Travelogue: Empire State South in Atlanta

When I first started this whole dumb little food blogging idea, I had a dreamy idea that I’d talk about some of the clutch restaurants I visit while traveling. Well ya know those instagram vs reality memes? Yup, basically my writing life. I had a sexy vision of coming back to my standard issue hotel room and actually using the desk and Ethernet cord to talk about the meal I just ate. Instead I crashed at 9:00 pm sharp while watching Catfish.

Anywho…one of my all time favorite places to eat in Atlanta is Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South. I first learned of Hugh on Top Chef…he’s the guest judge with a unibrow and a funny little voice. After catching his season of Top Chef Masters I bought both of Hugh’s cookbooks: A New Turn In The South focuses on reimagined southern cuisine, but the one that really lit my fire was The Broad Fork, all about cooking with the seasons. Hugh Acheson is a master of vegetables, and it’s inspiring.

Empire State South’s entrance is quite literally a coffee shop, and the low lighting, rustic wood motif, and cozy feel is featured throughout. An outdoor bocce ball court nods to the restaurant’s southern theme. The menu’s divided into small plates and mains, all meant to be consumed family style. The menu is driven heavily by seasonal vegetables, including obscure fixins’ like sunchokes, seabeans, ferns, and morels. They offer a huge variety of proteins, from fish to octopus to lamb to offal. Since it’s been like 3 weeks I don’t remember exactly what was in everything I ordered, but there are two things you absolutely MUST order if you ever go there:

  • A Front Porch cocktail. The lead liquer in it is something called Amaro (by the brand Lucano). It’s a bitter and sweet aperitif in the same family as aperol and campari. I love the drink enough that our waitress talked the bartender into writing down the recipe for me:

Last weekend, me and my gal pal Tori tried to recreate it (luckily my dude Greg brought me a bottle of grapefruit pamplemousse liquer a few months ago) but with Amaretto instead of Amaro (the liquor store didn’t carry Amaro but my friend at the store believed the flavor profile would be somewhat similar). It was sweeter and more almond-y than ESS’s cocktail, but still DELICIOUS!

  • The Farm Egg. Worth the cost of a round trip. Seriously! The egg actually is more of a supporting role–the absolute STAR of this dish is the bed of the most crunchy rice I’ve ever tasted. You know the delicious crispy bottom on paella, or the perfect bite of fried rice from a hibachi? This is like that, but on crack. After much badgering, the waitress told me that to make it they rinse the rice to remove excess starch, cook it to al-dente, spread it on a roasting pan to dry for a few hours, then throw the rice in a deep fryer. Every single grain of rice is crispy and perfect. Sweet baby Jesus this stuff is what dreams are made of.

We ordered a delicious and fresh octopus ceviche along with the farm egg for our starters. For our mains, I got a crispy skinned sea bass with green beans and flash fried okra, my sister got a sausage and shishito number, and my dad got ribeye with peaches. All extremely shareable, just how I like my fancy meals. If you ever find yourself in ATL, Empire State South is well worth a visit.

Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Shishito Salsa and Chili Oil, and how to make pureed veggie soups without a recipe

I’m one of those weirdos who really, really likes purees. Basically baby food with salt, cream, and butter to make things delicious. I’ll eat them as a side, as a sauce, as a garnish, as a soup. Mmmm, soup. And guess what? They’re super easy to make, so you should love them too.

Veggie based creamy soups include the same elements. Keep these in mind:

