Funfeasts is about enjoying and exploring life - through food. It's an attempt to chronicle my feasts of fun and the many tasty bites experienced along the way.
Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts

How to easily roast the perfect chicken

Think you need fancy equipment to roast the perfect chicken?  I did too, and then a friend gave me a small contraption that has come to be my favorite item in the kitchen. 

How it works
  • Clean your chicken and season with salt/pepper and herbs of choice.
  • Set over the vertical roaster (see photo below).
  • Add to a 400 degree oven or grill.
  • Roast for approx. 1 hour (depends on the size of chicken).  Otherwise, check the internal temp with a thermometer. 
  • Basting:  use the juices that collect at the bottom during cooking...yum!
Cooks' note:  I use my Weber Grill which results in less mess and keeps the kitchen cool.  If you set the dials to "low" you will get an even 400 degrees which is about what you need.  Otherwise you can use the oven but it will be a bit messy - and still tasty of course.

When you pull the chicken out of the oven/off the grill,  have a tray handy for the roaster.  Let the chicken rest for approx. 20 minutes and you're ready to cut up.

A few obvious added benefits of the vertical roaster
  • Fast clean up.  Simply remove the fat collected in the tray and wash the rest as usual.
  • Less space for storage.  I fold up the roaster, throw into a plastic bag and into a drawer.
  • Inexpensive.  You can buy a vertical roaster for about $5 on eBay.
  • Amazing chicken!


The best part:  everything is compact and lays flat.

Ready for roasting.

Could this be a little more beautiful?  I think not!
Enjoy!

Saltbox in San Carlos CA

The transformation from hardware store to shiny new neighborhood restaurant didn't happen overnight.  But now the wrapper is off and the food is making a presence at Salt Box in San Carlos.
And the food - plus overall ambiance - is stellar. 
 
My favorite:  castelvetrano olives.  
 
While the space itself isn't cavernous, it's got an open, airy vibe that buzzes once the place - and bar - fills up.  Salt Box is one of those places that doesn't appear to take reservations so be prepared to wait with a glass of wine in hand.  We arrived on a Friday around 6pm and just barely nabbed a seat.
 
The menu?  A good sampling of California style fare; pork chops, salad, burgers and the like.  For me it was a toss-up between the pork chop and burger and the burger won.  In the end, I feel like I won because I had the perfect meal - an expertly cooked burger with melty cheese and fries on the side.  

Anything but classic, the burger was sooo tasty with carmelized onions, melted cheese and fries.
 
A word of caution:  don't be tempted to skip dessert.  We ordered the profiteroles which arrived with a small pot of salted caramel sauce for dipping which we were tempted to lick clean (but didn't of course.)   If you are tempted, I wouldn't blame you and promise not to tell!

Johnston's Salt Box
1696 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 592-7258

Northwest Best: Bernie's, Full Sail Brewing, Roots and friends!

The food scene is definitely hopping in Portland and a quick weekend getaway to visit friends was the perfect excuse to indulge.   We started with a visit to Bernie's Southern Bistro in the very lively Alberta Arts district which was the perfect way to get the party started. 

Key highlight at Bernie's: sitting outside under the trees awaiting our very large portions of fried chicken and mac and cheese.    Of course we ordered way too much but we walked away happy and ready for the arduous task of shopping and hanging out (basically doing nothing.)  Note:  I am NOT complaining here.

Day two we hiked Hardy Falls which served up fresh air and a good dose of nature.  Next up, Full Sail Brewing in Hood River.  With a stunning drive along the water and then a big burger plus salad (gotta have something healthy!) our day was pretty much complete and our trip began to wind down.

Our last day we packed our bags and made a stop at Roots in Camas WA.    Roots is one of those places where you get food and service exceeding your expectations despite the  modest suburban strip mall location.  Don't skip the crab benedict or the Walla Walla onion tart - both amazing! 

Although I seemingly make light of the trip - but not my obsession with the Portland food scene - my true purpose was to catch up with longtime friends over many cups of hot coffee and meaningful dinners.  Past memories and meals tie our friendship together and continue to knit us close despite the many miles now between us.    

So thanks to my wonderful friends for setting aside precious time to connect and remind me what really matters in life.  YOU.

Bernie's Southern Bistro
2904 NE Alberta Street
Portland OR  97211
503.282.9864
berniesbistro.com 

Full Sail
506 Columbia Street
Hood River OR 97031
541.386.2247

Roots
19215 SE 34th Street Suite 110
Camas WA  98607
360.260.3001

Mothers Bistro - Portland

The motto on Mothers website is "it's all about the love" which resonated with this diner!  I loved the reuben sandwich with melty cheese, sauerkraut and, of course, homemade corned beef.  It felt like the entire plate was made with love, right down to the crispy bread which held everything together.

Apparently our short wait for a table was the result of good timing and good luck. I'm told our wait wasn't the norm and a visit usually requires patience.  In any case, don't miss the Reuben.  It's really fantastic.

Corned beef and sauerkraut atop toasted bread.  Just the best.
 
Way to start the day!  A mimosa at the ready
 
212 SW Stark St  Portland, OR 97204
(503) 464-1122

Pican, Fine Southern Food in Oakland CA

Pican is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants despite the short drive from home.  It's not just because of the food (which the kitchen consistently delivers) but also because the sophisticated, comfortable decor and knowledgeable waitstaff make you feel right at home.   In short, everything works in concert to create a dining experience you want to take part in again immediately.

As for what to order, don't skip the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese combination.  The fried chicken sports a perfectly seasoned crunchy exterior while the mac and cheese is luscious and creamy when you poke through to the interior.  A "can't miss combination" that leaves me satisfied but a little sad when the bottom of the cast iron skillet signals the end to the mac and cheese.

