Sometimes you reeeally think you know a person, and then they move home after five years in the wilds of the west, and you discover that your youngest sister has a real affinity for pasta salad. You never stop learning, I guess.
I don’t think I’ve ever posted a recipe for pasta salad, unless you count the World Famous Sesame Noodles (I do not) and suddenly here is the second in as many months, if you count the couscous salad (I do.) October is kind of a weird time for pasta salad, they generally say “picnic or bust” to me, but Sister is home! She likes pasta salad! So pasta salad we will eat. This particular pasta salad is my version of one that is sold at a small lunch place in NH, near my new brother’s family. It might be perfect. It is mayo based, but isn’t goopy or heavy, and it has pickles in it, which are a welcome addition to most things. We had it for lunch one day up there, I decided to recreate it immediately, and I have made it several times since. Twice this weekend, as a matter of fact. I was feeding the motley crew that had gathered to help move Sister and her hubs in to their new house, and the first time I made it I didn’t cook the pasta quite enough, so I had to make it again. (The first batch eventually softened up, so I ate it all. Myself.) As it turns out, I didn’t take pictures of either batch this weekend, so I have to make it AGAIN for all of you. Good thing the sister lives close by so I can drop the bulk of this batch off at her house. If I don’t eat it all first.
You can save this for the summer, or you can throw caution to the wind and make it now. Pasta salad doesn’t just have to be for the warm weather. Pasta salad, all year round! Get wild, you funky little flowers, you.
Mac Salad (serves 8ish)
1 lb small pasta shape of your choice (small shells are good!)
3/4 cup diced cucumber
3/4 cup diced dill pickle
2/3 cup mayo
¼ cup dill pickle juice of your choice
2 tsp Cholula (or hot sauce of your choice)
2 cloves garlic, mashed fine with the edge of a heavy knife
One large shallot, minced fine (approximately 1/4 cup)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta in salted water to al dente per package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, mix the mayo, pickle juice, hot sauce, garlic (pro tip: use a pinch of the salt to help mash it to a fine paste) and shallot in a large bowl and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. When the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse the pasta and add to the bowl with the pickle and cucumber. Toss the pasta and dressing together and then taste again for salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Lamb has never really been my jam, if you will. I would never order it in a restaurant or anything, and it was fine when my dad would grill it at Easter (no knock on my dad, it was the lamb that was the problem, not the prep, everyone else loved it.) Those little lamb chops that people LOVE that come around on trays at parties and make people go nuts? Pass. So whatever in the world possessed me to make lamb meatballs one day is beyond me. I am so glad I did though, because I enjoyed my first attempt enough to keep futzing with the recipe, and now I LOVE these. Like LOVE them. And other people do too. A client told me they are the best meatballs he has ever had, so there you have it.
I have been making these for ages, but my delay in sharing is in NO WAY indicative of how much I like them. In fact, I do believe these will be one of my favorite things to end up on this here blog. The meatballs can stand on their own - I have put them in a pita with some tzatziki and feta and been quite pleased with myself - but this preparation is really something special. The harissa in this sauce really makes them sing. They are spicy and rich and flavorful and super filling. These are really perfect for this incoming cooler weather, and since I feel like mixing my metaphors, they are sturdy in the best way, but they don’t lack a sense of adventure. The sweet perfumy-ness of Jasmine rice is a really great foil for these; farro, orzo or even toast would also be excellent.
Fall really is the best, it is sunny and gorgeous and perfect for sleeping, and most importantly, it makes me want to cook. I want to make cookies and pasta and roasts, I want to have people over every night, and I want to go camping. This weather makes me want to feed people, so come on over, I’ll make you meatballs.
I have spent ALL DAY fighting with internet providers on the phone. It is a racket. I am moving to the woods.
Seester is officially a MA resident and I am PUMPED. Everyone is back on the east coast and all is right with the world.
I miss my four-legged roommate. I don’t even know who I am any more.
It has come to our attention recently that Shan and I are celebrating TWENTY YEARS of being friends next August, so we are planning a vacation somewhere fabulous. I have the best bestie. We are open to suggestions. It should involve a beach. Or a spa. Or amazing food.
