Watermelon Pops

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop

These popsicles will only taste as good as the watermelon you start with, so start with a sweet, flavorful one. Oh, and you can omit the vodka, if you want.

A roughly 3-pound (1.5-kg) chunk of watermelon
½ cup (100 grams) sugar
Big pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons vodka (optional)

Cut away and discard the rind of the watermelon, and cut the flesh into cubes. Chuck the cubes into a blender or food processor, and process until liquefied. Pour through a strainer (to remove seeds) into a large measuring cup. You should have about 3 cups (750 ml) of watermelon juice. (If you have more, well, drink up! Or freeze for future use.)

In a small, nonreactive saucepan, warm about ½ cup (125 ml) of the watermelon juice with the sugar and then salt, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, and stir this syrup into the remaining 2 ½ cups (625 ml) watermelon juice. Mix in the lime juice and vodka, if using. Taste, and add more lime juice, if you want, or more salt. You shouldn’t taste the salt; it’s just there to intensify the watermelon flavor.

Chill the mixture thoroughly – if the watermelon was refrigerator-cold when you started the process, this won’t take long – and then pour it into your popsicle mold of choice. (I used this.) If you have more mixture than will fit in your popsicle molds, drink it, or for mini-pops(!) and other fun stuff, freeze it in ice-cube trays.

Yield: about 10 pops


TK's Hot Buttered Chicken

Adapted from Thomas Keller, Bouchon, and Epicurious

One 2- to 3-pound chicken, at room temperature for an hour or so, if possible
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
Unsalted butter
Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Dry the chicken very well with paper towels, inside and out. Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird with twine. Trussing is not hard, and you really can wing it – or you can watch the videos here, or elsewhere on the Web. In any case, the idea is that the wings and legs stay close to the body, and the meaty part of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. I am not a pro trusser, but as long as I tie the legs together and keep them tucked up tight, I figure I’m fine.

Now, salt the chicken. Thomas Keller likes to “rain” the salt over the bird, so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin. He uses about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. I didn’t measure mine. You should use enough that, when it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper, if you want. I don’t usually pepper my roasted chickens.

Place the chicken breast-up in a sauté pan or roasting pan. Slide it into the oven. Keller says to leave it alone — no basting, no added fat. Roast it until a thermometer stuck in the meatiest part of the thigh registers 165°F, 40 to 60 minutes. (I use a Thermapen: not cheap, but a little bit life-changing.) Remove it from the oven, and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Spoon the juices and thyme over the chicken, and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Carve or cut into pieces, however you like. The preparation is not meant to be fancy. Slather the still-hot meat with butter. Serve with mustard on the side.

Yield: enough for 2 to 4 people


Honey-and-Spice Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt

Adapted from Plenty More

This recipe halves easily, and I’ll bet it also doubles well. And if you use a scale to measure the ingredients by weight, it comes together very, very fast. Oh, and though the original version calls for Greek yogurt, I prefer regular plain yogurt, so that’s what I keep around, and it worked just fine.

To toast the coriander and cumin seeds, put a small skillet over medium heat, add the seeds (only one type at a time; they’ll probably toast at different rates), and stay nearby, shaking the pan occasionally. They’re ready when they smell fragrant. Remove them from the heat immediately, and crush them coarsely in a mortar and pestle or under the side of a knife. Repeat with the other type of seeds.

For yogurt sauce:

Scant 3 tablespoons (40 grams) tahini, such as Joyva brand
2/3 cup (130 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
Generous pinch of kosher salt, such as Diamond Crystal brand

For carrots:

Scant 3 tablespoons (60 grams) honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or a generous pinch of dried thyme
3 pounds (1.3 kilograms) carrots, peeled and cut into index-finger-sized batons
1 ½ tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped or not
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk well. Set aside while you roast the carrots.

Combine the honey, oil, coriander and cumin seeds, and thyme in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk as well as you can; the honey might make it pretty goopy. Add the carrots, and mix until well coated. (I found it easiest to do this with my hands, since the honey wanted to clump instead of coat the carrots.) Dump the carrots onto the prepared sheet pan, and arrange them evenly in a single layer. Roast, stirring gently once or twice, until they are cooked through and glazed, 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve the carrots warm or at room temperature, with a good spoonful of sauce on top or smeared on the plate underneath them. Scatter with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings