Heh, ok. I will now officially shut up about squash. I just needed to get that out of my system. I didn't even cook with it that much this weekend. Just a wee bit.
I feel like I've already
talked typed you face off this week, so I'll just get right to it. I'm still in fall foods mode, even though it warmed up considerably this week. Sure, it rained on my run yesterday morning, but I was also in a t-shirt and shorts and not the slightest bit cold. And I get cold very easily. Got to love Southern California. Anyway, more roasting, a thick starchy soup, and some earthy flavors were what I was in the mood for. Check it out.
- Fire-spiced chicken with honey-lemon glaze, courtesy of Luna Cafe. First off, I broken down a whole fryer chicken for the first time for this recipe. With the help of the ever-followable Alton Brown, it was no problemo. And I saved the carcass for making stock later! Look at Martha-wannabe me! Second, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off all last weekend because I was insanely busy, so I didn't end up spice-rubbing the chicken until, oh, 8 hours before I cooked it, rather than the recommended 24-48 hours. It was all good. This tasted amazing. The meat turned out juicy and perfectly cooked. The glaze added a nice sweetness and the spice rub gave it a nice complex flavor with no hint of boring chicken flavor in sight. I only did one chicken, so I halved the recipe for the rub. Interestingly, I had about 4 times more rub than I needed, but I had just enough glaze even though I didn't halve it. I tend to be a bit heavy handed with glazing (don't ever ask Husband about the turkey basting incident...), so I didn't get that nice crispy char on the skin. I will try to show more restraint next time. And yes, there will definitely be a next time. I'm ready to roast more chicken this weekend! I love this recipe because it's definitely adaptable to other flavors. With a different spice mixture it could be an entirely different dish! Sorry for the crappy picture. I forgot to snap a photo until the next day. It don't look like much, but it tastes divine. Also, the picture up top with the slices is a bit more appetizing at least.
- Hashed brussells sprouts, courtesy of Simply Recipes. Friday afternoon found me suddenly in the mood for brussells sprouts. If you'd have asked me when I was 5 if I would ever be in the mood for brussells sprouts I would have said heck no sir! Hated 'em. Of course, things change, including taste buds. And now I wouldn't say I love them, but I appreciate them for their bitter leafy healthy goodness. I was, as the recipe put it, feeling ambitious, so not only did I cut out the core and thinly slice all the brussells sprouts, I doubled the recipe and did 2 pounds worth! Sufficed to say, it took awhile. If you plan on making this recipe (which I recommend you do!), plan to find someone to put to work. Heh. Minus all the knife work, this recipe was super simple and quick. Just heat oil and butter, cook the veggies, throw in some liquor and lemon zest, and you're done! I used white wine instead of vermouth because apparently I was fresh out. No martinis for me! I like this preparation because I think finely slicing the leaves allows for the flavors to really meld with the fat and acid to remove a lot of the bitterness. You might think you don't like brussells sprouts, but if you venture to try them again, give this recipe a try. And don't be shy on the zest and wine!
- Butternut squash risotto, courtesy of Ina Garten. She, hands down, has the best risotto recipes out there. Ok, so the only risotto recipes I've attempted have been hers. But I can't imagine anything better. The texture is so creamy, the flavors are so nutty from the squash and cheese, but still very light. I agree with the website's assessment, this was super easy, and considering I was juggling quite a few dishes at the same time as assembling this, it was a good thing! I can't decide which of the two I like better. Each bite of this is like a mouthful of happiness. The thing with risotto is that from pictures it never looks that appetizing to me, but of course, once I make it, I can't wait to scarf it all down. My own picture below is, unfortunately, no exception. A food photog I am not!
- Quinoa-stuffed peppers, courtesy of NPR's Kitchen Window. I love quinoa. It's a super healthy whole grain. It's nutty (which is apparently I flavor I like since just about everything I've described in this post has been nutty, heh), and I like how the texture is like little pearls that pop in your mouth. I see a lot of recipes with cous cous, but I prefer quinoa because I think it's a bit better for you since cous cous is basically a pasta (though they do sell a whole wheat cous cous at Trader Joe's I've been meaning to try). I have to say, I don't quite understand the big deal with stuffing peppers. Is it just for the wow-factor of the presentation? This recipe turned out good. Really good, in fact. But I think next time I'd be tempted to just cut up the bell pepper, cook it with the rest of the ingredients, and put it all in a pot to cook in the oven. That way I wouldn't have to deal with all the cutting and what not when I'm trying to shovel the delicious food in my mouth. I think I would also add more tomatoes. I used heirloom cherry tomatoes that were so delicious in it that I ended up fishing them out of the dish. Overall all the flavors went really well together. The pine nuts definitely bring it all together and go great with the quinoa. The pepper and tomato adds a nice sweetness, and the fennel seeds definitely gave it a more interesting flavor. Re-doable for sure! Ok, I am kind of loving this picture.
