A perfect roast chicken–in parts

A perfectly roasted chicken is among the most satisfying of foods, the golden skin crisp and crackling, the flesh tender and moist.  It’s basically a simple dish yet it intimidates far too many cooks.

I was reminded of this fact on a recent getaway with two of my best friends to a house overlooking the harbor at Bodega Bay.  We had stopped at a nearby fish market on our way to the house in search of seafood for that night’s dinner. But the deliveries from the local boats hadn’t arrived.  So we went to the little market across the road and a whole bird beckoned from the cold case.

“Let’s roast a chicken,” I suggested.  My friends looked skeptical.  We were here for day of hiking, watching whales, reading books and lazing around the glass-enclosed deck.  We wanted to eat well but fussing with dinner was not on the agenda. Continue reading A perfect roast chicken–in parts

Kumquats spice up a homey crisp


The first time I tasted a kumquat, I was startled by the contrast between the tender, sweet rind and the intensely sour flesh.

The lingering tang proved addictive, though.  Soon I found myself regularly wandering by my neighbor’s kumquat tree, searching for a tiny fruit or two to filch – just enough to satisfy my craving but not so many that they would miss them.  I’d pop one whole into my mouth and wait for the bright shock of citrus flavor evoking fresh limes and clementines. Continue reading Kumquats spice up a homey crisp

A fava salad to celebrate the season

One of the great joys of spring is the debut of fresh fava beans at the farmers market.  The shiny green pods look for all the world like pole beans on steroids and the skin is quite tough. But tucked inside are some of the most delectable legumes you’ll ever eat.

If they weren’t so wonderful, I’d certainly begrudge the time it takes to get to the edible portion of the beans.  I like to think of it as a rite of spring, however. Stripping open the pods, removing the beans, then blanching them and peeling each one by hand is a meditative process that slows time and allows me to savor the pleasures of the season. Continue reading A fava salad to celebrate the season

A trio of favorite tools

I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets.  If there’s a clever new product to prepare food easier, quicker or with better results, I’m eager to give it a test drive.

Very few of those gadgets make the cut, however.  They have to perform with flying colors or they’re off to the thrift store.

These three tools have found homes in my kitchen because I can’t imagine cooking without them anymore.  I can recommend them without reservation. Continue reading A trio of favorite tools