Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challange: Spatchcocked Chicken With Potatoes

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challenge is a Facebook Group for people to get together, once a month and cook the same recipe, compare notes and discuss outcomes. It is put together by Mario Bosquez host of "Living Today" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 & XM 157

This month, I had to prepare my recipe on a Thursday since I was stuck working all weekend long.

This month's cooking challenge recipe is Spatchcocked Chicken with Potatoes and is courtesy of Sandy Gluck
, Co-Host of the Everyday Food Radio show on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Sandy is a fantastic and creative chef (she can create a delicious meal out of almost anything!), and fun radio personality. Get 3 different variations of this recipe here: Spatchcocked Chicken

This technique---splitting, then flattening a chicken---yields a perfect roasted chicken in less time than a whole one takes. It also exposes more skin, which crisps up nicely at higher temperatures.

This simple chicken dish utilizes a few basic ingredients and the results are a moist, juicy and flavorful chicken! Ingredients included are a whole chicken (of course), some thin slices of lemon, fresh sprigs of thyme (the first from my herb garden!), some new potatoes & onion.


1. Place 1 whole chicken, breast side down, on a work surface.

2. Starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of backbone with poultry or sharp kitchen shears.

3. Turn chicken around, cut along other side. Discard or save backbone for stock.

4. Flip chicken over and open it like a book. Press firmly on breastbone to flatten.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season the the chicken with salt and pepper. Gently loosen the skin of the breast with your fingers and insert lemon slices and some thyme sprigs. Place chicken in a roasting pan.

In a bowl, toss potatoes, onion, thyme with some olive oil, salt & pepper. Add this to the roasting pan.

Now, we need to take a moment to discuss proper hand washing and cleanliness when handling raw poultry! It's VERY important that you wash hands thoroughly and often, as well as your work area and ALL utensils to limit the spread of harmful bacteria that can be associated with raw poultry!
Of course, I recommend using these great all-natural products from the new Martha Stewart Clean line available at your local Home Depot and other local stores.

Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when pierced between the breast and leg and an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone), which should take about 30 minutes!

Let chicken rest 5 minutes before carving!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding

This recipe comes from New York City's Magnolia Bakery and was developed by the bakery's co-founder, Allysa Torey, who began making this pudding in her early twenties when she was cooking in a Tex-Mex restaurant. When she opened Magnolia Bakery, she thought it would be a great idea to put it on the bakery menu. It remains the second most popular dessert (after their famous cupcakes) at the bakery.

Though it's not difficult to make, this dessert does take some time. Definitely worth the wait as this is insanely delicious and I can see why it's so popular! The recipe is included in a wonderful cookbook by Allysa Torey, "More From Magnolia".

The pudding starts out by mixing together some sweetened condensed milk, ice water and instant vanilla pudding. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight until it is set.

After the pudding mixture has been refrigerated, whip up some heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff. Don't over beat or you'll have a lot of butter on your hands!

Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks remain.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity, like a trifle bowl. Arrange 1/3 of a 12 oz box of Nilla Wafers (no substitutions!), some sliced ripe banana, and 1/3 of the pudding. Repeat this layering twice more, garnishing the top with additional Nilla Wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours! Serve and enjoy!
Why not make this and bring to a BBQ or picnic this summer and you'll be the hit of the party!

Click here for more information on The Magnolia Bakery!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Bread Pudding

To me, nothing says Spring like fresh Rhubarb and strawberries tell me summer is just around the corner!

Although many people enjoy the two in pies, and other sweet treats, this bread pudding is sure to please everyone! And don't worry about calories when enjoying this dessert; it's made up of many healthy ingredients!

4 large egg whites
4 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
4 cups of whole-grain bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6-8 slices or 8 oz.)
2 cups of roughly broken Ginger-Snap cookies
2 cups of quartered strawberries
1 cup of diced rhubarb
1/4 chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, lightly toasted.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 11" x 7" glass baking dish or a 2 quart casserole or you can spray lightly with a non-stick cooking spray.

To prepare the custard: Whisk together the egg whites, eggs and milk. Add sugar, vanilla & orange zest. Whisk to combine.

In another large bowl, toss together the bread, Gingersnaps, strawberries, rhubarb and nuts.

Add the custard mixture and toss to coat everything well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact it. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the custard has set. About 40-45 minutes.

While that's baking, throw together this quick streusel topping: Mix together 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup oats, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of canola oil.
After the bread pudding has baked for 40-45 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly across the top of the bread pudding. Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes until the pudding has puffed and is golden on top.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before serving! This is great served warm, or at room temperature! Enjoy this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Grilled Lamb T-Bones with Fava Bean Salad

About a year ago Iron Chef and Restaurateur, Michael Symon, visited Detroit's Eastern Market for a cooking demo. I was very excited to be able to attend this event. The dish he prepared was Grilled Lamb T-Bones with a Spring Vegetable Salad. It was a recipe included in his then forthcoming book, "Michael Symon's Live To Cook: Recipes and Techniques To Rock Your Kitchen".

Now I have never eaten lamb, ever, but this dish looked so good I really wanted to try it. Unfortunately, at the time, I had to wait until the release of his book, which wasn't until November of that year, then had to wait until Spring rolled around as the recipe included fava beans and asparagus, and fresh fava's weren't available in the market until mid-April.

After waiting a year, I finally get to try this recipe. Aside from the lamb t-bones, or lamb loin chops as they may be labeled, the recipe includes a wonderfully fresh tasting salad made up of fresh fava beans, asparagus, a few chilies (for a speck of heat), fresh mint, garlic, kalamata olives and feta cheese.

Note, the chilies that are called for in the recipe are pickeled "Fresno" chilies. These were extremely hard to find in my area. Serrano Chilies are an acceptable substitute and were even found pickeled in the Mexican Food section of my supermarket!

First thing to do is season the lamb t-bones with a combination of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, toasted coriander seeds (crushed), red pepper flakes and sugar. You season both sides, cover them and refrigerate for 24 hours.

When the lamb is ready, grill them on a hot grill pan (or a hot charcoal grill outdoors), for about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
While the lamb is grilling mix together all the salad ingredients, and dress with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper.
When the lamb is ready, plate 2 t-bones per person and top with the salad.
Now, this being my first time tasting lamb I was very pleased with the results and the dish was as delicious as I thought it would be! Many people told me lamb would have a "gamey" taste. Honestly, I thought it tasted like a grilled steak. Excellent Spring or Summer dinner!