Semi-classic fried chicken, half baked

by Terry B on June 4, 2014

In this take on classic fried chicken, buttermilk-soaked chicken thighs are heavily seasoned, fried briefly and finished in the oven. Recipe below.

classic fried chicken

The term “classic” can be freighted with wildly varying baggage, especially when attached to something as iconic as fried chicken. Largely seen as a Southern dish, it arrived there by way of Scotland. Many Scottish immigrants settled in the South, bringing the deep fried dish with them (fellow Europeans preferred to bake, roast or boil chicken).

According to The Urban Daily, “When African slaves who worked as cooks were brought to the country, they put their own spin on the dish using seasonings and spices not found in most Scottish dishes.” As with many classic dishes, generations of home cooks, chefs and fast food chains have put their own spin on fried chicken, making defining a single classic version impossible. [click to continue…]

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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, The Cheesecake Factory

These days, I skip breakfast. This is shocking to my sister, who says, “How can you do that? It’s one of the three most important meals!” But I just, oh, I just can’t.

As it happened, the other day, we had to drive up to the North Shore to take care of some errands and see some folks. So by the time we got to the Old Orchard mall, it was late morning and I was good and hungry. [click to continue…]

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Butcher and chef Chris Turner marinates thinly sliced beef short ribs in a mixture that includes garlic, onion, Asian pear, mirin, soy sauce and sesame oil to create authentic Kalbi Korean Barbecued Beef Short Ribs. Recipe below.

Kalbi Korean barbecued beef short ribs

On a recent visit to our favorite butcher shop, The Butcher & Larder, we saw butcher Jimmy Shay working over thin slices of beef short ribs with the back edge of a cleaver. When we asked what he was up to, he said he was tenderizing them so that fellow butcher Chris Turner could turn them into the “most amazing, authentic kalbi, Korean barbecued beef.” We immediately asked Chris if he would share the recipe—and story behind it—here. Happily, he said yes:
[click to continue…]

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Honey bees, vital to growing most of the fruits and vegetables we eat, are dying in huge numbers. Several studies point to one chemical killer. You can tell the EPA to do something about it.

Honeybee

For all its mechanized muscle and technological wizardry, agribusiness still needs bees. In fact, according to USDA, “one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.” Whole Foods is more direct in sharing this information—and in stating the problem at hand: “One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators, and pollinator populations are facing massive declines.”

The problem is something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In the winter of 2005/2006, beekeepers began reporting losses of 30 to 90 percent of their hives. This wasn’t a decrease of populations within hives, but entire hives of bees either dying or disappearing. Significant losses have continued, year after year. And as agricultural demand for bees has increased, so has the pressure on remaining hives. A new Harvard study is only the latest to point a finger at a widely used class of pesticides. [click to continue…]

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For a quick, healthy, delicious lunch, top warm brown rice with Greek-style yogurt, pistachios, fresh rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil. Recipe below.

Savory Yogurt with Brown Rice and Pistachios

Yogurt is having more than a moment. It’s experiencing a seismic shift. North America is eagerly discovering Greek-style strained yogurt, with its higher protein content, thick luxurious mouth feel and tangy flavor.

The picture below shows just a portion of the yogurt case in the Wegman’s supermarket in East Syracuse, New York—maybe 20 percent of the yogurt on display. The shot doesn’t even include the vast part of Wegman’s yogurt case that features the star of the show and the hero of the new American yogurt story, Chobani. [click to continue…]

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Getting playful with dinner can be as simple as trying some new pasta shapes.

Pasta alla Caprese

Growing up, I knew three kinds of pasta (and nobody I knew called it pasta): spaghetti, elbow macaroni and shells. The Italians, though, are quite inventive when it comes to their defining national food. Besides their numerous long pastas—spaghetti, capellini, fettuccine and linguine, to name a few—they have created a vast assortment of shaped pastas, both playful and practical. Here are a handful to explore. [click to continue…]

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Seven recipes for spring (whatever that is)

by Terry B on May 14, 2014

Whatever spring is dishing out weatherwise, one of these seven recipes should stand up to it nicely.

Fettuccine with Peas and Prosciutto

Monday, it was 86 degrees in Chicago. For much of the rest of this week, it’s going to be in the 40s and 50s. Such is spring in the Midwest. In searching through the Blue Kitchen archives, I see posts over the years have reflected the season’s mood swings. So this week, I thought I would share some recipes from the archives that take advantage of seasonal ingredients and offer options for all kinds of seasonal—and unseasonal—weather.

Fettuccine with Peas and Prosciutto

Pictured above, this quick, simple recipe takes delicious advantage of fresh English peas, which are at their seasonal best now, but you can also use frozen peas. Parmesan, cream and minced garlic balance the peas’ sweetness. [click to continue…]

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In Michigan, NIMBY trumps urban farming

by Terry B on May 11, 2014

Recent changes to Michigan’s 33-year-old Right to Farm Act exclude urban farms from protection.

urban farming, backyard chickens

When Michigan passed the Right to Farm Act back in 1981, it was designed to protect farmers from urban sprawl. As suburban development expanded into rural areas, the new residents—people with “limited understanding of farming,” as a Right to Farm Act FAQ sheet calls them—often found typical farming conditions, including dust, odors, animal noises and such, unacceptable. Sometimes, the interlopers would file nuisance suits against the farmers. Essentially, the law said this is how farming smells, sounds, looks and acts. It has a right to do so.

Over the last several years, the flow has reversed, with farming moving back to town. Increasingly, urban dwellers are raising vegetables, chickens and even goats in their backyards or on small plots of land. Some do so for their own consumption, wanting to reduce their reliance on factory-farmed foods. Some are entrepreneurs, producing small batch products to sell at farmers markets and other outlets. Late last month, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development put their right to do so in doubt. [click to continue…]

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Disks of Crottin, a classic French goat cheese, are baked on buttery toasts, then placed atop a simple salad of mixed greens and Dijon mustard vinaigrette to produce a classic bistro dish. Recipe below.

Traditional French salad with Crottin de Chavignol

Terroir, the idea that a “sense of place” flavors agricultural products, is most closely associated with wines. But increasingly, the term is being used with coffee, tea, chocolate, hops and, germane to this story, cheese.

We were recently asked to sample a number of French chèvres, cheeses made from goat’s milk, each produced in a different region. They beautifully illustrated for us just how deeply place is ingrained into French agriculture. And how complex the notion of terroir can be. [click to continue…]

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Three modest reds from Spain that are delightful and easy to drink.

Monastrell wines from Spain

For a long time now, my preferred nightcap has been a glass of red wine. I am always migrating among different varietals, and for a while now I’ve been drinking a lot of monastrells from Spain.

Monastrell, called Mourvèdre in France and Mataro in Australia, is one of the world’s ancient varietals—Wikipedia says it most likely was brought to Spain around 500 BC by the Phoenicians. The same grape grows in France, in the US and in Australia, sometimes being bottled on its own and sometimes making its way into blends. In Spain, the hot, dry climate suits it admirably, and it is widely planted in eastern regions like Yecla, Alicante and Jumilla. [click to continue…]

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