Just One Cook

Saturday, September 25, 2021

 Fried chicken with noodles, leek and mushroom cream sauce

 I'm recording the way I pulled this together, because it seemed like a logical order to me and because I can only do about one thing at a time.



2 bowls

2 pie tins

A deep skillet, such as a cast-iron chicken fryer, or a Dutch oven

another oven-proof skillet or pan big enough to hold the chicken

wire whisk



a plate

a rimmed container 

a turner aka "spatula"

a saucepan in the 3-quart range


 For the chicken:

Four thighs, approx 2 lbs. if skin on, bone in

about 2 cups canola oil

about 1 cup of rice flour

about 1 cup of crushed saltines (easiest way is a zip-lock bag, which can be re-used, and a rolling pin) *if you need gluten-free, you can crush Rice Krispies instead of crackers

2 eggs and 2 T water

salt, pepper, etc. 

Instant-read thermometer or probe thermometer


For the sauce: 

1 leek

about a pint of mushrooms

about half a cup of cream

salt, pepper, etc. (you decide)

Noodles -- I like the dried "homestyle egg noodles" but some day will make my own.

Get the chicken ready

For the crispiest skin, blot the chicken with paper towel, salt it, and put it in a rimmed container, uncovered, the fridge for about an hour. The rimmed container is to keep any juices that are drawn out from dripping all over. Don't let the raw chicken touch anything else in the fridge. 

Make the leek/mushroom mixture

Clean and chop one leek. I cut off the really green leafy parts and the rooty end (just a sliver), slice the leek in half and rinse it  off under running water, spreading the inner green and white "leaves" or layers apart to rinse out any dirt. If the outermost layers are exceptionally dirty or rubbery-tough, I discard them. All the discard goes into the compost bucket to be turned into garden gold!

Clean and slice about a pint of mushrooms. I like creminis, aka "Baby Bellas."

Put a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat and sweat the leeks, then add the mushrooms, stirring occasionally with the spatula to make sure nothing is sticking or burning. You don't want them browned, just softened.  I like the leeks to be almost "melted." Some people might like more crunch.

Remove to a bowl if you are going to use the same skillet to fry the chicken. Be sure to get all the veggies out -- wipe the pan with paper towel if you need to -- because they will burn in the hot oil when you are frying the chicken. 

Bread the chicken 

I use two pie pans and a bowl. Put the rice flour in one pan and the cracker crumbs in the other. Crack the two eggs into the bowl, add the water and whisk thoroughly. Add salt and pepper and whatever other herbs and spices you want to each of the containers. 

Pat the chicken dry again and dredge each piece on both sides in the rice flour, paying special attention to getting all of the skin coated, then in the egg mixture, then in the cracker crumbs.

Fry the chicken 

Use a cast iron chicken fryer or Dutch oven if you can. Put about 2 inches of oil and heat it until a drop of water sputters and disappears. Or use a thermometer, but I never saw Grandma do that. Slide the thighs in, preferably skin side down, releasing each one AWAY from you so you don't get splashed. You can use a pair of tongs if you wish. Don't crowd the pan. If the thighs are large, you might need to do two batches. 

While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 350, and use the time to do some cleanup. Make sure anything that has touched the raw chicken gets thoroughly washed, preferably in the dishwasher.

Fry on one side without moving for 3-4 minutes, until deep golden brown on that side. Carefully turn them over and fry for another 3 minutes or so until the other side is deep golden brown. The chicken is NOT DONE yet, but you are done frying. As you remove each piece from the skillet, put it in the ovenproof pan and cover that with aluminum foil. 

When all of the chicken has been fried and the oven has reached 350, remove the foil and put the chicken in the oven for about 15 minutes.

 Meanwhile, cook the noodles -- This is a good time to put the water on to boil. Follow the package directions.


 Dark meat like the thighs are supposed to be cooked until the interior of the meat -- not the pan, not the bone, so be careful where you insert the thermometer -- is 175. In reality, there will be some "carryover" heat build-up, so I pull them a little sooner, but you might want to start by reaching 175. *if you are using breasts instead of thighs for some reason, they only need to reach 165, and 160 will get you there with carryover

By now the skilllet should be cool enough to allow you to pour the oil into a heat-proof container, such as a Pyrex measuring cup or even a glass jelly jar. If you plan to save it, you'll need to strain out the bits of coating that have fallen off the chicken. Or you can put the lid on the jelly jar and discard it. Don't poor it down the sink!

