Category Archives: knitting

Cold Snap in SF and Tuna Primavera Casserole

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Yesterday was a wild spring day in San Francisco! When I woke up the windows were rattling, as sash windows do when it’s over 35 MPH, and the sky was looking decidedly dark. It was 45 F out, which is pretty cold here, and they said rain was coming so I put on lots of layers and my waterproof parka and headed to work. On the bus almost to Market Street I heard strange noises and realized it was rain and sleet!  People were scattering on the street for doorways like leaves in a strong wind. I have a 15 minute walk from the bus stop and so I zipped up tightly and headed off the bus, so grateful I was wearing my extra warm and fluffy Russian mohair shawl under all parka as it was verging on hail.

It was too windy for most of the walk to use the umbrella but the hooded parka was a blessing, for my upper half! I had soggy pants and shoes for the morning, alleviated by hot tea.  It did clear up to be sunny but icy cold and as the day wore on I really wanted to go home and make comfort food. I stopped at the FiDi Target and got some milk, broccoli, and fresh spinach, and a bottle of white wine.  On the way home I hit upon the idea of the ultimate comfort food, tuna noodle casserole, but I would add veggies, because I don’t eat enough of them, much to my shame, it’s hard to shop when we have bad weather and one  is on a budget.

Years ago my friend Pat shared her recipe on our recipe swap, and it was just like what my mom used to make. I had it bookmarked on my cell phone so I texted my sister while I was on the bus. What a fun exchange we had, remembering these great dishes when we were so very poor, and being forced to do the dreadful task of “just making a salad”.  My sis suggested putting breadcrumbs with Parmesan on top. I recalled that I had a little bit of buttery tasting club crackers in the breadbox, and we agreed that would work well.  She liked the vegetable addition idea and that reminded me of the necessity for peas, which happily I had in the freezer.  I also found a packet of fancy orecchiette pasta from Trader Joes, plus a can of their very fancy tuna.

I chopped the broccoli up a bit finer and sauteed the florets in butter, then added the damp, rinsed spinach, and a splash of the Pinot Gris. Once they were done, I added the peas, the milk, and the canned soup – this is how mom made it and nostalgia demanded I not deviate, although I could have easily rehydrated some mushrooms and made a bechamel. Sometimes comfort food’s appeal is that it is fast and easy, and I am fond of the cream of mushroom soup ubiquitous from my childhood.  I bashed up the club crackers and some good grated Parmesan using the wine bottle and a small ziplock bag and they were sprinkled on over the sauced orecchiette pasta.

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While the casserole baked I watched Mind of Chef and amused myself by the comparison of David Kinch’s exquisite cuisine compared to my humble tuna primavera casserole. I also knitted myself a mini cat in Kuma colors, which just made me grin so much, I even stuffed him so that he’s a bit plump like his namesake.

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The timer rang and the tuna primavera casserole was done! I scooped up a bowlful, poured some wine, and had a relaxing evening with Kuma at my side, coziness and comfort food moment achieved.

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Printable Recipe: Tuna Primavera Casserole

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My 2011 “Did It'” List

My friend Luna Raven recently posted her 2011 “Did It” List, inspired by one of her friends and I love all the things she got done this year.  Thus inspired I thought I should join the club and write about my accomplishments too.

I went to Mushroom Camp and  learned to mordant yarn and fabric and then dye it using foraged mushrooms.
Green shimmery stems!The red gilled dernacybe makes a gorgeous pinkAmazing spectrum of hues from mushroom dyesRed-Gilles Dermocybes with alum mordant make this coppery hue

I found my first candy cap mushroom in the redwood forests up in Sonoma.
My first mushroom foray, a candycap!

I attended the Fancy Food Show and scored twelve pounds of amazing blue cheese. (no picture, we ate it all!)

I discovered some amazing ramen places, including my current favorite, pork and corn butter ramen at Ramen Club.
*Ridiculous* dinner w @equan55 - butter ramen

I treated myself to some incredible yarn at Stitches West and have actually knitted up a few garments.
Zontee spotting!!The results of our card knitting class! Lorna Miserphoto.JPGChacha shawl

I gathered up all my courage and borrowed lots of courage from friends and had surgery to repair my shoulder from a tragic high fiving injury when we won the World Series in 2011.Two months later I did not listen to my doctors orders and returned to work a month early, which is why one should not make important decisions while taking pain medication!  Major life lesson learned!  (Is that technically an accomplishment?)
The *right* shoulder
(note to the surgeon)

I am still in physical therapy due to yet another accident while riding MUNI.  My  accomplishment there is patience and learning to follow directions and care for myself, and, even though it’s embarrassing, sit in the disabled seats on the bus.

I got to visit with my dearest childhood friend three times! ((Lovi!!))
Me & my BFFGurlzphoto.JPG

My friends and I made ten different kinds of macaroni and cheese on my birthday at a huge blowout party, and we almost ate them all!
Mac'n cheese blowout - in progressMy dear friends...

I celebrated one year at my new job and I am still loving every day. It was great to have health insurance, medical leave and understanding coworkers while I heal. I am so lucky!
Deflating the monkeyphoto.JPGphoto.JPGphoto.JPG

I went to San Diego on the most hilarious girls road trip to BlogHer – the Road Trip of Happiness!
Here it is, on a 20" plate, fried chicken BennieEeek! It's *so* big! @whats4dinnermomGetting reading for #KUYH Party @rubydw is thirsty!Tasering @domesticvalerie while waiting for brekkies is just rude @lunaraven13

I relearned how to embroider after taking a great class from Princess Animal and finished my first sampler.
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I knitted my 26th pair of socks and learned how to darn them.
Skew socks in Alchemy's Juniper sock- Summertime BluesLast view, fun heel stripes, love this pattern!Finished my Twisted socks from @knittydotcomForgotten arts: darning socks (done!)

I created a new diet of bacon, chocolate, beef, wine and cocktails, bread and cheese because of weird food allergy/sensitivities – I’m doing just fine on it, it’s not privation that’s for sure!
Vegan chocolate cake ~ Wacky cake ~ with bourbon ganache. Thanks mOmIt's business time...Mmm lardons - thanks @nueskes @inyaku !

I launched a new blog – The Inadvertent Redhead – as an outlet for my non-food related talents, and I love it! And yes, I’m still a redhead!
Irish coffee #2 at the Buena Vistaaaahhhhphoto.PNG

Because of my blog and social media I was invited to a multitude of wonderful parties and events and I feel so privileged to have these opportunities and to know so many wonderful writers, cooks, chefs, photographers, stylists and artistan food producers from many genres.
Chef Corey Lee of BenuSour Flour

Despite all the challenges and sadnesses of this year it has been a really good one and I am looking forward to many fun things in 2012.

I am most especially looking forward to another year with my wonderful family.
Ken and Barbie

Here’s to health and happiness ahead!
Cheers my friends!

Joy To The World, And A Great Bowl of Soup

I was happily ensconced with my family over the holidays and we celebrated a wonderful Christmas with way too much food and dare I say too much football?

To help offset the three pounds of butter we used for our dinners, a new historical *low* I might add, I made a healthy lunch of butternut squash soup for Christmas eve.

We have been visiting the local grocery store up here in the country daily, and on Christmas eve, two times. The store was established in 1852 as a stagecoach stop and owned by the family continuously. They have the nicest staff. Since my stepdad shops every day he, and by extension, we are well known. It is expected that you chat with the grocer, the butcher and everyone else. It is the country after all! I was joking with the clerk about the massive butternut squashes they have in the product department, they easily weigh 7 pounds.

“My stepdad called it Junior.” I laughed as I cradled it in my arms, “Junior is going in the soup pot today!”

The clerk told me she had always wanted to cook one but was afraid of trying. I told her how easy it was and that I would write about it for her. So, Carol, this is for you!

I make this soup a lot during squash season and never thought it worth writing about until talking with Carol. I can now see by looking at this giant squash how intimidating it could be to someone. But in reality, once you get the beast cut into half, it is no work at all. The soup is quite basic, albeit delicious, and can be quite versatile flavorwise by adding a few different spices or aromatics.

First off, tackling the large squash: give it a good wash and dry, then lay it down on the cutting board and with your biggest knife cut off the stem. Off with Junior’s head! Then, split it down the middle and use an ice cream scoop to eviscerate the seeds. The oven was already hot at 400 F and I had put some foil on a cookie sheet and spread some oil around. The squash halves got plunked onto the foil cut side down, and into the oven for 45 – 60 minutes.

Meanwhile I did my manicure and watched some (more) football with my stepdad.

An hour later, I took the tray out of the oven and stuck the squash with a fork. The tines slid right through with no resistance. The skin was browned a little here and there and was puckery in places. I returned to watch another quarter of the game while the squash cooled. Piece of cake!

At this juncture you can scrape out the squash into a bowl, add butter and salt and pepper and stir well with a fork and eat. Or, you can use the meat in a variety of other preparations, such as a casserole with pasta and breadcrumbs (and bacon), as a filling with ricotta for ravioli, in the dough for gnocci, or my embarrassingly simple soup. As you can see this squash preparation takes little skill or cooking talent, you just need a bit if courage to cut the huge thing open, then the rest is easy. You can use this method with any kind of squash, including pumpkin. I prefer cooking it cut side down as it ensures the meat stays tender and moist. If you want to have a glazed squash, you can turn it over after 30 minutes, add some butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper and bake for the remaining 15 minutes or so until it is tender.

But back to the soup, in a large pot I put a pat of butter, a chopped onion and some chopped fresh ginger and let that saute until the onion was tender, about 10 minutes. I used a big spoon and scooped the squash out of its skin and added it to the pot.

I went out the garden and cut a sprig of rosemary, and back in the kitchen tossed it in with a bay leaf and a sprinkle of sweet curry powder onto the squash. Everything was topped off with 8 cups of chicken stock, I gave it a vigorous stir and resumed keeping my stepdad company while knitting a sweater in the family room.

Thirty minutes later the soup looked like this:

I used the immersion blender to smooth it out, this time finally remembering to remove the bay leaf first, and lunch was ready. I dished it out into warm soup bowls and topped each one with a hefty dollop of sour cream as a sprinkle of chives. We were still eating the Funions so I added some along side the soup bowl as well.

We tucked into our hearty soup and listened to the rain ping on the roof. Chatting about this and that, mostly about that, we whiled away the afternoon decorating the house and the tree for Christmas, satiated with good company and good soup.

I hope you give take home a “Junior” of your own this winter for the soup pot.

(recipe here)

Rainy Day Waffles

There’s nothing finer than waking up on a Saturday morning hearing the rain pitter-patter on the roof, the faint tinkling of wind chimes from the front porch and the smell of coffee. Burrowing under the covers I savor the quiet moment then remember mOm is making waffles. Out of bed I leap!

It’s so dark out from the rain that the Christmas lights are still on. After some reviving coffee mOm starts the waffles.

“It’s a new recipe, and it has weird things in them, like seltzer water and dried buttermilk. They get crispy outside but stay nice inside.”

Okay, Mom, I am sold!

Our family waffle iron is a treasure. You may recall that I’ve mentioned we are inordinately fond of our kitchen appliances? This old waffle iron with real Bakelite handles was at a friend’s cabin in Brooktrails. A visit there always meant bucolic views, lazing on the deck in summer or in front of the Benjamin Franklin stove in winter and waffles for breakfast. When our friends sold the cabin we asked if we could have the waffle iron. I also received a sprig from the giant Christmas cactus, which had the most gorgeous blooms. It is still thriving in my kitchen but has never bloomed, despite all the many moves I have had. I think it needs higher elevations. My Mom’s cuttings have also thrived but they bloom for her, but we are at 1,300 feet here.

Behold, the waffle iron:

It’s the Cadillac of waffle irons, or perhaps a Lamborghini…. Covet, covet…

On Thanksgiving eve I roasted quince that I picked up from the McEvoy Ranch booth at the Ferry Building along with a gigantic Lisbon lemon. I sliced the quince with cranberries and grapes, which we used for our T-Day salad, and the leftovers were transformed into a warm compote for our waffles this morning.

Prepare yourself, waffle porn…

Melty with butter…

Boysenberry syrup, mmm.

I slathered mine with butter and then spooned the rosy quince on top and added extra buttery syrup on top, and promptly ate it. Fortunately my stepdad’s waffle was ready for her closeup.

They sure don’t last long though… Sadness…

We slowly consumed the local paper and dozed in front of the college football games playing in the snow. I am about to get going on finishing a pretty sweater in kid mohair yarn in the palest lavender hue, only 2/3 left to go for the last piece! And more potato butter buns are rising in the kitchen. What else can a gal do on a rainy day?

Roasted Quince

1# quince, I had 2 huge ones, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges
1 c whole grapes, or 1/2 c raisins
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c sugar – or I used 1 c ginger syrup left over from making candied ginger
1 tsp minced ginger (omit if using ginger syrup)
Pinch salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
A pat of butter
Water

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place fruit in a casserole large enough to hold everything in one layer. Sprinkle over sugar, lemon zest and juice, syrup (if using) and water to come up halfway up the sides of the fruit. Top with the butter. Bake for an hour and watch the magic happen. The quince will turn from apple-colored to a rosy, light salmon color. Bake until the quince is tender when forked and the syrup is thickened.

When I took my fruit out, the syrup wasn’t as thick as I like so I used a slotted spoon to pull out the fruit and I cooked down the syrup in a small pan until it was reduced until a thicker syrup.

For the salad, I used the whole slices.

For the compote, I chopped the quince, added a 1/4 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon and a few squirts of agave (or honey). I heated it up in the micro for three minutes (or in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes – just for you Laura S).

I will ask mOm if I can post her waffle recipe, fingers crossed!

A Giant Day

Last Saturday was a perfect day to romp through the city and enjoy the pleasures that can be had in San Francisco. My dear sis came for a visit, and after a cup of coffee we headed to the Ferry Building where we promptly got on line at Blue Bottle for more.

Waiting for an individually brewed cup of drip coffee takes forever, especially when you catch a whiff of that alluring coffee aroma wafting over the long line and my thirst for a cup of coffee kicked in with a vengeance. To alleviate the wait I dashed over to Arlequin’s stall and purchased a beignet filled with a maple cream and bits of bacon. Whoa!! I have long been a fan of their beignets, which are more like the Italian version of the filled donut with a granulated sugar coating. This maple custard filled creation was a great example of the versatility of silky pastry cream, and the salty, smokey bacon chunks really offset the sweetness of the pastry. My sis wouldn’t touch it and I think she’s beginning to realize the depth of my bacon addition. It is a good thing I don’t work near Arlequin any more, that could be dangerous. And, yes, I *am* ignoring the fact that it is technically within walking distance of The Roost!

After that first squishy sugary-savory bite and when the world resumed its revolutions around the sun our coffee was ready. We perched on a bench, inhaled the steam rising off the surface of our cup and took that deeply rich sip and said to each other, “Life is good….”

As we enjoyed the brew, we could only admire the produce on sale that day because we had other plans that afternoon. It is such torture to only look and not bring anything home. The Zen Center’s stall is right by the front coffee stand and I was touched with the perpetual care they take with their produce, even post-harvest. The produce was gently arranged, misted, rearranged and talked to in a loving manner. One worker wore a flower behind his ear, another dipped her face into a bouquet of flowers, then into a nosegay of herbs, like a giant butterfly. Their newly dug potatoes were gorgeous and plump and I made mental note to get some next week without fail.

We wound our way along the side of the Ferry Building, past the Fatted Calf and their temping rillettes, behind the Roli Roti truck (I had to physically restrained from joining the line for a porcetta sandwich) and onwards to the rear of the market. We had a rendezvous to dine at the Primavera stand.

The line to order and the wait to pick up the food at Primavera seems intermidable but there is so much going on around you that time seems to pass quickly.

We quickly scoped out the available seating and through some miracle scored two seats at a nice table. Eventually, the orders were ready for our chilaquiles, scrambled eggs and refried beans, and we also treated ourselves to two luscious pale pink cups full of agua fresca – watermelon and lime juice this time. Some people pray before they eat. I take pictures. Not only do I take pictures of my food but I impose upon the graciousness of complete strangers and take pictures of their food too! Our table-mates had porter beer batter fried fish tacos, and allowed them to be photographed before they took a bite. Despite the succulent appearance of those tacos I am never disappointed by ordering the chilequiles. They make their own tortillas by hand, fry them up into chips, and then use a variety of dried chiles to make a rich sauce, which is tossed with the hot torilla chips. This is a mere side dish to the fluffy, buttery scrambled Petaluma eggs, intensely rich frijoles and their signature chipotle salsa.

After breakfast and the mandatory stroll through the rest of the market and a macaron from Miette, we strolled down the Embarcadero to the ballpark, passing by the new space port for the city.

I tried hitching a ride but alas, takeoff wasn’t for a few decades!

We arrived at the park extremely early as it was a bobblehead day, and not just any bobblehead, but Joe DiMaggio bobblehead day! Although we arrived at 1:15 (for a 6:30 pm game), the line to enter was already to the little dog park. We plopped down on the sidewalk to chill out and wait for the rest of the group, and a sweet dog, Destiny, jumped into my lap. She was the sweetest pup ever and made the long wait a lap-full of fun. She loved AB____ too!

Three hours later the line was past the pier way down the road and despite the fun of waiting (haha) we were so happy to get in the park early with armfuls of the coveted toys. Because it was Italian Heritage Day, and all my friends in attendance are Italian, our special treat from the Giants was a limited edition Joe DiMaggio bobblehead, so we ended up with two! It is fun being in the park early, the players were having batting practice on the field, the sun was still out, but just briefly, as the fog was imminent. It is my tradition to stroll along the Promenade level and enjoy the action. The kids play in the mini ballpark, scoot down the slide shaped like a soda bottle, loyal fans angle for fly balks in the bleachers, strong armed hunks try pitching and you can stuff a Teddy bear. I would rather stuff myself and after our long walk and longer wait breakfast seemed a long time ago. We passed the Shiboygan brat stand and I charmed my way behind the scenes to snap the Onion Man, grilling onions and kraut for our dinner later.

A little break was in order and we found a cafe table behind the scoreboard and enjoyed chatting with other fans and our friends while quaffing Belgian white beer with orange slices and fried local calamari. Only in San Francisco!

A view from our seats, and Barry Zito warming up.

If only our team had played as well as our hot dog tasted. But there is always tomorrow, and it was fun to sit with AR and celebrate her birthday, as well as my sis’s!

Truly, a Giant day!

Happiness Is…

I used to always get the blues on Sundays. Sundays are the end of a fun weekend, a deflated balloon of joy. In my minds eye everyone is having cozy family dinners together while I’m home alone, and worst of all, work resumes the next morning, therefore all night I worry.

This summer has put me in a different mindset. The weekend feeling is endless. I have lost the Monday morning dread and can now sleep soundly tonight. My own Sunday dinner with myself, and an ever hopeful cat, is a bit of personal time, especially with the company of an Agatha Christie mystery on PBS. Most importantly, I have a list of things to do that I look forward to in the coming the week.

