Kale Greens Under Buttermilk Roast Chicken, South By Northeast

First things first.  In my buttermilk haze, I completely forgot to truss this bird.  I get a little excited about roast chicken.  And also a bit distracted buttermilk, as you may have heard.  

So when I opened the oven door, the bird’s legs were splayed out in a poultry version of happy baby yoga pose.  The legs were also golden brown and incredibly moist. This was first apparent during the carving, and then became even more convincing once I had a thigh in my clutches.

This dish is a take on Southern staples like buttermilk fried chicken and silky collard greens. The greens—also known as dinosaur kale in this kitchen narrative—were graced with the juices that trickled out of the chicken as it cooked.  They shriveled down quite a bit in the roasting pan, so what was left of them didn’t feed a crowd.  But they fed me, crowd for one.

I ate some of the greens straight from the roasting pan.  Some I placed on top of crusty bread.  I even slipped a few spoonfuls into the inner leaves of a Napa cabbage.  Which sounds a bit odd, but it brought the west coast-vibed vegetable to a whole new place.  A homey place.  A place where I imagine the sweet tea flows freely, where peach pie is prom queen, and where lard is a birthright.

So what I’m trying to say is that the meal delivered on its Southern hospitality.  I also recognize you can’t just throw buttermilk and sweet tea around and expect to develop a drawl.  Though—if I’m being honest about my Southern dalliances—I did make pimento cheese spread earlier this week.  And I had it for, not one, but two whole meals. 

That said, I fully admit the inspiration for this chicken came from a certain New Yorker, who was inspired by the lovely Nigella Lawson.  I’m also writing to you from Boston, which has a reputation for being a bit more buttoned up than our neighbors to the South.

No matter. An appreciation for chicken steeped in buttermilk might unite us all.  This recipe is easily destined to become a Sunday night staple at my place, paired with some shriveled olives and perhaps a glass, or two, of Chinon. Call it New England meets Georgia meets the Loire Valley.  I call it dinner, comingling.  But perhaps that’s just my Southern spin.

Kale Greens Under Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen


Kosher salt
About a 3 pound whole chicken
2 cups buttermilk
6 cloves garlic, divided 
1½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sugar
Bunch of dinosaur kale (or Lactinato kale)
Small handful of cilantro, very roughly chopped
¾ tbsp butter
Black pepper
Olive oil, as needed


The day before you plan to make the chicken, salt the inside cavity of your bird liberally and repeat on the outside.  Combine the buttermilk, 3 cloves of smashed garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, and sugar in a bowl large enough to place your chicken.  Add your chicken to the bowl; spoon the buttermilk marinade on top so that the chicken is well covered in marinade, and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours.

The following day, when you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Roughly chop the dinosaur kale, smash the remaining 3 cloves of garlic, and toss both in a large roasting pan.  Toss the greens and garlic lightly in some of the buttermilk marinade to moisten them, then add the roast chicken to the roasting pan; the roast chicken should be well covered in marinade, but you will likely have some leftover remaining marinade that you’ll want to discard.

Gently lift up some of the bird’s top skin so that you can slip the cilantro into it and then rub the butter under the skin.  (At this stage, you may also wish to tie its legs; if so, truss on.)  Season the bird and the kale with black pepper, perhaps a little more kosher salt, and drizzle a little olive oil on top, just for good measure.

Cook the bird until a thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of a thigh.  This should take about 90 minutes, but it will vary depending on your oven, so you may want to check and see where you’re at after 75 minutes, give or take.  If you notice your greens are getting a little dry, toss them with a little more olive oil. Let the chicken be for a good 10-15 minutes before attacking.

Makes 1 roast chicken and about 1 cup of greens

-If this leaves you wanting more buttermilk.  More chicken.  Perhaps even fried.  You may want to check out this Eat Boutique recipe.  It’s a recipe from a Georgia-bred fellow New Englander and French enthusiast.

-If you are wondering what I do “during the day” (and let’s be honest, you probably aren’t—but here I am, telling you any way) check out this link where I compare my day job (a dietitian) to my pay job (a grad student in BU’s gastronomy program). 


