The Secret to Perfect Roasted Chicken

The One Thing To Do To Make a Great Roasted Chicken

There are so many “secrets” to perfect roasted chicken that we end up overloaded and overwhelmed about what method to choose. Even me — and I’m someone who roasts a chicken a month, if not more often. The reason for all the recipes isn’t just because roasted chicken is a near-perfect food that we seem devoted to perfecting. And it’s not because chicken cookery truly is complicated: each part of the bird is ready at a different time and temperature.

No, the real reason is that almost every chicken recipe is trying to make up for the fact that purchased whole chickens come out of the wrapper really wet. To get crispy skin — the ultimate goal — without drying out the meat, we mess with the prep and the oven temperature and the time before cooking that we salt.

Berry Season

  • Almond Cake with Blueberries, Cherries & Yogurt Cream
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Small Batch Blueberry Bars

Small Batch Blueberry Bars

In the quick couple weeks when summer fruit ripens around here, I have a hard time doing anything but nibbling straight from the pint box. Ordinarily, the high price of local/organic/ripe berries prevents me from overbuying, but every so often a couple berries remain after my morning snack. This recipe is for those times. The best local/organic/ripe berries don’t last very long, which means that fresh berries become leftovers in almost no time. And leftovers this good cannot be wasted.

Small Batch Blueberry BarsSmall Batch Blueberry BarsSmall Batch Blueberry Bars

So that’s the moment when it’s time to bake, in my opinion. But not anything too complicated: it’s hot, there are pools to sit by, etc. That translates to a cornmeal cake or maybe my grandma’s oil cake. Or, now, a petite batch of blueberry crumb bars, custom fit to that scant cup of berries you have left.

Small Batch Blueberry Bars

Low enough on ingredients that you could probably whip up the bars using the pantry of a poorly stocked rental house, these buttery bars pair nutty whole wheat flour (though you could obviously use white) with lemon-scented berries. The top crumble is the same dough as the bottom crust. A longish time in the oven turns sweet berries into jam, practically, making this a good choice also if those bluebs were a little more sour than anticipated.

Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

There is so much lettuce in the apartment already that I refuse to harvest what’s in the garden. Our CSA has been flush with greens this year, and we’ve been all about ways to use ’em up — in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re eating salad, and nothing but salad, all the time.

That feeling isn’t restricted to the lettuce haul. I can’t be the only shopper whose eyes want more than the fridge can hold. Though I’ve gotten much more restrained over the years, I do still tend to find myself mid-week, staring at shelves filled with green veggies but no protein nor grains and trying to figure out how to make a produce-based meal that’s fit for a human, not a bunny rabbit.

Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with AvocadoSweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with AvocadoSweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

Since this winter, I’ve been browsing Anna Jones’s A Modern Way to Eat for help solving this dilemma. Like another of my go-to vegetarian cookbook authors, Deborah Madison, Jones knows just how to transform a crisper full of cellulose into a hearty meal. Today’s gorgeous salad-slash-noodle bowl takes its inspiration from one of her creations. Thanks to creamy miso dressing, rich avocado, and hearty sweet potatoes (my addition), you barely notice that you’re making a welcome dent in your lettuce collection.Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

Though this dish looks the prettiest when first made and arranged carefully in big bowls, you can also toss all the ingredients together and portion the salad out for brown bag lunches.

Single-Layer, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

I love a good carrot cake, spicy and chock-full of carrots, covered with a cream cheese frosting that’s just the right amount of sweetness. Baking gluten-free, without any expensive flours, can be tough. But almonds…almonds we tend to have around.

And they can be made into a simple substitute for gluten-free flour with just a few pulses of your food processor.

Gluten Free Carrot CakeA springform pan is ideal for this recipe since it releases in a snap, but a regular cake pan will work, too. The frosting is fluffy and and the recipe makes a generous amount so you can eat a few spoonfuls as you go. This cake is a good keeper on the counter, but if it’s crazy-hot, I’d recommend keeping it in the refrigerator so the frosting doesn’t melt. Quick tip: If you don’t want to shred carrots yourself, buy a 10 ounce bag of pre-shredded carrots in the salad aisle and this cake will bake up in no time at all.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just stuff like cream cheese and almonds and carrots. 

A Totally Different Pasta Salad

All Veggie Pasta Salad

I first made this back in not-very-pasta-salad weather. I was intrigued by the ingredients in the pasta with boiled vegetables recipe, which I found while browsing Serious Eats during vegan week. Specifically, one ingredient: potato.

Though I’m not quite a Harold McGee-level food nerd (though I do keep On Food and Cooking on my desk), when I hear of a technique that’s never before been seen in my kitchen, I bump the recipe to the top of my list.

I guess I already knew about how potatoes can transform during cooking. They secretly transform baked goods, especially hamburger buns. As themselves, they can turn into anything from crispy latkes to perfect hash browns to mashed or smashed potatoes. I once read a whole treatise on the right kind of potatoes to use for mashed potatoes. The author couldn’t believe anyone wouldn’t grasp the nuances of starchiness that foretold whether a tater ought to be mashed with butter and cream.

Melted Veggie Pasta Salad

Still, even knowing all that, it’s hard not to say to yourself skeptically: potatoes in pasta? But there it was, a recipe called “Pasta with Melted Vegetable Sauce,” inherited from a chef who’d mastered Italian peasant-style cooking, and presented as a magical way to make a creamy, rich, and hearty sauce from nothing more than boiled vegetables.
All Veggie Pasta Salad

It’s not just the potatoes that make this recipe strange and irresistible. This recipe abandons browning in oil. Instead, everything–veggies and pasta–go into a pot of boiling water, though not all at the same time. This builds up both starch and flavor in the water, so that by the time the pasta goes in, it’s essentially simmering in broth. The final touch

And why make this into pasta salad? Well, back in the winter, I made a huge batch. It was great-tasting when hot, but the leftovers were arguably even better. Which made me think “pasta salad!” and stash the gem away until the right time of year–now.

Making Food in New York City Is Really Hard

Broken-pickle-jar-on-a-Brooklyn-street

There are so many food companies in New York City. Artisanal goodies, from mayo to shortbread, have been booming since I moved back here after college.

We hear news about just-launched foodstuffs, their origin stories drawn in flour, butter, hops, or brine. But it’s less fun to read about how the cookie can sometimes crumble into nothing, leaving food entrepreneurs in a pickle despite their delicious efforts. So, for my latest Crain’s New York Business cover story, I listened to more than a dozen local makers–many of whom aren’t making it–to find out what it’s really like to seek success in the local food biz.

Read the piece here.

(Photo by Buck Ennis)