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Showing posts with label roasting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roasting. Show all posts
05 April 2014

Easy Roasted Drumsticks & Vegetables

I got an excellent deal on chicken drumsticks a few weeks ago and my freezer is now well stocked them. Drumsticks aren't usually something I buy, but The Husband really likes fried chicken and I figured I would oven-fry some of them ... but, ummm, I keep forgetting to.


But, hey! They roast really well! Add some chopped vegetables and supper is in the oven in just minutes. I used an Italian seasoning blend, but I'm guessing poultry seasoning or lemon pepper would work pretty well, too.

Easy Roasted Drumsticks & Vegetables

Ingredients
1 pkg drumsticks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks
Italian seasoning blend
olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place drumsticks and vegetables in a shallow pan, trying not to crowd. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Bake for 30 minutes. Stir vegetables 'round. Bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve.

While the drumsticks were deliciously crispy and tender, the roasted veggies really stole the show. Seriously, roasted celery! Where have you been all my life?
16 March 2014

(Almost) Spring Lamb

Spring officially starts on Thursday and, although I know Mother Nature doesn't keep the same calendar, the few recent 40-ish blue-sky days have got me in the mood for daffodils, asparagus, and lamb. While it's a bit too early for daffs and the price of asparagus makes me say inappropriate things, there was a nice piece of butterflied lamb in my freezer so ...

Sunday Supper

Lemony Greek Butterflied Lamb

Ingredients
1½ lb butterflied leg of lamb
Olive oil, as desired
Penzeys Greek Seasoning blend, as desired
1 lemon, halved

Instructions
Pat meat dry with paper towels and score fatty side in a criss-cross pattern. Rub thoroughly with olive oil. Rub generously with Greek seasoning. Squeeze lemon over lamb and let sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Butterflied Lamb

Preheat oven to 425F° degrees. Place meat, fatty side up, on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes (medium rare) or until desired level of doneness is reached.

Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Sunday Lamb

I served the lamb with celery-mashed potatoes and buttery parslied carrots and it was good. I'm guessing it would, in a few months times, also be really good on the grill.
17 February 2014

Totally Unfancy Valentine's

Valentine's Day, The Husband was too sick to go out and I was still feeling a bit blarg myself, so we scrapped our plans and stayed home, watching Major Crimes and eating what was meant to be Saturday's supper -- roasted pork tenderloin with broccoli and mac 'n' cheese. It was actually a rather nice night, but every night with my sweetie (even when we're both coughing and sniffling) is a good night.

Valentine's Day Supper

  • Campbell's Kitchen's "Fastest Homemade Mac and Cheese" made using sriracha, dehydrated chives, and shredded Italian cheese blend.
  • Roasted broccoli florets -- tossed a bag of broccoli florets with olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and Penzeys Tuscan Sunset and roasted at 425°F for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Pork tenderloin rubbed with sea salt and Penzeys Tuscan Sunset and roasted alongside the broccoli.
12 February 2014

Meat & Veg. Who Needs More On A Wednesday?

I'm mostly recovered from last week's creeping crud -- although I still sound like a languishing Dickensian consumptive when I cough -- but am still not up to running amok in the kitchen, faffing about with complicated recipes. Happily, there's nothing easier than roasting a chunk of meat and pile of veg. Especially when the meat's prep has already been done by Trader Joe's.

Lazy Wednesday Supper
I was "nice" and ate all the yummy courgettes, leaving the carrots to The Husband.

I plopped one of Trader Joe's Steakhouse Seasoned Beef Filet Mignon Roast in a pan and surrounded it with chopped carrots, red onion, and baby courgettes (zucchini) I'd tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper. Everything went in the preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, then I gave the vegetables a stir and let everything cook for another 20.

