Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe: Roast Chicken

We've been using the same roast chicken recipe for years, first found in Nigella Lawson's How To Eat. It's easy, and the results are a flavorful, juicy chicken. Personally, I find it better than restaurant (or similar) roast chickens in that the meat stays moist for a few days, which makes leftovers lovely.

Another thing I like about Nigella's recipe is that she includes a ballpark cooking time that can be adapted to different sized chickens. Specifically, 15 minutes per pound, plus 10. So a 5 pound chicken would cook for 85 minutes. I get annoyed when a recipe calls for a 2-3 pound chicken since they can be hard to find. At least they are at Trader Joe's and my local butcher.

Perhaps I'm bored, perhaps I'm curious, but I've been considering alternate recipes lately. Infidelity?

I tried Thomas Keller's recipe, which resulted in a deliciously crispy skin, but rather tough meat. MetaDaddy was not impressed.

I tried Jacques Pepin's split chicken with a mustard crust from More Fast Food My Way. He says the method cuts the cooking time by half, but it didn't seem like it did. The crust was delicious, and the meat was juicy and tender. I've added it to my repertoire, but only as a chicken recipe, not as a "how to roast a chicken" recipe.

Today, Mark Bittman tweeted about a blog post where the author recounted her experiences in finding a perfect roast chicken recipe. Her goal was to find a moist chicken with crispy skin. Mmm...I love delicious goals. Overall, she didn't find much success. She ended up fusing one approach with another.

In reading the post, I was reminded of a Cook's Illustrated recipe where they used baking powder and punctures throughout the skin to assure super dry skin. Supposedly, it worked well, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm put off by the thought of leaving a chicken coated with the salt mixture on a V-rack in the refrigerator overnight. I'm pretty sure I can't afford the required space for that kind of silliness.

Mark Bittman's approach is clever, as one would expect. He starts with a hot pan. I might try this one next.

Roast Chicken Recipes:
My Nigella Chicken
Thomas Keller
Felicity Cloake Blog Post - Multiple approaches tested
Cooks Illustrated
Mark Bittman

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book for Kids: Tools by Taro Miura

There's a tiny little toy store in Venice called Toys and Tales. Much like small, independently owned stores, the selection there is great. I have a hard time leaving without buying something.

Case in point, I found Tools by Taro Miura. Drawn on two pages are a collection of tools, and the following page is a drawing of the person who uses the tools (e.g., electrician, barber, carpenter). My son, who is almost 4, is obsessed with this book. And the teachers at his preschool loved it so much that they picked up a few copies for the school. Highly recommended!

There aren't many small toy stores in the area, so it's nice to patronize the few that we have. The selection of toys and books is so much more interesting than at the big chains. And while there's room for everything in life, loyalty to the little guy means they'll be there tomorrow to help us find that perfect gift or expand our kids' horizons. So go out and find the small local store that you're going to help support :-)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture...Bah!

I've heard that Royal/T in Culver City has an interesting menu, does a tea set, and is good for kids. I was checking them out on Yelp, when I saw this picture:

Photo by minda w.
Hello Kitty Sushi Bento Box Workshop w/ Sushi Girl

MetaGirl would go nuts...absolutely crazy...for this lunch. If it came with a set of bracelets, she'd be set.

If I ever had any doubts about nature vs. nurture, she's surely shown me the light. She's been turning toys into bracelets, necklaces, and hats since before she could walk or talk. Now that she's 20 months old, all bets are off. She has to accessorize before we leave, and even the mention of a hat is enough to generate a tantrum.

I, on the other hand, never wear hats, jewelry (other than my wedding ring and a cheap watch) or...any accessories. I just don't care. I might if I'm really trying, but 95% of the time, I don't. And I didn't care at all for the first year of her life. So where she got the obsession with bracelets (toy hooks, napkin rings) is beyond me. I love watching and encouraging all of the silliness, though. She has the collection of hats, and anything safe to use as a bracelet is fair game. But I'll be keeping an eye on her when my makeup is in the room...just in case.