Roast Chicken with Wasabi Goat Cheese and Tart Cherries and a Free Long-Winded Post!

Woof. I mean, like, really, woof. Emphasis on the woof part. If you came to the site for the insightful commentary on food, history, charming personal anecdotes about DH and the kids, and artful photography, get the hell out. For the next three years, I’m going to be complaining about Connecticut, law school, gluten, and home decor!

For the remaining three of you, Mom included, you’ll be pleased to know that my roving bachelor lifestyle has allowed me plenty of time to cook and study in equal amounts. It was refreshing to come back from a study session after a beast of a contracts case in anticipation of the meal I’d planned for The Bedfellow and I. I’ve finally finished my first week of law school- just 150 more of them, and I’ll officially be an attorney. Cool, right?

On another note, I’ve been trying to find ways to cook and interact with this new change in diet. As of this moment, I’ve cut approximately 98% of gluten out of my diet. It’s really difficult, but the change is positive and just makes me feel much better than I’ve been feeling. I’ve tried to take a centrist approach to it, in that I’m not eating gluten unless I’m presented with something so incredible, ephemeral, and perfect that the benefits outweigh the risks. Then, I can work around the crippling headache, chills, itchiness, tightness in my skin, sweats, general fatigue, and muscle aches.

As a note, and for clarification, I don’t profess to have any official gluten allergy or celiac’s disease. I have not been diagnosed by a doctor, nor have I made any other significant changes other than realizing the issue at hand- namely, that when I eat gluten, my body feels awful almost immediately after. It’s as simple as that, and I’ve been working to alter my diet to reflect this new need. Don’t think that I’m not trying to resist it, either. I broke the other night and ate a cookie and paid for it in physical ramifications severe enough to force me to lie down for a few hours until they subsided. It’s hellish and strange, but I’m working through it. I won’t stop looking for the best brownie until I’ve exhaustively worked through the long list of gluten-free products. And you’ll still see plenty of gluten-ridden products on the website, but The Bedfellow will be tasting them and relaying her notes to me instead. This isn’t so bad. Hopefully, it will encourage me to make healthier changes, and the ensuing energy and good feelings will help me maintain them.

So, last night, I made us roasted chicken roulades with wasabi goat cheese and tart cherries. The recipe was easy, and came from an abundance of food in my new apartment. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) I had a little round of chevre from Capri that I was excited to use, and The Bedfellow brought some powdered wasabi over. I pounded the chicken flat, and added the cherries, which I’d roasted with lemon salt and olive oil, to the cheese and stuffed the breasts with it. I roasted them in the juices leftover from the cherries, and topped them with wasabi powder and a little more lemon salt.

They were delicious, filling, and pleasantly spicy. This rambling, of course, is both to let you know that I haven’t overdosed on ramen noodles in a fit of panic with school, and also to announce Cookbook Week, which I’ll be starting next Friday. I have seven cookbooks, and I’ll be cooking a recipe from each, all gluten-free, to share with you and give you thoughts on my results. This one was my own, of course, but my trials and tribulations will be broadcasted as they come.

Enjoy!

Foodette
(Bonus GF Gratify pretzel and smoked almond chicken tenders with hot mustard pic!)

Yancey’s Fancy Tandoori Gouda Cheesesteaks

A few weeks ago, I retrieved a shipment of cheese from Yancey’s Fancy (retrieved as UPS and their terrible shipping policies held my cheese random) and received a selection of delicious flavors, one of which was this amazing-looking tandoori gouda.

I knew I wanted to cook something special with it, but I wasn’t sure what would do the flavor justice. Making normal Indian food didn’t seem to fit the bill, and fusing too many flavors together would overwhelm the delicate gouda’s flavor.

A beautifully serendipitous sale on brisket gave me a great idea, though- why not make tandoori brisket cheesesteaks? The cheese is the biggest player, and I’d realized I was overdue for a good sandwich. Realizing I lack the capacity to eat an entire loaf of bread is sobering, but the bliss found at being able to make an enormous sub with baguette and eat it for dinner outside, with Red, was incomparable.

