How was your week?
Mine was a little crazy.
Did you hear about the epic 7,000 flights cancelled across the country last week? My flight home to San Francisco was one of them.
Now normally I would love to be 'stuck' in New York City for a weekend. I have so many great friends there, musicals I want to see and I still haven't made it to the 9/11 Memorial. But last weekend I had plans with an amazing group of women whom I see only one or two times a year. Our reunions are always so special. I was not going to be deterred!
In true dramatic airline travel fashion, I was the only standby person called on a Friday afternoon flight to San Francisco and the last body on the plane (thank goodness for status). It wasn't until we pulled away from the gate that I realized this was real ... I was going to get home, and thus get to Arizona to see the girls too.
I was ecstatic. The sweet Japanese women next to me were a little terrified of my strange joy sitting on a taxiing plane.
Travel Lessons Learned
I learned a couple new tricks in this epic travel fail last week:
- Twitter is the new hotline. These days there are customer service reps dedicated to social media. When the phone lines are overrun and you can't reach a real human being, try a little tweet. Within a few hours I had a reply (and I still couldn't reach anyone on the phone). A Decker participant of mine was able to rebook to Houston via her Twitter support person.
- Keep calling. When so many people have cancellations, things are changing by the minute. I called about once every thirty minutes for 3 hours before I was rebooked for Friday instead of Sunday. The persistance paid off. Remember that what is or isn't available is changing constantly. Keep calling.
All that hard work was totally worth it for this:
Unhealthy eating on the road
Last week in New York started well enough. Mediterranean fare (grilled squid, salad, satays) with a glass of wine on Tuesday. Salads on Wednesday. But by Thursday my travel stress had manifested into a 1/2 pound cheeseburger and fries with a side of more fries via room service.
(It was delicious. Every bite.)
Once I was in Arizona there was quite a bit of, "Oh, I'm on vacation so I'll have that extra helping of mashed potatoes" or "Three cocktails is perfectly normal" rationalizing going on. All that is fine for vacation, but it was time to get serious about veggies by Monday.
I had big plans for nothing but grilled chicken and carrots this week, but that's boring for everyone. So you'll see a nice mix of healthy and 'off the rails' recipes coming up.
Chicken with Board Dressing
Board dressing is a method for capturing the flavors of the delicious juices that emerge from any type of meat while they are on the cutting board. While the meat rests, you can build upon the flavors. I'm seeing this technique everywhere now.
This Bon Appetit recipe is full of fresh herbs and made the whole process incredibly simple.
1 dried guajillo or New Mexico chile or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes*
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for grill
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 4-pound chicken, halved, backbone removed*
Lime wedges (for serving)
*We used red pepper flakes. Mr. McCormick had also sweetly defrosted two chicken breasts.
If using whole chile, toast in a dry skillet, turning often, until slightly puffed and darkened, about 4 minutes. Discard stem and seeds. Finely chop chile. Transfer chile (or red pepper flakes, not toasted) to a small bowl.
Add in cilantro, oregano, lime zest, and 1/4 cup oil and season dressing with salt and pepper.
Prepare grill or grill pan for medium to high heat. Brush grill with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place, skin side down, on grill. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is crisp and browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°, 10–15 minutes per side. About 5 minutes before chicken is done, baste with some of dressing.
Pour remaining dressing onto a carving board.
Place chicken, skin side up, on top. Let sit at least 10 minutes to rest and absorb flavor from dressing before carving. Drizzle chicken with rest of the dressing from board and serve with lime wedges.
Dressing can be made 2 days ahead of time, covered and chilled until needed.
Affogato is a wonderfully elegant yet simple Italian dessert. If you have espresso and vanilla ice cream or gelato, you have an affogato. And it's so fun to say too.
I was craving chocolate and a fun, slightly more casual version. The recipe below is a mix of affogato and mocha float.
1/2 cup chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup hot coffee or 4 tablespoons espresso
Prepare coffee or espresso. Pour over ice cream in a bowl or cup. Serve.
The board dressing method is a cinch! Fresh herbs on grilled chicken is never a bad idea, but the yummy juices and dressing on the board mixed together for a terrific marinade.
I loved the mix of warm and cold with the mocha floats, and the soupy chocolate coffee goodness at the end was terrific to slurp down. I just wish I'd had some biscotti to go with it.
I made ours with decaf coffee since we both needed our beauty sleep on a school night. But I'm definitely going to do a traditional affogato next time I host a dinner party.
Photos of this terrific dessert you ask? I panicked as the coffee quickly melted my ice cream, so I dove right in. I was too busy eating to document the experience.
All in all, two terrific recipes to kick back into gear on The Resolved Cook!