roast the new year in

I can’t believe this was ever true about me, but I used to not eat meat if it was still attached to bones.  Seriously.  I ate it only if it didn’t too closely resemble the animal that it once was so my meals consisted of a lot of ground beef, chicken breasts, and deli meats– not super exciting.  Then, on a visit to a friend in Baltimore, I ate the most magnificent roasted chicken still on the bones from a Peruvian restaurant and I was a changed woman.  It was so full of flavor and tender and just plain delicious that I did away with my silly old rule and have not looked back since.

It should also be mentioned that chicken is one of my least favorite meats.  In general I find it to be rather dull and it is often the last thing I will order at a restaurant unless of course it is the restaurant’s specialty.  You don’t go to the Chicken Shack and order fish.  You just don’t.  At any rate I have discovered that roasting a whole chicken is not only easy-as-pie it is also mouth-wateringly delightful when done right.

This recipe is so simple that even the most novice of cooks can get it right.  You just put a whole chicken in a bowl with some sage, lemons, olive oil, salt and pepper, cover it tightly and stick it in the fridge for 24 hours.  (Note: when I made this I did not have 24 hours so I stuck it in the fridge for only 4 hours before roasting and it still tasted great.)

After marinating you throw it in a roasting pan– you can add carrots, celery, and onions if you so desire (I did not), and then roast it in the oven for a little over an hour and voila!  A beautiful roasted bird, bones and all.

Herb-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Sage (recipe by Eric and Bruce Bromberg, found in House Beautiful magazine)

Serves 4

  • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) whole chicken, patted dry with paper towels
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage leaves (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and halved crosswise (for whole chicken only), optional
  • 3 celery stalks, cut crosswise into thirds (for whole chicken only), optional
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into large chunks (for whole chicken only), optional

Put the chicken in a large bowl. Add the oil, lemon, and sage; toss well. Cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours.

The next day, let the chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 450 degrees.

Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with the seasoning. Remove the lemon slices and sage from the marinade and stuff them inside the chicken cavity. Scatter the carrots, celery, and onion, if using, over the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour just enough water into the pan to cover the bottom. Arrange the chicken, breast-side up, on top of the vegetables, if desired, or place the chicken on a roasting rack over the vegetables.

Transfer the pan to the center oven rack; roast for 20 minutes. Baste with the pan juices, and continue roasting, basting once or twice, for 25 minutes more (if the chicken is not golden-brown all over at this point, continue to cook for 10 more minutes).

Reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Finish roasting, without basting, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Let the chicken stand for five minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices and vegetables, if desired.

chess pie, take 3

I liked the first two chess pies I made for this here blog so much that when I saw a recipe for a lemon-buttermilk version I decided to try it a third time.

Before you get to the filling part of this pie you first have to make the crust.  The recipe recommended using pie weights or dried beans over parchment paper to keep the crust from bubbling up and since I don’t have pie weights I used some dried pinto beans I had in my cabinet.

It worked like a charm, though please note: I highly recommend making the crust edges taller than you think they ought to be because it shrunk up pretty good when I baked it.  I actually couldn’t fit all of the filling in so had to throw a little out and I never like to throw food out, particularly when involves things like butter and sugar, so take my word for it and make the edges nice and tall!

The filling consists of eggs, butter, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, buttermilk, and cornmeal amongst a few other necessary ingredients like vanilla and flour.  In other words, heaven.

It baked up into a lovely golden brown and was very tasty.  This would be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving pie menu as it’s quite light and the hint of lemon is refreshing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the heavier pies of the season (pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, etc.) but it’s always good to have another option, too.

I plan to get a few more recipes posted before the big day so be sure to check back for more ideas!

Buttermilk-Lemon Chess Pie (from recipe found at


  •   2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
  •   1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •   1 teaspoon sugar
  •   3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes
  •   1/2 cup (or more) cold buttermilk


  •   1 1/2 cups sugar
  •   1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  •   1 1/2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  •   1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  •   5 large eggs, beaten to blend
  •   2/3 cup buttermilk
  •   1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  •   1 3/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •   1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  •   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •   Pinch of kosher salt

For   crust:

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until pea-size pieces of butter form. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk; pulse until moist clumps form, adding more buttermilk by tablespoonfuls if too dry. Form into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14″ round. Transfer to pie pan; gently press onto bottom and up sides of pan.   Trim dough, leaving a 1″ overhang; tuck overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. Line with parchment paper or foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake crust until edges begin to brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove paper and weights; bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes longer. Let cool completely.
For filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Whisk eggs and remaining 6 ingredients in a large bowl (mixture may look curdled). Slowly whisk in dry ingredients. Pour filling into cooled crust and bake until custard is set around edges but jiggles slightly in center, 1 hour—1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

a souvenir for you

I did not do much shopping on my recent trip.  I think this partially has to do with the fact that I work in the retail industry and the last thing I want to do most days is shop for stuff after being surrounded by it all day.  Sure, I still do my fair share of shopping, but it just doesn’t hold the same thrill it once did.  This is probably why I now measure most trips (and even just my daily life, for that matter) on food eaten and enjoyed.  And much food was eaten and enjoyed on this trip.

One of the best things I ate while in England was lemon polenta cake.  Polenta cake?  Craziness.  Polenta is often associated with savory Italian dishes, but it can also be used in sweet dishes too.  Love the versatility.  I also am growing to love lemon desserts more and more as I get older.  They are refreshing and usually not overly sweet and therefore the perfect ending to a large meal.

So when I returned from my trip I immediately started researching recipes and found one for this very cake and it just happened to be from an English foodie: Nigella Lawson.  I used to watch her program on the Food Network and loved how she never measured things perfectly and unapologetically licked spoons after mixing batters.  Sort of like an English version of Paula Deen who I also think is the bee’s knees.

I read recipes like I read books and I could tell that this one was going to be good.  I was also pleased to see that it does not contain wheat flour as I have been meaning to experiment more with gluten-free baking because I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have a wheat sensitivity.  Apart from the polenta (or cornmeal as many of us know it here) there is also almond flour which is very light and surprisingly easy to find even in conventional grocery stores.

The result?  At the risk of sounding immodest, I’d say it was just as good as what I ate across the pond…

Lemon Polenta Cake (adapted very slightly from a Nigella Lawson recipe found at


  • 1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups almond meal/flour
  • 3/4 cup fine polenta/cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest 2 lemons (save the juice for the syrup)


  • Juice 2 lemons (see above)
  • Heaping 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the cake: Line the base of your cake pan with parchment paper and grease its sides lightly with butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.

Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs.

Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. It may seem wobbly but a cake tester should come out with just a few crumbs and the edges of the cake will have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its pan.

For the syrup: Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar in a small saucepan. Once the confectioners’ sugar has dissolved into the juice, you’re done. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its pan.

Make Ahead Note: The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container in a cool place. Will keep for total of 5 to 6 days.

Freeze Note: The cake can be frozen on its lining paper as soon as cooled, wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.