Monday, July 26, 2010


Spatchcock. Now there's a word you don't hear everyday. Actually in the U.S your don't really hear it at all.  But I've always loved that word. Simply speaking it means "to butterfly'', specifically a chicken.  I bought a chicken at the market, but the thought of roasting it when outside temperatures were soaring into the 90's did not seem appealing.  OK, so the thought of standing outside next to a hot grill was not appealing either, but a girl has to eat.

I wanted to make something a little different, something a little spicy. Chicken Fra Diavolo.

I placed the chicken, breast side down, on the cutting board; and cutting on either side of the backbone, removed it. I then turned the chicken over and pressed down on the breastbone until the chicken was somewhat flattened.  I  massaged the bird all over with olive oil, salt and hot red pepper flakes, then parked it to marinate for a couple of hours.

In the meantime, I grilled some zucchini, seasoned it, and set it to wait at room temperature.

When the sun went down, I was as ready as I was going to be to light the grill. I heated it to about medium-high and placed the chicken breast side down, poured a glass of icy white wine, grabbed my book and settled next to the grill to keep my eye on the bird.  I let the bird cook for about 45-50 minutes, turning quite frequently to avoid burning.

The chicken was done just as John walked through the door. After letting the bird rest a bit, I cut it up and finished it off with a squirt of lemon.

A green salad added, and it was dinner.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Down The Shore

After a weekend at S and A's beach house, I thought that John and I would have to scale back on our eating last week. Put the four of us together with a beach, and all of our common sense eating habits evaporate. But truth be told it proved quite effortless to eat healthfully. That is if you don't count the tequila and that bag of cheetos. 

At the shore we are able to get fish fresh from the boat.

S briefly bathed these still quivering scallops in shoyu sauce--a Japanese soy with wheat added for a bit of sweetness--and a squirt of lime juice.  Then he barely seared them on a hot grill.

A perfect first course.

While we ate the scallops the swordfish was marinating.

A has not eaten red meat in years, but decided that weekend she might try it.  So before the opportunity escaped, we seized the moment and bought some prime porterhouse steaks to present to her that evening.

We added baked potatoes and sauteed spinach to complete our steakhouse meal.

Ice cream for dessert. 

Great weekend with friends.

On second thought we had better scale back our eating.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ah' Pizz

It seems as if authentic Neopolitan pizzerias are opening all over New York. Some, as you might imagine, are not so authentic. Now, I've never been to Naples, but I just can't imagine some of these overly-doughy soggy-crust pies even remotely resembling those served in Naples.

But I think we have a winner in Montclair, NJ.  You may be thinking,"Do we really need another pizzeria in northern New Jersey?" If the place is Ah'Pizz--I think we do.  Business partners Michael La Morte, who runs the front of the house, and pizzaiola, Chris De Lisio believe they have found their niche.

They have set out to create a high end pizzeria serving Neopolitan pizza cooked in a Neopolitan brick oven using ingredients imported from Italy. The restaurant which has been open since April of this year, is a bright and unpretentious storefront with brick walls and floor to ceiling windows.

The night we met L and J there we were seated within five minutes, menus in hand and wine bottle opened. Of course, it was a holiday weekend, but if the pizza that we were served that night is any indication, I expect long lines once word gets out.

We each ordered salads, which were enormous.

This salad was a special that night, cucumber and tomatoes with a balsamic glaze. One of the salads, another special that night, was baby spinach in a mustard vinaigrette; and another a spring mix with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and artichoke hearts tossed with a balsamic glaze. All were quite good.

All the pizzas were delicious. The crust is light--not too dense-- tender but still chewy. Cooking in a 1000 degree wood-burning oven gives the crust the perfect char. The Margherita was covered with  crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil. The Carciofi was topped with artichokes, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, and black olives--nice combination. But the favorite that night was the Gorgonzola pie topped with speck and dusted with Parmigiano Reggiano. Delicious!

As if that wasn't enough J said we had to have the nutella pizza for dessert.  I don't think so. But we had it anyway.

The dough hot from the oven was smeared with nutella, covered with banana slices, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Coffee. Done.

Ah' Pizz is open seven days a week. No reservations. BYOB. Take out, but no phone orders.  It is not inexpensive, but considering the quality ingredients and excellent pizza, it's worth it. Check out their website for more information.

In the inimitable words of Emma in Wilton Barnhardt's novel, Emma Who Saved My Life, "It is important in the daily diet to have one representative from each of the Four Food Groups. A caffeine, a sugar, a booze and a grease...."  Except for the grease, we did all that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kale and Hearty

Although we found ourselves at home for the 4th of July weekend, we had time to meet friends for dinner, sit on the beach for a few hours, and even go to a fabulous fireworks display. Monday morning we were still in relaxation mode.

So while John was outside feeding the plants, I was puttering around the kitchen taking care of odds and ends when I came across five leaves of kale in the crisper. These five leaves were the last evidence of our now unsubscribed-to CSA. I tried, but it just was not for me. Right after I cashed my refund check I heard that this week's box includes a half, yes half, head of lettuce as well as one baby leek. Lord knows, I can't make this stuff up!

Anyway, what to do with the kale? Although I love just about all kinds of greens, kale has never been my favorite.  Somewhere in the back of my head was a recollection of someone somewhere making kale chips.  I started searching--and you wouldn't believe how many articles I found about kale chips. Who knew?

I rinsed and dried the leaves, then tore them into bite-sized pieces. I then tossed the pieces with some olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt.

These are the kale leaves on the baking sheet ready for the oven.

Then I had to decide at what temperature to bake them. Some thought low and slow, others used a hot oven.  Since my oven was already heated to 375 after toasting a batch of walnuts and making a batch of crostini, that was the temperature I used.

This is what they looked like after seven minutes; turned them over and roasted for another 7 minutes.

This is what they looked like when done roasting.

Well, I can't say that either of us really liked them. I could have used a lot less olive and waaay less salt!

I actually liked our dinner of crostini and farro salad  much better.