  • Aromatics. Usually mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery) and garlic. Leeks, shallots, ginger, or occasionally bell peppers are used in this application too. Don’t leave this out. ALL good things start with mirepoix (or at least garlic and onions).
  • The Main Veg. Cauliflower today, broccoli if I was hankering for a Panera knock-off. Whole canned San Marzano tomatoes are popular in the Triniwood house. Sweet potato, russets, or beans are great hearty choices. Spinach or kale if you’re a certain kind of psycho. Other good choices are carrots, split peas, corn, asparagus, mushrooms, or parsnips.
  • A Thickening Agent. Usually people would used a roux (butter and flour, like you’re making gravy) but lately I’ve been leaving this out in favor of using less broth and letting the natural veggie texture do its thang. Definitely saves me some calories. Another low calorie option that will give your soup some body is to cook in a diced potato with the rest of the veg. Some people use cornstarch or tapioca starch or some ish, but I’m not a fan of the gummy texture they impart. ALWAYS use less broth than you think you’ll need–you can always add more, but its difficult to take liquid away.
  • Extra Flavors. This part is important in creating a well balanced soup. A splash of orange juice adds a sweet acidity to tomato soup, bacon fat adds a good smokiness to potato or bean based soups, curry tastes delicious in carrot or sweet potato, and the cheese is what makes broccoli worth stinking up your kitchen (hah!). This is the hardest part of making soup, because you have to have a bit of savvy to know when to introduce these flavors to the party. We’ll get to that later.
  • The Creamy Part. AKA the BEST part. Favorite agents for this are half and half, sour cream, Greek yogurt, butter, and coconut milk. Or, again, you could be a health nut and leave this part out, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Purée. An immersion blender is easy, but I prefer my Vitamix for the silkiest soups. Leave the soup a little chunky if that’s how you like it! Run it through a strainer before serving if you’re real crazy.
  • Garnish. Croutons are ye ol’ standby, but cream, infused oil, some sort of little salad or salsa, or the star veggie in a different preparation are all excellent. Garnishes add textural contrast and a pleasant top note flavor.

The roasted shishito salsa was a bit of a happy coincidence. I specifically made it to serve alongside meat for a BBQ I hosted last weekend, then realized how damn delicious it tasted. Plus, it’s a clever way to re-purpose leftover shishito appetizers I’m often stuck with. Gonna bust that one out frequently.

You’ll Need

  • An onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced (I saved the leaves on top to garnish my soup with, #roottoleaf)
  • A head of cauliflower, cut into large chunks (cauliflower is softer to cut than you think, just get in there)
  • Leftover bacon fat (olive oil is fine too)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (or water and buillion cubes)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • A big splash of half and half
  • Shishito peppers (as much or as little as you have on hand)
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Chili oil (optional)


  1. Put about a tablespoon of bacon fat (or a few good glugs of olive oil) in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Sweat the veggies for 8-10 minutes, until veggies have softened a bit and onions are translucent. Add the cauliflower, chicken broth, and a dash of kosher salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let bubble away for about 25 minutes. Alternatively, you could do this in an Instant Pot and pressure cook for 15 minutes.
  2. While the soup is simmering, toss the shishitos in olive oil and kosher salt, and place in a hot pan (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Stir every minute or so until they’ve softened with black spots all over, breaking up into batches if you need to to ensure you aren’t crowding the pan.
  3. Remove shishitos and place on a cutting board, letting them sit until cool enough to handle. Use a knife to chop off the stems, then rough chop the shishitos into slightly uneven, bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl and toss with a few good glugs of olive oil and a healthy splash of red wine vinegar. Taste and add more salt or vinegar if it needs it. Set aside until ready to use. PS: this can be done in advance and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. PPS: this “salsa” would taste awesome over steak, chicken, pork, or fish, spooned over cream or goat cheese and served with crackers, tossed into a salad or with roasted veggies, or served with eggs.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool for 10-15 minutes or so. Puree with a stick blender, or in a regular blender in batches (be sure to hold down the lid with a towel, a hot soup explosion would be a disaster). Pour back into the pot and stir in the half and half, some fresh cracked black pepper, and kosher salt to taste.
  5. Serve soup with shishito peppers, chopped celery leaves, and chili oil as garnish.

Remix The Dish: For broccoli cheese soup, mix a few handfuls of cheese in with the half and half and add white pepper. For mushroom soup, omit the carrots and celery and add dried porcini mushrooms in with the onions instead, and use 4 pints of fresh mushrooms and use 3 cups of broth. 2 bundles of asparagus should do for asparagus soup, and use greek yogurt or sour cream as the creamy element. Bacon and crouton garnish would taste awesome with split pea, bean, or white potato soup. I love making carrot or sweet potato soup with red curry paste and ginger added in while the aromatics saute, lemongrass and honey while it simmers, then add coconut milk right before you puree. A fall favorite of mine is pumpkin beer cheese soup, which sounds nuts but tastes awesome. Use a large can of pumpkin puree instead of the cauliflower, reduce the broth to 2 cups and stir in a whole bottle of ale mid-simmer, then add some cheddar after you puree. Garnish with croutons and fried sage leaves.

