Spring Cookies – The perfectly flaky picnic treat!

Spring cookies

It’s Friday, Spring, (yay!), and I accomplished the following things:

  • Spent more time in the kitchen than I have in a while (be on the lookout for more recipes soon!)
  • Turned a neglected piece of land into a (potentially) thriving vegetable garden.
  • Slept for more than 7 hours in one night.
  • And watched (again) obscene amount of The Great British Baking Show.
Spring cookies dough

While the first three seem more note-worthy than the last, the creation of this recipe for flaky Spring Cookies would suggest otherwise. If you remember this episode, the bakers are asked to make a French cookie called an arlette- a flaky, homemade puff pastry sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and rolled flat to produce a buttery, crisp cookie. So… take those GBBS arlette cookies and combine them with strawberry powder and Spring colored sugar (my daughter’s fave at the moment) then you get these tasty spring cookies as a result.

Note: these cookies are not for the faint of heart or those lacking in time. Puff pastry can be a frustrating dough to work with. But I promise, if you follow this recipe and don’t cut corners, you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it can actually be. Trust me, you got this.

The first step in building a reliable (and easy) puff pastry dough is actually building an inverse puff pastry dough. The classic method for puff pastry consists of a slab of butter, wrapped in dough, and folded multiple times. This produces a beautifully flakey (leafy), buttery textured cookie. However, this process can be fickle.  If not handled properly the butter can melt into the dough, eliminating the chance to create those beautiful layers.

 The inverse version, though, wraps the dough in a chilled butter-flour paste instead. While it sounds like a messy process (butter on the outside??) the flour adds strength to the butter making it shockingly easy to handle. As a result, both versions produce a flaky pastry but the inverse method not only gives the cookie a little more structure (great for rolling in sugar and maintaining its shape while its being manipulated), but also acts sort of like a safety net when rolling out the multiple layers.  This inverse method ensures a flaky bake every time.

Print Recipe
Springtime Cookie
This flaky, buttery cookie is rolled with festive Springtime colors and packs a lovely strawberry punch. It's the perfect picnic treat!
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 2.5 hours
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Dough
Butter Paste
Filling
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 2.5 hours
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Dough
Butter Paste
Filling
Instructions
  1. Put the flours, salt, butter and 50ml cold water in a bowl and gently mix to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Shape the dough into a square, wrap in cling film and chill for an hour (or freeze for 20-30 minutes).
  2. For the butter layer, mix the butter and flours together using an electric mixer. Sandwich the mixture between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll out to a rectangle the same width as the square of dough, but twice as long. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  3. Unwrap the chilled dough and butter layer. Place the chilled butter paste, short end facing towards you on a lightly floured surface and place the square of dough in the center of the butter sheet. Lift the butter sheet at the top and fold it down over the dough, then fold the exposed butter sheet at the bottom up over the top, so the dough is completely enclosed in the butter sheet.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, short end towards you. Roll out to a rectangle, keeping the edges as even as possible. Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet neatly in the center. Then fold the dough in half along the center line. This is called a book turn. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and make another book turn. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
    inverse puff pastry
  5. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to a rectangle and sprinkle a layer of strawberry dust then the colored sugar.
  6. Make another book turn to incorporate the strawberry and sugar, then roll to a 4½ x 8in rectangle. Roll up the pastry from the short end like a Swiss roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
    rolled puff pastry
  7. Preheat the oven to 400° Line 2 baking trays lines with silicon sheets or parchment. Trim the ends of the roll and cut into 8 even slices. Dust the work surface heavily with powdered sugar and roll each piece of dough out very thinly, turning to coat in the sugar and to prevent sticking. Place the cookies on the prepared trays and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the cookies and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
    arlette cookie

World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie (Seriously)

best chocolate chip cookie

I feel like I’ve been working on perfecting the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe for years. Since I was 6 actually. To me, there is nothing more comforting than a chocolate chip cookie. I’m sure the synonym for nostalgia is “chocolate chip cookie” in fact. And no matter how many times I thought I got it right, a new technique or trick seemed to fall in my lap. I mean, it is a rough life, eating all of those chocolate chip cookies. But someone has to do it. Someone has to find the best chocolate chip recipe in the world, right?

best chocolate chip cookie

The wait is over. I think I found THE WORLD’S BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Yeah, I know there are a lot of other recipes out there claiming to be the best. But do those recipes have a ooey, gooey, chocolately center? Do the other recipes have toffee-like, slightly crispy, slightly chewy edges? Are the other cookies fluffy, nutty, and with a hint of salt?

