A meal should feed us in a satisfying way that makes us feel restored and replete when leaving the table.
Restaurants almost never make me feel that way. I like going out to eat, but I never go to a restaurant expecting to be pleasantly fed. Restaurants are fascinating, and sitting in them is like being in someone's dream. Once in a while the food is wonderful and it is a thrill--but it is always unexpected. And even then, there is no substitute for a home-cooked meal.
The recipes that I make over and over are not at all like restaurant food. They are all simple to make, tolerant of error and appealing to most people. They call for inexpensive ingredients, look inviting, and--the most important point--taste good.
The following recipe, Roast Chicken With Smothered Potatoes, is an example of what I mean. Baked Bananas with Berries is a versatile homey dessert that can go into the oven just when you remove the roast chicken.
ROAST CHICKEN WITH SMOTHERED POTATOES
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (3-pound) whole frying chicken
8 red potatoes, cut in halves
3 medium-size red onions, cut in quarters
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried, crushed
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
Brush 13x9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Using sharp knife or poultry shears, cut chicken down back along edges of backbone; discard backbone.
Thoroughly rinse chicken in cold water. Remove pads of fat around breast and cavity areas. Sprinkle potatoes and red onions with salt and pepper to taste. Place potatoes in middle of oiled baking dish. Sprinkle rosemary and garlic over them. Spread out whole chicken over potatoes, arranging onions around edge. Drizzle and rub remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast at 425 degrees 45 to 50 minutes, or until skin of chicken is nicely browned. Pour off all liquid and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve hot or cold. Makes 4 servings.
BAKED BANANAS WITH BERRIES
1 tablespoon soft butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 firm, ripe bananas, peeled
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 cups any berries (except blueberries or strawberries), stemmed
Brush 8-inch-square baking dish with butter. Drizzle lemon juice evenly over each banana. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over each banana. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons grated coconut on top of each banana.
Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 15 minutes, or until bananas are thoroughly heated. Remove from oven and place on serving dishes, arranging 1/2 cup berries (sweetened to taste) over each serving. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.