Braised 5-Spice Lamb Shanks

Don’t freak out. You can do it!! Something I love about braising big meat is that it’s basically the same technique every time. Follow this method with chuck roast, short ribs, pork shoulder, or lamb shanks, and you’ll get that delicious fall-apart meat you can’t help but crave on cold Sunday nights. Yes I realize its currently 100 degrees outside, but lamb shanks were on sale at Sprouts and I’m not going to let an opportunity like that pass me by.

Here’s the basic steps home cooks need to remember for a clutch braise:

  1. Start with a hard sear. Get your frying pan or dutch oven ripping hot with about a tablespoon of oil, aggressively season your meat, then brown the meat on all sides. When you’re done, set it aside on a plate. See that brown stuff leftover in the pan? That right there is money! Loads of flavor packed into those little bits so DO NOT wash your pan.
  2. Add flavor elements. This is when you want to add your aromatics, veggies, tomato paste, spices, etc. Let them sweat, toast, and bloom, and allow for some more delicious browned goodness to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Deglaze. This is most commonly done with wine, but beer, vinegar, or another flavored liquid may be used. Pour it right into your cooking vessel and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The browned bits (aka fond if we’re being fancy and cheffy) will dissolve into the cooking liquid and make everything flavorful.
  4. Low and slow cooking. Put the meat (and any accumulated juices) back in the cooking vessel and add enough broth so that the meat is about 80% of the way covered with liquid. Crack the heat up to high until its just boiling. From here, you have a few options. If it’s in a dutch oven, throw a lid on it and move to an oven set at 300-325 degrees F for around 2-4 hours (depending on what kind and how big your meat is). If you planned on using a slow cooker, transfer it over (carefully, that ish is hot!) and let it braise on low for around 8 hours. If you planned on using an Instant Pot/pressure cooker, well you should have done all the previous steps in the vessel itself, and now its time to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes or so.

Remember these steps. These are the basic fundamental techniques you can riff on. Today I spiced my lamb shanks with 5-Spice powder and ginger because I’ve been craving those flavors, but it easily converts to French, Italian, British, or Persian flavors. I’ll get to that part later.

You’ll Need

  • 3-5 lamb shanks, one per person plus enough for leftovers if that’s how you roll
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Chinese 5-Spice
  • A small onion, diced 
  • A carrot, diced
  • A stalk of celery, diced
  • A clove of garlic, minced
  • A tablespoon of minced ginger or ginger paste
  • 1/2 a cup of whatever wine you have leftover in your fridge
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or water and bullion cubes, whatever
  • 4-5 springs of fresh herbs, rosemary and thyme are good
  • Rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, couscous…whatever you want to soak up the yummy sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Throw the lamb shanks in a bowl and toss with the 5 Spice and several large pinches of salt. Put your dutch oven on medium high and drizzle in some oil. When the oil’s screaming hot, GENTLY place the meat in the pan with tongs. Sear on all sides (that means 4 sides, not 2) for 3 minutes or so per side, so there’s a nice brown caramelization (brown = flavor). Put the shanks on a plate and set aside.
  2. In the vessel that you seared the lamb in, lower the heat to medium and add the onions, carrots, and celery (hey, that’s called a mirepoix!). Let the veggies soften and sweat for 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and leftover 5 Spice powder you tossed with the lamb, and let it all toast for 3-4 more minutes, stirring constantly. There should be lots of crusty brown bits at the bottom of your pan. Your house smells awesome right now.
  3. Add wine to your pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of your pan. The liquid will make this super easy! (PS remember this little method next time you have a mess of a stubborn pan to clean–heat with a splash of water and go to work!). 
  4. Add the broth, herbs, lamb, and any accumulated juices back to the cooking vessel, and crank the heat until the liquid boils. Cut the heat, cover, and transfer to the oven. Check the meat after an hour and a half–you want it tender and falling off the bone. Remove the lid and let braise for 15-30 minutes longer. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving over your chosen starch, with the sauce and veggies drizzled on top.

