tangy roasted chicken, salt-rubbed potatoes, blueberry cobbler

***in which i learn that water and wine makes a good substitute for chicken stock, and that i will eat any dough, anytime, anywhere***

As a devout follower of Top Chef, I have to admit that Chicago chef Koren Grieveson didn't impress me much with her demeanor on the show - remember her, the expressionless young woman who headed up the "beer pairing quickfire" on Season 4? But, the African-born chef is now featured in Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" issue, and the marinade on her "Tangy Roasted Chicken Thighs" sounded quite good - and most importantly, featured ingredients that I often have in my kitchen.

So I decided to give her another go. Maybe, just maybe, her personality comes out in her cooking, instead of her face. And the marinade was quite good - not earth-shattering, but pretty good nonetheless.

I had two bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in the fridge, so I used them instead of thighs for this recipe, and they worked well.

Tangy Roasted Chicken Thighs (from Food & Wine, July 2008)

4 large garlic cloves
One 1/4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chicken stock

2 pounds chicken (either thighs or breasts, bone-in, skin-on)

1. Pulse the garlic and ginger in a mini food processor until chopped. Add the paprika and lemon juice, and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the chicken, cilantro, scallion, parsley and olive oil, and toss to coat.
3. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for about 3 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 375. Heat some vegetable, canola or olive oil in a skillet.
5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and place in hot skillet, skin side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until browned.
6. Turn the chicken and add chicken stock (I was out of chicken stock, so I added 1/4 cup water and a splash of white wine. It was delicious this way!).
7. Place pan in oven and roast the chicken about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

I served this with some simple Yukon Gold potatoes, which I scrubbed, coated with olive oil, rubbed with grey sea salt and baked, and some sweet corn. I wanted to grill the corn, but the downpours outside made it impossible - in fact, I think the chicken would be pretty good on the grill as well. It was a pretty delicious marinade, and I think next time I'll make a quick pan gravy with the drippings to serve over the chicken.


But I've got to tell you about dessert. Flipping through the pages of Real Simple, I came across a recipe for blueberry cobbler that looked like heaven in a pie plate. And it was. And true to the magazine's philosophy, it was actually REAL SIMPLE.

Blueberry Cobbler - from Real Simple, July 2008

2 pints bluberries (use wild blueberries if you can find 'em)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (I was too lazy to grate lemon zest, so I skipped this. It was fine.)
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream (I only had 1% milk, so I added some melted butter to it to thicken. It turned out fine!)

1. Heat oven to 375. In a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish or pie plate, toss blueberries with sugar and flour.

2. In a medium bowl, combine baking powder, salt, flour, lemon zest and sugar.

3. Add the butter and use your fingers (or two knives) to blend until coarse crumbs form. Then add the cream and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

4. Drop mounds of dough haphazardly over the blueberries, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve with additional cream for drizzling, or whipped cream, OR vanilla ice cream.

boneless bbq ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, purple potatoes and corn

***in which i learn that brining is a very good thing indeed, and hoisin sauce provokes a visceral reaction of disgust deep in my soul***

I've really got to learn to slow my roll when it comes to cooking on the grill - especially pork. I'm sure many of us remember the pork chops from our childhood: gray, parched and floppy, I always thought pork tasted like an ashtray. I'm not trying to call out my Mom here, but suffice it to say that nobody ever asked for pork chops when I was growing up (Mom's lasagna, though, is a completely different story).

Watching Alton Brown extol the virtues of brining made me curious about exactly how much better brined meat actually is. An informal poll of some friends yielded mixed results - "too salty", "too salty", "too salty" and "oh my god, it was awesome". So I decided to try it for myself.

I had some boneless pork ribs that I picked up at Wegman's for something like $3, a great price for a really uninspired cut of meat. I filled a medium-sized bowl with about 3 cups of water, a healthy dose of kosher salt, and a few tablespoons of white sugar, and let my pork sit overnight. I admit that I probably went a little easy on the salt, as it was my first time and experience has shown me that overdoing things doesn't usually work to my benefit (see the hoisin sauce debacle below).


I've been making my own barbecue sauce for months now. It's easy, quick, and best of all, you can make it the way YOU want it - like a healthy dose of honey? Done. Prefer thin and vinegary? You've got it.

I've been loyal to a recipe from Everyday Food, which makes a sweet and tangy sauce, but for some reason I decided to try an Ina Garten recipe this time around, which I found at Smitten Kitchen.

And I learned my first lesson of the day: I don't like hoisin sauce. and more to the point, I probably should have smelled it before I dumped a whole cup of it into my sauce, because even the smell of hoisin sauce makes me grimace and gag. Who knew? I have very rarely met an Asian ingredient that I didn't like.

So here is the BBQ sauce recipe I ended up using, and it's a good one, modified slightly to my taste:

Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Great Food Fast)

1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 minced garlic cloves (or a heaping spoonful of minced garlic in olive oil)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha (or any hot sauce)

Simmer all ingredients together in a small sauce pan until reduced to about 1 and 1/4 cups (about 5 to 7 minutes).

I turned one side of the grill to high, and the other to medium low, seasoned the pork with sea salt and pepper, and first got a nice sear on it on the hot side of the grill. Then moved it to the low side and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes before I started basting. Because of the high sugar content of the sauce, you don't want to baste too early because the sauce will burn.


I came across purple potatoes at Wegman's the other day, and they instantly triggered a flashback to a purple potato recipe I saw at (again) Smitten Kitchen. The colors jumped out at me from the page (go check out her photos, they are to die for!), and I decided to go for it.

Here's the recipe:

Michael Anthony’s Fork-Crushed Purple Majesty Potatoes
New York Magazine

Serves 4

1 lb. Purple Majesty Potatoes, washed
4 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil (we used half, and it was plenty for us)
Fleur de sel to taste
White pepper to taste
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

In a large pot, cook potatoes with skins on in heavily salted boiling water until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Remove potatoes from pot, and peel them while still warm. Place potatoes in a large bowl and, using a fork, gently smash them, maintaining a fairly chunky consistency. Fold in minced shallots, lemon juice, olive oil, fleur de sel, and white pepper. Finish with parsley.

I thought these were fantastic, but Scott didn't really like the lemony flavor to them.


I served the ribs and the potatoes with sweet baby corn, a slice of crisp watermelon, and a side salad of heirloom tomatoes, baby english cucumber, red onion, crumbled blue cheese and my favorite salad dressing/marinade EVER: Garlic Expressions.

It may have been the most colorful meal ever. And I'm officially now a brining convert - that was some of the juiciest pork I've ever had! A perfect summer meal which went beautifully with an ice-cold Corona (then again, what DOESN'T?!).