Game Day Drumettes

photo(30)According to Claire Joyes, editor of Monet’s cooking journals, Monet had “perfected a ceremony” for his favorite fowl. He would remove the wings, sprinkle them with nutmeg, ground pepper and coarse salt, and hand them over to his cook to be flame-broiled. Since duck wings can be very tough, the James Beard Foundation blog has a recipe suggesting multi-step cooking. Here's a recipe that younger Super Bowl fans can help make. Not quite wings, but just as delicious.

Crazy-Leg Drumsticks (Drumettes) From Kids Cook 1-2-3 (Bloomsbury, 2006)

The nice herby taste comes from pesto—an uncooked Italian sauce made from fresh basil, garlic and pignoli nuts. You can find it in any supermarket. A dusting of Parmesan cheese turns into a crispy coating.

1/3 cup prepared pesto 4 chicken wings and 4 drumettes ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Spread pesto all over each chicken leg to cover. Sprinkle cheese all over leg (except the bottom where they will sit on the baking sheet—you don’t want the cheese to burn). Lightly press the cheese onto the chicken so it will stick. Add freshly ground black pepper.

3. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place legs on baking sheet.

4. Bake 35 minutes until chicken is crispy and golden. Makes 4 servings.

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 3)

wingsRosemary-Lemon Chicken Wings (From Little Meals, Little, Brown 1993) Move over, Buffalo; here's a Tuscan-style recipe for chicken wings bathed in olive oil, rosemary and garlic, resting on a bed of escarole. The marinade makes a quick dressing for the crunchy, bitter greens.

16 chicken wings (about 2 1/2 pounds) 1/2 cup fruity olive oil 1/2 cup lemon juice 3 bay leaves 3 tablespoons whole fresh rosemary leaves 5 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons sea salt 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 1 head of escarole 8 thin lemon slices

Remove wing tips and discard. Cut chicken wings in half. In a bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, salt, and Tabasco sauce for marinade. Add chicken wings and cover. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove wings from marinade. Pat dry. Put on baking tray and cook in oven for 25 minutes. Put under broiler for 5 minutes until golden brown.

Heat marinade just until it boils.

Line platter with escarole leaves. Pile chicken pieces in center. Drizzle platter with warm marinade and garnish with lemon slices.

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 2)

miso 008Miso-Ginger Chicken with Scallions I created this recipe years ago for Real Food magazine and didn't remember how good it was! I made it the other night for "the food maven" (I mean who isn't these days?) and a bunch of friends. Love at first bite...and the second...and as delicious the next day right from the fridge. I even brought a few pieces to a neighbor. (A rare thing for me to do.) It is a great do-ahead dish because it marinates for at least 8 hours and bakes at a super-high temperature for under 20 minutes.  (And a flash under the broiler).  That's it!  I bought two large packages of small chicken thighs (24!) and piled them high on a platter when they were all dark golden brown and crispy.  A shower of slivered scallions finished the dish.  It is the white miso (known as shiro miso) that tenderizes the flesh to make it silky and lush.  Miso is also a "flavor carrier" and helped the garlic and fresh ginger permeate every crevice. Shiro miso, and mirin (sweetened rice wine) can be found in Asian markets, health food stores and most supermarkets.  Great with beer, sauvignon blanc, chilled sake, and even beaujolais. The recipe is easily doubled and tripled and is great hot, warm, room temperature, or chilled.

1/2 cup shiro miso 3/4 cup mirin 4 large cloves garlic 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 12 chicken thighs (with skin, bone-in) 8 scallions Put miso, mirin, garlic and ginger in food processor. Process until smooth. Put chicken in a large bowl and pour marinade over chicken. Finely chop white and green part of 5 scallions and stir into chicken. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours. Preheat oven to 450. Transfer chicken with some of its marinade to rimmed baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes (depending on size of thighs) and then broil 1 to 2 minutes until dark golden brown and cooked through (do not overcook.) Finely sliver remaining scallions and scatter on top.  Serves 6

Delicious Recipes for a Sweet New Year

Happy New Year and l'shana tova to all those who celebrate. If still deciding what to make, why not try my "Tamarind Brisket" and my "Almost Confit Chicken." May it be a sweet year for everyone. Tamarind Brisket with Spring Shallots and Tiny Potatoes Ask your butcher for the “first cut” and make sure to leave some of the fat on the brisket for best results.

Note: You may cook 2 or 3 potatoes per person (there is a lot of food so you may only want to do 2.)

5 pound boneless beef brisket ¼ cup olive oil 2 pounds peeled onions 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate* 2 cups orange juice 2 cups tomato puree 2 cups beef broth 4 large cloves garlic scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 12 large shallots, (about 12 ounces), peeled and halved lengthwise 1 or 1-1/2 pounds tiny round thin-skinned potatoes (16 or 24), scrubbed not peeled

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a very large enamel casserole with cover, put 2 tablespoon oil. Season meat with salt and pepper and brown over high heat, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove meat.

Cut onions in half through stem end.  Put cut side down on board and slice very thin.  Add 2 tbsp. oil to pot and add onions.   Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown. Return beef to pot and put on top of onions.

Put tamarind in a bowl.  Whisk in orange juice, tomato puree, and beef broth.  Push garlic through a garlic press and whisk into mixture.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour mixture over brisket.

Bake 1 hour, covered. Turn brisket over, cover and  bake 1 hour longer. Add potatoes and shallots. Bake 1 hour longer.

Transfer brisket to cutting board. Let cool 15 minutes. Thinly cut across the grain and reassemble slices to original form.  Transfer back to pot.  Spoon liquid over meat and cover pot.  Cook 30 minutes longer until very tender. Add salt to taste.  Serves 8

*Available in Indian food stores and Middle Eastern markets.  It comes in small plastic jars and is called concentrate of tamarind.

“Almost Confit” Chicken with Melted Garlic

8 large bone-in chicken thighs, 8 ounces each 14 large garlic cloves, peeled 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish 6 fresh bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Put the chicken in a large bowl.  Press 2 garlic cloves through a press and rub into the chicken.  Add the thyme leaves, bay leaves, allspice, white pepper, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.  Grate some nutmeg over the chicken and toss.  Place the chicken in a roasting pan, skin side down.  (I use an enamel paella pan.)  Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Turn the chicken skin side up and scatter the remaining garlic cloves around.  Re-cover and bake 1 hour longer.  Turn on the broiler. Uncover the chicken and broil several inches from the heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin is crispy.  Discard the bay leaves and garnish with thyme sprigs.  Serves 4

And check out the food maven's website for a good honey cake recipe.

Wow, Thanks!

Okay, so once in a while I look at my Amazon reviews.  To date there are 45 reviews for Radically Simple with an average just short of five stars.  And honestly, I don't know more than three of the people who wrote the reviews.  But just this morning (and it's still very early), I gazed upon a review written by someone I want to know!  Written on May 20, 2011, and titled, "Great Weeknight Cookbook," it goes as follows: "I am a grad student, wife, new mom, and teacher so my days are pretty packed but cooking dinner is very important to me.  This cookbook gets five stars because it has so many delicious recipes that can be easily prepared on busy weeknights.  The cookbook also gets five stars because I am a foodie and want to prepare meals that taste complex and are different from the standard fare.  The Poulet au Creme Fraiche in particular was super delicious.  I have made many chicken recipes that call for some variation of cream and mustard, but never had I made chicken that came out so moist and with the skin so crisp and wonderful.  There are a few recipes that call for spice mixtures such as ras el hanout and za'atar and I think these recipes are what some reviewers are complaining about when they say some ingredients are hard to find.  But in reality they are easy to make oneself with spices that normally can be found in a supermarket, buy on-line, or if you live somewhere big enough for a spice shop or international store just buy in person.  I live in a very small town and these spices are always in my pantry.  UPDATE:  I just made the Perciatelli with French Breakfast Radishes, Bacon and Greens.  This was soooooo good, this recipe alone makes the book 5 stars and a must have." 

With many thanks to AnthroWA, she's some busy lady, for taking the time to write a review, and for taking the time to "cook the book."   I haven't made the chicken for awhile so guess what I'm cooking tonight?  And tomorrow?  (Answer: Perciatelli). Poulet au Creme Fraiche (adapted from Radically Simple) Super succulent!  My favorite accompaniments are steamed basmati rice to sop up the juices and a simple salad of watercress and orange dressed with walnut oil.

1 cup creme fraiche 1/4 cup strong French Dijon mustard 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish 1 large garlic clove 3-1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Stir together the creme fraiche and mustard in a large bowl.  Add the thyme, garlic pushed through a press, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Add the chicken and mix well.  Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours or up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Transfer the chicken, with some of the marinade still clinging, to a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 45 minutes, until golden and cooked through.  Serve sprinkled with thyme.  Serves 4

An Accidental Sandwich

On Saturday morning, I woke up craving a chicken salad sandwich. Quite by accident, I wound up having a great one in an unexpected place.  More by mismanagement than good planning, my husband and I found ourselves around 1 p.m. in a newly refurbished Boston Market near New Canaan, Connecticut.  Ever the trends analyst, my husband knew that Boston Market had rejiggered its old formula and he was somewhat interested to try it.  Rarely do we ever eat in fast food restaurants, or fast-casual ones, and on that particular afternoon we were just looking for a pizza joint.  No go. We were starving, so we sucked in our breath and walked into a surprise.  Anchored on each table, in clean and bright Boston Market surroundings, was a bottle of the trendiest condiment of all -- Sriracha sauce!  This spicy, fire-engine red Thai chili sauce has become the darling of upscale restaurant chefs, and it was a welcome semaphore of things to come.  Standing in front of the Boston Market food line, with nice friendly servers behind, were the usual array of Americana side dishes -- corn niblets, creamed spinach, mac and cheese, haricots verts! (skinny string beans) and wall units of slow-roasting chickens.  I was about to order some when I saw a sign for...chicken salad sandwiches!  Craving satisfied?  I took a chance:  For $5.79, freshly-roasted chicken, cut into friendly chunks with just the right about of mayo, sat like juicy mortar between two slabs of credible whole grain bread (with whole grains!) layered with, what was this? Tender leaves of mesclun?  Served on large white china plates?   In addition to Sriracha there was also Jamaican Pick-a-Pepper Sauce and Mexican Cholula hot sauce, too?    Real silverware?  This huge sandwich, weighing in at 68o calories, felt almost virtuous and was especially tasty drizzled with the trendy condiment.  My husband enjoyed his dark meat chicken, served with sides of corn and string beans and an adorable little loaf of corn bread.  Lunch for the two of us was $13.69.  We left arm-in-arm with lots of change in our pockets, happy that we took a chance.

How to use Sriracha: Drizzle it on chicken salad Dot it on top of cream soups Spoon a bit into marinara sauce Stir a bit into melted butter and spoon it on lobsters, scallops, steak Drip it into guacamole Dash it into scrambled eggs

Chicken So Good, It Melts In Your Mouth

Last week I had lunch with an expert.  I don't, and can't say this about most people because most of them are just like me -- barely approaching "expert" in the field(s) we've deemed our life's work.  But this expert truly is.  She's also great fun to be with and very smart.  Robin Adelson, whose blog I wholeheartedly recommend, is, as she states, "first and foremost a mom."  But she is also the Executive Director of the Children's Book Council, the national trade association of children's book publishers, and Every Child a Reader, the industry's literacy foundation.  Impressive, right?  She also has three beautiful daughters (one of whom went to middle school with my beautiful daughter) yet finds the time to read every book she recommends and write a philosophical blog to boot.  A lawyer-turned-children's literacy advocate, Robin's expertise also finds its way to the kitchen.  She is a voracious hostess who has strong opinions about food so, when she speaks, I listen.  Needless to say, I was delighted to learn that her new favorite "go-to dish" for family and friends is my "Almost Confit" Chicken, adapted from Radically Simple. My recipe serves four.  Robin makes it in huge disposable aluminum roasting pans to serve 40!  She recommends it highly because it tastes very rich and fattening, yet there is no additional fat added to the recipe. It is astonishingly simple to prepare and you might even call it child's play.   Two of my books, Kids Cook 1-2-3 and Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs (published by Bloomsbury) reflect my burgeoning interest in making every child a cook.  Maybe Robin and I can work on this together.  Reading and cooking have always been (still are!) two of my favorite things.  Both lifelong skills and lifetime companions. Why not make this tonight with your child(ren)?  Confit is a preparation in which a protein is cooked in its own fat or in copious amounts of oil, after which it is usually crisped. Here is a much healthier approach but one that yields exceedingly succulent results--so good, it melts in your mouth.

"Almost Confit" Chicken with Melted Garlic

8 large bone-in chicken thighs, 8 ounces each 14 large garlic cloves, peeled 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish 6 fresh bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Put the chicken in a large bowl.  Press 2 garlic cloves through a press and rub into the chicken.  Add the thyme leaves, bay leaves, allspice, white pepper, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.  Grate some nutmeg over the chicken and toss.  Place the chicken in a roasting pan, skin side down.  (I use an enamel paella pan.)  Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Turn the chicken skin side up and scatter the remaining garlic cloves around.  Re-cover and bake 1 hour longer.  Turn on the broiler. Uncover the chicken and broil several inches from the heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin is crispy.  Discard the bay leaves and garnish with thyme sprigs.  Serves 4