Remix The Dish: there’s a million flavor profiles you can tack on to the shanks. Here’s a few ideas (for all of these, leave out the 5 Spice and ginger):

  • French – deglaze with red wine, up the amount of fresh herbs
  • Italian – saute tomato paste with the veg, deglaze with red or white wine, stir in plenty of dried or fresh oregano
  • British – deglaze with Guinness and stir in a couple tablespoons of Dijon mustard before simmering
  • Persian – dust the shanks with cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and cardamom, deglaze with warm water steeped with saffron threads. Garnish with mint.

I made Persian shanks a few years ago and threw it up on instagram. The yellow hue comes from the turmeric and saffron. So money.

Grilled Pork Chops with Mustard Brussels Sprouts and Blueberry Gastrique

I kinda stumbled into this dish. I’ve been traveling and didn’t want a bag of blueberries I got in my farm bag to go to waste, so I started out making them into a syrup I could freeze and use for cocktails, desserts, or pancakes down the road. After I had it jarred and ready to go, I realized how awesome it would taste with the dinner I had whipped up. Boom roasted, an okay dinner into a clutch one with a simple good idea.

A gastrique is basically just a sweet and sour fruit sauce. This version is pretty basic (just a weeknight dinner) but you can fancy up the sauce with garlic, shallots, and herbs if you’re feeling it. The tangy sauce tasted great with the smokey pork chops, and the sweetness complimented the spicy mustard and vegetal Brussels sprouts. For a meal on the fly, it turned out super balanced!

You’ll Need:

  • Pork chops, thick cut
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of course grain dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil, plus some
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (red wine vinegar is my default, but apple cider or even white would do in a pinch)
  • A pint or so of blueberries
  • 3/4 cup or so of sugar
  • Lemon juice (the vinegar you used earlier would be fine if you don’t have a lemon)
  • Brussels sprouts (eyeball it…I used like 8 big ones for 2 portion sizes and still had some leftover)
  • Smoked turkey leg (crumbled bacon would be ideal, I just didn’t have any at the time. Or leave this out, totally not a necessary component. You can find these at most grocery stores near the bacon and sausage. They’re super cheap too!)


  1. In a jar, shake together the mustard, olive oil, honey, and a pinch of salt. Salt and pepper both sides of your pork chops, and pour some of the dressing on top of the pork chops to marinade. You don’t need a ton, but enough so that all surfaces of the pork chops receive some lovin’. Leave on a plate to soak in the flavors while you work on the rest of the meal. Add the vinegar to the unused dressing and shake to combine. Set aside.
  2. Throw the berries and half a cup of water, and the sugar into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then use a potato masher to break up the berries and release their juices. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, then taste, taste, taste. Does it need more tang? Add more lemon. Is it too cloyingly sweet? Add another pinch of salt. Too thick? Splash in some water. If you’re feeling adventurous, add some fresh thyme or rosemary! Let bubble and thicken on low for 10-15 minutes, checking often to make sure you like the taste and consistency. If you want your fruit sauce chunky, use it as is. If you want it more homogeneous, toss into a blender. If you’re just nuts like I am, blend then pour it through a fine-mesh strainer. This will keep well in the fridge for a week or pretty much forever in the freezer.
  3. Trim the stalky bottom of the Brussels sprouts off and cut into quarters. Use a small knife and your hands to strip the meat the smoked turkey leg, and roughly chop the meat. You’ll have a ton extra, which I like to throw in a jar and freeze to use on other occasions such as this. I also freeze the leftover bone to make stock from, but I also realize that I’m kinda insane. Hashtag nose to tail.
  4. Turn your grill on medium high heat. While the grill is heating up, drizzle the bottom of a frying pan with some olive oil over medium heat and saute the Brussels, making sure they get some nice caramelization on them before stirring around so their opposite sides get some color. After a few minutes, toss in a handful of the smoked turkey.
  5.  Grill the pork chops 2-3 minutes on each side for some clutch grill marks, then move to indirect heat until they’re finished. Be sure to cut into one and check before serving…the only thing worse than overcooked pork is undercooked pork. If you’re using a termometer (you should) I like my pig around 155 degrees, but apparently new studied say 145 is safe to eat.
  6. Once the Brussels sprouts are cooked to your liking (I dig them tender-crisp), take the pan off the heat and stir in several spoonfuls of the mustard vinaigrette, tasting often and adjusting for salt if it needs it. Plop a pile on a plate, lean a pork chop up against them, and drizzle the gastrique around it.

Remix the dish: Use this same technique to turn strawberries, cherries, peaches, blackberries, or raspberries into a syrup. Mix them into cocktails, drizzle over ice cream, or eat with pancakes, french toast, or biscuits.

If you wanted to go real fancy with the sauce, treat it like a pan sauce  and simmer it in a frying pan with shallots, garlic, herbs, and some butter. I just wasn’t into putting that much effort into it that night.

If you’re strapped for time and just want something sweet, fruity, and tangy for a dish, throw a few big scoops of good jam into a frying pan, thin with water, and heat with a dash of salt and some dried herbs/garlic powder. Poor man’s sauce!

Chrissy Teigan’s Coconut Rice

Warning: this stuff is clutch. Can’t-stop-eating kind of delish. Salty and sweet coconut is crack to me. One of my all-time favorite desserts in the world is the delicious sticky rice with slices of mango on top from Thai restaurants. While this won’t yield the same desserty richness or al dente bite of official sticky rice (future post for sure) this is an excellent approximation that captures those same flavors in a savory application. Plus, this recipe is super easy, only takes about 20 minutes, and doesn’t require the soaking and steaming and special equipment that real Thai coconut rice calls for. Niiice.

I modified this recipe from one in Chrissy Teigan’s cookbook. She suggests serving it alongside a pineapple short rib offering. I think it’d taste clutch with any grilled teriyaki chicken, fish, shrimp, or steak, fried pork chops, stir fried veggies, or jerk chicken. I had some various garden goodies I didn’t know what to do with, so I threw them all in a roasting pan at 425 degrees until they were tender-crisp and served with ponzu sauce over the rice. The next day, I ate the rice with some Trader Joe’s shrimp dumplings that I steamed and drizzled with chili oil. It’s a blank palate…but not *too* blank.

You’ll Need

  • 1 1/2 cups of Jasmine rice
  • 1 can of coconut milk. The regular full fat stuff, not the lite version or the milk substitute. The thick creamy delicious stuff.
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt


  1. Put the rice in a strainer and give it a good rinse in the sink. Put the rice in a medium saucepan with the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and fill the empty coconut milk can full of water and pour that in too. The coconut milk will have probably separated in the can into a thick white semi-solid layer and a clear liquidy layer–that’s totally cool! It’ll all become homogenous once the rice heats up.
  2. Bring the rice mixture to a boil over high heat and give it a good stir. Reduce to low, cover the pot, and let barely simmer for 20 minutes. (If you lost the proper lid to your saucepan, you can Macgyver one out of foil). Uncover and stir the liquid layer back into the rice with a fork, fluffing as you go. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 more minutes.

Remix The Dish: to reheat the rice to eat with leftovers, microwave it for a minute or two with the rice covered with a damp paper towel. My momma taught me that trick!! It rehydrates the rice so it won’t taste all hard and mealy.

You could also make a poor man’s version of the delicious Thai coconut rice dessert by adding an extra 1/4 cup of sugar to the rice, and simmering another can of coconut milk with 1/2 a cup of sugar, a teaspoon of corn starch, and several big pinches of salt. Serve the rice with fresh fruit, a generous drizzle of the coconut sauce, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

The one where we talk about Roasted Chicken and Pan Sauce

There’s such beauty in the simplicity of a great roasted chicken breasts, hugged by a sauce generated from its own comforting flavors. (Ugh I think that was the most Pioneer Woman-esque sentence I’ve ever written). That being said…for a simple dish, there are a lot of steps needed to bang this out and a handful of places where it can all go wrong. Don’t worry though, ya girl Chelsea’s here to troubleshoot for you. Here’s the four main things to keep in mind:

