Posts Tagged 'honey'

Honey Roasted Chicken with Grapes

You won’t believe it. After getting up to 50 degrees for about an hour last week, it is now snowing again – 4 inches at my house so far.  And it is in the 30’s, so it’s not melting all that fast.  We are now within .1 inch of the all time snow record, causing the weather people to be mildly hysterical.

Roast chicken is a comforting dish, although the snow wasn’t the reason I made the chicken.  I roast a chicken probably every other week. I use the chicken in several ways – two drumsticks get taken for lunch, half the chicken breast is for dinner the first night, the thighs another night.  And I usually use the other half of the white meat for some other dish – this week it will be chicken and feta tabbouleh, which I will make tomorrow or the next day. Usually the roast chicken is nothing fancy, just some garlic powder and onion powder sprinkled on it. I have even been known to microwave the chicken. Microwaving actually makes a very juicy chicken, with a disgusting-looking skin.  But since you are going to remove the skin before eating it, it really doesn’t matter how it looks.

But back to properly roasted chicken.  This time I decided to try some fancier techniques: rubbing seasoning under the skin of the chicken so the flavor is there when the skin is removed; cooking at a high temperature and then reducing the heat.  I also had too many black grapes, so I decided to use them in the chicken.

Honey Roasted Chicken with Grapes

1 (4- to 5-lb.) whole chicken
1/3 cup honey
½ teaspoon garlic powder (or a clove of fresh garlic, crushed)
1 teaspoon dried chervil, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
about 1 cup of seedless grapes, halved – I used black grapes

Preheat oven to 450°. In a small bowl, stir together the honey, garlic or garlic powder, chervil, salt, and pepper.  Add a tablespoon of hot water if the honey is very thick.

Remove giblets from chicken, and reserve for another use (or feed them to your happy dogs). Rinse chicken, and pat dry. Gently loosen and lift skin from breast, thighs, and drumsticks with fingers, being careful not to tear skin. (Do not totally detach skin.) Rub honey mixture evenly underneath skin. Carefully replace skin. Place chicken, breast side up in a shallow roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Pour any remaining honey mixture into the chicken’s cavity.  Place grapes into chicken’s cavity.  Tie drumsticks together. (The strange blue thing on the chicken is a food tie. My daughter gave me a sack of these for Christmas – sort of poultry bondage equipment.  They are a bit hard to use if your hands are greasy; they slip more than string).


Bake at 450° for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, and bake 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 180°, covering loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Let chicken stand, covered, 10 minutes before slicing. Remove skin before serving.  Makes 4-6 servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.

My analysis of this experimental chicken technique is that the honey and herbs under the skin were great.  They gave a wonderful flavor to the meat. The high temperature to low temperature roasting was mixed.  The meat was very juicy, but the skin got too brown. It really didn’t matter for flavor, since I took the skin off to serve it.  But if you want to make a nice presentation of the chicken on a platter, it might be better to cover the chicken loosely with foil earlier in the cooking process.  I also put chopped onions in with the grapes (you can see them in the picture below), but the flavor didn’t work at all, so I left them out of the recipe. Finally, I left the grapes whole, but they really should be halved, so I put them in the recipe as halved.



Apple-Honey Fruit Pizza

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews acknowledge their weaknesses, ask forgiveness, and vow to do better this year. Traditionally, people fast from sundown the night before to sundown on Yom Kippur day, and end the day with a break-the-fast feast.  Besides the feast, there are several things I love about this holiday:

  • You don’t just ask for forgiveness for sins against G-d, which you are granted, but for your transgressions against others, asking for them to forgive you also;
  • You read through a long list of sometimes humorous sins you might have committed, including being a zealot for bad causes (my favorite);
  • You ask to be forgiven for vows you have broken this past year, and, by the way, if you make vows this year and try as hard as you can and can’t fulfill them, then please forgive them too, in advance (I have a lawyer friend who says this is his favorite.);
  • You are asked not why you haven’t been as great as Moses, but why you haven’t been true to the best in yourself.

And now for the feast.  Our congregation has a potluck, and they assign either sweets or salads and side dishes by last name in the alphabet.  I got desserts, and decided to make a fruit pizza with honey and apples, traditional foods for this holiday. Remember the Wow factor of fruit pizza. (I am sure that food vanity, as well as food lust, is one of my weaknesses.) I know I said earlier that you probably couldn’t use hard fruit like apples on a fruit pizza, but I hadn’t thought of cooked apples – a revelation.

Apple-Honey Fruit Pizza

Cookie dough crust

I made the cookie dough crust the same way as before, with two exceptions: I left out the almond extract, and instead, when I mixed the dry ingredients, (flour, etc.,) I added 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.  This made a nice, autumn-tasting cookie crust.