Meyer Lemon Kumquat Marmalade and Breakfast Musings

I wrote most of this from a coffee shop space with a big window overlooking both the Boston Garden and the Common.  It was easily the best seat in the house, which I suppose is one of the perks of being unable to sleep past 7 am on a Sunday.  Picture this.  I’m drinking an Americano.  Motown is playing.  The sun is up, but just barely. 

Technically, I’m attempting to write about marmalade.  But a good part of me is watching people place their pastry and coffee requests.  I'm using their orders to make assumptions about their lives.  So I'm not entirely focused.  And, in the interest of full discloser, I have a date with some buttermilk buckwheat pancakes around 9 am.  Let it be known, I am easily distracted by pancakes.  And stories I've weaved out of lattes and banana nut loaf.

That said, breakfast has never been my favorite meal.  I'm not a cereal fanatic.  I love eggs, but I don’t find a poached egg mutually exclusive to breakfast.  It slips on top of a nest of pasta or bed of greens as well as it does on toast, as far as I'm concerned. 

For me, breakfast shines best when it functions as an encore for dessert.  Cake batter morphs into a respectable morning option when you put it in a loaf pan and pair it with a cup of coffee.  Or cut a hole out of it and sent it off to the fryer.  And this is what saves breakfast for me.  That, and marmalade.  (See also, jams: herehere and here.)

This marmalade is not as bracing as many others.  Both the Meyer lemons and the kumquats impart a good deal of sweetness, so its bitterness is only sensed on the back edges of your tongue for mere moments.  It’s dangerously close to a jelly, possessing just the right amount of jiggle.  And it spreads easily on warm toast, melting carelessly into it. 

It’s sunshine in a jar on cold winter mornings.  But it’s not chirpy.  Its sturdy British associations prevent it from becoming too cheery.   Which means those who are not morning peopleand likely avoid getting up at 7 am for no reasonwon't mime sticking a finger down their throats when they see its bright tangerine hue.

So it occurs to me on my second Americano, caffeine pulsing and “If I Were Your Woman” playing—both coursing through my veins—that I might just be a converted citizen for breakfast.  Provided that I have the right music, a good cup of coffee, and the promise of marmalade. All that and perhaps some buckwheat pancakes.  These things take the cake for me.  Breakfast cake or otherwise.

Meyer Lemon Kumquat Marmalade


1 1/3 pounds Meyer lemons
½ pound kumquats, divided
Pinch of salt
6 cups sugar
2½ ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
Dash of orange blossom water


Day 1

Cut each of your lemons into eighths lengthwise (wedges) and remove their seeds.  Take ½ your kumquats and cut them in half, lengthwise.  Remove any seeds you see, but it is okay if a few remain.  Add your halved kumquats and your lemon eighths into a saucepan that is large enough to fit your fruit slices into a single layer.  Add cold water until the fruit bobs freely; cover and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Take your remaining ¼ pound of kumquats and halve them crosswise and then cut each half lengthwise into small strips, removing the seeds.  In a separate saucepan (this can be smaller in size), add enough water to cover the kumquat slices by 1 inch.  Cover and let sit it overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2

Bring the saucepan with the kumquat halves and lemon wedges to a boil over high heat (uncovered), add a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to medium and cook at a simmer for 2-3 hours; as the fruit cooks, press down on it with a wooden spoon every 30 minutes or so.  During this process, the fruit should have enough water to remain submerged; add a little water if necessary.  The fruit is done when it is very soft, with the liquid turning syrupy.

When the fruit is finished cooking, strain its juice through a strainer into a large bowl.  At this point, do a quick rinse of your large saucepan and then put the juice back into it.  Set the strainer over the saucepan, so that it is suspended, then add the separated fruit pulp back into the strainer; cover the pan and the strainer with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the kumquat strips by bringing them to a boil over high heat and then decrease the heat to medium and cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender and the liquid has reduced.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 3

Place a saucer with a few metal spoons in the freezer so that you can test your marmalade for doneness.

Discard the fruit pulp that has been resting over your liquid and strain the kumquat lemon juice once or twice to remove any remaining solids.  Rinse your large saucepan again.  Pour the liquid back into your large saucepan and add the sugar, fresh lemon juice, and kumquat strip mixture; stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; the mixture will begin to bubble gently: do not stir it during this time.  Once the mixture starts to foam, stir it every few minutes.  It will cook for about 40 minutes.  The longer the mixture cooks, the more concentrated it will get and towards the end you may need to stir it every minute or so, so that the bottom doesn’t scorch; decrease the heat slightly, if necessary.  You can start to test the marmalade for doneness when its color darkens and the bubbles become small.  At this stage, add the orange blossom water and stir to combine.