Lazy Wednesday Supper
I should have tied the meat, because it split while roasting. Oops.
And that was supper -- easy, reasonably healthful, and enough leftover for tomorrow's (probable) snow day sandwiches.
10 February 2014

Sunday Dinner for One

I love roasting Brussels sprouts, but fresh sprouts can be a little pricey. Happily, I discovered I could roast frozen Brussels sprouts pretty much the same way as fresh and therefore enjoy roasted sprouts whenever I wanted them and save myself a little money -- frozen sprouts are 17¢ less per ounce than fresh at my local Stop & Shop (and I don't even have to clean them). Fabulous!

Since I was roasting sprouts, I thought I'd do another sweet potato and then I figured why not chuck some chicken breasts in there, too? And, without meaning to, I ended up with a smashing Sunday dinner for one (with leftovers for weekday meals).

Sunday Dinner for One

First, I preheated the oven to 400°F (and made sure the top rack was in the center of the oven as I frequently forget to put it back after broiling things and moving around a hot rack is not the best fun).

Tossed the 16 oz bag of still-frozen Brussels sprouts with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper and arranged them in a single layer on a small baking tray. Popped them into the oven with a well-scrubbed-and-poked sweet potato and set the timer for 20 minutes.

Sunday Dinner for One

While the vegetables cooked, I pounded three boneless chicken breasts until they were all about the same thickness and then smeared them with a mixture of Dijon mustard and maple syrup. Plopped them onto a baking tray with a sprinkling of black pepper and set them aside until the oven timer went off.

Sunday Dinner for One

Then I shifted the contents of the oven around so the chicken could fit, gave the sprouts a stir, and set the oven timer for another 20 minutes.

At the end of 20 minutes, the chicken and sprouts were done so I removed them from the oven and tented them with a little foil so they would stay warm. The sweet potato was a little firm so I gave it an additional 10 minutes, at which point it had gone all oozy with potato juices. Yum!

I sliced the breasts and plated one with the baked sweet potato and some Brussels sprouts (I admit a bunch of Brussels sprouts got nibbled to death while I waited for the potato). The other breasts went into serving bowls with Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend With Vegetables and roasted broccoli (olive oil + sea salt + pepper + 425°F + 20 minutes) and served me well as work meals.
07 January 2014

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

I'd bought a pork tenderloin to turn into escalopes for pork schnitzel, but changed my mind at the last minute (too tired/cold coming on) and decided to sear it and roast it in a skillet. I'm not sure it saved much time, but it definitely dirtied fewer dishes!

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Night photo under the terrible kitchen fluorescents. Yay.
When I'm tired, like last night, it feels as if my enameled iron skillet weighs too darn much (and is awkward as smeg to move about), but the fact it transitions so easily between stove top and oven makes it worth every ounce. Indeed, I've considered retiring some of my baking dishes, because I don't use them as much since I acquired the skillet.

I used Boxed Goodes' Harvest Season to season the tenderloin, which is a blend of sea salt, sugar, celery seed, onion, nutmeg, coriander, white pepper, and porcini mushroom. I won an assortment of Boxed Goodes' seasoning blends a few months ago, at a friend's benefit supper, and I am completely smitten. The Harvest Medley is one of my favorites and I've used it to season beef, chicken, and duck with delicious results. I have about two tablespoons left and then ... I'll have to find their shop and buy all the things! Terrible, I know.
Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients
2 tsp duck fat
1 lb pork tenderloin
Seasoning blend, as desired
[Boxed Goodes' Harvest Season]
5 oz low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 oz sherry [Taylor]

Directions
Remove pork from fridge, trim well, and rub very generously with the seasoning blend. Let the roast sit for about 30 minutes to reach room temperature.

Heat oven to 425°F.

Heat duck fat in a cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet until it shimmers. Sear pork on three sides for one minute per side or until beautifully browned, then flip onto the last raw side and pop the pork in the oven for 15 minutes or until the meat reaches 145°F.

