Ricki Cooks the Book – My Father’s Daughter

Yeah, this is Gwynnie’s cookbook.

I know, I know, I had mixed feelings, too. She was on the cover of Bon Appetit the same month the new editor took over and my first thought was, if this is where Bon Appetit is going, I’m canceling my subscription.

Then I made her corn vichyssoise. You know what? It was really good. (And you know what else? The new Bon Appetit under Adam Rapoport is pretty sweet, too.)

Then I saw her cookbook on sale at the boardwalk for 25% off! How can you not?!

And then it sat on my shelf.

I wanted to do a post on it for a while, but I couldn’t decide what to make. Things were either too simple for a blog post, or they were things I already knew how to make, like puttanesca or panzanella, or they were fish, which Jason doesn’t eat, or they involved products like duck bacon. Duck bacon. I ask you.

But then I decided to do a whole meal of her recipes so that I could cover the meal instead of highlighting one individual, too-simple recipe. So here’s what I made:

Ten-Hour Chicken

Ingredients

1 organic whole chicken, (3-4 lb), washed and dried according to Gwynnie’s Salt Scrubs for poultry, in which you rinse the chicken in cold water, then scrub it with coarse salt, such as kosher, and then rinse it again and dry it thoroughly. Yes, I did this. Yes, I felt like a dipshit. Is there a reason I should continue doing this or was I right to feel like a dipshit?

1 lemon, halved

coarse salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 bunch fresh thyme (Unfortunately, I made this recipe a while ago, and I don’t remember if I used thyme or if I chose something else. I don’t really like thyme, so when a recipe calls for it, unless I really, really think thyme is the right thing, I usually pick marjoram or something.)

half a head of garlic, peeled (Do I need to tell you at this point, I probably used a whole head?)

1. Preheat oven to 200F.

2. Place chicken in rectangular roasting dish breast side down. Sqeeze lemon halves over chicken. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tuck thyme, lemon halves, and garlic in the cavity; place any extra garlic cloves around the pan. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil and put in the oven for, no joke, 9 1/2 hours.

3. Take chicken out and boost heat to 400F, on convection if possible. Unwrap, flip the bird over, and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until it’s nicely browned. Let chicken rest, then carve and serve.

Here is the thing about this one. You must cover the chicken in foil. I? I did not.

It actually wasn’t bad, just really very dry.

Oh, and I bought the super special chicken at Whole Foods, the kind that’s been given its own 2 acres to peck at and a lullaby sung to it each night. The kind that doesn’t grow to be 3-4 lb. So I bought two. And then I fucked them up.

Crispy Potato and Garlic Cake

Ingredients:

2 large baking potatoes, peeled (Do I need to tell you? I didn’t peel them. I don’t think.)

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp duck fat (I just used butter. But then I discovered my Fresh Market does, in fact, sell duck fat. So, you know, next time.)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves peeled garlic, 2 crushed, 1 very finely minced

Coarse salt

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I left this out)

1. Preheat the broiler

2. Boil the potatoes. Then let them cool. Then slice them in 1/8″ thick slices.

3. Heat a spoonful of duck fat/butter and a spoonful of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add one crushed garlic clove and as many slices as can fit in one layer. Cook until lightly browned. Remove to paper towel=lined plate and repeat, switching out garlic when it gets too brown.

4. Coat a small (6 – 8″) cast-iron pan with the tablespoon of duck fat/butter. Line bottom with single layer of potato slices. Sprinkle with salt. Add another layer. Repeat this process, pressing down each layer with the back of a spoon as you go. Don’t be gentle with the pressing. Stick cake under broiler until really browned and crispy, 5 minutes. Invert onto plate and scatter with minced garlic, parsley, and more salt as needed. Cut into wedges and serve.

Okay, so here’s the thing. I didn’t have duck fat. The smallest cast-iron pan Jason could find when I sent him to the store was 10″. So it didn’t cake like it was supposed to. And I think I threw some garlic in between the layers of potato cake. And it was an enormous pain in the ass from start to finish, oh, my God.

But it was still delicious.

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, core discarded, in smallish florets

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (Seriously, put your measuring spoon away and just drizzle)

pinch coarse salt

pinch fresh pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. In baking dish large enough to hold cauliflower in one layer, toss all ingredients together. Roast 35 minutes, or until it looks delicious.

This recipe is sort of what this cookbook is mostly about. It’s simple to the point of “Duh” but it’s delicious. Seriously, when vegetables are this good, why am I fat?

Oh, right, because potatoes are good, too.

Bitter Greens Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Dressing Ingredients:

6 olive oil-packed Spanish anchovies

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

Whiz all ingredients except oil and pepper n blender. Then with motor running, pour in oil. Then use pepper to taste.

Salad Ingredients:

1 large head escarole or puntarelle (what?) or 2 heads radicchio, washed really well and torn into small pieces (In fact, I think I mixed radicchio with some arugula and maybe one other green.)

Uh, serve.

Seriously, put lettuces and dressing together. Then eat it. I don’t know how to do instructions for salad.

Okay, this was super-unbelievably delicious. The dressing was to die. I haven’t made it since, but thinking about it now, my head is going, “Nom, nom, nom, give me MOOOOORE.”

Figures the best things Gwynnie could teach me how to make are vegetables.

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