Fried Chicken Goodness

Friday night I decided I would make fried chicken this weekend. Having always used the simple approach espoused by Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle (shake pieces with seasoned flour in a paper bag, then let stand for 30 mins to set), the last time I decided that that wasn’t *quite* right. It just never got that thick but perfectly flaky crust that you get when you have the “right” fried chicken (like what I’ve had from Price’s Chicken Coop).

I also have never found that chicken soaked in buttermilk (at some other restaurants I’ve tried which have been touted as “the best fried chicken in town!”) seemed to be any better than when it isn’t soaked overnight (which takes way too much forethought), I *did* want to soak the chicken in some sort of brine for a little while, and I also wanted to get some buttermilk in there somewhere.

So, Here’s the resulting recipe, a hybrid of other recipes I found in the wild. Thanks mainly to Bon Apetit and Tyler Florence.  I took TyFlo’s brining technique and combined it with Bon Ap’s crust technique.

Served mine tonight with a version of Roasted Cream Corn.  I roast my jalapenos (pretty much every night) by placing them on the floor of a 350+ degree oven, and it works perfectly.  Why not use that same technique with corn?  Works like a champ.

Served also with boiled buttered (kerrygold only please!!) greenbeans.  Yum!

Wish I had a picture.  Oh well, next time.  And there*will* be a next time.

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

Serves 3- 4

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 3—4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: A deep-fry thermometer

Put the chicken pieces into a large bowl. Cover the chicken with water by 1 inch; add 1 tablespoon of salt for each quart of water used. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.  Remove from brine and shake off excess water.

Let chicken stand at room temperature for 1 hour (after the first 20 mins, sprinkle on kosher salt, cayenne and paprika to taste).

Whisk buttermilk, egg, and ½ cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10″—12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of ¾”. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1—2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°—325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


wheat-free oatmeal pancakes!

ok, so i’ve given up wheat products since march 2013, and, while i’ve lost 15 pounds in the last 2.5 months (40 pounds since I started this journey back in 2011), I don’t know that I can contribute it so much to going wheat-free as to working out constantly, tracking calories and fitness with myfitnesspal, intermittent fasting, and just generally watching things I eat*. I will say, however, that by cutting out wheat, my goal of a flat tummy has been realized!

sooo…now that i’m seeing a great deal of need to cut out as many calories as possible, sometimes I will try something new. I got an email from eat this not that that linked to an oatmeal pancake recipe that didn’t have any wheat flour. intriguing! that recipe had cottage cheese in it, but i couldn’t find that one again 😦 oh well.

i found this one, however.

I have to say, with some blueberries and a little maple syrup. these were damn good. i’d make em again. and so darn easy too.

give em a try!

* by the way, no, I’m not gluten-intolerant and i’m not eating gluten-free. all that stuff still has too many calories in it! also, I have eaten a roll or 2 and a cookie here and there. oh, and sticky toffee pudding in the UK. but ya just gotta!!

Dinner at Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern

Last night grandma watched little Knox while mom and I saw Toy Story 3 (so many tears!) and then had dinner at TyFlo’s (that’s Tyler Florence to you non-food network-watching SF-restaurant-scene-watching) new Wayfare Tavern in SF’s Financial District. Having read Eater SF’s post describing the place as “packed to the gills every night” since it’s opening 6 weeks ago, I knew that if we were going to have any chance at all, we’d better get there at 5pm on the dot, if not 4:45.

We got there at 4:58 I think cuz there were a handful of people waiting outside the door, which was still locked. I parked right in front (yay FiDi!) and we all ambled inside when the door opened. I sent Andi to the bar to get a seat, and she was only able to get the 2 weird seats that were not barstools. Hard to explain without picture.

Anyway, I asked for a table and they sat us right away, tucked away in back, right by the kitchen. It turned out to be a great table.

The warm tones in the brick and dark wood evoke a nostalgic Americana, which I’m sure he was going for.

The first thing they bring you is a cheese popover, it’s light airyness giving it the properties of a balloon. Very delicious with butter.

After much hemming and hawing, and a lot of the waiter’s help, we decided on the menu. So much we wanted to try, but we also wanted to get a good idea of the overall menu without duplicating elements, like figs or eggs, which show up in many places.

We knew we wanted oysters, and the mignonette and cocktail sauce together made a delightful rich and zingy foil to the smooth creaminess of the miyagi, kumo, and skookum oysters below them.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of our appetizers, which consisted of the roasted marrow bone, which came as a large bone sliced vertically through it, so you didn’t have to dig into it, served with a veal demi toast. Along with that was the steak tartare, which had a delicious herbiness to it.

For mains, Andi had the duck 4 ways, which was 1) duck breast, 2) duck confit, 3) duck sausage, and 4) a duck egg, plus fig and frisee.

They were all pretty amazing, but Andi thought the duck breast was the weakest part of the dish.

