Monday, September 8, 2008

I've been a baaad, baaad Daring Baker!!!

Yes, yes! I'm guilty of being a horrid DBer for the past few months, skipping challenges left and right! As John Lennon sang, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". Nevertheless, it's no excuse to let down my fellow DBers and skip challenges! So, this post will regale you the details of the August DB challenge: Pierre Herme's Chocolate Eclairs. Hey, it's better late than never, no? Also, I figure that I cannot skip a challenge that involves the DBers' sugah daddy, Pierre Herme. The recipe can be found in his book, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme.

The whole process was quite simple. The recipe comes in three parts for the three different components: dough, pastry cream and glaze. I thought the most difficult part was trying to pipe in the pastry cream without having to split the baked and cooled choux. By the way, did you know that the eclair is a sort of French donut according to Wikipedia???

I thought that the eclair is already a perfect enough classic treat without trying to alter the recipe much. I mean, seriously, how can beat a creamy, sweet custard filling in a baked crisp yet soft dough topped with chocolate sauce? Seriously! So, the only variation that I did was to drizzle some melted white chocolate on top. Pretty?

Suffice to say, the eclairs didn't last long when I brought them to lab, where they were all snapped up by starving scientists. Thank goodness I had the sense to save some dough and baked up more choux. However, this time, I make profiteroles with them. Ok, so I was wrong before, you can beat the perfect eclair by filling the choux with ice cream! :D

Also, apologies for the overly gigantic pictures (for now). Photobucket isn't exactly cooperating...

Friday, August 15, 2008

The family descends in town!!!

Well, not the whole family, thank goodness. My sweet cousin and aunt visited me for a weekend recently. We had a ball just doing girly stuff around town and went to a few restaurants that I normally don't go to, whether it's due to price or distance/convenience issues.

We went to NoMi, a Japanese fusion-ish place at the Park Hyatt in the heart of Chicago's Magnificent Mile. I've been here a few times previously, always with visiting family. Not only is their food delicious, the view is simply to die for. We went during Saturday's lunch hour and got a seat by the window easily. The ambience of the dining room and bar was very sophisticated and clean. Service was impeccable and the wine list and cellar looked very impressive. They even had a few different kinds of salts and peppers to choose from, to season your own food! How pretty!
Salts and peppers at NoMi

We started off with a very generous assortment of warm breads and butter. Even though the breads were warm, the butter was rock hard. I must say that warm bread always earns brownie points from me, but rock hard butter doesn't. I know that it'll violate some health code if restaurants were to keep butters warm, but it will definitely help if customers didn't have to struggle to spread it on their breads.

We proceeded to a very clean, delicious citrus beet salad that was topped with the most refreshing citrus vinaigrette. Isn't the plating simply elegant?

I was fascinated by the Saffron Bouillabaisse and opted for that despite a hot, summery day out. Not only was it absolutely scrumptious, the scallops and calamari were cooked to perfection: just enough for a bite and flavor. The plating was clean, yet warm. A half of the sourdough crouton was soft from the bouillabaisse, and the other half retains its crunch, which made for a fun mix of textures and flavors.

My aunt also chose something light: the Ikebana sushi platter consisting of a tuna roll, some fresh salmon sashimi and an assortment of cooked and raw sushi. The dish was very fresh, but I don't know if it was worth the hefty $25 price tag!

My cousin, ever the sweet tooth she is, ordered the French Raisin Toast with fresh cream and fig coulis. It was surprisingly light for a French toast: a tad dry and a bit too crunchy. I think French toasts should be rich, creamy and heavy. It might be due to the fact that NoMi kind of places itself as a "spa" restaurant, which is why their light dishes are way superior than their "enlightened" heavy dishes. I could be wrong, but that's my impression of it. The fig coulis, though, was pretty intensely fig-gy (if there's such a word). It would've been perfect with an assortment of cheeses.

The meal was satiating in terms of the range flavors we enjoyed, but the portions weren't uber generous. Fortunately, we had a complimentary dessert platter. The waitress came out with a silvery cylinder with 3 layers. After placing it on the table, she unfurled each layer to reveal the mini treats in them. The presentation was beautiful, very much like a surprise gift. As you can see, each layer has about 3 mini, bite-sized sweet treats. The most memorable items I tried were the fruit tart (I'm such a sucker for fruit tarts!) and a super intense chocolatey truffle.

Overall, it was a beautiful, light meal. I definitely won't recommend this place if you're famished, but it's perfect for a special occasion or if you want something light at a breathtaking locale.

