Oven-roasted chicken & vegetables dinner

So it’s Fall and a great time to turn on the oven and cook a meal there. Warmth and wonderful aromas, both.

When you want something other than a whole roast chicken, and want to amp up the flavor, choose chicken thighs and go strong on spices, including cumin, paprika, cayenne, thyme and perhaps za’atar and/or sumac.

Here’s a guide on how to proceed:

Marinate chicken thighs in Greek yogurt, to which you have added juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 t turmeric, S&P and cayenne. Leave out for 1/2 hour or refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temp before cooking, or at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put chicken thighs into roasting pan skin side up, wiping off some of the marinade, if desired. Sprinkle with paprika and cayenne and roast for 45 minutes or so, turning after half an hour or more; baste occasionally if desired.

Prepare potatoes by scrubbing, cutting into large chunks, drizzling and rubbing with olive oil, S&P. Put into a metal baking dish with a few garlic cloves, peeled, and sprigs of thyme, or rub dried thyme with your fingers, sprinkling into potato baking dish. Put potatoes with one cut side down. Add a splash of water, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove cover, and if you like, turn potatoes with tongs to place down on another cut surface. Continue roasting for another 20 minutes. Then remove and let sit. Serve warm or room temp.

Roasted vegetables: Cut up fennel and red onion into large-ish chunks and place in roasting pan with oil, S&P, fennel seeds, cumin, then pitted olives at end. Maybe add sumac, or use za’atar instead of all other spices. Roast uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally especially near end of time. Add olives about 5 minutes before removing from oven. IMG_5388

 

 

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Fall Vegetable Soup

I have been putting off making soup, thinking it’s a big production — to figure out components AND spices. Thinking: Tunisian, Thai, etc. which got too complicated and became an unproductive dead end (Are dead ends *ever* productive?)

So I had some lovely vegetables from my CSA share, and it being my Sunday night, I decided it was time to make some plain soup. Well I’m here to say that once again having good quality ingredients makes ALL the difference! I used no spices beyond salt and pepper and this soup was delicious! I had: carrots, potatoes, leeks, turnips, garlic and onions. So that was my soup!

I didn’t have vegetable stock handy to use as a soup base, so at Deborah Madison’s guidance I figured I would start with a “quick stock”, and I ended up making a full stock — which is still quick because 40 minutes is fine for vegetables. Also I found making stock is not such a big production if you use a regular size pot I realized last night. I had my base stock simmering while I prepared the ingredients for soup.

Make vegetable stock with onions, celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns.

Soup Ingredients:

3 carrots, peeled and large dice
2 leeks, cut in half, rinsed and large dice
Turnips, peeled and cut into large dice
4-5 potatoes, peeled, quartered and thin slices

Turnip greens

Directions:

Prepare vegetables and then put 2 T butter into soup pot, heat on medium heat and add carrots, leeks, turnips and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, add S&P. Add stock to cover by 2” or more. Cover partially, and cook at simmer for 20+ minutes

Separately boil greens for 3 minutes or less. Mustard greens are good here; boil for 10 minutes, drain and add to soup at end of cooking time. (Optional with greens: red pepper flakes and parmesan in bowls.)

A lovely soup that you can keep in your refrigerator for two days.

Asian style grain bowl with roasted veggies

Perfect for late summer harvest.

Since grain bowls are all the rage, I thought I would test the waters today as my hunger inched up. Having procured some black/forbidden rice at my local natural foods store, I boiled some up, roasted some eggplant, and then a pan of large-julienned carrots, cut up peppers, onion, mushroom at 425 degrees in oiled pans. Added garlic last minute to the carrot mixture. Should go in the oven in this order: carrots, peppers, onion and mushrooms all together. Right after the eggplant wedges go in on their own tray. Then last few minutes mix in garlic with carrot medley.

Asian vinaigrette:  2 T rice wine vinegar, 2 T soy sauce, good dash siracha, toasted sesame oil, olive oil, canola oil, S&P. Whisk together. Not bad, even if there was no ginger in the house.

To cook black rice: Rinse 1 c rice and put in small pot with 1-3/4 c water and some salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook gently for 30 minutes. Al dente, nutty, delicious!

Assemble: rice on one side, eggplant on the other, carrot medley in middle, drizzle dressing on top. Perhaps top with fresh mozzarella cubes or queso fresca if it’s on hand.

 

Roasted eggplant with stewed lentils

… and fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. (I had fresh locally made mozzarella, so that plate is loaded up!)

Just when eggplants are starting to come in in mid- to late August — plumb and firm, roast some widgets (bigger than wedges) with garlic & oil (&S&P) at 410 degrees for 25 mins.