I made the brisket in the slow cooker. I want to eventually do one in the oven, but the oven in this apartment is erratic and tends to dry meat out unless I check it religiously. As I started the brisket at 4AM, I figured I ought to prioritize sleep over meat-checking, so I just popped it in the cooker and took it out at 5PM the next day. The brisket had a dry rub and a wet rub, the former a mixture of tandoori spices, curry powder, salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder, and the latter, whole-grain honey mustard, honey, and brown sugar. This was all accompanied by a few shakes of hot sauce to balance out the sweeter flavors.

When it was done, I shredded it. It was my original objective to slice it, but it was just too tender! I popped the pan in the oven to get a bit of a crispy crust on it before assembling the sandwiches. After sauteeing some peppers and onions with a little olive oil, I was ready. Tandoori mayo, meat, veggies, and cheese went atop the bread, and the whole thing went into the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 to melt the cheese. Once finished, I drizzled the sandwiches with some of the sauce leftover from cooking and we ate them.

And of course, nothing is better than a tandoori cheesesteak, except a tandoori cheesesteak omelet in the morning. It was a really fun way to get creative with my sandwiches! I have a few more cheeses from Yancey’s to try — strawberry chardonnay and maple bacon are two that I’m itching to cook with. What should I make?

Earl Grey French Toast

Autumn in Paris: Not exactly like those old Bunuel films you watched as a child. That’s my running tagline and I’m sticking to it. Parisian Seasonal Tourist Board, here I come! Imagine a classic, smoky New England autumn. Now, remove 75% of the leaves, replace the woodfire smoke permeating the air with cigarette smoke (admittedly comforting in its own right) and make it rain, baby. Literally. Luckily, I have plenty to occupy my time with, including, but not limited to, perusing museum exhibits solely devoted to the sex lives of wild animals, creating playlists about said museum exhibit, and making weird French toast with my guiltiest French pleasure, Harry’s white bread.¬†

Seriously, Harry’s is like a food diaper. It may be part polymer. It soaks up sauces, liquids, butter, you name it- and never loses its shape or wilts underneath the pressure of the many condiments I subject it to. It is perfect for French toast, and pretty much everything else. Lacking the ingredients to make anything else, I turned my sights toward French toast- as well as the leftover bag of Earl Grey I had after getting sick last week. I made this as a lazy Tuesday breakfast after eating dinner with my fellow exchange friend, Optimus Prime, and will go to bed with dreams of brown butter, infused with the smell of spices throughout my apartment.
Earl Grey French Toast
Ingredients (serves 4)
12 slices of thick, squishy white bread
6 eggs
1 cup of whole milk
The zest of one lemon
3 bags of Earl Grey tea
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla bean, nutmeg, and sea salt. Set aside and prepare your milk, setting it up to boil in a saucepan on the stove. Once the milk is boiled, put the lemon zest and tea bags in. Let it steep for 15-30 minutes.

2. Once the milk is cool, beat with the egg mixture. Pour over bread and let soak until completely absorbed. In a large pan on the stove, melt two tablespoons of butter until sizzling.

3. Fry the bread until brown on both sides and custardy on the inside. Serve with sea salt and syrup if desired.

I don’t think this will make it to the morning.

Carnitas Francaises, Habanero Raspberry Bergerac Sauce

I am not the most observant Jew. Case in point, posting about Franco-prepared pork on Yom Kippur, albeit two days after I actually made it, still makes me look like a halfhearted Sasha Baron Cohen progeny. Even if I told you I was fasting today, my flagrant offense of everything Jewish ever makes it pale in comparison. Still, it goes without saying that when steaks run up to $24/pound and when frozen chicken breasts swallow the bulk of your birthday money, seeing a 2 lb. pork shoulder for 4 Euro means that you put your money where your mouth is and eat like a queen for four days. Hence, Carnitas Francaises.