Another place I wouldn't normally patronize is this Korean restaurant on Lawrence Avenue that I stumbled upon by accident when I was really looking for good ol' San Soo Gap San. The restaurant name is San Chae Dolsot. Everything (well, most of it) was written in Korean at the restaurant; I was half expecting them to not have English menus :)

Located in a mini strip mall along Chicago's Korean town on Lawrence Avenue, it looked like the kind of neighbourhood restaurant that Korean families come to for Sunday dinner. But anyway, my aunt, my cousin and I just stuck to good Korean classics such as kal bee, chap jae and a kim chee tofu soup. The traditional banchan (otherwise known as those delicious starters served on small mini plates) served was deliciously tongue-tingling as usual. We thought the kal bee was not that great, probably due to the quality of the meat. However, the marinade was yummy.

The kim chee tofu soup was simply to die for. I'm sure the chill of the evening helped make it taste even better, but the spice was just right and there's so much silky tofu in it! Just add some bean rice and you get a filling, warm stew.

We all really enjoyed their chap jae, which was cooked very nicely. The glass noddle still had a bite to it and the sweet and salty interplayed perfectly. I love that they added so much sesame seeds on top!

Overall, it was a pretty decent restaurant. All of the other patrons were Korean families. Of course, in true Indonesian form, my aunt didn't find the Korean food spicy enough. My family has this practice bringing around a special bottle of Indonesian chili sauce when we go out to eat. I know, I know, it's really weird. But I must say that it really does help bring out the flavor of most Asian foods. Now, my aunt has officially graduted to bringing around fresh chili in a Ziploc bag! And you can bet on her bringing it out for our Korean food adventure!

It was an awesome weekend, catching up with them and trying out some new restaurants. I can't wait to see them again soon!

800 N. Michigan Ave., #7

San Chae Dolsot
3737 W. Lawrence Ave.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Staying cool...

It has been a whirlwind summer thus far. Actually, make that a whirlwind year! I've been travelling like crazy (counting at least 20 different flights, 6 of them international) and trying to work like crazy so I can graduate soon. Sadly, even though I have so much to blog about, all this activity has left me little time to do so. Nevertheless, I try to cook whenever I can and in this searing summer heat, I like to make easy dishes that will minimize oven time. As they say, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I'm one weird tropical girl who really detests heat!

Thanks to all the debauchery and busy schedule I had this year, I seriously need to go on a diet! With the heat and diet, salads have been my saving grace this summer. I know salads don't exactly conjure up the most fantastic, delicious images in most people's minds, but I think that with a little creativity and some sense of adventure, it could be scrumptious, healthy and oh so easy at the same time. My ultimate secret weapon for salads? Great dressing.

Specifically, I'm really into Japanese-style sesame dressing. It's commonly used not only as salad dressing, but also as a dipping sauce for grilled meats in Japanese restaurants. This dressing goes with almost every green and protein, but it is best with softer baby greens, such as spinach. I first got hooked by this dressing when I was eating at a bbq restaurant in Tokyo, where the thinly-sliced beef was served with a fragrant, nutty sesame dip.
6-26-08 160

There are many different brands of sesame dressing at the ethnic grocery store, which led me to experiment a little bit. I noticed that the consistency of the dressings vary widely. You can check them out by turning the bottles upside down and observing how quickly (or slowly) the dressing "moves". Thus far, the slower they are, the better. The "slow" sesame dressings tend to be more flavorful and nuttier. I also find that you can use way less of the "slow" dressings for the same degree of flavor. As you can see above, the color of the dressings are also different, I'm guessing due to the different degree of roasting that was done in the production process.

So, for dinner last night, I decided to make one of my favorite salads: a bed of soft baby spinach topped with lightly sauteed garlic shrimp. And of course, it will be served with a drizzling of the sesame dressing.

Recipe for Favorite Garlic Shrimp Spinach Salad

1 Tbsp olive or canola or vegetable oil
Minced garlic
Baby spinach (or any other greens of your choice)
Japanese-style sesame dressing

Heat oil on non-stick pan.

Add shrimp and garlic to hot pan.

Season the shrimp to taste with salt and pepper.

Once the shrimp has been cooking on one side for at most 3 minutes, flip them over one by one.

Cook another two minutes.

Remove from heat. Pile shrimp on top of the baby spinach. Drizzle with sesame dressing and enjoy!
6-26-08 162

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Sentimental Education

I'm a sucker for classic romances. However, when I give a modern romance novel a chance, I get bored to tears within the first few chapters for one of a few reasons.