The fried chicken and mac and cheese.  Whoa!
We also indulged in the fried green tomatoes to get started and were happy with the choice.  The tomatoes were light, crisp and accompanied by a creamy burrata and salad.   

 
 While we did not partake in dessert the menu looks spot-on in terms of the choices.  Oh well, there's always next time at Pican!
 
Pican
2295 Broadway at 23rd Street
Oakland, California 94612
510.834.1000

Villa Valentina, Drunken Sailor and Cazuelas in San Jose del Cabo

Although it's summer in the Bay Area and my vacation now seems so long ago (really only a month ago) I'm still hungering for Baja and the food I love so much.  Tacos were the vision - and we did partake - but we also ventured out to restaurants for meals which captured the essence of the region and time and time again reflected the hospitality of the people. 

Martini-time at Villa Valentina
Three standouts on this trip include the following:

The Drunken Sailor 

Located near the new marina (look for Hotel El Ganzo) and sporting a casual, beachy vibe this place really delivers.  We ordered the taco chino; a tortilla filled with panko coated shrimp and topped with a cilantro sesame dressing.    In addition I tried the enchiladas verde filled with shrimp and just the right amount of tang and spice.   This was a nice start to the trip.... 

After dinner we hung on the deck of the very cool and sophisticated Hotel El Ganzo.  El Ganzo is jaw-dropping with it's chic decor, relaxed vibe and roof top pool.   The rooms vary from waaayyyy over the top (one has a ping pong table AND workout room) to more subdued but all boast views of the marina and on this night were served up by Gerry, our effervescent host and impromptu tour guide.  

Next up a trip to Todos Santos to see the real Hotel California.  Of course we were famished upon arrival and a taco platter plus ceviche with red pepper cream salsa was in order.  I admit I had an Eagles soundtrack playing in my head "Welcome to the Hotel California..." but it wasn't until we visited Hacienda Cerritos I felt the dream materialize.  Beautiful stonework, pools overlooking the Pacific and a friendly cat jumping around to greet us made for a delightful day trip away from the core. 

Villa Valentina

Part home decor store, art center and restaurant is the best way I can describe Villa Valentina.  Throw in well-prepared food and the sound of a local musician on his guitar and you've almost got your own romantic movie.   

My dinner companions ordered the huarache (chipped duck with mole, really terrific) and chicken with - you guessed it - more mole.  As odd as this sounds, I ordered the fish and chips thinking it would be fun to see how other cultures prepare this iconic American dish.  In this case, Villa Valentina nailed their rendition and put their own stamp on it with fresh local sea bass perfectly cooked and served alongside wedge cut potatoes.  And don't forget the tarter sauce (I didn't!) 

The huarache with chipped duck and mole.  Incredible!
 
Cazuelas del don

Located in San Jose del Cabo off the tourist loop this local restaurant is about as authentic as you can get.  The premise is that each day the owner slow cooks meat, vegetables and spices and then you get to choose how the concoction is served up.  On  this day we were treated to La Ira; arrachera, chile poblano and cebolla (plus a few other ingredients.)  I opted for the baked potato, my companions the torta (sandwich) and volcan which seemed to translate to "all piled up on a crispy tortilla". 

The torta at Cazuelas (check out the crispy cheese!)
This was probably one of my favorite places and not just because the food was so interestingly delicious.  It's because it was served with a dose of pride and much warmth by the owners themselves.  To this day my travel companion lights up when talk turns to Cabo, Cazuelas and that lovely torta!

NY favorites: Locanda Verdi and Peppolino

With so many restaurants to choose from in Manhattan deciding on dinner can be daunting.  This recent NY visit I opted to check out two of the same restaurants from last years' trip and was reminded why some always sizzle:  consistent quality, delicious food and attentive servers.
 
Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-3797
 
Italian food in a sophisticated setting.  A few of the favorites: duck
meatballs, spaghetti all' matriciana and clam pasta.  The spaghetti was pure comfort food; a bit rich and just the right amount of spice.
 
Hint:  do make reservations if you can or you'll be in for a wait.  No matter of course given the busy, booming bar and scene that goes with it.
 
Clam pasta at Locanda Verde NY
Clam pasta - Locanda

Chocolate budino at Locanda

The perfect blend of spice and savory - Locanda
Peppolino
281 West Broadway New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-9983

Italian food seemed to be my cuisine of choice this trip so Peppolino was high on my list.  You can't go wrong with many of the entrees but  definitely don't skip the ricotta cheesecake.  This is not your
typical cheesecake; less sweet and vastly richer than most, it's their
signature dish...and rightfully so.

Ciao!

Pulled pork is a winner on game day


 
Pulled pork is perfect for game day:  you can make it ahead and then relax - and eat - on the couch with the rest of the gang.  Combine it with the Nealy’s BBQ sauce (my favorite) and you’ve got a winner on your side!
Pulled Pork
·         3 lbs pork shoulder
·         3 T. seasoning (pick your favorite!)  or combine...
·         1 tsp. garlic powder
·         1 tsp. oregano
·         1/2 tsp. salt
·         1/4 tsp. celery seed powder
·         1/4 tsp. pepper
·         ¾ - 1 cup apple cider vinegar
·         Water
·         Hot dog or hamburger buns
·         BBQ sauce (about 2 cups)

Mix the celery seed powder, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Rub all over the pork shoulder.
Pour the apple cider vinegar into the crock pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom; about ½ - 1 inch deep.  Place the pork shoulder in the crock pot and turn on low.  Cook for 7-8 hours.
The pork is ready when it’s shreds easily.  Pull it from the slow cooker and drain the fat.  Shred with a fork and mix in the bbq sauce.  Spread the meat over a pan and broil for 5 minutes.  Turn the meat over and broil for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the meat to the buns and spoon additional sauce over the top.
Score!