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Roast Chicken and Potatoes with All the Best Things

This roast chicken is so savory and satisfying. Add a simple salad and some wine, and you've got an easy dinner party for six in one pan.

Tip

To make this whole meal gluten-free, use a good gluten-free flour blend (such as this one) to make the gravy.

Chicken with stars

Happy cozy weekend to you. Once upon a time we used to make this juuuust slightly extra-special roast chicken and potatoes on a regular basis. Then I forgot about it for years. But recently a nice thing happened — more on the details some other time — and one morning I ended up promising our little Celia that I’d make “chicken with stars” for dinner.It was very sweet. We had a nice hug. But boy did I not know what chicken with stars meant. Neither did she.Celia went off to school, and I started thinking.

A.k.a. roast chicken and potatoes with all the best things

This roast chicken with butter, prosciutto, lemon, thyme, sage, and full-on savory happiness is adapted from an old Jamie Oliver recipe. I’m not sure what brought it to mind again that day — maybe the fact that in my current aggressively post-vegetarian state I basically wrap every single thing in layers of prosciutto? — but I figured, hey, Jamie Oliver is a star, and so are most of the ingredients in this recipe. Gravy is certainly a star in my eyes.

A.k.a. the perfect dinner party for six

And that’s that.I highly recommend this easy recipe for a cozy dinner party of up to six people. Just add a simple salad and plenty of wine. And maybe a nice fire and some sultry jazz.Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon.

Roast Chicken and Potatoes with All the Best Things

This roast chicken is so savory and satisfying. Add a simple salad and some wine, and you've got an easy dinner party for six in one pan.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, 4 to 5 pounds
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut in half
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 pounds new potatoes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Choose a roasting pan that will accommodate the chicken and potatoes. (A good old 13" x 9" metal roasting pan that's on the deeper side and safe for the stovetop usually works well.) Place the chicken in the pan breast-side up and slide your fingers gently between the skin and the breast to make a pocket on each side.
  2. In a small bowl, mash together four tablespoons of the butter, the chopped prosciutto, garlic, sage, lemon zest and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Use your hands to spread most of the butter mixture between the skin and breast of the chicken, then rub the rest all over the outside of the bird. Tuck the thyme sprigs and lemon halves into the cavity of the chicken. Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of very well salted water to the boil, boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, and drain. 
  4. Use tongs to lift up the chicken for a moment and add the parboiled potatoes to the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast for 40+ minutes more, until an instant thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (but not touching the bone) reads 165°F. Let chicken rest on carving board for 10 minutes and spoon potatoes into a serving bowl. 
  5. Make the gravy while the chicken rests. In a small bowl, mash together the remaining two tablespoons butter with the flour to make a paste. Set roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stove (one or two burners, depending on the size of your pan). Whisk flour paste into pan drippings and let brown for a minute. Then whisk in wine and simmer for a minute or two. Pour in stock, whisk to remove any lumps, and simmer for about 8 minutes until nicely thickened. Taste for salt and grind in some black pepper.
  6. Carve chicken and serve with potatoes, gravy to pass at the table, and maybe a nice simple kale salad.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 769 Total Fat:: 39.8g Carbohydrates:: 32.4g Fiber:: 4.1g Protein:: 66.9g

Ugly Sweater Cookies: Chocolate Sugar Cookies and Icing Tips

Here’s a delicious and pretty foolproof chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It’s the stuff Betty and Pearl are made of. Literally. Here’s where to get an ugly sweater cookie cutter and stamp.

Here’s the icing you’ll use to decorate these ladies.

And here’s a little tutorial from a real live person (oh, hi) on how to decorate cookies using the line and flood technique, without an advanced degree.

Tip

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good when decorating cookies. It's called personality

Say hello to Betty and Pearl

So here’s something fun. It’s Betty and Pearl. They’re cookies. And they like to have a good time. I made a little video to contribute to GoodCook’s 12 Days of Ugly Sweater Cookies. They sent us a box full of baking tools. We got a little carried away. 

(By the way: Betty got her name from my favorite British women's athletic wear company Sweaty Betty. Because she's a sweater, see? And Pearl comes from knit one purl two, although I can do neither.)

