Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Chicken and Potatoes

Roasting ingredients together allows them both to taste better. We peel the potatoes and cook them in salted water with a few garlic cloves. When the potatoes are just cake tester tender we remove them and the garlic from the water. We put the potatoes, garlic cloves and the chicken thighs on a small baking pan. We dot the potatoes with butter. We season the thighs and potatoes with salt. We roast them in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. We flip the potatoes occasionally to allow them to be coated in the chicken juices and fat. When the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are browned we remove it from the oven. We let them both rest. Usually they don't rest long enough because I am not that patient.

Found Charcoal

Something we did not count on when working with our wood fired oven was the generation of charcoal. As we get the oven up to pizza cooking temperature we burn a fair amount of wood. And the burning wood turns into charcoal. The vast amount of charcoal produced sparked a lightbulb. We could use it to fill our Big Green Egg. We can use it immediately. And if we close the vents on the egg, the charcoal cools and is reserved for another day.

Hostas La Vista

It's a case of ingredients hiding in plain sight. When we moved into our house there were plants along the walkway, hostas plants to be exact. They've grown larger over the years and while we may have remarked on the fact that the stems and buds resemble asparagus we really never gave it much thought. Despite the fact that we cooked with hostas flowers last year at El Ideas. This year we rediscovered that hostas is an edible plant, much enjoyed in Japan, and that we were missing out on a golden opportunity. Alex wasted no time in harvesting a bunch. They were sweet and crisp with a pleasant green flavor. They can be steamed or stir fried or simply dressed and eaten as a salad. The only real question is what will we do with them first.

A Bed of Coals

The flames have died. The wood has burnt. The red hot coals remain. We are learning to understand their potential. What should we tuck into bed tonight?

Long Short Noodles

We combine technology and tradition. We take what we know and what is expected and make modifications. These are the beginning steps for exploring.

Screen Tests

The only downside to wood fired or brick oven style pizzas is that the crust tends to get a bit soft and soggy as it sits on the platter. I knew there had to be something we could do about that and we discussed briefly resting the pizzas on a rack to allow some of the steam to dissipate while the cheese cooled and set. While picking up some extra pizza peels at Restaurant Depot we happened to see these screens. Although I think they may be intended for baking pizzas in a conventional oven they suited our purposes admirably.
As with most foods a slight rest allowed us to make better pizzas. Five minutes on the screen and then we sprinkled on some basil leaves and grated parmigiano over the top. Everything was still hot, the crust was crisp, chewy, and delicate and the cheese didn't run. These pies were as close to perfection as we've gotten thus far.


Driving in the car is a great time to let the mind wander. Recently we connected kimchi and Cheetos. It was not a stretch. We took a bag of Cheetos and added our kimchi flour. Then we shook it all up. The kimchi flour adhered to the Cheetos and these addictive crunchy treats were born.