Lamb Meatballs with Chickpeas and Harissa (Makes about 20 meatballs - Serves 4-6)
For the Meatballs
1 lb ground lamb
1 Small onion, divided, half minced, half diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbl minced parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbl canola oil to fry
Put all ingredients except for the canola oil in a mixing bowl and mix well with your hands to combine, being careful not to over mix. Portion into golf ball sized meatballs, I like to use a medium sized cookie scoop (it holds about a tablespoon and a half of meat mixture.)
Heat oil in heavy frying pan over medium heat, and fry the meatballs, in batches if necessary, turning frequently, until browned and crispy on the outside. (They will likely not be cooked through.) Remove browned meatballs to a plate and reserve cooking oil in the pan to make sauce.
For the Sauce
Remaining diced onion from above
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbl tomato paste
1 tbl harissa
1.5 cup chicken stock
1.5 cup coconut milk
2 14.5 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Place the meatball pan over medium low heat and add diced onion and minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently until softened, 2-4 minutes, depending how hot the pan is. Add tomato paste and harissa, raise heat to medium, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, while the tomato paste and harissa caramelizes, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and let the chicken stock reduce to about one cup, stirring frequently, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer and add the meatballs. Cook meatballs in the sauce about five minutes. Add chickpeas, and cook five more minutes until sauce is reduced, flavors combine and meatballs are cooked through to your liking. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve sauce over rice or base of your choice!
I am into sauces lately, it seems.
This is another versatile one that I find myself using for all sorts of things, from salmon to lamb. For parties I will poach a side of salmon and serve it cold, with this along side. With lamb meatballs I will just pile this right on top or shove both in a pita with some feta cheese and tomatoes. Or I will sauté some chickpeas and kale with some harissa, fry an egg, and dollop tzatziki on top of the whole thing for breakfast. It's, rich, creamy, garlicky and refreshing and feels like it might actually be good for you. It adds richness, tempers heat, and adds an herby flair. It's a work horse.
Tzatziki is Greek in origin and goes really nicely on a crudite platter, a meze plate or a summer buffet. Or eat it with a spoon if you want. Because I do. I make sure to use full fat yogurt here. When it comes to yogurt, sometimes it doesn't matter, but for tzatziki, it definitely does. Plus you are already using sour cream, so why not go all out? There are a ton of recipes for this out on the webs, and you can even buy it pre-made in the store (but it is really easy to make, so don't do that) but I get raves about this one. People love it. It might be the full fat yogurt.
It is super easy. It takes about 30 minutes start to finish, and about two-thirds of that time is waiting for cucumbers to drain, so you really have no excuse. Easy, easy easy. I think the "hardest" thing is mashing the garlic and the waiting. You do want to wait though, because the better you drain that bad boy, the richer the sauce will be.
Tzatziki is delicious. Make it.
OK here goes: In re: Trump. If his latest appalling scandal, his "locker room talk" from back in 2005, his use of p***y, has put you over edge, but the appalling things he has said about Mexicans, Muslims or women in the past hadn't yet, welcome to the other side, but I have questions for you. Sadly, I have worked most of my adult life with privileged men, and what he said surprises me NOT AT ALL. In fact, I am surprised so many people are surprised that (some) men talk like that. I am appalled, grossed out, and sad, but not surprised. It's a real bummer to hear it out loud instead of just imagining its being said when you leave the room, but I am not surprised. BUT LET ME BE CLEAR. What he said? What he described? THAT'S SEXUAL ASSAULT. It's not flirting, it's not making a move, it's not fun and games, it's SEXUAL ASSAULT. I am appalled but not surprised. Lastly, to the men that are upset/appalled/grossed out because you have daughters, sisters or moms, I would like you to take some time getting upset/appalled/grossed out because he is talking about actual human women that are actual human people in their own right, not because he is talking about someone who could have some relationship to you, a man. If it takes having a mom/sister/daughter to think about women has having agency and dignity, you need to take some time.
1. I was at the RMV last Friday afternoon and it is a hellscape. But it sure does make me appreciate the app that let me edit this page while I was sitting there. Yay technology! Making tortured wastelands productive since Al Gore invented the interwebs.
2. I made lobster Rangoon the other night and they were delicious, but the filling pocket blew up like a balloon when I fried them, and I realized that was probably a result of all the water in the filling turning to steam, so now I have to figure out how to avoid that. My favorite takeout places don't seem to have that problem.
