Spatchcocked Chicken

Funny name, serious roasted chicken. This name refers to a flattened chicken that cooks more evenly, and, thus a more brown and crispy skin.  The backbone is cut out; don't toss it away as its a great addition to the leftover bones for stock.  The benefits of roasting a whole chicken are the endless meal possibilities; leftover chicken ideas: soup, salad, sandwich, enchiladas, bones for stock.  A whole chicken also costs less per pound than purchasing individual pieces.  How easy is chicken, many meals.

Spatchcocked Chicken
adapted from food52
several meals worth

2 1/2 - 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, patted dry
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Find a dish that will hold the flattened chicken.

Cut out the backbone of the chicken; kitchen scissors are recommended.  See photos for a good tutorial.

Flatten the bird and season both sides with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Place the onion and lemon slices and garlic at the bottom of the baking dish.  Place the chicken (skin side up) on top of the slices and pour the wine and stock over the bird.

Roast in the oven for 35-50 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest 5-10 minutes before carving.  The pan sauce could be reduced (check the seasoning) or saved for a future use (soup or risotto come to mind).

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Brunch at Harvard Common Press

Harvard Common Press was the site of Sunday's Boston Brunchers event. Located in the South End on the top floor of a former piano factory, HCP graciously opened its offices to about 40 Boston food enthusiasts.

Bookcases full of books, lots of sunlight, and art made the HCP a pleasant place to learn more about the cookbook publishing business.  Adam Salomone, associate publisher, talked about what a publisher looks for in an author and an idea, the lengthy writing process, and how a food blog could become a book.  A key takeaway for a blogger to get the attention of a publisher is engagement with an audience along with a strong voice.  That blogger's audience will most likely buy the cookbook. 

Nancy Mahoney is responsible for the sales and marketing of the cookbooks.  She spoke about her team's process to sell and market cookbooks.  Blog tours, tweet-ups, and reviews are ways cookbooks garner attention from the media.

It would not be a Boston Brunchers event without food! Attendees enjoyed lots of breads and muffins plus fruit and a savory strata.  There was coffee, wine, and two types of punch.

Thank you Boston Brunchers and Harvard Common Press for an enjoyable event!

Local Uncorked Wine Dinner-Local 149

Thanks to a gracious invitation from Boston Food Bloggers and Local 149, I joined three other Boston food bloggers at Local 149's first "local uncorked" wine dinner.  Wines were paired by Ruby Wines, Inc, a local distributor.

As the web site says, the restaurant is a neighborhood joint located in the Citypoint section of South Boston.  Known for pickling, smoking and curing their ingredients and sourcing from local farms, the event proved to be a delicious winter dinner.  The pairings were smart matches that highlighted the dominate elements of the food and wine.  The pairings that seemed to work the best were the Chenin Blanc and winter salad (smoky aromas worked well with the bleu cheese and roasted beets) and the Sancerre and codfishwich sandwich (acidity that cut through the fried fish and cheddar cheese).  All of the tables feature chalkboard tabletops and a small dish of colorful pieces of chalk.  It was easy to keep track of what wine belonged to which glass!

Nice tableside chats throughout the evening were made by the bar manager, Chris, and Chef Leah Dubois.  It is always a treat to speak with the team managing the restaurant and hearing their influences behind the menu. 

The evening's menu:

Graham Beck Demi-Sec Punch (lime grapefruit, Gin, elderflower, and rooibos chai)

Local and regional selection of unreleased cheeses and meats

2009 Graham Beck Chenin Blanc (South Africa)

Winter salad with roasted and pickled beets, smooth blue and caramel corn

2008 Lucien Crochet Sancerre (Loire Valley)

Smoked codfishwich with porter cheddar

2008 or 2009 Owen Roe "Sinister Hand" (grenache/syrah/mourvedre/counoise) (Washington State)

Burgundy braised beef short ribs manchego pomme puree, apricot jam and crystallized pistachios

Ferreira Porto, Vintage 2000

Westfield Farms Chocolate Goat Cheese Cake

Late Fall Vegetables

Autumnal fruits and vegetables come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Summer cooking methods morph from "just slice and eat" to fall's version of "roast for two hours".  It won't be long before little boxes of strawberries return.

Red and green Bartlett pears

Vibrant chilies both in color and heat.

Orange and white carrots

Pink turnips hang out next to fennel.

Who knew artichokes could be grown in Massachusetts?

