Summer S’moresFest: Curry Chocolate Dipped Smoked Pepper Bacon

25 Aug

Pace yourself, guys, there’s a LOT to take in visually on this one. I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking because you’re probably not going to be listening to me anyway, after you see what I did and where I went.

Gluten Free S'mores with pepper bacon

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

My friend Kat was having a belated birthday party at Carkeek Park, a local beach and all around amazing place to meet loved ones, play, BBQ, beach bum and watch the sun go down. We did indeed do all those things and even got a group picture where we all pretended to be Velociraptors, because duh, and sang the Happy Birthday Song to the Kat.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

We were each tasked with bringing something festive to drink and an ingredient to add to the table of options for S’mores. I do love a challenge, so I thought I’d up the ante with chocolate dipped bacon. Headed over to Whole Foods, the butcher and I had a “YUM, BACON, YES” style conversation (I may have gone a little overboard with my joke about the love affair bacon and I are still having, we just can’t seem to end it, blah blah blah). I came home with this:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

I also picked up that bottle of Rusty Boar Rose to share with the group, which was purchased with the nod to my chosen S’mores addition, clearly. Everyone loved the tongue in cheek reference and at $10, it was a great buy. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Portioned out the bacon into complimentary sizes for S’mores building. Why make it any harder than need be? Baked the pound of organic, smoked pepper back at 375 for about 25 minutes. I really wanted it to get crispy to hold up to the chocolate dipping. So I watched it and pulled when we had some DARK edges going on.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Let it air dry and cool completely, the fat must be dry or the chocolate won’t stick when you dip it. Hot, melty chocolate and a coating of bacon fat do not a sticky pair make (is that a saying? Whatever! LOOK, BACON!)

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s jump back for a second so I can tell you what I put in the chocolate. I wanted the flavor of the smoke and pepper to be evened out and remain warm but lend itself to something sweet and crunchy, so I paired yellow curry powder with garam masala. This was a measurement by trial scenario, as I’d never done it before and was completely going based on multiple dip taste tests with a knife. I melted the chocolate chips in a double boiler then added in each item by 1/4tsp and tasted after each addition to get a sense for the flavor and warmth. The right amount ended up being 1Cup chips, 1Tsp each of yellow curry powder and garam masala.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Dip, dust, set aside on half sheet pan to cool, or like me, shove in freezer because you’re impatient. Take to party and see the amazement:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

So many wonderful things, and my dear friend Liz discusses some great pairings over on her blog, Liz Takes the World. The lemon curd and Nutella was REALLY a good choice and I’m stealing that idea. I don’t even like sweets but I started getting a little crazy with my options and ended up having 3 different S’mores. Whatever. Summer.

Then we watched the sun go down:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Such a beautiful sunset and time with fun people to celebrate a great woman. So I had s’more S’mores. WHAT!?

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Beer Can Chicken? Meh.

21 Aug

For a long while now, I’ve wanted to find or adapt the perfect beer can chicken recipe. Why? I have absolutely no idea. There’s something about it that seemed so fun, hilarious, tacky and adventurous at the same time.

Beer Can Chicken from Food 52 cooked by Siiri Sampson

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Not wanting to start from complete scratch on this endeavor, I happened to skim across Food52’s daily at just the right time and found a trustworthy place to start. Their Beer Can Chicken recipe from Cara Nicoletti had lots of promise to point me in the right direction. The recipe doesn’t have any faults in it, and I have nothing bad to say about it, truly. I just realized I don’t want to spend that much time cooking chicken, wasting propane, or taking that many steps. I just actually do not care enough to make it again.

Avocado and radishes

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Maybe because I have a tried and true, special roasted chicken recipe that has never failed me and is just as flavorful. The beer can chicken was extremely moist, for the obvious reason of having a beer stuff in it. The skin was very flavorful and crispy, but no more so than my oven roasted one.

Beer Can Chicken, Chimichurri and avocado radish salad

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

We served it with a light summer salad of herb field greens, and these luscious avocados and Easter egg radishes.

Avocado and radishes

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

It was delicious, but I was underwhelmed. I had anticipated being blown away, and wasn’t. That’s the thing about having expectations you guys, they’re RARELY fulfilled. But then, while you’re waiting well into hour 2 on the rooftop, something incredibly magical happens and you know you may have missed it if you weren’t waiting for the slowest chicken. So, I suppose it was worth it.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Besides, I got to spend time with my favorite newlyweds and use their man hands to help surgically remove said chicken from the grill. See?

