2 small broiler chickens (about 2 ½ pounds each and preferably free-range)
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil
½ pound sweet Italian sausage (preferably without fennel seeds) cut into 1-inch pieces
10 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
4 pickled cherry peppers, cut in half and stemmed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Cut each chicken into 12 pieces. Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry, then season them generously with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 475F.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add as many pieces of chicken, skin side down and starting with the leg, thigh and wing pieces, to the skillet as fit without touching. Cook the chicken, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken pieces as they brown and drain them briefly on paper towels. Place the drained chicken pieces in a roasting pan large enough to hold all of them in a single layer. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more oil to the pan as necessary and adjusting the heat to prevent the bits that stick to the pan from overbrowning. As room becomes available in the skillet after all the chicken has been added, tuck in pieces of sausage and cook, turning until browned on all sides.
Remove all chicken and sausage from the pan, add the garlic and cook until golden, being careful not to burn it. Scatter the cherry peppers into the skillet, season with salt and pepper and stir for a minute. Pour in the vinegar and bring to boil, scraping the browned bits that stick to the skillet into the liquid and cook until the vinegar is reduced by half. Add the white wine, bring to a boil and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the roasting pan and stir to coat. Place the chicken in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and sticky, like molasses, about 10 minutes. If the sauce is still too thin, place the roasting pan directly over medium-high heat on the stovetop and cook, stirring, until it is reduced, about a minute or two. Once the sauce is thickened, toss in parsley and serve.
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s ItalySaturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.
You know how I feel about the magnificent soy bean, but apparently I'm not alone. Americans are ordering edamame by the bushel at Japanese restaurants across the country. So today I'm pairing this ubiquitous bean with a western product we've fallen hard for, olive oil. Today they'll make beautiful music together in my All-In-One Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Edamames.
4 pieces center-cut salmon, pin bones and skin removed
3 shallots, sliced
2-3 stalks tarragon, leaves ripped
2 cups peeled edamames
Sea salt to season
Coarsely ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil to cook
Season the salmon well and cover with shallots and tarragon and let marinate 30 minutes. Place all in baking dish, add edamames and cover with olive oil. Cover in foil and place in cold oven. Set oven to 250 degrees. When temperature has been reached, go for internal temperature of 115 degrees, which should take about 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately.
Condesa de Leganza Crianza
—La Mancha, Spain Taste: Round, expressive ripe fruit with fine tannins and a soft dryness; well-defined flavor with an elegant finish. Aroma: Complex, voluptuous, soft
—The estate of Los Trenzones is located in the area of Quintanar de la Orden, 2,500 feet above sea level, in the southwest corner of central Spain's La Mancha region
__________________________________________________________ Ming Tsai is the host and executive producer of public television series Simply Ming and chef/owner of Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, Mass.
Two new takeout staff and their takeouts: Mei Chen of Hong Kong Chef in Dorchester, top, and Nathan Long of Wok N Talk in JP, bottom. (Kelly Creedon for Planet Takeout)
BOSTON — When Lisa Li moved in with her sister’s family in Boston 4 years ago, the job prospects were dismal, especially for someone who didn’t speak English. What she did have was 15 years of experience running Chinese restaurants in Colombia.
“When we watched the news or read the paper, we saw that so many Americans didn’t have jobs. So we said, ‘Let’s work together to open a restaurant!'” she said.
She and her family set out to buy the perfect takeout. One in Somerville was too small; another in Walpole was too far away from the home they share in Malden. In March, they found something promising in the Savin Hill section of Dorchester, called Hong Kong Chef.
“We were here scouting the place for a good week and we saw that it does have really good business,” said Li's niece Mei Chen. “So we came and we were training with the owner for about a month, just seeing how things work and his interactions with his customers. And we kind of fell in love with this place because it’s spacious, there’s room to grow. It’s a packed neighborhood, so we figured that, why not? Give it a try.”
A neighborhood institution
By April the Dorchester takeout was theirs. After 5 years, the previous owner had become tired of the long hours and was moving on to run a laundry.
And even before him, Hong Kong Chef had been a neighborhood institution. Crystal Stanish, 28, remembered it well.
“It’s been a neighborhood place," she said. "It’s been here since I’ve grown up, since I was a kid. We always have it. I don’t live around here anymore so we make a habit, when we come to visit the parents, we come in and get it and have it for dinner. It’s just good, and it’s home.”
What really makes it home is the deliveryman.
