Sunday, August 5, 2012

Closing the door, leaving the lights on

If anyone still checks this, you've probably guessed that this blog's days are over. Neen & Do (now officially married) cook crazy-delicious things, but their discovery of new foods and recipes is one that happens quietly (apart from the satisfied post-meal belches). I still blog, and while I'll periodically post about food, my focus is now more on inedible things.

I don't think anyone plans to deactivate Post Collegiate Cooking, but if Blogger decides it's no longer worth hosting, we won't try to dissuade them, either. So if there are any recipes from here you particularly enjoyed, I recommend you save a copy, just in case.

See you in the 'verse!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Don't know What This Is, so I'm Going to Eat It

There's a philosophy that applies equally well to me & my recipes as to toddlers & their boogers. NOM.

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange
This one is valuable more for the technique than the taste (although that too, is very good). Instead of crafting the noodles and sauce separately, you combine them in a skillet shortly before the pasta is al dente. In a sense, the sauce gets cooked in, flavouring each individual noodle and bringing the dish together much better than you could otherwise. Also, it takes literally no time at all; it's effortless deliciousness, no matter what you throw in the sauce. You could simply add pepper and cheese, and it would be to die for.

If you knew this trick already, good for you. If you don't, congratulations, you will never think of pasta dishes the same way again.

ps. homemade pasta rocks
  • salt
  • 12oz egg tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh)
  • 2 Tbs (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2oz thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1min before al dente (about 2min for fresh pasta, longer for dried). Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; sauté until browned, about 3min

Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest, and cream; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until sauce coasts pasta and pasta is al dente, about 1min. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among warm bowls.

Penne with Chocolate, Pistachios, and Goat Cheese
Ok, read this recipe. Right now, just read it. You will probably have the same reaction I did, namely: "...what? what? What the ...what?!" And so on. In my world, such a reaction to a recipe entails cooking it as soon as possible. I mean, come on! You boil your penne in wine, and then smother it in cheese and chocolate! How could you not want to eat that?

The dish works surprisingly well. Disparate flavours meld together to form an elusive yet elaborate taste that left me staring dumbly into my bowl. The catch is that it's very creamy -- so much so that you can't eat more than a medium-small serving before you simply get sick of the texture. Overall, I would qualify this as an unexpectedly impressive dish, but one better suited to fancy dinner parties. All chocolate dinner, anyone?
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 12oz penne
  • 4 cups (1 liter) dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 3oz white chocolate
  • 4oz mascarpone cheese
  • 2oz fresh creamy goat cheese
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 3oz bittersweet chocolate, finely grated // waaay too much. Try 1/2oz
Heat the oil in a small saupan and sauté the onion until just transparent; do not let it color. Add the penne and stir well over medium heat for 2min. (Note: no, I have no idea why we're sautee-ing raw pasta with the onion. Suspect you could skip this.) Pour in the wine and milk and season with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until cooked al dente.

Chop the pistachios coarsely in a food processor. Place the white chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone, goat cheese, and milk. Drain the penne and place in a heated serving bowl. Pour the chocolate sauce over the top and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Toss well. Serve hot with the grated dark chocolate sprinkled over the top.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Celebrating Anonymity (with pie!)

Several weeks ago, I was tapped to take part of a collaborative project between my University's IT dept and the local art museum. In less than a month, we needed to plan, design, and implement some way to present interactive multimedia within their upcoming exhibit on the human form. That, by the way, is a very short and hard deadline to create something completely original, with no amount of previous experience.

After going through designs, initial builds, tests, snafus, bugs, rebuilds, and many cries for help to other departments, everything was up and running on time. I was particularly pleased with the product, given that I played an unusually central role in the project. From research to implementation, and following through with testing and monitoring, I feel like I did the bulk of this project's heavy lifting.

And today, there is recognition! The main news feature on the University's central website is devoted to my project! "Smart exhibit blends art and technology", it reads, "Organizers of Go Figure use touch-screen technology to engage visitors, tell artists’ stories." Organizers...? The article tastefully recounts what moved the exhibit's curator to create the videos, and how my boss was inspired to lead this innovative collaboration. It goes on to chronicle how their boundary-breaking brainchild elucidates the deeper meaning of the works to the average museum goer, granting each a discreet view into the artists' respective thoughts. The two of them felt very privileged to have been part of such a landmark work, and both see many opportunities for this sort of partnership in the future.