Finish the sauce:

Wipe out the skillet so it doesn't have any burned bits of the breading. Put the leeks and mushrooms back in to reheat, add the cream. Stir while it thickens a bit. Taste and season if necessary.

To plate, you can either drain the noodles or pull some out with tongs. Spoon some of the sauce onto the noodles and add a chicken thigh.

Make sure you have turned off the oven and all of the burners.

Bon Appetit!


Friday, August 27, 2021

 Halibut with leeks, mushrooms and red bell pepper

Ingredients: *

halibut filet(s), about 1/3 pound for one person

1 leek, thoroughly cleaned, white and tender green parts chopped into fairly fine slivers (discard tougher outer "leaves"), preferably in compost bin

1 red bell pepper, diced.

1 pint cremini ("baby bella") mushrooms

1 lemon 

1-1/2 glass of white wine

butter, canola oil, salt, pepper, whatever herbs or spices you like with fish


1. In butter or canola oil, or a mixture of both, saute mushrooms and pepper. Remove from pan, leaving as much of the fat behind as you can.

2. Adding more butter/oil if needed, "melt" the leeks -- don't brown them, just soften them. Salt them. Add the mushroom/pepper mixture back in, zest the lemon into the pan. Juice the lemon into the bowl that held the mushrooms so you can be sure to catch any lemon seeds. Add the lemon juice to the pan. Check seasoning, add salt and pepper and whatever herbs you like with fish.

3. Remove the veggies from the pan. Add more butter/oil if needed, but there only needs to be enough to keep the fish from sticking.

4. Salt and pepper the halibut. Cook the halibut, about 3 minutes on each side for a filet that's about 1 inch thick. After turning once and cooking for 1 minute, add 1/2 glass of wine to deglaze the pan and make a little sauce. Drink the other glass.

Serve halibut over a bed of the veggies and pour the reduced sauce over the top.


*This makes enough of the vegetables for at least two people; if only making one portion of fish, refrigerate the remaining vegetable mixture to use with pasta. You'll just need to boil some pasta, heat the veggies, and add parmesan or pecorino romano cheese and a little cream, and if you like, prosciutto or cooked pancetta or bacon. Oh, and some garlic!


Use whatever veggies you like and cook accordingly. Omit wine, use water or a mild broth. You could probably use other fish, for that matter.



Thursday, July 29, 2021

 Crab balls rolled in brown rice flour

Use any good crab cake recipe, one that doesn't use a lot of cracker crumbs inside -- like half a cup for a pound of lump crab -- and then instead of rolling in bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, roll in rice flour for a crispy, tempura-like shell when you deep-fry them. And no, this probably won't work in an air fryer, but you could warm them up in one.

Friday, July 16, 2021


Corn bread with creamed corn

One advantage of this recipe is that unlike many, it doesn’t call for buttermilk, which I never automatically have on hand.


  • 1 1/4 cups plain cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (omit if that offends you)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can creamed-style corn

Preheat oven to 425. Prepare 10-inch cast iron skillet (grease – butter or reserved bacon grease preferred)

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl; mix wet ingredients separately and add to dry. Mix until just combined.

Bake 17-21 minutes; pull before it overbakes and dries out.

If necessary, slide a table knife backward around the sides to make sure it will come loose from the skillet. Place cooling rack on top of skillet. Using potholders or oven mitts, flip.

Serve with butter and whatever – molasses, honey, syrup, fruit, jam. Or with chili or bean soup.






Thursday, June 17, 2021

 Oven chicken thighs with veggies and honey hot sauce


Oven chicken with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and a chili-Worcestershire-soy-honey-vinegar sauce, served with couscous. I like couscous because it takes 3 minutes to make and is good at soaking up delicious sauce.


I can't actually give a recipe for this, but I can tell you what I did.

Chopped an onion and started sweating it over medium heat, with salt. I used my cast iron chicken fryer, which is deeper than a skillet. A Dutch oven would clearly work, also.

