"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'
Oh my goodness, I am beside myself with excitement to introduce you to today's guest for Fridays, Feasting with Friends! Her name is Whitney Ingram. She is the author of whitneyingram and the former culinary blog, Rookie Cookie. I discovered Rookie Cookie when I first got into the blogging world. It is a fantastic food blog, where recipe after recipe I tried were not only delicious but also well written and easy to follow. I found myself going back time after time, only not just for her recipes. She had a great sense of humor and an openness that I loved. She had a way of making me feel like I knew her, even though she was a world away (OK, just Utah, but far enough for this Midwestern girl!) That is the true definition of an excellent blogger. Over time she has become an online blogging friend whom I probably would never would have meet if it wasn't for her written word. What a cool community I get to be apart of! Whitney no longer writes on Rookie Cookie, but the blog is still up and available for use. If you have never tried any of her recipes, please do yourself a favor and go bookmark her site. You will thank me, I promise!
I am so excited and proud of Whitney for taking the humongous step in writing a cookbook (it's in the works, so keep your eyes and ears peeled- don't worry, I will let you know when it is available.) And I actually get to have a small hand in the process by being one of her "recipe testers"! Such fun! I am making one of my "testing recipes" tonight as a matter of fact- very exciting. She is hugely talented and I am thrilled you get to have a glimpse into her lovely little life. Whitney, thank you so much for being a guest today, and I am definitely trying out your roast chicken recipe. It sounds wonderful!
So for today's Friday's, Feasting with Friends I give you Whitney Ingram.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Dinner. I like making dinner. Anything to do with it. I feel really limited by baking. All that measuring... so restraining! With cooking, anything goes. And when a thrown-together recipe works out, that makes the food that much more delicious.
How about your least favorite thing to cook?
I get nervous about grilling steak. Nothing is sadder than a pretty piece of meat that is overcooked. So I usually chicken out all together and have my husband do the steak grilling.
What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
There is a little Mexican food place in Provo, UT called El Azteca. Greasy tacos, beans and rice and spicy salsa. It is my favorite kind of food.
A place I want to try out is Zoom in Park City, UT. I was in Park City last weekend and we walked by. It looks fancy and yummy. So that is now on my list.
Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Harry Connick Jr is always a go. His music is easy going and his voice is smooth like butter.
I also like turning on disco. Everyone loves disco and everyone can’t help but groove a bit during dinner.
What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
My husband’s roast chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, a perfect Caesar salad, some type of fruity lemonade and then a molten chocolate cake for dessert.
What are you currently reading?
“Seven Up” by Janet Evanovich.
What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
I love two things. My santoku knife and my food processor.
Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Pasta with some type of cream sauce. I always keep heavy cream in the fridge and fresh Parmesan cheese. I can throw together a cream sauce really quick and prevent household dinner meltdown.
What is your favorite thing about where you live?
We live in Lehi and like it more than we thought we would. I love how close we are to Salt Lake City. I love how close are to Utah Lake. I love our neighborhood and our neighbors. We got really lucky with where we live.
Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
When it was someone’s birthday, the birthday girl almost always asked for chicken tamale pie. It was chicken, green chiles, corn and Bisquick. We just couldn’t get enough of it! I haven’t had it in years. Now that I am remembering it, we might be having that soon!
Top 3 Movies of all time?
“Star Wars”. I was raised right. I enjoyed it then, my boys enjoy it now.
“You’ve Got Mail”. It’s my laundry-folding movie.
“Austin Powers: Goldmember”. I can’t believe I am admitting that out loud right now.
What was your happiest moment in life?
Do I have to name just one? Giving birth to my children has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It was so much emotion in one moment. Excitement, anticipation, exhaustion, happiness, pain, love, joy. And each time, I felt like such a rockstar. Three of the happiest moments of my life.
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Harmon’s. Their produce, even in the winter, is delightful. And they also have a great selection of seafood, which is sparse in Utah.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
I like donuts, brownies, chocolate truffles, crusty bread and diet soda.
Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
That I am having the gusto to write a cookbook. I have wanted to for a long time and I am just going to do it. It’s scary, but I think it’s scarier not to. Carpe diem!
Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
My cookbook. I want to do a good job with it.
One word that best describes you is: Surprising.
I just called my husband to ask him what word describes me. And his answer was “surprising”. I’ll take it.
And here is my favorite recipe. My husband's Roast Chicken and Gravy.
I am including the recipe here, but please click on the link to visit Rookie Cookie where she has wonderful pictures to go along with it.
Ethan's Roast Chicken and Gravy
For the chicken:
1 3 lb whole chicken
4 garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise into thirds
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped off
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper
For the gravy:
All pan drippings
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
Set oven to 375 degrees.
Pat the chicken dry. Gently lift skin and loosed skin from the breast. Slip in garlic slices and rosemary leaves and distribute evenly over the breast.
With your hands, spread mayonnaise evenly over the entire chicken. With the breast side up, evenly sprinkle seasoning salt, poultry seasoning and salt. Add a few grinds of black pepper. Press toothpicks into the chicken where you loosened the skin to put the garlic and rosemary in. Place bird on the rack of a roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, removing foil after one hour.
Remove roasting pan from the oven. With two fork, gently lift the chicken and set onto a cutting board to rest while making the gravy. For the gravy, pour and scrape all drippings from the roasting pan into a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken stock, poultry seasoning and red pepper flakes. In a small bowl, whisk together butter and flour. Once the chicken stock mixture is simmering, whisk in butter flour mixture. Gravy should thicken. Once thickened, simmer gravy for an additional 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
Once the gravy is finished and the chicken has rested, remove toothpicks, carve chicken and set on a platter. Serve chicken with gravy and rice or mashed potatoes.
Yields enough chicken and gravy for 5 servings.
Served with this: good bread for dipping, long grain white rice, steamed baby carrots with browned butter and pecans. And chocolate souffle for dessert. And then the Olympics to aid digestion.
Rookie's Notes: If your gravy isn't as thick as you want after adding the butter flour mixture, you can further thicken it with a quick fix of vegetable oil and flour. Whisk together 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 2 Tbsp flour and then whisk that into the gravy. Why use vegetable oil instead of butter? We are lazy and anxious to eat. It is more convenient to just throw together a quick thickener with that. And why not just add flour? You run the risk of it clumping up in the gravy. So you "thin it out" with vegetable oil, or butter in the case of the first thickening addition. I wouldn't recommend thickening the gravy with 1/4 cup vegetable oil and flour. Butter adds a far superior taste and texture, a silky smooth texture. BTW, here is what your butter and flour mixture should look like.
If you don't have a roasting pan, you can use a glass 9x13 inch pan. But if you want a great roasting pan, Pampered Chef. Their roasting pan is ideal. My Auntie Robin is a big wig Pampered Chef lady and I have bought lots of great products from her over the years. My roasting pan is my favorite. We've used it for roasting ribs, chicken and prime rib. I have used it to bake creme brulees or chocolate souffles in a water bath. And Robin told me that one of her customers uses it to make lasagna for her extended family of 40. So if you are looking for a great roasting pan, Pampered Chef has it.
And lastly, you will notice that Ethan didn't stuff anything in the cavity of the bird. I asked him why he never does and he said, "You don't eat the cavity". Good enough reason for me.