Spring fever has turned my brain to mush. I want to wander around aimlessly outside in the 60 and 70 degree sunshine. I want to read outside of coffee shops. I want to ride my bike. I do not want to try new recipes. I do not want to blog. FIRST WORLD CRISIS.

The Saturday farmer’s market inspired me to put forth a little more effort. I brought back goat cheese, bread, eggs, radishes, turnips, spinach, arugala, and a 3lb whole chicken. I’ve made roast chicken in the past, which has been good, but I’ve been dying to try this Thomas Keller recipe for months. I’ve waited until the spring so I could be sure to get a good chicken from the farmer’s market.

And a good one I got, and cleaned, and reluctantly pulled the organs out of.

This roast chicken has a cult following on the internet for good reason. The skin is so very crispy and salty, the chicken is so very moist. I served it with an arugula salad and a hunk of rosemary bread. Best meal of the spring so far.

And after our very large feast, we went for a very long walk, where we joined a parade/flash mob of drummers and people dancing the samba.

And had some wine and beer on a restaurant patio.

It was a very good day.

THOMAS KELLER’S MON POULET ROTI (from Bouchon as published on epicurious’ My Favorite Roast Chicken)

This recipe, in summary. Dry the chicken. Truss the chicken. Put the chicken in a roasting pan. Leave it in the oven for an hour. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Dig in.

I lines my roasting pan with 3 layers of foil and made sure my oven was clean before I started. If you don’t you’ll be rewarded with a very smoky oven and a very hard to clean pan!

Ingredients

One 2-3 lb chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Unsalted butter

Dijon mustard

Recipe

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove organs from cavity. Dry inside the cavity and out of the chicken very thoroughly (water will prevent crisping).

Put salt and pepper in the cavity. Truss the chicken. Generously salt the skin, such that the salt flakes are visible all over the chicken skin (Keller estimates 1 tablespoon). Place salted chicken breast up in a roasting pan. Grind pepper over skin.

Place chicken in oven. Don’t touch it. It should be done in about 50-60 mins, when the skin is nice and crispy.

Take chicken out of oven and add thyme to the juice. Then baste chicken with juice and thyme. Let sit for 15 mins.

Remove twine. Go to town on your chicken.

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Mexican Chopped Salad

January 25, 2011

Our friends Reed and David had us over for fried cod tacos (yum!) and asked us to bring over a salad or vegetable. Using the power of the internet, I found this delicious Mexican Chopped Salad. It’s very simple to make, it just requires you to chop, chop, chop vegetables. It’s really just a bunch of corn, black beans, avocado, radishes, red peppers, jalapenos, jicama, lettuce, pickled onions, tomatoes, and cheese all jumbled together in a big old pile. It is delicious, and when mixed with some chicken, it makes a complete and healthy meal.

I can picture making this often during the summer. When it’s sweltering and the last thing I could possibly want to do is use an oven. Yet dinner, somehow, will have to get made. I’ll just chop, chop, chop my way to dinner then, I suppose. And will be aided by a cold margarita. Though I always endorse making things as much from scratch as possible, I would like to give Simply Limeaid a shout out as my favorite, shortcut margarita base. Just mix a cup with a shot of tequila and a 1/2 shot of Cointreau, and you’re well on your way to summertime happiness in the middle of winter.

Finally, I’m going to post this video because Reed and David would want me to.

I hope you enjoy this healthy salad! Let’s just say I needed to eat something nutritious like this for dinner before I ate my next very decadent post for dessert. Stay tuned!

MEXICAN CHOPPED SALAD (adapted from Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing from SELF)

Serves 8-10 as a side, 6-8 as a main with chicken

I did try the Honey-Lime Dressing from the original recipe, but it was a real disappointment. It wasn’t very flavorful, and the olive oil was completely out of place with the honey and jalapeno.  I decided that a good alternative would be to mash up some avocado with lime juice and salt and pepper, and toss the salad with the mash. It’s delicious.

If you’re going to make this ahead of time, chop and mix all ingredients except the lime juice, avocado, and cheese. Right before serving, toss your avocado/lime mixture and cheese with the salad.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce leaves

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained

4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 small jicama, peeled and chopped

Kernels from 2 ears corn or 1 can (15.5 oz) corn kernels, uncooked

1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced

1 red peper, chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1 cup pickled onions (click here for recipe) or 1/2 a fresh red onion, diced

2 ripe avocadoes, peeled

Juice of 4 limes (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and Pepper

2 chicken breasts

Tortilla chips (optional)

Recipe

Bring a few cups water to a boil. Place your chicken breasts in the water and boil for about 40-50 minutes until meat in the center is white, turning breasts in the pot halway through cooking. Once cooled, shred the chicken with forks or your hands.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, jicama, corn, radishes, red pepper, jalapenos, onion, and chicken.

