Cutting Chicken Wings

I thought I’d make my first video.  This one is just showing you how I separate chicken wings into wing dings or drummettes.  You’ll notice i’m a headless chicken but that’s because my hair was looking crazy when I decided to do this.  Let me know if you find it useful.

Restaurant Review – Buffalo Wings London

Buffalo wings are not native to England.  I’ve never had a proper buffalo wing in this country which is strange because there’s a chicken shop on every corner.  When an English person asks for a hot wing, they’re expecting fried chicken wings with cayenne mixed in the flour.  No sauce on them, no blue cheese, no carrots, no finger licking.  This has posed quite a challenge for me because Buffalo wings are my favorite food.  OK so it’s my second favorite food.  My most favorite food since I was five years old is Salisbury steak TV dinners…the ones with the mashed potatoes and corn (and remember back in the day when there was the cherry crumble for dessert) but I’m definitely not getting that in England.

Well, no more.  Houston, we’ve got WINGS!

Mike and I discovered Sticky Wings on a whim while walking along Brick Lane.   Now for those of you who have never been to London, Brick Lane is the heart of Indian cuisine in the City. The narrow, partially cobbled street is line with Indian restaurants with curry wafting through every door.  As you walk down the street each restaurant host tells you how lovely you are and offers you a deal on the best curry in London.  As we walked past each restaurant wondering which “award winning” establishment we would grace,  I saw something different.  A sign not touting Bombay’s best but Sticky Wings.  My heart stopped.  Could it be?  Were my eyes deceiving me (because you know I’m getting older and everything else is breaking down)?  Was this a wing shack?  I looked at the menu posted on the glass and to my utter glee, discovered that Sticky Wings is a US style wing joint.

When we go in we’re greeted by Darul, the English owner who spent several years working and eating in the US.  We could see by the Frank’s Red Hot and French’s mustard on the tables that he’d really paid attention.  He even imported old Chili’s tables to make the restaurant even more American. His one-page menu has only a few flavors of wings but that’s the key. A short menu means more time to focus on getting those few dishes right.  On our first visit, we tried the buffalo and the sticky BBQ with fries and a side of deep fried corn on the cob (no that’s not a typo it was deep fried).  We chose the American portion (11 wings) to share between the two of us. The UK portion is a more manageable 6 wings (yes, now that we live in England I can’t handle an American sized portion of anything anymore).  The wings are cooked perfectly and you can tell that the meat is high quality (definitely no arsenic in these chickens).  I’ve eaten Buffalo wings in their birthplace, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, and these weren’t far off.

The trick to a good naked wing is to fry them (without breading) so that the skin crisps up.  Then you coat them with the sauce just before serving while they’re piping hot so that the skin stays crispy.  Not a lot of people can get the crispy part just right but Darul did it.  No soggy wings here.  The sauces were excellent.  My only complaint was that the sticky BBQ wasn’t sticky enough.  On our second trip later that evening (yes we had a fat day that day and went back a few hours later), we tried the jerk twist which was, quite honestly, one of the best wing sauces I’ve eaten.  I don’t want to give away the twist but it was definitely a pleasant surprise.  We also had the fried mushrooms on our second trip.  I literally couldn’t stop eating them.  When we were down to the last one, we nearly fought.  And back to that deep fried corn on the cob.  Yes, everyone thinks that we Americans deep fry everything so why did I need to come to the UK to try deep fried corn? Pure GENIUS!  The corn isn’t battered or breaded; it’s just dipped in the hot oil to cook.  Darul adds some secret spice to give it some kick and voilà!

As we left the second time, the owner gave us a parting gift.  Two slices of homemade Oreo cheesecake.  I don’t eat cheesecake but Mike’s direct quote as he stared dopey eyed at his empty, chocolate smeared fork “this guy is doin’ something”.  I think he might love Sticky Wings’ Oreo cheesecake at least as much as fried chicken.

So if you happen to come to London head over to Brick Lane and say hi to Darul at Sticky Wings and tell him the Americans sent you.  It’s definitely worth the stop.

Sticky Wings

40 Brick Lane

E1 6RF London, United Kingdom

www.stickywings.com

Twitter: @StickyWings

Facebook:   StickyWings

Spice Up Your Rice – Simple Rice Recipe for Every Day

Is it weird that I love plain white rice?  When I say plain, I mean rice boiled – that’s it.  I like the taste of good quality rice.  I’m not talking about Uncle Ben’s boil in bag, I’m talking a good basmati or Thai jasmine rice. When it’s cooked well, they’ve got a very unique flavour that is amazing. I know that rice nutrition is next to zero but I would eat it every day if I could.