3. Related to 1 (see above) could someone please explain how the ticket system works? I mean I sort of get it, and things always seem to be moving along at a decent clip, then ALL THE SUDDEN there's a totally new letter involved. All kinds of As Bs and Cs and then out of nowhere there's an X and an I in the mix. You think they are just messing with us? I wouldn't blame them. If I worked there I would totally mess with you all to pass the time. Also, they could make a killing with a bar in the waiting area. (Don't @ me, it is a city RMV, no one drives to get there.)
4. WHO WAS EVER LAUGHING??? No but seriously you guys, seriously. What is happening.
5. What I am reading: Notorious RBG. And tonight I am going to see Anthony Bourdain, and I have actually never read Kitchen Confidential. I sort of assume that will change after I see him speak.
6. What I am listening to: My Favorite Murder Podcast, The Ezra Klein Show Podcast, what ever is on my brother in law's iPod that is currently the only thing I can play on my living room speaker.
7. Where I am eating: At home, mostly, or at the incredibly delicious Brewer's Fork, which is where seester is working.
8. My dog best friend is moving out today and I am really sad. I might like dogs now, don't @ me.
Tzatziki (makes about 3 cups)
1 english cucumber, shredded
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided, plus additional to taste
1 large clove garlic
Juice of one lemon
1 cup sour cream
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup dill
1/2 tsp fresh pepper or to taste
Shred the cucumber in a food processor or on a box grater. Place in a fine sieve and top with 1 tsp of the kosher salt. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to drain. While the cucumber is draining, using the side of a kitchen knife, smash the clove of garlic and mash with 1/4 tsp kosher salt to a fine paste.
Mix the garlic in a bowl with the lemon juice. Add the sour cream and yogurt and mix well. Mix in dill and stir to combine. Press any extra juice out of the drained cucumbers, and add them to the mix. Stir well and add the pepper and any any additional salt to taste.
Well this was bound to happen.
Fried food is the food of my soul. Fried chicken is the way to my heart. I like fried chicken in buckets, fried chicken in nugget form, and fried chicken in the Nashville Hot style, but put it on a roll with some pickles and mayo and we've reached B&G nirvana.
When I was in college, we got our first fast food chain on campus. I was from the north, and I had never heard of this particular chain, but all my southern brethren were EXCITED. I was mostly confused as to why a fast food chain serving delicious fried chicken sandwiches and crazy good fried chicken breakfast biscuits, and located on a college campus, was not open on Sundays. Sundays were the prime fried food days of my college career. Later on, I discovered that I was not a huge fan of how the owners of this chain spent their expendable cash, and eating there became morally squicky. But those sandwiches were delicious. TO THE KITCHEN!
I love pickles almost as much as I love fried stuff, so I wanted to pump up the pickle flavor as much as possible. Rather than brining in buttermilk, I brined boneless chicken thighs in pickle juice. Pick your favorite. I like Claussen and that's what I always have in the house but I have had fried chicken brined in Vlasic as well, and it was mighty tasty. The difference in flavor is noticeable, so use whatever you like best and brine away. (Fun tip, when I finish the pickles I keep the juice in the jar in the fridge for the perfect fried chicken situation. I like to be always at the ready.) I brine the thighs for at least six hours, and up to 24.
The crust is just your basic flour and cayenne mixture, with a little drizzle of pickle juice to give it some good clumps that make the final product really crispy and craggy. I fry them in my cast iron pan in canola oil heated to 375 degrees for 8-9 minutes, flipping them several times.
Once they are fried, I toast the roll in a little butter, add some mayo and some sliced pickles and voila! A really good, basic fried chicken sandwich with a lot of pickle-y goodness! I like Martin's Potato Rolls, but you can use whatever your favorites are, or even make your own!
Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches (makes 6)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cups of your favorite pickle juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3-4 cups canola or other high smoke point oil for frying
2 tbl butter for toasting rolls
Your favorite pickle slices
Special Equipment: Heavy-duty high sided frying pan, like cast iron and a deep fry thermometer
Submerge the chicken thighs in the pickle juice so they are completely covered. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, no more than 24.
When you are ready to serve the sandwiches, preheat the oven to 200 degrees (if you are going to need to fry the chicken in batches.) Place a metal cooling rack over a cookie sheet and set aside. Heat oil in a cast iron or other high-sided heavy pan, over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 on a deep-fry thermometer.
