Sunday Chicken in a Clay Roaster


A roast chicken is one of those meals that is super simple to accomplish and just as easy to screw up. I’m sure we’ve all experienced of overcooked, under-seasoned bird that feels like so much sawdust in your mouth, right?

Over the years I’ve found a slow-cooker to be a near foolproof way to “roast” a whole chicken without it drying out. Of course, it’s usually falling off the bone at that point, but I was willing to trade presentation for flavor in those instances. It’s tough to say no to such a simple, one-pot meal sometimes.

I recently had a wonderful oven-roasted chicken experience, thanks to the Romertopf Ovenpot or Clay Roaster* that showed up on my doorstep last month.

Roast Chicken and Peppers in Romertopf Clay Roaster

I’ve used a clay roaster in the past–they look great when brought to the table for serving and it’s fun to use something different now and then–but mine have always been glazed on the inside. The Romertopf is not glazed, and uses the porosity of the clay as part of the cooking process, cutting down the need for additional fat in your recipes.

The Romertopf is made from the finest red clay and works by holding moisture in th epores of the clay which prevents the dish from drying out as it cooks.

Before you load up the clay roaster, you soak (for the first use) or rinse (subsequent uses) both the base and the lid with cold water. The clay absorbs the water and the steam that’s released in the oven contributes to the cooking process as well as retains moisture in the food. According to the inserts, this property also made the roaster non-stick, which was probably the one claim I was most skeptical about.

Since I’d been craving a good roast chicken for a while, I opted to try out the roaster with this included recipe:

Roast Chicken and Peppers

Serves 6

3 1/2 lb oven-ready chicken
7 oz small onions
1 small red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 small green pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 garlic clove
4 oz baby sweetcorn
4 oz button mushrooms
4 oz mange-tout (or French or runner beans)
1 Tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 oz red wine or chicken stock

1. Soak the Romertopf.

2. Place the chopped garlic,  sprig of thyme and salt and pepper inside the chicken. Place the chicken in the Romertopf and surround with onions, peppers and more sprigs of thyme and salt and pepper.

3. Mix the tomato puree with the wine/stock and pour over the chicken.

4. Cook in oven at 400 F.

5. Remove the pot from the oven and add sweetcorn, sliced mushrooms and mange-tout and cook for further 30 minutes.

6. Remove the chicken and vegetables and keep warm. Strain off the sauce, reduce if necessary. The amount of sauce can be increased by adding 5 oz of chicken stock to the sauce and thickening with 2/3 tsp cornflour dissolved in 3 Tbsp cold water. Whisk well until the sauce is brought to the boil and thickens.

7. Adjust seasoning and serve with the chicken and vegetables.

Boiled new potatoes sprinkled with chopped parsley are a delicious complement to this meal.

Cal. 660, Protein: Medium, Fat: Low, Carbohydrate: Low

Romertopf is German, so there are some minor translation might be necessary for folks who haven’t cooked with European recipes before (references to Gas Marks, Celsius, and metric measurements have been omitted in deference to my mostly-US readers). I couldn’t find baby sweetcorn in the store, so just skipped that ingredient, and skipped the tomato puree out of personal preference. I took small onions to mean pearl onions, and par-boiled and peels them while the roaster was soaking–pretty good time-management. For mange-tout I used snow peas and, for those who are wondering, cornflour is the same as cornstarch in this instance, not cornmeal.

The one puzzle I had was how long to cook the chicken in step 4 (that wasn’t an omission on my part, it wasn’t in the directions). Thankfully the next recipe, for Spring Chicken in Lemon Sauce, listed the initial cooking time as an hour, so I went with that and it worked fine.

Which reminds me of another cool facet of clay roaster cooking: no waiting for the oven to pre-heat. Because you don’t want to subject this sort of vessel to abrupt temperature changes, you place it in the oven cold and let the oven and the roaster warm up together.

And not a thing stuck. Not the chicken, not the vegetables, the sauce poured right out without trouble, I was pretty impressed by that part. And the meal was excellent, a perfect Sunday supper.

