Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Supper 11.23.08 - A "Zuni Thanksgiving"

Sunday Supper 11.23.08
This past Sunday, we hosted a Sunday Supper at our house. Though it wasn't Thanksgiving just yet, we wanted to roast a turkey - so we decided to pretend as if it was. I decorated the table with some dusky pumpkins and squash that I picked up at Schaner Farms' stand at the Saturday Little Italy Mercato - along with this lovely little herb bouquet that I hung on the front door. (Schaner also sells at the Santa Monica Farmers Market in Los Angeles.)
Herbs from Schaner Farms
The party favors were little 2 piece boxes from Eclipse Chocolat containing one each of their Pomegranate Sage and Pumpkin Muscovado chocolates.
November 23 2008 090
Having used the Zuni method for roasting chicken many times with great success, I decided to try Judy Rogers' method for turkey, along with my own Thanksgiving-esque version of the Zuni Bread Salad. This was our menu:
Zuni Turkey - Sunday Supper 11.23.08

Sunday Supper
"Mock" Thanksgiving


Zuni-Style Roast Turkey
Bread Salad with Chestnuts, Bitter Greens and
Homemade Pork Sausage with Pepper and Sage.
Brussel Sprout Gratin
Roasted Cranberry Relish
2007 Sinister Hand

Pumpkin Tartlets with
Homemade Ginger Ice Cream
Kalyra Port

I bought the fresh turkey at Homegrown Meats, up in La Jolla and picked it up on Saturday morning. The Zuni method involves a dry brine, so I rubbed the salt over it and under the skin and pushed a few herbs under the skin and in the cavity. It dried out nicely and absorbed the salt, but I think an additional day of brining might have been beneficial. The method really recommends that the turkey spend a day or two in a bag, and then dry uncovered for a few hours.

The bird cooks upside down for 30 mins at 450, and is then flipped over to cook for about 3 more hours at 325. The result is succulent, crispy skinned and juicy, just like the chicken - and it looks just lovely with that bronzed skin. My only regret was that I cooked it a little too early - it finished at about 2:30 PM, and I had guests arriving at 4 - but I had to free up the oven for the bread salad and I needed the drippings in order to make it - so I didn't really have much choice in the matter. If you have two ovens (or even a larger oven) you won't have that problem.
Bread Salad - Sunday Supper 11.23.08
For the bread salad, I made some homemade sausage with pepper and sage (which was delicious by itself and dead easy) which I cooked in a big skillet - then I sauteed the onion and some slivered celery in the drippings from that and added in the sliced chestnuts. I tossed the toasted bread cubes with vinegar, broth and pan drippings, added the sausage, celery and chestnuts, and put it the pan in the oven to warm. When that came out, I tossed it with Sage Mountain's baby spicy greens mix, and served it all up in a big salad bowl. Friends Jora and Angie helped out with decadent and delicious Brussel Sprout Gratin and miniature pumpkin tarts with spicy and creamy ginger ice cream. I also roasted some cranberries based on a recipe I found in Saveur.
Oyster - Sunday Supper 11.23.08
The oysters came from The Better Half Shell on a recommendation from Catalina Offshore Products. I was a little concerned about keeping them alive in the fridge for 24 hours, but I just put them on a towel lined half sheet pan tray and covered them with another wet towel. We had a bit of a scare when we pulled them out and the towels were frozen - but luckily they were still kicking underneath. Thanks to Candice for coming over and being our designated shucker - she did an amazing job, and James was even able to get in there and learn how to do it for the next party.
James shucking oysters - Sunday Supper 11.23.08
One of my favorite things about this supper was the fact that it started so early - at 4 PM. It was wonderful to enjoy the company of friends and a full meal (after dark) and still have the kitchen cleaned by 8 PM - and I'm sure our friends found it just as refreshing to get home before midnight!

