Chicken. Roasted.

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We are often out and about on the weekends. You know, living our wild and crazy child-less lives (if you click that link, the article is really great. just sayin’). Or maybe just playing board games at someone’s house, if you really want to know. We like to think we’re simple and low-key, but our budget tells us we spend a shit-ton of $$ on food and alcohol. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s just the fact of the matter at hand. Anybody singing a rap song after reading that sentence? nevermind.

A few months ago, I realized I’d made reservations for us to eat at Zuni Cafe. It’s one of those places that, if you want to eat at a reasonable time on a Saturday  night, requires reservations a bit in advance. So I picked a rando Saturday, and before I knew it, it was time to go. If you know anything about popular dining spots in SF, you for sure know that Zuni is an institution, maybe for their Bloody Marys (which I hear are magnificent), but probably for their roasted chicken.

So we went, and Chris was given the freedom to choose appetizers, wine, and dessert for us, but I said we HAD to share the chicken. He happens to like roasted chicken, so I was in luck. In my opinion, the chicken was everything it was cracked up to be – tender, juicy, nestled perfectly in a simply dressed salad, complete with haphazardly-torn croutons that were perfect for dipping in to soak up the chicken juice-laced dressing. J’adore.

Coincidentally enough, Food & Wine had recently published a version of said chicken in a roasted chicken feature they did recently and I just never got it together to start the recipe the night before, and I didn’t dare skip that part. So finally, a few weekends ago, I picked up a chicken on way home on Friday. On Saturday, after a good 20 minutes of dealing with a crazy city smoke detector (I hate them), we were well on our way to a magical dinner.

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We were not disappointed. As if I needed further confirmation of this chicken being amazing, I kept saying, amidst a mouth-full of crusty bread and chicken, arugula lodging itself in my teeth, “damn, this is good. isn’t it? isn’t it?”. Fortunately, Chris talks with his mouth full too, and he agreed until I finally shut up.

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And then we did it all over again the next day, as a roasted chicken salad also makes a great picnic lunch. Just so you know.

Zuni Cafe’s ‘Roasted Chicken with Warm Bread Salad’
adapted from Food & Wine, March 2013; serves 4

time commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes (+24 hours seasoning for chicken)

ingredients
roasted chicken
One free-range, organic chicken
4 thyme sprigs
4 small garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
2 t fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

bread salad
1 T dried currants
1 T warm water
1 t red wine vinegar
2 T white wine vinegar
1/2 c plus 2 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound stale Italian-style bread, cut into large chunks
1 T pine nuts
4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 c lightly packed small arugula leaves, or other greens (I used arugula, but when I had the chicken at Zuni they used a mix. i like it either way)

instructions
Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and thighs. Stuff the thyme and garlic under the skin and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken and season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 (and hope your smoke detector doesn’t go nuts like mine…). Preheat a large cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. Put the chicken in the skillet, breast side up, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side down and roast for about 15 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced. Transfer the chicken to a board and let rest for 10 minutes; carve and hang on to those chicken juices! (You can also use another oven-safe container, but you might have to turn the heat down and roast longer.)

Meanwhile, prepare the bread salad ingredients.

In a small-ish bowl, soak the currants in the water and red wine vinegar until plumped, 10 minutes. Drain and put into a large bowl for mixing the salad.

While currants are plumping up, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Let cool, then tear the bread into bite-size pieces and add to the large bowl.

In the now-empty small bowl, combine the white white vinegar with the 1/2 cup of olive oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper. Add three-quarters of the dressing to the cooled bread and currants and let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slightly toast the pine nuts in a skillet for about 2 minutes. Add to large bowl.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the scallions and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add the currants, bread, pine nuts and the remaining vinaigrette and toss.

Spoon the bread salad into a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, until heated through. Uncover and bake for a few minutes longer to dry out the top and brown the bottom. Transfer the bread salad to a platter and toss with arugula.

Skim the fat from the juices in the skillet. Place chicken pieces atop bread salad and drizzle any juices atop. EN-JOY!

Life. 365-Style. (7/2-7/29)

Man, ya’ll. We had a *heat wave* this month! And in SF, that means it hits 80 a few times. It was magnificent, and so odd for summertime.