Roast Chicken with Peppers, served with drop biscuits

I opted for drop biscuits over roasted potatoes, just because.

I’m looking forward to using the Romertopf again.

*FTC Disclaimer: I was given a Romertopf to use for the purposes of review. All opinions expressed are my own, based on my experience with the roaster.

Summer-Ready Redskin Potato Salad & Giveaway!


Redskin Potato Salad from What to Feed Your Raiding PartyThe temperature is rising and the sunny days of Summer are just bursting with cookouts, pot-lucks and pool parties. A creamy potato salad is great for these get-togethers because it can be made up to 2 days ahead and the flavor actually improves as it sits!

Frequently, a potato salad either features an oil-and-vinegar dressing or a mayonnaise-based dressing. My recipe actually uses both: the lighter dressing goes onto the warm potatoes, infusing them with flavor as they cool, and then follows with the mayonnaise dressing enriched with eggs and chives. We cut our mayo with sour cream for a lighter, tarter finish but you can also use Greek-style yogurt if you prefer.

Incidentally, this recipe is from my comic book cookbook, What to Feed Your Raiding Party, which is currently available for pre-order.

Redskin Potato Salad


2 lb red potatoes, diced, skin-on

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 1/3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2/3 cup diced onions
2/3 cup diced bell pepper
2 Tbsp chopped chives
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
salt & pepper to taste


1. Place the diced potatoes (about 1″ cubes) in a large pot with enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes pierce easily with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

3. Drain the cooked potatoes, place in a large bowl and pour the prepared dressing over the cooked potato pieces. Toss or stir together the two bits so that each piece of potato has a chance to be covered in dressing, being careful not to mash the potatoes too much, and place, covered, in the fridge until cool.

4. Add the eggs, celery, onion, peppers and chives to the cooled, dressed potatoes.

5. Combine the mayonnaise and sour cream in a small bowl and then add to the rest of the ingredients, stirring to mix everything together.

6. Add salt and pepper, if needed, and chill until it’s time to eat (both you and the potato salad).

Serves 8

Calories per serving: 203 | Carbohydrates: 27 g | Protein 5 g | Fats 9 g


To dress the warm potatoes, most people would just whisk the ingredients together. For the longest time, though, I’ve used a shaker bottle from Tupperware that has graduated sides (measure-markings) and a little wheel towards the top that helps aerate whatever you’re shaking. It worked fine, but the pop-on plastic (both for the top and the pour-spout cover) aren’t always the easiest to manage if you don’t get them lined up just right.

So when OXO gave me the opportunity to try out their new Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker, I was thrilled to see how it compared.

The top half screws onto the bottom half and creates a great seal–no worries of flinging the dressing around with this one–and the pour spout is easily worked with a single finger; no prying! Plus, it’s pretty to look at, and a well-designed gadget always wins my heart.

OXO Salad Dressing Shaker OXO Salad Dressing Shaker dressing the potatoes

With sides marked with cup measurements as well as ounces and milliliters, I’m tempted to use this for mixing cocktails, too!

oxo giveawayOXO was kind enough to send me two of these little gems, one for me and one to share! So if you’d like to win your own Salad Dressing Shaker, leave a comment below! You’ve got until Sunday, May 20, 2012, at 5pm EST to enter the giveaway. Since this is part of my usual post-share with Circle of Food, comments left on this post in either location will be included. The winner will be announced on Monday, May 21, 2012.

This giveaway is open to residents of the Unites States.

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided product from OXO to review and share. All opinions expressed are my own.

Who Wants a Healthy Cookie?


Fruit thins and milk
Frankly, I think the point of cookies is not to be healthy, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a range of alternatives. After all, sometimes an apple or orange just doesn’t satisfy the way of baked treat can. Still, the trend of marketing snack foods as healthy or good for you just makes me roll my eyes.

So it was with a certain amount of both curiosity and skepticism that I tried Newtons Fruit Thins, Fig and Honey.

Let’s take this from the top down, shall we?

