Beer-Roasted Chicken & Veggies (aka the “Finally, We’re Cooking With Gas!” Post)

New apartment =s new kitchen =s gas range =s GAME. CHANGING.

Now that we’re cooking with gas… ::pausing to rub palms together in a furtive motion::… drawing a blank except for bad cooking puns…

Eh, eff it. Let’s just cook.

Beer-Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Serves 4

roasting vegetables:
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 parsnips,
peeled & chopped
3 carrots,
peeled & chopped
3 small potatoes, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled
1/2 onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 Tlbs. olive oil (a healthy pour)
salt & pepper to taste


chicken:

1 large broiling chicken — (We purchased one of these fat boys (3.75 lbs.!) from The Meat Hook, a fantastic local butcher shop focusing on local and sustainable products.)
1 lemon, sliced
fresh rosemary
sea salt & pepper to taste

(1) 12 oz. beer … says the chef. One for the clucker, the rest for the homies

1.) Prep celery, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Place roasting pan across two stovetop burners set to medium heat; add olive oil and all roasting vegetables, including leaves from rosemary sprigs.

3.) Roast vegetables until they begin to soften and start browning, or about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly distribute heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

4.) Fun alert: As the olive oil dissipates, pour beer over the vegetables.

5.) To prep the chicken, tuck several slices of lemon underneath the skin and line chicken cavity with sprigs of rosemary. Salt and pepper generously.

6.) Once the vegetables have begun to soften — but are still mostly firm — turn off heat. Stuff chicken cavity with vegetable mixture and sliced lemon.

7.) Nest chicken in the center of the vegetables in the roasting pan and bake at 350 degrees for roughly 1 1/2 hours. (Smaller chickens will likely cook quicker.)

9.) At least twice during the cooking time, baste chicken with the broth utilizing a deep spoon or a baster.

10.) For the final 10 minutes, flip the chicken over so the reverse side has a chance to brown.

Let the chicken rest a few minutes, then dive in! We suggest plating the chicken and vegetables with a small side salad, and paring with the same beer you used to cook.

Enjoy!

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Finding the South of France in the Most Unexpected of Places

J’adore, as in love, love, love, the South of France, and so often, all that love has nowhere to go.

No longer! I’m utterly smitten with Pates et Traditions, a quiet little restaurant on a pleasant block of Havemeyer Street just around the corner…

Its bright interior is so charming — a mix of sturdy country woods and wrought-iron table sets, walls adorned with bric-à-brac from the region — that if it weren’t for the large picture windows overlooking the brick walls of a local printing business, you very well may feel as if you’d clicked your heels three times, opened your eyes and found yourself nowhere near New York (or Williamsburg). (This is a good thing.)

In addition to keeping true French hours — Pates et Traditions may or may not be open for lunch on weekdays, depending on the weather — the menu is so quintessentially French:

Sweet crêpes, savory crêpes, how to choose!

House wine starts at $5 a glass (and it isn’t bad); a short list of fresh salads feature Provençal herbs and olives. There are a few pasta dishes and some regional specialties — such as la pissaladiere, a Niçoise pizza topped with onions, herbs, anchovies and olives from Provence ($12) — but on this first visit, I never got past the crêpes. From a list nearly 20 deep, I settled on the forestiere ($10): strips of ham, mushrooms, garlic, parsley, in a creamy bechamel sauce, tucked in a pocket-like fashion into a traditional buckwheat crêpe.

(Known in France as a “galette,” buckwheat crêpes have the added bonus of being gluten-free and loaded with good nutrition.)

On a quiet early evening in the middle of the week, the pleasant pattering of the conversation en français between the proprietor and the single server was a pleasant backdrop to a solo meal.

In a quiet state of contemplative happiness, my crêpe and wine before me, I imagined myself sitting in all the different seats in the house eating my way through the entire menu — from the pillow seats in large, picture windows, and once the weather’s just a touch nicer, saddling up on the high chairs out front and watching the world go by.

It appears that I will not be moving out of the neighborhood anytime soon.

Pates et Traditions, 52 Havemeyer St. at N. 6th St., Brooklyn, 646-409-4019. Cash only.

Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Back in Biz in Williamsburg (aka the “But Was It Worth the Wait?” Post)

Decent fried chicken? Check.
Fairly priced? No doubt.
Charming decor? Utterly adorable.
And the pie? Outta this world.

And yet, I hate to say it, but as I scraped together the few last bites of now-tepid collard greens, I couldn’t push back that nagging question that’d been lurking near consciousness since my first bite: This is what all the hype was about?

The briefest background for those not super-saturated with New York hot-button food topics: Chatter about the imminent reopening of this beloved neighborhood spot by this city’s fried chicken obsessed legions had reached near-deafening levels since the New Year.

More than a little swept away by the crescendo of voices — writers, bloggers and Twitterers, you too — chanting for Pies ‘n’ Thighs return, I was prepared for it, (dare I say it?) … this could be the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted in my life. And, of course with that expectation in mind — it wasn’t. Good? Yes. OMFG-mind-blowing-beyond-words? Not tonight.

The skin was thick and a bit saggy on the bird, and I find one of the great joys of eating fried chicken to be the skin that’s so crisp it’s to the point of translucence. But let’s get down to it: Was the meat inside moist? Certainly. The whole meal ($10.99) was generously portioned and I handily finished everything, even my giant bowl of mac n’ cheese and second giant bowl of pork-laced collard greens. (I was very hungry.)

Unexpectedly — as I’m always a savory-first, sweets-second sort of girl — my favorite part of the meal was dessert. I shared a slice of peanut butter pie (bottom) and coconut cream pie with the chef, and both of them were just sublime.

The peanut butter pie reminded me of nothing so much as one giant Reese’s filling, only better, and as dense but creamier. It’s the sort of slice that’s best enjoyed by one forkful at a time — savor the bite, let the flavors melt into your mouth, set down the plate and go back for another bite a few (or 15) minutes down the way. It’s the perfect slice of pie for watching a movie.

And the coconut creme pie was pillowy and tropical, a luxurious pudding that was best eaten in-hand (so as to keep the filling from sliding off the crust). A thin chocolate layer added to the decadence. I’ll be chasing after the memory of slices like these when I order pie again in the near future.

So will I be back? Most definitely, for more things that come with biscuits, more pie, to explore more of the menu, and yes, probably one day for more of the protein portion of the restaurant’s namesake — although it’s telling that the fried chicken is at the last in line. Maybe by that time the hype will have subsided and the chicken and I, we can have a proper introduction.

No wonder chefs, restaurateurs and almost anyone involved with the business of food have a love/hate relationship (more like, hate/lukewarm like/hate some more) with the food blogsphere — although, for what it’s worth, that chatter showed me the door.

Pies ‘n’ Thighs, 116 S. 4th St., at Driggs St., 347-529-6090. Open daily.

Published: A Costco Survival Guide (aka the “Meet Your Manhattan Costco” Post)

A Costco Survival Guide” was published in the The New York Press, a local alt weekly. The article offers a strategy for shopping at the warehouse giant, even if you live in a small New York City apartment. Here, some outtakes from my scouting trip to the new Upper East Side warehouse.

From the opening paragraph: “…on the other hand, where else can you get wild king crab legs for $10.99 per pound?”


My favorite store-bought hummus is made by Sabra, and I have no doubt that I could easily plow through the 32 oz. tubs that sell for $5.98. Even more though, I fell hard and fast for these single-serving versions. I’m something of a market/product aficionado and I’ve never seen Sabra hummus in this packaging in any market in New York City previously:

Here, the Hellmann’s mayo from the article:

“That’s embarrassing. Who eats that much mayonnaise?” asks a shopper, gesturing toward the giant, 128-oz. tub of Hellmann’s Best ($9.99). He grabs the pack of three squeezable, 22-oz. bottles ($8.99) and walks off.

Uh, that’s the point.We don’t eat that much mayo; so don’t get hung up on the bulk stuff. The three-pack is for regular shoppers and the tub is for the guy that’ll be making giant batches of tuna salad at the bodega.

Premium products at prices so cheap it shouldn’t be legal:

Oh Costco. If only you weren’t tucked so far off the beaten path on E. 116th Street! I’ll see you again someday, I’m sure …