My husband thinks it’s weird that when I finish a meal at a Chinese restaurant, I actually take a spoon and eat the remaining rice from the bowl.  If there’s no more rice left, I’ll order a bowl of plain rice just for me to eat.  OK, I recognize this is a bit weird but hey, that’s me.

Rice, although it seems simple, is notoriously hard to get right.  My friend Gail, who is the queen of microwave cooking once taught me how to make rice in the microwave (yeah you can actually do that).  She made it seem absolutely simple until I actually tried it.  The one step she neglected to share with me was that you’ve got to turn the microwave to 50% power (really important step).  When I opened the microwave, I had a bowl of hard, black, glassy goo.  Not only did I discover that it is possible to char food in the microwave, but I also learned that burnt rice really stinks and the smell doesn’t go away for months.  Needless to say, I never tried that again and I perfected making rice on the stove.

So here are a few ways with rice because, although I love plain rice and can eat it everyday, I’m probably the only non-Asian person that can say that.

Close-up of grains of jasmine rice

Close-up of grains of jasmine rice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plain Rice

Serves 4

Preparation: 1 minute

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup white rice

2 cups water

Method

Rinse rice under cold running water until the water is no longer cloudy.  Add rice and water in pot and place on high heat.  Once rice is boiling, stir, cover pot tightly with lid and reduce heat to low. Do not remove the lid and allow to cook for 15 minutes (this is a good time to get other parts of your meal started).  At 15 minutes check to see if the rice is cooked and water is absorbed.  If the rice appears wet, place the cover back on pot and continue to cook for 5 mints more.  At this point, if there is still water waiting to be absorbed, remove the pot from the heat and remove lid and let stand.  The rice will continue to absorb the water and any excess will begin evaporating.

 

Rice and Beans Recipe

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 17 minutes

Category: side

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 tsp butter (or 1-2 tsp olive oil)
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 cup white rice (rinsed)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 10oz can of beans (kidney beans, black beans, gungoa peas are good options)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/8 tsp dry)

Instructions

  1. Drain the beans over a measuring cup that can hold at least 2 cups of liquid. In this same measuring cup, add chicken broth until the total liquid measures 2 cups (if you’re a little short, add additional chicken broth or just plain water). Set the liquid and beans to the side for a moment.
  2. Heat the butter on medium high heat in a small pot (with a lid).
  3. Once the butter is melted, add onions and garlic and cook until onion is clear and shiny (being careful not to burn the garlic).
  4. Add rice to the pan and stir to coat with butter/onion mix.
  5. Add beans and liquid to the pot, stir and drop thyme sprigs on top.
  6. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low.
  8. Cook for 15 without removing the lid.
  9. If the rice appears wet, place the cover back on pot and continue to cook for 5 minutes more.
  10. Turn off heat and let sit with lid on for 2-5 minutes
  11. Serve immediately
https://blackgirlcooks.com/2013/08/14/rice-and-beans-recipe/

Where have you been?

You know, sometimes life gets in the way. So this is what happened:

I was on a roll. You guys were getting at least one post a week (which I’m hoping you we’re enjoying). Then it happened. I was writing a post on nachos that included my world famous (ok just all my friends famous) guacamole and my lime salsa recipes. Lets just go back to the guacamole…it’s so good you can eat it with a spoon and I’ve seen it done. Anyway, I spent hours writing the recipe because as you may or may not realise, unless otherwise noted these recipes come straight from the Black Girl Test Kitchen (aka me).

Now the software that I use to produce this blog auto saves everything so on this particular day (which was a particularly beautiful day in London) I decided it would be safe to just write the post directly in the software. Normally I write in Word and copy the final draft into the blog.

Everything was going well. Everything was formatted, spell check complete, photos placed strategically to add to your viewing experience. Everything was saved (I checked multiple times that I was saving it). All ready to post for your viewing pleasure. I hit what I thought was the post button and a weird error message popped up. It was stuck. I couldn’t get it off the page. There was no little x in the upper right corner. There was no cancel button. A wave of panic cascaded over my body. You know the one – pounding temples, sweat around the hairline, clammy armpits, a flutter in the tummy all indicating that your day’s work is about to be flushed down the electronic toilet.

Well the error message did go away and with it so did my article. Then I got mad. I got mad at WordPress like I had just caught it cheating on me after 30 years of marriage. I have dumped life long friends for far less. This was an act of electronic betrayal. I trusted it and it used me. Took all my work and left me with nothing ( I want you to picture Scarlet Ohara drama right here). And on top of this I missed out on a beautiful London summer day. I would have been far more forgiving if the sun hadn’t been out that day. So we had to separate.

During our separation I began studying to be a life coach (www.bethebestme.com coming soon) which has taken a great deal of my time. I’ve also started a new job which is super intense and required all of my mental energy to get up to speed.

After our long separation and a really good vacation to the Caribbean, I’ve decided to give it a second chance. I am reconciling with the blogosphere. Plus I’ve got lots of new recipes to share. I’ll be back with some new recipes and helpful articles on a regular basis again starting this week so tell all of your friends I’m back and subscribe!!

By the way did I mention the guacamole?

Leftover chicken recipes – Chicken Bacon Apple Salad

I know you read my blog and immediately went out and bought a beautiful free range bird for way more than you really wanted to pay.  Now what do you do with the left overs? It would be a shame to let that tasty tender meat go to waste.  Well today for dinner I transformed that bird into a fabulous meal.

THE VERDICT

This salad was delicious. But really isn’t impossible for anything to taste bad when it includes bacon? The blue cheese makes it absolutely perfect.  Try to use salad leaves like spinach or arugala (rocket).  Iceberg doesn’t add any flavor and it doesn’t really have a lot of health benefit.  Remember to closer to a leaf it looks the better it is for you.  This salad is great for lunch or to take on a picnic (just leave the dressing on the side until you’re ready to eat).

 

Chicken Bacon Apple Salad

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: Salad

Yield: 2

Chicken Bacon Apple Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 6 skinny rashers of bacon
  • 1 package salad leaves (washed and dried)
  • 1.5 cups diced cooked chicken (from that chicken you roasted)
  • 1 large apple sliced thin
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • handful crumbled blue cheese
  • handful chopped walnuts
  • Dressing:
  • 4 tbls olive oil
  • 2 tbls balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Italian herb mix
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring the pan to a boil and allow the eggs to boil for 1 to 2 minutes cover
  3. In another pan, cook bacon on medium high heat until crisp.
  4. While the bacon is cooking combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Crumble the cooked bacon over the salad.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine salad dressing ingredients
  7. Mix well and pour over the salad.
  8. Toss the salad well and serve.
https://blackgirlcooks.com/2012/07/18/easy-chicken-salad-recipe/

Lemon & Rosemary Chicken in my new terracotta roaster

Serves 4-6

Prep time: 10 minutes + 8 – 24 hours marinating time (if you are marinating but not required)

Cooking time: 1.5 hours

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole chicken (medium size, giblets removed)

1 lemon (juice and peel)

5 sprigs (sticks) fresh rosemary

3 cloves garlic whole

1 onion quartered

6 tbls olive oil

Salt (to taste)

Black Pepper (to taste)

TOOLS:

Paper/kitchen towel or clean dish cloth/tea towel

Roasting pan (I use a terracotta roasting pan for this recipe but any roasting tin can be used)

Kitchen twine (if chicken is not already trussed)

1 large resealable freezer bag for marinating

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 200C/395F.  If using a terracotta roasting pan DO NOT preheat the oven.

Rinse the chicken inside and out and dry with paper towel.  If your chicken is not tied (trussed) you will need to do this using kitchen twine.

Once you’ve trussed the chicken,  salt and pepper the cavity and rub in about 1 tbls of olive oil.  Stuff the chicken cavity with the onion, lemon peel, garlic cloves, and rosemary.

If marinating the chicken, salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.  Add the remaining olive oil to the freezer bag along with the juice of the lemon, place the chicken in the bag and seal. Squish the chicken around in the bag.  Marinate for several hours or overnight.

If not marinating place the chicken in the roasting pan and pour over lemon juice.  Then pat on olive oil and then salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.

To cook the chicken place into the oven uncovered for 1.5 hours.

Terracotta roaster:  Soak roaster (top and bottom) in cold water for 10 minutes before cooking.  Place chicken in roaster, cover and place in cold oven.  Roast at the temperature noted for 1.25 hours remove the lid for the last 15 minutes to brown.

Test the doneness of the chicken by piercing the chicken in the thigh joint with a sharp knife.  The juices should run clear when the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with your favorite vegetable.

THE VERDICT:

I bought a terracotta roasting pan years ago because it was pretty. This was well before you could type a few words into Google and get 1000 answers to any question imaginable.   I had no clue what to do with it but because the box had a chicken in the roaster, I figured I could at least use it for that.  When I got it home I stuck a chicken in it, popped it in the oven and hoped for the best. I was so surprised when my normally bland, dry roasted chicken was moist, juicy and tasty. The only change was the pan. Well, I used that thing a few times but you can only make whole chickens so much when you’re single. It got packed away and through many moves, and many storage units, it was carted away by the storage fairies.

Then the other day on a freak trip to the neighborhood ghetto mall, I decided to go to T.K. Maxx (that’s T.J. Maxx in America). I’ve never been to T.K. Maxx here in London but everyone always raves about it so, I thought I’d give it a go. I walked through rows handbags tossed among bottles of perfume and lotion, stepped over mismatched shoes, climbed the escalator and entered kitchen heaven. I could feel tears of joy welling up in the corners of my eyes as I gawked at an entire floor dedicated to home supplies and kitchen stuff. Rows of Le Creuset, 20 types of salt and pepper grinders, every type of pot or pan I could ever want, muffin tins and tea pots.

At this point I must tell you that I’ve inherited a kitchen gadget gene from my mother. Before I moved to England, I believe that my mom and I were in a race to see who could buy and use every useless kitchen gadget known to man. .   Magic bullet – I’ve got it (in fact I had three). Home rotisserie – had that before George Foreman slapped his name on one. Ice cream maker – that one’s ticked too. My mother has even inherited an electric pressure cooker which I only left because the current here in the UK would have caused me to blow up my house if I plugged it in.  It’s a bit like crack; once you start buying kitchen gadgets you just can’t stop.  To be honest, I might sell my husband for a professional Kitchen-Aid stand mixer (my Mom has one that has about an inch of dust on it and I am so jealous).  But I digress.

So strolling up the isles, I discovered a lovely burnt orange terracotta roasting pan with lid that brought back wonderful memories of lovely tender roasted chicken. In total about $12 for the whole contraption. These usually cost at least $30-$40. Great chicken plus a good deal – I’m sold!

This Sunday I thought it only proper that I take our little roasting pan on its maiden voyage. I went on the internet to see how to properly use the thing (because you know at T.J. Maxx you don’t always get the box) and discovered that the pot need a ten minute soak in cold water before putting it into a cold oven. Oops never did that with the other one.  The point is that water soaks into the porous clay and, as the roaster heats up in the oven, steam is released. The steam does the cooking and you get a juicy, fall off the bone chicken (even the breast meat).

The only drawback of the terracotta roaster is that the chicken doesn’t get that crispy dark brown that I love so much. If you take the lid off for the last 30 minutes of cooking the chicken will get a lovely tan but it won’t look like you just came back from Boston Market with a rotisserie bird. If you follow this recipe and don’t use a terracotta roaster, your chicken will have a beautiful dark brown, crispy skin that will make you fight your mama but,  may not be as juicy as the terracotta roasting pan.

This chicken recipe is an original but having Googled “terracotta roasting pan recipes” I’ve discovered that you can make slow cooked stews in them as well as other meat and fish.  So maybe with so many possibilities this roasting dish won’t go missing. By the way, I don’t think my mom has one of these yet but I bet by the time she gets to the end of this post one will be on its way from Amazon.

Even YOU can make a great steak

Steak is one of the most difficult foods to make well.  It seems that something that seems so simple has perplexed so many people.  Here are a few tips that will guarantee that you make the best steak dinner ever.

Pick the right piece of meat

It’s important not to skimp on the quality of the meat.  Remember more expensive is not always better.  Steaks aged for 20 days or more will be more tender.  Cuts like fillet are more difficult to cook at home so choose sirloin, ribeye, or other cuts that have a little fat running through it.  Interestingly, the butcher recommended an onglet (or eye steak) which is a cheaper cut which gives you the feel of a fillet but half the price and easier to cook.  To make cooking easy, make sure that meat is one to 1.5 inches thick.  Remember once you buy them try to use them within one or two days.  Don’t freeze the steaks because the freezing/thawing process changes the consistency and the flavor of the meat.

Warm it up

Never cook a steak directly from the fridge.  When the cold meat hits the hot pan the muscle fibers will spasm resulting in a tough steak.  Make sure the meat warms to room temperature by leaving the steak on the counter for 20 – 30 minutes.  The closer to room temperature the meat is when you cook it; the more tender it will be.

Have the right tools

A heavy gauge non-stick pan or griddle pan are the best tools for cooking a good steak.  If you don’t have an iron skillet or griddle pan, just make sure you have a good non-stick pan that can take very very high heat without warping.  Make sure you have tongs or a spatula to turn the steak.  You don’t want to pierce the steak with a fork while it’s cooking.

Make it hot

The pan must be SUPER hot to cook a good steak.  Normally I leave the skillet on the stove on the highest heat for at least 10 minutes to make sure every surface of the pan is at its hottest. It’s hot if you sprinkle a drop or two of water in the pan and it cracks and sizzles and evaporates completely in a second or two. Here’s where I advise you unplug your smoke detector and turn on your exhaust fan and open the windows.  We’re going to make it really smoky.  Again, it’s really important that you are sure that the pan you are using is able to handle the high heat and distribute the heat evenly across the entire surface of the pan or you may have a fire on your hands.

Less is more

When it comes to seasoning a steak, less is best.  Simple kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper allows the flavor of a good steak to come through. Add a little butter and parsley as garnish after cooking makes it perfection.  I also recommend Montreal Steak Seasoning for a really good complement to steak.

Don’t overcook it

I know a lot of people will disagree but steaks are not meant to be eaten well done.  A little pink won’t hurt you and it adds flavor and juiciness to the meat.  It’s very difficult to cook a steak well done without ruining the flavor. This is because when you cook a steak to well done in the pan, when you remove it from the heat it will continue to cook.  By the time you eat it, it will be dry and tough.  A one to 1.5 inch steak should be cooked for four to six minutes on each side depending on how hot you can get your pan and how well done you want it.  Just try it once for me –  cook your steak to medium (well done on the edges pink in the center but no bleeding) and you’ll definitely understand the difference in taste and I bet you won’t get sick.

Let it rest

When you’ve cooked the steak, you’ve got to let it rest.  Resting allows the steak to settle down and distributes the juicy goodness throughout the meat. Rest the steaks for at least 5 minutes before you serve it. Place the steaks on a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil or waxed paper (grease proof paper).  Also resist the urge to poke or pierce the meat to test if it’s done enough.

Steak with Garlic and parsley with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 2

 

TOOLS

Heavy gauge frying pan or griddle pan

Mixing bowl

Non-stick baking Sheet

Tongs (or something to turn the steak without piercing it)

Garlic press

INGREDIENTS

Steak cut of choice 1 – 1.5 inches thick

2 tbls peanut, sunflower or vegetable oil (DO NOT use olive oil)

Kosher salt or sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic pressed

2tbls salted butter

2tbls chopped fresh parsley

Roasted Potatoes

4 large potatoes

10 shallots whole & whole (or 2 small onions quartered)

2 tbls Olive oil

1tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tbls fresh cracked black pepper

1 ½ tsp dried rosemary (or 1tbls fresh rosemary chopped)

Green salad to serve

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400F/200C

Start by removing the steak from the fridge.  Drizzle peanut oil on steaks and massage into the meat.  Season to taste with salt…be generous because some of the salt will burn off in the pan. Add pepper and set aside to allow to warm to room temperature.

While meat is warming wash and chop potatoes into equally sized chunks.  Place the chopped potatoes on a dish towel or paper towel and blot dry.  Place the dried potatoes in a mixing bowl along with shallots and add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix well to coat all potatoes. Place on baking sheet and place in oven.  Cook for 25 minutes.

Begin heating the pan for the steak. Place pan on stove on the highest setting. Heat the pan for 10 minutes (keep a close eye on it).  When the pan is hot, place one steak in the pan.  Allow the pan to heat back up to temperature for about a minute before adding the second steak.  Allow the steaks to cook (don’t touch them) for at least 4-5 minutes.  Turn the steaks and cook on the other side for 1 minute less than you cooked the first side.  Remove from pan and place on plate.  Cover with foil or wax paper.

At this point the potatoes should be done.  If so, remove from oven and set aside.

Make the butter by placing butter and pressed garlic in a microwave safe bowl.  When steaks have rested and you are ready to serve, heat butter in microwave for 30seconds to 1 minute until completely melted.  Add parsley and mix well.  Pour over steaks just before serving.

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