Purple cauliflower reigns supreme.

Portland of the East Coast

Portland, ME is an easy day trip from Boston.  Portland offers a casual vibe with plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops, and seagulls.

Here is a list of recommended places to eat, see, and shop; all of this was accomplished (plus strolling) in five hours

Portland Lobster Company
Bard Coffee
Coffee by Design
Stonewall Kitchen
Rabelais (culinary bookstore)
LeRoux Kitchen
Monument Square Farmer's Market

Boston Brunchers First Birthday Party at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Its been quite a long time since I have attended a one year old's birthday party; its been even longer since attending TWO first birthdays on the same day.  Such occasion celebrated the first birthdays for Island Creek Oyster Bar and Boston Brunchers. Forty bloggers, brunch enthusiasts, and food folks convened to catch up, meet new friends, and snap pictures of delicious food.  Its always enjoyable to meet the faces that pair with the blogs and Twitter handles.

Oysters await their shucking.
A "regular" bloody mary.
Cocktails before noon. This is brunch.
ICOB's house-made pasteries.

My brunch pick: bagel, smoked salmon, chive cream cheese, pea greens

Special thanks to Renee Hirschberg, founder of Boston Brunchers, for planning the event and converging social media with brunch. And a big thanks to the sponsors for their generosity, especially Island Creek Oyster Bar for hosting.  I look forward to visiting Dorado Tacos & Cemitas to use my winning door prize gift certificate.  Here's a peek into a previous Boston Bruncher's meal at Dorado in February. 

Peach Tart

Peaches are quickly disappearing in New England.  Never fear as this tart dough would serve a multitude of fall and winter fruits including apples, pears, and plums. Next spring I plan to test out this tart with strawberries and, maybe, rhubarb

End of Summer Peach Tart
ever-so-slightly adapted from Food52
Yield: one 9-inch tart

1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, salted butter (original recipe called for unsalted)
3 to 4 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch thick)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar.

In a small bowl (or in the measuring cup), whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour this liquid into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan. Push the dough up the sides to meet the edge.

In the same bowl used to mix the dough (why dirty another dish?), combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, it should look like fine granules or tiny pebbles.

Arrange the peaches in an overlapping pattern over the dough.  The peaches should have a tight fit in the pan. Sprinkle all of the butter mixture over top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is slightly brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tomato Focaccia

Its hard to resist not eating this entire focaccia in one sitting.  When I made this in 2007, it didn't turn out at all.  Not even close.  So, I left the recipe alone for about four years.  And tried it again.  And it worked.  It worked a bit too well that I almost ate the whole thing in one day.  And then made it again and noticed how good the yeasty-olive oil-y aroma floats through the kitchen.  The cherry tomatoes, especially if sun golds are used, turn into pieces of sweet candy.  Try it, you'll like it.

Tomato Potato Focaccia

barely adapted from The Wednesday Chef
yield: 1-9 inch focaccia

1 medium Yukon Gold potato
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (original recipe says 1 teaspoon fresh yeast)
A pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for salting water for potato
2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced crosswise
Coarse sea salt

Place the potato in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the potato by an inch. Place the pot over high heat, covered, and bring to a boil. Add a handful of kosher salt to the water. Simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with a knife, around 20 minutes. Drain the potato and let it cool. Peel the potato and mash finely with a fork. Set aside.

Put the yeast in a large mixing bowl along with a pinch of sugar. Slowly add the warm water over the yeast, stir using a fork to help dissolve the yeast entirely. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes. The yeast should be bubbly.

Pour the flour into the yeasty water and stir with a fork, then add the mashed potato and the salt. The dough will be thick and shaggy. Use the fork to incorporate the potato into the flour. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and begin to knead the dough by hand. It will come together quickly. Knead against the bowl for a minute or so, until it is relatively smooth. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered with a kitchen towel, in the bowl for an hour.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Using your fingertips, gently remove the risen dough from the bowl and place it in the cake pan. Gently tug and pat it out so that it fits the pan. Cover the top of the focaccia with the tomatoes. Sprinkle a large pinch of coarse salt over the tomatoes, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and let it rest for another hour. Dried oregano or thyme would be a welcomed addition here.

Preheat the oven to 425 while the focaccia is resting. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, but start checking at the 35 minute mark. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes before removing the focaccia from the pan. Try not to eat it all at once.