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My Favorite Roast Chicken

August 11, 2011

Roast chicken should be one of the simplest recipes out there, yet I could never get it quite right. Either the white meat was too dry, the dark meat undercooked. The skin not quite crispy enough. I tried everything, slow and low, fast and high, breast up breast down but it was never just right. Until now. I came across this recipe on Epicurious. It turns out the secret to a succulent, crispy bird is to start with a dry chicken, dry pan and lots of salt.


1 2-3 pound farm raised chicken
kosher salt and pepper
2 teaspoons minced thyme
Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450
Rinse the chicken and dry thoroughly with paper towel
Salt and pepper the inner cavity, then truss.
Cover the outside of the bird with salt (about 1 tbsp) and pepper to taste
Place chicken in a saute or roasting pan and put it in the oven.
Leave it for about 50-60 minutes (you’ll know it’s down when the juices run clear and the legs wiggle loosely from the body)
Once it’s done, add chopped thyme to juices in pan and baste bird with the juices
Let stand for about 15 minutes, then carve
Serve with butter and dijon mustard



Mario’s Anchovy Pasta

August 3, 2011

Why do anchovies get such a bad rap? why would anyone want to ‘hold the anchovies’ and their delicious salty goodness?. I was reluctant to try anchovies for a long time, assuming they must be gross because the people on TV seemed to think so. Well, let me tell you, the sitcom folks don’t know what they’re talking about.
This anchovy recipe comes compliments of my husbands italian barber. We call it ‘Mario’s pasta’ around my place, but I’ll bet you’ll be calling it damn tasty.
In the time it takes to cook the pasta, you can throw all the sauce ingredients together, open up a bottle of your favorite chilled white and you’ve got yourself an elegant menu suitable for a dinner party and still have lots of time to relax and enjoy your guests.

Mario’s Anchovy Pasta

10 Anchovy fillets
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf italian parsley, chopped
12 shrimps, dried on paper towel and chopped into bite size pieces
1 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tbsp fresh black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg good quality spaghetti
1/2 tbsp unseasoned breadcrumbs

1. Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook according to package directions. Reserve at least 1 cup of starchy cooking water
2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in skillet until it’s shimmering
3. Add chili flakes and anchovies. Break up anchovies with a wooden spoon.
4. Toss shrimp with black pepper and breadcrumbs and add to pan
5. Add garlic when shrimp is just about fully cooked.
6. Drain pasta and toss with shrimp/anchovy mixture.
7. Add enough of the pasta water to diminish the ‘stickiness’ and give the dish a nice consistency, but be careful not to add so much water that it gets soupy
8. Add parsley and parmesan to taste

Old Fashioned Chicken Soup

February 10, 2011

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What is it about Chicken Soup that comforts the soul on a cold winter day? Perhaps it’s the steaming velvety broth that fogs your glasses as you bring a spoonful to your lips. The sound of the long satisfying slurp as you drink it all in. Perhaps it’s the bite of freshly cracked black pepper that dances on your tongue. Or the burst of juicy chicken and tender carrot between your teeth. Whatever it is, it just works. There’s a reason why it’s your grandmothers cure-all, and her grandmothers too!.

Now, no offense to Campbell’s, but a bowl of the canned stuff just doesn’t do it for me. Not after I realized how easy and satisfying it is to make from scratch. It’s now become a weekly staple in my house, and my 10 month old son goes nuts for it too!

I use homemade broth as well, and I find it makes a HUGE difference in the taste of the broth. It’s worth the effort and there’s something about creating my own broth, and then a soup from that broth that makes me feel like a pioneer!. It sounds a lot harder than it is, trust me on this.

Now at the risk of sounding all food pretentious on you, I strongly recommend organic, grain fed chicken. Using anything else would be like pouring ketchup on your caviar.


4 cups Chicken Broth
1 cup water
1 cup dry white wine
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 medium celery ribs, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 3-4 pound chicken, cut up, giblets removed.
2 tbsp minced fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

1. Add chicken pieces to large soup pot, pour liquids over top, place over high heat and bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
2. Add vegetables and garlic, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 1 hour.
3. Remove chicken pieces from pot and allow to cool (about 10 minutes) while the soup stays warm over very low heat.
4. Once cool enough to handle, skin and debone the chicken pieces, chop or shred into bite size pieces and add back to pot.
5. Add dill, salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from the Cooking Know How cookbook.

Gypsy Soup

February 2, 2011

I’ve recently made a personal commitment to eat vegetarian at least once a week. Now, I say ‘commitment’ but that word to me is synonymous with ‘difficult’ or ‘I don’t really want to do it but I said I would’ and conjures up images of shackles and straight jackets. And that’s not how I feel about this decision at all. I’m just going to be more conscious of cooking vegetarian and ensure I do so at least weekly. Also, until now the word vegetarian to me has also been synonymous with tofu but I’m quickly learning to drop that comparison. There’s a world of ingredients out there for me to discover: beans, lentils, grains, and of course veggies and I can’t wait to dive in!.

So my first non-tofu vegetarian meal is this wonderful little concoction called Gypsy Soup. Not entirely sure why the Gypsy moniker. If it were up to me I would’ve named it ‘oh my god’ soup after the words that parted my lips when inhaling the aroma’s wafting from my pot.

Gypsy Soup

Olive oil for sauteing
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, passed through a press
3 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped, membrane and seeds removed
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
4 cups water

2 teaspoons paprika (I made the mistake of using 1 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika because I love it so much but it overpowered the other flavors of the soup)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon tamari

In a dutch oven, warm the oil and saute the onions, garlic, celery and sweet potatoes for 5 minutes. Add the seasonings, except for the tamari, and the water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and the chickpeas and continue to simmer for 10 minutes more, until the vegetables are as tender as you’d like. Stir in the tamari and adjust the seasonings.