Put up a pot of vegetable stock with: carrots, celery, onions, parsley, garlic, zucchini if you got lots of it, particularly if it’s getting oldish, and some peppercorns and hey one bay leaf and a new potato if there is one in your kitchen. 45 minutes is it, then strain and chill/freeze.

Use some of the stock to make stewed lentils: Saute onion, then carrots, celery and garlic in oil w/ S&P, some cumin if you’re in the mood; add puy lentils and cover with twice as much stock/water. Simmer about 30-40 minutes until tender.

Plate up:
Stewed lentils
Eggplant
fresh mozzarella pieces
cherry tomatoes, halved on the side, seasoned with some salt & maybe some olive oil.

Turnips!

Okay, kids, boil away!  “No way!” I hear hordes shouting.  Yes, indeed, I’m here to tell you that those staple roots available at very reasonable prices at farmers markets in early summer and fall to winter are actually an enjoyable vegetable to eat at dinner.  They’re a low carb alternative to potatoes on your dinner plate.  And if you cook them promptly the greens are delicious with ’em, so you get a double dose of veggies — roots and greens — for one effort. And everything is better with roasted garlic, which this has.

Here’s what you do, per the very excellent and wacky Power Vegetables by the Lucky Peach folks.  Boil them and toss them with a snazzy anchovy, caper vinaigrette and eat your low-carb veggies happily.  You boil the peeled, cut turnips for 15 minutes or less, throw in their greens at the end (or arugula or spinach, as I did), then toss with a Riviera/Italian wacky vinaigrette and … wow!  A great side to chicken or I’m told roast pork.

Ingredients:

5 garlic cloves, unpeeled

3 anchovy filets

1 t capers, rinsed and chopped

2 T chopped parsley

1/2 T red wine vinegar

1 T olive oil

4 turnips, peeled and cut into large bite-size pieces

Turnip greens, arugula or spinach (all optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees (or can go to 350 if need be)
  2. Put garlic cloves on pan and bake for 30 minutes until soft.  Peel when cool enough to handle.  Mash if you want.
  3. Put up large pot of water to boil.
  4. Make (low-volume liquid) vinaigrette: Put anchovies, capers, parsley, oil, vinegar & S&P in a jar and shake.  Add garlic if cool, or else just hold on side to add with turnips later.
  5. When water boils and you’re ready to eat in 15 minutes, salt water and add turnips and boil for 15 minutes or until no resistance when poked with a knife, but before turning mushy.  Add greens at end and drain, returning all to pot.  Add dressing and garlic and stir well. Serve hot.

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving

Menu 2016 (and many, many prior years!)

This is my traditional Thanksgiving menu.  My very favorite holiday, because it is so food-centric and fall harvest foods are so incredibly delicious. I might substitute brussels sprouts for collards if I had a second oven to roast ’em.  But maybe not since those collards are so deeply satisfying.  I omit what for many is standard fare of mashed or sweet potatoes and my orange dish is butternut squash — no need in my view to over, overload on carbs since there is stuffing and that turkey is gonna put folks to sleep anyway.  And then there’s pie, of course.  I will link to recipes shortly.

North Wind Farms natural turkey (16# is good size, even for small crowd)

Stuffing

Watercress salad to start

Crudities — carrots, olives, dilly beans, cheese and crackers

Cranberry quince chutney

Cranberry orange relish

Maple butternut squash puree

Collards — 2 hr simmer with garlic, sweet and regular onions, red pepper flakes in chicken stock

Onion, leek shallot gratin

Pumpkin pie

Maple, chocolate pecan pie

whipped cream

Decaf coffee

Winter salad — Watercress, pears and blue cheese

A delicious, elegant dinner party first course.  I served for Thanksgiving.  Pears are in season; watercress is a welcome bright green as Winter is setting in in the Northeast US.

Ingredients:

Watercress

Mesclun

Pears – D’Anjou

Blue cheese

Walnuts – roasted and cooled (375 degree oven for 8 mins until fragrant)

Vinaigrette:

Shallots, minced; soaked in apple cider vinegar to cover

Lemon juice

Walnut oil

Olive oil

S&P

Shake in bottle; refrigerate up to a couple days. Remove before using to come to room temp.

Salad assembly:

Wash and dry lettuce and watercress; remove thick stems if needed

Cut pear in half and core with corer, or cut into quarters and slice to remove core.

Cut quarters into quarters  or thirds lengthwise to make moderate-size wedges.

Toss greens with vinaigrette. Place on individual plates. Lay pears in pretty way grouped together on side of plate. Sprinkle walnuts and blue cheese on top. Drizzle more dressing on pears, etc.