I also tried a new technique.  I cut a big circle of parchment paper and sprayed the bottom of the pan with cooking spray to hold it down.  Then I sprayed the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray before I put down the crust.  This solved a big problem for me, which is that my pizza pans are old and reprehensible looking, and must be covered with aluminum foil.  But the cookie crust always stuck to the aluminum foil when you cut up the fruit pizza.  This way, the crust lifted fight off the parchment and cooled on a rack.  I could freshly cover the pizza pan with foil to make it publicly acceptable, and plunk the crust on it to assemble.  Parchment paper is my friend.

Cream cheese layer:  I made this the same way as usual.

Apple-honey topping

Apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Use firm apples that won’t turn to mush when you cook them.  I used Jonagold, but there are lots of good cooking apples this time of year. I needed 6 apples.  It’s going to depend on the size of your apples.  I would cook extra (you can always eat them).  Cut the apples lengthwise in about 1/2 inch wide slices. I cut mine into quarters and then each quarter into 5-6 pieces. Again, this depends on the size of your apples.  Put the apples in a large pan with the water and sugar.  Cover and cook over a low heat until they are tender, stirring gently occasionally so they cook evenly.  Watch them carefully. You don’t want them to turn into apple mush – you want them in distinct pieces.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the apples from the pan and spread on a flat surface (like a cookie sheet) to cool.

To make the honey glaze, heat the honey and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to incorporate the cinnamon (I didn’t stir it in well enough, and had to remove a couple of globs of cinnamon, which you can see in the photo.)  I heated the honey in the microwave. Allow to cool slightly.

Assembly: The fruit pizza can be assembled a couple of hours before you serve it, but it doesn’t hold for a long time, because the crust will get soggy. To assemble, spread the cream cheese topping over the cooled cookie crust. Gently place the apple slices in concentric rings on top of the filling.  Be careful not to squish the apples when you are handling them.  Once the apples are in place, gently spoon the honey-cinnamon glaze over the fruit pizza. Refrigerate the pizza, uncovered, for 20 minutes to allow the glaze to set. This is especially important if you are going to wrap it to take somewhere. Slice with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. 12 servings with 6 grams of fat/serving, or 16 servings at 4.4 grams of fat/serving.

In this next year, may you be true to the best in yourself.

Brandied Honey Cake

Tonight begins Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, and the beginning of the Days of Awe, when the Book of Life is opened and your fate for the new year is written down. Between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, about ten days hence, one thinks about the past year, vows made and broken, and how one has lived one’s life. These days allow a person to contemplate how they can live a better life in the coming year.

During this season, it is traditional to serve food containing honey, with the hope that the new year will be sweet. Honey cake, served after the evening services, is traditional, and goes well with tea or coffee at any time.

Brandied Honey Cake

1 3/4 cups of honey
1 cup of strong coffee
3 Tablespoons of brandy, divided
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 chopped raisins
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ounce chopped almonds (optional)

Bring honey and coffee to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Remove from heat and cool completely. Stir in 2 tablespoons of brandy.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Spray a 10 inch tube pan with cooking spray. HINT: I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of my tube pan. I sprayed the pan, and then sprayed the parchment paper after I used it to line the pan. This makes it a lot easier to get the cake out of the pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves ginger, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Add raisins and lemon zest. Whisk together. Beat eggs lightly in the large bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed. Add honey mixture, sugar, and oil. Beat until smooth and well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until center springs back when lightly pressed with a finger and top of cake is golden. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. While the cake is still warm, poke the top all over with a thin skewer, and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of brandy over it. Loosen the cake around the edges with a sharp knife and remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove parchment paper from bottom of cake. If you are using the almonds, brush the top of the cake lightly with honey and sprinkle the almonds over it. With almonds, this makes 18 servings, at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: The recipe I got this from called for chopping the almonds and adding them to the cake at the point where you add the raisins. I found that the bits of almond gave the cake a distressing texture, rather like sand in the cake – but maybe you will like that technique better than I did.

TRUE CONFESSION: You may wonder why there is no picture of a glorious tall and beautiful tube cake, strewn with almonds. Instead, there are some fetching slices. That is because about an hour after I took the cake from the oven, it looked like this:

The entire center had collapsed, because IT WASN’T COOKED. I was working from home, baking between wrestling spreadsheets. Somehow, the timer got turned off, which I realized when I went into the kitchen to check on things. I looked at the cake and it needed more cooking, so I gave it 20 minutes more. By then, it was tall and beautiful, and it sprang back when I poked it. So I took it out of the oven. But it lied. It was not cooked. It sprang back falsely. So, in desperation, once it cooled, I cut out the raw middle, and made narrow slices of the cooked outer rim.

May you be written down for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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