Peter Aitken's Recipe Collection

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cooking recipes kitchen food 12


Chixken and dumplings

One 2.5 - 3 lb chicken
2 celery stalks, cleaned and cut into 1/2" slices
Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" slices, about 1 cup
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into dice about the same size as the celery and carrots
1 cup frozen peas
4 TB butter
2 TB all-purpose flour

The dumplings:

2c cake flour (preferred) or all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 TB butter melted
3/4c milk
1/4c minced fresh herbs such as parsley or sage, or 1 TB dry herbs

Remove giblets from the chicken and put the chicken in a pot that's not too much wider than the chicken. Add just enough water to cover and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, skimming any foam that collects, then cover and simmer until done, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when cool enough to handle, remove and shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Return the bones and skin to the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes. Strain stock into a bowl and discard the solids.

In a wide, shallow pan with a close-fitting cover (I like to use a rectangular electric skillet), melt the butter over medium high heat and add the celery, carrots, onion, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring now and then, for about 5 minutes until the veggies just start to brown. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle in the 2 TB flour. Stir until the flour is all incorporated. Add about 1.5 quarts of the stock and stir, then cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 min.

While the veg are cooking, prepare the dumplings. Thoroughly mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.Add the butter, milk, and herbs and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. You'll end up with a sticky, shaggy dough. Do not overmix, this can lead to tough dumplings. Set aside.

When the veg are done, stir in the chicken, peas, several grindings of black pepper, and more salt if needed. Return to a simmer. Add more stock if you like (extra stock can be frozen). Using 2 spoons, drop the dumpling dough by generous tablespoons onto the surface of the simmering stew, leaving about an inch between. Cover tightly and maintain a simmer for 15 minutes without lifting the cover. Remove a dumpling and test it to be sure it is done. If not, cover and simmer for another 5 min. Serve hot.

Variation: Increase the amounts of celery, carrots, and mushrooms by about half. Use only half of the chicken meat, reserving the remainder for another use.

Convection roasted no-baste stuffed turkey with gravy

I have found that the combination of brining and convection roasting provides the best combination of moist meat and crispy skin without the need to turn the turkey during cooking. Preheating the stuffing lets you cook the stuffing to a safe temperature without overcooking the bird. I like a natural, preferably organic, turkey and always stay away from those that are injected with crap to "improve" the flavor. The timing here is for a 15-16 lb turkey.

To brine, put the raw turkey (thawed if previously frozen), giblets and neck removed and saved, in a large pot. Add cold water with a measuring cup to just cover. Remove the turkey and add to the water 2 TB of table salt for every quart of water (1/2c per gallon). You can use kosher salt if you like, but why go to the extra expense when it's all going down the drain eventually? Stir to dissolve and return the turkey to the pot. Brine for 12 hours in the fridge. Discard the brine and thoroughly rinse the turkey. Let the turkey sit at room temperature, uncovered, for at least an hour before stuffing. Cut off and reserve the wingtips and remove any large lumps of fat from the cavity.

Put the neck, giblets (but not the liver) and wingtips in a saucepan with a bit of onion, carrot, and celery. Cover with water, add a bit of salt, and simmer until the neck falls apart. Strain, discard the solids, and set aside.

Preheat your convection oven to 350f and set the rack to near the bottom.

Make your favorite stuffing. Just before stuffing the turkey, reheat the stuffing until it's too hot to handle with your hands. Stuff the cavity of the bird. If there's not enough skin to cover the opening to the cavity, use a small piece of aluminum foil to cover the exposed stuffing so it does not dry out. Some people like to stuff the neck cavity as well, but I find it to be too much bother for the small amount of stuffing it holds. Use kitchen string to tie the wings against the body of the turkey and to tie the ends of the drumsticks together.

Put the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and brush all over with olive oil. Scatter some chunks of onion, carrot, and celery in the bottom of the pan and add a cup or 2 of water. Roast for 1 hour. After 30 minutes check to see if it is browning evenly-if not, rotate the pan half a turn. Add water as needed to keep a half inch or so in the bottom of the pan.

