The rest of this week is a Hideous Social Round. I have a novel to finish, you guys. Why do people have to go on holiday in the summer? Why are novels due the ends of summers? Why is the autumn season the one you want your new novel published in? Why does it take a year for a book to make it through production and show up in the shops?
So I had a friend here for tea. And I’m plying her with muffins and scones and tea bread and things* and she’s very appreciative and has seconds and so on and then she starts telling me that she knows that the reason I had her for tea is because I don’t know how to cook real food.** She also reads the blog. She says I have never posted any recipes with any redeeming social virtues whatsoever.
I started to get all shirty and then I thought . . . uh. She’s probably right. I admit I haven’t checked but . . . I don’t really want to know that I’ve never posted anything with, oh, say, chicken in it. I thought about this all through bell ringing.*** By the time I got home again, after all that intensive thinking about food, I was ready to eat my laptop. I am having scrambled eggs with smoked salmon instead.
But I am going to post a recipe with chicken in it.
Many, many years ago, when I still ate more or less like a normal person, I bought a Shaker cookbook. You know all those old Shaker buildings with their clean pure lines and the lovely spare leanness of their furniture? They make up for it in the food. It’s all cream sauces. It’s quite extraordinary. Just holding the book in your hands you can feel your belt getting tighter. I love cream sauces. Just by the way.
And then I went off dairy. Frell. So I had a fairly major cookbook clear-out and the Shaker is one of the ones that left me forever†.
A few years after that another friend gave me a copy of a cookbook I think I’ve cited here before: COUNTRY SUPPERS by Ruth Cousineau. It’s got all kinds of winsome stuff in it. Including a recipe that reminded me of all my lost cream-sauce darlings in the old Shaker book. When I used still to go off the rails in a dairy direction, this is one of the recipes I would plunge toward. And as I was pulling on a bell rope this evening†† and thinking about food, I remembered both this recipe and my promise, or threat, to post Food I Have Loved But Can No Longer Eat here. So this is my version of Ruth Cousineau’s verson of:
Chicken and Apples in Cream
2 T lightly salted butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 normal sized or 1 monster Bramley sour cooking apple(s), sliced
few drops tamari (good soy sauce)
1 c chicken stock
½ c heavy cream
1-2 T white wine. Make this the day after you’ve had a good bottle of white, and save the dregs.
2 c chopped cooked chicken. I like it in fairly large chunks with lots of sauce. Adjust to preference.
Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, till soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, till softened, again about 10 minutes. Sprinkle on flour and stir. Cook a few minutes, till brown and gungy, add stock, cream and tamari. Cook 3-5 minutes, till thick and homogenous; then add wine. Start with 1T and see if you like the consistency/texture. I always want a second T. I have been known to use 4T flour and ¼ c wine. In which case you may want to add a little more cream. The sauce is good over many vegetables too, if you happen to find yourself with an excess. Add the chicken and heat through.
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* I would kill for a piece of lardy cake. Have I said this before? Probably. Lardy cake haunts my dreams. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lardy_cake But it’s basically sugar and lard stuck together with a little flour and a few raisins http://www.fitzbillies.co.uk/uploads/257___1.jpg and a single piece of lardy cake would be my calorie ration for about a week. I hate menopause. I used just to have lardy cake when I met friends for tea—I used to know all the best lardy cake cafes and delis in this area—at least I had sufficient sense never to learn how to make the stuff. A whole sheet of lardy cake . . . mind boggling. Waistline boggling.
** The real reason I have people over for tea instead of supper is because I’m probably bell ringing during normal supper hours.
*** Of course I went bell ringing, in spite of expending several hours over tea with a friend and having a novel to finish. I have priorities. Wednesday evening priority is bell ringing. We were rather overwhelmed with beginners tonight, including a brand new eight year old. Eight years old is the bottom limit: no eight years, no ring. As handed down by the Central Council. This girl is about the size of a speck of dust but her mum—Marilyn—says she’s been talking about being old enough to ring for months so she had to be given a shot at it. She was fine. I’ve been telling Marilyn she’d be fine. She’s a very sturdy and determined speck of dust.
† Although it went to a good home with a friend who still ate cream sauces and I hope they’ve been very happy together.
†† Wild Robert made me call a touch of Grandsire! No, no! You must be talking to some other Robin! Blah gleb urb arrgh blah! I’ve called I think one touch of bob doubles in my life! —I made a mess of it of course.
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