Mash the avocados with a fork and squirt lime juice over them. Add salt and pepper to taste, then mash the whole mixture up. Toss salad with the avocado mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.

Chicken Adobo

January 20, 2011

I love a lazy day off. I had big plans to go skiing last week. I woke up, put on my gear and checked the weather. Which was -2 degrees with a wind chill of -25. HELL NO. My day would be spent inside, reading and cooking.

I love to spend my mornings plotting what to make for dinner. I curl up on my couch with a hot cup of Constant Comment, a piece of fruit, and a bowl of yogurt and spend an hour or two perusing the internet, cookbooks, and old cooking magazines. When I finally decide on something, I get really excited. And my anticipation for dinner builds all day long.

Once I make my grocery list (because I am one of those people that will go to the store for 2 items and will forget what one of them is) I walk to the grocery store.

Then, I come home and start the prep work. I chop vegetables, or measure out spices so dinner will come together quickly and easily. It’s a good life.

Now this meal, this Chicken Adobo, is HAH-MAY-ZING. It is in both Will and my top 5 favorite meals of all time. You put all your ingredients in a pot the night before or the morning of, and let your chicken thighs bathe in the spicy/creamy/sweet/sour/salty sauce of spicy chiles, coconut milk, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and loads and loads of garlic. At dinner time, you cook it on the stovetop–and try not to die from happiness when the delicious smell of the sauce permeates your kitchen–then pop it in the broiler and let the chicken thighs caramelize. You thicken up all that delicious sauce and spoon it generously over rice, and top it off with a crispy-and-caramelized-on-the-outside but moist-and-tender-on-the-inside chicken thigh. And if you’re wondering, Riesling pairs extremely well with this meal.

Well I could gush for many more paragraphs about this meal, but for now, I’ll leave you with three Adobo jokes Will made up last night.

Q: What do you use when your pictures of Adobo don’t turn out well on your blog?

A: Adobo Photoshop

Q: What do you call a person who makes Adobo while doing a handstand?

A: An Adobo Acrobat

Q: What do you call a person who makes Adobo while wearing a pink polo shirt and madras shorts?

A: An Adobro.

CHICKEN ADOBO (adapted from Adobo Chicken by Sam Sifton at the NYTimes Magazine. He adapted it from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of the Purple Yam restaurant, in Brooklyn.)

The only way I adapted this was to substitute habaneros in place of bird’s eye chiles, which I could not find at the store.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk

¼ cup soy sauce

1½ cup rice vinegar

12 garlic cloves, peeled

2-3 whole, fresh habanero chiles

3 bay leaves

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs.

Recipe

1. Mix all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a large, nonreactive pot (I used a dutch oven) or resealable plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken and twirl it around in the marinade a few times to get it fully coated. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

2. Put your pot on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to simmer. Stir it every now and then and cook until chicken is fully cooked and tender (30ish minutes).

3. Put on the broiler. Place chicken pieces on a roasting pan (line it with foil or parchment paper, you will thank me profusely for the mess you don’t have to scrub later). Increase the heat on the pot to medium high. Cook the sauce until it reduces to a thickness similar to cream (10 minutes). Take out bay leaves and chilies.

4. Put your roasting pan with chicken pieces under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, until they just start caramelizing. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, flip the chicken, pour a little of the reduced sauce over eat piece of chicken, and place back under the broiler for 3-5 more minutes. Put the chicken back in the pot of sauce, turn to coat, then serve with rice.

Sriracha Glazed Chicken Wings

December 31, 2010

I made this for dinner hours after I first read the recipe. Will and I love Sriracha. We put it on just about everything you can think of (eggs, sandwiches, broccoli…) And this is a winner. The chicken is sticky, caramelized, and spicy. It would make a fabulous Superbowl snack.

I’m about to work my 4th day in a row and my brain is tired, so I don’t have too much to say this post. Except, that when you are admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain and a Crohn’s disease exacerbation, I would not recommend trying to sneak Hardee’s into your room, past your nurse. Yes, Patient X, I’m talking to you.