While oil is heating, mix flour, salt and cayenne in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle three tablespoons of the pickle brine over the flour mixture, and combine with a fork to form some lumps. Remove chicken thighs from the brine, and coat completely in the flour mixture.
When oil is at temperature, add as many of the thighs as fit in the pan without overcrowding. I can fit three to four in my 10 inch pan comfortably, and fry for 8-9 minutes, flipping after the first minute, and then again a couple more times during frying, until the chicken thighs are brown, crispy and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oil, and let rest and drain the waiting cooling rack. If you are cooking the chicken in batches, place the first batch in the warmed oven to stay warm while you cook the second batch.
When all the chicken is fried, melt half the butter over medium low heat in a large frying pan, open the rolls and toast the inside in the butter until warm and browned. Melt the remaining butter and repeat with the rest of the rolls.
When the rolls are toasted, slather on the mayo to your liking, top with pickle slices and a fried chicken thigh and ENJOY!
If we're going on weather alone, I think October is my favorite month, but cooking wise, September definitely has it beat. The stifling heat is starting to disappear, which means I start turning my mind towards food and cooking with a little more heft, which I love, BUT the produce is still amazing. Tomatoes and corn might be at their peak in the first couple weeks of September, and the farmers markets are overloaded with them. It's the most wonderful time of the year. (I say this about a lot of times of the year, if we are being really honest. Most times of the year. But I mean it the most in the fall.)
Before I was cooking for clients, despite cooking for myself ALL THE TIME, I did not cook and eat a ton of vegetables. If I was making fried chicken for dinner, I ate fried chicken for dinner. Vegetables took up too much room. This is not a great philosophy for a long and happy life. And I actually really like vegetables. I am not veggie-averse at all. Brussels sprouts are up there on the list of things I will order off a menu anytime I see them, and I have a recipe for them that I adore. But when I have decided I want to cook something for dinner, (fried chicken/pasta/octopus/steak) that something is typically my focus, and everything else falls to the wayside. Now that I cook for clients, I need to think a lot more about vegetables, and it is the hardest part of my menu planning. Again, not because they are not delicious, but mostly because I feel like I need to change it up all the time, and my mind just gets stuck.
This salad is kind of perfect both because it is interesting and vegetable heavy, and because it bridges the gap between summer and fall, so is pretty great for this time of year.
Pearl couscous is one of my favorite "fillers" for a vegetable salad, I love the texture and heft, though I wish it was as good for me as all the grains I could be using instead. You could absolutely use farro here instead, and it would be very delicious.
This salad is substantial enough for lunch, and would be great to make at the beginning of the week and pack for a couple days. It would also be a great side for the end of season barbecues or a delightful fall picnic.
Pearl Couscous Salad with Corn and Sweet Potato (serves 8)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
2/3 plus 1/4 cups olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup pearl couscous
2 large shallots, one minced, one sliced
1 cup crumbled feta
One handful dill, chopped (adjust amount to your liking.)
2 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste with a pinch of coarse salt
juice of 2 lemons
Preheat oven to 400. Toss sweet potato and corn separately with 2 tbl of olive oil each, on sheet pans with a pinch of salt and pepper, and roast until cooked through and starting to brown, 20-30 minutes, depending on size. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
While the vegetables are roasting, heat a splash of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and sauté minced shallot until starting to soften. Add couscous and stir until couscous is coated in oil and shallot and starting to brown. Add 1 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Allow couscous to cook through, 5-6 minutes, removing cover about half way through.
While couscous is cooking, add sliced shallot to large bowl. When couscous is cooked, toss with shallot while still warm. Add roasted vegetables, feta and dill to the couscous.
Combine lemon juice, 2/3 cups olive oil, mashed garlic and additional salt and pepper to taste to make a lemony dressing. Toss with couscous and let the salad cool to room temperature before serving. Can be made a day ahead and served cold!
Let's get this out there right off the bat. This is a salad like ambrosia is a salad, which is to say, not so much at all like one. It starts with a vegetable, surely, but veers quickly off course.