Trust me. These are the best. I dare ya to try them and not agree!

Note: Check out these tools to help with this recipe!

Print Recipe
The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (Seriously)
This is the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe. The luscious, molten center is encircled in crispy, caramelly edges with obscene amounts of chocolate.
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, nutmeg, and salt into a bowl. Set aside. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Fold in chocolate and incorporate without breaking pieces. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside. Scoop 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies onto another rack to cool completely.
    best chocolate chip cookie with milk

Octopus Salad with Green Harissa

Octopus salad with pickled pears, shaved vegetables, and green harissa

Octopus salad. Ok maybe not your usual go-to for a quick, week day meal for the family. It isn’t a standard in our house either but the menu-planning-stars sort of aligned this week so I thought, “why not?” But even though it’s not being a regular on our menu at home I absolutely love octopus! When done well, the different textures and flavors work so well in most cuisines. AND it’s surprisingly easy to cook! So actually, it IS a great meal to add to your family’s menu…. You just hafta get the kids on board with the whole tentacle thing.

This octopus salad recipe is quite simple in technique. Most of the prep time revolves around the breakdown of the octopus, which is notoriously chewy and tough unless cooked in one of two ways: a low and slow braise (or if you’re like me and scored a sweet pressure cooker, pressure cooked for 10 min) or on really high heat for a short amount of time…. or I guess you could also thrash your octopus against a Grecian rock (Greek fishermen actually do this!) but I’ve only worked with the first two techniques so I’ll stick with that this time around. Whichever the approach you choose, the goal is breakdown the connective tissue resulting in a soft and tender cephalopod.

octopus

This recipe is a great beginning-of spring dish. I included a bunch of my favorite crunchy vegetables, a nutty farro grain, and finished it with an aromatic and spicy African green harissa sauce. Plus the added char of the octopus adds a subtly complexity. I’m telling ya- if your family was ever on the fence about eating baby octopus, they wont be after a bite of this flavor-packed octopus salad!

Notes: Check out this pressure cooker! Not only does it cut down on cook time but it also has lots of other features to make cooking easy!

Print Recipe
Grilled Baby Octopus and Shaved Vegetable Salad with Pickled Pears and Green Harissa
Set aside some time for prep early in the day and let the ingredients chill until dinner time, making for quick assembly!
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 2 hours
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Octopus
Salad
Pickled Pears
Green Harissa
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 2 hours
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Octopus
Salad
Pickled Pears
Green Harissa
Instructions
Octopus
  1. Start by combing the marinade ingredients, dividing into 2 bowls, reserving 1 for later. Add the octopus to 1 bowl of marinade, toss to coat, then add to pressure cooker or stock pot. Add enough water to cover octopus. Cover with lid and cook on low for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove octopus from pot and add to reserved marinade. Toss to coat and place in fridge until just before serving/grilling.
Pickled Pears
  1. Combine all of the pickling ingredients in small saucepan, minus the pears. Turn on high and bring to a boil. Pour pickling liquid over sliced pears (making sure liquid covers all of the pears) and place in fridge to cool.
Harissa
  1. Add harissa ingredients to blender or food processor. Blend until smooth but not completely pureed. Leaving a little texture gives the harissa a nice texture.
Finishing
  1. If grilling, cook octopus until slightly blackened. (You can also saute the octopus or just leave chilled). Toss salad ingredients with (drained) pickled pears and octopus. Finishing with drizzle of olive oil and harissa.

Paleo Shrimp Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles

Paleo shrimp pad thai with zucchini noodles

Ok so I get that it’s Friday and having a healthy bowl of veggies in your shrimp pad thai is maybe not what your stomach had in mind. But we’re literally days away from Spring (thank goodness!)…. which means lots of spring vegetables….. which also means beach season..? (I dont know, I dont particularly care for the beach…unless a lobster roll is involved- then I’m SO there!) Either way, I’m over the hearty stews and soups of winter and ready for some crisp veg! Annnnd not only that but this shrimp pad thai satisfies my craving for Thai food without slowing me down as I head into this weekend!

cabbage, green onions, carrots, egg, cilantro, garlic, cashews. limes

What I love about pad thai is that its a great “gateway” recipe for people to learn how to cook Thai food. I know it can be an intimidating cuisine to dive into but we’ve all had pad thai at some point. Use that comfort of tasty Thai food to jump right on in to this recipe!

