November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced pickled carrots, walnuts, cilantro and a citrus vinaigrette. Is it a salad? Or a side? In fact, it is both as it can be served warm or at room temperature but not cold. If you make it ahead, pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving. It might qualify as the perfect side for your holiday dinner, make it a few hours ahead to free up your oven. Add roasted cooked farro or another grain for a vegetarian main meal. It’s pretty as well with the fall colors of orange carrots and bright green sprouts, roasted to dark caramelized perfection.

This recipe came from Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I love the inventiveness of his recipes and am slowly cooking my way through the book. The premise is that there are actually six seasons, not just four…spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, fall and winter. I think farmer’s markets and our own gardens would support that idea.

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

(serves 2-3 but can be easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • About 1/3 cup roughly chopped or sliced pickled carrots, either store-bought or home made
  • 1/2 cup of chopped toasted nuts, walnuts or pecans or hazelnuts
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
  • 1/4 cup of citrus vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped cilantro leaves (I was able to find baby leaves)
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the garlic, cook until the garlic is soft and golden brown, watch carefully and reduce the heat if it is browning too quickly. Garlic turns bitter if allowed to burn.
  2. Scoop out the garlic and set it aside.
  3. Increase the heat and add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down. Season well with salt and pepper and cook until the sprouts are cooked all the way through, browned but not mushy. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Return the garlic to the pan, crushing it to break it up and mix with the sprouts.
  5. When the sprouts are cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and add the pickled carrots, half the nuts, and all the scallions. Toss to mix and warm the new ingredients.
  6. Spoon the vinaigrette over the sprouts and toss again. Add half the cilantro and parsley.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  8. Right before serving, add more vinaigrette if needed, along with the rest of the nuts, parsley and cilantro.

Citrus Vinaigrette:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Zest all the citrus with a microplane or small rasp style grater into a bowl.
  2. Halve the fruit and squeeze all the juice into the same bowl, removing any seeds.
  3. Whisk in the honey, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and several turns of your pepper mill.
  4. Taste and adjust, if needed.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. For a more emulsified and creamy vinaigrette do this in a blender, drizzling in the olive oil as the machine is running.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

I am taking this one to Fiesta Friday #305 over at Angie’s place. Please come join the party with lots of ideas about crafts, food, and travel. This week is is co-hosted by myself.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, hard to believe the Christmas holiday is only a few weeks away. Whew!

November – Vegetarian Chicken Broth

November – Vegetarian Chicken Broth

How can that be you ask? Of course this vegetarian broth isn’t actually made with chicken but it sure tastes a lot like it. Let me introduce you to parmesan broth. I first posted this recipe back in 2015 and think it deserves a repeat appearance before for the holidays. Those rinds make a vegetarian soup base brimming with umami, that fifth flavor that makes all the other flavors snap into focus.

My local deli sells pre-grated parmesan and I can pick up the rinds for a song. You may even be able to get them for free if you let your friendly deli manager know you want them. Don’t let them throw them out. Stock them in your freezer until you have enough to make this delicious broth. I keep several quarts of broth in my freezer.

Parmesan Rinds

Parmesan Rinds

There are other uses for them, in Italy they add a rind or two to minestrone soup for a flavor punch. I’ve also made a fantastic parmesan flavored olive oil, perfect for making salad dressings with an extra dose of umami. It’s also a nice idea for holiday giving.

Parmesan Olive Oil

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner includes a vegetarian faux sausage and raisin dressing, this parmesan broth is a stand in for turkey stock.

Parmesan BrotFinished Parmesan Broth, cooling before straining

Parmesan Broth: (makes about 2 quarts)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise (remove the outermost papery layer)
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 parsley sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb. of Parmesan rinds
  • 8-9 cups of water

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are toasty brown about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up any brown bit until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the Parmesan rinds and water to the saucepan, bring to a boil.
  4. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Stir occasionally so the rinds don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Use immediately or store in the fridge up to four days. Freeze for longer storage. This recipe makes 7-8 cups of stock, depending on how reduced it becomes. You can easily double it if you have more rinds. I don’t salt when making the broth, the parmesan contains some natural salt so I add any additional salt when the broth is used.