I think I might even be mentioned in there. Somewhere. Possibly the phrase "...and others" refers to me. Maybe.

Far be it from me to feel slighted, though! Rather, I am tacitly amused. And I won't deny that they deserve a good helping of credit for what was, despite my ironic posturing, a pretty cool project. But I'm going to extend thanks to some the poor plebes who don't have enough of a title to be publicly recognized: yours truly, for one, who built the thing from ground-up from little more than a photoshop design (and we'll just gloss over the amount of redesigning & debugging it required); one of my department's designers, for creating said design; the University's mobile iOS developer, who originally constructed the pseudo-browser app that we used as a platform to present the media; and finally, the Smart Museum's videographer, who filmed & edited all 19 videos currently on display, side-by-side with the art pieces. These must be thankless jobs: I worked with all of them, and even I don't know all of their names.

So well done, mates. Have some pie. Some crazy pie for a crazy good job on a crazy project.

This pie brought to you courtesy of Bon Appetit's August edition. And let me just say, you should go eat some immediately. It's divine.

Rhubarb-Gingersnap Icebox Pie

for the crust:
  • nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup ground gingersnap cookies (20-30 cookies, depending on brand, ground in a food processor)
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
for the rhubarb compote:
  • 1 cup fruity red wine, such as Shiraz
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 lbs fresh rhubarb, (or frozen rhubarb, thawed,) cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch slices, then crosswise into 1,1/2-inch-long pieces (about 3 cups)
to assemble:
  • 1 quart good-quality vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 Tbs sugar

Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-inch glass or metal pie pan with nonstick spray.

Process cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a good processor until well incorporated. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and drizzle butter over; stir to blend. Pour into prepared dish. Use bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of dish. Bake until crust is deep golden brown, about 12min. Let cool on a wire rack and set aside.

Brine wine, sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a wide pot, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring often, until syrup measures 1 cup, 10-12min. Add rhubarb, increase heat to high, and cook, without stirring and swirling pan occasionally, until compote thickens and syrup is slightly reduced, 4-5min. Slide onto a plate, keeping rhubarb intact. Freeze for 10min to chill quickly.

Chill bowl and paddle attachment of a stand mixer (ie: a spatula) in freezer. Soften ice cream in the refrigerator for 20min. Spoon ice cream into the chilled bowl and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth. Set 1/3 cup compote aside; add remaining compote to ice cream and mix until evenly incorporated. Spoon the ice cream into cooled crust; smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Whip cream, crème fraîche, and sugar in a small bowl just until peaks form. Spoon into center of pie; spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch plain border. Spoon remaining compote onto center of cream. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Let pie stand at room temperature for 10min before serving.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just Because Lee Asked...

Here's the recipe for a cake I made along with the grape & wine pasta. It reminds me a lot of Crans Cake, playing on a similar nut & cream theme. The downside: pistachios are time-consuming to shell and blanch. And by the way, since the frosting is mostly butter (I'm really not kidding), be sure that the cake is completely cool before you try to spread it, else it will simply melt and dribble off. I mean completely cool. I ended up putting mine in the freezer for a few minutes.

Sicilian Pistachio Cake
for the batter:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup blanched pistachios
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1,1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) butter
for the buttercream:
  • 3 large eggs yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 drops pistachio essence (optional) // because everybody has that in their pantry, right?
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs blanched pistachio nuts, slivered or coarsely chopped

The Cake
Set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan with butter and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, 3 Tbs of the sour cream, the vanilla, and almond extract, just until lightly combined.

In a food processor, process the pistachios with the sugar until finely ground but not to a powder.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, the pistachio mixture, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30sec. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1,1/2min. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating for 30sec after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen their structure. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly.

Bake for 35-45min, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10min before removing the pan and allowing it to cool completely.

The Buttercream
In a medium bowl, mix the yolks until light in color.

In a small saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the sugar, syrup, and lemon juice. Using a spatula, stir until all the sugar is moistened. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup begins to boil around the edges. Stop stirring and continue cooking for a few minutes, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil (the entire surface will be covered with large bubbles). Immediately transfer the syrup to a heatproof glass measure (or ceramic bowl) to stop the cooking.

Beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Continue beating for 5min. Let cool completely. To speed cooling, place the bowl in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

When cool, beat in the butter 1 Tbs at a time. The buttercream will not thicken until almost all of the butter has been added. Add the vanilla and pistachio essence (if using), and beat until incorporated.

Use the buttercream at once. Otherwise, place in an airtight container and use up to 4hrs later. If you are keeping it longer, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before using.

The Presentation
When the cake is completely cool, frost the top and sides with swirls of buttercream. Coat the top and sides with the slivered or chopped pistachios.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Food for a Bad Week

I have spent the past week engulfed in melancholy.

Backstory: I was in New York last weekend, visiting friends from college -- you know, the important ones: those who make much of college worthwhile. It was glorious and exhausting and I relished every instant with a profound joy. The trip was touched with a bit of sadness, though; I learned that most of them are... (how to put this delicately?)... not in the best of places right now. Being the nosy nice guy that I am, I want to step in and help, changing the world so that they can have an easier time of it. That's simply not possible, of course, and it infuriates me. As a result, I have spent all my time since then brooding, frustrated and morose.

My mood deteriorated even further when I saw the state of the kitchen upon my return. Not only did it have the usual filthy characteristics that I hate (recycling: overflowed; sink: full of dishes; all surfaces: encrusted with grime), but furthermore, the dishwasher was broken! I realise that as students, we are incredibly spoiled to have this machine. But it is of little use when it refuses to use water. Disgusted, I withdrew to (read: hid in) my room for a few days.

Passive aggressive? Maybe. But you know things are bad in this apartment when I refuse to cook, especially since I'm the one who suffers most from that decision. I get antsy and irritable (if I'm not already) when I can't create anything.

Fortunately, the weekend has witnessed an upturn of sorts. Melancholy has given way to grim determination, somehow fueled by the memory of joy. I've managed to spend a few hours cleaning and running errands, and the dishwasher has reconciled itself with water. Life is getting tolerable again. I haven't made a difference in New York yet; that's next on my To-Do list. Me vs. the Universe. Yeah. Let's do this.

In the meantime, to keep myself distracted and celebrate the returned-to-functional kitchen, I continue to make interesting things. This here is a fascinating pasta dish that I once made a while ago, but didn't blog about it for some reason. If the mix of red wine, grapes, and Italian sausage doesn't grab your interest already, then think about the taste when the grapes macerate in the wine for 8 hours, along with sugar and vinegar. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Take it from me: the result is a delightful mix of sweetness from the fruit, bitterness from the vinegar, and spice from the sausage. And don't be intimidated by the wait; after the overnight maceration, the rest of dish assembles very quickly.

Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes, and Red Wine
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb dried strozzapreti pasta // or whatever type of pasta you happen to have on hand
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1,1/2 lbs Italian sausage (about 4 links, recommended 2 spicy and 2 sweet), casings cut away and meat roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbs chopped parsley
Day 1:
Combine the grapes, wine, sugar, and vinegar in an airtight container, and store in the fridge so that the grapes macerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Day 2:
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

Remove the grape mixture from the fridge, place it in a medium saucepot, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Cook the mixture at a boil until the liquid has reduced by half, about 10min.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the strozzapreti and cook until the pasta is just al dente.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the meat and begin to brown it for about 3-4min, stirring and breaking up the meat as you go.

Add the onion and continue cooking, stirring well, until the sausage and onion have cooked through, about 5-7min.

Add the sage and stir to combine.

Add the grape mixture and stir well.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it (but do not rinse it). Add the pasta to the pot with the grape-and-sausage mixture and cook together so the flavours combine and the pasta cooks a bit more, about 1,1/2min.

Remove the saucepot from the heat and add the butter, cheese, black pepper, and parsley. Sprinkle with more cheese and serve immediately.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fancy Frozen Desserts

Falko continues to taunt me. I respond in kind.

Shamefully, I had never heard of semifreddo before. The Italian concoction (it translates to 'semi-cold'), I am told, is usually made with a mix of gelato and whipped cream, presented as a frozen cake or custard. I'm sure they must get pretty fancy. The one that I found doesn't call for gelato (thankfully), requiring instead simply your own eggs, sugar, and cream. As an added bonus, it is triple-layered; each third composes a radically different (and very accurate) taste. The first gives you a base of green pistachio cream, followed by a pink strawberry layer, and topped with a pure and simple vanilla flavour.

