Boomerang Generation

I flew the coop over 20 years ago. At the time my parents lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My new apartment was a walk-up in a tenement across the park on the Upper East. It was far from fancy but it was all mine. I was finally independent, but if I ever needed anything they were just a crosstown bus away. Close but not too close. Fast forward to marriage and three children, and the coop is now coming back to me. Mom and Dad are moving to the burbs!

My kids could not be more thrilled to have Grandma and Grandpa as their new neighbors. For me, it will be an adjustment running into my parents at the local Starbucks, but it’s great to have a babysitter moving practically next door. Don’t worry Mom, we only need you to watch the boys every other weekend – :)

To celebrate their “return to the nest” we’re roasting a chicken this week. I’ve never roasted a whole bird before and it was surprisingly easy. This method was suggested by my local butcher. She said once I’ve got this mastered she’ll give me the secret to the perfect pork roast…

Citrus Roast Chicken

Ingredients

1 3/12-4 lb. whole roasting chicken, organic if possible

1-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper

½ orange, cut into wedges

1 lemon, cut into wedges

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

3-4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

3 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp olive oil

Method

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Before cooking the chicken rinse in cold water. Then scrub the chicken inside and out with coarse salt. Then rinse again and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is completely dry, this will result in a crispy skin.

Rub the butter all over the chicken. And if you are feeling brave, gently loosen the skin on the breast side and add some butter underneath. It’s a little messy but I was told not to skip this step.

Once the butter is rubbed all over, liberally season with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the orange, lemon and garlic. Place in roasting pan.

Toss the carrots and potatoes with the olive oil and some salt. Scatter around the chicken. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Then add about ½ cup of water to the pan and roast for another 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of chicken, basting once or twice. Add more liquid to pan if needed.

Chicken is ready when the juices run clear. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. (Insert into thickest part of thigh)

Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

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House of Bedlam Citrus Chicken

House of Bedlam Citrus Chicken

And the VERDICT is:             

Matthew (age 7): “Good chicken”

Liam (age 5): “Can I eat that lemon?”

Dylan (age 5): “Why is that lemon in there?”

Although not nearly as convenient, this was even better tasting than a rotisserie.

Mom & Dad, welcome to the neighborhood!

 

For my local readers:

Fairway Market presents Funny Food Art Workshop!

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 1pm – 3pm

Where: Fairway Market in Pelham Manor, 847 Pelham Parkway, 914 633 6550

Fairway invites friends and families to come and have fun with their food as Bill Wurtzel, author of “Funny Food 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfast” teaches families how to create funny food art. Fairway will supply all healthy ingredients, including waffles, strawberries, raisins, pita, bananas and much more, as well as entertainment from the author, who is a jazz musician. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase. Cost per participant is $1. Register at customer service or online at www.fairwaymarket.com.

This promises to be a fun event – hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Green

Ever wonder what happens to all the broccoli stalks in the world? Most of them end up in the trash or the compost heap. But don’t be fooled by the stalks ugly appearance, there’s delicious “meat” inside that rough exterior. And from a health perspective, the stalk contains almost the same amount of nutrients as the florets, they’re just not as pretty.

The next time you’re chopping some spears of broccoli, instead of tossing the stalk, consider adding them to your dish. Cut the stalks into small rounds and they can be roasted or used in a stir-fry. Or shave them with a vegetable peeler and add raw to a salad. My kids would probably not go for raw stalks so I cooked them on the grill, kebab style. Anything on a stick is usually a recipe for success in our house, especially if the stick is long enough to poke one’s brother.

When I served the kebabs, no one could even guess what they were eating. Since the boys are so accustomed to seeing broccoli in the form of “little trees” they didn’t even recognize it. But they also thought the mushrooms were chicken so I’m not sure if it was pure ignorance or if they were just pulling my leg.

Stalk Kebabs

Ingredients

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

3-4 large broccoli stalks

1 package baby bella mushrooms, approx. 15

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Salt & pepper

6-8 wooden skewers

Method

Soak the skewers in cold water for about 30 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil and set aside.

Meanwhile peel the outer layer off the stalks with a paring knife and trim off both ends.

Broccoli Stalks

Broccoli Stalks

Cut into ½ inch rounds. Cut large size mushrooms in half lengthwise, leave smaller ones whole. Place stalks and mushrooms into a mixing bowl and toss with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Remove skewers from the water and thread the vegetables onto the skewers, alternating pieces of mushrooms and broccoli.

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Place kebabs onto grill and brush with marinade. Turn every five minutes and brush with more marinade.

IMG_0295Grill until vegetables are slightly charred and marinade is caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

 

House of Bedlam Stalk Kebabs

House of Bedlam Stalk Kebabs

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I’m eating the whole thing”

Liam (age 5): “That is one good mushroom”

Dylan (age 5): “So bad! I’m not eating that”

Although Dylan was not a fan, he did taste the “chicken”.

 

A Day on the Lake

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on a lake? Awaking each morning to a picturesque view out your bedroom window would probably feel like being on a perpetual vacation. To celebrate the end of summer we spent the day at our friends’ lake house and it definitely felt like a mini holiday.

The first thing the boys did when they saw the canoe was run full speed ahead with their fishing gear and jump in. With Brian as captain they headed out, their little heads peaking up from oversized life jackets. From afar it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. But I knew better. I strongly suspected Brian was dodging fishing hooks, swatting mosquitoes, and screaming at them not to rock the boat.

But sitting on the deck, drink in hand, enjoying the incredible view, it was a very sweet scene. Just as the boys made a b-line to the canoe, I made a b-line to the food. What can I say? We all have our priorities. My friend’s mother had made her delicious meatballs that were ready and waiting for the boys the minute their boat was docked. Legend has it the first time Matthew tried these meatballs he ate 7 in 7 minutes.