- Roasted autumn vegetable chowder, courtesy of Pinch My Salt. My first excuse to use my dutch oven! Woohoo! Oh, that's another thing I never mentioned this week. Husband and I had some Amazon gift cards that added up to quite a bit, and he generously insisted that I use them to buy the Le Creuset dutch oven I've been coveting for so long. What a stud! Of course, he knew what was in it for him was lots of good eats! Ladies, if your husband ever gives you a hard time about buying cookware or kitchen gadgets, just show him the episode of Good Eats where Alton talks about why you need whatever the item in question is. Thanks Alton for your episode on dutch ovens!!! Anyway, I felt like a nice thick soup to go with the Autumn weather, but I didn't want anything heavy or creamy. Starchy, however, fit the bill perfectly! This soup really did the trick. Potatoes are used to thicken the soup, rather than dairy, so it's still has some bite without being heavy. It's a little on the bland side, but apparently Nicole employs the same strategy I use when faced with bland soup. Cholula! I think if/when I make this soup again, I'll roast the vegetables for a bit longer to let their flavors develop a bit more. Also, make sure you keep all the vegetables about the same size, with the potatoes even on the small side. They ended up a bit undercooked. But overall, very satisfying. And I'll keep with the theme here and offer another picture note. The reason my pot looks so pathetic is that I forgot to snap my picture until I had ladled most of the soup into a tupperware before stashing it in the fridge. I was too lazy to spoon it all back, so imagine this soup, just more of it.
- I made the same no-knead bread I've made in the past, except I found whole wheat bread flour in the bulk bin section of my healthy food grocery store. How awesome is that!!? Husband thinks it's a bit on the heavy side and suggested I try adding more yeast. I might try that next time, but I really don't mind it on the dense side. Mmmm, nutty! It ended up going fantastically with the next item. And also, this one fuzzy picture was all I was able to get before we scarfed the whole loaf!
- Strawberry freezer jam. Have you heard of freezer jam? When I was in Seattle last month I was dining at the ever-wonderful Chinook's for brunch we noticed the jam on the table said it was freezer jam. We didn't have a clue how freezer jam differed from regular jam, nor did the packaging give a clue. Then I saw this article at NPR's Kitchen Window about freezer jam. Apparently freezer jam is, well, jam! The freezing just refers to the method of preservation. It would be like calling traditional jam "canning jam". This highly appealed to me because I fear canning. I don't really want to mess with all the necessary hardware, and then possibly killing myself with bacteria when I mess it up. Though I did by chance just watch Alton Brown's episode of Good Eats on making and canning jam this morning, and it is decidedly less scary (though equally a pain). As it happens, I am trying to take up more space in my freezer anyway (it saves energy to keep it full!). I didn't end up using any of the recipes in the article because when I got the pectin home and excitedly read the directions, they point blank said "DON'T VARY FROM THESE EXACT INSTRUCTIONS OR YOUR JAM WILL NOT SET. EVERYTHING WILL BE RUINED. AND YOU WILL GO STRAIGHT TO HELL WITHOUT COLLECTING $200!" Or something like that. I decided it was ok to be a bit vanilla for my first time. So I used the package instructions for making strawberry jam. Just 4 cups of strawberries and 3 cups of sugar. Easy! I thought it would be overly sweet because that's a lot of sugar, but it's actually quite tasty! It's more reminiscent of a jelly than a jam to me, but whatever. It still tastes amazing on the no-knead bread I made, or on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yum! I'd really like to try the citrus pear jam, but I'm afraid. The recipe says to follow the directions on the pectin for how much to use, but the package only calls for using the whole thing. I'll save this for a day when I'm feeling brave. And after I buy more freezer jam containers, because all mine are currently in use! And when I have some pork standing by that I can eat my failure on if it doesn't end up setting.
These containers are special freezer jam containers. Even though my grocery store only sells one kind of pectin, they also, amazingly, sell these. Hilarious. They're supposedly safe for use in the freezer (some plastic containers are said to leech chemicals into the food at temps that low), and they have handy dandy screw caps. And they were only $4!
Phew! It was a busy weekend indeed!