1. Jane Bradley’s Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

    8 pieces of chicken (I use a mix of breasts and legs and thighs, depending on whose coming to the picnic with me—I do aim to custom please my guests. And the chicken is always organic.)

    Brine

    1 quart buttermilk (I like to avoid the low fat variety.  I’m Southern, and tend to believe fat makes everything better.)

    1 cup water

    1/8 cup kosher salt

    1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (What did we do without this stuff?  Used regular hot sauce I suppose.)

    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    1/4 cup honey

    cayenne or hot Hungarian paprika to taste (optional)

    Coating

    3 cups flour

    3 tsp baking powder

    3 Tbsp cornstarch

    1-2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)

    1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper

    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

    1/4 tsp paprika

    2 tsp garlic powder

    2 cups buttermilk

    oil for frying (I confess I use only Crisco for frying chicken and okra too, by the way.You need enough to come about 1/3 of the way up the pot or 2 inches)

    kosher salt for sprinkling (optional)

    Directions

    For the brine: Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large mixing bowl combine buttermilk, and thoroughly stir with a whisk to evenly distribute honey. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Divide all pieces of chicken between two large ziplock bags. Pour half of buttermilk brine in each, close, shake, and place in the refrigerator over night, turning occasionally.

    1-2 hours before you are ready to fry: Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry. Let the chicken come to room temperature, half an hour to one and a half hours, on a cloth towel or paper towels.

    Preheat oven to 350°.  

    Mix all of the ingredients for the coating together in a large bowl, transferring half to a second bowl. (The measurements given for seasonings here are approximate. I season my flour to taste. Yes, I taste the raw flour. It should taste salty and flavorful.) Fill a third bowl with the 2 cups of buttermilk. The easiest way to coat the chicken is to have a line set up: uncoated chicken, flour coating, buttermilk, 2nd bowl of flour coating, wax paper lined baking sheet for the coated chicken. 

    Pour the oil into your pot (preferably an old fashional cast iron skillet on the cast iron enamel variety like Le Crueset). It should come at least two inches and no more than 1/3 of the way up the side of the pot. Turn the heat to low.  (Some use a frying/candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot. But if you’ve fried chicken all your life, you will sense when the oil is hot and ready for frying.)

    Dredge each piece in the coating, dust off all excess, dip into the buttermilk, and then into the second bowl of coating, letting the 2nd coating be clumpier but still patting to get rid of excess that might fall off in the oil. Place coated chicken on the wax paper lined tray. 

    Turn the oil up to high and let it come to about 350° F. Let the coated chicken sit so that the coating will thicken while the oil gets hot. When it reaches temperature, very carefully place 4 pieces of chicken one at a time in the hot oil and fry, adjusting the temperature as needed to maintain a frying temperature between 310° -325° F. Try to keep it around 320°. You start the oil at 350° because when you add the chicken to the hot oil, the temperature will drop. Fry dark meat first, as it takes longer. Fry the chicken for about 13-20 minutes, moving the chicken gently—you don’t want to knock the coating off—after the first five minutes to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom. Be careful to monitor your chicken, watching the oil temperature closely and not letting the chicken get too dark.

    Remove chicken from the oil with a spatular or slotted metal spoon when it is golden brown (metal tongs will knock off your precious coating), and place it on a cooling rack over a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.(optional) Check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Fully cooked chicken will read 160 degrees and can be served then if desired. If it is lower than that, it must be finished in the oven. Fry the second batch and then place it on the rack. Place the rack in the oven for ten minutes. Check the internal temperature to make sure the chicken is cooked through, let rest 10 minutes, and serve hot. If all the chicken is cooked through and you want to keep it hot, you can hold it in a 250 degree oven. 

    Jane Bradley is the author of You Believers.

    Download an excerpt of You Believers.

    Visit Jane Bradley’s website.

  2. Grandma LaBosco’s Picnic Bruschetta—Thank You, Peter Geye

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    My stories are about Norwegians, but an equal part of me is Italian, and it’s to Grandma LaBosco I owe my gift in the kitchen. Though this is a recipe I made up on my own, it’s got her heart in it.

    First, you’ve got to make the pesto.

    1 cup (packed) fresh basil
    1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
    1/4 cup imported romano cheese
    2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
    dash of salt
    dash of pepper
    1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably Italian olive oil…)

    Put it all in a food processor and blend until it’s a paste. Set it aside.

