Friday, July 29, 2011

Roasted Chicken

This is a simple roasted chicken that anybody can do. The most important part to master is how to properly truss a chicken. Serve with its own natural jus.

1 3 1/2-4 lb organic chicken
Butcher's Twine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in the center of oven. In a separate bowl, combine 2 tbsp Kosher salt and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper (if this is too much salt and pepper for you, use less...but, it won't be as good). Rinse the chicken and then pat it dry with paper towels thoroughly. Use a pinch or two to salt and pepper the inside cavity of the chicken. 

Removing Wishbone:

This step is very important to being able to cut the chicken properly after it is cooked. If you clean the wishbone and let it dry, make a wish and hope it comes true.

At the neck of the chicken, locate with your fingers the wishbone. It will feel like an upside-down "V". With a pairing knife, cut around the wishbone and remove in one piece. Sometimes this takes practice and it will break, but make sure you get both sides and the top piece. Now you are ready to truss your chicken.

Trussing the Chicken:

This step is very important to ensure even cooking and a plumper looking chicken. 
Step 1: Cut off the upper wings because they will just burn, leaving the wing itself.
Step 2: Using about 2 feet of butcher's twine, turn the chicken legs away from you, and wrap twine around the bottom legs and make an "X" as shown above. 

Step 3: Tighten the "X" and wrap around the bottom of the thigh, covering the wing and bringing it around to the neck bone, wrap twine around it and knot tightly. If there is not enough neck bone, it is OK to just bring the twine past the wing and underneath. Cut the extra twine off and season your chicken all over with the rest of the salt and pepper. 
Side Note: You can also add garlic power or spices such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and you can stuff the cavity with a clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme or rosemary. I prefer plain so I can play with the sauce.

Put the seasoned chicken in a roasting pan or saute pan large enough to hold the chicken with room on the sides. If the pan is too big, the juices will burn. Put the chicken in the center of the rack in your oven, and roast for approximately 1 and a half hours or until internal temperature of thigh is 165 degrees. There is no need to open the over or baste the chicken. Remove promptly and let sit for 10 minutes before you carve it. Defat the jus and serve.

Roasted Halibut with Soy-Lemon Butter Emulsion

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare Halibut, but you can use any other meaty fish such as salmon or seabass. I prefer a little more soy sauce, but it is a matter of preference. I also like to braise baby bok choy with this dish, but you can use any vegetable you wish.

1 6-8 oz Halibut fillet
1/4 cup chicken broth or stock (homemade or store bought)
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (or to taste)
1 pat of cold butter
5 oz baby spinach
1 large Shitake mushroom
Grapeseed oil
Black pepper

For Fish:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season fish with freshly-ground pepper (no salt, as you will get your salt from the sauce). In a small saute pan, use 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add seasoned piece of fish -- you should hear it sizzle. Sear for 1-2 minutes.

Turn the fish over with tongs (fish should release from pan easily if seared properly. If it doesn't, wait a few seconds and try to turn then). Sear other side 1-2 minutes, then put pan in oven for approximately 8-10 minutes. Do not overcook because the Halibut will be dry.

For Spinach and Mushrooms:

Steam or saute spinach in one tbsp of grapeseed oil until wilted, then place in the center of a shallow bowl. Keep warm. Steam or saute mushroom the same way as the spinach. When fish is done, place it on top of the spinach, remembering to keep warm. Slice Shitake mushroom on the bias and arrange over fish.


Using same saute pan that you used for the fish (use pot holders as the pan handle will be hot), add chicken broth, soy sauce, and a squeeze of lemon. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. This takes only a few minutes.

To finish sauce, add 1 pat of cold butter and whisk until incorporated. Carefully pour sauce over fish and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Classic Curly Frisee Salad with Poached Eggs, Lardons and Croutons

This is great as lunch or an appetizer on it's own. For dinner, accompany salad with a soup, maybe vichyssoise. Bon appetit!