The package touts “made with real fruit” as opposed to what–fake fruit? One would certainly hope that it’s made with fruit as opposed to chemicals, but is it made with either figs or honey?

Turns out: yes. The ingredients list reads:

Unbleached enriched flour*, sugar, whole grain wheat flour, soybean and/or palm oil, rolled oats, dried figs, raisins, honey, salt, baking soda, rice flour, soy lecithin, natural flavor (contains cinnamon).

*I left out the bracketed enriched bits for the sake of clarity.

I also noticed a few other things. While enriched flour is one of those borderline ingredients (why pump vitamins in when they can be achieved through other ingredients goes the argument), sugar, salt and baking soda are all simple, understandable ingredients–the same ones we bake with in our own kitchens. Not too bad, Nabisco, not too bad.

So they seem fairly simple cookies, which I definitely prefer, but they’re still cookies. Emphasizing the words “fruit” and “thins” on the package doesn’t take away from the fact that they are a snack and not a building block of a healthy diet.

But how do they taste?!

At first I couldn’t put my finger on it–the flavor reminded me of something familiar but it wasn’t immediately recognizable. They are crisp–even several weeks after opening the package they were still crisp and not stale–and studded with bits of dried figs and sweet without being too sweet. In fact, the only downside of that first cookie was that the figgy bits were so dense that they can easily get stuck to your teeth. Still, once you’ve encountered the first one you tend to bite more carefully and the problem is avoided.

When Todd got home and I had him taste one, it finally clicked what the scent and flavor reminded us of: oatmeal raisin cookies. Now, we happened to really like oatmeal raisin cookies so this was a good thing.

As tasty as the cookies are on their own–and they are!–I can see these wafer-style cookies being used in a number of sweet and savory sandwiches. Filled with a sweetened boursin cheese or a salt chevre they’d make a nice little afternoon or late-night snack. Maybe even use them for s’mores instead of graham crackers!

Would we buy these over our chosen cookie indulgence, the mighty Oreo? Probably not as a general rule. But if I were looking for something tasty and non-chocolate for a road-trip snack or just wanted something different, Newtons Fruit Thins are a little higher on the list than they would have been.

Have you tried this or any of the other flavors of Newtons Fruit Thins? What did you think?


As part of the FoodBuzz Featured Publisher Program I was sent a free package of the product to try. All opinions are my own.

Short Cut Supper


We don’t keep a lot of packaged foods in the house–instant dinners, box mixes, frozen entrees. Partially because of my dietary restrictions and partially be cause we just like to cook from good, basic ingredients. If we don’t feel like cooking one night (it happens from time to time), it usually means going out or at least picking up take-out.

All of that to say, when we *do* have something pre-made it’s a rare occurrence and usually happens because of one of the following reasons:

  • I went to the store hungry. Though even then I’m more prone to pick up snacks or some really rich cheese instead of something pre-packaged or instant mix.
  • I saw something new and was curious enough to give it a try.
  • I went to World Market. Something about all of the imported foods they carry just makes me want to try anything and everything they carry—I’ve yet to be disappointed.

The most recent case was a combination of the last 2, when I stumbled upon the Punjabi Butter Chicken Simmer Sauce from Tiger Tiger.

There’s usually a few other criteria if I’m going to pick up something like this. Usually it’s as real-food as possible (no long list of chemicals or preservatives), comes from a reliable source and is something that I can’t easily make myself.

This fit the bill pretty well. After trying to find a recipe that matches the awesomeness that was in that jar I’ve come to the conclusion that I might have to try a few before I find the at-home version I’m looking for. There are no cryptic ingredients  and it looked like something we might find at our local Indian restaurant which we don’t make as much time to visit as we’d like.

All it took was cutting up some chicken (we also added a couple of large-diced potatoes), browning it and adding the sauce until it was warm and toasting some naan in the oven. Making the rice took the longest but it was totally worth it and we got our usual 4 servings out of a single jar with no problem (2 for dinner, 2 for lunches the next day).

It was a nice compromise between cooking from scratch and take-out. What’s your short cut of choice on those nights when you don’t want to do too much?