Six fish were caught that day and Brian only got one hook in his hand!

Asian Meatballs w/Carrot Noodles (recipe inspired by Lyn’s Mom)

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp ginger, grated

¼ cup scallions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp salt

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken, or beef)

Teriyaki sauce, for drizzling

Sesame seeds, optional

For the carrots:

4 large carrots, peeled

2 tsp sesame oil

Salt & pepper

1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

Method:

For the meatballs:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up, or lightly brush the baking sheet with cooking oil.

In a large mixing bowl combine the first eight ingredients.

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Add in the breadcrumbs and mix well. Then add the turkey to the breadcrumb mixture and mix until just combined. Using your hands is the best method for this step. Be careful not to over mix the meat.

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Form into small meatballs, about 1” diameter. Place on baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through.

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For the carrots:

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into long ribbons. Place on a baking sheet and toss with the sesame oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

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Place in oven for approximately 15 minutes until carrots lose some of their moisture. Remove from oven and toss with the teriyaki sauce.

Top the carrot noodles with meatballs. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds and break out the chop sticks.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Not the same, but it’s super good”

Liam (age 5): “It’s a little medium. At least I tried a carrot”

Dylan (age 5): “Eh, the flavor doesn’t taste good but I tried a carrot too”

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For more glimpses of life on the lake read my friend Lyn’s blog, PinotbyLyn

Blueberries Optional

Coming back from our vacation in the woods the last thing I wanted to eat was peanut butter. On the trail, it was lunch for five days straight. Nothing survives a long hike in the sun like PB&J. Unfortunately it was also one of the few items we had sitting in our fridge when we returned. Just the sight of another jar of jelly made me slightly queasy.

We arrived home from our trip in the middle of the night. After traveling over 12 hours with three kids I wasn’t looking forward to waking up and getting back in the car to get food. If we still lived in Brooklyn, we could have stopped at the closest deli on the way home from the airport. But it doesn’t work like that in the burbs; you’ve got to think ahead. At 2am, there are no supermarkets open in our neighborhood.

Before we left I had baked some muffins and popped them in the freezer. The muffins were actually a happy accident because when I started making them I realized we had no butter or eggs. But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and I discovered I didn’t even need them, I used ricotta cheese instead. And the lemon was Liam’s idea. So it was muffins for breakfast and no peanut butter in sight!

LEMON RICOTTA MUFFINS– Blueberries Optional (Recipe by Elaine Studdert)

Ingredients (Yield: 24 mini muffins)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp fine kosher salt

½ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup sugar

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup whole milk

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup frozen blueberries (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix oil, sugar, ricotta cheese, milk, lemon zest until well combined. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and lastly fold in frozen blueberries. We made half plain and half with blueberries.

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Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 way full.

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Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

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Remove muffins from tin and let cool completely on baking rack. Enjoy!

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Muffins can be stored in air-tight container for up to one week or store them in freezer for those days when you have no food in the fridge!

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I love the corn muffin one”

Liam (age 5): “Give me plain please”

Dylan (age 5): “These are awesome! Not the blueberry ones”

Plain was the clear winner!

 

 

 

Home On The Range

Another season of The Next Food Network Star wrapped up this week and Lenny McNab scored the win. I was rooting for Chef Lenny, aka The Gourmet Cowboy, from the beginning. He was one of the few contestants with a unique POV. For those non-fans out there, POV stands for “point of view”. It’s a phrase thrown around ad nauseam on the show. The contestants come up with one at the start of the season and work on perfecting it each episode. If their POV makes no sense they usually get the boot.

Although I love watching the car wrecks each week, as the contestants struggle through silly challenges to impress the judges (Bobby, Giada, and Alton), I would prefer to see them do more cooking. But becoming a Food Network star seems to be more about the ability to make a fool of yourself in front of millions of people than about having culinary skills.

Chef Lenny was a favorite from the start since he was willing to go to any length to impress the fans, from duct taping candy bars on his bare chest to a fully-clothed belly flop into a pool in Vegas. How these stunts tie into cooking I’m not sure, but it certainly made for amusing television.

Chef Lenny’s signature dish that won him the title was a Coffee-Crusted Rib Eye. The recipe calls for grilling and flipping steak, throwing handfuls of spice mixture all over the kitchen (some even on the steak too) all while shouting “make it rain!” in a cowboy twang. I knew a dish that involved making such a mess would appeal to the boys. Instead of coffee and refined sugar, I’m putting my own twist on it with cocoa powder and brown sugar. Let’s make it rain! Yeehaw!

Cocoa Crusted Bedlam Steak (inspired by Chef Lenny McNab)

Ingredients

2lbs strip steak, about four 8oz pieces
Salt & pepper
Olive oil, for brushing

Spice rub (save extra in airtight container)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/4 cup seasoned salt*

* If you don’t have seasoned salt, it’s easy to make, combine:
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder (save any extra in airtight container)

Method
Heat grill to high heat. If you don’t have a grill this can also be cooked in a cast iron skillet. Bring steak to room temperature. Season both sides with salt and pepper. IMG_9667 Brush with olive oil. Place on grill and “make it rain” with the spice rub. IMG_9677 Cook about 2-3 minutes until you get some grill marks, flip it and, you guessed it, “make it rain!” all over the steak.

IMG_9702Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Flip and repeat until steak is cooked to medium rare. About 6 minutes per side. Add additional flips if you like your steak well done. IMG_9740 Remove steak from grill ( with tongs – do not use fork) and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing. IMG_9738 And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 7): “It has a special sauce- really good”
Liam (age 5): “I should have guessed it had cocoa!”
Dylan (age 5): “Love it”

Not bad for a city slicker!