One of my favorite restaurants in this fair city is Toro, the tapas mainstay in the South End. It is incredibly delicious and incredibly fun and incredibly busy, even though it's been around for lots of years at this point. One of the dishes I get every time I go is Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija - which is Toro's version of Elote, Mexican street corn - grilled with aioli, lime, chile pepper and cheese. Eating it is messy and undignified and so so so delicious. Street corn salad is my homage to that. It is not quite the same, but it is easier to eat, and it will definitely tide you over until you can get to Toro for the real thing. (Incidentally, I was at Brewer's Fork the other night and there is also a very delicious wood-oven roasted version there.)
I love this, it's a fantastic side dish for a barbecue or taco night or any old Wednesday, and it is a very excellent topping for black bean burgers or carnitas rice bowls. It also can be adapted for a filling for pierogis, apparently, which is now top on my list of things to try. For my black bean burgers, I used this recipe (which is a really good one) and topped them with American cheese, chipotle mayo, lettuce and a big old scoop of corn salad and served them on a buttered toasted roll. It was glorious (see evidence above.) The next day, I used some leftover carnitas and fashioned quite the rice bowl, with Mexican rice, black beans, avocado, pickled onions and the corn salad. ALSO GLORIOUS.
What I am saying to you is that you should make this. It is not diet food, but it is delicious food, and that's really what counts around here.
Things About Things
Street Corn Salad (serves 6-8)
5 cups corn kernels (approximately five ears)
1 tbl canola or vegetable oil (optional)
1 clove garlic
Pinch of kosher salt
2 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup shredded or grated cotija
3 tbl lime juice from one juicy lime
1 tsp aleppo pepper (or use 1/2 - 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Corn can be cooked either in the husks or cut off the cob and roasted in pieces. Corn cooked off the cob will develop some crunchy pieces, which is a nice textural variation. To roast the corn in the husk, remove some of of the outside husk and pull off the top of the corn silk. Roast on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes until the husks start to brown. To cook off the cob, toss the corn with the canola oil and roast for about 20 minutes until some of the pieces start to brown and crisp up.
While the corn is roasting, mash the garlic to a fine paste with the kosher salt. Mix the garlic with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. When the corn is cooked, peel and remove from cobs if necessary, and toss with the dressing. Let cool and season with salt to taste.
Well howdy and welcome to my new home! I am so so excited you (and I) are here. I have been thinking about and plotting and building this space for almost a year, but I was just a little stuck (and cooking, I was doing a lot of cooking too.) Things are a bit different than they were when I was "regularly" blogging last, but I hope to get back to it much more often. I love it. It's a different kind of creativity than cooking and it also forces me to cook for myself sometimes, instead of just for clients, which I forget to do when I am busy. For anyone new to this space, I hope it conveys how much I love to cook for other people, and I hope you love the blog as much as I do. For those I have neglected, I am so glad to see you again. Welcome back!
And now, on to our regularly scheduled programming...
I am sitting here, watching Parks & Rec (always and forever watching P&R, anytime, anywhere) trying, trying to write something worthy of more than a year away from here, and I am coming up short. So instead of anything wildly profound or exceptionally witty, and instead of a laundry list of all of the things I have been doing instead of blogging, I will just get right to the recipes, and hope that the more I type, the more I have to type.
The first picture of Kale Chermoula in my computer photo files is from August 18th of last year. Based on that data point alone, you won’t believe that I have been really very excited to tell you about this, but indeed, I have. I use this ALL the time. I have, for the most part, had a jar of this in my fridge since that fateful day in August, and I have piled it on top of everything from chicken to octopus with stupendous results. It tastes green and fresh and it has depth and heat and it feels virtuous even though it is something like 50% olive oil. It’s part condiment, part sauce and part side dish and I just love it so much.
I'm not kidding when I say it is great with everything. I particularly love it with harissa, and it is also really wonderful with honey, which really complements the herby freshness of the chermoula. It can be a marinade for shrimp or fish on the grill, tossed with pasta like basil pesto, or used to make a weeknight roasted chicken or plain scrambled eggs feel just a little more exciting.
Kale Chermoula might just be your new best friend. At the very least, you are going to want to invite it to dinner several times a week. Just make it, trust me. After all this time away, would I come back and steer you wrong?