Shallot and Brown Sugar Glazed Grilled Salmon

4 Aug
Grilled peaches from Siiri Sampson Seattle Food Blogger at A Half Cup

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Stone fruit. I could go on for days, waxing poetic about how incredible these fruits are to bake. But what’s more interesting is the applications you might not ordinarily think to make. When you want to grill – which you certainly do in the summer – stone fruits are the perfect dessert match.

Roll up your sleeves, and let’s talk shop. Click through to see the whole meal….

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Seattle Summer Bounty: Rosé and Trout for Two

31 Jul
Trout on a baking quarter sheet pan, seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and gluten free panko herb crust.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Just in case you were under the impression that Trout didn’t have teeth….now you know. They do. But that doesn’t make them any less delicious, trust me.

What have I been up to this week? Lots of cooking, like this little buddy above, and then lots of shenanigans. Because it’s the summer, it’s Seattle, and it’d be a shame to waste either of these lovely things…

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Seattle Dinner out with the Girls: Shibumi

4 Jun

It is officially summer in Seattle (according to zero scientific sources other than the completely inaccurate and undependable Sampson-ometer) and everything around here is amazing! The weather is warm, travel is in full swing, and I can walk to meet the girls for dinner pretty much anywhere in town.

Roasted peppers at Shibumi photographed by Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger for A Half Cup

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Once a month or so, I meet up with two of my BOD (Board Of Directors – by which of course I mean all the incredibly intelligent, powerful, selfless, beautiful inside and out women I surround myself with, whose opinions I value highly). These two women are, in addition to all of the above, stunning and hilarious – your basic total package. (Sorry guys, they’re taken).

Last time we got together, we had dinner at Miller’s Guild, which was completely amazing, although the lighting lent itself more to being romanced by all the incredible food and surroundings rather than taking pictures of all the food.

Seared ahi tuna and server at Miller's Guild discussing menu options.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

This time around, we headed up to The Hill to Shibumi Izakaya. One of the BOD knows the chef/owner and we decided to give it a whirl with her. Here’s what we had….

  • Spicy pork gyoza
  • Green beans with sesame dressing
  • Burdock and carrot kinpira
  • Pork croquettes (which I think was a special?)
  • All three wagyu zabuton options: sliced, seared and chopped….. AHHHHHHHHHHH MAZING (holy cow I love wagyu)
  • Pork belly kushiyaki
  • Marinated black cod
  • Tonkatsu ramen
  • Dessert: I believe chef said it was a green tea (matcha) mousse ice cream and it had black and white sesame seeds with a vanilla shortbread cookie

Sooooooooo, yeah, basically we ate almost the entire menu, but that’s what I love both about a small plates restaurant and the BOD – they’re always down to share, stories and dishes!

Of course I really tried not to take pictures and just enjoy the dinner because we don’t have them often enough, but after the seared wagyu, I just couldn’t help myself….

Shaved Wagyu:

Sliced Wagyu Beef at Shibumi in Seattle, photographed by Siiri Sampson

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Pork gyoza:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Pork Belly Tonkotsu Ramen:

Pork Belly Tonkotsu Ramen:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Pork Belly Tonkotsu Ramen

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

There were definitely some things I couldn’t eat (but had a bite of anyway) with my limitations carried over from the Whole30 (still steering clear of legumes, dairy and wheat), but there were some really good bites here. I’ve heard polarized opinions, but my recommendation is to go check it out and form your own opinion! Try everything with pork belly (the worlds single greatest invention and meat product), and get the seared wagyu, you won’t be sorry.

 

…Because everyone loves an underdog

25 May

Saying that this post is overdue is an understatement even I don’t feel comfortable with making. If you’ve been following along with the blog for the past few months you’ll remember that I had entered a cooking competition again this year – the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s Cookie Recipe Contest – a competition for food bloggers.

Samoas Coconut Cream Filled Croissant Doughnut by Siiri Sampson

This was the third year I entered, and I was hell bent on winning this year. After placing 3rd overall in my first year, and then not even making the Top 5 my second year, I had officially adopted the Underdog title of this competition. For those of you that know me in real life, the food world, or just through the blog, you know I love a challenge. You want me to achieve something? Just tell me I can’t do it. Sure fire recipe for success (sorry, food puns abound….have we met?).

To refresh your memory, here’s the post of my submission for the contest: http://ahalfcup.com/2014/02/12/samoa-coconut-cream-filled-croissant-donut/

Go ahead and read it (it’s over the top, I’m aware), I’ll wait……

Okay good. Now that you remember what I submitted, and saw the spoiler alert, I won! WOOT.

Croissant Doughnuts with toasted coconut and triple glaze

Toasted Coconut…..doughnuts….what else could you want?