When cookies step out: a stop-animation video

I had so much fun making the video below. And I’m also super-excited that it marks the debut of the Umami Girl theme song (!!), created by our friends at Glass Bottom Studios. More to come about the new song — and other big news for Umami Girl — in a separate post.

Here’s a delicious and pretty foolproof chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It’s the stuff Betty and Pearl are made of. Literally. Here’s where to get an ugly sweater cookie cutter and stamp.

Here’s the icing you’ll use to decorate these ladies.

And here’s a little tutorial from a real live person (oh, hi) on how to decorate cookies using the line and flood technique, without an advanced degree.

How to Decorate Cookies with the Line and Flood Icing Technique

So. There’s one thing you need to know to get started: Imperfection is your friend.

Betty and Pearl are kind of a disaster. When I was making Betty’s tree trunk, I’d been lazy about closing the sandwich bag I was using as a makeshift pastry bag, and a big blob of brown icing landed on her half-dry shoulder. I wiped it up. You can totally tell.

She survived.

And Pearl? What even is that pattern up top there? It’s PERSONALITY, that’s what it is.

It’s not that I recommend a borderline unjustifiably lazy approach, okay? It’s just…life.

Cool? Cool.

How to Line a Cookie for Decorating

Make a batch of this icing. You’ll use some of it at full consistency for lining, and you’ll thin some it a little for flooding. To line with tinted icing, place a few heaping spoonfuls into a small bowl and stir in some gel color little by little until you reach the color you want. Snip off the very end of a piping bag and insert a fine tip. I like having quite a few fine tips on hand so I can make multiple lining colors at once without having to think too hard about logistics. I HATE thinking hard about logistics.

Spoon the tinted icing into the pastry bag and twist the top un-lazily to close. Squeeze icing down into tip to remove any air bubbles.

Now, just go for it. Leaving a little border of cookie around the outside, use the piping bag to draw as smooth a line as possible around your cookie. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Err on the side of moving quickly when in doubt, because somehow this magically makes things smoother. Just make sure to connect the two ends of your line so there’s no place for the flood icing to escape.

You can also line inside areas of the cookie where you don’t want icing to flood. (Maybe you’re lining your cookie in light blue but want to make a snowman inside. You could use white liner to draw the snowman’s outline before flooding the background.) Let this dry for a few minutes before continuing.

How to Flood a Cookie with Icing

Once the lines have dried enough to be stable, spoon a few more scoops of icing into a small bowl and thin with a teaspoon of water. Consistency should be just thin enough to spread out slowly and with a little nudging from a toothpick here and there. Tint thinned icing as you like. For flooding, I like to put icing into a nice, stable plastic squeeze bottle rather than messing with piping bags. Squeeze icing onto surface of cookie, using a toothpick to fill in any small gaps and even out icing while it’s wet.

What’s Next?

If you want to swirl multiple colors together into a pattern that looks like a single layer, add additional colors while flooded icing is wet, then use a toothpick to create patterns. If you want decorations to stay separate and look layered, wait until flooded icing dries completely, then use the thicker icing to decorate on top.

That’s it. Have fun. Talk to you soon.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

This dough is very easy to work with once it's chilled, and I say that as someone who has little skill or patience for this kind of thing. Chocolate sugar cookies are a welcome variation on a terrific theme, and these are excellent ones. Makes about 20 medium cookies.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Serves 20

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together the sugar, butter, baking powder, vanilla and salt until lightened and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Beat in egg until well combined. 
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the cocoas and flour. Beat into wet ingredients all at once, just until well combined. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. (Dough will keep in fridge for 24 hours if you want to prepare it the day before.)
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F with two racks close to the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Divide dough into two discs. Sprinkle with cocoa. Roll out each disc until dough is 1/8" thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to baking sheets, leaving space between cookies.
  5. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges begin to firm. Cool on pan for a couple of minutes and then completely on a rack before decorating.

Notes

Adapted from King Arthur.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 172 Total Fat:: 9.9g Carbohydrates:: 19.9g Fiber:: 1.1g Protein:: 2.3g

Easy Holiday Appetizer: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp

Here's a nice, easy holiday appetizer. Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with garlic-sage butter is a crowd pleasing starter that pairs really well with both chardonnay and pinot noir. Thanks to Sonoma-Cutrer for sponsoring this post, and thanks to you for supporting our partners.

