Market, which feels more impersonal to me (though I have gotten to know some vendors, it's nothing like at Eastern), and very touristy. And did I mention the fabulous local musicians they schedule to play? And Ten Thousand Villages Days where the Ephrata store sets up a stand to sell select fairly traded items made from global artisan cooperatives? And Freecycle days? Gardening demos? People on hand to fix your bicycles? AND A WHOLE HOST OF OTHER AWESOMELY AWESOME AWESOMENESS!

//End rant//

Two nights ago when I was battling sleep at 3 am, freshly inspired by my reading Cathy Erway's "The Art of Eating in: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove," my mind was racing with cooking ideas. Wouldn't it be FANTASTIC if Eastern Market hosted a series of cook-off challenges, with donated prizes from local artisans, businesses, and eateries? Market goers could get samples, and an established panel of area chefs/restaurant critics/etc. could judge entries. Somehow, they could charge a fee for entry, and for attendees to sample everything, and use the money as a benefit for Eastern Market's upkeep and/or the local food bank/mission. Great idea, right?! Why hasn't anyone there thought of this yet?!

What about a series of "cooking classes" or demos at Eastern Market, like they do at the famed Reading Terminal Market in Philly? This would be especially helpful to those market goers that are unfamiliar with how to cook or use certain heirloom varieties of produce and what to make with them.

AND, if there is one or more someone needs to inform me, why are there no local underground supper clubs in Lancaster?! I want to start one! I want to cook and eat with likeminded sustainable foodies/cooks! Eastern Market would be the perfect place to "troll" for potential members! I wish they'd have a Community Board that you could put up advertisements for stuff like that so others can check it out and get in contact with each other....I really need to pitch these ideas to Eastern Market managers.

I recently read an article in the NY Times about the foodie scene in the Bay Area - fermenting preservation methods are alive and burgeoning on the West Coast, and I love it! I couldn't help being black with envy over the Underground Market they have in San Francisco that is relatively new; up and coming home cooks that want to sell some of their yummies on the side are able to do so, withOUT the use of a commercial kitchen or business license (like the health departments require for a legit business), on the Underground Market that moves around, once a month, to different "secret" locations. There's a bit of cloak-and-dagger to the sign-up of being a vendor OR a consumer attendee, and that only enchants me further! It allows foodie cooks to make a few bucks and enjoy what they're doing, as well as providing consumers in the know with a product they want and are willing to pay for without government intrusion/protection. This, in Lancaster, would completely satisfay a few of my "rebel against The Man" fantasies I have going. We need to make this happen here.

Over the next several weeks I'll be recipe testing for desserts. I'm thinking of starting a weekly feature on Mondays called "Manic Monday Morsels" - I'll make the recipe over the weekend, photograph, and post for Monday, which leaves you all week to try it out or get what you need to try it out the following weekend, should your little heart so desire. I'll also be posting on some upcoming foodie classes I'll be taking; I'm attending a cheesemaking workshop this coming Saturday, and (hopefully) the following Saturday I'll be attending a canning workshop in Philly so I can learn how to can! I'm inordinately ecstatic to be adding some kitchen skill notches to my proverbial belt.

A quick note on dinner tonight (since this is so long already...): There is nothing like homemade pizza. I would be content to never darken the doorway of a pizzeria again. If you're curious, I used the recipe for no-knead Olive Oil Dough from the cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, some of my leftover spaghetti sauce (recipe in an old post), and the ubiquitous shredded pizza cheese and seasonings. Here is the picture of my personal 9 inch pizza (those are Mario Batali non-stick pizza pans I used - I haven't readied my new Williams-Sonoma baking stone yet). Get a load of this lusciousness: