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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to gather for a potluck with a fantastic group of fellow food lovers.  We are all part of Food52, a fabulous online community of inspired home cooks and knew each virtually through viewing, cooking, and commenting on each other’s recipes.  The gathering celebrated  the publication of the first Food52 cookbook, in which many of the party-goers had their own amazing recipes published.  The cookbook is beautiful and I can not wait to cook my way through it!

Not surprisingly, we all had a lot in common, most notably our love of good food.  The table was brimming with amazing dishes, most of them made from recipes found on Food52. It was difficult to decide what to bring, but I opted for fresh baked bread.

Forbidden Rice and Green Onion Hearth Bread is based on a recipe from Montana Culinary Students on Food52.  The contrast in texture and color that the black rice brings the bread drew me in.  Wild rice works as well, but Forbidden Rice sounds irresistibly tempting!  The onion adds a deep savory quality and works beautifully with the aromatic rosemary.  A hint of lemon zest adds a pleasant brightness to this hearty loaf. This bread will definitely become a regular in my baking rotation.  I imagine that it would make great croutons as well, if you are able to resist the bread while fresh.  This bread would also be a tremendous addition to the Thanksgiving table!

Check out what some of the fabulous cooks I met are doing on their own sites!  TasteFood, Still Simmering, The Year in Food, The Wimpy Vegetarian, The Beet Goes On, My Kitchen Solo.

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What a fabulous week it has been.  It is officially summer for me now.  After my 17 years of schooling and then 8 years of teaching high school science, the rhythm of the academic calendar is deeply rooted in my bones.  So even though the weather is unseasonably soggy and  gloomy, deep down inside I still know that- School’s…out for summer!!!   To make the upcoming break all that much more sweet, on my last day of school I found out that my Sausage and Kale Dinner Tart won the contest for the Best Dirt Cheap Dinner on food52.  What an incredible honor!  I am a huge fan of food52.  It is one of my go-t0 sites for great recipes and culinary inspiration from the many fabulous cooks that contribute to the site.  What a great way to start the summer and kick off my serious cooking and canning season!

As a celebratory meal, I made Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken.  I love how chicken is both a perfect special occasion meal, yet inexpensive and quick enough to be perfectly suited for a weeknight as well.  This particular recipe is a regular in our rotation.  It is easy to adapt by changing the herbs, I call for rosemary here, but you could also use thyme, oregano, basil, or forgo the herbs altogether and add a touch of curry paste to the garlic mixture instead.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken can be made with any pieces of chicken you prefer.  The original recipe calls for chicken thighs.  Since I often buy chickens whole and part them myself, I have always made it with a whole parted chicken.  When arranging the pieces in the pan, I put the breasts in the center and dark meat pieces around the outside.  All the pieces cook up perfectly!  Preparing this meal is incredibly simple.  Spread garlic paste over the chicken pieces and under the skin, then roast the chicken until the skin is browned and crackly, but the meat is super tender and moist.  The herbs perfume the meat and the lemon roasts and caramelizes lending a rich, lemony flavor.  Degrease the juices and reduce to make a flavorful sauce to pour over the sliced meat.  Dress it up or dress it down, this chicken is great for any occasion.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken

adapted from  Bill Devin at  Fine Cooking

via The 140 Best American Recipes by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens

Serves 6

the garlic paste

2 garlic cloves

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Mince garlic with a knife.  Sprinkle salt over the garlic and the flat blade of your knife to grind the garlic into a fine paste.  Transfer paste to a bowl.  Drizzle oil over paste slowly while whisking vigorously until mixture is uniform and emulsified.  (If it does not emulsify, do not worry.  The chicken will still turn out great.)

the chicken

1 5-pound chicken, parted

2 large lemons, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 bunch rosemary (6 4-inch pieces)

2 tablespoons white wine

freshly cracked black pepper

Rub the chicken pieces with the garlic paste thoroughly on both the outside and inside of the skin.   Cover and let chill 2 hours to overnight. The longer you let it chill, the more flavorful it will be.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and set rack in the middle of the oven.

Using a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, lay lemon slices evenly over the bottom.  Arrange rosemary sprigs over the top of the lemon and chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the rosemary.  The breasts should be in the center since they cook the fastest.  Arrange the dark meat pieces around the outside.

Bake the chicken for 45 minutes or until the skin is browned and crisp and the meat is cooked thoroughly.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a platter and cover loosely with foil.  Strain any accumulated juices into a small saucepan.  Skim fat from the top.  Heat remaining juices over medium to create a simmer.  Add white wine and black pepper to taste. Simmer until sauce is reduced by 1/3.  Serve meat as whole pieces or sliced with the flavorful sauce.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken

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The other night at bedtime, my 4 year old son announced to me that he is a vegetarian.  Never mind the fact that he had just put away three helpings of chicken at dinner.  I nodded and told him he never had to eat anything that he did not want.  He asserted once more that he was a vegetarian, but then went on to tell me that he only eats bacon, hamburgers, and sausage.  Oh, I said, that kind of vegetarian.  I was amused, but also relieved.  Though I am sympathetic to vegetarians, since I refrained from meat and dairy myself for many years, it is so much easier to cook for a household that agrees to eat the same kinds of foods.  Not to mention that my husband and I just filled the freezer with many pounds of homemade sausage.  Now is not the best time to opt out of sausage in our house.

Oh, the Sausage and Kale Dinner Tart.  This is the single most soul satisfying tart I have ever made. Sausage and kale both are iconic winter fare. They dominate this tart with only minor distractions from sauteed onion, garlic, and the slightest addition of ricotta cheese. Served atop the flaky butter crust, this is a winter meal to celebrate.  Both pork and chicken sausage work equally well, as do kale and chard.  You can trade out the egg for egg white, but it really will not put much of a dent in the fat of this dish given the buttery crust.  This is not diet food.  This is late winter though, and our last chance to enjoy the decadence of the cool months before the threats of swimsuit season are upon us.  Enjoy!

Update: My Sausage and Kale Dinner Tart won for Best Dirt Cheap Dinner on food52!

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