Sunday Dinner #3

I’m on a roll!

This week I was excited to cook for my son, his fiancé, and his fiancé’s parents. I made one of Paul’s classics; Greek chicken with roasted potatoes and green beans, Caesar salad, yeast roll, and a chocolate pound cake.

Let’s start with dessert!

The pound cake is legendary in the southern United States. My grandmother’s pound cake is one of my earliest holiday memories as much for the fuss that my family made when they ate it as for the taste. Interestingly, I also vividly remember both the smell and the texture. My grandmother’s recipe was the traditional pound cake flavored with almond or vanilla extract, and the interior was dense and moist while the outside was bumpy and just ever so slightly crisp and crusty on the top. She always served it warm. Honestly, there is nothing else quite like it.

Paul’s family favors a chocolate pound cake so that’s what I made for the newest members of our family. This pound cake calls for 1 cup of butter, one-half cup of vegetable shortening, 3 cups of sugar, 3 cups of all-purpose flour, one-half teaspoon of baking powder, one-half cup of cocoa powder, one-half teaspoon of salt, 5 eggs, 1 cup of milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

First, sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt) and set aside. Next, cream the butter, vegetable shortening, and sugar in an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time; blending well after each addition. Then, add the dry mixture and the milk alternating, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Finally, stir in the vanilla.

Pour into a greased 10-inch tube pan and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Give it the ol’ jiggle test and test for done-ness by inserting a toothpick. The toothpick should emerge clean or very nearly clean. I say very nearly clean because it is my firm belief that the best pound cakes all have a soft spot; not wet, not gooey, but soft like very thick, slice-able pudding. My oven runs a little hot, and I was using a pan with a dark coating. So, I tested the cake at 50 minutes and decided to let it stay in another five minutes. That’s five minutes short of the recommended baking time.

The first time I made a pound cake I was heavily pregnant with our son. I must have been feeling the affects of hormones and being so near my due date because I was doing a lot of nesting. Paul was at work, and at some point during the day, I decided I would just up and make a pound cake, something I had never done before, to surprise him with when he came home. Well, let’s just say he was certainly surprised. I did manage to bake a decent pound cake considering it was my first attempt, but the effort was mighty. That cake whooped my butt! I was exhausted, exasperated, and must have been a sight to behold as I was peppered with flour and swipes of chocolate batter from nearly head to toe. I also remember how proud my husband was of me, how delighted he was as he sliced and ate that cake saying, “This is amazing. You did so good, baby!”

On this day, twenty-four years later, I was so happily(!) wrapped up in my memories of that first chocolate pound cake that I forgot to take pictures of each step in the process. I had put the cake in the oven and was licking the spoon before I realized I had not made enough pictures!

***

The main course was Greek chicken with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans. I used six large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts with rib meat. Begin with a generous pour of olive oil in the bottom of a deep baking dish. Arrange the chicken pieces.

Again, following Paul’s technique, I made a little pocket between the skin and the flesh of each piece of chicken. Into the little pockets, I stuffed a couple of pads of butter. This keeps the chicken super moist and tender. Then, pour some more olive oil over the pieces and sprinkle heavily with an all-purpose Greek seasoning. Turn the pieces over and repeat the seasoning. Turn the pieces back over and season once again making sure that each piece of chicken is well coated with the seasoning. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the chicken. Cut the lemon into quarters and place in the baking dish with the chicken.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for approximately one and one-half hours. Finally, uncover and place back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes to crisp up the skin of the chicken. Also, I always use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Typically, this is my signal that the chicken is ready to be uncovered for crisping the skin.

***

Roasted potatoes with fresh green beans accompanied the chicken. I use small white/yellow and red-skinned potatoes. The larger ones I slice in half and the smallest ones I just leave whole. Toss with olive oil, Greek seasoning, and green beans and squeeze in more fresh lemon juice. Slice the squeezed lemon and toss in as well. Bake for about 30 minutes, less if the dish or pan is shallow and you have more room to spread the potatoes out.

I made a simple Caesar salad and yeast rolls to round out the meal.

***

I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy cooking. It has led to both moments and whole swaths of time filled with joy, laughter, some tears, memories, and pure gratitude.

It’s really amazing. I think of Paul; all those years, all those meals. None of us had any idea how meaningful and precious they would one day be. Paul’s love of cooking for his family has become part of the legacy of love he left to us.

I’m going to leave off with the blessing we say at every meal. It just seems so fitting.

Lord, make us truly thankful for these and all our many blessings, and make us ever mindful of the needs of others. In Christ’s name, Amen

Malia

19 thoughts on “Sunday Dinner #3

  1. scottfw

    Grandmother’s and Paul’s bound cakes both sound good!
    Brings to mind how my brother and would hang around the kitchen as it got time for Mom’s pound cake to come out of the oven.
    How about a fresh hot slice of pound cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it!
    Mom only did the vanilla or lemon pound cakes; I wonder how a fresh hot slice of that chocolate pound cake would taste with ice cream?
    Of course multiple tests to determine whether chocolate or vanilla ice cream would be best would be required.

    Might just have to try that chicken.
    Will need to get olive oil, seasoning, a lemon.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. scottfw

        The question how it goes has several answers.

        Trying to get grocery shopping at our little farm burg’s Walmart caught up this morning before the sleet and freezing rain hit was complicated to the Nth degree by hassles with the new card to replace the one which got compromised in December by someone a thousand miles away “helping” me spend my Social Security Disability money, which runs about 11 dollars a month below the poverty level to begin with.
        The new card which finally came day before yesterday is being glitchy.
        And, on top of that, Walmart’s cash registers were being glitchy.
        So I didn’t get finished before the sleet hit.
        Slipped on apartment sidewalk and pulled a muscle in my back, but, hey, at least didn’t break a bone, have done that 4 different times in winter weather & would really rather do so no more.

        But …

        On the up side …

        Our little county seat farm burg has a quite nice little Greek restaurant run by a Greek couple, George and Olivia 7 and as it happens, their adult daughter is one of the managers at our Walmart!

        (when my parents were healthy enough to come visit they always made a point go go there a couple times)

        I was having trouble finding some kind of Greek seasoning in the spice section so gave up and moved to the next aisle and who comes around the corner but Athena!

        “Hey, Athena, question for you, mostly because of who your parents are!”

        I told her about your dinner. She said it sounds good, and pulled out her smart phone and looked up the in-store location of the seasoning she buys to use at home.

        Turned out I didn’t see it because it was on a low shelf, there were about 3 left and they had been pushed to the back & my body no longer bends down as easily as it did a decade ago.

        It is, Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning. In a white and yellow thing with white and red top.

        With all that happening the chicken is not going to get cooked today. But there are now on-hand the seasoning, a couple different kinds of olive oil, a couple packs of boneless chicken breasts, and a lemon.

        And that’s how it is going at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. maliadunn

        Sounds like perfect weather for a steaming hot plate of Greek chicken and potatoes which you now, thankfully, and not with a little effort but a lot(!), have all the ingredients to make. I feel a little pressure for it to be amazing after all that trouble. Whew!

        I have used Cavender’s before and some other brands, too. Any all-purpose Greek seasoning will do the trick. Would love to know how it turns out!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. scottfw

        Hehe! Thanks! I’m skipping the potatoes, with some health things happening, the less potatoes and breads I eat the better.
        Oh, and this is the weather, ain’t it just a beautiful day in the neighborhood! 😀
        (I was born in the southwest desert and raised in the southeast and deep south)
        “This Afternoon
        Rain and snow. High near 36. South southeast wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
        Tonight
        Rain and snow before 8pm, then snow between 8pm and 4am, then rain and snow likely after 4am. Patchy fog. Low around 33. South wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
        Thursday
        Snow likely before 7am, then rain and snow between 7am and 5pm, then snow after 5pm. Patchy fog. High near 37. South wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
        Thursday Night
        Snow. Patchy fog before midnight. Low around 32. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
        Friday
        A chance of snow before 2pm, then a slight chance of rain and snow between 2pm and 5pm, then a slight chance of snow after 5pm. Cloudy, with a high near 36. Northwest wind 5 to 7 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
        Friday Night
        Cloudy, with a low around 29.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. caitlynnegrace

    I felt a prick of tears by the end of your post, Malia. Someday, when God gives you special sight, and when you look back on this special day, you will see that Paul was by your side, through making of each dish.
    You will see that he hadn’t really gone away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lesley

    I’ll leave out the chicken (I’m vegan), but o.m.g. … that chocolate cake! Lovely photos. When my mum used to bake every Sunday, I would get to finish the leftovers from the mixing bowl and lick the spoon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. scottfw

    Okay, chicken inspired by this just went in to cook although it is going to be a little bit different since I’m using boneless & skinless breasts and didn’t remember to get butter anyway. Did remember the lemon! Based on previous experience with that type of chicken and this oven, going to do 350F for 75 minutes then look at it and turn it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Sunday Dinner #3 (Cooking by a blogger I follow) (And her dinner is documentably more photogenic than mine!) – Undecided Title (includes hobbies and health and stuff)

  6. Loren Bethea

    Dearest Malia, Thank you again for a wonderful and inspiring post! I love chicken…John used to ask me if I had a cookbook somewhere called “101 Ways To Cook Chicken”!! haha…it’s certainly my Go-to with company. John used to put 2 whole chickens in our rotisserie cooker and he would season them Greek style…it was always one of my favorites! It’s a lot of trouble tho and I’m not likely to go to all that much effort but yours looks very delicious and it’s not as big a mess as his version! I’m gonna copy and paste yr recipe and use it this week!
    Cooking was John’s “Love Language” if you’ve ever read that book or taken that course at church you’ll know what I mean.
    Isn’t it funny that I am going thru a cooking phase as well? well, maybe not so much since we seem to be on the same wavelength about a lot of things…but yes, I have been enjoying having friends over and cooking for them. Hardly any of my friends cook..so they love to come over and get a good home cooked meal…and I’m a meat and potatoes gal…just look at my hips! haha! Like you, being in the kitchen makes me feel close to him and when I’;m out of something that I need for a recipe…I can hear him say to me…”Honey, just use the cream of broccoli soup…it’ll taste the same…maybe even better!” …and I smile and use the cream of broccoli..even tho it calls for cream of chicken. I know he’s always right when it comes to cooking…he saved me so many times when I got a hair up my butt and wanted to cook something and things went terribly wrong. I miss him and his patience with me SO MUCH.
    ok..I’m starting to cry so I’ll dip for now…thanks for the recipe..I look forward to trying it out. We keep talking about meeting up…it’s the new year so let’s finally make some plans. 2020 is my year to be more engaging and count my blessings…YOU certainly have been one of my blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. maliadunn

      Loren, you are so precious, and you may have a bit of the writing bug yourself! Thank you for your comments. I love your memories and your joy in sharing them. And, yes, I am familiar with Gary Chapman’s “Love Languages”. Good stuff! Would love to meet you any time 😊

      Like

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