Two pounds, four Euro. And to think that all that I had to do was roll up my sleeves and hack at this sucker with a serrated knife like my life depended on it. After trimming and removing the skin and most of the fat and filleting the meat from the bone, I ended up with roughly 1.25 lbs of tender meat. I knew I wanted to make carnitas on the stovetop, and I also knew that I wanted to have a spicy, but distinctly French flavor profile, so I made a spice blend that incorporated all of those components.
The result, after three hours of simmering and twenty minutes of frying and chopping, was transcendental. Roddy, here’s that Franco-Mexican fusion we spoke of. Sheer, tender delight in miniscule shreds accompanied by a quick gastrique. I had every plan to make this into tacos, buy or make tortillas and eat it over the period of a few days, but its allure ensured that that never came to fruition. I ate it plain, slathered with its spicy, fruity sauce, on baguette, on white bread, but never on tortilla. However, there will be another time for this, that much I am sure of.

Carnitas Francaises
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 2lb. bone-in pork shoulder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder/1 clove of chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 tablespoon of parsley
1/4 cup of red wine (I used Bergerac AOC)

1. Trim, debone, and cut the pork shoulder into small  pieces, roughly 3-4 inches long. Heat a pot with roughly 3 cups of water on the stove on high.

2. Mix the spices together and toss to coat the pork. When the water is boiling, put in the pork and lower the heat to a simmer. Let the pork cook for 2-3 hours uncovered, or until all the water is evaporated.

3. When the water has evaporated, the pork will start to caramelize and fry in its own fat. After the pork is brown, remove it and let the bottom of the pan continue to brown. Pour in the wine and deglaze for a few minutes until reduced and toss in the pork again, allowing the wine to cover the meat. Remove the pork and shred.
Habanero Raspberry Bergerac Sauce
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 tablespoons habanero hot sauce, or 2 chopped habanero peppers
1/4 cup of red wine (I used Bergerac AOC)
1/3 cup fresh raspberries or raspberry jam

1. Let all ingredients simmer in a saucepan until reduced and thick. Stir frequently. Keep in a sealed container for up to 4 days.

The B4 Burger in Paris: Bean, bacon, brie, and booze

When we picked our housing for Paris, it was obvious that I was going to live in an apartment. I didn’t want to live in a dormitory for another semester, and although I wanted to get out and meet French people, I wasn’t too keen on living with a host family. What I was looking forward to, however, was the possibility of cooking and shopping for my own groceries. You’ve seen a selection of some of the things I’ve seen in grocery stores (with more to come!) so I thought it would be fun to show you what I’ve actually been cooking as well.
Buying groceries in Europe is very different from getting them in the US. Things that are typically imported into the States that are thus, more expensive, are less expensive in France due to their ease of manufacture and varied selection of items that do not have to be processed and distributed to transport overseas. This includes wine, cheese, cured meats, and bread. One can easily spend about 10 Euros, or roughly $13, on items that would add up to around $20-25 USD if purchased in stores. Recently, a 6 Euro purchase netted me a large baguette, a 250 gram wedge of fresh Brie, two 150 gram cartons of chopped bacon, and a half-bottle of Pays d’Oc red wine. This can be a very prosperous system if you do it correctly. Avoiding American brands, packaged, frozen goods (which I’ve found to be priced the most disproportionately) and fresh juices can help you stretch your Euro.

A few days ago, I picked up some ingredients that I knew I could cook in large quantities and hack around throughout the week if I had leftovers. So with some leftover white beans sauteed in bacon and thyme, wine, bread, and cheese. I made these B4 Burgers in Paris. They’re easy to make, very tasty, and can be customized to suit any flavor palate or combination.

B4 Burgers in Paris
Ingredients (makes 6 patties)
1 can of white beans, drained
1/2 stale baguette, crumbled
1/4 cup of red wine
1/4 cup of chopped bacon, cooked and drained
1 teaspoon of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil

1. Form the patties by soaking the bread crumbs in the red wine and thyme until soft. Mix in beans and bacon until fully incorporated. Shape into patties and chill for 30 minutes to twelve hours in the fridge.

2. When ready to cook, start heating oil. Season patties with salt and pepper and fry on medium-high until golden brown on each side, roughly five minutes per side. When finished, remove patties, pour out oil and deglaze pan with red wine, reducing to a thick syrup.
3. Drain patties on paper towels and serve with brie on top. Spoon red wine glaze over the top and eat alone or with bread.