Here are the recipes:

Zuni-fied Dry Brined Roast Turkey (aka The Judy Bird)
adapted from the LA Times and the Zuni Cafe Cookbook

1 12-18 pound turkey (I cooked a 16 pounder from Homegrown Meats)
1 cup of kosher salt (it does have to be kosher)
fresh sage and thyme

48 hours before you plan to roast it (or 24 if you're pressed for time like I was) remove the giblets and any twine or wire on the turkey and rinse and dry it well with paper towels. Put your salt in a dish and start by generously rubbing a few tablespoons on the inside. Slide your fingers underneath the breast skin and rub the salt up underneath the skin as far as your fingers will go. Flip the bird around and slip your fingers under the other side and rub salt under the skin. Pat salt on the outside of the breast.

Massage salt on the outside of the legs and thighs - pulling them apart to get it all over the skin. cut slits in the top of the legs and slip your hand in under the skin, massaging salt over the leg and thigh meat. Slip some sage leaves under the skin and place sage and thyme in the cavity of the bird. Place the turkey in a large plastic bag and put it in the fridge overnight. Massage again the next day to work the salt into the meat. 8 hours before you plan to roast it, take the turkey out of the bag and place it on a tray or plate on multiple layers of paper towels. Put it in the fridge uncovered on the tray to dry out. About 2 hours before you plan to roast it, remove from the fridge to come to room temperature - at that time, change the towels underneath it so it's completely dry when it goes in the oven. (If you only have 24 hours, just massage salt into the bird once, and place it on a paper towel lined plate uncovered in the fridge until you take it out to come to room temp.)

Prepare your roasting rack and pan and preheat the oven to 450. Place the bird breast-side down on the rack, and roast for 30 minutes. Flip it over (using your hands and some kitchen towels) and reduce the heat to 325. Roast until the thickest part of the breast meat registers 160 on a meat thermometer or until the juices run clear coming from the thigh - about 2.5 to 3 hours. (You can start collecting drippings from the pan using a turkey baster anytime after the first two hours.)

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 mins before carving.

Thanksgiving Style Bread Salad

1-2 loaves of day old french bread
3 cups of pork sausage with pepper and sage (see below)
2 celery ribs thinly sliced
1 bunch of scallions, sliced diagonally - including some of the green part
3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
At least 4 cups of arugula or other bitter greens
red wine vinegar
2 cups of homemade chicken or turkey stock
1.4 cups of steamed chestnuts, sliced - or dried currants
1/2 cup pecan pieces or pine nuts
champagne vinegar
drippings from the turkey

Cut most of the crust off of the bread and half the loaf lengthwise.
Toast under the broiler on a baking sheet until lightly browned. Flip over and toast the other side. Tear the bread into irregular chunks ranging between 2 inches and 1/2inch - put in a large shallow bowl.

If using dried currants, warm some red wine vinegar slightly and pour it over the currants to absorb.

Make a tart viniagrette of 1/4 cup of olive oil or turkey drippings if you have them, and 2-3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar, in a small bowl or cup. Drizzle over the bread and toss thoroughly. Taste for tartness and seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Put the pecans or pine nuts in a dish in the oven to heat for a few minutes.

Heat a large skillet and tear off 1 inch chunks of sausage and drop them into the pan. Fry until well browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and add the scallions, celery and slivered garlic to the drippings. Saute until the softened. Add the sausage, onion mixture and slivered chestnuts or drained currants to the bread. Add a few grinds of pepper, and toss with a half cup of broth and another generous drizzle of drippings and vinegar, until everything is well moistened and well seasoned.

Place the bread salad in a large pan and cover loosely with foil. Place in the oven to warm the for about 30-45 mins. If your turkey also needs warming, you can carve it and warm it in the oven for 15 mins.

When you remove the bread salad from the oven, toss it with the arugula, salt and pepper and more drippings or viniagrette to taste. Don't be shy with the greens - they wilt and shrink when tossed with the warm bread.

Pile the bread salad on a platter or into a large bowl and serve with the carved turkey.

Fresh Pork Sausage with Pepper and Sage
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, chilled
1/2 pound fresh pork fat, cut into 1-inch pieces, chilled
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon potent dried rubbed sage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Pulse the pork and fat in batches in the food processor until finely ground. Place in a large bowl - add the rest of the ingredients and blend with moistened hands just until combined. Wrap in Saran Wrap and press and roll to form a log. Refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours before using.