So many things…
Kale Chermoula (makes about two cups)
1 bunch red kale (12 oz or so) destemmed and coarsely torn
1 bunch parsley (4 oz or so) tough lower stems removed
1 bunch cilantro (4 oz or so) tough lower stems removed
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne
1 to 1 ¼ cup olive oil
Place kale, parsley, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne in bowl of food processor and turn processor on. Run the processor until the ingredients are finely minced, stopping and scraping the bowl when necessary. Turn the processor back on and drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until the mixture is a loose paste.
AND...because you have been SO patient...BONUS RECIPE!!!
Harissa Honey Wings with Kale Chermoula (makes two dozen)
12 chicken wings, tips removed and drumettes and flats separated (or buy 24 flats and drumettes)
1/2 cup harissa (my recipe of choice)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tbl honey
salt to taste
6 tbl kale chermoula
2 tbl olive oil
First, prepare your wings the way you like, by roasting, frying or some combination of the two. I really like the America's Test Kitchen crispy oven baked wings. Easy peasy and healthier than frying. I also don't ever get the super crispy results that I envision when I fry wings, so this technique is perfect and works like a dream. (America's Test Kitchen is a subscription, but if you don't have the subscription, you can google it, others have written it up!)
While the wings are cooking, mix together the chermoula and olive oil so the sauce is looser and can be drizzled on the wings.
Meanwhile, mix the harissa, butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking as the butter melts to combine the ingredients. When the sauce is hot and combined and the wings are cooked, toss the harissa mixture and wings in a large bowl until the wings are well coated.
Place the wings on a plate and drizzle the chermoula over the top. These are SO GOOD, and if possible are just as good leftover and cold the next day.
I have been gone a long time, and I have come back and given you pot roast. This winter has been loooong. And it is still cold. I am basically forced to cook this way. And also, as it turns out, pot roast is pretty delicious.
Pot roast is pretty basic, meat, carrots and onions, generally. Cook it for a long time and serve it over mashed potatoes and you have the ultimate winter comfort food. I added a couple things to boost the flavor, but generally, this is fairly standard. I served it over miso mashed potatoes for an extra umami kick, and I was happy. It’s a perfect antidote to the frozen hellscape that was this Boston winter.
I was looking back at a post I wrote over a year ago, with my goals for 2014, and my success rate was about 50%, but they were big ones!! I passed the Series 79 and 63, I went on an amazing vacation last April for my birthday, and we had so much fun, that that random collection of friends from all parts of my life went on vacation together again in October. I saw Shannon more, I DID eat more (real) ramen, I even made it myself! And, because it happened between then and now, even though it didn’t technically happen in 2014, I am counting it – I ran a half marathon! I didn’t think I could do it, but I did, and it was awesome, and I’ll do it again. I have a couple black toenails to show for it, and there were a few days there where the walking was not so great, but I did it. I ran 13 miles. And I kind of enjoyed it. And I think I might do it again…
Which brings me to the big news…who has two thumbs and no more boring office job? This cook! That’s right folks, I’m taking this show on the road (literally, actually, as I am also moving out of my apartment and buying a car.) B&G is now available full time for all your cooking needs! There’s lots of stuff going on around here and I could not be more excited. Keep your eye on this spot for updates. Big things are coming soon!
What I’m reading: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison and A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield.
What I am listening to: Taylor Swift – 1989, The Best of Elvis Costello – The First 10 Years, and some podcasts.
I’ve missed you all so!
Classic Pot Roast (serves 4)
2-3 tbl canola oil
2.5-3 lbs beef shoulder roast
1 large onion, half slivered, half cut in wedges and reserved
1 large garlic clove, slivered
1 tbl anchovy paste
1 tbl tomato paste
1 cup diced tomatoes (I use canned!)
2 tbl soy sauce
½ cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
4 large carrots and/or parsnips, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
Heat two tablespoons of canola oil in a large dutch oven or heavy high-sided pot over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper the roast and brown on all sides until caramelized, 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the roast to a plate and set aside.
If the bottom of the pot looks dry, add another tablespoon of the oil, and then add the sliced onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat a bit and continue stirring. Add the anchovy and tomato pastes and stir, caramelizing them a bit until they are fragrant.
When the onions, garlic, tomato and anchovy are caramelized, add the diced tomatoes, soy sauce, red wine and beef broth and stir to combine. Add the beef back to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. The liquid should be at a low simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is tender and the liquid has thickened a bit. Add the carrots and/or parsnips, and the second half of the onion for the last half hour of cooking. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed!