A typical modern romance usually features a neurotic, spoiled heroine with an incurable shoe addiction that is supposed to be endearing to readers but instead, annoys me to the core. Not all women are brainless creatures who suddenly become helpless at the sight of the latest shiny cut leather on high heels!!! Alternatively, there might be a Fabio-esque character who is raring and ready to sweep a fragile, helpless woman off her feet only to ride into the sunset on a white horse, no less.

I'd like to first state that I'm not a man-hating, bra-burning feminist. I enjoy a trashy novel once in a (great, great) while. I have to be in a very specific brainless mindset to actually be in the mood to enjoy one of these moderm romance novels. It isn't so much the misogynistic, patriarchal portrayal of women that disgusts me (although that doesn't really help their case). It is the assumption that female readers (who are these books' target market) are so mindless that they could enjoy such two-dimensional drivel on a regular basis, that appalls me!

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy romance stories as much as the girl next door, but just because a story features a romance doesn't excuse authors from good writing; y'know, stuff like character development, creation of suspense/action, eliciting an emotional response from the reader, an interesting yet realistic plot, etc, etc. So I often end up going to second-hand bookstores (of which, there are at least two in my neighbourhood) and picking up classic fiction. I recently finished Gustave Flaubert's masterpiece, A Sentimental Education.

Though not widely considered a "romance", everything about it is romantic. Centered in this book, is the main character's, Frederic Moreau's, growing affection for a friend's wife, Madame Marie Arnoux. The development of this romance uses the background of the 1848 French Revolution, where we also witness the political education of Frederic and his contemporaries. The constant tension between Frederic and Marie is mirrored in the upheaval of political events as a background. Flaubert not only took care to describe to us the intricate folds of Marie's chartreuse dress or her curled auburn locks, but also the smell of fire in the Parisian streets after a riot and the beauty of his countryside hometown of Nogent.

I think my favorite heroine (if you can call it that) in the book is the city of Paris. Despite the relative darkness with which Flaubert depicted the general mood and the city, there is a certain strength and beauty about it all. It is ironic that although the book's title means the education of feelings, in the end, Frederic achieves neither education nor feelings (or sentiments), leaving us regretful that he and his contemporaries did not achieve their full potential.

An imperfect character, Frederic leaves a lot to be desired, what with his womanizing ways and spoiled brat attitude of entitlement. However, I suppose I identify with him a little bit. Till the end, Frederic was always be a dreamer, full of longings and desires. There is something familiar about the way he and his pals would hang out over drinks and tidbits, talking about the people they knew and politics. It reminds me a bit like grad school and my friends, knocking back a few together at the end of another hard week. (Spoiler alert! If you're going to read this book, stop reading this blog entry!)

The book ends with Frederic and his oldest friend sitting around, reminiscing of days gone by, loves lost and promises unfulfilled. The ending is a bit on the negative side, with the main characters either dead or having accomplished little to nothing. Nevertheless, it serves as another reminder to me of life's fleeting quality, and that we all should seize the day and live it the fullest.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Treating myself...

There was a little surprise in the mail about a few weeks ago. It was a white envelope addressed to me with no return address. If I was paranoid (like my boss), I would've put on some gloves before opening it. To my (pleasant) surprise, it was a $25 Amazon gift certificate from my friend (you know who you are *virtual hugz*). $25 is very generous, especially by Amazon standards. You can get sooo much on Amazon for $25, considering the prices are usually 30% or more lower than retail prices at bookstores.

It wasn't hard deciding what to get on Amazon because I do keep a few wish lists there myself. The first treat I got for myself was a Daft Punk CD. I've been in the mood for upbeat electronica music lately. I find that it's good music to listen to while doing experiments at work or running outside. I know it's rather Eurotrash of me, but I don't care! :D

The second treat I chose is the one I'm super super excited about. I bought Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets book. If you don't already know (which means you're either an abonimation of Nature or a "normal" non-baker), Dorie Greenspan is the goddess of baking. Seriously, her recipes are awesome and can't be beat! From what I hear, she's very very nice in person too :)

Every day I would peek in my mailbox and ask "Wherefore art thou, Amazon package?" I got the free Super Saver shipping, so I had to suffer for a week before getting my precious treats. The long-awaited package came in the mail today and I immediately tore into the box, extracting the cool CD and my book! My Dorie Greenspan book!