To test the marmalade, put ½ a spoonful on one of your frozen spoons and stick the spoon back in the freezer for 3-4 minutes.  (It is ready to be checked when the bottom of the spoon feels room temperature).  Tilt the spoon vertically; the marmalade should not run off the spoon and should wrinkle slightly if pushed up the spoon.  If the marmalade runs, continue to cook it for a few more minutes and continue to retest, using additional frozen spoons as necessary.

Once the marmalade is finished, turn off the heat and skim any foam off the top; do not stir it.  Let the marmalade rest for about 10 minutes and then fill one jar.  If you notice the kumquat strips migrating towards the top of the jar, wait 5 more minutes before filling the remaining jars.  At this stage, you can process the jars according to canning jar manufacturer instructions.  Or place one jar in your fridge and the remaining jars into your freezer (or into the hands of friends).

Makes about 4 pints

-Yes, this is 3 days of your life devoted to marmalade.  But it doesn’t rob you of too much time on any given day. Also, yes, the directions read more like a book, but they help guide you during the process, assuring you along the way that things are, in fact, going smoothly.  Take it day by day.

-Worried you will have marmalade coming at you from all corners?  You might.  Do you go through shameful amounts of jams and jellies?  Do you keep company with other marmalade-loving souls?  If so, this recipe is for you.  And please take comfort in knowing that I halved, yes halved, the recipe.

-The marmalade is worth it.  In case you were teetering.  Also, it appears that a pint of jam on the Blue Chair Fruit website would cost about 25 dollars.  I'm not saying I wouldn't pay this much for it.  But it's nice not to have to.


Baked Molasses Apples for Bleeding Hearts and Dark Souls

The line between beauty and crime scene is a bit blurred with these baked apples.  They don’t arrive neatly packaged and wrapped in pink ribbon. They are not pretty in a conventional sense.  They haven’t been shifted and sauced in preparation for their photo shoot. 

But they are beautiful. And raw.  Like seeing a cast off upturned umbrella in the rain.  Like having peonies as wide as dessert plates start to drop their petals.  Or what hair looks like at 4 am. Real.  Beautiful.

A glossy dark syrup forms during the baking which lends the apples more complexity.  Here they become one part Edgar Allan Poe and one part Catherine Denevue.  If black satin became a dessert, this would be it.

They aren’t too sweet, but they’re rich.  The apples nestle closely together and get cooked for a while, bathing in their own juices, until these ladies bust their insides.  They still manage to retain their rosy hue ever so slightly, but they get transformed into something else entirely.  Something a bit more sophisticated. And dark.

The molasses gives these baked apples soul and the red wine adds depth.  The resulting fruit isn’t frilly or fancy.  Eaten warm, with a dollop of mascarpone, there is nothing like them. This is an everyday dessert that still feels very special.

At this point, you may very well be wondering if some kind of dark Valentine’s Day theme is lurking deep within these little wrinkled lovelies.  I’ve never been one for heart-shaped boxes or for things that have been feverishly truffled.  I tend to prefer sweets with a little edge.  And it just so happens this is a dessert that you can eat with a knife.  Which is my kind of wonderful.  So what else can I say?  I love these warm, dark apples.  With every beat of my tell-tale heart.

Baked Molasses Apples
Adapted from Always With Butter


2 tbsp butter, plus greasing
4 apples
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
~1/4 cup whole pecans, very roughly chopped
~1/4 cup molasses 
~1/4 cup red wine


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a baking dish with butter. Core the apples with an apple corer or paring knife; scoop out a little more of the flesh of the apple top (where the stem was) with a melon baller so you will be able to fit the filling inside.  Place the apples in your baking dish.  In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp butter and the orange zest, brown sugar, spices, salt, and pecans.  

Fill the apples with the butter and brown sugar mixture.  Spoon the molasses over the top of the apples.  Pour red wine in the bottom of your baking dish until the dish is just covered.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, occasionally spooning the liquid that forms on the bottom of the pan over the apples.  The apples are done when they are wrinkly and just start to split their skins.

