Wednesday, October 26, 2011

B-B-B-Bird is the Word!

I grew up in a house where we didn't eat a lot of roasted chicken, in part because my mom is deathly afraid of birds and also my dad has a thing about salmonella to the point that I had no idea that chicken could be juicy until I was in my mid-twenties (We won’t even talk about the family practice of microwaving chicken breast for a minute after it was grilled). So when we did eat chicken, it was cut up into things like tacos, grilled along burgers or breaded and placed inside parmesan.

So it took me years and years and years to finally decide to roast my own chicken. I wasn't sure what to do, I wasn't sure how long it was really supposed to cook and I wasn’t sure how I knew I wasn't going to get salmonella (it’s challenging to microwave a whole bird!). My first attempt wasn't nearly as bad as I thought, and each time I roasted a bird, it got easier and easier. And now I can proudly say that after living on my own for 10 years, I've finally broken the Jones Family Fear of Chicken.

With that in mind, after shopping this past weekend I decided that the chicken roasting season had begun. So I purchased a bird, a bunch of root vegetables and a lemon and got to work.

I have to say, last night’s chicken was probably the best I’ve ever made. In part it’s because I deglazed the pan after I cooked it. And I roasted the vegetables in another pan, rather than along with the bird, which is what I had been doing in the past. But I think a lot of what worked this time was the seasoning. The chicken turned out beautiful, golden and really pretty awesome. (Hey, I’m the only one on here, so I've got to toot my own horn!) And of course the vegetables alongside it were pretty delicious too.


1 whole roasting chicken

4 cloves of garlic, peeled whole

1 lemon (zested, and quartered)

¼ cup Italian seasoning

4 tbs olive oil

3 tbs whole peppercorns

3 yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 onion, chopped

15 Brussels sprouts, cut in half

2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 turnips, peeled and chopped

2 cups of whole baby carrots

3 tbs white wine.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a shallow pan, put 2tbs of olive oil and add ½ of the onion, all of the parsnips, sprouts, turnips, carrots and 1 garlic clove salt and pepper to taste. Cover pan with tin foil and place in a high rack in the oven.

In a large round pan (I have around Le Creuset), place remaining olive oil and onions. Cover chicken with lemon zest. Make sure to work it into the skin. Once chicken is covered with lemon, insert lemon quarters, remaining garlic and peppercorns inside the carcass of the bird. Finally take the Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper and cover the bird. You can see from my picture that it’s got a good coating on it. Make sure the chicken goes into the oven breast side down.

Put the bird in the oven for 25 minutes. At this same time, take the foil off of the vegetables, stir them around and place back in the oven uncovered. Once you have finished the vegetables, take out the chicken, flip it and put it in for another 35-40 minutes (or 165 degrees). At this same time, take the foil off of the vegetables, stir them around and place back in the oven uncovered. Remove the chicken from the oven, let it sit for 5 minutes in a separate pan.

While the chicken is resting, place the pot and the juices and whatever onions or garlic has fallen out of the chicken, on the stove on medium heat. Add the wine and 3 tbs of cold water and wisk. Let the broth come to a boil.

Carve the chicken, spoon the broth over it and serve alongside the vegetables!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Put a little Alsace in your Lorraine!

Okay, so maybe this isn’t quite a post about Alsacian foods. However I did make a pretty awesome combination of French and German last night. I went to The Butcher and Larder on Saturday (seriously, a must go!) to purchase some pork lard, for a pie crust I’m making tonight, (posts to follow) and I saw some delicious fresh made sausage. I ended up purchasing two of the Atomic Hot Links and four SaucisseToulouse. For those of you who haven’t frequented butcher shops or Hot Doug’s, Saucisse Toulouse is a French style pork sausage traditionally featured in cassoulet. It’s a mild sausage, but pairs really well with strong flavors.

Anyway, I picked up the four Toulouse’s, but not having the time or materials to make a cassoulet, I thought I would just grill them up and put them on some crispy French bread. I made a quick moutarde violette and German Potato salad from a recipe I found in Ferran Adria’s new cookbook (a must buy!) The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria

So I should say here that per my previous post "All Hail the Mustard King" I saidhow I used to dislike mustard, and I placed it slightly above Mayonnaise in world of condiments. I think it's important to note (more for my husband than anyone else) that this recipe involves not only copious amounts of mustard, but also... MAYONNAISE (gasp!).