Tip

Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp can be prepped ahead and broiled in five minutes just before serving, so it's a great choice for parties. Or try it as a main dish over our favorite orzo.

Two great wines to pair with prosciutto-wrapped shrimp

The multiple award-winning Sonoma Coast Chardonnay hits a sweet spot of good quality and good price. It’s a classic, medium-bodied Chardonnay that’s rich but also nice and bright, and it pairs with lots of my favorite foods, from cheeses to pasta dishes to seafood. I love that Sonoma-Cutrer lets you geek out with them and read tasting notes online. Gotta say, I am so ready for a glass right now.

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, also an award-winning wine, has a slightly higher price point and a lovely, complex flavor. You can read the tasting notes here. I love how flexible this Pinot is with food. It’s nice to be able to serve a simple appetizer with both red and white and know it will pair equally well with each.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Sage-Garlic Butter

You can prep this easy appetizer ahead and broil it right before serving. It also works beautifully as a main dish. Serve over orzo tossed with butter, lemon juice, grated parmesan or pecorino cheese and minced flat-leaf parsley.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds jumbo wild shrimp
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Peel and clean the shrimp, leaving tails on if you like. (Tails make a nice presentation and a useful handle, but you can serve the appetizer with cocktail forks or toothpicks instead.)
  2. Cut each slice of prosciutto into two or three long strips. Wrap one strip around each shrimp. Place shrimp on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper that just fits. 
  3. Melt butter in a small pot. Brush about half of the butter over the shrimp. Preheat broiler to high.
  4. While broiler preheats, add garlic and sage to remaining butter. Cook on medium heat for a minute or two, until very fragrant.
  5. Broil shrimp for about 90 seconds, until shrimp are turning opaque and prosciutto begins to cook. Flip shrimp with tongs and broil about 60 seconds more, until just cooked through.
  6. Transfer shrimp to a serving platter. Brush with garlic sage butter and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 141 Total Fat:: 5.7g Carbohydrates:: 0.9g Fiber:: 0g Protein:: 21.7g

Bleu de Chèvre and Beet Linguine Recipe

This gorgeous pink pasta dish feels special, but it's nice and easy to put together. If you roast the beets in advance (or buy roasted beets), linguine with beets and blue cheese will be ready in less than 20 minutes. 

Big thanks to Goat Cheeses of France for sponsoring this post, and thanks to you for supporting our partners.

Tip

If you roast the beets in advance or buy them roasted, this meal is ready in 20 minutes. You can swap in fresh goat cheese or a cow's milk blue cheese such as gorgonzola dolce if you like.

Thanksgiving vs. goat cheese

Good morning from the middle of a mild and pleasant post-Thanksgiving coma. That was fun, wasn’t it? Fun and exhausting and slightly infuriating, and all the things that holidays will be. Today we’re taking a nice little break from all that to focus on France. I figured we’d go somewhere that doesn’t even have Thanksgiving, just to be safe.

Do you know what they do have in France, though? French goat cheeses. Beautiful, high-quality, but totally accessible and affordable French goat cheeses. France is the number one producer of goat’s milk cheeses in the world, with 6,000 goat’s milk producers, half of whom make their own cheese.

Hooray for goat cheese

With production in multiple regions south of the Loire Valley, there’s wide variety among tastes and styles. I thought I knew my way around chèvre reasonably well, but working with Goat Cheeses of France  has introduced me to some new varieties, including the Bleu de Chèvre that I’ve used in the easy but special-feeling recipe below.

A cozy dinner party

French goat cheeses in their multitudes work well all year round, but at this time of year it’s nice to focus on cozy dishes that are dinner-party ready without too much time or effort. Bleu de Chèvre would make a great addition to a simple (or wildly ostentatious) cheese board and really needs no special treatment. But I couldn’t shake the idea of how its gentle piquancy might enhance an earthy and festive-looking pasta sauce made with beets. The resulting Bleu de Chèvre and Beet Linguine was very popular, and I’m looking forward to making it again. 

A casual-chic goat, NBD

In the meantime, we’re off on a little hike to make some room. For lots more great ideas, follow Goat Cheeses of France on Facebook and Instagram. I love that the goat in their logo has that casual-chic French lady thing going on, even though she’s just a few lines on the page. How do they all know how to do that? Apparently you don’t even have to be human — or sentient — to have that skill. Maybe eating more French goat cheese is the key. Let’s try it and see how it goes.