Oh, and since it’s well into the second half of 2013, I thought I’d take this chance to update my progress in my “goals” from the first post of 2013:

  1. Run 500 miles this year. That’s roughly 10/week, so as of today I should be at 300 miles. Here’s reality: 309.33. BOOM.
  2. Finish the Stairway Walks: we’ve walked 20/29. I’m betting it won’t be a problem to get those last 9 finished this year. BOOM again.
  3. Take a picture every day: this is the hardest of them all, honestly. I won’t be doing this in 2014, but so far, I’ve managed to pull something out every day. BOOM BOOM BOOM.
  4. Go somewhere awesome: this was the easiest. Peru was awesome. Other small trips were awesome. And in late August, we’re heading to Chicago, which is awesome again. Quadruple BOOM.

And now, the pictures:

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183 – one of our commuter systems, BART, went on strike recently. the gates were shut to get through to the BART side and a whole bunch of folk were p-o’d.

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184 – gotta love an impromptu happy hour with coworkers! it was much more fun than running ;).

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185 – we found a perfect spot to watch SF’s fireworks from Bernal Heights. it was so clear that night it was insane. the fog has usually taken over that part of town by then!

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186 – Chris made me watch Sinister. it was uber creepy. and Ethan Hawke looked funny in a man-sweater.

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187 – Chris, Judy, Jared and I headed out really early to Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport. we rummaged through the strawberry fields. well, some of us stared off into the open air…

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188 – my loot! i ended up making jam (strawberry-lime and strawberry-balsamic), strawberry-buttermilk sherbet, and then we ate a lot of them too.

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189 – I hope he wore these kicks last week! he was in the front car of the Caltrain watching the track. super cute.

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190 – afternoon sun.

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191 – i want to make this dish. it’s called a “veggie ceviche”.

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192 – Frannie’s delicious cocktail stories made me wanna try a recipe i found. this is st. germain, tequila, lemon, and thyme simple syrup. it wasn’t bad. not at all.

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193 – I had a Friday off (crazy!) and went back for my favorite breakfast at Craftman & Wolves (the toasted chocolate bread). then i went and sweated it off at yoga.

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194 – this cat gets herself into the damndest places. she keeps thinking she’s gonna jump on top of the hutch. i don’t think she knows my wrath yet.

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195 – we did a stairway walk out in St Francis Wood, a ritsy neighborhood. that house is for 1 family! in our neighborhood, that would be 12 units. ha!

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196 – i looked outside this morning and this bird was staring in. totes eerie.

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197 – Chris was in Austin for a few days, so I wandered down to Philz after work for some qualitee people-watching. never disappointed.

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198 – pineapple close-up!

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199 – blue house, blue sky. but much chillier than it looks!

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200 – grilled chicken on a Friday night indoors. i think i fell asleep at 10 PM. i know how to live!

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201 – we actually went out to Speakeasy Brewery this afternoon, but happened upon a wine tasting when we decided to stop by Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous for ice cream. talk about a perfect day!

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202 – We spent the day being So. Classy. by first going to a free concert from the SF Symphony in Dolores Park, then dinner at my chef crush, Michael Chiarello’s, new restuarant, Coqueta. We ate a bunch of small plates and, while we didn’t plan to on a “school night”, we ended up with a couple of cocktails apiece. This is the “Revolution”, my favorite drink of the night. Food-wise, I could eat a whole plate of the “tattas bravas”, and the duck meatballs weren’t bad at all. Chris could have easily filled up on the cheese plates, his favorite food group.

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203 – Steven’s Creek Trail in Mountain View. a nice break from my typical Mission or Stanford campus runs.

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204 – I had leftover frozen “mornay” (cheese sauce) from a mac n’ cheese dish I made a while back. I wasn’t sure how the frozen cheese sauce would be once thawed, but as it turns out, it’s just dandy. I also mixed in a couple of frozen cubes of pesto sauce. Not bad for a last-minute dinner ;).

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205 – another day of construction in the building of a new hospital.

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206 – An impromptu dinner/beer night at Pi Bar just *had* to end with a stop across the street for a cookie. Right?

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207 – Where’s Sasha? And how did she get there?

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208 – A night out in Berkeley at the Greek Theatre to see The Postal Service. The show itself wasn’t that great, really, but we still had a great time!

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209 – The weather was a little foggy this weekend (a true “summer” in SF, not this heat wave stuff!) and it was the perfect setting for a nice big bowl o’ ramen. One of our favorites, Halu, is closed on Sunday, so we went to an easy standby, Tanpopo, in Japantown. it hit the spot.

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210 – Even though I’ve lived in CA for 2 1/2 years now, the palm trees still make me smile :).