Simple, Good, and Tasty's Bookclub Tonight: Much Depends on Dinner

Tonight at least two Simple, Good and Tasty bookclub events will take place, featuring Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal, by Margaret Visser. This book has been a hot-ticket item in the Twin  Cities and we're looking forward to reading and discussing it you. Please join us at one of these locations:

To inspire your Much Depends on Dinner, um, dinner I've gathered a couple of recipes that neatly align with the ingredients Visser features in the book. (Each of nine chapters focuses on one food or ingredient: corn, salt, butter, chicken, rice, lettuce, olive oil, lemon juice, ice cream.) Maybe not in the order she originally intended, but in a delicious mash-up nonetheless.

The first is Ina Garten's well-reviewed roast chicken recipe from Food Network. Ina's become known as the master of the roast chicken (along with the "Jeffrey is just going to LOVE this!" quips), and the super-lemony sauce seems just right for the spring weather.

The second is a somewhat unexpected creamy vinaigrette that I found on Molly Wizenberg's Orangette blog. I love the idea of grabbing some zippy baby arugula, tossing it with this creamy dressing and throwing a poached egg on top... but of course, that's just MY fantasy.

Finally, a simple, tastebud-popping lemon ice cream (which, if you get really ambitious, seems to be related to a recipe for Gingersnap Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches. Can I get a "yum?")

We look forward to seeing you tonight at book club!  Cheers!

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Engagement Roast Chicken (From Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten on


  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


Engagement Roast Chicken from Roast Chicken from the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.

Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce. 


Creamy Vinaigrette (From Orangette)


  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • About 1/4 teaspoon pressed garlic
  • About 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar


Whisk all ingredients well. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Spoon liberally over any bitter (or bitter-ish) greens, such as watercress or arugula. Toss well. Top, if you want, with a poached egg, bits of bacon, or cubed ham.

Note: This vinaigrette will thicken considerably when chilled. Be sure to pull it out of the fridge a little while before you need it.


Lemon Ice Cream (From and Gourmet magazine, June 1993)


  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a saucepan whisk together the zest, the lemon juice, the sugar, and the eggs, whisk in 1 cup of the half-and-half and the vanilla, and cook the mixture over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until it just comes to a simmer. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the zest, and chill it, covered with plastic wrap, until it is cold. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup half-and-half and freeze the mixture in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Makes about one quart.
Tracy Morgan is a Twin Cities foodie, cookbook hoarder, and owner of all the right kitchen gadgets. Living in downtown St. Paul, she loves to take her green trolley shopping at the Farmer's Market and see how much weight it can handle. When not spotlighting local goodies for Simple Good and Tasty, Tracy runs Segnavia Creative, a business development and marketing firm that helps small companies create big-picture strategies, understand branding, and navigate social media. She also serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Market Natural Food Co-op.