The technique is pretty straightforward in theory, being essentially three parallel processes occurring at the same time. First, you extract the essence of the flavours into milk, then you add beaten eggs and sugar to each, then to you add whipped cream to each, and assemble. It does eventually become time consuming when you have to wait for everything to chill or freeze, though, so it would probably be best to make this long ahead (up to 3 days) of when you intend to serve it.

Serving tips: though you can scoop it out of the loaf pan, I recommend turning it out on a platter and slicing it with a hot knife. It's very presentable, and you get a better cross-section (literally) of the different flavours. It does mean you'll probably have to eat most of it in one sitting, but I doubt many would mind that.

  • 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 4 Tbsp sugar, divided, plus 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries (about 4oz), hulled, halved
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1,1/3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
Line a metal loaf pan (approximately 9*5*3-inches) with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving generous overhang on all sides.

Grind pistachios and 2 Tbs sugar in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer pistachio mixture to a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup milk; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20min. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl; strain, discarding solids. Stir in almond extract; set pistachio mixture aside.

Place remaining 1/2 cup milk in a separate small saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 15min. Set a strainer over another medium bowl; strain, discarding solids, and chill vanilla mixture.

Purée strawberries and 2 Tbs sugar in a food processor until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over another medium bowl; strain, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids. Stir in vanilla extract and set strawberry mixture aside.

Whisk eggs, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Beat egg mixture at high speed until it triples in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 170 degrees, about 3min. Remove bowl from over water and continue beating until thick and cool, about 3min. Add one third of egg mixture to each of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla mixtures; fold each just to blend.

Beat cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add on third of cream to each of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla mixtures; fold each just to blend. Cover vanilla and strawberry mixtures separately; chill. Pour pistachio mixture into pan; smooth top. Cover and freeze until firm, about 45min. Gently pour strawberry mixture over pistachio layer; smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 45min. Gently fold vanilla mixture to blend; pour over and smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 4hrs.

Ice Cream Bonbons
This is fancy and delicious, but before I talk about that, I have two issues with this dessert. First, I dislike the name "bonbon." Bonbon, to me, is the French word for candy -- just simple candy. Tootsie rolls and Hershey's chocolate are bonbons. But when the word is used in American English, it seems the height of presumption: "this thing is so good, we must give it a French name". An inaccurate French name. And frankly, the French are doing excellently well with their own desserts; they don't need this attributed to them.

My apologies. As you might have noticed, the adoption and misuse of foreign languages is a pet peeve of mine.

Secondly, the recipe is a bit of a cheat: it calls for ice cream as an ingredient. So I guess instead of being an alternative to homemade cream, it's more of a fancification of what you already have: a hardened chocolate shell with a center of ice cream and a sprinkling of rock salt. It's kind of complicated to make (you have to work fast), but well worth it if you want to turn store-bought ice cream into a fancy dessert. Besides, it's really tasty.

  • 10 oz extra-dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 oz good-quality white chocolate from a bar, chopped
  • 1 cup finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies
  • 1 pint ice cream // I used mint; they recommend caramel, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, or coffee
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark and white chocolates together. Scrape into a smaller bowl and let cool slightly.

Put the crushed cookies on a small plate. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and place on in the freezer. Fill a cup with ice water.

Working very quickly, scoop a 1-Tbs-size scoop of ice cream, packing it tightly. Transfer it to the melted chocolate. Using a skewer, poke the rounded top of the ice cream and coat the ball in the chocolate. Lift the bonbon, allowing the excess chocolate to drip into the bowl. Dip the bottom of the bonbon in the cookie crumbs and set on the baking sheet. Sprinkle salt on top. Let stand for 10 seconds, then transfer the bonbon to the baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat to form the remaining bonbons; dip the ice cream scoop in the ice water between scoops. Freeze the bonbons until firm, 30min, then serve.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Salads

As I've explained before, I'm not comfortable with salads. Their apparent simplicity intimidates the daylights out of me. I just have no confidence that I can make it taste good -- ridiculous as that may seem. Which is why I was very surprised when I realised I had a craving for one a few days ago. But instead of simply throwing a bunch of greens together and drizzling it with a quick vinaigrette, I had to go and make a project out of it. Tsk. Just like me. I can't just eat something. I have to go and think about it. Higher education at work here, people.