I know it’s cheesy to the max, but I truly find that my successes are, in fact, sitting atop a tightly grouped cluster of many previous failures. All those lessons, compounded and steeped in calculated risk and humility. While losing is sad and disappointing, I have the following things to say about why I LIKE losing:

  1. I know I will lose exponentially more times than winning, so anticipating failure helps me focus on what lesson I’ll learn for later that will one day contribute to my success
  2. If I don’t lose, the wins don’t feel as good or deserved
  3. Aim higher people – the struggle brings way more creativity
  4. When you fail, you learn about what you don’t like (Shaping what you do like) and what your thresholds are, ultimately pushing your competitive edge further
  5. You store away the memory of what went wrong and can tap into that, should that obstacle arise later on, making you more agile

All of this is to say, I had been plotting my upset for sometime. My incredible work team had helped me think through the factors that create an iron clad winner (and, no, I’m not sharing that equation. SERIOUSLY?! You’d be SHOCKED how many people have asked me….). I embarked on the creation of the Samoas Coconut Cream Filled Croissant Doughnut.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

But the most interesting part of this years competition was what happened after I won. I went on a little Seattle media tour, sharing my creation with various media outlets, and helping to promote the Girl Scouts cookie sales. What a wonderful way to be able to help boost sales for such a great organization!

Many people have asked me to share the video and radio segments, and so, without further ado, allow me to dump all the media on you. For real, you guys, get comfy, grab a snack and enjoy. Here comes ALLLLLLL the pictures and videos as I take you through the week:

The day before the winner was announced, all the Top 5 finalists were invited to appear on the live 4pm broadcast of KOMO 4 News with Mary Nam. So we met up (for the first time), and shared our treats with the news team and each other. The other women finalists were so nice, their treats were insanely good and we really enjoyed meeting each other.

Making sure I'm camera ready - I *rarely* take pictures like this, but needed feedback from a couple friends before leaving the house. Now I'm glad I have a picture to freeze this day in time!

Making sure I’m camera ready – I *rarely* take pictures like this, but needed feedback from a couple friends before leaving the house. Now I’m glad I have a picture to freeze this day in time!

All the finalists lining up for our segment on the news room floor while the broadcast is live.

All the finalists lining up for our segment on the news room floor while the broadcast is live.

You never know what your set up will be, so it's important to bring materials with you to stage your food, and be able to improvise!

You never know what your set up will be, so it’s important to bring materials with you to stage your food, and be able to improvise!

Mary was very kind and let us take a few pictures with her, since I know everyone was a little nervous and we wanted to remember how much fun we'd had!

Mary was very kind and let us take a few pictures with her, since I know everyone was a little nervous and we wanted to remember how much fun we’d had!

While we were filming the live segment, we had a special guest (Steve Poole) sneak up and snag one of my treats. Luckily he loved it!

While we were filming the live segment, we had a special guest (Steve Poole) sneak up and snag one of my treats. Luckily he loved it!

And here is the live segment video: (sorry, my blog is being a PAIN and won’t let me paste/embed the video. Right click the link below and “Open in a new tab”)

http://www.komonews.com/home/video/Girl-Scout-Cookie-Recipe-Contest-247943671.html?tab=video&c=y

After that segment was over, the radio show down the hall had us come on for an impromptu interview as well:

Myself and Stephanie (the amazing creator of the competition who works tirelessly for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington) in the booth for the radio show.

Myself and Stephanie (the amazing creator of the competition who works tirelessly for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington) in the booth for the radio show.

Looking back into the news room from inside the booth during the show.

Looking back into the news room from inside the booth during the show.

And here’s the clip from our radio segment: (well, darn, I need to convert it to a video and upload to YouTube, so that’ll happen later and I’ll update the post. Sorry!)

The few days after winning were a whirlwind! I was surprised and elated to finally win – especially after having tasted the other creations, meeting the finalists and seeing some of their blogs. It felt great to compete against fellow bloggers I knew were giving me a run for my money!

My next stop was a cooking segment on New Day Northwest, the local morning show on King 5 here in Seattle, with Margaret Larson:

I had a good amount of time to set up, which I needed to get all my stations set!

I had a good amount of time to set up, which I needed to get all my stations set!

Looking at all my "notes to self" to ensure I don't miss a step I plan on showing.

Looking at all my “notes to self” to ensure I don’t miss a step I plan on showing.

Siiri prepping her station on New Day Northwest

Stephanie and I behind the scenes, making sure we have all the talking points down to promote the cookie sales.

Stephanie and I behind the scenes, making sure we have all the talking points down to promote the cookie sales.