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Remove the skillet from the oven, plate the pork, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

While the pork rests, return the skillet to the stove top, turn the temperature up to high, and add the broth and sherry. Stir, scraping up the stuck on bits, until the sauce is reduced by half. Serve drizzled over the pork.
30 December 2013

My First Roast Duck

I roasted my first whole duck over the long Christmas holiday using Women & Home's recipe for Easy Roast Duck. While the duck was very good, it lacked the crispy skin I desired. Scalding the duck with two kettles of boiling water certainly helped render out some of the fat (and tighten up the skin) and roasting it at such a high temperature rendered out even more -- indeed, the duck that came out of the oven was significantly smaller than the duck that went in -- but the skin still wasn't crispy.

My First Duck
5 lb duck, thawed.

My First Duck
Innards removed and skin stabby-stabbed to help the fat escape later.

My First Duck
After pouring two big kettles of boiling water over it.

My First Duck
Rubbed with sea salt, smoked paprika, and Penzeys Northwoods seasoning blend.

My First Duck
After roasting for 90 minutes at 400°F.

My First Duck
Lovely, if not quite crispy, duck with mashed potatoes and peas leftover from Christmas.
25 September 2013

Carrot Fest '13: Maplicious Carrots & Pork

Started out Carrot Fest '13 nice and simple with a roasted maple-glazed pork loin and carrots! I'm still not used to the new thinking that says pork can be served a little pink so I may have roasted mine "too long," but it was still tender, moist, and delicious.

Saturday Supper

Maple Glazed Pork and Carrots

Ingredients
1 lb carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
[that was one carrot!]
2 lb boneless pork loin [not tenderloin!]
⅓ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F°. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place loin on top.

Whisk together cider vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard. Toss carrots with half of the glaze mixture and arrange around loin. Brush loin with some of the remaining glaze.

Roast for about an hour, brushing loin with glaze every twenty minutes or so. Remove from oven and allow roast to rest 10 minutes before serving.
I served the roast with potatoes and peas. Because I had white potatoes, not sweet, I didn't want to roast them like the carrots. Instead, I tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in a glass pie plate alongside the loin and carrots. (The peas were not really necessary, but I was worried The Husband wouldn't like the carrots and wanted a fallback vegetable. Turned out, he liked the carrots just fine).
31 August 2013

Parmesan Roasted Summer Squash

Pork chops were buy one, get one at Price Chopper last week and my cunning plan was to grill one package and freeze the other ... but I forgot to put a package in the freezer when I came home from the shop and, whoops, it was at its sell-by date by the time I did remember. So we had grilled pork chops twice in one week after going months without eating any pork. (It's not that I've been avoiding pork so much as I just don't think about it).

Friday Supper

Rather than marinate the pork chops overnight, I rubbed the chops with a mixture of McCormick Grill Mates Southwest Marinade and brown sugar. I'd stocked up on Grill Mates a few weeks ago when they were on sale for 80¢ a piece. Yes, I could make my own marinades and rubs from scratch, but I can't be arsed. Anyway, the marinade-cum-rub was easy and gave the chops a nice smoky sweet 'n spicy flavor.

I served the chops with roasted summer squash and pilaf. The pilaf was a boxed mix prepared following the low fat directions where three tablespoons of water replaced the one tablespoon of fat normally used. The pilaf cooked up fine without the oil and it certainly didn't taste like anything was missing. I'm not sure why I was surprised the rice turned out fine as, when I make rice from scratch, I don't use any added fat and that rice always comes out fine.

The roasted summer squash turned out fantastic and I'll definitely make squash this way again. If you don't have access to Boxed Goodes' Allium Salt, something like Penzeys Fox Point Seasoning would also work well.
Parmesan Roasted Summer Squash
Serves 2 generously

Ingredients
2 6-inch yellow squash, slicked thickly
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 small red onion, quartered and pull into pieces
Cooking spray
Boxed Goodes Allium Salt (coarse sea salt, chives, onion, shallots), as needed
Black pepper, as needed
Grated Parmesan cheese, as needed

Directions
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment. Lay vegetables flat on pan. Lightly spritz vegetables with cooking spray. Sprinkle them with allium salt, pepper, and Parmesan.