‘Pasta’ Carbonara with Pork Belly

January 26, 2011
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I’m not much of a pasta eater. Most of the time I find it a little bland, a little boring. Every once in awhile though, I’ll get inspired by a recipe and hope that it will be the one that will change my mind. Well, I haven’t found it yet. So if you have one you think I might love, please let me know (it’s more likely to work with me if it’s spicy).UPDATE! I found ‘the one’ pasta recipe. You can read all about it here

In the meantime, here’s a recipe from Epicurious I tried recently for Spaghetti Carbonara with Pork Belly (I used bow tie pasta ’cause it’s what I had in the pantry). Definitely yummy…..just not yummy enough to be ‘the one’. Decadent and rich, this recipe is also time consuming due to the curing of the pork belly. If you don’t feel like being Charcuterie-ist (is that a word) you can substitute bacon*.

Pork belly
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 pound fresh pork belly

1 small onion, quartered
1 small carrot, peeled, quartered
1/2 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons (or more) dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine

Spaghetti carbonara
1 pound spaghetti
1 1/2 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) or 1 1/2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed

2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

For pork belly:
Rub coarse salt and coriander into pork belly. Cover and chill at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 275°F. Place pork belly in large ovenproof saucepan. Add onion, next 5 ingredients, 2 tablespoons wine, and chicken broth. Bring to boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until pork is very tender when pierced with fork, turning every 30 minutes, about 2 hours 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Cover and chill at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
Discard any solidified fat on surface of pork belly mixture. Remove pork from cooking liquid, scraping any gelatinous mixture back into saucepan. Rewarm mixture in saucepan just until melted. Strain liquid into measuring cup. Add white wine if necessary to measure 1/2 cup. Cut rind and all but 1/4-inch layer of fat from pork belly. Slice pork crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, then cut slices crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips.
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork belly and cook until browned on all sides, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add pork cooking liquid and 1/4 cup wine. Bring to boil, then cover and keep warm.
For spaghetti carbonara:
Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Add peas; cook 1 minute longer.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs in large bowl. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, and parsley; set aside.
Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Whisk 1/4 cup hot cooking liquid into egg mixture. Add pasta; toss to coat. Add mixture to skillet with pork and toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Season generously with black pepper. Divide among bowls and serve, passing remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese alongside.

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Mix 12 ounces diced browned bacon, 2 tablespoons drippings, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and 1/4 cup dry white wine in large skillet. Bring to simmer; keep warm. Cook pasta; proceed with recipe

Read More*

Hot and Cold Soba Noodle Salad

January 26, 2011

Luckily for me both my husband and I enjoy tofu. Tofu is a great way to incorporate protein into a vegetarian diet. It’s low in both fat and sodium, and high in minerals. As it has little of its own flavor, it goes well with many types of dishes and lends itself to many cooking methods as well, whether it’s baking, grilling or frying.

Here is a recipe from House and Home’s January 2011 issue for a crunchy soba noodle salad. The crunch comes from both the fresh vegetables and crispy tofu. Really fresh and yummy, this makes a great light dinner or lunch.

Soba Salad

300 g package buckwheat soba noodles
2 cups colourful Julienne vegetables including carrots, snow peas, red pepper and cabbage.
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking wine)
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Crispy Tofu

1 16 oz pkg firm tofu
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3-4 tbsp cornstarch or rice flour
1/3 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp soy sauce

1. In a medium pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles following the directions on the package, approx 5-6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to prevent sticking. Drain again and let cool.

2. Whisk together last 5 ingredients . Toss noodles with vegetables and dressing, set aside.

3. Remove tofu from package, cut into 8 even chunks but don’t separate, and drain on tea towel for half an hour.

4. Heat vegetable oil on medium high in a wok or large frying pan. While the oil is heating up, dip each piece of tofu in cornstarch, making sure all sides are coated. Pat off excess starch, the roll tofu in panko*. Cook in oil until tofu is lightly browned. Drain on paper towel.

6. Put soba noodle salad on a serving dish and top with hot tofu, green onion, sesame seeds and soy sauce. Serve immediately.

* the second time I made this I found it really tough to get the panko crumbs to stick to the tofu. I did not encounter this the first time I made this recipe though I followed all the same steps. I plan on making this again soon so I’ll update this post if I find a better way to get the panko to stick.

Korean Chicken Wings

January 21, 2011

I was feeling gluttonous recently and nostalgic for the crispy skinned chicken wings I noshed on at Bon Chon chicken in NY a few years ago. The wings at Bon Chon were sooooo good I wouldn’t shut up about them for weeks after. The wings were crispy on the outside, like a potato chip, and juicy and delicious inside. The secret to the crisp skin is double frying (see what I mean about gluttonous?) according to a more time-consuming task to be sure, but well worth the effort!.

Canola oil, for frying
5 cloves garlic
1 1 1⁄2″ piece peeled ginger
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. gojujang (Korean chile paste)
1 1⁄2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. Asian sesame oil
1 tbsp. honey
2⁄3 cup flour
1 tbsp. cornstarch
16 chicken wings (about 1 3⁄4 lbs.)

1. Pour oil into a 6-qt. pot to a depth of 2″. Heat over medium-high heat until a thermometer reads 350˚. Chop garlic and ginger in a food processor. Add soy, gojujang, vinegar, sesame oil, and honey; purée. Put sauce into a bowl.

2. Whisk flour, cornstarch, and 2⁄3 cup water in another bowl. Add chicken; toss. Working in 3 batches, fry chicken until golden, 6–8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Return oil to 350˚. Fry chicken until crisp, 6–8 minutes more. Drain again. Toss chicken in sauce