To be honest, I wasn't totally sold on the potato salad, but my husband seemed a little enamored by it, so I thought I would just do it. To my surprise, it was delicious and something I would make and eat again. I know I should have already learned the lesson that recipes from certain chef's are always going to be delicious...but like a child who's told not to touch the hot stove and does, I have to learn for myself. Every.Single.Time.

So here you are. Mayo, Mustard and Sausage. A meal that is quick, easy to make, delicious and gourmet!


Crispy French bread, cut into pieces slightly smaller than the sausage excess center bread removed (in order to get the full sausage taste)


¼ cup of stone ground Dijon Mustard

2 tbs grape jam

4 large yellow potatoes

4 tbs low fat mayonnaise

3 tbs Dijon mustard

3tbs heavy cream

5 medium size gherkin pickles

2 tsp minced chives

2 scallions (bulbs only) minced

4 tsp pickled capers (juice removed)

For the Sausage:

Heat grill on high, cook until thorough about 10 minutes

For the quick moutarde violette:

Combine Stone Ground Dijon and Grape Jam together, blend until there are no remnants of jam and the mixture is a violet color. Should taste on the sweetish side, but still have the kick of the Dijon

For the German Potato Salad:

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add potatoes whole, cook until soft. Remove potatoes from water and cover with tin foil until you complete the rest of the recipe. In a separate bowl combine mustard, cream and mayo, wisk until fully blended.

Chop pickles and combine with scallions, capers and chives in a bow.

Remove potatoes from foil, take off skin and cut the potatoes into chunks.

Add potatoes and pickle mixture together.

Finally, fold in mustard mixture until everything is covered.

Season with salt and pepper to taste

When serving the sausage, we found it best to cut the bread and then butterfly the sausage. Add the moutarde violette to the inside of the butterflied sausage and then again to the bread.

And enjoy!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Aviary

Chefs Grant Achatz and Craig Schoettler looking at In The Rocks

I admit it; I’m a sucker for a good drink. More importantly, I’m a sucker for a good drink in an awesome atmosphere. And having lived in Chicago for as many years as I have, I can say that we’ve come across some pretty amazing watering holes in our day.

Every person who lives in a city has their favorites list. Favorite dive bar, favorite mixed drink place, favorite best kept secret (and I promise, I will have an entire post on Chicago’s best kept secret Watershed). But what most people who live in cities don’t have is Grant Achatz, a 3 star Michelin chef opening a lounge.

The Aviary is doing things with cocktails that no one else has ever imagined. To start, they have an ice chef, someone who dedicates their entire job to making the 32 (that is not a type-o) different types of ice, that the restaurant has. My husband and I were fortunate enough to get invited down to meet the ice chef in his kitchen. You would imagine that working with ice all day and night, the space would be cold? You would imagine wrong. It’s hot as hell in a tiny room that is about 10 feet long and 5 feet wide. In this space he makes everything from the ice cylinders for the In The Rocks (made from freezing water inside balloons and then using a syringe to take out the water inside and inject the drink….see photo below), to the tiny balls of celery ice that are found in the deconstructed Bloody Mary.

Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “Other than the ‘Wow’ factor, the ice just sits there. So what?” And I’ll tell you what! The chefs (they are not bartenders, they are not mixologists, and they are chefs) said that their biggest complaint while drinking is that the ice actually dilutes the drink. If you sit and speak with friends, your drink gets watered down and doesn’t taste good. So their idea? Have drinks that grow and change with time. The ice enhances the drinks because they impart different types of flavor. The vanilla ice slowly melts in the Cream Soda (photograph below) and as your drink, the taste if vanilla grows stronger.

So not only are they doing awesome things with ice, but they’re also doing great things with flavor. The Cider is inside a beautiful glass sphere. It comes out looking like a work of art, and as the drink sits, the flavors of apples, and cinnamon and cloves grow more intense. The transformation from your first sip to your last is unbelievable.

And any good lounge would serve up bites. The bites at Aviary are impeccable. Whenever we have gone, we’ve asked our waiter or waitress to have the chefs pair whatever bites they think will go best with our drinks, and we’ve never been sad. From the world’s best tater tot to waygu, the bites are out of this world.