V8 Soup

Two nights ago, I gave a small dinner party at my house.  Although the style of my cooking has become rather simple, the aggregate of dishes and the worry behind cooking for the man who is writing Julia Child's newest biography (to coincide with her 100th birthday next year) and the general manager of what-will-surely be one of New York's hippest hotels, the Hotel Williamsburg (in Williamsburg!), the pressure was on.  Along with their wives, we were a group of six, chatting about world events, the mystery of Mustique, how courses on the Beatles have became mainstream in American colleges (our guest Bob also wrote the definitive book on the Beatles), and the journey of finding a chef for the hippest new hotel in New York.  We sipped those apple ginger-pear martinis I keep talking about, ate white hummus, and "devilled pecans" and tried to guess what-the-heck was in the tea cup I served in the living room before sitting down to dinner. More about that in a moment.  Dinner began with a dish of "tiradito" the Peruvian equivalent of sashimi but with a shimmering sauce of lemon, garlic and oil.  It was accompanied by a tiny timbale of potato salad vinaigrette, a handful of lightly dressed arugula and bits of radicchio (remember when that was exotic?) and a drizzle of beet vinaigrette. The main course was "My Opinionated Way to Roast a Chicken!" with (a foaming chive-garlic butter sauce), Moroccan carrot puree, steamed spinach and a roasted garlic custard.  Dessert?  A slice of my Venetian Wine Cake (with rosemary, red wine and olive oil -- and it is the ONLY recipe I don't divulge), with lemon-buttermilk sorbet, pineapple flan and creme fraiche.  To drink?  Rose champagne with the first course and a bottle of almost-impossible-to-find Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 1986 with the chicken. But the real intrigue centered around the soup in the tea cup.  I called it "Tomato-Anisette Cappuccino."   Dearly loved, everyone took a guess at identifying its ingredients.  But no one would ever make a soup from V8 juice, anisette, and fish sauce, but me.  It was topped with salted whipped cream and snippets of fresh tarragon.  And it takes only five minutes to make.

Tomato-Anisette Cappuccino You can make this with "original" or spicy V8.  If using the original, you might want to add a few splashes of chipotle Tabasco for more intrigue.

1/2 cup heavy cream 4 cups V8 (or other tomato-vegetable juice cocktail) 1/4 cup anisette liqueur 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce snippets of fresh tarragon for garnish

Using a wire whisk, whip the cream with a large pinch of salt until thick but not stiff. Set aside.  Put the V8 in a large saucepan.  Bring to boil, lower heat to medium and add the anisette.  Simmer for 3 minutes.  Stir in the fish sauce, salt, pepper and hot sauce, if using.  Pour into soup cups and top with whipped cream and tarragon. Serves 4 to 6

Note:  And speaking of fish sauce, tomorrow morning I will give you the world's simplest recipe for fabulous "devilled pecans" -- perfect for Super Bowl munching. Make sure you have Thai fish sauce, pecan halves, and sweet butter at the ready.

Fab Time at Whole Foods

Last night I taught a cooking class at Whole Foods on the Bowery -- the home of a wonderfully compact, but ample, Culinary Center -- equipped with most anything a cook could want (more about that later) and two amazing assistants, Wai Chu and Min Liao.  Wai is an accomplished chef who wrote the definitive book on Asian dumplings, and Min, too, knows her way around a kitchen better than most.  I don't teach often -- after 12 books -- and many such lessons, I choose one venue when a new book comes out.  This time the class was based on Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease -- the goal was to demonstrate how restaurant-quality food could be made simply at home -- and in 140 words or fewer!   But as such experiences go, I made a 6-course dinner for a sold-out crowd -- 25 in all, including the lovely person from "Mobile Libris" who came to sell books. I arrived at Whole Foods at 3:45 p.m. and got home at 9:45 p.m.

The menu?  First we played a guessing game.  I made two recipes that I challenged the students to describe.  One was my za'atar pesto into which lavash chips and grape tomatoes were dipped.  One woman guessed (almost).  The second was an intriguing soup based on tomato-vegetable juice with an ample amount of anisette and a soupçon of Thai fish sauce.  It was topped with lightly salted whipped cream and snippets of fresh tarragon.  Everyone loved it and were delighted to learn it can be made in five minutes.  Dinner followed from there:  Chilled Beet Soup with Crème fraiche and Lemon Zest, Tiradito (Peruvian-style sashimi) with a whole lemon-garlic dressing, Scallops on Sweet Pea Puree (with a brown butter-dry vermouth reduction), Salmon with Lime Leaves on Poppy Rice (with coconut-sake sauce and curry oil), Chicken "ras el hanout" with tomato- ginger chutney, and my "little black dress" flourless chocolate cake -- made in five minutes (and only 18 minutes to bake.)   Yep, and it was all radically simple to do.

However, missing items that evening were a standard size food processor and...regular olive oil.  It seems as though Whole Foods carries only extra-virgin olive oil. Curious, I thought, but it is simply not correct to use extra virgin olive oil for everything.  In some recipes, I had to dilute the extra virgin stuff with canola oil (which I never do!) to avoid ruining the taste.  Extra virgin olive oil is not recommended for cooking over high heat and it is far too rich in flavor for several of the more subtle dishes.   And.......I schlepped my food processor from home.

Hope you enjoy the chicken. Everyone did!

Chicken "Ras el Hanout" with Tomato-Ginger Chutney

Juicy and aromatic, this cooks up in no time.  Ras el hanout is a complex, burnt umber-colored spice mixture from Morocco; you may substitute garam masala.