2 large eggs
1 bunch of curly frisee (use the tender green parts)
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of sherry or champagne vinegar (or use more depending on how acidic you like your dressings)
2 cloves of garlic
1 slice thick bacon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Gourmet croutons or homemade

Serves one


Fill a bigger saute pan with enough water and a splash of vinegar (vinegar helps to hold the whites together) to submerge eggs; I like to make an extra egg or so just in case a yolk breaks; also, a non-stick pan helps; bring water up to boil, reduce to simmer, and slowly break your eggs into the hot water; turn up the heat a bit but not to a boil and using a slotted spoon bathe the yolks gently with water until the whites are cooked and the yolk is translucent, but still runny; transfer to a plate with paper towels on it and tent with tinfoil to keep warm


You can use any good gourmet crouton or make your own by using stale bread, cutting them up into bite-size pieces, coating them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper, and baking them in the oven at 375 degrees until golden brown and crisp.

To Assemble Salad:

Work fast, so your eggs don't get cold! Dress your clean frisee with as much vinagrette as you like, approximately 2-3 tablespoons (so you will have extra dressing for another time -- just refrigerate and it will last for about a week). Then, salt and pepper your salad to taste and toss to fully incorporate vinagrette. 

Garnish with lardons and as many croutons as you want. Then, add warm eggs to the top of the salad. This is a lunch-sized serving, if you wanted to do an appetizer, cut the recipe in half and only use one egg. Now remember, you can use as much bacon and croutons as you want -- there are no rules, you can make this recipe your own!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa with Avocado Mousse and Salmon Roe

Recipes are only foundations, so my suggestion to you is to make them your own! The "avocado mousse" and the "tomato salad" recipes are two variations of dishes that I had on a recent trip to Chile. My friend Liz Caskey (of Culinary and Wine Experiences, she also has several cook books) had a small cocktail party at her home in Chile for our group where she served her versions of these recipes. She is a talented cook herself and also organizes these fantastic culinary and wine tours in Chile and Argentina. My daughter, Leni, and I ate the most delicious regional and "food-forward" dishes, as well as drank some of the finest wines coming out of Chile today. So, I must give credit where credit is due -- I recommend her website to anyone interested in broadening their culinary horizons!

Leni and I loved Chile, the food, and the people so much that I decided to make these recipes "my own". So, today's recipe is for the avocado mousse appetizer, and you will see how by making even the smallest changes, I have made it my own. So feel free to make your own changes so you, too, can call it your own.

*Recipe serves 4-6 people

For tomatillo:
1lb fresh tomatillos
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1-2 fresh Serrano chiles
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste

Take the husk off of the tomatillo and rinse under cold water so they're not sticky; pat dry. Coarsely puree in a blender or a food processor the tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic, and water. Place in a skillet, bring up to boil, and reduce to simmer until mixture thickens -- this takes about 15 minutes to reduce. Cool mixture down completely before using, then add chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.

1 1/2 lbs fresh tomatoes, seeded and cored (just use flesh)
1 tsp fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Chop into small dice, approximately a quarter of an inch. Place in a bowl, add quarter of a cup of tomatillo salsa (or more depending on your preference), and stir gently until combined. You could add more chopped cilantro and salt to taste -- too much cilantro can be overpowering and too much salt will make vegetables release too much water, so careful on the salt because you are topping the dish with caviar.

Avocado mousse:
3 Haas avocados, ripe but not mushy
1/2 of a fresh lemon
3 tbsp heavy cream

1 jar salmon roe to top each dish (or enough for 1 tsp per serving)

Cut avocados in half, remove seed and scoop avocado into a bowl. Add a squeeze of half the lemon to help retain green color. Then add the heavy cream. Mash with a fork and then using an electric hand mixer or a Braun handheld food mixer (you can get these at any decent kitchen store) whip until very smooth, like a mousse with no lumps.

To assemble:
I like to use martini glasses for this dish so you can see every layer, or you can use clear shooter glasses if you want a smaller recipe (just make sure a spoon fits in them or use a demitasse spoon).  Place about a one-inch layer of tomato and tomatillo salsa on the bottom of glass, and smooth to fit bottom of glass. Then add a 1-inch layer of avocado mousse, and smooth around the glass to create a neat appearance and so that both layers can be seen (see photo for reference). Add one teaspoon of salmon roe. For a decadent appetizer, use any good caviar. Chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours (2 hours should be sufficient), then serve immediately. Enjoy!