I recommend serving these over mashed potatoes that you’ve added a tablespoon of miso to (trust, they’re delicious) and a delicious green vegetable of your choosing. (And then maybe stick some leftovers in a grilled cheese.)
Today I want to talk about what might be the THE quintessential food of my childhood. The one that reminds me of home more than any other. It was featured at more birthday dinners than anything else. (It was also featured at a very recent Christmas Eve.) Everyone loved it, even the picky ones. Behold Special Chicken. It’s really called that in the cookbook, we did not make it up.
Special Chicken is soy-marinated, batter-fried chicken wings. They are delicious, and fairly easy to make. The recipe came from this little flip top Chinese food cookbook my parents have, and this page is particularly well used.
As I have mentioned before, when we were very little, my mom did a lot of the cooking, but sometime during my ‘tween years (I think) the role shifted to my dad and stayed there. But not these. These are firmly entrenched in Mom’s camp, forever to remain. Many have tried to duplicate, none have succeeded. Truly. My attempt is close, and good enough for those who don’t know, but they are sub par by comparison. The littlest tried them for Christmas and says they were enjoyable, but not right. As far as I know, my mom has always followed the recipe exactly – she’s never told me otherwise – but maybe that’s her trick. If we can’t replicate, she can always lure us home with the original.
There are two things I have adjusted a little from the recipe. The first is the temperature. At 375 the oil is way too hot. The wings get too dark and the batter gets unpleasant. 325 is the way to go. (I am not sure what temp Mom uses, since she doesn’t use a deep fry thermometer. She just knows when it’s right.) The recipe also suggests marinating the chicken wings for an hour, but I recommend longer. All day, if you’ve got it. Marinate overnight! It makes this a delightful option for a weekday. These usually meant a special occasion for us, or at the very least a Sunday dinner, but they don’t have to be. Get wild! Make them on a Tuesday! I most recently made them on a Wednesday at the behest of a delightful house guest. (The word is spreading!) They involve deep frying, but don’t let that scare you. It doesn’t require much oil, especially if you have a wok. (Do you have a wok? They are great, get a wok.) Make sure you make extra, because the joy of eating them hot just ever so slightly trumps the joy of eating them out of a sandwich bag the next day – lunch or even breakfast. Doesn’t matter which.
And now, just because I feel like it, and it’s fun, a rundown of some of the best things I’ve eaten in Boston recently and some of my favorite Boston dishes, in general –
A cold corn and coconut milk soup from East By Northeast – revelatory
The whipped goat’s milk feta snack at Tavern Road is one of my favorite snacks OF ALL TIME. So simple and so so good. (They also make an amazing risotto over there. Every preparation has been great.)
The breakfast sandwich at Clover is way better than it has any right to be.
The corn dog at Trina’s Starlite Lounge is a delight.
The johnnycake at Neptune is just nonsense it’s so good. Seriously, mind-blowingly, crazy crazy good.
The classic Chinese BBQ pork sandwich from Bon Me is my favorite lunch.
The Baloney Pony sandwich at the Biggie Brunch at Alden & Harlow still haunts me, and alas, I am afraid I will never get to enjoy it again. I’ll have to settle for the chicken fried rabbit over there. Poor me.
The burger at JM Curley’s. Always and forever.
The corn at Toro, but everyone knows this.
The tuna crudo at Row 34.
There are others, so many others, but that is what I am thinking about right now.
Special Chicken (serves 4-6)
For the chicken:
2.5 – 3 lbs chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
oil for frying
For the marinade:
2 tbl soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbl sherry
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
For the batter:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken wing pieces, stir to coat, and marinate in the fridge for at least one hour or preferably overnight.
Heat the oil in a wok or another high sided pan or pot to 325 degrees.
Mix the batter ingredients together in a small bowl. It will form a thick sticky dough, and won’t come together cohesively, but that’s ok, just mix a bit until the ingredients are starting to combine. Add the batter to the bowl with the chicken and stir until the marinade and the batter come together to coat the chicken. This will be kind of a sticky mess, and will take some time to come together, but keep stirring until it does. The batter will thin when mixed with the marinade, and all the chicken pieces will be coated.
Deep fry the chicken in batches, without overcrowding, until the pieces are brown and crispy and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate lined with a paper towel and let cool slightly before serving. Let the oil come back to temperature between batches, and continue to fry until all the chicken is finished. Enjoy!!