Roasted Cranberries
adapted from Saveur

2 pounds of fresh cranberries
1 orange - zested, zest cut into 1.5 inch strips
and 2 tablespoons of juice reserved
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cups of sugar (or a little less if you like them tart - I'd go with 1.5 myself)
2 tablespoons champagne or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of port
2 tablespoons of water (if needed)

Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl, toss the cranberries with the orange zest, cloves, cinnamon sticks, jalapeno and sugar. Spread on a parchment lined rimmed half sheet pan, avoiding the edges of the pan (you will need to do at least two batches) and cover loosely with parchment. Place in the oven for about 10-12 mins, until the cranberries burst and release their juices. Scrape the cranberries into a bowl and repeat the process until all of the cranberries are roasted.

Stir in the orange juice, port, and vinegar, adding a little water if it still seems too thick. Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ben Stiller's Home on "So Haute"

I don't know if anyone else will remember this, but a couple of years ago, Elle Decor did a feature on Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor's home decorated by Roman & Williams. In a classic case of life imitating art, these guys became sought after designers after doing set design in Hollywood - they were so good, celebrities started hiring them to do their homes. They landed some commercial contracts, and the rest is history.
stiller living room
I absolutely loved this spread and I haven't stopped thinking about it since, so I went online to look for some photos to post. These came up on a lovely and intriguing blog called So Haute - along with some other photos of Roman & Williams' work. Check it out here. The world of design blogs is still relatively new to me, having been wrapped up in the food blog world for so long, and this one looks like a very worthwhile discovery indeed. I especially love that it's not snotty, like so many decorating blogs seem to be (not that that doesn't have its place too) and I am especially amused that she thinks she's late to the Eddie Ross party. If she is, then I almost missed it entirely!
I just love the dark walls, eclectic mix of furniture and wood beam ceilings. And that ladder bookcase really gets my motor running. It's almost hard to believe it was decorated, since it looks so lived in and personal - but I guess that's the magic of hiring a set designer!
stiller living room2

photos via So Haute

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tortoise on Abbott Kinney in LA

Tortoise on Abbott Kinney in Venice Beach
I stumbled across this little shop recently when I was in LA for a girls getaway with a good friend. Tortoise stocks Japanese crafts and housewares - glassware, textiles, kitchen items, jewelry, garden decor, games, cards and paper, finely crafted wooden and ceramic vessels and small furniture items. Everything is carefully curated and artfully displayed, and you just get that lucky feeling - like you're seeing things you're not likely to see anywhere else - and let's face it, how often can you really say that these days?
Japanese Textiles at Tortoise on Abbott-Kinney in Venice Beach
I loved these Japanese textiles. They're multi-purpose squares of cloth called tenugui that were traditionally used as scarves or headwraps, but can also serve as napkins, bread basket liners, table decor, kitchen towels... you name it. I contemplated them as napkins - but the $12. pricetag was a bit of an obstacle since I wanted one of each.
Tortoise on Abbott Kinney in Venice Beach
Their online store doesn't provide quite the same experience as the shop, but if you've been there before, or need to shop for a gift from afar, it's good to know it's there. They also do the most amazing gift wrapping, with a beautiful handcrafted paper overlay with stamping and a ribbon.

1342 1/2 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Open Wed-Sun 12-6

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fanny at Chez Panisse


This is one of the cutest cookbooks out there for kids, with gorgeous illustrations and a nice little history of the restaurant, Chez Panisse. Take a peek!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A visit to Martha Stewart Everyday in NYC

In the Martha Stewart Everyday Test Kitchen

An unexpected highlight of the recent trip to NYC, was a visit to the offices of Martha Stewart Everyday Food with Amy Sherman, of Cooking with Amy. We went to meet Deb Puchalla, the Editor in Chief of Everyday Food, a lovely woman with whom we both correspond on Twitter. We also met up with Eddie Ross - a designer and stylist who works at Martha Stewart and was a contestant on the recent season of Top Design. I wrote a little bit about Eddie's recent feature in Domino here on my style blog. (I'm actually doing Nablopomo over there too, posting info on local boutiques, artists, designers, home ideas and fashion picks every day, so please check it out if you get a chance!)
In the Martha Stewart Everyday Test Kitchen