After the hour is up, reduce heat to 250f. After another hour and a half start checking the turkey with a meat thermometer. You want 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the turkey to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

To make gravy, remove the roasting rack and place the roasting pan on the stove. You should have a cup or 2 of liquid in the pan. Bring to a gentle boil and stir, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the reserved turkey stock and continue to boil for a minute or 2. Strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl and skim off the fat. If necessary, add chicken stock to make 1 quart.

Add 6 TB of butter to the pan-you can use all or part of the fat you skimmed off in the previous step in place of butter. Over low heat, add 1/2c flour and stir for a few minutes until completely combined with the fat but not browned. Slowly add the stock, stirring with a whisk, and stir until smooth and thickened. Correct seasoning. Strain (to remove any lumps of flour that remain) into your gravy boat.

Chicken enchilada casserole

About 12 corn tortillas, cut in quarters
2-10 oz cans enchilada sauce, mild or hot
8 oz grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1-11 oz can whole kernel corn
1-14 oz can kidney beans
1/2 diced onion
2c shredded cooked chicken

Drain the corn and beams and mix together with the onions. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 10 or 12 inch square casserole dish. Cover with a single layer of tortillas, 1/3 of the bean mixture, 1/3 of the chicken, 1/4 of the cheese, and 1/4 of the remaining sauce. Create 2 more tortilla/bean/chicken/cheese/sauce layers in this manner. Finish with tortillas and the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 f for 30 min, then uncover and cook for a final 15 min.


Cornish game hens with spices and yogurt

This dish is definitely Indian in inspiration, and is a wonderful way to serve these tasty little birds. 

2 game hens
1c plain low fat or whole milk yogurt (don't use fat-free)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace 
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
Cayenne pepper, none to 2 tsp depending on hotness desired
1 tsp paprika (only if omitting cayenne)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large onions, chopped
2 TB ghee or butter
2 tsp salt

Cut hens in half and clean. Soak saffron in 1 TB hot water for a few minutes. Add yogurt and spices to saffron and mix well. Put marinade and hens in a zip-loc bag, mix well, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Melt ghee in a microwave dish that is just large enough to hold the hens. Add onions and garlic and microwave on high for 5 minutes, stirring once. Add hens, salt, and marinade and cover. Cook on high for 20 minutes. Remove cover and run under a conventional broiler for a few minutes to brown.

Chicken with garlic and rosemary

My own invention, but with a very definite Italian heritage. Serve with pasta - the pan sauce is terrific.

4 chicken legs, preferable free-range, separated
1/2c good olive oil (don't skimp on this!)
1/4c chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4c sliced garlic
1/2c chicken stock
1/2c dry white vermouth
salt, pepper

Heat the oil in a sauté pan until quite hot - almost smoking. Add the chicken and brown well on all sides - at least 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, stirring for a minute or two. Add rosemary, sauté for 1 minute. Add stock and wine, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Duck breasts with orange blueberry sauce

4 boneless duck breasts (2 whole breasts divided in half)

1c orange juice
1c duck or chicken stock
1c balsamic vinegar (no need to use the pricey stuff)
2 TB grated ginger
2 TB molasses
Small pinch each cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves
1/2c dried blueberries (fresh should work too)

To make the sauce, simmer the OJ, stock, and vinegar in a small pan until reduced by almost 50%. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve warm.

For the duck, liberally salt the breasts (maybe 2 tsp salt per breast) and refrigerate for a few hours. Rinse and pat dry. Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat and film with oil. Add the breasts, skin up, and cook without moving for a couple of minutes. Turn the breasts skin-down and transfer to a 450f oven until done, still pink in the middle, about 5-6 minutes. Serve with sauce.

Mexican chicken

I am not sure what else to call this. In any case, it is very good served with plain white rice.

