Summer in Winter

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December is a deceptive month. You have the Christmas songs and the decorations and the temperature goes up and down and hints, rather cruelly, that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be a bitter cold winter after all. Then January hits and you’re walking down the street with your nose falling off from frostbite and you curse yourself for ever trusting December in the first place.

On one of those bitter cold days, then, I have just the meal for you. I call it my Summer in Winter dinner and it does very little to warm you up, but it will conjure thoughts of hot summer days and will make you so happy with memories of warm summer fun you won’t notice the icicles dangling from your private parts.

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A Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

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In case you haven’t noticed, food blogs, food magazines, food networks and the like love Thanksgiving. They love it because, for once, the nation is intent on cooking dinner. For 364 days out of the year, that’s mostly not the case–what with fast food and frozen dinners and all the other instant options at our fingertips. But Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is something you’ve gotta cook. That is, unless you’re me.

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

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My proudest kitchen moments are the ones where I am at my most resourceful. On Sunday, I opened my refrigerator to find two raw chicken breasts leftover from a chicken segment we shot for food2.com. The easy option would’ve been to roast them in the oven (I was going to write “bake them in the oven,” but doesn’t roasted chicken always sound better than baked chicken?), but instead I decided to channel my inner Chinese cooking goddess. I flipped open my copy of “The Breath of a Wok” by Grace Young and looked for recipes you can do easily with chicken breasts. I found one for Sweet & Sour Chicken and, even though I didn’t have a wok or several of the ingredients, I proceeded anyway. This is my story.

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Coq au Vin

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Dear New York Weather: it’s almost June, and yesterday I was wearing a sweatshirt and I had the heat on. And it’s almost June! I understand you have your peculiarities, that you’re grappling with a diminishing ozone and toxic emissions, but I bought some cute new short sleeve shirts from UniQlo in SoHo (what a deal!) and I want to wear them, ok?

But in the meantime, I forgive you because if it weren’t for your unseasonable chill, would I have tried my hand at Coq au Vin, a traditional cold weather dish? The answer, I think, is no. And what a loss that would’ve been because this dish, this French classic of chicken braised in red wine, may be one of the best dishes I’ve ever cooked. We devoured it.

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Make Your Own Chicken Burrito

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Running on the treadmill, it’s useful to dangle an image carrot in your brain: something you can run towards, something to look forward to, a reward for all your hard work. And last week, for me, that was definitely a chicken burrito. I was craving one, hardcore.

The problem is that where we live in Park Slope? The chicken burritos leave much to be desired. Craig is very much NOT a fan of Los Pollitos; I think it’s passable, but certainly not a reward for burning millions of calories on the treadmill. No, if I wanted a good chicken burrito, I’d have to make one myself.

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Chicken Stock, 1 2 3

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It’s cheap and easy to have homemade chicken stock on hand: all you really need is time. And thyme. But mostly time.

Sure, it can be expensive–I still can’t get over The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe which calls for not one, not two, but THREE whole chickens that you boil for three hours and discard. That seems extraordinarily wasteful, don’t you think?

I’ve played around with lots of stock recipes, but my latest foray into stock making was a pretty happy one. The recipe comes from Molly Stevens and it’s simple and straightforward and cheap, cheap, cheap.

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Mustard Chicken with Bacon and Cream

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This is not a recipe for the faint of heart. It’s a recipe you can only get away with in cold weather–VERY cold weather–and even then you may hear that spiky haired fitness guru from the 90s, Susan Powter, in your head screaming: “Stop the insanity!”

Susan Powter has a point: you’re about to bake chicken with cream (almost 2 cups) and bacon (1/2 a pound). The recipe, like the recipe below this, also comes from David Tanis’s “A Platter of Figs” only I substituted chicken for the originally intended protein: rabbit.

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