Sunday, September 25, 2011

Strange Weekend Weather...

It rained...the sun came out...thunder. Repeat for 2 days. The leaves have come a long way toward color changes. It was the kind of weekend that inspires me to cook something that will fill my apartment with wonderful aromas. I found a chubby Cornish hen in Whole Foods and decided to change my original plan and prepare it. Question became, should I try something different than just roasting it? Here is what I put on the table:

Moroccan Cornish Hen
Fennel Salad with Artichokes, and Jicama in a vinaigrette
Warm Wheat Berries with Asparagus and Onion

I have a tin of Tagine spices and made a paste with it. Tagine is a Moroccan stew featuring meat or poultry prepared with vegetables, olives, preserved lemons, and garlic. The spice mix is made of: cinnamon, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika and saffron. I put cut up lemon inside and some herbs under the skin. Let me tell you, the aroma was fabulous. The rub gave the skin a crispy red brown color.

The salad came from the textbook for my class. I enhanced it a bit with the jicama, chopped Italian flat leaf parsley and made my own vinaigrette a la Julia Child. The shaved Parmesan on top was a good addition. The different flavors and textures of the fennel, artichoke and jicama were brought together with the dressing and cheese.

I had some cooked wheat berries in the freezer from last week and added chopped onion and asparagus. It was a bit of a stir fry. The chewy texture of the wheat berries is becoming a favorite.

The weather changes daily this time of year. We shall see what next weekend will bring. Have a good week!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Falling Leaves outside my window...

Well the leaves are not actually falling ....yet, but they are beginning to change color a bit. There are other signs of fall in the air. The lake is covered with Canada Geese preparing to go South and there is a nip in the air.. This time of year brings to mind 'comfort food'. This weeks table fills the comfort food bill:

Apple Cider Martini
Meatloaf with Tomato Relish
Roasted Asparagus
Wheat Berry and Mushroom Salad
Apple Crisp

This week I will add a 'drink' to the Table. Since I am able to purchase single serving bottles I will use them as I can. This week the martini is made from vodka and apple cider. The vodka bottle has a small opening but a cinnamon stick fit nicely and changed the vodka without purchasing a large bottle. The vodka is mixed with the cider and shaken with ice. A nice beginning to the meal.

The meatloaf is a mixture of ground beef, pork and lamb. The relish is made from oil, bay leaves, diced red peppers, diced tomatoes, parsley,catsup, worstershire. After the relish is cooked part is mixed with the meat and formed into a loaf. The rest of the relish is spread over the top and strips of bacon cover the loaf. It is baked until done. Excellent! I will make this meatloaf again!

Roasted asparagus is a simple dish, but excellent. Trimmed asparagus is sprayed with EVOO are roasted until tender crisp.

The wheat berry salad is amazing. The berries are cooked with bay leaves and fresh thyme. Saute bacon with EVOO, onions and a pinch of red pepper and fresh rosemary. Garlic is added as is a mushroom mixture. Add white wine and chicken stock. Cook until berries are softened and mushroom mixture is cooked. This can be served warm or room temperature. Love it!!

Dessert is an apple crisp. The apples are a mixture of sweet and tart apples. They are mixed with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and flour The topping is oatmeal, butter, nuts and a bit of sugar. A topping of Greek Yogurt, brandy flavoring and sugar is put on top of the warm crisp.

This was a satisfying meal and a nice beginning to heavier foods for the cooler weather. We shall see what next weeks bring.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Labor Day Feast

The last 3 day weekend for a bit and I wanted to fix something homey; something that would make my apartment smell great while cooking. I think my table this week reflects the end of summer and it's lighter meals and the beginning of heavier autumn cooking.

Roasted Turmeric Chicken with Vegetables
Coleslaw with Berries
Ricotta Mousse with Berries

Turmeric is a spice related to ginger and is known as a powerful healer, specifically for arthritis. I made a paste of it with EVOO and rubbed the outside of a whole chicken. The chicken is placed on a vertical roasting device (sometimes a beer can, but not this time) Rosemary and lemon are placed inside to flavor the meat from the inside. The vertical chicken is placed in a roasting pan and surrounded by chunks of Yukon gold potatoes, chunks of sweet onion, and slices of red, yellow and orange peppers. My herbs have been very prolific this year and I snipped some sage and thyme to sprinkle over the vegetables along with salt and pepper. A bit of chicken broth is poured over the vegetables and inside the cavity. The pan is placed in the oven to roast until the skin is crispy and juices are clear. The aroma of the roasting chicken and vegetables is lovely. Since the weather was nice I had windows open and could smell the chicken when I went outside. The color of the broth was a bright gold from the turmeric as a bit off putting, but it tasted terrific.

Along with the chicken and vegetables I prepared a slaw. A bag of coleslaw mix with end of season strawberries and scallion slices is dressed with lemon yogurt, salt and pepper. Very pretty and the crunch of the slaw mix complimented the chicken dish.

I had visited Valentino Vineyard on Saturday and purchased a very nice white wine. It was excellent with the meal.

I'm not big on desserts, but this sounded light and yummy. I whipped low fat ricotta with a bit of orange zest and a couple of tablespoons of the juice. It is layered in a wine glass with crushed raspberries, blue berries and black berries. A tiny bit of sugar and more orange zest is added. I garnished the glass with the last of the bing cherries and some mint leaves.

We shall see what the farmers market holds next week. It's the beginning of soup season and I'm hoping for some nice ripe vegetables for a pot of minestrone. Have a good week everyone.