Roasted Summer Squash & Friends

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until they are tender. Turn on broiler and broil until cheese browns and peppers begin to char.
18 May 2013

Roasting, My Default Cooking Method

In a fit of enthusiasm, I bought broccolini last week ... but I didn't quite know what to do with it when I got home. I decided to pretend it was just a weird version of asparagus and roasted it accordingly.

Roast Broccolini & Salmon
Easy Roasted Broccolini & Salmon
Serves 2

Ingredients
15± broccolini stems, washed and trimmed
2 4 oz frozen wild-caught sockeye salmon fillets Sockeye, thawed
Olive oil, as needed
Boxed Goodes Allium Salt, as needed (or a similar blend of sea salt, dried onion/shallots/chives)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F°.

Spread broccolini on large jelly roll pan and toss with olive oil and Allium Salt to taste. Shove to one side of the pan and add the salmon. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a few grinds of Allium Salt.

Roast for approximately 20 minutes or until stems are crisp-tender and tops are slightly browned.
Surprisingly yum for something so simple, but I might toss in lemon juice and zest next time for a little brightness ... When I took the leftovers to work, I garnished them with a generous helping of leftover bruschetta (work parties are the best) and that was simply fantastic.

Leftovers

13 May 2013

Mother's Day Luncheon

I offered to take my mother out for Mother's Day, but she asked me to cook her "something good" instead. I racked my brain for the better part of the week, trying to figure out what "something good" might be and settled on roast chicken. I used my adaption of Barbara Kafka's "Simplest Roast Chicken" recipe from Roasting: A Simple Art (HarperCollins, 1995) and it was fabulous (as always). I used a five pound chicken, which turned out to be bit on the small side for four hungry people, but we had plenty of sides and no-one complained. I just felt like a stingy host.

For sides, we had buttery parslied carrots, garlicky green beans, buttermilk smashed red potatoes, and gravy. The Husband baked a loaf of bread, too, and everything was all nomnomnomilicious. The sophisticated drinkers among us enjoyed a very nice bottle of Neirano Moscato d'Asti Pitulé. The barbarian drank Cherry Coke. All were happy.

Mother's Day Luncheon

(For dessert, I "cheated" and bought a small strawberry and whipped cream sponge cake from the Whole Foods bakery).
13 April 2013

Roasted Salmon & Asparagus

Since one of my "lifestyle changes" is to eat more wild caught fish of discoverable provenance, I've been buying bags of frozen wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon fillets -- mainly because it's more convenient and slightly cheaper than fresh. Does frozen wild caught taste as good as fresh wild caught? Not quite, but it's still steps above fresh farmed.

Mind you, frozen or fresh, wild salmon is a lot leaner than the farm-raised stuff and so cooks faster. It seems obvious, but I didn't know and turned my first piece of wild caught salmon into salmon jerky. Ah well, practice makes perfect!

Salmon & Asparagus

Asparagus and salmon with garlic oil, minced shallot, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Roasted, uncovered, in a 400F° oven for about 10 minutes.
25 February 2013

Fast & Crispy Sunday Chicken

Roasted a beautiful chicken for Sunday dinner using a bastardized version of Barbara Kafka's "Simplest Roast Chicken" recipe from Roasting: A Simple Art (HarperCollins, 1995). Kafka's phenomenal Vegetable Love is one of my favorite cookbooks and Roasting looks to be just as good. She believes in "hot ovens, short roasting times, and rare meat" and that's right up my alley!

Sunday Chicken

Fast & Crispy Roast Chicken
Serves 2 with leftovers

Ingredients
4-pound chicken at room temperature
1 lemon, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt, as desired
Freshly ground black pepper, as desired
Bell's salt-free poultry seasoning, as desired
1 large red onion, thickly sliced

Directions
Place rack on second level from bottom of oven. Heat oven to 500°F.

Line a roasting dish (slightly larger than the chicken) with thick slices of red onion.

Remove the fat from the chicken's tail and trim off any large loose flaps of skin or wads of fat.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken with as much of the lemon as will fit and half the butter. Slice the remaining butter into pats and gently slide between the chicken breast meat and skin. Squeeze remaining lemon over chicken. Generously season with salt, pepper, and Bell's.