Makes four baked apples.

-I used pink lady apples here.  I think they have a nice sugar/acid balance, though their name alone is enough to lure me.

-Perk up wine drinkers: this is a way to use leftover red wine, should you find yourself with some.

-Always With Butter is a beautiful blog with gorgeous food. If you are in the mood to stare at desserts, you might want to do some peeping at its recipe index.


Life is Complicated. Lavender Ice Cream Can Help.

I admit it.  My ice cream past drips peculiarities.  One of my all time favorite flavors is cucumber. I’ve written a love letter to scoops of strawberry.  And I’ve been known to stalk the rose-flavored variety that appears at Christina’s homemade ice cream shop in the summertime.  An ice cream—no less—that a dear, thoughtful friend said tasted like “grandma” when she tried it. 

This ice cream is not like that.  I promise.  Think Meryl Streep.  Okay, that almost certainly doesn’t help; you probably need more information.  In a recent-ish movie, the lovely Ms. Streep played a pastry chef that made lavender ice cream when she couldn’t sleep.  That’s the charm of Meryl. 

And that’s the charm of this ice cream.  And the charm of a lady in Ohio called Jeni who has found a way to make homemade ice cream taste very, very good.  It's texture almost has a chew to it.  And believe me, friends, this is a wonderful thing.  

It’s a very, very wonderful thing that has caused me to repeat myself.  Repeat myself!  And then gently nudge to lower my voice. Check my enthusiasm at the freezer.  Lest we forget, the point of lavender is to relax. 

So I urge you.  If you happen to have an ice cream maker.  If you tend to get sweaty palms at the sight of ice cream, have difficulty sleeping, or experience some combination thereof.  If you take comfort in cold, sweet things.  Make this little lavender number.  Life's complicated.  It could be the best thing you do for yourself all month. Consider it aromatherapy for your stomach.  Or a sweeter version of Ambien.  I’m not going to say it’s better than Meryl.  But it’s damn near close.

Lavender Ice Cream 
Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home


Berry base for coloring
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tbsp sugar

Ice cream base
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
Pinch kosher salt
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1 tbsp dried lavender buds, wrapped in cheese cloth and tied with kitchen twine
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp framboise


Bring blueberries and 2 tbsp of sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and set aside.

For the ice cream, combine 2 tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch and mix it in a small bowl until it becomes paste-like.  Then combine the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl and mix it until smooth.  Separately, fill a large bowl with ice and add water; set aside.

Heat the remaining milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, corn syrup (or brown rice syrup), and the cheese cloth filled with lavender in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring often so that the milk does not burn; keep at this for about 4 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat and add in the cornstarch slurry.  

Return the mixture to a boil and stir until it thickens slightly (this should only take a minute or so).  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.  If any bits of cream cheese remain simply strain them out.  (Leave in the lavender.) Add the blueberry mixture and stir to combine.

To cool it down immediately, pour the mixture into a ziplock bag (or a smaller metal bowl that will fit inside your bowl filled with ice) and then chill your base in the bowl with ice water.  Then stick this all in the fridge.  (It should be cold in 30-60 minutes or so.)  Alternatively, you could stick your ice cream base directly into the fridge and chill it overnight. (You may want to take the bunch of lavender out after an hour or so if you are chilling it overnight to prevent any off flavors from coming out.)

Once the ice cream base is good and cold, strain out the blueberries (or leave them in, if you choose) and remove the lavender (if you haven't already) and pour the ice cream mixture into the bowl of a frozen ice cream maker; spin it for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to set up and get thick and creamy.  Add the orange blossom water and framboise and let it churn for about 30-60 seconds more and then stop.

Pack the ice cream in a container fit for your freezer and cover with parchment paper.

Makes about 1 quart

- Yes, this seems like a lot of steps but it is very much worth it.  Or, you can buy a similar version straight from Jeni.

-Also, Jeni leaves in the berries, but I wanted pure lavender.  She who makes the ice cream makes the choice.

-Jeni used 2 drops of food grade lavender essential oil.  I did not have this.  I had flower buds.  So I bundled them in cheesecloth and steeped them in the milk.  It was lovely.

-Jeni, Jeni, Jeni.