My paleo version takes a few creative (and healthy) liberties but the outcome is 100% pad thai. In fact, I’ll bet ya wont even miss the stuff I altered!

Paleo shrimp pad thai with zucchini noodles

Tips: Check out these items to help prep this meal:

Print Recipe
Paleo Shrimp Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles
A healthy twist on a crowd favorite! Perfect dish to count down to the warm Spring season.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 10 min
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Pad Thai Sauce
  • 1/2 cup` tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos Coconut aminos is a great paleo alternative but can substitute with soy sauce.
  • 2 tbsp honey Traditionally made with palm sugar. Can substitute with sweetener of choice.
  • 1 zucchini thin julienne with spiralizer or peeler
  • 1/4 bunch cilanto rough chop
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashews rough chop. Traditionally made with peanuts but I subbed with cashews to make it paleo.
  • 1 lime
  • 18 16/20 shrimp 16/20 is the size of the shrimp. Peel, devein, tail off.
  • 1/4 bunch green onion thin slice
  • 1 cup veggies of choice Traditionally preserved radish and bean sprouts are added but feel free to use any veg you like!
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 10 min
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Pad Thai Sauce
  • 1/2 cup` tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos Coconut aminos is a great paleo alternative but can substitute with soy sauce.
  • 2 tbsp honey Traditionally made with palm sugar. Can substitute with sweetener of choice.
  • 1 zucchini thin julienne with spiralizer or peeler
  • 1/4 bunch cilanto rough chop
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashews rough chop. Traditionally made with peanuts but I subbed with cashews to make it paleo.
  • 1 lime
  • 18 16/20 shrimp 16/20 is the size of the shrimp. Peel, devein, tail off.
  • 1/4 bunch green onion thin slice
  • 1 cup veggies of choice Traditionally preserved radish and bean sprouts are added but feel free to use any veg you like!
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
Instructions
Sauce
  1. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat until warm and set aside.
Pad Thai
  1. Start by stir frying the shrimp with 1 tsp oil in hot skillet. Cook on both sides for 30-60 seconds then add 1 tbsp of the sauce. Set shrimp aside. In same skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil on high until smoking. Add the the carrots first then add the additional veggies and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the sauce. Add the zucchini noodles, cilantro, green onions, and 1/2 of the juice from the lime. Turn off the heat, add the shrimp back to the pan and mix until coated in sauce. Add more sauce for desired taste. Garnish with cilantro and cashews. Serve with lime wedges!

Blueberry Basil Brioche Swirl Bread

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As you can see, I’ve been on a big baking and pastry kick lately. My experience with savory cooking has started to take a back seat to my baking passion these last few months. It is where I got my start, after all. I was a 6-year-old who preferred to bake brownies and cookies than play with toys or run around with the other kids. I was drawn to the beauty, science, and sugar of baking and pastries long before I fell in love with the hot line. And even though I do enjoy my life as a savory chef, part of me wonders where I (and/or my career) would be if I had gone the sweet route instead diving into the world of salt, fire, and skillets. Thankfully no one is forever stuck in the path they initially chose. Thus, I’ve begun to pay more attention to the sweeter side of life lately. Will this new (old) love of sweets and breads become something greater than just some late-night stints in my kitchen after work? Who knows… But until then, there’s brioche swirl bread.

I absolutely LOVE babka. Enriched sweet dough and delectable chocolate wrapped up in a wonderfully entrancing package — what’s not to love? While the original recipe is about as good as it gets, the creative juices have been flowing lately, which has led me to create this tasty new version. And since I’m feeling bogged down by our dreary, early spring weather, I wanted to create a summery twist (see what I did there?) on this swirly classic.