Tonight, here in the frigid grey city of summer fog and mist, the purple hour has blanched to more shades of grey than a night scene in an old movie. The little stained glass lamps scattered throughout The Roost are glowing merrily like jewels. The silver radiator in the corner is hissing away and the cat is stretched right in front of it with his whiskers perilously close to singeing. Soon he will stagger up and visit me to have his hot face scratched about the chin. The crock pot, now that I have remembered to switch it on, is slowly concentrating its contents into a rich and savory stock for next week’s soup for lunches and breakfasts. I have donned a favorite lounging sweater and new socks knitted from the coveted summer sock club. Soon, I will pour the last glass of wine, my (current) favorite Black Pearl; inky, dark and spicy. After I finish torturing myself with the aromas eminating from the kitchen I will make my little supper.

Tonight I am going to feast on marinated Kobe style sukiyaki-sliced beef, quickly seared, and baby eggplants dipped in togarashi, sauteed until meltingly tender and glazed in mirin.

Soon, “Mrs. McGinty’s Dead” will start and I will ignore all other interests, except for perhaps the secret project I am knitting for a friend’s birthday in a week.

Tomorrow I get to continue to search for my next work adventure (Part 87) and visit the nice people at the bank and post office. I have confirmed dates to see an old friend on leave from Afghanistan, have coffee with a gal pal and, on another day, coffee with a new friend. Hopefully I will have a belated birthday glass of champagne with a dear friend at an ancient San Francisco landmark, and perhaps have “a date with Jack”. For those of you unfamiliar with Jack, he is my beloved emerald green vacuum; super lightweight, HEPA filtered and very strong and silent, just like a Jack should be. If only he could mix a Manhattan!

Finding happiness in such simple, mundane things is a trick of the brain, a reframing of the now, being present and appreciating the little moments that meld into the life stream.

It’s not a grand life. I am not where I should be, I am not making a difference or doing all the things I felt I should be doing by now. By reframing these feelings I hope to be adding to the world instead of taking from it, adding to the value of me, replenishing my psychic battery and, in turn, gracefully gliding along the path to whatever is in store for me next. It is a step in a good direction. I feel happier than on past Sundays and it’s all handcrafted by hal.

My Ongoing Love Affair with Chicken

chicken sliced for presentation

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I love chicken, all kinds of chicken, cooked and “on the hoof” and as an art form. I have even knitted a chicken!

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CHICKen collage
Isn’t she cute?

IServes 4.

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Thursday night I was jonesing for chicken again and offered to cook dinner for my dear friends Anna and Robert. Fortunately they took me up on the offer and suggested I cook at their place. I love cooking in Anna’s kitchen, it is such a warm and loving home, created out of thin air by Anna’s superior thrift and estate sale shopping know-how, and her kitchen is huge (by my standards) and she has a gas range. Heaven…

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Anna's beautiful dining room/garden

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First we stopped at Andronico’s, the Tiffany’s of food. They remodeled and their prices reflect it, but the quality is superior and they have a parking lot. We were tired, hungry and in a hurry. $60 later we left with bags of goodies for dinner.

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A rainbow of cauliflower
A rainbow of cauliflower

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I brought a lovely bottle of wine, Clos Saron’s Pinot from their Home vineyard, ’07 and just released. I purchased it last year and dear Gideon delivered it to my home last week along with a bottle of their Tickled Pink Rosé (see it here in my Salmon BLT lovefest), funny thing was that I completely forgot that I had pre-ordered it and it was very nice of him to drop it off, even though he was treated to the delightful sight of Heather with The Most Hideous Cold On The Planet, poor guy. I know he was scared! At any rate, Robert decanted the lovely Home Pinot and it was tough to wait for it to breathe but we did and it was divine. Really truly amazing.

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I, however, could not touch a drop until I started dinner because I decided to make Anna’s second favorite chicken (and mine), the Red Cat Pan Seared chicken. Our favorites are the beloved Anna’s Chicken cutlets or my Greek Lemon Chicken however that is for a post another day. The Red Cat chicken is a snap to make, after you bone out the bird, hence no wine for me until I was finished playing with über sharp knives.