“He knows my mom, he knows the family, he knows our address and it’s always right there really fast. And he’s so funny and he comes in," Stanish said. "It’s neighborhood, it’s the same people. There’s not a high turnover. You recognize people. I like that about it — and I like the food.”
Turning a customer into a regular
What the Li family has been finding out is that food quality can sometimes be secondary to the relationships with customers.
Chen said that since they’ve taken over, the flow of customers has slowed. She suspected it was because people miss the old owner and don’t trust the new owners yet. It couldn’t be the food, since the chefs are the same, as is the menu, for the most part. They’ve even added a few new dishes — like fried plantains, which some customers had asked for — and tweaked the recipe for others like chicken wings and crab Rangoon.
Chen had paid attention to the previous owner’s interactions with his customers.
“The customers would come in or even call and he would recognize their voice and he would say, ‘Oh do you want a D25 or a D2? Oh, no onion in your fried rice.' Something like that. He would just know from looking at them or just hearing their voice. That’s great. That’s something that we want to accomplish as well, because it seems like it’s one of the things that really brings customers back into the restaurant,” she said.
Ted, who declined to give his last name, has lived in the neighborhood his whole life and remembered the old owner fondly. “He was just genuine and kind and the whole family seems to be — the whole group just seemed to work together so well,” he said.
For Li, running the takeout has become a family affair too: Her nephew runs the counter several days a week and Chen works there when she’s not working as a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her mom helps out after her job at a dollar store. And they both pick up produce by hand several times a week.
While Ted isn’t quite sure about the new staff, he said he was willing to give them a chance: “Let’s see how the food is, how the comfortability factor is, and go from there.”
When I told regular customer Crystal Stanish that the takeout had changed hands, she said she'd noticed having a harder time ordering on the phone. But she said the food hadn’t changed and most importantly, neither had the deliveryman.
“He’s a great, fun guy and he literally has been delivering since I can remember. He’s been here forever, so hopefully they keep him,” she said.
Can the takeout evolve?
But is it any easier to start a takeout from scratch? I went to Wok N Talk on the border of Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain to find out. It doesn’t look like a traditional takeout: The walls are painted a cheerful lime green and orange, and udon noodles and pad Thai sit alongside lo mein on the menu.
Owner Nathan Long and his business partner borrowed $300,000 from relatives 2 years ago to set it up. They didn’t want to open just another run-of-the-mill Chinese takeout.
“You go to a traditional one, and you usually see hundreds and hundreds of items. I go to there and I have a headache ordering,” Long said.
So Long and his partner stripped down the menu. Only five appetizers. The main dish was stir-fried noodles: Customers could choose their noodle, their sauce and their meat, and it would be cooked up right in front of them.
But customers found the menu too sparse and business suffered. So crab Rangoon, chicken wings, boneless spareribs and around 20 other takeout standbys reluctantly went back onto the menu.
Still, Long didn't include any "very traditional" dishes like egg foo young. "Because I think the way people are eating, they’re already slowly, slowly changing,” he said.
A new generation with old tastes
Long hopes Wok N Talk is welcoming to busy young professionals in the neighborhood. He's hired non-Chinese waitstaff and installed a comments box, which overflows with tiny pieces of paper.
Some the comments affirm that Wok N Talk is fulfilling one of the basic functions of the traditional Chinese takeout: supplying the neighborhood with greasy food until 3 a.m. One customer wrote, “Late-night food is essential to the functioning of a proper society and you, you provide this — be proud!”
Wok N Talk has also found itself part of the gentrification of the neighborhood.
“Some people tell us, before, at nighttime, [the neighborhood] was quite scary. So I think that as we come in, as more and more businesses come in, and the community does more work at this, to keep the place clean, it will change the neighborhood. It will change the neighborhood,” said Long.
Where are you a regular?
We want to hear your side of the story. What’s your relationship with your local takeout? Do they know your order when you walk in the door? Do you know your deliveryman? Is Chinese food a late-night indulgence for you?
To tell your story, call 617-477-8688, or go to the Planet Takeout website to leave a story or upload photos. And stay tuned for the next installment of Planet Takeout, where we’ll explore more deeply the tensions between takeouts and the neighborhoods they’re in.
BOSTON — There is still time to take advantage of Restaurant Week in Boston. The city's best restaurants are offering patrons great dishes and prix fixe selections until March 30th.
Search the event website for restaurant listings by neighborhood, time of day or cuisine and fine special offers, like the free glass of wine with dinner or a tasting menu, or "lamb swag" from Clink to promote their Red Cooked Lamb Sandwich.(You can vote here for your favorite lamb dish.) Thanks to the great weather, several places have thrown open their patios, so rush to your fave outdoor spot!