Deb took us on a tour of the offices, which are actually about to move soon to a location further downtown. This Midtown location was originally the offices of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, in fact Martha's office is still in the building. We walked by it but of course she wasn't in. The offices are decorated in a style very much in keeping with Martha's aesthetic - simple with lots of white, pale "Martha green" and stainless steel. This kitchen - now the test kitchen for Everyday Food - used to be the test kitchen for Martha Stewart Living. It looks the way you'd want your dream apartment kitchen to look - galley style, with long stainless steel tables down the center, a huge gas range, steel front refrigerator, deep stainless sink, and cookbooks everywhere - shelves upon shelves.
Cookbooks in the Martha Stewart Everyday Test Kitchen

Also everywhere, not in the kitchen but on the office walls, were the magazine layouts - pasted up for everyone to review. We saw the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas issues of Martha Stewart Everyday and Martha Stewart Living. Thing is, they weren't THIS year's layouts, but NEXT year's. Everything in this business is done a year ahead because of the printing and publishing schedules and because everything has to be tested in season when the ingredients are available. Ever try to buy squash or pumpkins in April? Good luck.
In the Martha Stewart Everyday Test Kitchens

I also made a new discovery. After seeing it pasted up on the wall, I ordered a subscription to the new Martha Stewart magazine "Body+Soul" - it's full of healthy recipes made with whole foods, tips for green living and relaxation, and the photography and layouts just looked really cool. I'm looking forward to checking it out. I also told Deb that I really miss Blueprint. (I was always intrigued by this skirt - held together by one button, and made by tracing an oatmeal can on ultrasuede, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't look anything like that picture on me!)

It was a real pleasure to meet Deb, and just like the Gourmet Institute, the visit to the offices just made it that much more fun to read the magazines. I also really appreciate the fact that they have me on the sidebar of their Dinner Tonight blog - it's a great source for fast, easy recipes and time saving tips just like the magazine. You can also check out their webpage here for newsletters and more recipes, and order a subscription to the print magazine here!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday Supper 11.9.08 - Perfect Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken with Green Salad, Dressing and Cranberries

Sunday Supper 11.9.08

Knight Salumi's Hungarian Salami
Spring Hill Farms' Goat Sage Cheddar
Melted Humboldt Fog
Fig Jam and Bread and Cie Levain

Roast Chicken
Jora's Dressing with Apples and Cranberries
Sage Mountain Greens with Herbed Parmesan Vinaigrette
Cranberry Relish

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

It's always nice to be able to cross accomplishments off your list, and thanks to Judy Rodgers and her recipe for Zuni Chicken with Bread Salad, I can happily say that I've got roast chicken nailed. Her quick and easy method comes out perfect - crisp, juicy and delicious - every single time.
Sunday Supper 11.9.08
There are two secrets - salting the bird in advance (which does mean you have to plan ahead a little bit) and flipping it over at the appropriate point in the cooking to keep the breast meat moist. Judy Rodgers insists that smaller birds cook better, but I don't really think it makes much difference if you reduce the heat a bit. We enjoyed this one last night for Sunday Supper at Jora's house, accompanied by a green salad with a homemade vinaigrette dressing and cranberries - with homemade pumpkin pie for dessert.

Jora's salad dressing was amazingly delicious, and I can't wait to get the recipe. She's promised to share it and her pumpkin pie on her blog sometime today or tomorrow. When she does, I'll update this post with links.
Pumpkin Pie and Port
Jora's pumpkin pie was lovely - perfectly spiced and not too sweet. She asked me to leave the whipped cream unsweetened, and she was right - it really doesn't need a thing.
Pumpkin Pie
I also just have to include this gratuitous shot of Jora's adorable baby girl - "Baby J" - wielding a chicken leg. C-Man was also in attendance, sitting just to her left at the table with the Big People. They really are some cute kids. Without further ado, here is the chicken recipe.
Baby J at Sunday Supper
Perfect Roast Chicken
based on Judy Rodgers' method in the Zuni Cookbook

1 organic chicken, around 4-5 pounds or smaller if you can find it.
2 Tablespoons of kosher salt (it's important that it is kosher) in a small dish (since you'll be dipping your fingers back in it after touching the raw chicken.)
a few sprigs of thyme and/or sage leaves (optional)

paper towels
a plate
a half sheet pan

Rinse and dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Fold some towels and place on a plate, setting the dry chicken on the towels. Slip your fingers underneath the breast skin to loosen it, and and liberally rub salt under the skin directly on the meat. Liberally rub the inside of the chicken and outside of the skin with salt, patting the outside to encourage it to sink into the skin a bit. Slit the tops of the legs and slide your fingers under the skin to rub salt on the legs and thighs under the skin. If you're using them, slide three or four stalks of the herbs gently under the breast skin, and put a few inside.

