In/Out

4 Mar

I love eating in. And if you’re here, you probably like eating in, too.

West Village Reflection

But, I really only like eating dinner in. I’m not one of those people that enjoys rolling out of bed and brewing a pot of coffee while poaching eggs and toasting bread. Nope. And I’m not into crafting composed salads and delicate sandwiches for lunch either. Uhuh. That, my friends, is why god created restaurants!

The weekends are our time to explore all the culinary goodness New York City has to offer. Recently I’ve lunched on a Hangtown Fry at Stone Park Cafe, the most succulent and tender ginger-slicked cuttlefish at Lucky Eight, cheese bureks at Djerdan, thin, pliable waffles with salty butter and lingonberry jelly at Nordic Delicacies, kimchi-filled dumplings at Mandoo Bar, avgolemono and halloumi, cucumber soup and sauerkraut salad and mahogany-lacquered squid tentacles.

The Other Side, Flatiron Building

Our weekend lunches are often the highlight of my week. We’ll plan entire outings around them. But this world of food at our feet can sometimes cause trouble.

It is exceedingly rare that we both wake up craving the same food. And so a gentle negotiation must take place. Sometimes feelings get hurt or toes get stepped on, but the belly always wins, because no matter who’s cuisine reigns supreme, lunch is always delicious.

Midtown Apartment Building

And so, on Sunday, when I woke up with a serious culinary itch that needed scratching, it was nice to realize that very little cajoling would be necessary to get Isaac to accompany me to Miriam in Park Slope for crispy dough, shakshuka and labneh. It must have been this ridiculous, hilarious short film full of silly songs about hummus we watched the night before that put the idea in my head. Israeli food is so good.

The problem is, it seems that all of Brooklyn has come to this conclusion as well. The place was packed. You couldn’t have wedged another body or Bugaboo in there. I was gutted. My head was stuffy and I had acquired a wicked, hacking cough somewhere and all I could think about was their addictive, mysteriously green harissa. But it was obvious it wasn’t meant to be. So we walked out, sadly, and wandered down the block for seriously mediocre “Mexican” food.

The UN

But all was not lost. After a stop at Bierkraft for cheese and beer, we went home, where Isaac made chicken stock from the chicken carcass I had pot-roasted the night before while I convalesced on the couch. He had gone to the store and picked up jalapenos, cilantro and limes. He was planning to use them to flavor the strained stock to make a Mexican chicken soup.

But, that’s what I’d had for lunch. Granted, it was impressively mediocre, but still, I was craving something with intense flavors, so I suggested he use them to make a bastardized pistou. That way we could each flavor our bowl to an appropriate degree and the flavors would be fresh and punchy.

MexiMoroccan Chicken Soup

So he did, and it was wonderful; a spicy, tart, zingy cross between salsa verde and Miriam’s fiery harissa. It was just what the doctor ordered and completely erased our unfortunate lunch from my memory.

There’s a multitude of reasons I prefer eating dinner at home. No need to make reservations, no waiting for an overbooked table at an overcrowded bar, no need to listen to another person’s conversation, no waitrons rushing dessert, but most importantly there’s the chance to make unintended culinary discoveries.

MexiMoroccan Chicken Soup

Oh, and the wine is cheaper.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Isaac’s MexiMoroccan Chicken Soup and a bit about Pot-Roasted Chicken.

MexiMoroccan Chicken Soup

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: 30 minutes

For the Soup:

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • leftover Chicken meat
  • 2 handfuls Middle Eastern Shaghira pasta or Spanish Fideo pasta or Angel Hair pasta broken into 1 inch lengths
  • a large head Spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

For the pistou:

  • a small handful of Cilantro leaves, washed and picked
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • Jalapenos, seeded, to taste (we would recommend 2-3)
  • Limes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Heat a small glug of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until just becoming golden. Turn off the heat, wait until the oil stops sizzling and add the chicken stock. Add the bay leaf and chicken meat, turn the heat back on and bring to a simmer.

While the soup is simmering, place the cilantro, garlic and jalapenos into a small food processor (like the kind that comes with most immersion blenders), add the juice of one lime and some olive oil. Process to a sauce-like consistency and taste. Add more lime juice or olive oil or cilantro or garlic or jalapenos to suit your palate. Keep doing this until you achieve something you love. Season with salt.

Just before eating, add the noodles and spinach to the soup. Simmer until the noodles are tender. Turn off the heat and ladle into bowls. Serve with a lime wedge on the side and the MexiMoroccan pistou to flavor. Enjoy!

A Pot-Roasted Chicken

It’s been over a year since I last talked about this chicken, and that is a shame. I was reminded back in January of how foolproof, easy and delicious this recipe is by Izzy’s Mama. And she’s right, you can tinker with it until the cows come home, and it will always come out just right. And the skin! Oh the skin! So amazing. Burnished and crispy and ever so delicious.

