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Spatchcocked Flat-Roasted Chicken

5 Apr

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Buying a whole chicken is a great way stretch your dollar, as it is significantly cheaper than buying the chicken parts separately. The other day, I had 2 breasts in my hands ūüėČ ready to go and ended up switching them out for a whole chicken because it would save me a few bucks. I bought my chicken directly from my farmer’s market vendor, so I felt reassured that the chicken lived a relatively happy life. As Deb from the Smitten Kitchen says in her cookbook, the smaller, cleaner chickens from the greenmarket really do taste incredible, and there is no need to add anything extra.

With a whole chicken at my side, it was time to start SPATCHCOCKING. I only recently heard the term while listening to Tracy talk about it on the Joy the Baker Podcast.¬†Basically, you cut the backbone out of the chicken with your kitchen shears and lay the chicken flat in a roasting pan (check out the Adam’s spatchcocked chicken while you’re at it, and¬†Tracy’s great pictures. Hopefully they won’t gross you out too much). Doing this allows the chicken to cook evenly in a relatively short time, and the breasts won’t overcook before the legs are ready. A great idea for holiday entertaining.

As Deb points out in the head note for this recipe, from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, she learned to have faith that chicken skin will crisp itself in a high-heat oven, and not to load it with oils and rubs. The only oil in this recipe is used for the potatoes. The chicken skin provides all of the lubrication that the chicken needs.

From Thomas Keller, Deb learned to rain the salt down on the outside of the bird and to trust that it won’t leave the chicken too salty, just perfect. Salt is key.¬†While it gets a bad rep. these days, salt makes a huge difference in flavoring dishes cooked from scratch.

This chicken was simple and juicy. After I few days, I shredded some of the meat and ate it with brown rice, black beans, and sautéed peppers and onions. A nice way to repurpose the leftovers.

I see a lot more spatchcocking in my future…!

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Spatchcocked Flat Roasted Chicken

recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

One chicken, about 3 pounds

salt and pepper

Two handfuls of tiny yellow potatoes, washed and sliced in half

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil, for the potatoes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone of the chicken and discard it (or freeze and save it for making stock). Season the cavity generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan (I used my cast-iron skillet), and gently pat the breast skin dry with a paper towel. Generously season the top of the bird with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nestle the potatoes and garlic cloves around and under the chicken, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 30-45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees. Toss the potatoes after about 20 minutes, so that they cook evenly. When the chicken has finished cooking, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter. Remove the legs, thighs, wings, and breasts from the spatchcocked chicken, and arrange them with the potatoes. Enjoy with another vegetable side dish for a balanced meal.

Update 9/25/14: new photo of the spatchcocked chicken baked in a pyrex. Delish!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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Poppy Seed Cake

7 Jan

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I dare you to count the number of poppy seeds in this cake.

1…

2…

671…

My grandma used to make us poppy seed cake when we were kids. It was a plain cake, with a subtle crunch from the seeds, usually baked up in a bundt pan. Grandma uses canned poppy seeds, but I made this cake with the regular seeds that you can find by the spices at the grocery store. She says that poppy seed cake tastes even better when it’s a few days old.

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The process of preparing this cake gave me peace of mind. I brought out my Kitchen Aid mixer and whipped my egg whites to soft peaks, a task that gives me great pleasure, and that I do not get to do very often now that I am not cooking in a professional kitchen.

Folding my softly whipped egg whites into the thick yellow batter felt so good. My kitchen was silent; I was alone, soaking in every step.

To get the full recipe, head over to The Wednesday Chef.

A few notes:

Make sure your butter is soft. 

I used 1 cup of 1% lowfat milk + 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar in place of buttermilk. 

Charoset: A Passover Delight

9 Apr

Happy Passover everyone. Have you made Matzo Lasagna yet this year? There are still 5 more days left of the holiday, so get your cheese on! And if you have a hankering for dessert, try my Kiss n’ Swirl meringues (just use Kosher for Passover vanilla, or omit it altogether).

I love Passover because the food is so unique and holds so much meaning and tradition. Charoset comes from the Hebrew word for clay, and is meant to symbolize the mud which the¬†Israelite’s¬†used to hold the bricks together when they were enslaved in ancient Egypt. You can read more about the story of Passover here.

