Listen up, y’all. I have something important to say. Just because it’s Sunday and you’re all alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself a Sunday night feast. And just because it’s 90 degrees and brutal outside, that doesn’t mean your feast can’t include a roast chicken. I won’t let any of that stop me. No way, no how. Either way I’m roasting a chicken. (You can expect this to be the title of my first memoir.)
Last weekend, it was unbearably hot. It happened to be one of the few summer weekends I stayed in the city with no blue, crisp body of water to jump into and cool me down whenever the heat got to be too much. Most New Yorkers left in the city spent the day sprawled out next to their air conditioning unit but, the thing is, I was just really determined to spend a productive day in the kitchen. So I did what any sane person who wants to spend a day in the kitchen when it’s miserably hot outside does – I donned my most sensible swimming suit and got down to it.
The reason I was so anxious to spend a day in the kitchen was that two Fridays ago, we kicked off our in-office CSA program with GrowNYC. We sign up and pay weekly for fresh produce to be delivered to our office. So far I’ve signed up two weeks in a row and it is such a bountiful harvest. I’ve had trouble using it all up, especially since I’m away so many weekends during the summer. So you see, I just couldn’t let a little heat wave get in the way of my culinary commitments and lightly scheduled day. As I say about cheese, bread, and wine produce, “Waste not, want not!”
Anchovies were one of the key players in Sunday’s kitchen games.
And, of course, garlic always shows up.
Dressing #1 – Green Goddess.
However, before even contemplating what to do with all of my CSA produce, I had some herbs, yogurt, and buttermilk in the fridge that badly needed attention. To get the most out of these ingredients, I decided on Green Goddess dressing and buttermilk ranch dressing. Heck, why not make it a theme? Due to some ingredient crossover and then adding in the CSA produce, I decided to make Roberta’s Romaine Salad and Roasted Garlic Dressing. Which is just a fancy way of saying Caesar salad.
Beautiful scallions from the CSA box start off the buttermilk ranch.
And that is where the chicken came into play. Because it was Sunday and what’s a great big Caesar salad without a succulent, juicy roast chicken to accompany it? Who cares if it was blaringly hot outside? The thing about roasting a chicken in the sauna that your apartment has become is that you just shove the bird in the oven and then go sit in your air-conditioned room with some prosecco and HBOGo for a while.
Nothing wrong with enjoying some prosecco on a solitary Sunday night.
I got this organic (I mean, of course) prosecco with my friend Madeline. It was pretty good, but it kinda tasted like a bellini. Very sweet stuff, this organic prosecco.
Never have I ever used more anchovies in a day.
I won’t be getting a CSA box this week because come Saturday I’ll be quitting the oppressively hot city for a week. It’s time for my annual summer pilgrimage to Stowe (!!!!) where I’ll be taking as many naps as I can, diving in the lake after long walks and even longer dock dozes, and eating as much Cabot cheddar cheese as I can. I’ll probably even need to put a light sweater on at night. And although I’m missing out on a CSA box, I’ll be stopping at a delightful Vermont farmer’s market or two as I go along my merry Vermont way.
See y’all later, when I’ve gotten my fill of #vermontvibes! (aka, see ya never!)
Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing
From Bon Appétit
Yields: about 1 cup
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil and drained)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- Combine everything in a food processor and puree until blended and smooth. Make sure to let it go for a few minutes, or it won’t be as green as the name suggests. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and chill in the fridge. Serve with greens and veggies and anything your heart desires.
Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Adapted from Ina Garten
Yields: about 3 cups
2 large scallions, white and green parts, chopped
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, lightly packed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly shopped
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup thick yogurt, such as Sohha or Greek-style
½ cup buttermilk
A dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the scallions, basil, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until smooth.
- Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk, and blend until smooth.
- Cover and chill in the fridge. Serve with greens, veggies, French fries, or even pizza if you’re one of those weirdos.
Roberta’s Roasted Garlic Dressing
Adapted from Serious Eats
Yields: about half a cup
1 head of garlic
¾ cup olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 large egg yolks (keep the whites for the walnuts!)
5 anchovy fillets (packed in oil and drained)
Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the top of the head of garlic off and place it cut side up on a square of aluminum foil. Splash it with a bit of water and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bring the corners of the foil up over the garlic and make a loosely wrapped little package of it. Roast for a little under and hour.
- Remove it from the oven, let it cool a little bit, and squeeze about 4-5 roasted garlic cloves out. You can save the rest in the fridge for another use.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the roasted garlic, the raw clove of garlic, mustard, vinegars, egg yolks, anchovies, and lemon juice. Blend until combined.
- While blending, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s emulsified and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep in the refrigerator.
Roberta’s Romaine Salad with Candied Walnuts
Adapted from Serious Eats
Yields: about 2 servings
2 cups of walnut halves
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ cup honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heart of romaine, ripped into bite size pieces
½ head of curly kale, ripped into bite sized pieces
Pecorino Romano cheese, to taste
- To make the candied walnuts: Put the nuts on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 4 minutes and then turn the sheet 180 degrees. Roast for another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Turn the oven to 274 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs whites until they begin to have body (foamy), but not so much as to form sot peaks. Add the brown sugar, honey, and 10 good turns of black pepper. Combine. Add the walnuts to the mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon until walnuts are coated. Spread them evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Try to leave as much excess coating behind in the bowl as you can. Sprinkle them evenly with the teaspoon of kosher salt. Put them in the oven and bake for 12 minutes, turn the baking sheet 180 degrees, and bake for another 12 minutes. The nuts should be dry and not sticky (I had to bake mine longer). Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
- To make the salad: In a large salad bowl, massage the kale with just a little bit of olive oil and then add the romaine. Pour in as much dressing as you prefer and toss the salad with your hands or with salad servers. Scatter as many walnuts as you’d like over the salad and then grate on a good serving of pecorino.
- Heap some onto a plate and if you’re as sensible as I am, you’ll roast a chicken to nestle in next to the salad.
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