    Next, chop the tomatoes. You’ll need about eight ripe Roma Tomatoes. Cut out the seeds and dice. The smaller you dice them, the better they’ll be.

    Next, dice a quarter of a red onion. Not a yellow onion. Not green onions. I said a red onion.

    Next, dice a half cup of Kalamata olives.

    Then, dice about a half cup of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese.

    Toss the tomatoes, onion, olives, and cheese with the pesto. Garnish with fresh roasted pine nuts and fresh basil and serve on baguette toasts (toast with olive oil and fresh garlic for best results).

    This dish travels anywhere, especially to the park for that last picnic of the year. Enjoy. You’ll thank me later.

    Peter Geye is the author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road.

    Download an excerpt of Safe from the Sea.

    Visit Peter Geye’s website.

  3. Finger-Licking Cherry Balsamic Ribs from Deborah Noyes

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    Finger-Licking Cherry Balsamic Ribs
     
    2 lbs beef braising ribs
    Flour for dusting
    1 T olive oil
    2 stalks celery (chopped)
    1 leek (chopped)
    3 garlic cloves (minced)
    1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    1 cup beef broth
    1 cup fresh cherries
    1/2 t dried thyme
    salt and pepper to taste
     
    Dust ribs with flour and brown in olive oil over high heat on all sides. Add in all other ingredients and bake at 350 for 2-3 hours or slowcook on high for 6 hours.
     

    This is a variation on a recipe from the blog Jane’s Adventures in Dinner: http://janesadventuresindinner.com/2013/06/cherry-balsamic-ribs.html

    Deborah Noyes is the author of Captivity.

    Download an excerpt of Captivity.

    Visit Deborah Noye’s website.

  4. Janyce Stefan-Cole’s Hollywood Boulevard Fruit Salad

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    One of my sexier desserts is a liquor-laced fruit salad that is perfect at table or blanket when fruits are in season and haven’t left a huge carbon footprint getting to the picnic basket. Any fruit will do (and, if you don’t mind it having been flown in, a ripe mango never hurts, if you can find one).

    So choose your favorite ripe summer fruits, amounts depend on number of guests:
    Blueberries (wild if you can find them, they are astonishingly flavorful)
    Juicy peaches
    Raspberries (again wild is best)
    Blackberries (ditto)
    Ripe mango
    Ripe apricot
    The portions of each fruit are, as my grandmother would say, accordingly. However you like it but you must have at least one juicy fruit and a lot of that—like the peach.
    Add a dash of lemon juice
    A dash of nutmeg (optional)
    Grenadine—not a lot, it can overwhelm the fruit
    Some liqueur: blackberry, Drambuie, Creme de Cassis (recommended) &/or bit of all of the above, accordingly. I go with one liqueur + the Grenadine.
    Stir fruit into the liquid—a wooden spoon is gentler on tender fruit. Cover and let sit at least one hour. Overnight okay, though textures will alter. Serve chilled with a mint leaf and a very thin wafer style cookie or square of dark chocolate.
    Viola!

    Note: in LA the fruit options expand, so in Hollywood Boulevard, Ardennes’s salad would be more exotic.

    Janyce Stefan-Cole is the author of Hollywood Boulevard.

    Download an excerpt of Hollywood Boulevard.

    Visit Janyce Stefan-Cole’s website.

  5. Marc Estrin’s Bread and Puppet Aioli

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    You know that great yellow stuff you get smeared on your Bread & Puppet bread at performances? That stuff they make for the peasants in southern France and Italy: when they come in from the fields for lunch, they are handed a loaf of bread to rip apart and dip in a big, common bowl of God’s gift to sweat, energy and low blood pressure.

    Here’s how you make it:

    3 eggs

    Canola oil

    One head of garlic

    salt

    Separate yolks and place in large mixing bowl. Give the whites to high-cholesterol partners innocent of Lipitor.

    Here’s the tricky part:

    Pray to the aioli gods

    Add oil, A DROP AT A TIME, to the egg yolks. I’m not kidding — a drop at at time, at least at the beginning. Bread and Puppet macho would have you whip the oil and eggs together with a fork. I cheat and use an electric mixer on low speed. Don’t tell Peter Schumann.

