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Well this post will be nothing if not random. Living up to the name I guess. A few weeks ago, through the Boston Brunchers, I was offered free tickets to the Boston Ballet’s Fall show with the understanding that I would in turn post something on it. My sister was a ballerina growing up all through high school, so I’ve seen a lot of ballet through the years and didn’t really think I’d go too much as an adult. It had been a while since my wife and I have had a date night out (plus her birthday was that week), so I jumped at the chance… then started the struggle of finding a babysitter on a weeknight.

I did not do too much research into what was in the fall program prior to the night, though I had heard some rumors of the first number. The show opened with Rooster. All eight songs in the piece were Rolling Stones music set around a theme developed during the first number of “Little Red Rooster.” The dance was humorous enough that at several points the audience found themselves chuckling. The next piece was Awake Only. This piece was what I view as more along the lines of traditional contemporary ballet… if there is such a thing. Both my wife and I interpreted it a little differently, as it was far less literal than Rooster, but we both enjoyed it. The last piece was The Second Detail. I don’t think it would be possible to fit more energy into the choreography than they have. At one point it was so exciting an audience member in the row behind us let out a loud “whoop.” The dancing was clean and emotive and had us captured all evening long. The set was stark for all three pieces, but there was no need for any stage dressing – the dancing was gorgeous.

It was a great night out, I would recommend it. We did get our tickets for free, but looking at the prices, each ticket is very reasonable starting at $29. I went for a little bit of literal inspiration for a recipe to go along with this post. I call it Red Rooster… because …well it is red and chicken. I know, mind blown, right? Well its simple and delicious and can be made easily on a weekday night.

Red Rooster

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • drizzle of Honey (optional)
  • Olive oil (enough to rub on the chicken)
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs Chicken parts (I used chicken legs and thighs – dancing legs, get it?)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Rub chicken with olive oil
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients and rub all over the chicken
  4. Place on a pan in the oven, cooking until an instant read thermometer reads 165 F, this could be up to an hour depending on the parts you are using.
  5. Drizzle with a little bit of honey.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 00:10

Cook time: 01:00

Last Sunday I had the privilege of joining a group of Boston Brunchers in the area for brunch at Harvard Common Press (twitter tag #HCPbrunch). During the meal we learned a lot about the cookbook publishing industry and the work that goes into publishing a cook book. We did this all while making new friends, meeting up with twitter buddies, and eating a great meal put together from the Harvard Common Press crew.

As part of the meal HCP let us take home a book of our choice and review a recipe in it if we wanted to. The book I snagged was New England Home Cooking by Booke Dojny. There were several recipes that I wanted to give a go. Many of them seemed pretty standard to me. This is by no means meant to be a bad thing. In general I cook a lot of New England style food and I wanted to see new versions of items I already prepared along with different items that I just don’t think of preparing. This book is quite large and contained that and more. In the 350 recipes there were a few surprises such  as items from other cultures that are made in various places in the region right alongside New England classics. Due to the lack of dinners at home this week I actually made a breakfast Sunday morning instead. The recipe I made was “Polly’s Pancake Parlor Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes”. I am always looking for the perfect pancake recipe to make for a good Sunday morning meal, and I have been to this pancake house several times and wanted to taste how close this recipe tasted to the original.

Recipe is as follows:

Polly’s Pancake Parlor Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes (from New England Home Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus more if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Whisk egg with buttermilk in a medium-sized bowl until blended. Whisk in the melted butter.
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk them together gently, just until the flour is moistened. Do not overmix. (It’s all right if the batter looks lumpy.)
  3. Heat a lightly oiled cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Make a test pancake to check the heat of the pan and the consistency of the batter. Stir in 2 to 3 more tablespoons of buttermilk if the batter is too thick.
  4. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until the undersides are golden brown and the tops are speckled with burst bubbles, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until the undersides are lightly browned and the centers spring back when lightly pressed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven while making the remaining pancakes.

My thoughts: Overall, I loved these pancakes and so did everyone at the table. I served them with Vermont maple syrup and some thick cut bacon. This recipe came about as close to the recipe from the restaurant as I can remember it tasting. I love the crunchy feel that the cornmeal adds to the pancake, and I was surprised that just three tablespoons of cornmeal pulled that off. The pancake itself has a good amount of fluff to it while still being crispy on the outside. One thing I like to do when making a large amount of pancakes or waffles is use a cooling rack in the oven so that bottoms don’t get soggy while cooking the rest. The recipe says it makes 2 to 4 servings. I don’t know how many pancakes you eat at a sitting at home but there were four adults and a toddler at my table; we made a double batch and every last pancake was gone. I am not a huge fan of recipes that call for buttermilk only because I rarely have it on hand. Thie chapter does go into recommended substitutions for it though using either yogurt or milk soured with vinegar. In the end, I will be definitely be making this recipe again and look forward to trying many others.

Big Ole Disclaimer: As mentioned above HCP gave me the cookbook for free and also fed us food. In addition, by reviewing and writing about this recipe I have the potential to win a gift card as mentioned in the post by Harvard Common Press here. All that being said, everything in this post is completely my own opinions.