Have a strawberry…

Everyone needs to pause now and then, if only to taste the strawberries.  Jody and Roxanne are in Arizona, attending a colloquy of culinary muses, amid a tight schedule of avocado body wraps and açai-quinoa facial exfoliations.  With luck they’ll manage to squeeze in a field trip to Saguaro National Park or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. …

Chicken Under a Brick with Pan-Roasted Red Onions

Chicken Under A Brick -2

Chicken Under A Brick is a spatchcocked or butterflied bird (they mean the same thing) cooked under a weight so it remains flat and cooks evenly.  Part of the pleasure of spatchcocking is just saying it.  “Darling, we’re spatchcocking poussin tonight.”  Doesn’t that sound like heaps more fun than, “Sweetie, it’s butterflied chicken night,”?  I am not alone.   Spatchcock is one of those words that sets the hearts of etymologists aflutter, and propositions abound concerning its origins.  This much is certain: the English use spatchcock to indicate a chicken under six weeks old, the equivalent of a French poussin.  As a verb, on both sides of the Atlantic, it means to remove the backbone and  flatten the chicken, making it easier to grill or roast.  Its earliest appearance in print is in an 18th-century Irish cookbook, where it’s a recommended method of grilling poultry. But asking how the word came to be–who are its parents, aunts and uncles, distant relations–is to dive into a tangle of linguistic geneology.  One theory holds that spatchcock is a shortened form of “dispatch the cock,” with its multiple meanings of killing/prepping, and to happen quickly.   Another etymology sees it as a variation of “spitchcock,” an English technique for grilling eels on a spit (nobody can say where “spitchcock” comes from).  A particularly evocative Victorian version of the “dispatch the cock” school maintains that the word originated in the long sea voyages from England to India (posh passengers), when coops of chickens would be kept on board.  To relieve the tedium of the sea passages at sea and the monotony of a shipboard diet chickens would periodically be brought on deck and, to the amusement and anticipation of salivating passengers, partially deboned, flattened and quickly grilled.

Whatever its origins, spatchcocking chicken is simple and useful, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to cook.  All it requires is a pair of heavy-duty kitchen scissors or poultry sheers.  The result is a juicy chicken with the crispiest skin you’ve ever tasted.

Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips with Dried Shrimp, Chiles, Garlic and Lime

Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips-8



If the word ‘turnips” doesn’t make your heart go pitter-patter there’s a good chance you’re suffering from the after-effects of  Araac Syndrome (Ate  Rutabagas As A Child).  Let’s face it, rutabagas are to gastronomic pleasure what Miss Hannigan is to social work.  Not to worry. We have the cure for what ails you: Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips with Dried Shrimp, Chiles, Garlic and Lime.

Where the wild things are – Fiddleheads and Ramps with Salami

Fiddleheads and Ramps with Salami-15

In the last couple of years I’ve eaten things I would have included on a culinary bucket list, if I one–nettles and bottarga, for example, and now ramps.  Of course I’d heard of ramps, and when I recently found a bunch (while foraging in the produce section at Whole Foods) I rejoiced.  I could finally that make ramp butter recipe I’d been saving for years.  When when the Hakurei turnips we palnned to write about failed to make an appearance, Jody invoked imminent domain and requisitioned my ramps for this week’s recipe – Fiddleheads and Ramps with Salami.  Forager emptor.