Parmesan Broth

Parmesan Broth

I am taking this useful recipe to Fiesta Friday #303. Please do stop by Angie’s place for holiday recipe, decorating and travel ideas.  The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

 

 

November – Palm Tree Leeks

November – Palm Tree Leeks

I’ve never been impressed by leeks unless they are in a potato leek soup. Generally, give me onions or scallions or shallots. That is until I saw this unusual recipe in Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman. Alison is a regular contributor to the NT Times food section and this is her first cookbook. She shared my opinion, having ignored them for years.

She says “Here, leeks sizzle in a spicy olive oil mixture, the wild tendrilly ends crisping up like they have been deep fried, looking like an extremely festive and delicious party decoration. The pale green centers become creamy and tender.”

This is preparing leeks in an entirely different way! In a way it’s like roasting kale, who would have believed you could take this vegetable and turn it into delicious chips even the youngest child would love. Even better, they look like palm trees which is really a hoot.

Spicy Caramelized Leeks with Fresh Lemon

Spicy Caramelized Leeks with Fresh Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 4 large leeks, dark green parts removed, washed and halved lengthwise with roots still intact
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, seeds removed and finely chopped (I used a preserved lemon, white center removed and rind scraped, then the rind finely chopped)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Pace the leeks cut side down and, without cutting through to the root, slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. They will look like a palm fan. Place the leeks on a parchment lined half sheet pan or baking dish.
  3. Whisk the olive oil and harissa paste together, then massage into the leeks, getting into all their layers. Season with salt and pepper and lay them straight-ish.
  4. Roast, without disturbing too much until they start to fry and sizzle and brown at the ends about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Top with the lemon and flaky salt before serving.
Leeks

Palm Frond Leeks

Roasted Leeks

Roasted Leeks

You can roast these several hours ahead of time, they won’t loose their crispness. Cover them at room temperature. There is no need to reheat them unless you want to.

Crispy Leeks

Crispy Leeks

This is such an interesting twist on preparing an often ignored vegetable that I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday #302 will enjoy it. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party hosted each week by Angie, this week it is co-hosted by none other than myself. Please do click on the link to read blogs from around the world of food, crafts, and travel.

 

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

You may be aware that the end of October brought a five day power shutdown to over 2,000,000 people in Northern California, including us. This was a preemptive attempt by PG&E to prevent wildfires; the winds were high and humidity low, and our winter rains are very late. We are lucky since we have a generator and a large propane tank, but we still try to conserve energy. We are never exactly sure how long the shutdown will last.  When the power is out due to the threat of high winds and fire, we try and conserve propane as much as possible.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

One way to conserve power is to avoid the use of my oven, it’s my normal way of cooking chicken thighs but an electric oven uses a lot of energy. I was reading Canal House’s newest cookbook, “Cook Something, recipes to rely on”, and found the pages How We Cook Chicken Thighs…timely, yes? How do they cook chicken thighs? They cook them the same way they cook a duck breast, skin side down in a heavy skillet with no additional fat. I’ve often browned chicken thighs in a skillet before braising them, but this method was not my usual. There were only 2 ingredients, chicken and 1/2 of a preserved lemon. Wow!

 

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PRESERVED LEMON

  • 6 whole chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • finely chopped rind of 1/2 preserved lemon 
  • fresh lemon, quartered for serving – optional
  • chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish – optional

Method:

  1. Trim any excess fat and skin from the chicken thighs
  2. Season them with salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Arrange them skin side down in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet (cold skillet, no oil)
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook them, without moving them, until the fat is rendered and skin crisp, about 30 minutes. You might need to adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly.
  5. Remove the core of the preserved lemon and scrape off any white from the inside of the rind, then chop the rind finely
  6. Turn the thighs over and stir in the finely chopped preserved lemon
  7. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced.
  8. Serve the thighs with some of the pan drippings, fresh lemon and herb garnish.

I found the pan drippings made a wonderful warm salad dressing with some additional lemon juice.

The thighs were juicy and delicious.

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

If you have never made preserved lemons, I encourage you to try it. They are simple, only taking a little time. And, they are a wonderful ingredient to add tartness in many dishes. I promise they will become a pantry staple. I have even seen them chopped finely and added to avocado toast. Follow the link above if you would like directions.

I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday might like them. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a collection of blogs about food, decorating, travel, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things going on in the blogosphere at Fiesta Friday #301, the co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

June – Perfect Roast Chicken

June – Perfect Roast Chicken

In her classic book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (vol. 1), Julia Child states “You can always judge the quality of a cook or restaurant by roast chicken.” Roasting a chicken is certainly an important skill to master. Your own home cooked roast chicken will be miles better than any supermarket or deli chicken.