Let me tell you that I read that book from cover to cover within the first few hours of receiving it. I love how the book was organized with little tidbits of Dorie's experiences with the bakers of the best bakeries and patisseries of Paris. Interspersed with the charming stories were recipes that the various pastry artistes shared, ranging from the classic madeleine to the formidable gateau St. Honore. The illustrations of Paris and the pastries were sweet and were evocative of those found in the Roald Dahl books of my childhood. I like that Dorie takes care to give the ingredient measurements in both metric and volume amounts. The suggestions to personalize the creations were fun and it's very helpful to have a list of alternatives to quality French ingredients she found in Paris. If there's any disappointment, it's only the fact that there are no recipes for the French macaroon in the book. Oh well, I guess I'll have to treat myself with another Dorie book soon!

Anyway, I was so excited and I took some time to decide which recipe to try out first. Since there are no big occasions or party in my social landscape in the next week, I picked out a more portable pastry recipe to experiment with. I was immediately taken with the madeleine recipes in the book. Although I'm not French (by a long stretch!), I can identify with Marcel Proust's fond remembrance of these shell-shaped cakes.

Growing up in Singapore, there was a popular French bistro chain (almost equivalent to Au Bon Pain here in the States) called "Delifrance". They sell all sorts of yummy French fare ranging from croissants and quiches to madeleines. Their madeleines were available everywhere, even at a gas station two blocks away from my school. After a long day of classes and extracurricular activities, I would often stop by the gas station to get a box of Delifrance madeleines, savoring one in the bus on the way home. I would share the rest of the box (there were 6 cakes in a box) to my sister and cousins who were living with me at the time. It would often be the highlight of our young, (seemingly) boring, long schooldays.

So, I joyously undertook this challenge to recreate those simple yet sweet memories at home, and here are what I found to be the keys to the perfect madeleines.
Madeleines in pan

Mixing the batter is pretty simple. As long as you follow the directions and don't overmix, it should be allright. Now, most of the useful tips are to be followed after the batter is mixed.

First, to achieve the signature hump of the madeleine, the batter has to be refrigerated for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight.

Second, the special shell-shaped madeleine pan has to be generously buttered and floured to ensure that these yummy cakes won't stick and ruin its shell shape.

Last but not least, madeleines are best enjoyed the day they are baked with a cup of coffee (I myself prefer tea). But if you have to save them for another day, store them in an airtight container after they are completely cooled.

Bon appetit!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A San Franciscan Weekend

The San Francisco bay area is truly one of my favorite places ever. Maybe it's just the "granola" side of me talking but there's a free, green spirit about the area that I adore, what with the constant presence of activism in the street corner or the bi-weekly farmer's market in almost every county. I jumped with joy when I saw that there are recycling and composting bins to be found throughout the city. I also hear that retailers are mandated to use recycleable or compostable shopping bags by law! If San Francisco can do it, why can't the rest of the country?

Anyway, the main reason for my SF trip is to attend a scientific meeting that's held over the weekend. I had to present a poster there and got the chance to attend some interesting talks. Initially I wasn't looking forward to the poster session because I thought that my work is kind of lame. However, many people stopped by my poster and asked many questions. It has truly revived the scientist in me. Wow! Someone's actually interested in what I'm doing, haha! :)

I attended most of the lectures and professional events that I thought were directly related to my work and this still left me with plenty of time to sightsee and basically do whatever I wanted to. On my first night, I met up with two of my cousins who lives in San Jose. Actually, they met up with me. They were so sweet that they picked me up from the airport! Here they are, regaled in plastic bibs!

Actually, the reason they were wearing bibs (I had one on too!) was that we were about to enjoy a crab dinner and eating crabs with your bare hands sure can get messy. Hendra brought us to Thanh Long in San Francisco for its crazy good Vietnamese seafood fare. We went there on a Friday night and it was super packed. Once I smelled the strong, distinctive scent of garlic, I knew that we were at a good place. Fortunately, we were seated within 10 minutes and my cousin Hendra shortened our waiting time by immediately ordering the specialties without even opening the menu. We had a giant Dungeness crab each and tiger prawns served over a bed of garlic noodles. The roasted crab was deliciously moist and super meaty. The sauce (made with garlic and "secret" spices, whatever they may be) was perfect for dunking the chunks of soft crab meat into. The butterflied tiger prawns were also tasty, though a teeny tad overcooked. My favorite just had to be the garlic noodles: a bit on the soft side of al dente and 100% garlicky!