4 very large skinless boneless chicken thighs 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1-1/2 tablespons ras el janout 3 large ripe tomatoes, about 1 pound 1-1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 2 large garlic cloves, chopped 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 1/2 small scotch bonnet pepper 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat the broiler or a ridge stovetop grill pan.  Pound the chicken slightly to flatten so that each thigh lies flat.  Place in a large bowl and add the oil, ras el hanout, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Toss to coat.  Broil or grill the chicken for 4 minutes on each side, until just cooked through.  Cut the tomatoes in chunks and put in food processor with the brown sugar, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, and cumin.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add salt to taste and serve atop the hot chicken.  Serves 4

Blizzard Soup & Snowy Day Chicken

Yesterday, when I called my best friend Arthur in New York (I was still in sunny Florida), he ebulliently reported that he was stranded in his Park Slope apartment on account of the snowstorm that hit the East Coast with a vengeance.  "You sound so happy," I said.  Arthur replied, "it's beautiful here and I'm making soup!" Arthur was dicing pancetta as we spoke, and was about to wash some kale and simmer some beans. Then without missing a beat he said, "I'm making Blizzard Soup!" I could see his smile through the phone. With that simple sentiment, I, too, wished I was in my Park Slope kitchen, also making soup.  It reminded me of a winter's day, several years ago, when my husband made the most delicious potion imaginable.  He actually named it "Snowy Day Chicken" but it was really a soup, in the way that authentic Italian bollito misto is a soup.  Large pieces of protein (here, chicken and beef shin) that simmer for hours until they transform and gelatinize (my word) a simple pot of water to perfumed perfection. The intoxicating vapors came from ingredients I didn't even know we had in our pantry:  fennel seed, celery seed, and caraway seed. They lent an air of mystery to the brew, already heady from a bounty of onions and fresh bay leaves.  I remember the first few spoonfuls as though I was slurping it right now.

Snowy Day Chicken Prepare this in your largest pot:  A very large oval casserole with a cover (such as a Le Creuset) is perfect.

Chicken fat (2 tablespoons) from chicken 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped 5 pound chicken 4 carrots, peeled and cut in half, thick ends cut in half, 1 inch sections 1-3/4 pounds beef shank on the bone, cut into 2 thick slices (1-inch each)

Sauté onions in chicken fat and olive oil for 15 minutes over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, stirring often.  Add 1 cup water and scrape up any brown bits.  Add chicken (breast side up), carrots, and the following:

2 large onions, peeled, cut in half, each half in 4 chunks (16 pieces) 1 heaping teaspoon fennel seed 1 teaspoon caraway seed 1 teaspoon celery seed 1 teaspoon salt 2 fresh or dried bay leaves 11 cups water (will not cover chicken) – you want the breast to be exposed 1 large garlic clove, through press

Slip in beef shank.  Add all the giblets, except the liver. Bring just to boil.  Lower to simmer, cover and cook about 2 to 3 hours until beef is tender and chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and beef shank; transfer to a platter; discard giblets.  Slice chicken and beef; serve in large soup plates surrounded with vegetables. Pour broth over all.  Serves 6

Root Beer Chicken with Cinnamon Stick


Not so many years ago in Paris, a very cool restaurant, inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 1970 cult movie A Clockwork Orange, made its name with a singular dish (not to mention great design and a fabulous pastry chef as consultant).  Nonetheless, the signature dish in the mecca of gastronomy was...Chicken Cooked in Coca-Cola.  I smiled when I saw the menu at Korova on Paris' rue Marbeuf, because that very dish had made a prior debut that year -- in my cookbook for children called Kids Cook 1-2-3. No matter, I probably didn't invent it either.  But the merger of Coca- Cola and ketchup yields a very credible barbecue sauce.  Mixed with droplets of melted chicken fat, it feels very French actually, and it mollifies the sharp edges of both drink and condiment. Finger-lickin' good -- hot, cold, or in between -- every kid (and adult) I know, seems to love it.

Just last year I decided to play with the dish a bit, as chefs are wont to do.  Remembering a Jean-George Vongerichten recipe for chicken with sassafras root, I swapped the Coke for root beer (a hint of sassafras!) and added a crushed garlic clove, spicy Sriracha (Thai chili sauce) and...a cinnamon stick!  The result was more complex -- a deeper sauce with aromatic punctuations.  This is a very cool dish that might have inspired a different movie... Paris, Texas.   Serve on a mound of crispy shoestring potato stix (right from the bag!) or atop a sweet potato puree accented with grated orange or fresh ginger.  Cole slaw might also be nice.  What to drink?  A California zinfandel (red, of course), beaujolais nouveau, or...a Coca-Cola.

Root Beer Chicken with Cinnamon Stick Sriracha sauce can be found in most supermarkets and Asian food stores.  Use Tabasco if you must and search for the darkest root beer around.