Not that this is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. I probably should have more greens in my diet anyway, if USDA's new nutrition chart is anything to go by... Tangent: was anyone else completely dumbfounded that they didn't think to use a pie chart in the first place? And their recommendations are still difficult to interpret, since they evidently can't even center the design accurately. Moral of the story: if you need a statistics degree to figure out how to eat, USDA's doing it wrong.

Return from tangent: furthermore, that's the exact kind of meal that you would want to have during summer. Fresh, crisp greens with an acid tang; anything else would add to the lethargy you already experience from the heat. Now, personally, I don't think that a salad by itself it enough to constitute an entire meal. A potato salad or a chicken salad, sure. But just a salad? Isn't that kinda... limited?

A question to be explored at a later date. In order to satisfy my craving and food preferences, I uncovered these two recipes, which have temporarily turned the Salad to an accessible summer meal for me.

Chicken Cherry Salad
Obviously, the best way to make a salad more meaty is to add, well, meat. (Duh.) But this one goes a step further by also adding croutons and cherries. Vegetables, protein, starch, fruit -- boom! Full nutritional value in a single dish. I'm waiting for the government to pat me on the head like a good little drone.

Facetiousness aside, I did continue eating this for several days in a row, jealously hiding it from my roommates. It's not as crisp as I expected (maybe I didn't toast the bread fast enough?), but that didn't bother me. In fact, that would have distracted me from the soft texture of the cherries and chicken. The vinaigrette gives everything a pleasant bite (in nice contrast to the cherries' sweetness), especially if you let it all soak it in for a few minutes.

For the Chicken:
  • 6 (2,1/4 lbs) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
For the Salad:
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbs dill, chopped
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 thick slices rustic bread, crusts removed, torn into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 lb fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted, and lightly crushed
  • 3 heads butter lettuce, cored and turned into pieces
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 475, and heat oil in a large cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12min.

Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13min more. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5min longer. Transfer to a plate; reserve the fat.

Whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, dill, honey, and garlic together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir; set aside. Remove the crispy chicken skin and tear into pieces. Do the same with the chicken meat; discard the bones.

Heat the chicken fat over medium heat. Add bread to skillet and toast, turning frequently, until golden and crisp, about 2min. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper while still hot.

Place chicken meat in a large bowl. Add cherries, lettuce, radishes, and chives and drizzle with vinaigrette; toss to coat. Divide salad among plates and garnish with croutons and chicken skin.

Celery, Grape, and Mushroom Salad
Another good way to add meatiness to a dish (minus the meat)? Mushrooms! This is a doubly good recipe for summer because it calls for a grill -- not only for the mushrooms, mind you, but for the grapes as well. What an awesome way to add smokiness to an otherwise fresh and nutty dish! At least, so I imagine. I don't have a grill, so I rely on my broiler. It still tastes excellent, but I will definitely have to make it again when I have earned that essential step on the path to adulthood. NB: if you happen to have unlocked this life achievement already, please make this in its original form and tell me what it's like!

Also, if you want to prove yourself a dork, place the oyster mushrooms on your face and pretend that you're Cthulu.

(...yes, I do such things.)

  • 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs olive oil (plus more for brushing)
  • 1/4 cup almond oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped
  • 1 lb king oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cups (12oz) green grapes
  • 2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • 2 cups very thinly sliced celery
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the lemon juice, celery seeds, mustard and half of the garlic. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the almond oil until emulsified. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

In a food processor, combine the remaining garlic with the parsley, celery leaves and almonds and pulse until finely chopped. Add another 1/4 cup of the olive oil and puree to a chunky paste. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

Light a grill (or heat your broiler). Brush the mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning once, until tender and browned, about 5min. In a bowl, toss the grapes with the remaining 1 Tbs of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until the skins begin to blacken in spots, about 3min; line the grill with perforated foil if the grapes will fall through. Transfer the grapes and mushrooms to a large bowl and toss with the pesto.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and drizzle with half of the dressing. Spoon the mushroom-and-grape salad onto the lettuce. Toss the celery with the remaining dressing, spoon it on top and serve.