Julia’s method results in an excellent roast chicken. However it requires turning the chicken 4 times and basting every 10 minutes. Just reading the directions can be off putting. My own method doesn’t require any basting at all and only 1 turn. It results in crisp skin and juicy meat. I don’t truss because tying the legs close to the breast results in undercooked thigh or overcooked breast meat.

Here is the trick. I take advantage of the newest information on brining, and borrow a technique often used when roasting duck. I pre-salt the chicken and let it sit in the fridge (uncovered and breast up) for several hours or overnight. That’s the only preplanning that is required.

The perfect roast chicken starts with the quality of the chicken. Buy the best you can afford, preferably free range organic and air chilled. Water bath chilling results in the bird absorbing a lot of that soaking water. I also prefer the air chilled for food safety reasons, dozens of birds are not sitting in a vat of water. If one of the birds is contaminated it increases the chances that all will be contaminated as well.

The Perfect Roast Chicken

These are general directions.

Adjust the cooking time according to the weight of your chicken. I find it is done when the leg moves easily in the socket when jiggled. For a 4-5 pound chicken that will be somewhere between 50 and 70 minutes. There will be some personal preference determining the time. I don’t mind if the white meat has a very slight pink tinge, you may want to cook your own longer. Your oven temperature will also play a part. My oven runs hot, your own may run cool. It’s best to know those things, check your own with an oven thermometer. They are cheap and it will save you a lot of grief in the long run.

You can use an instant read thermometer for more precise measurements of doneness. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh without hitting the bone. The FDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. I take mine out just before it reaches that temperature. The bird will continue to cook with the residual heat after it comes out of the oven. Allow it to sit on your carving board or platter for 15 minutes, that allows the juices to settle back into the meat.

Salted Chicken on a Rack Ready for the Fridge

Salted Chicken Ready for the Fridge

So here we go…

There are two methods for brining a bird. The first, and older method, is to submerge it in a salt water solution. The second is a dry brine, simply rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of kosher salt. I don’t use method the first method anymore, I am not partial to a vat of salty water taking up space in my fridge (a spill will create a big mess…I’ve been there). In addition, a water chilled bird is what I am trying to get away from. I want to intensify flavors, not dilute them.

Dry brining intensifies flavors and will give you crisp skin. I use kosher salt because it doesn’t contain any additives and has a clean flavor.

Remove the chicken from its wrapping and dry it with paper towels. The latest food safety recommendations are to not rinse it. Rub it generously with kosher salt, both inside and out. Put it on a rack in baking dish, breast side up, and place it in the fridge for at least an hour. If you have 24 hours you will be amazed at the result. Don’t go longer than 24 unless you are brining a turkey.

Take the chicken out of the fridge while you preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C). I don’t use the convection fan. Rub your chicken with olive oil and any flavorings you may want (I don’t worry about the salt). I have used my confit lemon oil and lemon slices with herbs to Provence (the aroma as it roasts is incredible), paprika, chili powder, roasted fennel spice, zatar, fresh herbs, etc. You can let your imagination run wild. But you will find this chicken is delicious with only a simple coating of olive oil.

Poke a few holes in a whole lemon and place that inside the chicken. You could also add a few sprigs of whatever fresh herb you have handy. The lemon adds additional flavor. You could even use an orange or a couple of limes (especially nice if you are giving the chicken a Mexican vibe).

Line your roasting pan with foil to make clean up easier. Rub a rack (V shaped if you have one) with oil and place the chicken breast down on the rack. Once your oven has reached 425 degrees F, place the chicken in the middle of the oven and roast for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove it from the oven and turn it breast side up, roast for an additional 25 minutes or until done.

Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken

Look at how moist and juicy! And the skin is super crisp.

I often serve the chicken with a simple salad, I pour some of those chicken juices over the salad as a dressing with an additional squeeze of lemon juice. The fresh salad below had sliced peaches and red onion as well as some avocado. The combination was delightful.

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken Thigh

Perfect Roast Chicken

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday to share with Angie and the gang. It’s Fiesta #279 and I am a co-host along with Jenny from Apply to Face Blog.

Click on the links to join the party or check out all the blogs about food, the garden, and crafts. You can also add your own link.

Thank you so much for visiting and I would love to hear your comments.