Place the dry, salted chicken UNCOVERED on its plate (with paper towels) in the refrigerator, giving it a little bit of breathing room. This will keep the skin dry - which is what you want in order to get it crisp & golden. The chicken should dry brine in the refrigerator for at least five or six hours. Take it out of the refrigerator for the last hour two to allow it to come to room temperature (this helps prevent sticking.)

About an hour and a half to two hours before you want to serve it, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Just a few minutes before you put the chicken in, place a half sheet pan in the oven to heat.

When the oven and the pan are hot - take the chicken and pat it dry one last time - then set it directly on the hot pan - it will sizzle loudly.

Roast it for about 30 for a small bird, or 40 minutes for a larger one - until it's nice and brown. If it seems to be burning or smoking - reduce the heat. (If you're using smaller chickens, you can actually turn it up to 450 to speed the cooking a bit.)

Pull the pan out and gently loosen the bird from the pan and flip it over with tongs - setting it breast side down. Cook for another 20 minutes or so. Then pull it out and flip it back over. Set it back the oven and cook for about 10 more minutes, until the breast skin re-crisps and it's a nice lacquered golden brown all over. You'll hear it sizzling and spitting in the pan. If you have a probe thermometer and want to check it for doneness, it should be at or above 165.

Let the chicken rest for about 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven before carving - it will become more tender and finish cooking a bit outside the oven.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Japanese Baths

One of my most cherished fantasies is that I will one day have a Japanese bath in my home. I already have the spot in the yard picked for the garden, and it just so happens that our master bathroom, which is in desperate need of remodeling - opens onto that side of the house. So maybe someday, something like this will be a possibility...
japanese bath i.
japanese ofuro tub 1.
I'd also be ok with one of these out in the garden itself... Really, it wouldn't matter...
The most important elements are hot water you can get into up to your neck, and a view of nature (or at least natural light) while you're soaking. A garden to cool off and meditate in afterwards is nice too.
bath woodblock
Beautiful Japanese baths are available for day use at:
Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe
Kabuki Hot Springs in San Francisco
Esalen in Big Sur (Their signature massage is worth the trip in and of itself.)
Tassajara Zen Center near Monterey also has Japanese baths, and is re-opening for guests in April, 2009. More info is on their website under the "Guest Season" tab

Photos via Zimbio, Dufarelli, Kyoto Guest Houses and Konyoku.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes we did!

Shepard Fairey Progress poster

Poster art by Shepard Fairey

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lisa Ruyter

ruyter trees ii

When I started thinking about posting about art on this blog, Lisa Ruyter was one of the first artists who came to mind. Except, I couldn't remember her name. I've developed this thing as I've gotten a little bit older where information sort of burbles to the surface of my brain slowly like the answer in a Magic 8 ball. This week, after much stewing and many incorrect guesses, the name Lisa Ruyter just popped into my head out of nowhere. I ran to the computer to do a Google search, and lo and behold...
ruyter paris

I first noticed her work when I flipped through an issue of Elle Decor and saw one of her paintings hanging on a wall. I liked the simple lines and the juxtaposition of the bright poppy colors with the organic, detailed subject, which was a stand of trees much like this one:
ruyter dark waters

It just struck me as totally original, and my little lizard brain said "want." Well, of course Ms. Ruyter is a very famous and successful artist, so this is probably as close to owning one of her works as I will ever get, but that doesn't stop me from admiring them or sharing them with you. I hope you like them.
ruyter trees

All photos via Lisa Ruyter's website - where galleries of her work can be viewed. More here (for sale) on