SRIRACHA GLAZED WINGS (adapted from Everyday Food, January 2011)

Serves 2 as a main course

I adapted this by adding an extra 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha. If you like things really spicy, try it my way. If you prefer a little less spice, use 1 tablespoon Sriracha as in the original recipe

Ingredients

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon white vinegar

1.5 tablespoon Sriracha

1 tablespoon sugar

1.5 teaspoons grated and peeled fresh ginger

1.5 teaspoons sesame oil

1.5 lbs chicken wings, cut in half at joint, wing tips removed

Recipe

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a glass baking dish, wisk together soy sauce, white vinegar, Sriracha, sugar, ginger, and sesame oil. Add chicken wings, tossing to coat with the marinade. Marinate 30-45 minutes, flipping wings to the other side halfway through. Bake until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens, 30 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through.

OH MY GOD MAKE THIS NOW.

This chili is smoky and spicy. It comes together in a little less than an hour, but it tastes like it took all day to cook. The tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and garlic are charred under the broiler before being added to the stew.

And it has croutons made of CORNBREAD. (This marks the first time in my life I have been excited about a crouton).

Don’t even get me started (can I hear it from the sistas) on how brilliant Lucinda Scala Quinn was to do that to store bought cornbread. This is my favorite chili or, come to think of it, soup/stew of all time.

And if you make it, it will probably make you all googly eyed too.

More soups and stews: Quick Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup), Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup, Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

What I’m Reading:

CHICKEN CHILI (only slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn as published in Martha Stewart Living, October 2010)

Do beware that this chili is SPICY. I’m saying that and I love spicy food. Next time, I’d seed the jalapeno before cooking. My only change was to add a mix of white and dark meat, based on my preference for a mix of meats.

Keeps in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a month

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for Chicken Chili

  • 10 plum tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine, halved lengthwise
  • 1 jalapeno chile, halved (seeded if desired)
  • 1 white onion, peeled and halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • Salt
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
  • Desired toppings (I like avocado mashed with a little lemon to stop it from going brown and cilantro

Ingredients for Cornbread Croutons

  • Cornbread or Corn Muffins (I just used a Jiffy Mix)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Recipe for Chicken Chili

  1. Preheat broiler, with rack 3 inches from heat source. Arrange tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and garlic, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until starting to char, about 5 minutes. Pulse tomatoes and jalapeno in a blender or a food processor until chunky. Chop onion and mince garlic.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet (preferably enamel cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add oil. Working in batches, brown chicken in a single layer, allowing to sear before stirring, 5 to 6 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add chili powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in chipotles, and add chicken. Raise heat to high. Add tomato-jalapeno mixture. Cook, scraping up browned bits, until fully incorporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in stock; simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans; simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with Corn Muffin Croutons and other desired toppings.

Recipe for Cornbread Croutons

  1. Cut corn muffins or corn bread into 3/4-inch cubes; toss with olive oil and salt.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden, about 20 minutes.

I have been sick as a dog the last few days. I ache. I can’t breathe. I try to talk and instead I sound like a garbage disposal. When I called out sick to work, I had to repeat my name 3 times to be understood. I haven’t slept. When I am sick, I want something hot (to soothe my achiness), spicy (to clear my sinuses), and nourishing (to prevent me from subsisting on simple carbohydrates). I want Pho Ga.

Pho Ga was introduced to me during my middle school years, when a Vietnamese restaurant came to my New Jersey hometown and brought with it this delicious soup. Pho Ga is something I found earth shattering. It is wonderfully fragrant, smelling of anise and cloves. It allows for a taco-bar-do-it-yourself approach, as you can add as much basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, or chiles as you want. Chewy rice noodles bathe in it. This is my kind of comfort food.

I would love to make Traditional Pho Ga someday, but not when I’m sick. Anything I make while sick must take less than an hour. This version is probably not how someone from Vietnam would make a quick Pho Ga. But it’s what I improvised and I really like it, so I thought I’d share.