4 lbs chicken pieces, skin on *
2 TB oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb chorizo, removed from casing and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2c chicken broth
1-14oz can chopped tomatoes
3 carrots, chopped coarsely (about 1 cup)
2 large zucchini, diced in 1/2 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1/3c raisins
1-3 jalapeno peppers, halved **

Dry the chicken on paper towels and brown well on all sides in the oil in a large Dutch oven. Remove. Add onions, chorizo, and garlic and sauté until just starting to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add chicken broth and tomatoes and simmer until reduced in volume by about 30%. Return chicken to pan and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add carrots and jalapeno peppers and simmer for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and raisins and simmer for 10 minutes or until zucchini is just done (not mushy). Correct seasoning and serve.

* I prefer al -legs as the meat is tastier and moister than breasts.

** Depending on your taste and the hotness of the peppers, you can add fewer peppers and/or remove the seeds.  

Barbecued chicken

Too much of the chicken that comes off grills in this country is overcooked, dry, and stringy. It's not difficult to have juicy flavorful BBQ chicken. The primary rule is not to cook it for too long. People are worried about bacterial contamination and so cook the bird way longer than is needed. Remember that any bacteria will be on the outside of the chicken, so there is no need to cook it until the inside is overdone. Ideally, there should be just the faintest trace of pink in the thickest part of the meat, next to the bone, when you remove the chicken from the grill. You can also use an instant-read thermometer. Another common problem is that by the time the chicken is fully cooked, the outside has turned black from the unavoidable flare-ups on the grill. My solution is to cook the chicken most of the way through in the oven, then finish it off on the grill. Here's my recipe. Note that I use all legs, which provide juicier and more flavorful meat. If you must use breasts, remember that they do not take as long to cook.

8 whole chicken legs
1/2 vegetable oil
2 TB wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Your favorite BBQ sauce

Separate the drumsticks from the thighs, and separate the thighs from the back portion (if still attached). Trim off excess fat and if desired remove the skin. Whisk the next 4 ingredients together and put in a heavy duty Ziploc bag along with the chicken pieces. Make sure the chicken is coated with the marinade and refrigerate, turning now and then, for at least 4 hours (all day is better). Discard marinade and place chicken in a shallow baking pan. Bake in your oven at 350 for 30 minutes. At this point the chicken will be mostly done. While the chicken is baking, preheat your grill. When the chicken is done baking turn the grill to low, rub the grate with a paper towel dipped in oil, and place the chicken pieces on the grill. Cook for about 15 minutes, basting and turning every few minutes. Test for doneness with a thermometer or by cutting to the bone on the thigh.

Chicken with bell peppers

2 cut up chickens, skinned
1 medium onion
2 large or 3 small red or yellow bell peppers
1/4c olive oil
salt, pepper

Dice onions. Clean peppers and cut into 1 inch pieces. Sauté onion in oil until limp. Add peppers and sauté another 10 minutes. Dry chicken and add to pan, raising heat to medium high and brown chicken, turning often, 5-10 minutes. Lower heat and cover pan, and cook for another 20-25 minutes, turning chicken once. Season to taste.

Chicken in the style of Claire and Bethany

I devised this recipe one evening when cooking for my daughter Claire and her friend Bethany. It is slightly sweet and appeals to the taste of children, while introducing some Chinese flavors. Good with rice.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large garlic clove, minced fine
3 TB hoisin sauce
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
1 TB vegetable oil

In a skillet, cook the garlic in the oil until it is just starting to color. Add the hoisin sauce and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Turn chicken over, add soy sauce and wine, and cover. Cook on low heat until done, about 15-20 minutes. If desired, add a few TB water at the end to make a little more sauce.

Chicken with mushrooms and rosemary

3/4c chopped onion
1c sliced mushrooms
3TB butter
4 skinned chicken legs
2 TB fresh or 1 TB dry rosemary
1/2c dry white wine
salt, pepper

Sauté onion in 1 TB butter over medium heat until limp. Add mushrooms and sauté about 10 minutes, or until liquid evaporates. Remove to a bowl and wipe out pan with paper towel. Melt remaining butter and when hot add chicken legs. Brown well on both sides. Reduce heat, return onions/mushrooms to pan, sprinkle rosemary over, and add wine. Season to taste, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, turning chicken halfway through.