Blue Cheese and Beet Linguine Recipe

The combination of beets and blue cheese makes a luscious and beautifully colored sauce. This meal feels special but is nice and easy to put together.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup good vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds roasted beets, diced (see note)
  • 3 ounces Bleu de Chèvre, crumbled
  • 1 pound linguine
  • Salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, to garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Melt and lightly brown the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add shallots, garlic and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about five minutes.
  3. Add wine and simmer briskly until reduced by half.
  4. Add cream, broth and beets and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to create a nice, slightly thickened sauce.
  5. Crumble in Bleu de Chèvre, reserving a little bit to garnish if you like. Taste for salt, and sprinkle in plenty of pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, cook linguine al dente in well-salted water according to package directions.
  7. Drain and toss pasta into sauce.
  8. Stir in parsley and serve immediately.

Notes

To roast whole beets, wash well, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Place in a roasting pan in a 400°F oven on the center rack. Roast for about an hour, depending on size and age of beets, until nice and tender. Peel when cool enough to handle. Alternatively, many supermarkets sell plain roasted beets in plastic in the fresh produce section. They stay good in the fridge for weeks and are great to have on hand.

You can substitute another blue cheese (like gorgonzola dolce) or fresh goat cheese in this recipe if you like!

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 526 Total Fat:: 20.3g Carbohydrates:: 70.1g Fiber:: 6g Protein:: 15.9g

Fall Cocktail: The Apple Cider Moscow Mule

The Apple Cider Moscow Mule would make a great start to your Thanksgiving celebration (or basically your fall Tuesday night, but whatever). Even though it’s vodka-based, it’s nice and light, so Great Aunt Googlypuss can have one without passing out, and if Great Uncle Frankenschmutz starts acting like an asshole, it’s not the cocktail’s fault. 

If you want something stronger but equally fall-friendly, try The Fifteen.

Tip

In the market for some mugs for this copper-clad cocktail? How cute are these?

A fall cocktail for Thanksgiving or for Tuesday

You guys, Thanksgiving is RIGHT around the corner. I’m not gonna sugar-coat this. It’s next Thursday. What EVEN?

I 100% cannot comprehend how it’s the middle of November right now, but that’s a story for another day. (“How about never? Is never good for you?” you might be thinking. And fair enough.) Today’s story is about a fall cocktail that would make a really great start to your Thanksgiving celebration — the Apple Cider Moscow Mule. Even though it’s vodka-based, it’s nice and light, so Great Aunt Googlypuss can have one without passing out, and if Great Uncle Frankenschmutz starts acting like an asshole, it’s not the cocktail’s fault. 

If you want something stronger but equally fall-friendly, try The Fifteen.

The apple cider Moscow mule

The Apple Cider Moscow Mule retains all the bright, tasty balance of the original cocktail and adds a nice, autumnal layer of apple-cinnamon goodness. Plus, you get to use crushed ice, and if the mood strikes you can make it yourself with a couple of plastic bags and a mallet. It’s fun. Just sayin’.

Okay, turkeys, have a great few days. Talk to you soon.

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

The Apple Cider Moscow Mule retains all the bright, tasty balance of the original cocktail and adds a nice, autumnal layer of apple-cinnamon goodness. Plus, you get to use crushed ice, and if the mood strikes you can make it yourself with a couple of plastic bags and a mallet. It’s fun. Just sayin’.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Serves Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces cinnamon apple vodka (see note)
  • 4 1/2 ounces apple cider
  • 3 ounces ginger beer
  • Big squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Apple slice, cut crosswise
  • Cinnamon Stick

Directions

  1. Fill a copper mule cup most of the way with crushed ice. To crush your own ice, place regular ice cubes in a double layer of gallon-sized zip-top bags and smash ice with a wooden rolling pin or a mallet until crushed. (After a tough day you may find you start preferring your cocktail with homemade crushed ice.)
  2. Stir in vodka, apple cider, ginger beer and lime juice. Garnish with apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Notes

I found Infuse Spirits vodka at Whole Foods and really liked it. You can use cinnamon vodka if you can't find apple cinnamon.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 165