Sunday Chicken

Place the chicken breast side up in the roasting dish. Roast 50 to 60 minutes, or until the chicken breast reaches 180°F and the thigh 190°F, basting halfway through.


When chicken is done, remove from oven and let sit fifteen minutes. Carve and eat with the red onions.
The meat of the chicken was tender, juicy, and flavorful while the skin was extremely crispy. Exactly how I want a roast chicken to be! Served with green beans and rice, it made for a deliciously easy Sunday dinner.

Fast & Crispy Sunday Chicken

After dinner, I picked the carcass clean and made a big bowl of chicken salad for supper and a few work day lunches.


Then what remained of carcass went in my French oven and became broth for soup ... So many meals from one four-pound chicken! Why don't I roast a chicken every Sunday? It's not as if it is difficult.

Making Chicken Broth
06 January 2013

Lambilicious Sunday Dinner

The Husband pointed out it's been a long time since I made any lamb so, to please him, I picked up a nice small semi-boneless leg of lamb at Shoprite (manager's special, woot), roasted it Sunday afternoon, and there was much rejoicing.

Sunday Lamb

Roast lamb is good lamb!

I rubbed the lamb with a paste I threw together in my food processor of dijon mustard, leftover fresh rosemary, cracked black pepper, sea salt, olive oil, and the juice and zest of half a lemon. Aside from the lemon, no actual measurements were used -- I just threw ingredients in until it looked right. I put the roast, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan and poured some leftover malbec into the bottom of them pan. Then I roasted the lamb in a 375F° oven for about an hour (or until the meat reached 135°F).

While the lamb was roasting, I washed and trimmed a pound of asparagus, lay them in a baking pan, drizzled them with olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.

I took the lamb out of the oven, tented it with a little foil, and left it to rest for fifteen minutes. While the lamb rested, I popped the asparagus pan into the oven and roasted them for fifteen minutes.

I served the lamb and asparagus with rice (brown for me, jasmine for The Husband) and gravy. It was good and a three pound semi-boneless leg turned out to be the perfect size for two people -- enough for sunday dinner, with a little bit leftover for a sandwiches).

04 January 2013

Semi-Planned Salmon Supper

Monday, I was supposed to make "Baked Lemon Caper Salmon" with baked potatoes and roast asparagus for supper and ... I kinda-sorta did? We did eat salmon and potatoes. There were no capers. There was rosemary. Somehow, asparagus became green beans. It was all very good and home-cooked so I'll count it a win, anyway.

New Year's Eve Supper

I used the recipe for "Baked Lemon Caper Salmon" from My Daily Dish as the model for my salmon. I had planned on boneless steaks, not fillets, so panicked a bit when I realized Peapod had delivered bone-in steaks (labeled as boneless, but clearly full of jabby things). I have terrible deboning skillz so eventually, after abusing the poor salmon with a pair of tweezers, decided to deal with the bones after the steaks cooked.

Lemony Salmon

Aside from using the wrong cut of salmon, I mostly followed My Daily Dish's recipe as written. I did replace the capers with sprigs of rosemary, because I suddenly wasn't in a capery mood.

Which is also why we ate green beans instead of asparagus. I just looked at the asparagus, rampant and green, and thought "not tonight, you" and stuffed it back in the fridge. Of course, it's now Friday and we still haven't eaten the asparagus ...

To make supper, I cut two large unpeeled baking potatoes into bite-size cubes and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. I roasted the potatoes in a jelly roll pan in a 425F° oven for 30 minutes. Then I scooted the potatoes to one side of the pan, added the green beans tossed with olive oil, and slid the salmon pan into the oven next to the jelly roll pan, and let everything roast for 15 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans

I didn't stir the green beans while they and the salmon roasted, so they charred a little bit, but I like my roasted vegetables extra crispy around the edges.
30 July 2012

Tomato Soup, I Love You

As was bound to happen when you go and plant thirty cherry and small fruit tomato plants, I have too many tomatoes. So many, that I've already given some away at work rather than see them go bad. Being selfish, I don't really want to keep doing that.