  • The Cut. This recipe is not for boring and deceptively expensive boneless skinless breasts. Chicken thighs and legs are delicious, but for another post. You need skin-on split breasts for this–don’t worry, I’ll show you how to de-bone them.
  • Get A Thermometer Already! Your chicken, steaks, pork chops, everything you sear, grill, or roast will never taste good until you shell out the whole $15 for an oven-safe thermometer on a wire, so you can check the temperature without having to constantly open and close the oven. Plus you can set an alarm, so you’ll know the very second your meat comes to temperature. One of the most important tools you can have! It’s the trick to having perfectly done, moist meat.
  • The Pan Sauce. Yup, that mystical and delicious thang. I’ll be honest, even with a little help from my buddies gelatin and cornstarch (thanks Kenji!) it still sometimes doesn’t thicken up the way I want it to.  If I were REALLY looking for a viscous gravy I could take a roux thickening approach, but that will yield a really heavy sauce. Unless you’re serving mashed potatoes it’s really unnecessary. Your pan sauce will still pack an awesome punch of flavor even if it doesn’t turn into a restaurant-like syrupy glaze.
  • Time. Because there’s butchery and chopping of vegetation involved, plan for about 45 mins to an hour for this to all come together. Good things can’t be rushed!

You’ll Need

  • Skin on split chicken breasts, one per person
  • Kosher salt and several grinds of pepper
  • Olive oil
  • A small shallot
  • A clove of garlic
  • 1/2 a cup of white wine
  • 1/2 a cup of chicken broth
  • 1 packet of gelatin (optional but helpful)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • A little cornstarch
  • Soy sauce (trust)
  • Honey 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of fresh herbs, whatever is at hand (parsley, chives, tarragon, dill, or rosemary)

The Method

  1. Set the oven for 425 degrees F. Pour the chicken broth into a cup with the gelatin, whisking together with a fork. It’ll need some time to gently re-hydrate. Chop the shallots, garlic, and herbs.
  2. Nextt we’ve got to de-bone the chicken. Basically, you’re going to make a diagonal slice through the chicken, as close to the bones as possible, in fluid strokes so the portion doesn’t get all hacked up. Hold the sharpest knife you have with your dominant hand, and wrap the other hand in a towel, using it to stabilize the meat. Go slowly, separating the breast and the bones like a book. When you’re almost all the way through, your knife will hit a small rogue bone–use small controlled cuts to gently remove it. Now you’ve got yourself a skin on chicken breast, just like the restaurants! Okay not like the restaurants, if this is your first time doing this is probably looks like an uneven piece of crap. It gets wayyyy easier with practice, you’ll be an expert in no time. Flip the chicken over, there will be a distinctive “loose” section. That would be the chicken tender. Pull that off and throw in a plastic bag in the fridge to cook later in the week. Coincidentally, it should make your chicken portion more even! Even meat = even cooking. Check out this link for more in-depth instructions.
  3. Toss a few good glugs of olive oil in an oven-safe frying pan and set it over medium heat. Salt and pepper both sides of your newly butchered chicken breasts and put them in the pan, skin side down. Fry until the skin is golden and crisp, about 5-6 minutes. You’ll know when it’s ready because the chicken will release easily from the pan, not sticking at all. Monitor this stage carefully–you want golden chicken skin, not burned! Flip the chicken over, insert your thermometer into the center of the thickest part of one of the breasts, then cook until the thermometer hits 158 degrees F. Remove from the oven and set on a plate or a cutting board to rest for 10-15 minutes, or however long it takes you to make the pan sauce. The chicken’s temperature will spike another 10 degrees or so as it sits, finishing the chicken then redistributing the juices as it cools. Note: if you’re cooking for a big crowd, you can skip the frying pan part and stick the seasoned chicken skin-side up in a roasting straight into the oven. Broil the last few minutes of cook time to get that crunchy, golden brown skin. The pan sauce will turn out a little less chicken-y, but that’s a small sacrifice if you’re entertaining.
  4. Set the same chicken pan over medium heat with some olive oil and whatever is left in the pan (all that juice, chicken fat, and browned bits are a flavor goldmine!). Keep an oven mitt handy for adjusting the pan–the handle will be super hot! Sauté the shallot in the pan for 8 minutes, adding the garlic for the last 2. Add the wine, and use a wooden spoon or a whisk to scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. (PS, this is called deglazing!!). Add the gelatin-y broth, crank up heat to medium high, and let the liquid bubble and reduce by about half.
  5. Drop the butter into a small bowl of cornstarch so it’s nice and coated with it, then add to the pan sauce along with a splash of soy sauce (umami bomb!) and a little drizzle of honey. Let the cold butter bubble with the sauce, at a hard boil for at least 30 seconds. Cut the heat, then add the chopped herbs, stirring constantly. This sauce will thicken like whoa as it sits, so slice up the chicken and serve soon after you finish. This would be clutch with roasted potatoes, roasted veggies, and a simple salad on the side. Pan sauce love for all!

