Honey-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon

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I know there was never a doubt in your guys’ mind, but it was confirmed this weekend: I’m a huge dork. While millions of people were rightfully excited about the return of Game of Thrones, the epic HBO show that involves giants, dwarves, dragons* and one very gorgeous man, I decided that merely watching the episode was not enough. I had to create a full-on feast inspired by the series, and foist it upon some friends. which is based on a set of novels written by a certified food-lover.

In my defense, George R.R. Martin’s descriptions of medieval feasts are so detailed that there’s an entire GoT cookbook based on the books. And while those passages have been lambasted by those who read the books merely for the political intrigue or intense action (ie. the “interesting” stuff), I find the feast scenes fascinating. Most of what people ate is similar to stuff we eat now — stew, bread, roast meat, etc. But some of the stuff is crazy: pigeon pie and honeyed dormice and spiny grubs and of course, Danaerys and her horse heart.

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Obviously I had no intention of tracking down a friggin’ horse (EWWWWWW.). But I had a CSA chicken in the freezer and lemons in the fridge, and for the first time in a long time, the time and energy to embark on a long cooking project. I cobbled together an easy enough menu: honeyed chicken (which Jon eats during his last meal at Winterfell), mushrooms roasted in garlic butter (which Tyrion eats with Illyrio Mopatis — very in line with the premiere episode!) and lemon cakes, which are Sansa’s favorite. (Yes, I know, I’m a weirdo.)

This was my second attempt at roasting a whole bird, and I used a bunch of my turkey tips here: “air-chilling” the bird so that it dries out completely before roasting, making an herb butter to flavor the meat, roasting the chicken upside down to start and resting the meat after it comes out of the oven. It’s a pretty simple process, and basting the chicken with the honey mixture ensures a shiny, perfectly bronzed final product — at least until you get distracted and leave that bad boy in the oven a few minutes too long …

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Even if you’re not obsessed with Game of Thrones, this chicken is a winner. It’s juicy, the skin gets perfectly crisp and the potatoes underneath are heavenly. And if you are a GoT fan? Your Sundays just got even better. Continue reading

Radish Tartine with Herbed Ricotta

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One of the best and worst parts of joining a CSA is that each month, the fruits and vegetables I get are a total surprise. It’s a lot of fun to open the box at work, but it makes for some tricky cooking and eating when you get a huge pile of vegetables that you’re not so into. Case in point? This month’s box, which came brimming with kale, salad greens, apples, a beet — all good things — and a whole lotta radishes.

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In general, I am not a radish fan. They’re too sharp and too spicy for my tastes, and I try to avoid them. I even carried the radishes all the way to Maryland, in hopes of foisting them on my parents. Didn’t work, so I spent a significant portion of my ride back home contemplating what to do with them. Some of them would be braised, some roasted, and some of them were used in this radish tartine, an open-faced sandwich brimming with flavor and screaming out spring!

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Tartine is just a fancy French way of saying “open-faced sandwich.” This version layers herbed ricotta on a thick slice of rye, then tops it with microgreens (another CSA treat!) and thinly sliced radishes. The ricotta dulls a bit of the radishes’ bite, making it much more palatable, at least to me. It’s a simple dish, but delicious — the kind of light dinner that pairs perfectly with warmer temperatures and a glass of rose. I wouldn’t say that I’m a radish convert, but I can’t wait to see what’s in my next CSA! Continue reading

Irish Lamb Stew with Guinness

Whoa guys, it’s been a while. Since we last hung out, I’ve survived a weekend in Atlantic City, started half training in earnest, watched a TON of college basketball, discovered my new fave tapas place in NYC, come in third place at Friends trivia, and prepped for an all-new exciting project at work.

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What I haven’t been doing? Cooking, cleaning, unpacking the many suitcases I’ve used over the past month, folding laundry, catching up on Mad Men ahead of the final season premiere(!!) and just generally being at home for extended periods of time. Which is why this recipe comes to you so late.

Three weeks ago, when “Feels like 17F” was still a thing and “hearty” was the only acceptable kind of meal, this recipe would have been super useful. Now? Oh you know, it’s just a delicious, warming stew that takes your last lingering root vegetables, plus the best of spring’s new produce and meat,* to form a rich meal relatively cheaply. NBD.

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Stews are a staple in Ireland, always served with hearty bread and creamy, dreamy butter. (No seriously, I still dream about that butter.) Made with beef or lamb, with whatever vegetables are around — sturdier root vegetables in the winter, more peas and carrots in warmer weather — it’s the quintessential comfort food. I also had a bottle of Guinness in the fridge, so I threw that in, adding a bit of malty body to the stew.

It was delicious two weeks ago when I made it, but this Irish lamb stew would be just as delicious now, one last hearty meal to usher you into spring.

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*Did you know that meat is seasonal too? Animals have natural growth and slaughter cycles, which is why we associate turkeys with fall (ie. Thanksgiving) and ham or lamb with Easter and spring. Here’s a good explainer from Polyface Farm owner and small-farm advocate Joel Salatin. Continue reading

Lemon Bars with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

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Four years ago, I made lemon bars for a family party. They were a huge hit, especially with my mom, who raved about them for days afterwards. And then weeks afterwards. And then years afterwards. I didn’t pick up on her numerous hints, partly because I can be really dense and partly because, while she loved them, I was less convinced.

They were good, for sure, but they weren’t the bomb-diggity.* A bit too one-note: just bright, tart lemon on a buttery shortbread base. (Cue a collective eye roll at my pain-in-the-butt-ness.) But then, a few months ago, I spotted Melissa Clark’s lemon bars, tricked out with olive oil and a touch of sea salt. I immediately emailed the recipe to my mom, who promptly bought a bag full of lemons and waited for me to come home.

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And despite my best attempts to ruin them, these lemon bars are perfect. Olive oil and citrus are a wonderful pairing, and the fruity bitterness of the oil complements the lemons here nicely. The salt adds an extra layer of complexity, elevating these bars to “sophisticated,” “chic” and a bunch of other grown-up words that one rarely associates with lemon bars.

There’s not a chance that we go four years between making these.

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*I’ve been listening to the “No Diggity” playlist on Pandora a lot recently. They really don’t make music like they used to … Continue reading

Fall-toush Salad

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In honor of the sunny skies and almost balmy temperatures (50 degrees! Feels like heaven!), I’m going to keep things short today. After all, there’s outside time to be had, especially now that the sun is still shining at 7 p.m.

And before you besmirch my good name, I did not come up with this name. “Fall-toush” comes from Smitten Kitchen, whose love of good/bad puns is one reason why I’m convinced we’re culinary kindred spirits. Another reason? Her love of easy salads that take seasonal ingredients, cook them in a very unobtrusive way and add just a little something-something to make the whole thing really pop.

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This is based on fattoush, the Levantine salad made with toasted pita, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and mint and other herbs. It’s usually full of summery vegetables, but alas, those are nowhere to be found. So Deb took a winter approach to the salad, using Brussels sprouts and squash instead. I had leftover tahini, so I hacked together a quick dressing to bring the whole thing together.

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It’s a supremely simple meal — roasted vegetables with a little dressing — that is so much more than the sum of its humble parts: smoky and spicy and creamy and crunchy and full of flavor, hearty enough for the lingering cold but with a sneaky eye on swimsuit season. It’s so good that it almost makes me forget how tired I am of winter fare … #nomorerootvegetablesplease Continue reading