My Favorite Chicken Recipe on this blog: Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, Cherry Tomato, and Quinoa Salad

More on Soup: Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup and Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

What I’m Reading:

QUICK PHO GA (improvised very liberally from Pho Ga by Steamy Kitchen)

Serves 4 as a main course

Ingredients

Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 6-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

1 lb raw, deboned, skinned chicken part of your choice, cut into 1 inch strips or 1 inch cubes (I used thighs)

52 oz low sodium chicken broth

4 tablespoons fish sauce

1 lb very thin rice noodles

Toppings

4 tablespoons julienned basil

4 tablespoons julienned cilantro

1.5 cups bean sprouts

1/2 c chopped roasted, salted peanuts

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced into rounds

Sriracha

2 limes, cut into halves

Recipe

Heat large pot over medium heat. Melt butter, add onion. Cook onion until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, stirring occasionally, cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Push the onion/garlic/ginger mixture to one side of the pot, then add sesame oil to the empty side. Place crushed red pepper flakes and chicken in oil. Brown for a few minutes in the oil, then stir everything together. Stir occasionally, cooking over medium heat for ten minutes.

Add chicken broth and fish sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While waiting for the soup to come to a boil, set out toppings and let noodles soak in very hot water (about 10 minutes).

Allow soup to boil for 10 or 15 minutes (however long is most convenient for you) with the lid on. Add the soup and noodles to a bowl, garnish as you like.


Yesterday was day 2 out of day 4 off from work, and I was pretty much a slug on the couch all day. I made plans to prepare this make ahead dinner, but peeling my rump from the cushions seemed next to impossible for most of the afternoon. Eventually, I had to get up to answer the door for the delivery man, so I figured I would go with my momentum while I had it and buckled down to make this. I’m glad I did.

This salad is great. I mean, really great. It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to summer while the farmers market still has delicious corn and cherry tomatoes. The only thing that makes this meal better is eating it with a nice, cold beer after an early evening soccer game. That’s my kind of night!

The dressing on this salad is my new favorite dressing. It contains marjoram, which I’d never used before. Marjoram tastes like a sweeter, more mild version of oregano. Next time, I’m making extra of this dressing for a salad later in the week.

I’ve added two steps to this recipe. I’d like to explain why, so you know I’m not running you around the kitchen without good reason. First, I brined my chicken. Brining chicken prevents the chicken from losing a lot of moisture to the surrounding environment. It is about 2 minutes active time and 30 minutes of waiting that will make a dry chicken breast much juicier. The ratio for brine is 1 tablespoon table salt to 1 cup water. I use one cup brine per chicken breast. This is not a necessary step, but I think it is a worthwhile one. 

And lastly, the quinoa. You may be asking yourself, “Why in the world am I rinsing my quinoa 3 times?” Quinoa is a delicious, hearty, slightly sweet grain which is naturally surrounded by a bitter coating called saponin. The saponin is washed off during the multiple rinses. If you don’t want to bother with the rinses, I’d suggest substituting farro or couscous for the quinoa in this recipe.

Alright, sorry if I told you more than you ever wanted to know about brining chicken and rinsing quinoa. But I am lazy unless someone gives me a good reason not to be. I wanted to let you know how the extra steps will yield a better, final result. 

Recent articles on food and drink that caught my attention:

CHICKEN, GREEN BEAN, CORN, CHERRY TOMATO, and QUINOA SALAD (adapted from Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad. Bon Appetit, August 2009. Quinoa cooking instructions from Quinoa Salad with Fresh Hearts of Palm. Gourmet, May 2009)

I altered this recipe quite a bit. I had difficulty finding farro, so I substituted quinoa. Others who commented on the recipe said couscous also works well. I added cherry tomatoes. And I brined my chicken, which is not necessary, but will make for a more juicy chicken. I substituted sherry vinegar for white wine vinegar because I like the flavor better, but according to other comments, rice wine vinegar works well too. I think balsamic would overpower the flavor a bit. 

This salad can be made up to one day ahead

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 12 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (cut from 2 to 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • Recipe

    Brine chicken. Pour 2 tablespoons table salt and 2 cups cold water into a Ziploc bag or sealed container. Add chicken breasts. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes. 

    Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a fine-mesh sieve. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of well-salted boiling water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot above 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel (not terry cloth), then cover with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 15 minutes. Let stand off heat, without lid but still covered with towel, 5 minutes. Let cool in a closed container, in the fridge if you’re in a rush. 

    Your chicken breasts should be brined now. Take chicken breasts out of bag, rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. Cool, then cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes.

    Cook green beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water to cool; drain. Transfer beans to kitchen towel; pat dry.

    Halve cherry tomatoes.

    Mix quinoa, chicken, and green beans in large bowl; add corn, green onions, and cherry tomatoes.

    Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, marjoram, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in small bowl. Press with back of spoon to release flavor. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad in bowl; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

    Divide chilled or room-temperature salad among plates. Sprinkle with goat cheese.