Perfect Pot-Roasted Chicken

So I’m going to give you the recipe for my latest version of the Perfect Pot-Roasted Chicken in the hopes that if you too have chicken issues, we can sort that out straight away.

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: 1 hour 35 minutes

  • 1 medium Chicken, rinsed
  • a dozen Pearl Onions, topped, tailed and peeled
  • a dozen cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 Cauliflower, cut into florettes
  • fresh Sage, Rosemary and Tarragon, washed
  • 3 Lemons, halved
  • Dry Vermouth
  • Sherry Vinegar
  • about 1 tbsp room temperature Butter with a clove or two of pressed Garlic worked into it
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • a handful or two of fresh, frozen Pink-Eyed Cow Peas or any other sort of small, delicious bean, so long as they are fresh, not dried
  • 2-3 cups frozen Corn (preferably some corn leftover from the summer, cut fresh off the cob)

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Toss the onions, garlic, 4 lemon halves and all the cauliflower into your largest oven-proof dutch oven. Add a few chopped sage leaves and the leaves off of a few sprigs of rosemary. Pour over a very large glug of dry vermouth and a wee dash of sherry vinegar.

Add a handful each of the tarragon, sage, rosemary and one of the lemon halves to the chicken’s cavity. Rub the garlic butter all over the chicken and under the skin if you can. Season very liberally with salt and pepper. Place the chicken into the dutch oven on top of the vegetables. Pour over a glug of olive oil. Put the lid on the dutch oven and transfer to the oven.

Roast, covered for 1 hour.

After an hour, carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven, and then carefully remove the lid from the dutch oven. Scatter the peas or beans around the chicken and stir into the liquid surrounding. Place the dutch oven back into the oven and allow to roast uncovered for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the deepest part of the chicken (near the thigh) send only clear juices to the surface (if your chicken is exceptionally large, it may need a few minutes longer).

Turn off the oven and carefully remove the dutch oven to a burner. Remove the chicken and place on a plate to rest. Turn the burner on, bring the remaining liquid to a simmer and add the corn. Cook just until the corn is heated through. Turn off the burner. Carve the chicken and serve over polenta with a spoonful or two of the vegetables. Enjoy!

Polenta with Pink-Eyed Cow Peas

20 Responses to “In/Out”

  1. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) March 4, 2008 at 11:14 am #

    I agree about eating in/out. I seldom eat out for the food — usually it’s for the relaxation, the service, the not having to do dishes or clean up after my own cooking mess. But I hate waiting on line, hate having to plan ahead and make reservations, and often would rather graze from among several “cuisines” in my fridge. So you can imagine that your cross-cultural pistou is very appealing to me!

  2. Jennifer Hess March 4, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    I could dive right into that lovely soup, but what really got my heart fluttering was your mention of kimchi stuffed dumplings… which might be the perfect combination of two of my most favorite things!

  3. Drink, Memory March 4, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    I agree, dinner in is less stressful and the wine is definitely cheaper! Very important! When Richard and I go out, it is usually for lunch on the weekend. I like to cook dinner, but lunch..that’s most of the day spent cooking.

    I look forward to trying my hand at the MexiMoroccan soup and your version of pot roasted chicken. Can you believe it, I don’t own a dutch oven?! It’s my next big purchase, though, and will surely be an improvement from my worn out roaster pan. Thanks for the recipes and the inspiration!
    -Memoree

  4. Ann March 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    That soup looks heavenly. Kinda like my pozole with pasta instead of hominy and pistou instead of tomatilla salsa! Yum!

    Looking at your photos today reminds me of a favorite artist, David Leonard (http://www.davidleonardpaintings.com/index.html).

  5. ann March 5, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    Lydia — Grazing across cuisines. That’s a great way of putting it. I wish it was easy to get great service at reasonably priced restaurants in New York, but oftentimes it isn’t, and even when you do find, it’s usually ruined by a fellow New Yorker. Yeah, I think I’ll just eat in tonight ;-)

    Jenn — Ooooooooh! You have to go to Mandoo Bar! They have kimchi-stuffed dumplings, and give you little bowls of endless kimchi and kimchi flavored radishes and then they have all these other delicious kimchi things. It’s like kimchi nirvana! It’s the only reason to ever plan to go to Macy’s on the weekend!

    Memoree — They often have them for a good price at the Century 21 up on 86th Street. You’re right though, while cooking all day can be fun, a girl still needs to get out of the house sometime, right?

    Ann — Ooooh, Ann! Those paintings are gorgeous! Sometimes I wish I could paint, it would be so much easier than taking photos, and then you can add things and subtract things at will. No dealing with the pesky “real world.” Thanks for the link. And I love your pozole recipe. It’s one of my favorite soups ever in the world!