Charoset is made from grated apples, nuts, dried fruit, and sweet wine…all whizzed up in the food processor or blender (or by hand if you are feeling rustic). I find Charoset utterly delicious, so sweet and full of my favorite ingredients. I like to use dried figs and raisins, but in the past I have also used dried apricots/dates/prunes. Fuji apples are my go-to because they are so crisp and sweet. And the wine has to be¬†Manischewitz Concord Grape. People either love Manischewitz wine or they hate it. I can’t seem to get enough of the sweet stuff.

Charoset

Makes about 5 cups

*Note: you do not have to follow these measurements exactly. I just add ingredients to my liking, using these ratios as a guide. You can use whatever nuts/dried fruit/apples/wine/spices you like. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup dried figs, I like to use Turkish figs

1/2 cup raisins

3 fuji apples

1 cup Manischewitz wine (you can use grape juice or another sweet red wine)

2-3 tablespoons cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Method:

In a blender or food processor (I used a blender because that is all I have), pulse the nuts until roughly chopped. Empty the nuts into a large bowl. Now place the dried fruit in the blender. Pulse until chopped and add to the bowl with the nuts.

Chop the apples by hand, halve them, quarter them, and chop each quarter into about 4 or 5 small chunks. Add the apples (you may have to add one at a time if using a blender) and wine to the blender and pulse just until roughly chopped into small pieces. Add the apples to the bowl with the nuts and dried fruit. Add the spices and stir everything together by hand. Taste and add more wine or spices as needed.

Let the charoset sit for a few hours in the fridge to let the flavors develop. Enjoy with matzo and horseradish, or mix it into yogurt.

Jewish Cookie Love: Rugelach

4 Oct

Homemade Rugelach. Little Jewish crescent cookies filled with jam, nuts, and/or chocolate! A crowd-pleaser like you wouldn’t believe.

The dough is a combination of butter and cream cheese mixed together with some sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. You chill the dough in disks, then roll out each disk, spread with filling, cut and roll into cute crescent shapes.

The filling could involve jam (many like to use apricot preserves, but I went with a mixed berry jam), cinnamon sugar, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, or all of the above.

I remember back in the day when I was a novice baker, I made some whole wheat fig rugelach from a Whole Foods recipe. Those particular rugelach were not crescent shaped; I rolled them into logs and then cut the logs into 1-inch cookies. Yes, there are 2 different ways to shape rugelach. I remember making those fig rugelach over and over again for a long time.

Sorry fig rugelach, but there’s a new cookie in town.

I found my new go-to rugelach recipe: Ina Garten, you did it again. You wooed me with another of your baked goods recipes (also see: Brownie Pudding Amazingness).

I have a feeling that I will be making these cookies again, very soon.

Rugelach

**the recipe looks long and daunting. It is actually quite easy and a fun process albeit a bit messy. Ina and I just want to be thorough with the directions so you feel confident in your rugelach-making. And don’t forget that you can get creative with the fillings!

recipe from Ina Garten

makes 4 dozen cookies

Dough:

8 oz of cream cheese, at room temperature

8 oz unsalted butter (1/2 lb, 2 sticks), at room temperature

1/4 cup plus granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups (310 g) all purpose flour

Spread:

jam or preserves of your choice OR melted butter

Filling:

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts + 3/4 cup raisins

OR 1 cup chopped chocolate

Sprinkle:

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons of granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light (I did everything by hand). Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts OR chocolate.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons jam or preserves or melted butter and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges‚ÄĒcutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge thinly. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

OPTIONAL: Instead of sprinkling the cookies with cinnamon sugar, just do the egg wash, wait until the cookies have baked and cooled, then dust with powdered sugar.

Dinner Party For Rosh Hashanah

3 Oct

An excuse to have friends over for dinner and to cook a hearty Jewish meal… The menu:

  • Round Challah Bread, Roasted Garlic
  • Apples Dipped in Honey (Catskill Provision Honey)
  • Chicken with Figs
  • Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate Seeds, Feta, Chickpeas, Cucumber, Radishes, and more
  • Quick Asparagus and Green Bean Saute
  • Wine
  • Root

A small glimpse of the meal:

Pretty Pretty Blue Hydrangeas

Round Challah Bread; Apple Walnut Cake

Couscous Salad in the Making…(pre-couscous)

Flowers, Apples & Honey, Couscous Salad

Kosher Chicken #1 in the Pyrex, Before Baking

Kosher Chicken #2 in Cast-Iron, After Baking

Quick Green Bean Saute

Dinner is Served, Come & Get It

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For…Honey Ice Cream!

Rugelach, Homemade Jewish Cookies…you can’t just eat one

And there you have it. Just a small taste of the lovely meal that was enjoyed by many.