Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roasted Lemon & Herb Chicken

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite things to do for a simple dinner party. Roasting a whole chicken is really easy but looks impressive. It also looks like you have spent a lot of time when in all actuality the oven is the only one that put in the time.

Ryan often puts the chicken on the rotisserie of the BBQ during the summer and we have that often for dinner. When it is just the two of us we can usually get a few meals out of one bird. After dinner I will strip the rest of the meat off and usually make some sort of chicken salad for lunch. I then take the picked-clean bird, add some vegetables and herbs and boil it to make some good stock for use in a future soup.


1 4-5 pound free-range chicken
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 handful fresh rosemary
1 handful fresh thyme
2 tables spoons butter
olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.

Zest one of the lemons and reserve the zest. Pierce a couple of holes in the zested lemon and then stuff the lemon, garlic, and a half of the herbs inside. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a roasting pan.

Finely chop the reaming rosemary and thyme (about 2-3 tables spoons each). In a small bowl, add the chopped herbs, reserved lemon zest, butter, salt and pepper. Mix together until well combined.

Gently separate the skin from the meat of the breast and top of drumsticks. Take the herb-butter mixture and smear it in the pocket made between the skin and meat.

Take the remaining lemon and cut 6, 1/4 slices. Place the 4 lemon slices in between the skin and the breast meat and 1 slice in the pocket of each drumstick where the herb-butter mixture was spread.

Fold the wings under and tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine to help hold its shape. Season the whole thing with a fair amount of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the chicken for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer says 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.) Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat before carving. You can deglaze the pan and make a sauce if you like but I usually just remove the lemon and squeeze it over the meat.

Recipe by me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing

It was once again time for me to bake something to be auctioned off at our Church's annual auction for the local food bank. Because the auction was in late October, I wanted something that screamed fall. At first I was just going to make a pumpkin cheesecake. I LOVE pumpkin cheesecake but I have made that many times before so I decide to look around a bit and see what new yummy fall dessert I could find. Boy did I find one. I of course had to test the recipe out before making it for the auction so I made it and brought it over to my parents' house and had my family sample and give me their opinion. We all loved it so I knew Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing was the one. The apples make the cake so moist and it has just the right amount of spice. The cake is also very impressive with the caramel and pecans not to mention it is huge. I unfortunately was not able to attend the auction so I don't know how much money the cake raised but I did hear from many at the table that purchase it and it got nothing but good reviews.

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbs molasses
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled and shredded (1 1/2-2 cups)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs fresh minced ginger (optional)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups caramel topping (I used Hershey's brand)
  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese (original recipe called for mascarpone)
  • 2 cups pecan pieces, toasted (optional)

Place one oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and place a second in the top third. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans, then line each one with a parchment paper round and grease the rounds.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the molasses, and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at at a time, beating well after each egg. In a medium bowl, sift together the four, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Add the sour cream and flour mixture alternately to the batter, starting and ending with the flour mixture (flour in 3 increments, sour cream in 2 increments). Stir in the shredded apples, vanilla, and fresh ginger.

The batter will be thick, so use a spoon to transfer evenly into the three pans. Place 2 of the pans side by side on one rack, and the third on the other rack. Make sure they are staggered so that no layer is directly under or above another. Bake 35-40 minutes, rearranging the layers about halfway through, until firm to the touch. Monitor the layers carefully, as they may be ready at different times.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and carefully unmold the cakes to a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, cream the butter on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale. Add the powdered sugar over low speed until combined, then add the cream cheese, cream and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Reserve about 1/4-1/3 cup of the caramel, then stir the remaining caramel into the frosting, using large strokes to create swirls throughout.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate or decorating stand, and spread a layer of icing on top. Top with the second cake, then repeat with more icing, then the final layer. Cover the cake with an even layer of frosting. Pat the toasted pecans onto the sides of the cake, then decorate the top as you desire. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the top.

Original recipe from Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen Christmas. Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley.
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