IMG_5560Blueberry Basil Brioche Bread

Ingredients:

Basil Brioche
  • 345 g bread flour
  • 9 g salt
  • 50 g sugar
  • 10 small basil leaves
  • 4 g yeast
  • 78 g whole milk, at room temperature
  • 135 g eggs (about 3), at room temperature
  • 2 g vanilla extract
  • 170 g unsalted butter, soft and cut in small chunks
  • zest from 1 lemon
Blueberry Filling
  • 100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 7 g blueberry powder*
  • 30 g sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. water

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Notes:

*Blueberry powder is available online or in specialty baking/cooking stores. If you don’t have access or the time to hunt this ingredient down, just head to your local grocery store and purchase dehydrated blueberries. Pulse those dried babies in your food processor and voila, blueberry powder! A little goes a long way, so don’t let the cost of the berries deter you. I still have a good amount in my pantry even after I used the 7 grams needed for this recipe.

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A quick note that, yes, this recipe works with weight instead of cups and teaspoons. If you’re as big of a fan of baking as I am, you’ll do well to purchase a kitchen scale. It’s the one and only way to properly (and accurately) bake. For example, one cup of flour that I measure will not yield exactly the same quantity of one cup of flour that you measure. Baking is a science. Even the slightest variance in measurement means the difference between a beautiful loaf of bread and something only the dog would eat. The only way to ensure the perfect bake is to use a scale. So I do apologize to those who don’t have a scale yet, but trust me,  if you run out and buy one now, your breads (and your family) will thank you.

To make the basil brioche dough, start by making the basil sugar. In a food processor, blend the sugar and basil leaves until the basil is finely chopped. Combine the flour, salt, basil sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer, stir to combine the milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Pour the dry ingredients on top and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium and mix until the gluten develops and the dough comes together (about 5 minutes).

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Continuing on medium speed, add one-third of the butter. Once that butter has been incorporated, add another third of the butter. Wait until it has been completely mixed in, then add the remaining butter. Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 1 hour. Don’t worry if the dough seems loose – it’s rich, buttery brioche bread. A light and slightly wet dough means you’ll end up with fluffy bread.

After an hour of resting, transfer the dough to a sheet pan lined with greased parchment paper (to prevent sticking). Wrap the sheet pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 12 hours. The longer you can refrigerate the dough the better the end product will taste. But if you’re like me and cant wait that long, one hour is totally acceptable.

For the blueberry filling, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until combined.

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Roll out the brioche dough to a rectangle 14 inches by 18 inches, keeping the edges as straight as possible. Spread the blueberry filling on the dough, making sure to cover it completely. Tightly roll up the brioche from the long side of the rectangle. Cut the dough lengthwise almost to the top, leaving 2 inches of uncut dough at the top. Twist the two lengths of dough so the cut side is facing up. Gently press the end together. Carefully transfer the braided loaf into a greased 9×5.5 inch loaf pan with the ends tucked under.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it proof for 1½ to 2 hours until doubled in size. Do not put it in too warm of a spot or the butter will melt out.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

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Brush the loaf with egg wash. Bake the loaf for 16 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300ºF and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more, until the loaf is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan until it is cool enough to handle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

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Basil And Olive Oil Macerated Raspberry Ice Cream

IMG_5549

You guys, life has been buuusssyyyy. Between planning for my family’s upcoming cross-country move, all of the traveling we’ve done recently, work, and a growing (now VERY mobile) 10½ month old daughter, finding kitchen time has been a little bit of a challenge. So as soon as I learned that this past weekend was a free one, you better believe I made time to play in the kitchen! I don’t think I sat down once – it was perfect. And since the markets have now started to shift from winter to spring and summer produce, I took advantage of the fresh warm weather flavors I’ve been craving all winter. And what better way to welcome those warm seasonal vibes than with ice cream?

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I feel like I must preface this recipe with an apology to hardcore ice cream traditionalists. This isn’t your normal vanilla, chocolate, strawberry kinda ice cream. But what can I say? I haven’t played in the kitchen in a while and my creative juices are exploding every where. But with that said, I still think I can convert (or at least tempt) those plain ice cream lovers with this little beauty. Heck, this recipe may surprise even the most experienced ice cream enthusiasts. Basil in ice cream? Trust me. Olive oil macerated raspberries? Yup, you read that correctly. A little bizarre, I know, but definitely the right blend of slightly savory, a little tart, but definitely sweet way to wake up your palate to warm weather flavors.