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Boning the chicken is actually pretty simple and takes 5 minutes if you have done it before or 10 if you have not. I use a very sharp blade and cut the skin at the back of the backbone of the whole bird and cutting against the frame removed the ribcage. You have to cut the joint at the thigh and at the wing, and be careful along the keel bone of the chest to avoid cutting through this thin area. Then, with a cleaver and great whacking chop (which scared the dog!) I removed the chicken’s ankle bone at the drumstick. The rest is a snap, boning out the thigh bone and the chicken knee joint, then pushing the bone out from the drumstick. A little trimming here and there and the chicken was ready for a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper and into a hot pan skin side down until richly browned and gorgeous.

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chicken collage

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Then, I turned the chicken over and sprinkle with handfuls of chopped herbs and a head of garlic separated into its cloves and the zest of a Meyer lemon. I popped the whole thing into the oven for 20 minutes. Isn’t that easy? I removed the cooked bird to a platter to rest and reduced the pan juices with a dash of vermouth and lemon juices, spooned off the extra fat, and poured the whole lot over the chicken. I have to say I am getting hungry again just thinking about how juicy and perfectly cooked this chicken was, with the crispy bits of whole sage leaves.

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The roasted garlic cloves were shimmering away with the pan sauce waiting to be squeezed onto a slice of hearty artisan bread, and we used the bread crusts to sop up the chicken juices from our plates.

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Reducing the pan juices

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artisan bread with goat butter

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Anna made her amazing mashed potatoes which I adore, so naughty and so delicious.

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Mashed potato heaven

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I also made up a batch of slivered green beans in browned butter and slivered almonds. While I was playing with the chicken and the filet knife, Anna used “the guillotine” I gave her to sliver the green beans, it is the most fun gadget and ever so handy. The beans are a snap, they need a quick bath in salted water and a good draining in the sink while I melted a huge knob of butter in a large skillet, added the almonds and when the butter got all foamy and started to turn the perfect shade of brown, the almonds were perfectly toasted too and in went the beans for a quick toss to reheat in all that buttery toasted almondy goodness. Dinner is served!

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green beans collage

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We did inhale it, I have to say, and finished the Pinot and opened a fabulous bottle of Kline Zinfandel ’05, what a treat that was, and then finished off the night with a bottle of Bogle Zinfandel ’07 and a crystallized ginger pineapple macadamia truffle bar from Sterling Confections that I purchased after tasting his amazing truffles at the Chocolate Salon this winter. The truffle bar is a work of art in chocolate form, the crunch of macadamias, the zing of ginger in a dark chocolate ganache and the delicious fresh taste of pineapple in a white chocolate ganache, lordy. Perfect with the wine, perfect with the peachy sunset, perfect with the sounds of our childhood of Bud and Travis and the Kingston Trio with a little Diana Krall and Joni Mitchell thrown in for good measure (courtesy of YouTube). What a perfectly delightful evening with friends, and doggies.

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trufle collage

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Red Cat’s Pan Seared Chicken (modified)

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1 whole chicken, boned through the back

1 T peanut oil

zest of a Meyer lemon

½ cup mixed chopped herbs (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, oregano – whatever you have on hand and like)

a head of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled

½ bunch of chopped Italian parsley

sea salt and pepper

slosh of white vermouth or dry white wine

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Preheat oven to 450.

Season the boned chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken and heat until very hot and the oil is shimmering. Brown the chicken, skin side down, until golden and flip over. Add herbs, garlic, lemon zest and place in oven for 20 minutes. The chicken is done when it measures 165 degrees at the thigh and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter and let rest 10 minutes. Reduce the juices in the skillet over high heat, adding the vermouth and a little lemon juice until thickened. Remove extra fat and pour juices over rested chicken. Slice the chicken into serving pieces, I like to slice into 2” thick slices diagonally. Toss over parsley and serve.

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Serves 4.

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