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Sunday Cooking: Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Failed Sweet Potato Gratin

Has a haircut made you consider dropping your career to become a rock star or member of a girl gang? After getting my hair cut on Saturday, I looked like a total badass when I rolled out of bed on Sunday morning. I ran a brush through my updated bob, pulled on a t-shirt with a handgun pattern, and then put on a black jacket and pair of Ray Ban knockoffs for my morning errands. I looked like the kind of woman that would carry a switchblade and know how to use it. And by “know how to use it,” I mean thin slice some sweet potatoes and carve a roast chicken for Sunday dinner.

Truth: Instead of a switchblade, I used a mandolin slicer to cut peeled sweet potatoes for my doomed gratin. It was supposed to be like the quinoa-potato gratin at Juventino, a restaurant down the street from my apartment, but I a) couldn’t get the potatoes sliced thin enough, b) used too much quinoa, and c) didn’t use enough milk and seasonings.

Continue Reading →

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Chicken B’stilla

It’s Meat Pie Season, people. It’s time to embrace the dropping temperatures and revel in the glory of slow-cooked meats, flaky crusts, hearty gravies, and vegetables of all kinds. Many people celebrate the season by making classics like chicken pot pie or shepherd’s pie, but I’d like to propose another option: a chicken-based (or pigeon-based) Moroccan meat pie called a b’stilla. Instead of a traditional pie crust, it employs flaky phyllo dough, and because it’s Moroccan, the filling offers savory and sweet flavors like cinnamon, honey, lemon, saffron, coriander, cilantro, and more. It may sound strange, but I promise it all comes together.

I found the recipe for the b’stilla in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table and didn’t adapt it at all, so you can check it out in this handy Google Books preview version of her fantastic cookbook. You can also find photos from and lessons learned during my pie preparation after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Braised Chicken with Apples and Sage

This was a week about planning ahead. I knew I would be strapped for time because of starting my new job, so I made a large batch of braised chicken with apples and sage based on a recipe from Epicurious (I should have also written a few blog entries in advance, but here we are). The smell of sauteéd shallots and apples filled the kitchen and the flavors were great, even though I didn’t brown my chicken enough. I had another piece of chicken for dinner a second night, and then cut it up a remaining piece and used it in a salad with dried cranberries, pecans, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

I promise to get back to creating recipes and taking photos next week once I’ve readjusted to full time employment. It’s strange to return to a regular 8-hour workday after ten months of pyjamas and working from home.

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AD Challenge: Tacos

tomatillo2

The time has come for the first Apartment Dining Challenge. This month’s challenge comes from Jon and Kellie. Jon writes:

Kellie and I enjoy making tacos in our apartment. We both like to eat them in different ways. Kellie likes to break up the hard shells and make a taco salad; I like hard or soft shell tacos the traditional way. We usually make them together – one person cooks the meat and shells while the other cuts veggies – so it’s a fun team effort. We also make them to get rid of leftover steak or chicken. What are your thoughts on tacos?

I have always been a fan of tacos, particularly chicken or those with more uncommon ingredients, such as chorizo or roasted vegetables. I think the key to making tacos at home on a regular basis is mixing it up with new ingredients or meat cooking methods. Keeping cooking time in mind (Jon and Kellie are two very busy folks), I wanted to put together a simple recipe that added some interesting ingredients and could also lend itself to a taco salad.

Enter the tomatillo. Continue Reading →

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Grandma’s Recipe Book: Rice Krispie Chicken

cookbookside

I had every intention of posting an Apartment Dining Challenge entry today. The meal was cooked over the weekend, I took plenty of photos, and even promised it in my recent Facebook and Twitter updates. Well, things have been a bit crazy since Monday and in anticipation of my new job starting next week, I decided to escape to the Adirondacks for a few days to recharge and refocus. I completely forgot to grab the AD Challenge photos off of my hard drive, so Tuesday was my first night here and my mother made one of her mother’s dinner staples: rice krispie chicken.

I asked my mother for the recipe, and not only did she provide me with it, she also pulled out my Grandma Mangan’s recipe book (she of giblet gravy fame). It’s a Home & Garden cookbook bursting with small pieces of loose leaf paper, newspaper and magazine clippings, pieces of prepared food packaging, and paper scraps with recipes ranging from spaghetti pie to chicken marsala. She had a separate set of index cards with her own recipes (or those from Dom DeLuise), but I’m fascinated by the recipes from other sources she chose to save over fifty years of cooking.

All of this—along with my lack of a printer for my computer—inspired me to go out and purchase a three-in-one printer/scanner/copier so that I can document these clippings and not have to deal with the Staples Copy Center on a regular basis. I will be spending much of Thursday scanning my favorite items so that I can create a feature here called “Grandma’s Recipes” where I post the clipping, prepare it myself, and share the results.