IMG_5548

Basil and Olive Oil Macerated Raspberry Ice Cream

Yields 3 cups

Ingredients:

Olive Oil Macerated Raspberry Sauce

  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. sugar

Basil Ice Cream

  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup heavy cream

IMG_5542

For the macerated raspberry sauce:

Macerate is basically a fancy way of saying soften through marination. When you macerate berries, berries are tossed with a mixture of sugar, acid, and oils and left to sit so that the mixture can soften and break down the cells of the berries, extracting the juices inside and softening the skin. So even though it sounds like a fancy therefore difficult component, it’s actually quite easy. Toss all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly, then let sit for 1 hour. After an hour, place all but 2 tbsp of the raspberry mixture in a small sauté pan and cook until the liquid thickens slightly (2-3 minutes). Turn off the heat, add the remaining mixture, and cool until later.

IMG_5544

For the basil ice cream:

Bring milk, basil, ¼ cup sugar, and salt to a low boil in a heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let basil steep for 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend until basil is finely ground. In a medium bowl, beat together yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 1 minute. Add the milk mixture in a slow stream to the egg-sugar mix, whisking until combined. Pour mixture back into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats back of spoon (175°F).

IMG_5545Do not let boil! Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Let custard cool completely. Stir in cream and pour into ice cream maker (following the ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions). When the ice cream is set, spoon into an airtight container, alternating with raspberry sauce layers. Place ice cream in the freezer to harden (at least 2 hours). Enjoy!!

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Salted Caramel and Chocolate Chip Cookie Adult Milkshake

img_4372Congratulations! It’s Friday and I think you deserve an extra special treat to get the weekend started. This recipe was created after a bottle of salted caramel Kahlua went untouched after it was used to make my grandma’s 90th birthday cake (yes, that’s right — Grammy rocked out her 90th with a Kahlua soaked chocolate cake. And it was deee-licious). What better way to use salted caramel Kahlua than in the most ridiculous (and by ridiculous I mean extremely tasty) adult milkshake ever. I even went the extra mile to include my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Alcohol, cookies, ice cream, and caramel… How could you not start your weekend without one of these!

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Salted Caramel and Chocolate Chip Cookie Adult Milkshake

Yields 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz vanilla vodka
  • 2 oz salted caramel Kahlua
  • ¾ cup chocolate ice cream
  • ½ cup ice
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate chips
  • caramel (optional, for garnish)
  • whipped cream (optional, for garnish)
  • chocolate chip cookie, for garnish
  • pinch of salt

Crunch up the chocolate chip cookie into fine crumbles. Dip the rim of a chilled glass in caramel then into the cookie crumbs. Blend the ice cream, ice, chocolate chips, vodka, and Kahlua until smooth. Pour into the cookie-rimmed glass and top with whipped cream, caramel, and a pinch of salt. Don’t forget a fun straw!

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Homemade Chicken Stock

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Now that you’ve roasted the most delicious whole chicken and carved it to perfection, don’t be so quick to throw the bones in the trash. Even after you’ve wished upon that wish bone, the leftover bones are the beginning of many tasty soups, stews, and sauces… in the form of chicken stock, that is. Chicken stock is incredibly easy to make and freezes for up to 3 months…just long enough to keep you warm during chilly winter days. And if you plan ahead, this is a great place to use up scraps from onions, garlic, and carrots that you’ve saved up throughout the week.

img_4156Chicken Stock

Yields 10 cups

Ingredients:

  • Bones from whole chicken
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of thyme

Preheat oven to 450°F. Rough chop onions, celery, and carrots and place on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Place whole chicken carcass on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, place herbs, garlic, roasted vegetables, and roasted chicken and cover with water (about 12 cups). Once boiling, turn heat down to low, cover with a lid, and simmer chicken stock for 1 hour. After 1 hour, strain stock through a fine mesh strainer.

Make sure you cool the stock down to 41°F within 6 hours if you’re not using it immediately. Also, a note on seasoning: I chose to make my stock unsalted so that I can add in the salt when I’m using it for a dish. Feel free to add your own seasonings if you prefer.

How To Carve A Whole Chicken

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Carving a bird at the dinner table has been a role of great prestige in my family. I remember watching my grandpa cut into the turkey every Thanksgiving with the biggest smile on his face as he stood and cracked jokes with the family crammed around the table. And my dad always took pride as he cut into the turkey he spent all day on for his family. I find that my weekly carving of our Sunday night roasted chicken is a little homage to those special men I had in my life. But it did take some practice. I, too, was a little intimated about cutting into that Thanksgiving turkey when I had my chance. My grandpa and dad made it look so easy. And it actually is! A chicken and a turkey are basically the same in terms of the carving process. With these tips, you too will find carving-ease on Sunday nights, Thanksgiving afternoons, or any other day you you’re craving a delicious roasted bird.