What to do? Make soup! I had bookmarked a lovely recipe from FamilyFun.go.com for "Roasted Tomato Soup" last winter when I was positively jonesing for soup every darn day. Obviously, cherry tomatoes weren't in season then but they certainly are now and the recipe is a great way to use up six cups of the precious darlings.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup
It glows with the glow of a thousand orange tomatoes ...

To healthify this soup, I omitted the butter and reduced the amount of cream by half. I also omitted the grilled cheese croutons and didn't miss them, because this soup is so veryvery delicious on its own. (I can usually take or leave tomato soup, but this stuff is addictive and I want to eat it constantly. Good thing the recipe makes a lot).

I used turkey broth, because I still have quite a lot leftover from last year's big buy, but chicken or vegetable broth would work just as well. I also used less broth than the original recipe called for, because I wanted a very thick soup.

Despite being pureed, this soup retains a lot of texture from the bazillion cherry tomato seeds. If you don't like seeds, I recommend straining the soup through a sieve before adding the cream. (I strained about two thirds of the soup, leaving a little bit of seeds and skin behind for body).
Creamy Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup
Adapted from FamilyFun.go.com

Ingredients
6 cups cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 springs fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium red onion, chopped
14 oz can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
14 oz can turkey broth
½ cup heavy cream

Directions
Heat oven to 400°F. Toss cherry tomatoes with 3 sprigs thyme, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread evenly on a large jelly roll pan. Roast until tomatoes have shriveled and some have burst, about 40 minutes. Set aside.


Roasted Tomatoes

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic, onion and remaining sprigs of thyme and saute until onion is softened. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, turkey broth, and roasted tomatoes with their juices and bits of thyme. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Remove from heat. Puree tomato mixture with an immersion blender or what have you. Strain out seeds, if desired. Stir in cream and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 for lunch with leftovers.
25 April 2012

Roasted Cabbage, Sweet and Tender

It's spring, when this cook's tummy yearns for salad. And what goes in salad? Red cabbage, among other things. Problem was, I bought an enormous red cabbage -- far more than could go in salad -- and was at a loss as to what to do with it. Mad Googling led me to Martha Stewart's recipe for "Roasted Cabbage Wedges" and, well, I never knew cabbage could be this delicious!

This is such a simple recipe -- slice your cabbage thickly (despite the title, there are no cabbage "wedges" in this recipe), brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, roast in a 400°F oven for 40 minutes. The recipe calls for fennel/caraway seeds, but I forgot to add it and can't say I missed it at all.

Roasting Cabbage for One

If your cabbage, like mine, starts to get a bit too crispy around the edges well short of the 40 minute mark, just cover it with a piece of foil and walk away. It will be fine.

Sunday Supper

The cabbage was just lovely. A little crispy around the edges with a sweet, mellow middle I wouldn't have expected of cabbage. I have to ask, is there a vegetable roasting won't improve?
15 December 2011

Return of the Chestnuts

For my second foray into chestnut cookery, I made Schmooed Food's "Golden Chestnut Soup" as it looked to be an easy recipe and I had most of the ingredients on hand.

Chestnut Soup

Ingredients: roasted chestnuts, olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, fresh thyme, bay, salt, pepper, nutmeg, water.

I am so happy I made this soup! It smells heavenly and is simply ohmygoddelicous. I could happily have sat down and ate the entire pot in one sitting.  I almost wished I had more chestnuts so I could make more soup! I gave a container to my vegan coworker and, days later, she is still talking about how good it was and how she might just have to acquire some chestnuts ...

Overall, I'd say Jennifershmoo's roasting instructions worked better than Martha Stewart's -- roasting at a higher temperature really made the chestnuts easier to peel. (I also found that squeezing each nut before peeling helped loosen the husk and pellicle).
12 December 2011

Holy Chestnuts, Batman!