Remix The Dish: this is the recipe for a classic and simple pan sauce, but there’s a million ways to tweak it depending on what flavor you’re going after. Try adding in Dijon mustard, orange marmalade, blackberry or cherry preserves, red wine, maple syrup, or vinegar. Taste and taste again to identify what’s missing, and use your brain and your pantry to tweak it until it tastes the way you want it to.

Also: here’s a funny little Snapchat video of me making this. The production value is just outstanding.

Super Easy Fruit Galettes

I love a good dessert, but if I’m going to expend the calories it better be a DAMN good dessert. No donuts or office birthday cake for me. Gotta be something clutch. 

I made these galettes last week while my book club girlfrans drank wine and gathered around my kitchen island. A galette is basically a free form pie, which effectively solves the crust-to-filling ratio problem we all bemoan. It was an easy dessert that looks disproportionately gorgeous compared to how fast it comes together. Seriously, if you use fruits that don’t require prep (raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries) it’ll be ready to bake in 3 minutes. This is also one of those recipes that’s great if you have a bunch of fruit that’s passed its prime. The pie application will give them new life!

Borrow one from Sandra Lee’s book and pick up a pre-made pie crust from the refrigerator section of the grocery store. I’ve included a recipe for insanely delicious whipped goat cheese, but no shame in using a tub of Cool Whip or a scoop of Bluebell. This is about getting maximum impact while expending minimal energy. I have lots of gatherings the rest of this 4th of July weekend, so I plan on making about 8 more of these in the next few days.

(Recipe makes 2 galettes. Each galette serves 4 non-dieting people).

You’ll Need

  • 1 package of pre-made pie crusts (should include 2 crusts in the pack. Buy the kind in a flat box, not the ones in a pie crust). 
  • 4 heaping cups of fresh or thawed frozen fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, or a combo (highly recommended) will be good
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz of plain or honey goat cheese, set out for an hour or so, so it’s room temperature
  • 3/4 a cup of heavy cream
  • Fresh mint (optional)


  1. Thaw pie crusts if they’re frozen. Unroll on a lightly floured surface.
  2. If your chosen fruit needs prep work, go ahead an hull strawberries and cut into fourths, rinse berries, sliced peaches into 1 inch pieces, or de-pit cherries. I didn’t have a cherry pitter so I did a whole pint by hand. It was super fun. Put the fruit in a mixing bowl and toss with the sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Divide the fruit mixture in two and plop them in the middle of each of the pie crusts. Some of the powdery mixture will be leftover in the mixing bowl, which is totally fine. Take the edges of the pie crust and gently fold them over each other going in one direction, so it makes kinda a pinwheel with about half of the berries’ total surface area covered. This is supposed to look super rustic, so just go it! No need for do overs.
  4. Beat an egg with a splash of water and brush over the top surface of the pie dough with a brush. If you don’t have a brush, be ratchet and gently drizzle and rub it on with your fingers. You don’t want to skip this step, trust me, your pies will come out all pale and pasty looking. Not great. Bake at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  5. While the pie bakes, whip the goat cheese, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt in your fancy pants Kitchen Aid mixer (or use a hand mixer. If all you have is a whisk I guess you’re fucked). It should be soft and luscious but not super airy, kinda like Cool Whip, and taste like the most delicious thing you’be ever tasted. You can use this goat cheese crema in a million different applications–its light tang tastes amazing with sweet berries, but it would taste amazing in savory dishes like beet salad, on a baked potato, dolloped over a soup, or with any roasted veggie you can think of.
  6. Cut the pies in quarters and serve with the crema and mint leaves for garnish.

*Note: when you bake, it’s almost guaranteed that some of the berry juice will overflow, jacking with the instagram-worthiness of your final product. This my friends is why mint sprigs are you BFFs. Artfully cover them up and you’re good to go.

Remix The Dish: this would be so clutch if you omit the sugar and use cherry tomatoes or carmelized onions as the filling instead. Garnish with basil!