Etch

Some days it’s all about what you know. Other days, it’s definitely WHO you know. Monday was a who you know kind of day.

I was catching up on my Google Reader, like I do every morning, and my favorite foodie, Beth Eats, was blogging about a sneak peak at a new restaurant that’s opening today, in downtown Nashville. I’m always envious of her taste testing and was living vicariously through her blog, at that very moment. The restaurant was Etch, which is located in Nashville’s Encore condo building.

Several minutes later, my phone buzzed and it was my friend Alice. “Hey — my friend Megan is the pastry chef at this new restaurant and has me on the list for a friends and family lunch today at 1 p.m. Want to be my date? It’s called Etch.”

AHHHHHHHHH! (Angels sang).

HECK YES, I said. Jenn Eats!

Etch is opening today, Wednesday, August 29 — and the servers were still working out the kinks and getting their practice on. We were invited to give constructive criticism about our meal, to help them prepare for opening day. And of course, in return, our meal was on the house. The only thing better than delicious food is free delicious food.

We got to share an appetizer and then each got an entree. We ordered the roasted cauliflower to start. I know — really. Cauliflower as an appetizer. But OMG y’all. It was amazing. It came with a feta cream sauce and a roasted, smokey pea puree for dipping. I could have licked the rest of that beautifully green pea puree off the plate. So good.

For the entree, Alice ordered the short ribs, which had the flavors of a beef stew, but was served between layers of thin pasta — so it was almost like some crazy lasagna. It was soooo good. I ordered the lamb sausage. It was served with ginger grits (I know — I know) topped with manchego cheese and a small spinach (I think) side salad that tasted smokey. How, I have no idea. But I’d eat greens all day if they taste like they were on the grill.

The ginger grits were out of this world, although they sound terrible. Ginger and grits? But yum.

And the sausage was just so deliciously delicate and very fennelly (is that a word? no.) and it melted in your mouth.

Dessert was not part of the menu — however, when you know the pastry chef, you get special treatment. Megan gave us a choice of a chocolate something or another OR a goat cheese…..

Stop. I don’t hear anything you say after goat cheese. Cheese in my dessert. YES!

So we had the Goat Cheese Semifreddo. I sort of knew what a semifreddo was from watching years of the Food Network, but just to be clear, here’s a little Wikipedia for you.

Semifreddo (pronounced [semiˈfredːo], Italian: half cold) is a class of semi-frozen desserts, typically ice-cream cakes, semi-frozen custards, and certain fruit tarts. It has the texture of frozen mousse because it is usually produced by uniting two equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream.

It was like really firm ice cream, with a hint of goat cheese taste. I love savory desserts over sweet ones, so this was perfect.

She came out to explain the dish to us and we said “is this raspberry sauce?” She said “Oh no — it’s a hibiscus sauce. I take hibiscus flower petals and combine them with a simple syrup to extract color and flavor. Then I just reduce it way down to get it all nice and thick and syrupy.”

Ah yes — I did the same thing last night.

Amazing! Megan was so good to us and we’ll definitely be back to eat her delicious desserts (and everything else on the menu) real soon! Do yourself a favor and make reservations at Etch. You can keep up with them on Facebook, here.

**Note — other than tagging along for a free meal, I was not provided anything or asked by Etch to write this review. These opinions are mine and mine alone.

XOXO,
Jenn

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Sweet, Spicy Watermelon and Feta Salad

Y’all. This recipe will give your tastebuds a what for. It takes like three bites for them to realize what the heck is going on. It.is.awesome.

I adapted this recipe from a fellow Nashville blogger, Annakate. You can see her original recipe here, and I’ll give you my version with the changes, below.

Sweet, Spicy Watermelon Feta Salad
This recipe serves 3 – adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup hot chili sauce (I used sriracha)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup light tasting olive oil (regular would probably be fine, but I like light tasting for dressings)
3 ½ cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/3 cup feta cheese
Salt to taste
chopped fresh mint and basil

Directions:
Combine chili sauce, rice vinegar and honey in a bowl and slowly mix in olive oil while you whisk. Right before you’re ready to serve, pour any liquid off watermelon and toss it in the bowl to combine with your chili mixture.

Plate, then top with crumbled feta cheese and fresh herbs. Sprinkle with salt.

Seriously y’all. This is really easy and it was the bomb as a summer side dish. Thanks so much to Annakate for the recipe! If you didn’t click on her recipe, she added tomatoes and didn’t use cheese. Those were the two big changes. Earlier in the summer I made a feta, watermelon and basil salad, so I couldn’t resist adding feta to this – and Rog doesn’t care for tomatoes, so this version of the recipe was born.

We served it alongside a stuffed chicken breast — like this recipe I posted recently. The only changes were I used sweet onion instead of purple and I used fresh rosemary and basil on the inside, since I had them. We baked it instead of grilling. Just as delicious.

Our temporary roommate who is staying with us this month while she does a medical rotation at Vandy brought me fresh rosemary, basil and mint from her mama’s garden. I was thrilled to use all of them in last night’s dinner!

Nom nom.

Then, I practiced my gymnastics routine and went to bed.

XOXO,
Jenn

Feta, Rosemary and Onion Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I get so bored with chicken and just can’t hardly stomach a plain old baked chicken breast. But we have a huge bag of frozen chicken from Costco, and it must be eaten. So, last night I whipped up this little recipe on the fly and it was pretty dang good. Feast your eyes and bellies on this:

Feta, Rosemary and Onion Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 2

 Ingredients:
Two chicken breasts
¼ cup finely chopped purple onion
1/3 cup feta cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
Seasoned Salt
Italian seasoning
Olive oil

Directions:
Cut a little pocket in your chicken breasts. I sort of started butterflying them, but didn’t go all the way from end to end, so it made more of a pocket.

Mix onion, feta, garlic, rosemary and thyme together in a small bowl – drizzle with a little olive oil and stir together. The olive oil will help keep the chicken breast moist from the inside out.

Stuff mixture inside chicken breast.

Close up  — maybe seal with a toothpick or two if it’s stuffed full.

Drizzle the top of the chicken breasts with a little more olive oil and a dash of seasoned salt and Italian seasoning.

Grill until done – flipping once. Our grill was medium/high and took about 7 or 8 minutes per side.

You could also bake these – but we grilled them. I’d suggest baking at 375 in a glass baking dish for about 20 minutes depending on how big the chicken breasts are.

Enjoy!

XOXO,
Jenn

Salmon Burgers

Y’all — we hit some recipe solid gold last night.

I saw on my friend Lauren’s blog that she had posted a recipe for salmon burgers. Then something that almost never happens, happened. I realized I already had every ingredient to make them in my fridge. Whoa. Dinner plans were born.

So I whipped them up last night and they nearly killed me with satisfaction. They tasted like a sandwich you’d order at the Back Porch or other fine Destin, FL establishment. They were fresh, crunchy, moist (I hate the word, but it must be used), delicious, not too fishy, healthier than your average burger and just so dang good.

This recipe seems to has transformed from several different peeps — but originated first with Paula Deen. My friend Lauren posted it from Annie’s Eats. So, I’ll give you my version, because I made a few slight adjustments. But props to Annie’s Eats for coming up with this cilantro mayo. Holy moly.

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo

Ingredients:
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
8-10 tbsp. panko bread crumbs (depending on how wet your mixture is, you may need to do closer to 10 tbsp to get it to stick!)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 lb. salmon fillets, skinned, boned and finely chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1½ tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1.5 tsp Italian Seasoning

For the cilantro mayo:
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ cup mayo
½ cup cilantro
Dash of ground red pepper or cayenne — whatever you have on hand.
Dash of salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

For serving:
Burger buns
Green lettuce
Sliced red onion
Sliced tomatoes
Or whatever toppings your heart desires

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced bell pepper, onion, panko, garlic, italian seasoning and salmon. Stir to comine.  In a small bowl combine the egg white, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt.  Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the salmon and toss gently until well incorporated.  Form the mixture into equal patties. (this made two big patties, for me).

To make the cilantro mayo, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until well combined and smooth.

Put some alumiumn foil (lightly sprayed with PAM or greased with olive oil) down on preheated the grill (the burgers felt like they’d fall into the grill without some support). Put the burgers on the foil. Cook on high for about two minutes. This gave mine a nice sear. Then, cook with mostly indirect heat (side burners on high, mid-burners on low, for example — and your patties over the middle, low burners) for about 5 or 6 minutes each side.

Put a little butter on your buns (yep, I said it) and place them on the grill to toast. Devour with your favorite burger toppings and LOTS of that cilantro mayo!

We had ours with black beans topped with cheese, sour cream and purple onion. Nom noms.