Peeled and chopped two cloves of garlic and added to the pot.

Made a marinade/sauce of red wine vinegar, honey, red chili sauce (the chunky kind, Chinese), Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. I kind of did it by glugs and spoons and taste.* For four boneless, skinless chicken thighs, I used about 2 tablespoons of the chili sauce, but be careful -- you can add but you can't remove! The goal is to have enough of the combined ingredients to generously coat the chicken pieces, and more is clearly better. So it's fine to add and taste and add and taste.

Preheated the oven to 425. 

Soaked the four chicken thighs in this sauce for about 15 minutes while I slowly sweated the vegetables on medium low heat:

To the onion/garlic, I added about two cups of sliced "baby bella" (aka cremini) mushrooms and some chopped up roasted red pepper, which was in a jar in my pantry; I used about half the jar. It would probably be one pepper if you roasted one from scratch. 

I arranged the four chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and poured all the sauce over the whole thing. 

Put it in the oven to cook for half an hour, turning the thighs over after 15 minutes.

After checking that the chicken was done, I made couscous. It's 1-1/2 cups liquid -- water or broth -- to 1 cup couscous. Bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and slap a lid on it. I like to add a generous blob of butter, especially when I use water instead of broth, but that's up to you.

Serve the chicken and veggies over the couscous. That's it. 

Clearly, you could add any vegetables that you want to, and even add something like cashews or other nuts; olives might be good, too. You could add tomato paste or barbecue sauce or lemon juice to the sauce, as the mood strikes you.

 *I made another batch of this, measuring this time:

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tablespoons chili garlic sauce (less if you don't like spicy)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup honey, or to taste (use less if you are using balsamic vinegar, for example)

I think this would also be a good dipping sauce for things like fried shrimp. Remember that when it is cooked with the chicken and veggies, it gets "diluted" with their juices, so it will be stronger as a stand-alone sauce. Might want less chili sauce in it, for example.


Sunday, April 18, 2021


 Thrice cooked chicken (really)

Now that I have an air fryer function on my toaster oven, I have been experimenting. This one turned out great.

I accidentally discovered that rice flour is better than wheat flour if you want crispy fried chicken.

Then I discovered that, although it isn't a great idea to try to cook "breaded" items from scratch in the air fryer, it makes breaded things really crispy.

And I have always known that undercooked chicken is inedible, but overcooked chicken is nasty, too. Dry and stringy.

And I have also learned over the years that marinating chicken for an hour or two before cooking it really does help keep it moist and juicy.

Then a friend reminded me of an old trick for breading the chicken, which is to put the flour in a paper bag, with seasonings of your choice, and shake it. It's much less messy than using the tray system. And if you have marinated the chicken, it is already moist on the outside, so no egg wash is needed to get the flour to stick.

So I combined all of these things.

This was about 1.7 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about two cups of rice flour, and assorted condiments.

1. In a container that has a lid and is big enough to hold the chicken and about an equal amount of liquid, put water, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, a couple of teaspoons of sugar and maybe a little salt, some freshly ground pepper and whatever else floats your boat. Put the lid on and shake it up. Add the chicken and refrigerate for an hour or two.(I eyeballed this. You could put the chicken in first, mix condiments in a separate container, then add them and enough water to just cover the chicken. )

2. Put about two cups of rice flour in a brown paper bag, add salt, pepper and whatever else you like. I like ancho chili powder. Shake it up.

3. Put about two inches of canola oil in a cast iron chicken fryer or Dutch oven and heat it up. Again, I just guess at this, but if you sprinkle a few drops of water, carefully, and it spits, it's hot enough. Be careful. 

4. While the oil is heating, put the chicken into the bag, one or two or three pieces at a time, depending on the size of the bag, and shake 'em up. If any part isn't coated, stick your hand in and roll the chicken pieces around. 

5. Turn on the oven to 350.

6. Fry the chicken in the oil, in batches so they aren't touching. I could get three thighs in at the same time, so two batches. Be sure to put the chicken in from front to back, so that if any oil splashes, it splashes away from you, not onto you!