The Aviary isn’t a bar you just go to in order to grab a quick drink, although we have seen people come in for only one drink and leave. There can be a line, however they do take reservations. I however recommend committing an evening there. Sit in the comfy chairs, enjoy the atmosphere, drink some amazing drinks and eat some fabulous bites. And if you’re lucky, the manager will walk over to your table and say “Hey, I have a great idea….” and all of a sudden, you find yourself whisked downstairs to the invite only Speakeasy known as The Office…

The Bloody Mary

In the Rocks, creation

The Cream Soda with Stout Bites

The Cider with Waygu Bites

Oooooh Spicy Meatball!

Okay, so many not so much a spicy meatball, but an Italian Wedding Meatball?

As fall has kicked into high gear, my soup and stew making has as well. I’ve always been a huge fan of Italian Wedding Soup; I can’t get enough of it. And I know for some people, spending all of the time making the tiny little meatballs is exhausting. The first time I made the soup, I spent a good hour rolling teeny tiny little meatballs out. It was exhausting. And honestly, had it not been for sheer laziness, I don’t think I would have stumbled upon the greatest realization in Italian Wedding Soup history….bigger in this case IS better!

So with the recipe below that I borrowed and tweaked from Ina Garten (it’s turkey meat, so it’s even healthier!) you can use a teaspoon as your meatball making gage. It’s quicker, easier and makes some delicious bites!

I should warn, I like my soup with lots of spinach and not a ton of pasta, but if you feel differently, go ahead and change it up.


7-8 links of sweet Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings

1 lb of ground turkey

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup good grated parmesan cheese (I prefer Locatelli)

1 cup of plain bread crumbs

A handful of flat leaf parsley (I just get a bunch from the store and rip a handful from the top) chopped

1 tbs milk

Salter and Pepper to taste


1 onion, chopped

1 bag of baby carrots, cut into rounds

15 cups of low sodium chicken broth

1 cup of pastina (or any small pasta)

2 bags of spinach

Preheat oven to 400, line two baking pans with tin foil

In a bowl combine all of the meatball materials. Take a teaspoon and fill roughly 1/3 of the spoon with the meat mixer, and lay on the foil lined trays. Meatballs should be about 1.5 inches in diameter, however if they’re smaller or larger, it doesn’t really matter. Fill both lined trays with meatballs and put in oven for about 15 minutes, or until meat is starting to brown.

While meat is cooling, place carrots and onion in a large stock pot over medium with olive oil and a pinch of salt and sweat them. You want the carrots to soften, but you don’t want any of the ingredients to brown. Once the carrot mixture is softened, about 10 minutes, add the broth.

When meatballs are finished, add them to the broth mixture and cook together for an additional 15-20 minutes over low heat.

At this point, add the pasta and let cook for an additional 15 minutes. Then quickly add in the spinach and stir. Let the soup cook with all of the ingredients for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

Grate parmesan cheese on top of bowl and a pinch of pepper and serve!

A little Thomas Keller in the Kitchen

Many many years ago my husband and I went to see the Pixar film Ratatouille and not only fell in love with the character, but with the food as well. I mean, if digital food looked that amazing, why can’t the real life stuff look that way too? We did some research and found out that Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame, was a consultant on the movie. Furthermore, we learned that the recipe that they used in the end of the film was based off of his own Confit Byaldi. So my husband found Thomas Keller’s recipe waaaay back in 2007 and it has sat in my inbox since then.

However, this past Saturday, after spending way too many evenings eating out, I was inspired to put in about 4 hours of work (yes my friends, this isn’t a quick throw together type of meal) and finally make it. It was more of a challenge to myself than anything else, but really it wasn't that hard, just a whole lot of mise en place. I upped the veggies count in a lot of places and tweaked a few other things, but in general this is pretty close to Chef Kellers recipe.

Other than looking at the beautiful finished product and feeling extremely proud, it tasted pretty delicious as well. So enjoy!

Confit Byaldi or Ratatouille Top of FormBottom of Form


1 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed

1 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed

1 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion

4 tomatoes (quickly blanch so you can peel seed and finely dice, juices reserved)

2 sprig thyme

1 sprig flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt


2 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds

2 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

2 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons olive oil

2 springs of thym (remove leaves from the spring)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)


Have an oval pan, about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Add a pinch or two of salt to each layer. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.