I had the steak and eggs, which combined two perfectly mediumrare filet mignon medallions with a creamy sweet béarnaise with poached eggs and a lovely bath of jus.

add to this mix a side of cold roasted beets with sea salt, and you have a perfect main course.

for dessert, while we probably could have gotten away with just one, I insisted we have two because it would have been unthinkable to not get the TCHO dish. so we settled on that + the pineapple upside down cake, which did not disappoint.

nor were we disappointed with the chocolate story, which delighted with it’s crunchy chocolatey caramelly goodness, if not just a little on the rich side.

as for drinks, we started off with delicious cocktails, andi with a pisco punch of sorts and me with a gin grapefruit concoction that worked quite well. from there we moved on to a half bottle of an Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir from Santa Maria, followed by a Paraduxx blend (perfect with the rich mains), and finished off (by me) with a wagayama scotch whiskey from japan, which I first tried in Chicago. it truly gives Scotland a run for it’s money. sorry guys, it’s true!

all the while, Mr. Florence was in the kitchen, expediting orders and truly working, much more than one would expect. at least me.

at the end of the meal, i had the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed the meal, and he shook my hand enthusiastically and thanked me in what seemed like a very genuine way.

all in all I say that I don’t think we could have enjoyed our meal any more than we did, and not only will we be back, I would heartily recommend this place to anyone.

thanks Tyler Florence! way to knock it out if the park!!

Roasted Strawberries!!?!

Can’t wait to try this…

Roasted Strawberries
Adapted from Michelle Polzine, Range
from Tasting Table SF

Makes about 1 cup

• 2 baskets strawberries
• 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200°. Fill a large bowl with water. Add the berries and toss them in the water gently to clean. Drain and dry with paper towels or a dish towel.
2. Hull each strawberry with a sharp paring knife.
3. If the berries are especially small, leave them whole. If not, cut each in half.
4. In a bowl, toss the berries with 1⁄4 cup sugar. The berries should look slightly moist. If not, add more sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until they take on a glossy appearance.
5. Place the berries in a glass baking pan that is small enough that the berries fit snugly. Roast for about 21⁄2 hours, until the berries shrink considerably and become chewy. (The larger the berries, the longer they take to cook.)
6. Serve as a topping for ice cream or as the filling for a tart or shortcakes.

The Diamond Exchange: Synopsis

Here’s the synopsis of Andi and my first novel, The Diamond Exchange. Big shout out to Janelle Brown for her help punching it up!

The Diamond Exchange (112,000-words), is a work of historical fiction in the vein of The Red Violin which follows a mysterious heirloom diamond engagement ring through 150 years of history.

Sasha and Erik, a young couple in modern-day San Francisco, finally locate the perfect engagement ring in a quirky antique store. Something about the ring draws Sasha to it, and it even has their initials engraved on the band. When her Grandfather recognizes that this ring is actually a family heirloom – her own family heirloom, lost for decades when his wife Beth, Sasha’s Grandmother, disappeared — Sasha is plunged into a mystery spanning across generations.

The Diamond Exchange follows the history of this ring all the way back to the South African miner who digs up the stone in 1879 and is captivated by its beauty. Sold to a jeweler, the diamond ends up in the hands of Samual Loft, a successful Texas railroad man who fashions it into a ring for his bride, Edna. When Samual loses Edna in the great Galveston storm of 1900, he painfully decides to make the ring a family heirloom, to be passed down through generations.

The story continues to follow the lives of the Loft family members through the Texas oil boom, World War II, and the innocence of the 1950s, before the ring finally ends up in Sasha and Erik’s hands. Written in a non-linear narrative style that unspools the story of the Loft family over time, The Diamond Exchange explores the family history that the ring has dredged up along with its reappearance. Will Sasha and Erik find out what happened to Sasha’s grandmother Beth, whose absence has haunted Sasha’s grandfather for decades? Will Sasha’s constant dreams of her grandmother bring her any closer to the truth?

OMMFG! The best beef stew recipe evar!

This thing takes about 3.5 hours all told, including all the prep work, etc, but it’s all in little spurts, with plenty of time to be doing other things while this thing stews in the oven. AND I got to use chives from the garden, yay! The timing for getting the beef to be super tender is spot on.

This is THE BEST stew I have ever made, maybe that I’ve ever had. Makes a bunch, enough to freeze or have lots of friends over. Enjoy!

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

adapted from Bon Appetit, March 1999

serves 6-8


For stew

4 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons peanut oil

4 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped
3 cups finely chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 cup merlot or other full-bodied red wine
1 14 1/2-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added purée

6 medium carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 medium rutabaga, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 parsnip, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium turnip, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
20 pearl onions (one package), blanched
1/4 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder

For dumplings

2/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch


Make stew:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Pat beef dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook beef until brown, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Transfer meat to bowl.

Add bacon to same pot. Sauté until crisp, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine and 4 cups canned beef broth and crushed tomatoes with purée. Cover and bring to simmer.

Transfer pot to oven. Bake until beef is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Add carrots, root vegetables, pearl onions, and mushrooms. Cover; bake until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover; add chipotle powder and stir well. Bake until beef is very tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare dumplings:
Whisk milk and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Stir in chives and parsley. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Add milk mixture. Stir just until blended. Don’t stir too much.

Whisk remaining 1/2 cup canned beef broth and cornstarch in small bowl to blend. Bring stew to simmer over medium heat. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into stew. Return stew to simmer, stirring until sauce thickens.

Drop dumpling batter in 12 tablespoon dollops atop simmering stew. Cover tightly; simmer until dumplings are puffed and tester inserted into center of dumplings comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Serve stew with dumplings.