7. After a few minutes, turn the pieces over. They will be a light golden brown.

8. After a few minutes on the other side, transfer to an ungreased ovenproof pan. I have a cast iron one that is a griddle/Dutch oven lid. Put in oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until interior temp is 150-160 on an instant-read thermometer.

9. Transfer to air fryer basket and "fry" at 450 for 8-10 minutes. 

These came out crispy on the outside and fully cooked but succulent on the inside. I will make them this way again.

When I am more experienced using the air-fryer function, I can probably skip the oven step and put the partly-fried chicken into the air fryer, probably at 350 first and then 450 to crisp it up.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Pasta della casa

My Italian inlaws will probably be appalled at this, but I have come up with a simple pasta dish that I absolutely love. I almost always have the ingredients, so it is a good "I don't feel like grocery shopping" dish.

1 onion, chopped
3 – 6 cloves of garlic, or (gasp) garlic powder
1 lb. of Italian sausage. I use the mild blend from my supermarket, because I can always add spice if I need to. This is the “loose” kind, not the kind in casings. If you have the kind in casings, you need to squeeze it out, and that’s kind of gross.
About half a box of Angel hair pasta (it’s a one-pound box)
1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes, preferably Roma
Splash of red wine
About a cup of chicken or beef or veal stock
Maybe a T of anchovy paste (optional, but once you have tried it, you'll be sorry if you leave it out)
3T tomato paste (buy the kind in the tube so you can keep it in the fridge and squeeze it out like toothpaste)
Salt, pepper, herbs that you like
Parmesan cheese that you grate or that you buy grated, because I’m not looking
A little bit of butter or olive oil
Equipment: A cast iron pan and a non-reactive dutch oven such as Le Creuset. You do not need  pot and colander for the pasta, which will be explained later in the instructions.

Sweat the onion in the butter or oil in the cast iron pan and move into the Le Creuset dutch oven.
Brown the sausage in the cast iron pan. I know you could do this in the Le Creuset, but I like to put it in the cast iron pan in big pieces and use my metal spatula to break it up into meatball size chunks, and you  shouldn’t use metal in the Le Creuset because it will damage the enamel. The metal spatula won’t hurt the cast iron skillet, but the acid from the tomato sauce might (not permanently, but would hurt the seasoning of the cast iron, which is what keeps things from sticking. That’s why I use two pans, but only two.
When the sausage is really crispy browned – and I like it to even be blackened on some sides – move it over to the dutch oven. Pour in the tomatoes, juice and all. You can cut up the tomatoes if you want, or put the in the metal pan and chop them roughly with the spatula, which is what I do, before quickly moving them to the enamel pan, where they won't hurt my lovely cast iron. Throw in the peeled and chopped cloves of garlic, as much as you want. And herbs. And the splash of wine. And the broth. And the tomato paste. And the anchovy paste. Simmer for as long as you can stand it, stirring only because you want to check to make sure it hasn’t boiled dry. Add more broth or wine or even water if it is getting kind of dry. 
Make sure that you have at least three inches of liquid at the top of the pot. Bring it up to a boil. Then take about ½ pound of the angel hair pasta, break it in half (probably do this in three or so bunches) and drop it into the boiling liquid. That’s right, don’t boil the pasta separately and drain it, just throw it right in to the sauce. It will cook right there.
The pasta will thicken the sauce and absorb the sauce and taste wonderful, and because it is angel hair, it will cook pretty quickly. When it is all bendy and opaque, taste the sauce to see if you even need to add salt and pepper, then scoop some of the pasta and sauce into your preferred bowl or plate, add grated cheese, pour a glass of wine and sigh.

This reheats wonderfully, even in the microwave. The pasta really soaks up the sauce, so you will probably need to add liquid.

I'm pretty sure you could riff on this as much as you want. Saute some mushrooms with the onions? Why not? Want more sauce? Sure, use more tomatoes. Want it spicier? Knock yourself out.


About Me

My photo
This is me enjoying a limoncello in Rome on the last night of our trip to Italy. Funny thing is, I don't really like limoncello that much, but thought it would be great in a dessert. And wouldn't you know, The Barefoot Contessa just did a great fruit salad with limoncello. So now I can't. Oh, well.