    As the volume of oil builds up, you will be able to add it more quickly, a couple of drops, then a few, then a very thin, intermittent stream. But WARNING: if you add the oil too quickly, the aioli will not “catch”, and you’ll end up with an oily mess. Patience, patience. Franz Kafka wrote:

    There are two main human sins from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. It was because of impatience that we were expelled from Paradise, it is because of indolence that we cannot return. Yet perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were expelled, because of impatience we cannot return.

    He must have been a very good aioli maker.

    How much oil? Reasonable question. I’ll defer the answer.

    The mixing bowl should now be filled with something that looks and feels very like mayonnaise. In fact, it IS mayonnaise. This is how you make mayonnaise.  The funny thing is, once you get to a certain point, you can add oil much more quickly (but not too quickly), and make as much as you like. The yellow will become more diluted, but aside from that, you can plan to feed the multitudes if you have enough oil. Add loaves and fishes if desired. That’s how much oil.

    Chop garlic into tiny, tiny pieces. Bread & Puppet macho insists you chop with a broad blade very sharp knife, then squoosh the pieces with the flat of the blade to squeeze out the final juice. When puppeteers aren’t watching, I use a garlic press.

    How much garlic? Use the whole head, or just part of it? That depends on how big the garlic is, how much aioli you are making, and how strong you want it. I’ve never made enough to use more than one entire head — about half a large mixing bowl’s worth.

    Mix the garlic mash into the waiting bowl, and stir in thoroughly. Add salt to taste.

    Eating: Although you can eat it immediately, it’s best to let it stand, refrigerated for a couple of days. It mellows out into something strong and smooth, but not nastily fierce. Folks either love it or they hate it. Some stomachs can’t stand too much garlic without refluxing. You can give out Rolaids with the aioli to those folks. Best on fresh-baked hearty bread.

     Marc Estrin is the author of a number of articles and books including Golem Song, The Education of Arnold Hitler, and The Lamentations of Julius Marantz.

    Download an excerpt of The Lamentations of Julius Marantz.

    Visit Marc Estrin’s website.

  6. French 75: The Cocktail with a Kick (compliments of Timothy Schaffert)

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    French 75 (a refreshing and bracing cocktail originating from Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1915; named after the French 75mm gun, for its kick)

    2 oz gin
    1 tsp (or more) fine sugar
    1 oz juice (or more) from a fresh-squeezed lemon
    Dry champagne (or bubbly derivative)

    Pour gin and lemon juice into a shaker of ice, and add sugar. Shake till cold. Pour into chilled champagne glass. Fill rest of glass with champagne. Rim the glass with pulpy twist of lemon.

    Timothy Schaffert is the author of several books including Devils in the Sugar Shop, The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God, The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters, and especially The Coffins of Little Hope.

    Download an excerpt of The Coffins of Little Hope.

    Visit Timothy Schaffert’s website.

  7. Ashley Allyson, the failed erotic novelist, stood in Mermaids Singing,Used & Rare, with an armful of pink, freckled lilies, the stems wrappedin tissue, bought from the corner florist in the Old Market.

    — 

    FAVE UNBRIDLED FIRST LINES: Devils in the Sugar Shop/Timothy Schaffert

    Download an excerpt

  8. And now: mini poster version part two of our #NaNoWriMo 2012 “Best Unbridled Author Advice Ever Given or Received”

    And now: mini poster version part two of our #NaNoWriMo 2012 “Best Unbridled Author Advice Ever Given or Received”

  9. During #NaNoWriMo 2012, we asked our authors to share the best writing advice they’d ever given or received.  Now, at last, the mini poster version—part one.

    During #NaNoWriMo 2012, we asked our authors to share the best writing advice they’d ever given or received.  Now, at last, the mini poster version—part one.

  10. A failed erotic novelist; a hostess of prim sex-toy parties; an artist and a bookshop owner pursued by a demented if harmless stalker—it does not get better than this. 
(AND the Ebook’s on sale this week for $3.99 at participating online retailers including amazon.com and bn.com.)

    A failed erotic novelist; a hostess of prim sex-toy parties; an artist and a bookshop owner pursued by a demented if harmless stalker—it does not get better than this. 

    (AND the Ebook’s on sale this week for $3.99 at participating online retailers including amazon.com and bn.com.)