I love visiting my best friend Maria down in Florida. Especially in January! Its the perfect relaxing mini-vacation. She has a gigantic kitchen where we cook together like two old ladies, then eat and hang and chat and drink wine the entire time. There's no, "I have to go here and have to see this." Its just lets do nothing and be together. I cannot complain.
Going to the store with Maria is interesting for a few reasons. First, driving to the store with Maria, who is a typical high strung NY driver in Florida where there is an imposed speed minimum because of the old farts on the road, is always where I start keeping Maria's running, "I hate list." After a while, she would just name something and say, "you can put that on the list." A few key items: cilantro, old people, watercress, children, raw onions, walnuts, people she doesn't know touching her. It goes on and on.
Once we get in the store, food shopping becomes a demonstration in extreme brand loyalty. We went to this fancy Whole Foods type supermarket with all these organic specialty foods, but Maria bee-lined it for all her childhood favorites. It was hilarious.
For dinner she taught me how to make her delicious chicken with vinegar, lot of garlic, roasted potatoes and peas. It cooked for three hours and was crispy and just fell off the bone. She couldn't remember the name so I am calling it Maria's Roasted Vinegar Chicken. We ate it with a salad and some stuffed mushrooms. Maria is an awesome cook.
She is also a character. Her famous one-liner from dinner was, "you know those Italians, who aren't really Italian. You know what I mean, they go to the Olive Garden."
For dessert we made a birthday cake for Christine. We used Maria's Nanny's white cake recipe.
It was so simple and good. A perfect time tested recipe I will use again and again. I like recipes where you just thrown everything into the bowl, mix it and bake it. Nice and simple. It was a double decker and we iced it, inside and out, with a crazy too sweet vanilla buttercream icing I found online. It was so sweet it hurt our teeth. We adorned it with this pretty flower from a tropical tree outside. Florida is awesome.
Vincent loved it. It was midnight and he was propping himself up on one arm, barely awake trying to eat his cake. So adorable!
With the same recipe we also made two perfect crumb cakes. It was my first homemade crumb cake. We (rather I) ate it all weekend and there was enough to take home. Thanks for a wonderful mini-vacation, Maria!
Stay tuned for more recipes from this trip...
Maria's Vinegar Roasted Chicken
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Red Potatoes, cubed
In a big roasting pan, season chicken and potatoes with salt and pepper and lot of garlic powder. Poor red wine vinegar and olive oil over everthing. Bake for 2-3 hours at 350 degrees. Baste often. About 20 minutes before you take it out of the oven, add the peas.
Maria's Nanny's White Cake Recipe
2 C. Flour
1 C. Sugar
1 stick Butter
3/4 C. Milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
Mix everything in a bowl and bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Crumb Cake Topping
2 C. Flour
1/2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon to taste
1 stick of butter
Mix and crumble onto cake before baking.