Jen went out of her way to compliment this recipe, so I think it’s a keeper. I think Ceida and Nick do this in their cast iron pan, but cooking it in the oven is a good way to scale it up and free up the stovetop.
from America’s Test Kitchen
1 large head broccoli (about 1 3/4 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for serving
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems; remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges if 3-4 inches in diameter or 6 wedges if 4-5 inches in diameter. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Here’s how you turn something pedestrian into something sublime.
1. Make these lentils.
2. Trade Joy for two slices of her amazing quiche (recipe from Bouchon).
Much to Jen’s chagrin, I’ve been experimenting a lot with beans lately. It’s part of my effort to eat less meat and to find some easy-to-cook stuff at home. Like Mark Bittman says, beans are easy, healthy, and don’t require a lot of maintenance or precision in preparation. Lentils are nice because they don’t require soaking ahead of time. Fortunately, even Jen liked these, and she liked them even more when some of them turned into two slices of decadent, buttery, bacon-y quiche. Affectionately named the f’ing quiche (for taking 3 days to prepare), it’s custard-y and wonderful and I can’t believe Joy gives it away so willingly. I’d at least stick around to watch people eat it.
Lentils and potatoes with curry
from How to Cook Everything
1 cup dried brown lentils, washed and picked over
3 1/2 cups water, coconut milk, or stock, plus more if needed (I used 1 can of coconut milk, will probably use 1/2 next time)
1 tbsp curry powder
2 medium starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
yogurt for garnish (I left this out)
chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Combine the lentils, liquid, and curry powder in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils start to absorb the liquid a bit, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and cover the pan complete. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes or so, then stir gently and check to make sure the lentils aren’t too dry. If they are, add a little more liquid. Add salt as the lentils become tender.
3. Cover and continue cooking until the lentils are soft and beginning to turn to mush and the potatoes are tender at the center, another 5-10 minutes; add liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy. Add lots of black pepper, stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with yogurt and cilantro.
This struck me as a cute and simple recipe, so I decided to give it a try. It smelled amazing (what doesn’t, as it’s sizzling in a dutch oven?). The end result was a moist chicken with a soft, silky texture (like boiled chicken). Was hoping for more intense chicken flavor, but I didn’t use premium-quality chicken; maybe next time.
French Chicken in a Pot
From Cook’s Illustrated
1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back (see note)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion , chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 small stalk celery , chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves , peeled and trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary (if using) around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.
2. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table.
Jen and I took advantage of the warm (50 deg F) California weather this weekend. Had a tasty lunch at the Flying Fish Grill and enjoyed a three-hour walk along the beach, catching the sunset before leaving.
Here’s a bold, tasty, reasonably healthy, quick vegetarian meal. It scales well for guests and the pesto can be prepped a few hours ahead of time if you need to use your food processor for something else. Reheats nicely too.
Pasta with Arugula, Goat Cheese, and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
from Cook’s Illustrated
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (one 8 1/2 ounce jar), drained, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped very coarse
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts , toasted in small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 6 minutes
1 small clove garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
3/4 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 pound campanelli or farfalle
1 medium bunch arugula (about 10 ounces), washed, dried, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch lengths (about 6 cups)
3 ounces goat cheese
1. In food processor, pulse sun-dried tomatoes, oil, walnuts, garlic, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until smooth, about fifteen 2-second pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.
2. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in stockpot. Stir in pasta and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup cooking water, and return pasta to stockpot; immediately stir in arugula until wilted. Stir pasta-cooking water into pesto; stir pesto into pasta. Serve immediately, dotting individual bowls with 1/2-inch pieces goat cheese.
While I fear that my cookbook collection will never quite reach the size of my friend Amy’s, it grew quite a bit this holiday season. There’s a good mix of practical, inspirational, and theoretical content.
How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman. Saw this at 50% off at Borders. Had flipped through some of his books that Jess owned, and I appreciate the straightforwardness of his recipes. This is a great reference too.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee. From my sister. When she took a cooking class at Caltech, the chef gave everyone a copy of this book. Goes into the science of cooking complete with chemical formulas and all.
ATK Family Baking book, ATK. How could I not pick up a new ATK cookbook over the holidays? Hoping to make a lot of tasty desserts from here.
The French Laundry Cookbook, Thomas Keller and friends. From Jen. Enjoying reading some of the anecdotes from the restaurant and looking at the amazing food. I don’t know if I’ll tackle anything in here, but it’s fun to flip through it for ideas.
I’ve pieced together a passable amount of food knowledge from the ATK magazines, website, books, and TV show. I’ve learned a lot from them because rather than just presenting a recipe, they’ll present techniques and detailed explanations about them. I’ve been thinking more about what I’m trying to accomplish with my cooking, and right now I’m mostly interested in continuing to learn fundamental cooking techniques and expanding my repertoire of great everyday recipes that can be prepared and served as a weeknight dinner. Of course, there’ll be more time over the weekends for more involved things like braises and roasts. I don’t really see myself going too crazy to put together fancy menus full of labor-intensive dishes, but I do hope to serve coherent, well-cooked meals.
Anyhow, here’s a handful of New Year’s resolutions for the kitchen:
Focus on “weeknight” recipes. I want healthy, tasty meals for dinner every night.
Eat less meat. For our health and the planet’s. Trying to up our whole grain intake as well.
Learn something about wine. I feel like this is a big hole in our culinary experience. I’d like to at least learn enough to know what to serve to guests and to appreciate a sip or two.
Teach Jen to cook. For a long time I’ve been buying her argument that it’s a waste of resources for us to both learn to cook. But like any team, having redundant basic skills will give us more flexibility in scheduling, and it will ultimately improve the quality of our meals.
Pay attention to dessert. Sometimes it gets forgotten, which is quite a shame.