  6. K March 5, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    A-men, sister. Eating in is where it’s at. And the mark-up on wine at restaurants is sinister and evil and not to be tolerated. When we go out, we try to hit up the places in town that are BYOB; the corking fee is nominal, usually $5, and so worth it. Do you have BYOBs up there? Please say yes!

  7. Lisa (Homesick Texan) March 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    I’ve been working my way through Queens in search of decent Mexican–though, as I’m sure you know, it’s an elusive thing. What’s the name of the place y’all went to this weekend in Brooklyn (so I know to avoid it)?

  8. Terry B March 5, 2008 at 3:58 pm #

    As much as I like lunch out, there’s almost something luxurious to me about getting to spend time in the kitchen during the day. And when the food that comes out of the kitchen is as wonderful as Isaac’s soup or your chicken, that’s tough to beat.

    By the way, until today, I’d lived my entire life without ever hearing of shakshuka. Now, suddenly today, I’ve read about it two places. Besides the thing itself sounding delicious, now I’ve got a whole new technique to explore—cooking eggs by nestling them into a sauce. Wow.

  9. Virginia March 5, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    Crazy though it sounds, I can’t wait for the farmer behind the CSA I just joined to start delivering some old stewing chickens so I can make a proper chicken soup. I am bookmarking this recipe for the first old hen…..

  10. ann March 6, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    K — $5 corkage!?!? Oh man, I need to come to Texas! Corkage here can be well over $20. *sigh* But then again, we don’t have any parks named George Bush Park, so maybe I’m okay with $20 corkage (just kidding, but I looked at the link to that Phoenicia store and saw that big green blob called GB Park and I almost snarfed my tea).

    Lisa(HT) — Oh please, don’t worry, you would never go to this place. Normally I wouldn’t either, but I was just too hungry and too in need of spice to walk further. It’s called Los Pollitos and it’s horrific, but, it had tables available on Sunday at 2pm. Ya gots to take what ya gots to take.

    Terry — Oooooh! I’m so happy to be part of a shakshouka meme. It is amazing! And yeah, that whole idea of “poaching” eggs in sauce is bloody genius. And delicous. Never forget delicious!

    Virginia — I’ve always wondered where to get a stewing hen, of a rooster suitable for coq au vin. I wish there was a CSA here in Bay Ridge. Maybe I should do something about that…

  11. Mary Coleman March 6, 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    The soup looks divine, but I think that chicken looks like sheer heaven!!
    Dinner at home is the best time of the whole day! A nice glass of wine, a dog’s ear to scratch, maybe a fire in the fireplace and the two of us cooking together. Can’t beat it!.
    Great post!

  12. ann March 7, 2008 at 7:37 am #

    Mary — Oh sure, you just had to rub in the bit about a dog’s ear to scratch, didn’t you? Just kidding, but do give the dog an extra little scritch under the chin for me. I wish I had a dog!

  13. michelle March 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    ooh, i want that chicken. i love soup, but a good roasted chicken, with beautiful crispy skin? possibly the best thing ever.

  14. Ulla March 7, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    Your photography is amazing!
    I love all the textures of new york, and the food!

  15. Ellen March 8, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    Just found a lovely slideshow of walking in England via the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/mar/08/yorkshire.walkingholidays. It is good for listening and lovely photography. There is an article as well as slideshow.

  16. Robin March 9, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    I love dinners in too. I think the only time Jim and I go out to dinner lately is when one of our parents are paying!

    Your pot roast chicken sounds amazing. And right on time to be added onto my meal-plan for the week!

  17. ann March 10, 2008 at 7:52 am #

    Michelle — The skin comes out sooooo crispy when cooked this way. And if you use the compound garlic butter? Ridiculous. Crispy and garlicky. So good!!

    Ulla — I’ve becomes obsessed with the textures lately. It’s like, all of a sudden, someone flipped a switch in my brain and et, voila! I was noticing something I’ve never seen before. I love your lamb picture still. That’s the cutest lamb EVER.

    Ellen — Ooooh, thanks for sharing. That’s wonderful.

    Robin — If you try it, I hope you love it. My parents live too far away to pick up the tab as often as I’d like. You’re lucky :-)

  18. Toni March 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m so with you on eating in, rather than out. I agree with Lydia’s comment – that eating out is a great way to take a break from cleaning up the kitchen!

    And that soup? Oh…..love, love, love it! Anything that mixes up cultures and cures a cold at the same time has my vote!

  19. andrea March 28, 2008 at 8:06 pm #

    I love this blog. I’ve never commented before, but I simply had to agree with your love of lebneh and hummus. However, one small point: it’s definitely not Israeli food. That’s eastern Mediterranean, through and through. Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, etc all had this food way before 1948!

  20. ann March 28, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    Andrea — Point well made, and many thanks for the reminder. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. That makes me happy!

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