Before the segment, talking through details with Stephanie and our producer.

Before the segment, talking through details with Stephanie and our producer.

During the taping of a show, they do lead ins and teasers for the segment. This is from backstage, where you can watch on the monitor as the teaser is taped, and see what it looks like on TV.

During the taping of a show, they do lead ins and teasers for the segment. This is from backstage, where you can watch on the monitor as the teaser is taped, and see what it looks like on TV.

Prepping for the walk through.

Prepping for the walk through.

Siiri Sampson getting mic'd up for her segment on New Day Northwest

Producers working with food blogger Siiri Sampson, to prep her cooking segment

Working with a great team of producers and camera men prior to the taping to ensure our shot list was ready and all the product was well merchandised.

Here's what the studio looks like when you're actually there, in the audience.

Here’s what the studio looks like when you’re actually there, in the audience.

And here’s the segment if you saw it online or at home on TV: (sorry, my blog is being a PAIN and won’t let me paste/embed the video. Right click the link below and “Open in a new tab”)

http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/Girl-Scout-Cookie-Recipe-Contest-Winner-248208121.html

The following day, I headed over to KCPQ Q13, our Seattle Fox station, for a live segment where I had two super cute girl scouts with me on a live segment. Kaci, Bill, Adam and the rest of the crew were wonderful and made short work of my samples!

 

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

When I arrived, these super sweet girl scouts were awaiting their chance to cook along side me on the show.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

My “hard at work” face, of course no idea my picture is being taken. Classic Sampson move! Since we’re on a closed set and I’m in the same sound stage as the live news broadcast, everything for set up has to be done completely silent.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Most of the set up had to be done during commercial breaks and when stories went to prerecorded segment sections since I had to unpack, move things around and generally, that involves lots of kitchen noise!

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Setting up the abbreviated station format to ensure we made it through the whole dish in our allotted time.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

There you can see some of the rest of the sound stage.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Here, you can literally see the news going on, in real time, right behind me. It was a neat opportunity to see what things look like on the back end.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Ah ha! I got caught! :) Almost done setting up, but you know me….everything has to be JUST SO!

 

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

And here’s the other half of the sound stage.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Trying to be SUPER quiet – which we all know is a massive stretch (no pun intended here) for me.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Chatting up the anchors during a commercial break. None of the food was heated, but there was actually SO much sugar and coconut in the recipe that, under the set lights, it heated things up to a point where you could smell the Croissant Doughnuts across the room.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Taping the live teaser.

 

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Getting the girl scouts set up and taking pictures for their memory books.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Walking the girls through their tasks and having them help me prep a station.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Showing the girl scouts how to fill the treats, so they knew just what to do when it was their turn.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Waiting our turn….

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

And then, the segment went live and we chatted with the wonderful Kaci Aitchison.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

The whole crew devouring the samples after our segment was over.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

A couple quick pictures!

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

And here’s the segment: (sorry, my blog is being a PAIN and won’t let me paste/embed the video. Right click the link below and “Open in a new tab”)

http://q13fox.com/2014/03/04/girl-scout-cookie-recipies/#axzz2v1fnJbwA

 

Then, I finally made it over to visit with some food friends of mine on the radio show Seattle Kitchen:

Sampson_Seattle Kitchen Segment for Girl Scouts of WW_030614

Thierry Rautureau, Me, Tom Douglas, and Katie O on the Go!

WP_005931

The show goes on! Tina and Katie O hard at work!

The show goes on! Tina and Katie O hard at work!

#Groupie of Thierry, Tom and I after our segment was over.

#Groupie of Thierry, Tom and I after our segment was over.

 

And here’s that segment: http://kiroradio.com/listen/9968785/

You should sign up for their podcast (http://www.kiroradio.com/SeattleKitchen) , it’s hilarious and educational – a winning combination!

And in case you’re wondering, yes, this was part of my winnings. I was also given enough Girl Scout Cookies to last a lifetime, some cash money, and bragging rights. Also, I can literally enter again next year…..we’ll see if I’ve got any steam left in me for a repeat.

One last note before I sign off tonight:

I so appreciate all the support and encouragement from family, friends and colleagues I continue to receive. Going through this process, while seemingly no big deal, is pretty hard. Putting yourself out there with the potential of being beat again – it’s not easy. And throughout it all, I’ve had a great crew of people. There’s one person in particular who has been my number one cheerleader and dedicated so much energy and time to helping me, listening to me, brainstorming and then celebrating (which included a ton of work to get all these segments done). My oldest and dearest friend, Adam, has been by my side through it all. He is family to me, and I know he always has my back. At the drop of a hat, he cleared his schedule to be with me at every single TV segment, picking me up early, driving me around, prepping food behind the scenes, letting me be a total controlling freak about the direction each item faced, etc. And he did it all with a smile – and then took every single picture you see above. He is just INCREDIBLE. Adam, thank you from the bottom of my heart – you are simply the best and I literally could not have done any of that successfully without you!