1 cup ketchup 2 cups root beer 1 large clove garlic 1 long cinnamon stick 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce 3-1/2 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together ketchup, root beer, garlic pushed through a press, cinnamon stick, Sriracha, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Make several deep slashes in each piece of chicken and put chicken in marinade.  Let sit 1 hour at room temperature or up to 8 hours, covered, in the refrigerator.  Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Transfer the marinade to a saucepan.  Place chicken, skin-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bake 50 minutes.  Boil marinade, lower heat and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Baste chicken twice during cooking.  Remove chicken from oven and drizzle with remaining marinade (adding some of the chicken fat for flavor and texture.)  Serves 4

I Love Paris

Last night before I went to bed, I popped a few moist prunes in my mouth and started to reminisce.  Why was it that prunes make most people snicker, while they make me long for Paris!  Yes, it's true.  When I was 20, or so, I took my first trip to France and was mesmerized by the dessert cart in most bistros.  No, it wasn't the tarte tatins or the offerings of chocolate mousse that interested me, it was the pedigree of the prunes that sat soaking up a vast amount of red wine.  It seemed to me a most sensible, and sensuous, way to end a meal.  Of course I was embarrassed (snicker) but after a glass or two of Bouzy rouge (red champagne!) one late afternoon (at the bistro run by the famous chef Michel Oliver), I summoned the courage, and have been serving them ever since.   Not only that, I began to experiment with prune juice, too! (snicker, snicker). But first, the prunes (which, as you may know, begin life as plums.)  I like to pit them and wrap them in short pieces of bacon and broil them as a simple hors d'oeuvres. (For real drama, slip a tiny piece of candied ginger into the prune before wrapping.) Often I put them in a jar, designated for the task, and cover them with cold water and a gossamer slice of lemon, and let them sit, tightly covered in the fridge until they express their dark liquid to form a viscous broth.  Stewed prunes, without the stewing!  Other times, I use them along with prosciutto and sage,  to stuff a fleshy turkey roast (recipe from Radically Simple, below).  For dessert, I plump them in port wine and then hand-carve shards of white chocolate to scatter on top.

But the most curious recipe of all (which was featured in the New York Times and appears in my Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook) was my audacious use of prune juice.  I simply simmer it until it is greatly reduced and begins to resemble chocolate syrup!  It makes an improbably delicious "sundae" with coffee ice cream and toasted sliced almonds.

Rolled-and-Tied Turkey Roast with Prosciutto, Prunes & Sage I love preparing a "turkey roast," which is nothing more than a boned breast half with the skin on.  Here it is filled with prosciutto, sage leaves,  and prunes, then rolled and tied.

2-1/4 pound turkey roast (large boned half breast, skin on) 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto 10 large pitted prunes 1/4 cup pine nuts 12 large fresh sage leaves 12 medium shallots, peeled 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Using a mallet, flatten the turkey (skin side down) to 1-inch thickness.  Cover evenly with the prosciutto.  Arrange the prunes in a tight row down the center.  Top with pine nuts and 6 sage leaves.  Roll up tightly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Tie with string at 1-inch intervals and tuck 6 sage leaves under the string.  Place the turkey and shallots in a small roasting pan.  Drizzle with the oil.  Roast 45 minutes, until cooked through.  Transfer the turkey and shallots to a board.  Pour the broth and wine into the pan.  Place pan on the stovetop and boil, scraping up browned bits, until syrupy, 3 minutes.  Strain into a saucepan.  Whisk in the butter and cook 1 minute.  Remove the string; and thickly slice.  Serve with the shallots and pan sauce.  Serves 6

Arthur Schwartz

Several days ago, Food & Wine Magazine deemed "Radically Simple" their favorite cookbook of 2010 and cited a recipe inspired by my dear friend Arthur Schwartz, who is, undoubtedly the reason many of you are reading my blog this morning. The recipe for Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Two Paprikas, says Kristin Donnelly in the F&W blog, is "the perfect weeknight dish.  Besides the minced garlic that's rubbed all over the thighs, the recipes only contains the ingredients in the title but tastes amazingly complex." (recipe below)

I owe a lot to Arthur.  As I write in the acknowledgments page of "Radically Simple," there are two men who stand out among all the others in influencing my mind and heart--two who have caressed and challenged me to become a better writer, a deeper thinker, and a better cook. One is my husband; the other is Arthur Schwartz.  Arthur, the food writer, critic, and radio personality known for his extraordinary culinary expertise, has been one of my very best friends since 1978 when we met in the kitchen of Gracie Mansion.  I had just become chef to Mayor Ed Koch, and Arthur was the restaurant critic of the New York Daily News.  We have spoken almost daily ever since then.  Arthur's cooking style has influenced mine for decades.  He is the master of simplicity and authenticity -- specifically in Italian regional cuisine, but he also possesses great knowledge of the foodways of many other cultures.  It is a joy to have him in my life.   In the case of the said chicken recipe, Arthur uses chicken legs (with thighs) and no garlic at all.