I wasn’t able to find the actual clipping for the rice krispie chicken, however my mother was able to write it out from memory. Continue Reading →

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Thai Peanut Chicken & Stir-fried Bok Choy

Photo by Ramsey (he stole my camera while I was in the kitchen and took the best shot of the evening)

Photo by Ramsey (he stole my camera while I was in the kitchen and took the best shot of the evening)

Most people cite family members as having the most influence over their personal taste and culinary development, but for me, that person is my friend Vince. We’ve known each other since I was born, and without him, I would have never experienced such a wide range of foods and cooking styles over the years. He’s managed to track down every wonderful restaurant off the beaten path in our declining upstate NY hometown, including Korean restaurants hidden in strip malls, Thai restaurants on residential side streets, small restaurant/bars serving cocktails and sticky toffee pudding. He researches new restaurants in New York and is always ready with a recommendation when he is in town (he took me to Momofuku Ssäm Bar for the first time). The man even gives me cooking supplies and candied chestnuts as gifts on holidays.

Culinary finds aside though, I believe what’s had the most influence on me is Vince’s attitude towards food: he works hard to find the best and shares it with those around him. Meals are meant to be shared with friends and food is a glue that holds together the social fabric of a circle of friends, or brings together new ones.

One of Vince’s finds during our college days was a dish listed on a menu as “Awesome Chicken” at a Thai restaurant in Buffalo. It was chicken with peanut sauce over rice, but as I discovered during one of my visits to the city, the restaurant was correct in their assessment. I tried to recreate it last night, and while I don’t think it reached “awesome” status, I’d dub it “pretty good.” Continue Reading →

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A Taste of Western NY: Chicken Finger Subs

chickensubThere are two food superstars in Western New York. The first and most famous is the Buffalo wing, created in the kitchen of the Anchor Bar back in the 1960s. The second is the lesser-known Garbage Plate of Rochester, beloved by drunk college students, locals, and anyone looking for a a few thousand calories of greasy goodness. Nick Tahou Hots, home of the Garbage Plate, describes the dish as “a base of any combination of home fries, macaroni salad, baked beans, or french fries topped by your choice of meats and dressed to your liking with spicy mustard, chopped onions, and Nick Tahou’s signature hot sauce.  Each plate comes with two thick slices of fresh italian bread and butter.” Essentially, it’s everything you might find at a backyard barbecue piled on one plate.

With unique (and heart-stopping) foods like these, it’s no surprise that the chicken finger sub is one of the most overlooked Western New York delicacies. This sandwich, featuring chicken fingers dipped in Frank’s Redhot sauce, can be found in almost every sub shop, the occasional pizza place, and at certain Wegmans locations. I even made variations of the sub while working at the on-campus sandwich shop in college, where weight-conscious sorority pledges would get all of the fixings in a wrap to cut down on carbs (including the blue cheese dressing).

Despite its popularity in Rochester and Buffalo, the chicken finger sub is virtually impossible to find in New York City. Its scarcity may be a blessing to the waistlines of transplanted upstaters, but for a dedicated few, it’s a call to take matters into their own hands.

Tonight, Ramsey and I decided to make the subs from scratch (almost) and you can find the recipe and photos after the jump. Continue Reading →

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(Almost) Five Ingredients: Braised Chicken

I’ve been trying to keep food bills to a minimum the past few months, so Ramsey and I have been eating a lot of chicken and pasta. There are endless pasta variations that can be easily improvised, but I’ve been searching for more ways to prepare chicken beyond my standbys of roasting and pan-searing. A quick flip through my cookbook library yielded a technique I had never tried in my kitchen before: braising. It calls for searing meat and/or vegetables in a bit of oil, then slowly simmering them in flavorful liquid until they’re cooked through. It’s easy, delicious, and best of all, it’s cheap.

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Kitchen Basics: Chicken Pot Pie

I woke up extra early on Sunday morning to do some cooking. At 10 AM, you would assume I’d be up making a dish for brunch or perhaps baking muffins, but instead I was prepping and roasting a whole chicken. It was a component for that evening’s dinner, the ultimate comfort food: chicken pot pie. The combination of flaky pastry, seasoned gravy, and vegetables that appeared on plates throughout my childhood make it an ideal winter Sunday meal. 

The whole chicken provided not only the meat for the pie, it also provided the chicken broth after a few hours of simmering the carcass on the stove with vegetables and seasonings. The best part was that the three pound free-range organic chicken cost only ten dollars and some change at the store the previous day, which is a bargain in Brooklyn. 

A guide to making chicken broth and the pie are after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Kitchen Basics: Risotto


Risotto seems to be one of the most feared kitchen basics. It involves a lot of stirring, a careful eye on liquid absorption, and around six cups of chicken broth. Although a rice dish with a few embellishments seems like it should be simple, I’ve heard a number of risotto-related horror stories with frightening endings such as:

“…and after all of the broth was absorbed, the rice was still raw!”
“…but then I stirred the rice to find the bottom was COMPLETELY BURNED.”
“…by the time I was done, I had finished the rest of the bottle of wine and just fell asleep.” 

(That last one is a lie, but still, a possible mistake while making this dish.)

I consulted a number of different sites and a few of my cookbooks to put together what would be my first attempt at the dish this afternoon. The result was a Risotto with Thyme Chicken and Mushrooms. You can embellish risotto with just about anything, use vegetable broth for a vegan or vegetarian option, or even sweeten it for dessert. Here’s the recipe. Continue Reading →