 

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken and Kumquats with Broccolini

19 May
Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

I thought I was going to start back where I’d left off – two months ago. But as I stared down the black hole of jogging my memory from a cold crank start, I reeeeeeeeally had a hard time feeling like I had the energy to do that. Why didn’t I have the energy? Well, for starters, dang there’s a LOT of pictures you guys. I’m worse than all our parents combined used to be in the ’80s on Christmas Day, okay? Digital media has turned me into the thousand snapshot gal. If I don’t take a ton, and then they are all blurry, I’m upset with myself! Also, I had just made this insane chicken dish above, and so I am physically tired. It was a long weekend and I just couldn’t. Instead, I thought I’d get the ball rolling and start where I am right now! Here we go….

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

What I made: Cast iron roasted organic whole fryer chicken stuffed with sweet yellow onions and garlic. Oven roasted with onions, kumquats, basil, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, candied grapefruit zest and grapefruit sugar. Served with steamed broccolini, a pan sauce with capers and finished with kumquats in simple syrup.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Let’s put it this way – no one was there to witness the insanity of amazing smells coming out of my kitchen, but I’m guessing my neighbors enjoyed the wonderful scent wafting down the hallway this evening.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

One thing I love about using a cast iron skillet, besides it’s innate ability to up your basic street cred by a couple notches, is all the flavor it imparts on every dish from all the years of seasoning. It just moves things along, deepens what you give it, and acts as a silent partner in the kitchen. It’s high fiving you all the way to your stomach. For this dish, there is really nothing more than basic prep of a few ingredients:

  • Rinse and pat dry your bird (make sure you got all the guts out of the cavity first, and save them for your pan sauce or another dish later in in the week like I did).
  • Slice your onions, peel your garlic, halve your kumquats, and chiffonade your basil
  • Drizzle your skillet in olive oil then place the bird in there, coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Shove half an onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic in the cavity
  • Tie the legs together with twine (or if you don’t have any you can make a rope from tin foil and use that to hold them together – maybe I’ll do a little video tutorial on some small kitchen hacks like that…)
  • Nest all your veggies and fruits around the bird, sprinkle with basil
  • Bake on middle to low rack at 375F for 45 min, then reduce to 350F for an additional 30 min
Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

When you pull the bird out in the skillet, remember that the skillet will stay hot for essentially the rest of your life and leave a hand towel on the handle to prevent awful burns and stories about the ER being slow to help you on a Sunday night while you lean away from that person with the heinous cough sitting next to you with a gash in their forehead, okay? Great, moving on then….

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Remove the bird from the skillet, set aside on a rimmed sheet or dish to rest, cover and crimp with tin foil to keep all the juices in. Then I did some extra things you can totally ignore. But if you’d like to try your hand, you’ll want to take the remaining kumquats and get them balanced out in a straightforward simple syrup on the stove top while you also reduce all the liquid in the skillet.

Wait, am I going too fast? Sorry, let me break that down:

  • 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar go into a sauce pan with sliced kumquats on medium high heat, covered till boiling, reduce to simmer and remove lid, stirring for 5-8 minutes and then set aside to cool
  • pull out all the onions and kumquats from the cast iron skillet and set them aside in another dish, cover to keep warm
  • steam your broccolini however you like it best, I have an old school metal steamer basket that works like your dad’s 1979 Chevy – its still a workhorse and you have no idea how it’s lasted this long but if it ain’t broke…..
  • reduce the liquid in the skillet on medium high heat, adding some capers and a bit of the liquid from the jar. Make a rue for thickening the sauce and whisk till the whole sauce thickens
  • Add in a bit of coriander and ground ginger to add some interest beyond chicken broth flavor, remove from heat and pour off into a jar or large measuring cup you can pour from later
Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Plate it all up so the veggies from the skillet are the base and soak up all the other sauces, with that broccolini playing a supporting role like an edible paint brush that will absorb all the juice from the chicken and grab hold of the capers in that pan sauce as well. Finish with a drizzle of the simple syrup and kumquats, extra pan sauce and a dusting of sea salt and pepper to balance the sweetness.

Eat your face off and let that box of mac and cheese sigh with relief as it lives to see another dusty day on your pantry shelf.

NAILED IT.

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