XOXO,
Jenn

Spicy Honey Ginger Baked Tilapia

Don’t you love these crazy long names of recipes when I make them up? I’m kind of impressed that I’ve “made up” a couple of recipes lately. I used to think I could never do that — but lately if I try something that I like I think, “I wonder what would happen if I added…”

That’s kind of how this tilapia was born last night. (Well, actually it was probably born in a dirty tilapia farm in Chile, but let’s not think about that too much).

Here you go:

Spicy Honey Ginger Baked Tilapia: (serves 2)
Ingredients –
2 tilapia filets (we actually used three, because ours were small — so we ate 1.5 each. But normally 2 would do it).
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup white wine
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS honey
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like the heat)
Squeeze of lime
Three chives/green onions

(Everything minus the lime, chives and fish)

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Directions —
Preheat oven to 400.
While oven preheats, mix ginger, garlic, wine, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and honey in a small bowl. Stir together well.
Put fish in a plastic baggie and pour mixture over fish. Let marinate for about 10 minutes in the fridge. (Fish doesn’t take long to marinate — much longer and the soy will begin to break it down.
Remove fish from marinade and put in glass baking dish.
I poured a little of the marinade over the fish, but not all of it. I didn’t want it swimming in it (pun intended).
Discard leftover marinade.
Squeeze a little lime on top of each piece of fish.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until fish is flaky and the doneness that you like.
Top fish with chopped chives to taste.

Enjoy! We had ours with our favorite side dish as of late — black beans simmered on the stovetop with some onion (purple if we have it), then topped with a little shredded cheese, more fresh onion, a dollop of sour cream and a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

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XOXO,
Jenn

I Be Cookin’

I’ve made a few delicious dinners lately and haven’t posted about them, so here’s a catch up.

I just sort of made this first one up, so I’ll try to remember the amounts as best as possible!

Lemon Herb Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
Ingredients:
Two chicken breasts
1/3 cup of ricotta cheese (whole or skim, your choice)
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp of lemon zest
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 egg
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Mix ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, and garlic clove in a small bowl.

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Cut a slit in the chicken breasts, not all the way through, but so it makes a pocket.
Spoon ricotta mixture evenly inside chicken breasts – as much as you can but so you can still get it closed.

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Use a couple of toothpicks to keep the chicken closed in the oven so all that gooey goodness doesn’t ooze out.
Beat one egg on a small plate and pour breadcrumbs into another.

IMG_0797Dip chicken breasts into egg, then breadcrumbs.
Put on a sheet pan (I covered mine in aluminum foil for easy clean up).
Drizzle with a little olive oil to help the breadcrumbs brown.

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. (Lawd, I really don’t remember – but 25 minutes should be plenty – and if you want the breadcrumbs toastier you could even turn on the broiler for just a couple minutes at the end).

Enjoy! So much healthier than a fried piece of chicken and I promise, more delicious.

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Sausage, Jalepeno and Goat Cheese Pizza:
I posted about this prosciutto, jalepeno and goat cheese pizza in this blog post. You can find that recipe here.

The other night we simply subbed the prosciutto for sweet italian sausage. Buy a package of sweet italian sausage, remove it from the casings, put it in a skillet and brown it, chopping it into small pieces. Drain it and blot the fat off, the sub it on the pizza instead of the prosciutto. Make the pizza the same way otherwise. Yum!

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Chinese Takeout at Home: Mongolian Beef
OMG you guys. This recipe was SO good. It was easy and so delicious. We’ll definitely be making this one more often.

I got this recipe at Handle the Heat and if you all don’t follow this blog, you should!

Mongolian Beef (from Handle the Heat)
Serves 2 (can easily be doubled to serve 4)
From Elly Says Opa who adapted from Pink Bites
Note: Some readers have suggested tossing in broccoli during the last five minutes of cooking, making this more of a wholesome one pot meal. 

  • 2/3 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain (Jenn note – I used some thin sliced ribeye that I cut into small bite size pieces)
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 3 tsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. (heaping) red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 large scallions, sliced

1. Pat the steak pieces with a paper towel to get rid of any moisture. Toss the steak and cornstarch together; shake of excess cornstarch using a fine strainer.
2. Mix together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl or large measuring cup.
3. Heat half the oil in a wok or large fry-pan at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer back to the bowl or measuring cup.
4. Turn the heat up on the wok and add the remaining oil. Add the beef and cook, stirring until just browned.
5. Pour the sauce back in and let it cook with the meat. Simmer for around 5 minutes or until thickened. Place beef mixture on top of a bed of brown rice and garnish with scallions. Serve with a side of steamed veggies dolloped with leftover soy sauce mixture (or see note above).

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There, you’re all caught up on the latest food files, now. Happy cooking!

XOXO,
Jenn

Weekend Recap–Two a Days

Most people would agree that running is a sport – but maybe not a “game.” But if you run, you know it’s very much a game. A mental game. I’m really good at the mental game. You see, when I picture myself running, I’m really good at it. When I think “I can run 5 miles,” it seems totally doable and easy, even. 5 miles, that’s nothing.

Then I go try it – and I run three and end up walking…a lot. And cussing even more. I tell myself, “it’s mental. Suck it up.” And I just feel like barfing and like I might pass out.

So yeah, I’m really good at the mental game of running – just not while I’m actually running.

Granted, I waited to run until about 10 a.m. this morning and it was much, much warmer than I’ve run in yet this year. Gag. That first hot run of the year is always so humbling.

Cool down on the back porch, with Callie Cat.

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Back it up – weekend recap.

But first, last Thursday y’all, I made homemade pizza that was AH-mazing. You must try this pizza if you like these ingredients. My friend Kim posted it, so I’ll link to her blog for the recipe, but you have GOT to try this – goat cheese, jalapeño and prosciutto pizza.

Recipe here.

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Rog is out of town – he comes home tomorrow, yay! But I managed to have a lovely weekend doing whatever I wanted.

This fell out of my Kindle cover when I read last night. Aw. 🙂

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Friday was my one year anniversary at my job. I am so lucky to be there and OH EM GEE I am so glad that I’m not selling insurance any longer. That was what I thought about on Friday – was just how fortunate I feel to be doing what I love and actually working in the field that I studied in and earned a degree in, all for a great company.

Anniversary flowers from the boss lady. Very, very nice and lovely. 🙂

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Friday night my friend Kim and I went to a yoga class at Sanctuary Yoga in Green Hills. It was a level 1/level 2 class, which the website said any beginner with a firm understanding of the basics could complete just fine. Well, I’ve never taken a single yoga class, so I just hoped for the best. I was joking with Kim before class that I hoped my “dead pigeon” and “backwards dog” didn’t embarrass her. (P.S. those aren’t real yoga moves.)

The class ended up being “intermediate,” and I was POURING sweat before it was halfway over. Lawd. The instructor was super awesome and came around and helped me several times. Probably he was secretly taking my pulse to see if I was about to die on his watch. Overall, it was a great experience and I’d definitely do it again. I think I’d benefit from a couple of super beginner classes though. Namaste.

The best part of our yoga outing was going to eat at Pei Wei afterwards. I’ll workout for food any time.

Saturday I ran a couple of errands and then showered up and got all professional looking, because I was part of a panel of presenters at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) regional conference at Belmont that afternoon. I was pretty honored that someone thought I was a “Young PR Pro,” which was the name of the session me and three other young geniuses led. It was really fun and we had some great discussion – talking about tips for interviewing, getting experience in PR, how to succeed in the business, etc. The students were so eager to learn from us and I even connected with a couple of the eager beavers on Twitter afterwards and hope to keep in touch.

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Saturday evening I watched My Week with Marilyn. It was fine – Michelle Williams is absolutely captivating. But it really just made me so annoyed with Marilyn Monroe. The movie portrays her as such a terrible actress who was a royal pain in the rear for everyone who had to work with her. She was never on time, a lover of pills and a huge whorebag. We all knew that already, but MAN she is annoying. So, eh, it was ok – if not for Michelle Williams and her amazing acting skills, it would have sucked big time.

Today, hence the title of this post, I got up and ran a few miles (walked, too). Then I had a meeting downtown for the Jr. Chamber’s 13th Annual Ragin’ Cajun Crawfish Boil. Get yo’ tickets if you haven’t already.

Downtown was beautiful today. The weather was great (for standing around, not running).

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Then, I went to BarreAmped class. Y’all – if you have not been to one of these, I highly suggest you do. My friend Jess teaches here in Nashville and I go to the studio on Music Row, but there are several locations or even similar Barre classes in your area, probably. But BarreAmped is where it’s at in Nashville. Lawd, I’ve never had such a butt kicking.

So, I’m officially ready to relax and enjoy my Sunday evening before another full week. Whew. I hope your weekend was lovely – and that you have a productive, happy week.

Since I know you can’t get enough, here are a few photos of the most beautiful fur baby ever.