Good LORD these things take me a long time to write. I made this on August 11th, and started blogging about it the next day…pfthffttttttttt.
I made this several months back and it was delicious and quick and crowd pleasing. I made my own version recently, and it’s even easier and maybe even more delicious. My version skips the browning for oven roasting, and the pan sauce for a yogurt based marinade. There is still harissa, and there are still chickpeas, and there is even less work. Everyone wins! This is really easy. I combined yogurt and harissa, and marinated the chicken in it overnight. The night I ate it I lightly oiled a baking pan, dumped two cans of chickpeas in the bottom, then laid the chicken pieces on top, with an lemon slice on top of each one, and stuck it in the oven. I sprinkled it with parsley and served it over jasmine rice.
I made the harissa because I felt like it-I used this recipe, but go right ahead a use a store bought one! (If you do make the harissa, it lasts forever and I am finding all sorts of things to do with it – though I suppose the same would go for store bought…) All the recipes are a little different, most have dried chiles, some include roasted red pepper. I’m not going to lie to you, I have an n of 1, but I am quite pleased with the recipe I used. It had depth of flavor and good spiciness and ingredients that I mostly had on hand, and it smells wonderful. It is delightful.
Without further ado…
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. -Yeats
This summer was…heavy. It seems chaos reigns at the moment.
Fall is not typically a season of renewal, but chaos can’t hold either, right?
This one was really hard. Welcome back to Neverland Pan the Man.
Imma just leave this right here: Race/Off
Oh my god, NO. Nopenopenopenope. Who wrote that nonsense and, better question, HOW IN THE WORLD DID AN EDITORIAL TEAM LET THAT BE PUBLISHED. The last couple sentences. This is why we shouldn’t have nice things. I can’t wait for next week’s followup: “Revisiting The Holocaust: Sometimes Hitler Was Nice.”
Yes, Grandpa Joe, Yes.
Slow, sarcastic, five-months-too-late clap for the Ravens and the NFL, I guess? Now please read this (Roxane Gay, who wrote that piece, has two books out this year. Her first, a novel called An Untamed State was…something else. It is amazing and stirring and dark and powerful and hard to read, which makes it hard to recommend, except that it is so beautiful at the same time, that I want to recommend it to everyone. So read it, if you can read such things, but warning, it is visceral and tragic and awful and amazing) and also this, and watch this. Thank you Keith. Update: Everything is awful, light it on fire.
It’s apparently cut-the-bullshit week over here at B&G. I’m ok with that.
But there was good stuff!
Why isn’t she Queen of the World yet?
Serena. LIKE. A. BOSS.
I made these again last week. They hold up.
Did y’all see THIS thing of beauty? It is going to be SO MUCH FUN.
What I am reading: I just finished The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me by Susanna Kingsbury. I also finally finished A Clash of Kings. Mr. Martin, edit thyself, holy hell. I am currently reading The Last Days of California by Mary Miller and next on the list is Code Name Verity.
What I am listening to: Sia and of course and always, Beyonce.
I have another vacation planned! I am going to Key West and Nashville in October AND I CAN NOT WAIT.
Happy fall. May the weather throughout be as perfect as it was today.
Harissa-Yogurt Chicken with Chickpeas and Lemon (serves 6ish)
1 whole 4-5 lb Chicken, cut in 10 pieces (wings, thighs, legs, each breast half cut in half again) or feel free to use chicken pieces of your choice. Remove the skin if you prefer.
1 cup Plain Yogurt (greek or regular is fine)
1/3 cup Harissa
2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained
10 slices Lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Splash of oil for the pan
Jasmine rice and parsley to serve
The night before you are planning on serving this, combine the yogurt, harissa and chicken pieces with a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl or a ziploc bag. Mix together to coat chicken evenly, and refrigerate overnight.
On the day you are serving the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub a baking dish (a 9×13 fit the pieces well) with olive oil, and add the chickpeas to the pan. Place the chicken pieces on top of the chickpeas and place a lemon slice on top of each piece of chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 25-30 minutes until the pieces are cooked through.
Sprinkle the chicken with parsley, more salt and pepper to taste, and serve the chicken and chickpeas over jasmine rice. SO EASY.