Turkey legs with yellow turnips

A simple and delightful dish from my mother. Can be doubled.

Start with 1 turkey leg quarter, separated, or preferably 2 turkey thighs, skin removed if desired. Rinse turkey, dry, rub a little salt and pepper on them. Brown gently in a little vegetable oil (canola, corn - not olive) Chop a good 3/4-1 cup of celery including leaves, about the same amount of onions. You can add 1/2 chopped carrots or omit them as desired. Add all veg to turkey after it has browned lightly on all sides. It won't be evenly browned. Be patient about letting the vegetables wilt and begin to color, stirring once in a while. Add about a scant cup of white wine, whatever's in your fridge, some soave or even dry white vermouth if that's what's available. Let it evaporate over medium heat until you have a moist but not liquidy potful. Now add some stock - usually chicken, to come about half way up the turkey pieces - as you know, this depends on the size of your pan.  Stir lovingly, add a bay leaf or 2, cover and keep at a simmer.

Have a large (softball size) yellow turnip (rutabaga), peel and cut into 1 inch chunks which you then parboil in salted water for a few minutes. Drain and set aside. When the turkey has cooked for about an hour, add the turnip to the turkey, tucking the chunks down into the liquid. Turn the turkey pieces over. Cover, simmer over low heat until tender (this depends on the size and "maturity" of the turkey. Just poke every once in a while - it is not a fine-timed recipe. Allow an hour at least after adding the turnip..

Cut peeled medium onions into halves or use smaller onions -  as many as you want to eat - microwave them in a little chicken broth until almost done. Transfer to turkey pot and let all meld over low heat for a little while. You can serve at this point - having prepared whatever potato you would like - plain boiled chunks, mashed. Keep an eye on the amount of sauce that the dish is providing and add a bit more stock or take the cover off if you want to reduce. Good with applesauce with horseradish, or cranberry sauce if you like that. Reheats well.  

Curried turkey burgers

You can make this into 4 generous hamburger-like patties or into one meatloaf.

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1/2c fine dry bread crumbs
1/4c mango chutney, large pieces mashed
1/4c plain yogurt
1/2c finely chopped onions
1/4c soaked golden raisins
2 TB curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients. Form into patties and cook on the grill or in a fry pan. Or, form into a loaf and cook in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160.

Chicken in almond sauce

This is a Spanish recipe originally called Pollo en Salsa de Almendras. I wrote the directions down after watching it be made, so I do not have exact proportions, but it would be hard to go far wrong.

Cut up chicken, skinned if desired 
White flour
High quality olive oil
Chopped onion
Several whole peeled garlic cloves
A few slices of homemade (preferably) white bread
A handful of toasted slivered almonds
Salt, pepper
Chopped parsley
Chicken stock
Dry sherry or Marsala or Madiera

Rub chicken with salt, pepper, thyme. Shake in a bag with flour to coat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil for 5-10 minutes. Remove. sauté bread in same oil until browned, adding more oil if needed. Remove. sauté chicken in same oil until browned on all sides. Remove. Put onion and garlic back in pan, add wine, and cook, scraping up browned bits, simmering for 30 seconds. Put chicken back in, add just enough stock to cover the chicken, cover pan, and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Remove onions and garlic with a slotted spoon and put in a mortar or food processor with the bread, almonds, cinnamon, and process into a paste, adding a little stock if needed. Mix this paste bank into the stock in the pan and simmer, stirring, to thicken. Returns chicken to pan and heat through. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Chicken with green curry (Thai)

This turned out exceptionally well, better than any I have had in a restaurant.