In addition to Arthur's many award-winning cookbooks which you can purchase online, Arthur has recently created an "on-line" store which you will enjoy shopping in!  It should be your go-to place this holiday season to buy cookbooks and presents galore.  He has a dynamite seltzer-making kit, a chrome 4-slice toaster with 50's styling, an instant-read thermometer, and a meat-grinder attachment for your KitchenAid.  You can also purchase "Radically Simple", and our cookbooks, through his site.  Arthur, since I've known him, has always wanted to have a store...not a restaurant!  Wise man.  He has superlative taste in all things related to food, cooking, design, culinary history, and tabletop wares.  Simply go to the

In short, Arthur is a treasure with a treasure chest.

Enjoy the chicken.  Serve it with a pan full of garlicky sauteed broccoli rabe and open a bottle of retro, but not forgotten, Chianti or Soave. And how about a radically simple dessert?  Peeled sliced pears tossed with a bit of grappa and sugar and topped with lemon sorbet.

Chicken Thighs with Rosemary & Two Paprikas This is among our family's favorite emergency meals, inspired by food maven Arthur Schwartz.  Arthur says that placing the chicken on the top rack of the oven is an important step in the recipe's success.

8 very large bone-in chicken thighs, skin-on 2 large garlic cloves 4 teaspoons sweet paprika 4 teaspoons smoked paprika 16 large sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Make 2 deep slits across the width of each thigh.  Push the garlic through a press and rub into the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix the paprikas with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Sprinkle the mixture into the slits, then place a rosemary sprig in each slit.  Arrange the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast in the top oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes until firm and cooked through but still juicy.  Serves 4

Daylight Savings

I may be one of those "light sensitive" people because I begin to shudder at the eclipsing of the sun, day by day, then minute by minute -- until such time, at the end of December -- when day (as defined by the presence of light) -- ends at 4:20 p.m., or earlier! I feel bad for kids whose joy is diminished from playing outside, for older folks who "don't drive at night," and for myself who turns a bit inward when darkness arrives prematurely. The solution? Turn up the lights and the music and...start cooking! Since my husband is away on a business trip (he is creating five restaurants for a new hotel in northern India, but is headed for Singapore where the design firm is located) I will make a radically simple recipe I learned in Asia, accompanied by jasmine rice and stir-fried cabbage (made from yesterday's enormous head of leftover cabbage). My daughter and I (and any unexpected guests!) will finish with a dessert guaranteed to restore the sunshine zapped by today's encroaching darkness. How about a wobbly, tropical, bright yellow, pineapple flan, fashioned from only three ingredients? It will make you smile.

Asian Chicken with Scallions There are few more interesting or radically delicious ways to prepare chicken. You can use large bone-in chicken breasts halves with skin, about 10-ounces each, or large bone-in chicken thighs. You may marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours but I will marinate mine this morning and it will be ready for dinner tonight at 7:30 p.m. (about 8 hours of marinating.) And ssshhh...don't tell anyone that the secret ingredient is Thai fish sauce! In summer you may do this on the grill, but it is perfect cooked in a very hot oven.

4 large, bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin, about 10 ounces each 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce 4 large scallions 1 large clove garlic

Cut each chicken breast in half crosswise. Place in a bowl and pour the fish sauce over. Discard the top 2 inches of the scallions. Cut the remainder into 1/4-inch pieces. Add to the chicken with the garlic, pushed through a press. Toss and cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Lift the chicken from the fish sauce, allowing some of the scallions to remain. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 12 minutes, until just cooked through. Turn the oven to broil and broil the chicken 2 minutes, until golden. Serves 4

Amazing Pineapple Flan Here, just three ingredients--eggs, sugar and pineapple juice -- form a luscious, creamy (but creamless) custard bathed in caramel.

1 cup sugar 4 extra-large eggs, plus 4 extra-large egg yolks 1 cups unsweetened pineapple juice fresh mint sprigs or edible flowers for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375. Melt 1/2 cup sugar in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 3 minutes, until a clear amber caramel forms. Carefully divide among 5 (5-ounce) custard cups. Place the cups in a deep baking dish. Using an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs and yolks. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat 1 minute; beat in the pineapple juice. Divide mixture among the custard cups. Add 2 inches boiling water to the baking dish. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until firm. Remove the cups from the pan and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until very cold. Unmold onto plates and garnish. Serves 5