For my birthday, The Husband subscribed me to six months of Melissa's Exotic fruit club. November's selection was chestnuts. Two pounds of chestnuts. I have no experience cooking or eating chestnuts. What was I going to do with them? I searched library cookbooks, my cookbooks, and the internets for tips on cooking chestnuts and recipes to use them in. In the end, I settled on Martha Stewart's recipe for "Caramelized Chestnuts and Brussels Sprouts" and Shmooed Food's "Golden Chestnut Soup" (I Vegan Lunch Box).

Sunday afternoon, I made Stewart's recipe and it was both delicious and, surprisingly, a lot of fun to prepare. Yes, roasting and peeling chestnuts is fiddly business. Yes, stemming, trimming, washing, and halving two pounds of Brussels sprouts can be tedious. But, do you know what Brussels sprouts and roasted chestnuts resemble? Tiny brains! Yes, my dears, I amused myself by pretending I was preparing zombie food. It was so hard not too spear a tiny brain roasted chestnut with a knife and brandish it at The Husband, moaning "braaaains."

In my research, I'd encountered terrible stories about chestnuts explosions -- cooks who either forgot to score their chestnuts or did not score them deep enough so that, when cold air entered the hot oven as the door was opened, hot chestnuts exploded like small, nutty bombs. Therefore, I was extremely careful about scoring mine and sawed deep crosses into them using a serrated bread knife.

Scoring Chestnuts

Unfortunately, I did not roast them long enough and about half were pretty darn impossible to peel. Properly roasted, the husk and pellicle peel back from the nutmeat and it's easy-peasy to get the nutmeat out. Improperly roasted, the husk doesn't peel back very much, the pellicle sticks to the nutmeat and there's a lot of swearing it the kitchen.

Roasted Chestnuts

In the end, I did manage to get all but one peeled. Most remained whole (as per Stewart's recipe), but a few were broken into halves or thirds. It made for a less impressive presentation, perhaps, but did not ruin the taste of the dish.

Delicious Brussels Sprouts

And it was a delicious dish! Tangy -- sweet and a little sour -- with just a little crunch from the chestnuts and no bitterness at all from the firm, yet tender Brussels sprouts.

It would, no doubt, make an excellent Christmas side dish for someone less lazy than I. Truffles Bakery is providing much of this year's Christmas feast as, while I want to feed my family and guests good food, can't be arsed this year to get up at 6 am on Christmas morning to start cooking. Nor do I wish to be rushing around Christmas Eve, prepping a million dishes, when I could be cuddled up under the Christmas tree with The Husband, surreptitiously rattling boxes.
06 December 2011

Deliciously Simple: Roasted Butternut Squash

Earlier this week I made "Roasted Butternut Squash With Apple Cider Glaze" from Andrea Chesman's excellent Serving Up the Harvest: Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables (Storey, 2007). I love winter squash and am always looking for new ways to prepare my favorite, butternut squash. Chesman's recipe tempted me as it looked simple, used flavors I enjoy, and only called for six ingredients.

I did make a few adjustments to the recipe:
  • My squash weighed a scant 2 pounds so I adjusted the oil to 1 tablespoon and only used 1 cup of cider.
  • I didn't have any fresh shallots, so used 1 teaspoon of dehydrated minced shallot.
  • I had no fresh sage and instead used 1 teaspoon Bell's Seasoning.

Peeled Butternut
Peel the butternut squash.

Halved Butternut
Cut it in half & scoop out the seeds.

Cubed Butternut
Cut the halves into ½-inch cubes.

Seasoned Butternut
Toss cubed squash with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread across large, greased jelly roll pan.
Roast in 350°F oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting.

Cider
Meanwhile, bring cider and shallots to boil.
Allow to reduced by ⅔. Remove from heat, stir in Bell's Seasoning.

Roasted Butternut
Remove squash from oven and transfer to a serving bowl.
Pour cider reduction over squash and gently stir until combined.

Chesman says to serve the squash immediately, but I made it ahead and just reheated it as I needed it.
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