1 4lb chicken
5 Kaffir lime leaves
20 oz can sliced or whole bamboo shoots (not slivers).
1 to 4 Thai or Serrano chilis in thin strips (optional-the dish is moderately spicy without them)
1c frozen green peas
16 oz canned coconut milk (unsweetened)
Half of a 4 oz can of green chili paste (Mae Ploy brand is excellent; remainder can be frozen)
1/3c Thai fish sauce
1/4c Thai basil or mint leaves

Disassemble the chicken, saving the back and wingtips for stock. Use a cleaver to cut each thigh into 2 pieces. Remove the nobby end from each drumstick and cut the remainder into 2 pieces. Cut each breast half into 3 or 4 pieces. Divide each wing into 2 sections. Remove the skin (wings excluded).

If using whole bamboo shoots, cut into slices about 1 x 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch thick.

Soak the kaffir lime leaves in warm water for at least 15 min. Drain before using.

Heat 4 TB oil in a wok over high heat. Stir fry the chicken until lightly browned and about half cooked. You may want to do this in 2 batches. Remove and set aside.

Add 1/2 of the coconut milk to the wok and cook over medium heat, stirring, until it thickens, forms large bubbles, and turns a light tan color. Add the curry paste and stir until the mixture is quite thick. Add the remaining coconut milk, lime leaves, fish sauce, chilis (if using), and basil or mint. Bring to a simmer and add the chicken, stirring to mix. Simmer covered for about 5 minutes. Add bamboo shoots and peas. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is done, adding a little water if necessary. Add salt if needed. Serve over jasmine rice.

Duck breasts with sweet wine sauce

2 Muscovy duck breasts
2c chicken stock
2c rose wine
2 shallots, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4c honey
1/4c peach, apricot, or nectarine preserves
1/2 TB sherry vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch

In a saucepan, saute the shallot in the oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients (except cornstarch) and simmer until reduced to 1-1.5 cups. Strain and return to pan. Taste and add more salt and vinegar if needed. Thicken with cornstarch mixed with 1 TB water. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 375f. Rinse and dry the duck breasts, and remove any silverskin from the meat side. Rub with salt and pepper. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat (cast iron is great). When hot add the breasts skin side down. Cook without moving for 4-5 minutes until nicely browned. Turn and place pan in oven. Cook for 10-12 min or until done medium rare.

Let duck rest 5 min, then slice at an angle and serve with sauce.

Chicken with potatoes and peppers

A delicious one-pan dinner for 2. The sweetness of the peppers is a great accompaniment for the chicken and spuds.

2 chicken legs, separated, skinned if desired
1 sweet red, yellow, or orange pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4" strips
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
1/2c dry white vermouth
1/3c olive oil
8 small boiling potatoes, 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter (Yukon gold, red bliss, etc.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Scrub the potatoes and use a peeler to remove alternate strips of skin all around, so they are half peeled. Set aside under a damp towel to prevent browning. Heat the oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and add to the pan. Brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side, then remove from pan. Add potatoes and cook, shaking the pan, until lightly browned on all sides. Add peppers and onions and cook stirring for a few minutes. Return chicken to pan, pour in vermouth, add salt and pepper, and cover. reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Chicken fajitas

I am not sure how authentic this is, but it sure tastes good. Serves 4.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3c beer
1/3c freshly squeezed lime juice
1TB brown sugar
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 large or 2 small green bell peppers
1 large or 2 small onions
8 large flour tortillas


Pico de gallo and/or salsa
Sour cream
Grated cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, etc)

Mix all ingredients between the **** to make the marinade. Mix with chicken and refrigerate, stirring once in a while, for at least several hours. Peel, half, and slice the onions. Cut peppers in half, remove seeds and ribs, and slice thinly. Drain chicken and discard marinade. Cut into bite-size pieces. Sauté peppers and onions in 1 TB oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add another 1 TB oil to the pan and increase heat to high. When very hot add chicken pieces and cook until done, stirring occasionally. Heat tortillas by placing them, one at a time, into a dry, hot frying pan for 10-15 second on each side. Put some chicken and onion/pepper mixture on a tortilla, garnish as desired, roll up and eat!