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Baby girl loves an open window. She had the best Saturday going in and out her “kitty door.”

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The end!

XOXO,
Jenn

Sweet Tater

This morning I had this for breakfast.

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Pancake Pantry. My new favorite Friday morning activity, even more so than sleeping. Mind you, I did have 3 very sweaty Music Row miles as an appetizer, so it’s not all fun and games.

Happy Friday, little nuggets. Hope you are as delighted as I am about this fact.

XOXO,
Jenn

Pinterest Recipe Success

What did we women do in the kitchen before Pinterest? Read cookbooks? That’s so 2010.

I had a few recent MAJOR recipe successes via Pinterest and wanted to share. They are delicious.

Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia —

Recipe here. http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-ginger-a-24737 

This one was amaaaazing. We actually tried it with salmon the first night, and had it later in the week with tilapia. It was awesome with both.

I used ground ginger, by the way. 

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Next was Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, Tomatoes and Basil.

Recipe here: http://www.fortheloveofcooking.net/2011/06/panko-crusted-chicken-stuffed-with-ricotta-spinach-tomatoes-and-basil.html

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SO good. I didn’t brown it in the skillet though, because all of the guts would have fallen out. (Mine wasn’t as beautiful as the above). So I just drizzled a little olive oil on the panko and turned on the broiler for the last couple of minutes so it browned.

Finally, we had Linguine with Garlicky Breadcrumbs last night, as a side dish.

Recipe here: http://www.famfriendsfood.com/2008/09/linguine-with-garlicky-bread-crumbs.html

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We looooved these. We don’t eat a lot of pasta. But we used whole wheat spaghetti for this recipe instead of linguine, and it was so yummy. The lemon juice and olive oil was so much lighter than a heavy pasta dish. Rog was a big fan.

That’s all for now, foodies.

Do you believe all of this buzz about Pinterest potentially being a cesspool for lawsuits? I don’t know what to think – but don’t want to be caught in the Napster of 2012, so I definitely have mixed feelings and have pondered shutting down my account. We shall see, I guess.

XOXO,
Jenn

Buttermilk Roasted Chicken and Photo a Day Challenge — Day 6, Dinner

I’m combining two things into this post – a new recipe and the next installment of February’s Photo a Day Challenge, because I like to multi-task like that.

Today’s topic was “Dinner.” Convenient, since I made a new recipe last night and wanted to share with you.

I give you Buttermilk Roasted Chicken from the Smitten Kitchen. I saw this recipe on one of my favorite daily reads, Running Off the Reeses.

Not gonna lie – this recipe was delish. But I kind of excepted it to absolutely knock me off my chair, the way people were talking about it. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wouldn’t be my last meal in prison. (The yard stick by which we should measure all meals, really).

But, try it – anything soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours cannot be bad. You may love it. And I’ll definitely give it another shot, too. I think next time I’ll grill them – although that buttermilk will be a hot mess on the grill and I’ll probably burn the deck right off the back of the house. Whatev.

So, from Smitten Kitchen, but with my photos. Hers are much prettier – so scoot on over to her blog if you really want to be inspired to make this dish.

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

This recipe was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s version. I fiddled a lot, changing the spices and sweetener, though my biggest changes were to increase the salt, garlic and marinating time. If you wish to use Kosher salt instead of table salt use 2 tablespoons if using Diamond kosher salt and 1 1/4 tablespoons if using Morton kosher. (Here’s why). I imagine that going forward I’ll be using this technque as a springboard for a lot of different recipes and spice combinations. However, even when using the simplest recipe below, the chicken was unbelievably tender and flavorful.

2 cups buttermilk
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus extra for sprinkling (I used Hungarian, a smoked one would also be delicious)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken parts (we used all legs)
Drizzle of olive oil
Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish

Whisk buttermilk with garlic, table salt, sugar, paprika and lots of freshly ground black pepper in a bowl.

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Place chicken parts in a gallon-sized freezer bag (or lidded container) and pour buttermilk brine over them, then swish it around so that all parts are covered. Refrigerate for at least 2 but preferably 24 and up to 48 hours.

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(The Kindle Fire – the modern day cookbook).

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When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil (not absolutely necessary, but Nigella suggested it and I never minded having dish that cleaned up easily). Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and arrange in dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste. Roast for 30 minutes (for legs; approximately 35 to 40 for breasts), until brown and a bit scorched in spots. Serve immediately.

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XOXO,
Jenn