If you do take advantage of this special kind of March madness, take a few tips from the website and from Andleman:
> Make your reservations during Restaurant Week as early as possible, they tend to go fast. > Reserve at ONE place per meal to give others a chance to get the reservations they want.
> Finally, remember to tip according to what your meal is valued at, rather than on the deal.
February 9, 2012 – We can only imagine, that ever since the high middle ages - when Geoffrey Chaucer first turned the feast of an obscure 3rd century Saint into a celebration of romantic love - that Valentine's Day has had its advocates and its detractors: Lovers - awash with romantic notions - have perhaps always looked forward to Feb 14 with anticipation. And maybe others – loners, independents and skeptics - have long rolled their collective eyes at all the fuss. Well these days, Valentines Day – like so many holidays – comes with no shortage of stuff to buy, themed menus and special events - for every possible demographic. And in the end, can you really argue with a mid-winter excuse to get out of the house on a weeknight? So here are some Valentine's Day ideas for all you lovers – and you loners – out there from our resident insiders, J Squared - Jan Saragoni and Jared Bowen.
Dining El Centro/South End (Shawmut Ave)
Cozy Mexican bistro with a real, live Mexican chef. Chef Alan Rodriguez’s Valentines Day menu features Empanadas Rellenas de Queso con Pollo (cheese empanadas stuffed with chicken and vegetables); Queso Fundido con Rajas de Chile Verde (melted cheese served with roast pepper, marinated pork or vegetables); Salmon Ranchero with asparagus and oven baked potatoes with a medium spicy sauce. Signature deserts: Chocolate Flan and Arroz con Leche (rice pudding). Delicious Sangria. All entrées priced between $10 & $20.
Area Four/Technology Square, Cambridge
“Misery Loves Company” menu. Dates are welcome this Valentine’s Day, but the real fun is for the singles. Groups of any size welcome to enjoy the Bloody Heart Pizza (beef steak tomato hearts, carmelized onions, house-made mozzarella, $15 & $23.50) ) Breakup Banana Split (homemade chocolate & vanilla ice cream, brandied cherries and chocolate, marshmallow and salted caramel sauces, $10 per person). And for those who want to drown their sorrows, cocktails by the pitcher.
Lala Rokh/Beacon Hill
Tucked away in Beacon Hill, Persian-themed Lala Rokh takes its name from an epic romance by the 19th century poet Thomas Moore, which tells the story of a beautiful young princess on a journey of love and discovery. Valentine’s Day features a four-course prix fixe menu ($48/person) of flavorful staples like Borani-e Garch (mushrooms over grilled, yogurt-drizzled cornbread), Baghla Pollo (braised lamb shank in tomato saffron sauce and rice spiced with fresh dill & fava beans) and Khoresht-e Bademjan (slow-cooked beef with roasted baby eggplant and saffron-seared tomatoes). An a la carte menu is also available.
Valentines Night 2012 first- course menu features Maine Lobster Chowder, Fried Wellfleet Oysters & Vermont Veal Tartare. Main course includes Sweet Potato & Ricotta Ravioli, Long Island Duck Breast and Alaskan Black Cod. Desert Rose Champagne Sorbet & Sauterne-poached Dried Apricot Tart. $75 per person, optional $25 wine pairing.
Dumpling Café/Chinatown (Bargain!)
Yummy Chinese classics including General Gau’s Chicken, Chicken with Broccoli and Tofu with Veggies. Any two entrees, dumplings and tean included for $20.95.
540 Atlantic Avenue — Parking is free with validation
Try the Grilled squid and fried tentacles with Borlotti beans and vinegar peppers and the baked rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone.
472 Shawmut Avenue in the South End
$40 3-course prix fixe menu including a glass of wine
1st Course: Melted Cheese with pepper, pork or vegetables or Cheese Empanadas stuffed with chicken or vegetables
2nd Course: Skirt Steak, 3 Cheese Chicken Breast or Salmon
3rd Course: Chocolate cake, Mexican Caramel Sticks or Rice Pudding
Asana and M Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Valentine’s Day Delights
"Experience an evening of indulgence this Valentine’s Day at Four-Star Asana restaurant. Delight in a decadent four-course dinner menu specially created by Asana’s culinary team available from Saturday, February 11, 2012 through Tuesday, February 14, 2012. Menu is USD75 per person and an additional USD55 for champagne and wine pairings. Menu attached. And toast to love at M Bar & Lounge where Executive Pastry Chef Nelson Paz has created an assortment of tantalizing house-made chocolate truffles to enjoy complimentary with the purchase of two glasses of Veuve Clicquot Rose available for USD50."
