People go to great lengths to save money on everything - except, it seems, on chicken parts. There is a great divide in our purchasing. We will buy and roast a whole chicken or we will buy pre-packaged parts, but so many people have an aversion to buying whole and then breaking it down at home. And yet, it is so much cheaper and gives you so many great extra parts for stock.
So what gives? I luckily had James Peisker and Chris Carter from Nashville’s Porter Road to showcase how easy it is. And that’s often the rub: everyone seems to think it is harder than it actually is. It requires no extensive skills and, unlike some other meats, no extra strength to pull it off. A chicken has natural areas that can easily come apart once you know the secrets.
Ok, yes, I did make the title of this post a Spice Girls lyric. But before you roll your eyes there is good reason for it.
I am a huge proponent of spices. They add a layer of aromatics and depth to whatever you are cooking that takes it up a notch. A lot of people have misconceptions here: that spices have to be spicy and that when you are using spices your dish is less fresh. The first is nonsense, because other than peppers and cayenne spices are only adding flavor. The second is really a sad result of the terrible and stale spices that most people use (yes, I’m looking at you with that cinnamon you bought in 2002). When my son was born everyone was shocked - SHOCKED - that he got curry powder or cumin in his purees. But why not? The more flavor we are exposed to the broader our palate will be. And by the way, that applies to adults too.
So Kanchan Koya’s book, Spice Spice Baby, was a breath of fresh air. She comes from a science background so she makes the case that, beyond being delicious, spices are actually an essential ingredient for your health. And so many of the recipes are really simple. She came over to the kitchen and actually showcased three recipes that require no cooking - so there goes the other myth that spices need to be complicated.
I hate to sound old enough to say I've enjoyed following someone's career, but apparently today I'm going to. I have loved watching whatever Eden Grinshpan does next. She is a barrel of laughs and a breath of fresh air wherever she goes. I first interviewed her when she had a show on Cooking Channel. She has since moved on host Top Chef Canada and now she has opened her first restaurant, Dez. It combines all of her Israeli, Middle Eastern and other travel experiences into one spirited and flavorful fast casual spot.
And since I can't possibly pick a favorite I decided instead to pick her brain about mezzes. It's an all-encompassing word but it can help outline one of the best appetizer plans possible.
I started my career as a Page at NBC - yes, if you've seen 30 Rock it's just like Kenneth the Page, but with a little bit more real work involved! So I was so thrilled to get to have a little bit of a homecoming and share two of the recipes from Bring It! on The Today Show this week.
I love cocktails but I am not usually a big fan of cocktail books. I don't want to buy 3 new liquers and a set of bitters just to make one drink. So I can't tell you how happy I was to see Maggie Hoffman's The One Bottle Cocktail. The entire premise eliminates your fear of cocktails in that it centers on the idea of only one spirit. Every drink is complex, fresh, interesting and only requires purchasing a single bottle of booze. Add onto that that Maggie is delightful - and that she shines through the pages - and you have an essential book on your hands.
I was so glad that on a recent trip to NYC Maggie decided to stop by the test kitchen and make a cocktail. This one is particularly awesome because in making it you also get a side of salsa. It's perfect for brunch, parties or just snacking at home with your very own bottle of vodka.
I love a good hack, and apple sandwiches are kind of my new current favorite. If you use tart apples instead of bread you create a whole new category with texture and a fun factor that is hard to beat.
Recently Siri Daly stopped by to talk about her new book, Siriously Delicious. The wife of famed tv host Carson Daly uses her book and blog to showcase her easy recipes that help her keep her busy family on the go. Siri is one of those people who tries to make life easier and I loved the fun outlook in the book. But these apple sandwiches with nut butter and granola have made me a convert.
Gaby Dalkin seems to live on of those breezy California lives that makes me question all my life choices for living in New York. Her sunny blog, What's Gaby Cooking, has really delectable recipes and now she is out with a new book based on the style her readers have grown to love.
I loved getting to bring a little bit of that California feel into my new test kitchen. I am going to be doing a lot more videos from the kitchen which will allow for a lot more cookbook authors from out of town to share recipes - and I'm doing in a series I'm calling The Easiest Recipe. The Easiest Recipe will take what I think is the simplest recipe from the book and we make it in real-time right in the kitchen. For Gaby's book we picked the citrus marinated olives. These might be the most addictive snack - be careful if you make them for a party because you might just eat them all on their own.
So watch the video, check out Gaby's new book and you can make the recipe below if you feel inspired!