Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

This is the best roast chicken I’ve ever made. The three essentials for a good roast chicken recipe include crispy skin and perfectly cooked breasts and thighs. It’s usually difficult to achieve all three at the same time because the thighs usually take longer to cook. Using a cast iron skillet and starting the roasting at a very high temperature help to achieve all three. Cast iron gets very hot and distributes heat evenly so the part of the chicken (the thighs) that is touching the pan cooks more quickly than the part thats not touching the pan directly (the breasts) which is what you want so that they are done cooking at about the same time.

I let the chicken come to room temperature before I seasoned the skin with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and butter. Putting the chicken in the oven when it’s already at room temperature will help it cook more evenly. If you have time, you can also leave it uncovered in the refrigerator for a day which will help dry out the skin and make it even more crispy when you roast it. It’s not necessary for a weeknight dinner situation but it’s something that’s good to remember once Thanksgiving comes around when you’re roasting a turkey.

To make this a one-pot meal, I like to add potatoes, onions, carrots and celery to the pan. They’ll cook in about the same time as the chicken and also absorb the butter, seasoning and chicken juices. Having just one pan to wash doesn’t hurt.
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Gnocchi with Butternut Squash

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Gnocchi is not as difficult to make as you may think. It’s a little messy, sure, but there are only a three ingredients. One essential tool, however, is a ricer. This keeps the gnocchi light and fluffy rather than dense like mashed potatoes. Mark Bittman and Mario Batali have a great video where I got the inspiration for this recipe.
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Banana Muffins

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This recipe for banana muffins comes from the same Thomas Keller cookbook, Bouchon Bakery, that I’ve been making a lot of baked goods from. The recipe is pretty exact but not very difficult and if you follow it step by step, you will be sure to have great results.

Keller suggests resting the batter overnight. This allows the flour to hydrate, or absorb the liquid which results in an extra moist muffin. This is also a great idea because you can make the batter the night before and it will be ready to pop in the oven in the morning.
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Baked Apple Oatmeal

As you may have guessed by now, I love apples. I eat one every morning. Usually in addition to granola or a piece of toast but when I’m looking for something hearty and warm, I turn to this baked apple oatmeal. It’s not too sweet and the pumpkin seeds add a savory crunch. It will keep you full until lunch while still warming your belly on the kind of cold mornings that we’re still experiencing in late March.
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Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Chorizo

Chorizo Soup

While the day’s are getting longer and spring technically starts next week, it’s still pretty cold in New York. A warm and hearty bowl of soup is still very much welcome. Soup gives the sense of comfort and warmth and it’s ideal to take your time with it. Home-made chicken stock is always preferable but I find that I usually end up using a good quality store-bought one. Soup usually tastes better the day after it’s made after the flavors have had a chance to meld together. It’s a great thing to make on a Sunday and eat for the rest of the week.
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Shallot Vinaigrette

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This is my go-to salad lately. Arugula, chickpeas, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, celery, roasted peppers, feta, pumpkin seeds, and most importantly breadcrumbs. Since I’ve been making home-made breadcrumbs in the last few months, I put them on everything and they instantly give that subtle crunch that is always welcome on any salad or pasta.

This salad has a lot of ingredients, but they are mostly staples in my fridge and pantry and you can easily add or subtract anything. What I really love about this salad is the dressing. Shallots, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I make a big batch in the beginning of the week and let it sit in the fridge for whenever I want to use it.
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Baked Chickpeas

Canned chickpeas are a staple ingredient in my pantry. In the middle of February, I rely on a lot of staples when I start to get sick of all the cabbage and root vegetables available. I like to make these baked chickpeas as a nice change from hummus.
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Apple Cake

This quick bread comes together easily and includes one of my favorite foods, apples. I got the idea from a blog that I visit often and it’s a recipe from her great grandmother which I figured was a good sign. I tweaked it a little by adding some buckwheat flour for extra nuttiness and using olive oil instead of canola. I also reduced the amount of sugar for a little less sweetness.

The end result is a recipe that is great to have on hand because it comes together so quickly and with mostly pantry staples. It’s also easy to swap ingredients like using only regular flour if you don’t have any buckwheat flour in your pantry.


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Brazil

I ate a lot of rice and beans in Brazil. Lunch and dinner everyday consisted of rice and beans along with whatever meat we had. Because we were staying with family, I was able to have a lot of traditional, home-style meals which are always the best kind. Below is a picture of a typical meal.

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Feijoada, rice, yucca, farofa, chicken.

Feijoada is considered the national dish of Brazil and is a black bean stew typically made with beef, pork and sausage. In addition to rice, feijoada is eaten with farofa which is toasted cassava flour often flavored with butter, onions, eggs, smoked meat, or whatever else you want to add to boost the flavor. It’s basically like adding breadcrumbs to your rice and beans.

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Coconut water straight from the source can be found along every beach in Brazil and along the streets as well. It’s especially refreshing when you’re in 100 degree weather everyday.

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Dried shrimp and fish is particularly popular in the markets in Brazil and used to flavor a lot of stews. The most popular is called vatapa which is a coconut and dried shrimp stew that is typically eaten in Bahia-the northeast of the country.

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The cheese selection at the market. The most interesting one we tried is called queijo mantega (butter cheese). It’s basically a white cheese mixed with butter until it has a semi-hard consistency and a strong butter flavor.

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Flan. A typical dessert that is eaten throughout the world but in Brazil it’s usually made with condensed milk and topped with caramel.

Chili

Chili is a great one-pot meal. It’s a great way to feed a crowd. It’s also a great dish to make on Sunday and eat through the week. During the hurricane we had here in the Northeast, I cooked a lot. Chili was a great dinner on the nights we had to walk to and from work that week when we needed nourishment from the long walks and bitter cold.

The weather here in New York has turned from pleasantly brisk to frigid; requiring ear muffs and gloves rather than just making sure you’re wearing your flats and not your flip-flops. It’s nice to come home to a warm and spicy meal that can be heated up in the microwave.

I like to add lots of toppings when I make chili. My favorites are cheddar, sour cream, cilantro and tortilla chips or cornbread.
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