Events And Music Sex at the Zoo Lecture
Franklin Park Zoo Presents an Evening on the Private Lives of Animals.
With a nod to Valentines Day, the Franklin Park Zoo takes a peek into the private lives of animals – do they find each other attractive? Are their mating rituals between humans and animals similar in any way? What can the techniques that animals use to attract mates teach us about romance? This adults- only affair is presented by Dr. Rory Browne with insights into the pros and con of of being in a relationship vs. staying single in the animal kingdom. Lecture takes place in the Tropical Forest Pavillion, home to gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs and of course a giant anteater. Friday, Feb.10 6:00 –8:30. $20 single ticket, $35 pair. Wines by Greenvale Vineyards.
Boston Camerata – the eminent early music ensemble, performs “The Game of Love” (“Jeu d’Amour”)
Artistic Director Anne Azema is joined by intrumentalist Shira Kammen, Tom Zajac and singers Jane Sheldon and Deborah Moore in a special vocal performance emphasizing the “lighter and lustier” side of the Middle Ages (who knew?) with songs dealing with springtime, youth, erotic intrigue as celebrated in village revels, courtly chambers and pre-Internet trysting places. First Lutheran Church, Berkley Street, Boston, Sunday Feb. 12 at 8:00 p.m.
Rebecca Parris Trio/”In Love with Parris” Valentine’s Concert
Rare Boston performance with her long time trio! A romantic evening of impeccable vocal jazz from a beloved local icon of the genre. One Show Only, Saturday Feb.11, 8 pm, Arlington Regent Theater. Tickets $18 - $28.
A.R.T. Ever After Gala
Monday, February 13, 2012
"Princes and Princesses, proclaim your love for the A.R.T. with the 2nd Annual Valentine's Gala, an enchanted fairytale evening of love potions and Grimm notions. Featuring a unique cabaret performance by Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, with Jared Bowen of WGBH as emcee, and a special A.R.T. Angel Award to longtime A.R.T. friend and community volunteer Joan Parker. With a darkly romantic fairy tale theme, A.R.T. Ever After promises to be the social event of the winter. The Castle will be transformed into a wooded forest where guests will mingle with story book characters before enjoying a delicious feast."
Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 6:30-9:30 PM
"A Venetian-inspired Valentine at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Enjoy live music and good conversation over artfully-designed small plates, cocktails and dessert. And then explore the Gardner Museum's magnificent new wing and historic galleries, including the restored Tapestry Room and the rarely open Little Salon, with its putti-adorned mirror and courtship tapestries." $225 per couple/$125 per individual; Members: $150/$85
Playing at the Ames Hotel through February 26th
"Straight from its sold-out run in New York City, Company One is proud to present Travis Chamberlain's highly acclaimed site-specific production of Tennessee Williams' GREEN EYES at The Ames Hotel. Written in 1970 but unpublished for almost 40 years, this "lost" erotic thriller graphically reveals the impact of war through the sexual fantasies of a newlywed couple honeymooning in New Orleans. He's a soldier, traumatized by his participation in the war; she's a ravenous woman determined to satisfy the darkest recesses of her most deviant desires. Starring the acclaimed NYC actress Erin Markey"a kittenish vixen whose sexual pliancy hides an iron will" (The New York Times)--GREEN EYES transforms a honeymoon suite into a psychosexual battleground where desire and violence blur and become indistinguishable. With only 25 seats available per show, this is an exclusive theatrical event you do not want to miss!"
Broadway's Rachel York and Brent Barrett in Isn't It Romantic?
Sunday, February 19th, 1pm at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Co-stars in the West End production of "Kiss Me Kate" (familiar to PBS audiences as it was filmed for Great Performances), this dynamic pair re-unite for a concert at Waltham's Reagle Theatre.
Project Dream Dress
Saturday, March 3 at 1010 Harrison Avenue in Boston 10-2
Military brides-to-be can choose from more than 100 designer gowns (at no cost to them) at a Project Dream Dress event held at the Atrium at Morgan Memorial Goodwill.
Lasell College has contributed the couture gowns which were donated by an exclusive and anonymous design house for Lasell's fashion students to study. They're valued at between $1,000-$8,000. Lasell fashion students will serve as stylists and provide free tailoring and Zoots will provide complimentary dry cleaning services. Brides must register in advance at bridesacrossamerica.com