A Tribute to Judy Rodgers

By Jane Poretsky

Judy Rodgers
Judy Rodgers

They say the good die young, and while this may be somewhat of a cliche, it holds true for culinary legend Judy Rodgers, of the influential Zuni Cafe. Judy passed away at 57 years young, after a challenging battle with cancer.

We felt the best way to share our love of her radiant smile and delicious cuisine was to share the recipe for her roasted chicken and Tuscan bread salad. Arguably, the most famous {and delicious} rustic Tuscan dish that we have ever tasted, rush to your oven now. Don’t skimp on any ingredients, and you will never look at poultry in the same light.

Roast Chicken & Bread Salad
Zuni Cafe Cookbook via Food & Wine
One 2 3/4-pound free-range chicken
4 thyme sprigs
4 small garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

  • Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and thighs. Stuff the thyme and garlic under the skin and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken and season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. Put the chicken in the skillet, breast side up, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side down and roast for about 15 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced. Transfer the chicken to a board and let rest for 10 minutes; carve.
  • Skim the fat from the juices in the skillet. Arrange the Bread Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts on a platter and top with the chicken. Pour the juices over all and serve.

    cafe zuni chicken
    Roast Chicken & Bread Salad
    (Photo Courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet)

For the bread salad:
1 tablespoon dried currants
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound stale Italian-style bread, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon pine nuts
4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cups lightly packed small arugula leaves

  • Preheat the oven to 450°. In a small bowl, soak the currants in the water and red wine vinegar until plumped, 10 minutes. Drain.
  • In another small bowl, combine the Champagne vinegar with the 1/2 cup of olive oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Let cool, then tear the bread into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, toss the bread with three-quarters of the dressing and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a pie plate, warm the pine nuts in the oven for 2 minutes.
  • In a skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the scallions and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add the currants, bread, pine nuts and the remaining Champagne vinaigrette and toss.
  • Spoon the bread salad into a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, until heated through. Uncover and bake for a few minutes longer to dry out the top and brown the bottom. Transfer the bread salad to a platter, toss with the arugula and serve.

Jane Poretsky is a quirky gal who spends her days shuffling between working and fattening up family members. Creating recipes that are simple to follow and always from scratch, Jane loves to bring her humorous side into the kitchen. Check out her personal blog: Caramelized Sarcasm

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


California Food Trucks Successfully Fight Legislation

A few weeks ago we discussed a controversial California food truck bill that would prohibit food trucks from operating within 1500 feet of any school during school hours. After it was determined that food trucks would be banned from 80% of the city if this bill were to pass, it was modified and food trucks were allowed to park 500 feet away from school zones.

Food trucks association still were not content to let this bill pass, and Assemblymember Bill Monning, who introduced the bill, met with the organizations Off the Grid and Asociacion de Loncheros to discuss the implications of this bill. Matt Cohen of Off the Grid said, “We essentially said that criminalizing a class of food vendors when a whole other class of food establishments aren’t addressed is inappropriate.”

Monning released a statement this morning saying that he will continue to pursue his goal of preventing food trucks from selling unhealthy snacks to students in lieu of state lunch programs. “The challenge before us is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to establish a shared understanding about the adverse impacts of these practices and the necessity of a statewide legislative solution.”

Essentially, Monning has acknowledged that he must put more thought into this bill before it can pass, and consider both sides of the spectrum. San Francisco still has a local ordinance prohibiting food trucks from parking within 1,500 feet of public middle schools and high schools, but legislation was recently introduced seeking to change that limit to 500 feet. This legislation was released in March, and still has not been voted on.

Some of the earlier challenges to food truck parking outside schools included health concerns, as well as economic stratification between those who can afford pricier food truck meals, and those who received reduced or free state-sponsored lunch.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


San Francisco Food Trucks Intercept School Lunch

In San Francisco, food trucks are subject to yet another proposal that might ban them from nearly every neighborhood in the city. This new proposal is geared towards promoting children’s health by limiting food truck operations near schools. Assemblyman William Monning hopes to bar food trucks from operating within 1,500 feet of any public or private school from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on school days.

Monning feels that food trucks play a critical role in undermining healthful nutrition in schools, and by regulating food trucks the city stands its best chance at combating childhood obesity. However not all politicians feel the same way about this new food truck proposal. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said Monning’s proposal is an “extreme piece of legislation that takes us exactly in the wrong direction. It removes local control in terms of deciding where we as a locality can or cannot put food trucks. It’s a one-size-fits-all for all of California.”

Wiener has recently urged Monning to drop his proposal or allow local jurisdictions to opt out, and Monning has acknowledged these concerns, and said he is open to editing his proposal, which will be heard in late March or early April. Wiener is trying to take food truck regulation in the opposite direction, moving forward with a proposed amendment that would allow food trucks to park one block away from schools, rather than the current limit at three blocks away.

Wiener hopes to seek a balance with his proposed amendment, protecting the current school lunch programs while still allowing food trucks to operate in commercial areas throughout the city. The San Francisco Board of Education is most concerned with the junk food that some of these food trucks offer. According to Board member Rachel Norton, “we don’t want to see the return of roach coaches near our school that sell high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar food and drinks.”

Many community members want to see food trucks allowed to operate freely, and would appreciate if more people were given the opportunity to enjoy San Francisco’s food truck experience. Food trucks provide entrepreneurs a unqiue opportunity to start their own business with a comparatively low overhead cost. However, those in the know about current school dynamics say that there is more than meets the eye in this situation.

Caroline Grannan, a mother of two public school students does not want food trucks to be a large presence on school campuses. She says the 1,500-foot protective zone was chosen for more complicated reasons than just health, that there are equity issues at stake here as well. Food and beverages purchased from food trucks cost more than what low-income students who received free or reduced meals can afford. With food trucks present, poorer students are easily identified and excluded from eating food off campus. In addition, income will be drained from the school food program, leaving less money for school lunch to serve students who are unable to afford it.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com