Believe it or not, after that meal fit for giants, we shared two desserts: the molten chocolate cake and fried banana, both a la mode.The chocolate cake was just allright to me but the fried banana brings back memories of my childhood for me. One of my father's favorite snacks is fried banana, a staple of Indonesian cuisine. Growing up, he used to bring me along to a fried banana stand in the heart of the Jakarta Chinatown when he sneaked out of the house for a snack :)

Besides enjoying the seafood in SF, I also headed towards a Californian institution: In'n'Out. I've heard many friends rave about this Cali joint and I've always wanted to try it. The previous times I was in California, I wasn't able to make my pilgrimage for one reason or another. This time, I was determined to not miss it! After I presented my poster at the meeting, I decided to go for a run around SF. Long story short, I ran from my hotel (near the Civic Center) to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then to Fisherman's Wharf, before heading back to the hotel. If it sounds like a long run to you, it's probably because it WAS a looong run. I had planned it out so that I would have my post-run meal at an In'n'Out at Fisherman's Wharf. After a blistering run throughout the 45-degree sloped of Sn Francisco, this was a sweet sight for sore eyes (and legs!).

When I went into the restaurant, there was already a long line ahead of me. This particular In-n-Out was packed with tourists due to the location, but there were a number of locals too. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do; so I ordered a double double meal. I just can't get over how funny the name is! :) So, the double double meal consists of a double double burger (double the patty and cheeese), fries and medium drink. The unlimited drink part was pretty awesome because I was sooo dehydrated after my run and I must say that I had never tasted a more refreshing or delicious Diet Coke in my life!

Mr oder took a little less than 10 minutes to complete, which makes me believe that they actually cook the food only after they received the order. Although the fries were unimpressive and were on the soggy side (McD fries are better), the burger itself was yummy. I could actually taste the meat! Unlike other fast food joints that serve burgers that are unbelieveably tasteless, I like the beefiness (yes, the BEEFiness) of an In-n-Out burger. As if this is not Cali enough, they wrap their burgers in paper instead of plastic, hand-cut their fries and lettuce, and only use vegetable oil. Isn't it awesome?

The rest of the time in SF, I spent munching and snacking instead of having big sit-down meals. I just wanted a taste of as many things as possible! Of course a trip to SF is never complete without a visit to the largest Chinatown in the US. I searched high and low for this one bakery my cousin brought me to previously, where I enjoyed the most luscious egg tart ever. After an hour or so looking lost and having lost hope, I found it: the AA Bakery & Cafe!

As with most Chinatown bakeries and cafes, this one was filled with older Chinese folks, enjoying their morning egg tart or other yummy pastries over a piping hot cup of milk tea (or nai cha). As for me, I made a beeline to purchase my favorite Chinese pastries: egg tart, steamed "paper" cake and a custard bun topped with a thin almond cookie.

Unlike the Chicago C-town bakeries, in SF, the egg tart shell is made with puff pastry, giving it a rich flavor, flaky texture and a delicate crispness that is distinct from the graham cracker-style crust used in other cities' C-town bakeries. The actually egg custard part is also much milkier and softer, which makes SF egg tarts my favorite ever!

The custard-filled bun topped with almond cookie (I don't know its official name) was also a yummy treat. I've never seen them in the Chicago C-town and I first had this with my cousin in SF a few years back. This bun combines a soft bready texture with the cool creamy filling and a lightly crunchy cookie top. Man, Asian cuisine is chock full of foods and dishes that combine different textures and flavors; and this bun is (in my humble opinion), the most delicious example of that.

The steamed "paper" bun (my absolute favorite Chinese pastry ever!) was not as good as the ones in Chicago (Chi-town pride!). It had a layer of crust (not hard, not soft) on top that the cakes in Chicago don't have. However, the flavor was spot-on and was perfect with a cup of strong latte.

And guess what?!?!? I was in Cali during the cherry season! When I saw a fresh shipment of cherries in C-town, I couldn't resist! Don't worry, I didn't buy all these (though I wish I did)!

On the last day of my trip, I was lucky enough to catch a farmer's market outside the Ferry Terminal building. I mean, how much more Californian can it be than a farmer's market? There were plenty of fresh fruit (cherries, peaches and berries were in season) and to my delight, there was no shortage of samples!

I was particularly struck by the impressive size of some figs and decided to try one. The fig was so big it covered the palm of my hand! Not only was it gigantic, it was actually quite delicious. It wasn't as juicy as some figs I had, but it was very seedy and not too terribly sweet. I enjoyed the subtle flavors and devoured it, skin and all.

As if all this fresh fruits and veggies wasn't enough, there were more gourmet stores in the Ferry Terminal building itself. The one that caught my eye first was Acme Bread Company. I've heard of the legendary Berkeley-based bakery and lucky me! They had a branch in SF! I mean, seriously, this place is so good that there were a couple of folks who made their pilgrimage here either first thing from the airport, or on their way to the airport. What better endorsement is there?

Although I was tempted by the baguette, I decided to stick with a classic: the butter croissant, which went perfectly with a piping hot cup of latte. The croissant was as croissants should be: flaky layers of buttery richness. I enjoyed it immensely, but it would've been infinitely better had it been warm, if only slightly (I know, I know, I'm so demanding!).

There was another bakery (or as they advertise, patissier) in the Ferry Terminal Building named Miette. Their delicate decor and beautiful pastries drew me to this store. In particular, I was enchanted by their macaroon offering.

Suddenly hankering for them, I bought one of each flavor: pistachio, rose, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Tha packaging was totally adorable, with the little cookies swaddled in pretty pink tissue paper within a mini Chinese take-out box with a handle.

Although I enjoyed the flavors of the macaroons, I was a tad disappointed by the texture. Unlike the crisp yet chewy macaroons I had in Paris, these Miette macaroons were just soft. It might've had something to do with having them all stacked up in the large cookie jars, instead of having them lined up in a single layer to be kept as dry as possible. Still, I liked the flavors of the macs, particularly the rose macaroon.

I'm really very happy with the trip to SF. There are still some places I would love to visit or eat at in the Bay Area. Fortunately, I won't have to wait long for that chance because I'm returning there in July for a friend's last hurrah of sorts :) Ciao!

Thanh Long
4101 Judah Street
on the corner of 46th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122

In-n-Out Burger
333 Jefferson St
San Francisco, CA 94133

AA Bakery & Cafe
1068 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 981-0123

Acme Bread Company
One Ferry Building
Marketplace Shop #15
San Francisco, California 94111

One Ferry Building
Marketplace Shop #10
San Francisco, CA 94111

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No muss, no fuss Classic Roast Chicken

It is with much regret that I didn't have sufficient stomach space to try a roast chicken while I was in Paris. The aroma of whole chicken being roasted kept wafting to my nose, seducing me as I roam the markets of Paris. Armed with a determination to satiate my craving for this classic, I made my own poulet rosti at home.

I started looking online for recipes and observed that the highest-rated recipes are the very simplest; so simple that there are only 3 ingredients: chicken, salt and pepper. When I read up more about roasting poultry, there are a few tips to keep in mind which will result in a moist, juicy bird trapped by thin, perfectly crisped skin.

First, you should never EVER (and I mean, NEVER EVER) pierce the skin before cooking. This will create holes through which those precious chicken juices to evaporate in the high heat of the oven, resulting in a yucky dry bird.

Second, it's imperative to dry the uncooked bird as much as possible. This involves pouring out the thawed liquids out of its cavity and letting paper towels absorb the excess water on the chicken skin. This will let the skin crisp beautifully and prevent the bird from being steamed from the innard liquids.

Third, like roasting beef, you have to let the cooked bird sit for 10-15 minutes before you start digging in; not only so you won't burn your tongue, but also to let the juices re-distribute throughout the whole bird.

Fourth, if you want to check the status of your bird by opening the oven periodically, DON'T! This lets heat escape from the oven and prevents your bird from having an even roasting temperature. Unless you have one of those fancy schmancy clear-doored oven, just leave the bird alone during the duration of cooking time!

Who knew that taking these simple, no muss, no fuss steps would give you a perfectly-roasted chicken? :)

Recipe for Classic Roasted Chicken

1 three- to four-pound chicken

Pre-heat oven to 450 deg Fahrenheit.

Drain liquid from chicken cavity and pat the outside dry with paper towel.

Season the cavity and the outside of the chicken generously with salt and pepper.

Place seasoned chicken on roasting pan.

Roast at 450 deg Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes.

Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before enjoying.

I think this recipe gives you a roasted chicken so delicious that it can be enjoyed naked, by itself. But, if you're going to serve it alongside something else, it's very good atop a bed of baby greens with a scant drizzle of vinaigrette, as meat for a sandwich or with a side of baked potato. But you know what? Why ruin perfection? The only accompaniments this roast chicken needs are a tall glass of iced beverage and plenty of napkins!


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