There are several ways to cut a chicken, but for this tutorial I’m going to explain the 6-piece and 8-piece cut chicken. Both are standard, simple techniques and the only difference between the two is cutting the leg into the drumstick and thigh. These techniques are great money savers too. Why spend twice (or three times) as much on pre-cut chicken when you can cut your own!

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  1. Start with a perfectly roasted (and rested) chicken (or raw chicken, if you prefer to roast individual pieces).

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2.  Cut into the skin just above the leg — this will expose the thigh socket and joint.

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3. Forcefully pull the leg away from the body until the joint pops. This will be surprisingly easy if the bird is cooked completely.

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4. This is where you turn a 6 piece cut chicken into an 8 piece. To cut the drumstick from the thigh, cut along the groove that visibly separates the two. Wiggle the edge of your knife around slightly to find the joint and pry the thigh free from the drumstick.

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8-piece cut chicken separates the thigh and drumstick. Easiest for sharing at the dinner table.

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5. To cut the wing, pull it slightly away from the bird and then use your knife to cut through and separate the wing joint.

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6. Now you should only be left with the breasts! Cut along the breast bone at a 45° angle. To help with a clean cut, use your hands to pry the breast meat away from the bone as you cut it. Serve the breasts whole or slice at a 45 °angle into 1 inch pieces.

Extra secret chef tip: Have you ever looked for, or better yet, tasted a chicken oyster?? Not actually a seafood oyster, the chicken version is comprised of two oyster-shaped pieces of dark meat hidden on either side of the backbone. It’s arguably two of the tastiest pieces of the chicken. So before you throw your chicken bones into the stock pot for homemade chicken stock, hunt for these little guys first! Just turn the carved chicken over to expose the backbone and the oysters should be staring right at you.

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See, its a piece of cake (er…chicken?). No need to worry when Thanksgiving rolls around. Grab that carving knife and wield it with pride.

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Whole roasted chicken cut into 6 pieces.

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Whole roasted chicken cut into 8 pieces.

How To Truss A Chicken

img_4020Trussing a chicken can be a daunting yet one of the most important aspects of preparing a roasted chicken. Once you’ve mastered the technique, however, it makes the whole experience a seemingly easy and tasty one. A properly trussed chicken ensures an even cook throughout the whole bird while making it a beautiful centerpiece for the dinner table. And after you’ve learned how to carve a chicken I guarantee you’ll be roasting chickens every chance you get.

chicken-1536439_1920When it comes to trussing a chicken there seem to be two philosophies: classic/traditional vs modern. The traditional or classic way to truss a chicken makes for that picturesque bird you see gracing the covers of food magazines around this time of year. The problem I found with this technique is that it doesn’t produce the best tasting chicken. As you can see, the entire bird is compacted into itself. Because of this tight trussing, certain parts of the legs and thighs are not as exposed to the oven heat. The breasts are more likely to overcook before those internal thighs pieces cook, making the end product less tasty as a whole. And you are roasting a whole chicken, after all— Why waste all of that precious time and delicious meat on a trussing issue? Have no fear: I have a better approach! One that cooks every part of the bird evenly and gives you a magazine-worthy golden chicken to serve to your family and friends.

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  1. Start with the chicken’s legs pointed toward you with the breasts up, and place a 4′ length of kitchen string underneath his back. (This may seem like a lot of string, but it’s better to work with a lot of length and trim at the end, than find you’re coming up short.)

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2. Bring the string straight up and over his wings (into his “armpits”).

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3. Cross the string in front and back down, pulling the neck skin down as you do so. This step keeps that skin from riding up during the roasting process, protecting the top of the breasts so they don’t dry out.

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4. Bring the strings down (after the crisscross around the neck), over the wings (to keep them secure), over each drumstick, and cross the string again around the keel bone. Pull it and hold it tight before moving to the next step.

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5. Loop each string under the respective leg and over the top, pulling tight enough to draw the legs outwards.

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6. Flip the chicken over and tie a triple knot.

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Voila! The perfectly trussed chicken ready to be roasted! Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work perfectly the first time. It will get easier with each bird. And think of all that yummy chicken you can practice on!