Things You Can Count On

There are so many things in life you can count on.  Certain friendships, finding chicken and Lipton tea in the grocery store, and relying on your "go-to" restaurant.  You know, the place where they smile when you enter, give you the best table, and where the chef comes out before your guest arrives and chats you up.  It's not the best restaurant in your repertoire, nor the fanciest, or plainest.  It's consistent enough with a few razzle-dazzle dishes and showy decor to make it feel fresh every time you go.  But much like the mid-term elections, lunch yesterday was a disaster. The experience brought out the worst in me; perhaps it began when the waiter told me that Grüner Veltliner was a French wine (it's not, it's Austrian), and suggested that I opt for a very pricey chardonnay instead.  Maybe it was the 1 hour and 15-minute wait for the main course when we were one of the first tables to arrive.  Maybe it was because I wanted my friend, one of those friendships I count on, to be happy and impressed and satisfied with her meal.  Being "an insider" in the restaurant world makes it difficult sometimes because the flaws are so evident and...preventable.  But knowing the vicissitudes of the industry also makes me a much more appreciative, generous, and patient customer.  I know you'd never know it by this little rant.  I won't divulge the name of the restaurant but would advise the general manager never to pull out a chair and sit down at a customer's table.  Especially when she's cranky.

I won't divulge the name of my friend, either, except to say that she is one of the most generous women I know.  There is never a time that I'm with her that I don't learn something -- about being a mother (she has 3 beautiful daughters), about books for children, about famous authors, about diplomacy, about graciousness and gratitude.  She's also funny.  After hunting for the lamb in her lamb salad (after a good 10 minutes), she declared "here it is!  Everything's okay."

And speaking of things to count on, we all need a recipe, or two, that work.  Here's one from Radically Simple that was featured yesterday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And be sure to click here to "like" me on Facebook and enter to win a free autographed copy of Radically Simple!

Sauteed Chicken With Roasted Grapes and Grape Demiglace Makes 4 servings

3/4 pound small red or black seedless grapes 3/4 pound small seedless green grapes 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, divided use 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (each, 8 ounces) 1/4 cup minced fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the grapes from their stems. Put half of the grapes on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes.  Puree the uncooked grapes in a blender until very smooth. Strain through a sieve, pressing down hard on the skins.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook 4 minutes on each side. Add the grape juice and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the juice becomes syrupy, 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Add the remaining butter to the pan and cook, stirring over high heat, 1 minute. Add the roasted grapes and cook 1 minute longer. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with chives.


Election Day Dinner

Happy election day. Don't forget to vote. And while you're in the neighborhood, why not find a neighbor, or two, to invite to dinner! If that sounds daunting, try making dinner from my new book Radically Simple. I will be doing that this evening. A new friend, Helen, is coming for dinner. She works for one of New York's top PR agencies that represents some of the country's most important celebrity chefs and restaurants. She lives near my home in Park Slope, Brooklyn yet we have never gotten together. We just seem to run into each other at book parties and on the subway platform. We're excited she's coming. Later this morning, I will also be inviting another new friend, Bob, who is currently writing "the" definitive book on the life of Julia Child. He and his wife live around the corner, but she is leaving tonight for Morocco with a group of girlfriends. Although Bob is a great cook and can definitely fend for himself, I'm hoping he feels like being social. We'll no doubt talk politics and that conversation will invariably swerve It always does.

And what are we having for dinner? You can simply scroll down to the bottom of my blog where you'll see some of the simplest recipes imaginable from my new book (it's only a week old!) Yes, we'll have Beet Soup with Lemon Crème fraîche. I think I'll make some fennel-cumin flatbreads to accompany it. With that, we'll have an interesting white wine from Argentina -- an unusual combination of chardonnay and ugni blanc -- the latter being the grape used for making cognac. Next, we'll have the most radical version of roast chicken -- roasted stark naked (the bird, that is!) -- with salt and pepper added only at the end. I'll give it a chef flourish of a foaming butter sauce flecked with chopped chives and a smashed garlic clove. We'll have an enlightened version of scalloped potatoes, made with half & half (instead of heavy cream), gruyere and fresh thyme. And what did I just invent this morning? A Moroccan-inspired carrot puree made with ground coriander, cumin and a pinch of chipotle. We'll open a bottle of Malbec, also from Argentina, to accompany the main course.

Dessert? My "Little Black Dress" Chocolate Cake. It's made with only 4 ingredients, is flourless, and bakes in 18 minutes. Top with raspberries and a one-ingredient creme anglaise: It doesn't get more radical, or simple, than that.

Creamy Potato Gratin with Gruyere & Thyme A gratin refers to the golden, epicurean crust that forms on the surface of savory baked dishes. Here, pungent Gruyere cheese acts as a protective layer, preventing potatoes from drying out.

2-1/2 pounds Yukon gold or all-purpose potatoes 3 cups half-and-half 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, in one piece 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the potatoes and slice paper-thin. Put the potatoes in a 4-quart pot with the half-and-half, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes begin to soften, 15 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater. Transfer the potatoes and cream to a shallow ovenproof baking dish (the cream will not cover the potatoes.) Press down with a spatula; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon thyme and cover with the cheese. Bake 40 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining thyme. Serves 8

Enjoy dinner.  Hope your candidate wins!