- 30% washing dishes
- 20% chopping
- 15% stirring
- 10% fretting if I’ve over-cooked dinner
- 5% staring lovingly at my tangerine-colored Kitchen Aid and/or flame colored Le Creuset
…and definitely a solid 25% roasting vegetables.
In fact, when I think about my interests (hiking, gardening, eating pickled foods) it’s absolutely possible that roasting vegetables could technically be considered a hobby of mine. Simply based off of the amount of time I spend finding happiness in veggies cooked in high heat, I think this is a real possibility.
I love roasted veggies so much that when someone tells me they don’t like a certain vegetable (say, broccoli or a brussels sprouts) I just assume they’ve never had it roasted. Because as far as I’m concerned, it’s impossible not to love.
So to close out”go-to foods” month here on S&S, I bring you the single most used method of veggie cooking in my house: high heat. I use this method for tons of veggies, but here we’ll talk through: broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, and wee potatoes.
Next to Yak, my other “go-to” protein is Rotisserie Chicken. I love that grocery stores roast chickens. The BEST idea grocery stores came up with next to the self-scan!
Need a quick Chicken Salad? Throw on some roasted chicken.
Need a quick Chicken Stir-fry? Slice up some roasted chicken.
Need some super fast soup when a foot of snow is falling outside your window? Chop up some roasted chicken!
While you’re at it…boil the carcass and you have the best chicken stock at your fingertips.
Many years back – when Brandon and I still lived in Denver – we flew to Washington for the holidays. We met up with Brandon’s sister, Brianna, at the airport (she’d just flown in from Texas) and together we rented a car and started the 2ish hour drive from the SeaTac airport to Anacortes, where Brandon’s folks live. We’d gotten in fairly late, so by the time we got on the road we were all pretty hungry and definitely tired. Despite my secret desire to make an emergency stop for rations at Taco Bell, we were anxious to be done with the drive and decided power through, sans dinner (I also *might’ve* also been too embarrassed to suggest a run to that particular border).
When we arrived around 11pm, soo hungry!, Brandon’s mom, Ruth, had the table set for three. At each place setting was a lovely Niçoise salad, which included – I was utterly blown away by this – edible flowers (this was before I had a garden, so I didn’t even really believe people grew their own food – I can’t help it, I’m a city person at heart!). I remember thinking the salad was perfect – hearty enough to be filling, but not so heavy that I went to bed feeling stuffed. And the salad dressing! It was a pop of tangy flavor that went perfectly with the eggs, tuna, tomatoes, green beans, and of course, the nasturtiums.
Obviously, after carrying on about the amazing dressing, Ruth kindly provided me a copy of the recipe, and I learned that she’d actually made it up herself. Since then, it has easily become our go-to dressing; I probably make it about 80% of our salad-eating times. Despite having strong flavors – lemon juice, ginger, sesame oil – it’s surprisingly versatile and is well matched to most salads. However, the Niçoise is definitely a favorite way to use the dressing.
Strudel and I decided “go-to” meals would be fun this month. When I think of “go-to” meals I think of simple. I spend part of my Sundays prepping food for the week, this way when I come home from work each night I have chopped vegetables, grated cheese and portioned protein ready to cook quickly.
A fellow blogger and friend, Erica, is amazing at this weekly prep and making inspiring meals, check out her blog for new ideas. I have “go-to” spices, proteins, vegetables, nuts and cheese and I decided to incorporate all of them in this one recipe.
One of my “go-to” proteins is Yak. Much like bison, the meat is lean but juicy and flavorful and high in protein. I buy large quantities of ground yak meat yearly at the National Western Stock Show that is here in Denver every January. Bow Creek Ranch brings their yaks and their tasty meat to this show from Kansas and I stock up for the year, (this year I bought 35 pounds).
So it’s only after I planned, baked, and started to prep this post that I realized I was posting a challah recipe on Easter Sunday. I beg ignorance, since it’s not my holiday, though knowing this in advance will save me from wondering on Sunday why it’s so hard to get into a brunch place.
I feel very fondly about this recipe – it’s from the Cook Street School of Culinary Arts, where I took a 3-series artisan bread class so many years ago and – most importantly – where I met my friend Streusel. We made this very lovely challah in the 2nd class, and while I’ve had plenty of challah in my life, I particularly liked this one because of it’s soft, every-so-slightly sweet inner bread and assertive (though not crusty) crust.
If you’ve been reading this blog for some time now you know that I love ducks and I love brioche. More than these two things combined I love the fabulous bread book, Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. It has lovely pictures, beautiful breads and just feels good in the hand. I am a collector of cookbooks and this is one of my treasures.
I have known I love duck eggs for several years but it wasn’t until a friend gave me a tub of duck fat recently that I truly appreciated the duck for all it provides. Duck fat is a culinary dream.
Note: If you own Tartine Bread, you know all of his recipes are by weight but I converted some ingredients into volume to make it easier for me to visualize. I can’t visualize 2.5 g of salt but I can visualize 0.5 teaspoon.
I made this Brioche in a day, from start to finish it took about 12 hours. It may sound laborious but it really isn’t. It’s a great recipe to start in the morning, go run errands and then in the late afternoon finish while you’re doing stuff around the house. Before you go to bed you have a fresh loaf of Brioche that can sit on the stove overnight to cool and slice up for breakfast the next morning.
I was home sick for a few days last week, so in-between feeling sorry for myself, gleefully watching all the terrible TV I never get to see because I’m at work (The View, The Chew, Live with whoever, etc.), I also watched a healthy dose of cooking shows on public television. I find it wildly entertaining to watch the slow moving, no-action-packed nature of public TV. There’s no rapid talking chefs or shouts from the audience; instead it’s Jacque Pepin talking about how much his wife loves runny eggs or a southern cooking show discussing tomato varietals for 20 minutes.
No surprise here – of course my favorite cookings shows are anything by the folks at Cook’s Illustrated. The best parts of the show are the opener (occasionally Christopher Kimball will dress up as a giant piece of fruit) and the kitchen equipment testing. Squeezed in-between these segments are some recipes, and last week, as I sat nurturing my pathetic self, I saw Bridget patiently teach Christopher how to make Dakota Bread, a hearty, healthy bread with grains, seeds, and white flour (much as I enjoy wheat flour, white flour has my heart). Inspired (and honestly, slightly bored after a few days on the sofa), I made the bread myself. I was pleased to see that it not only turned out to be simple to make, it’s a tasty, seedy bread that’s filling and flavorful without being dense and heavy.
ps. I promise I washed my hands about a billion times while I baked, plus I didn’t breathe on anything.
Strudel and I decided we wanted to go back to what we do best this month – bread! We met in a bread baking class and it’s what we love to make. Admittedly I had every intention of making an artisan bread this weekend. A bread similar to ones I’ve made in the past like a crusty sourdough or ciabatta or even a French country bread braid.
BUT, it is absolutely beautiful here in Denver this weekend and I didn’t feel like spending tons of time in the kitchen. So, next to crusty hearty bread, I love making biscuits. Most mornings I wake up wanting a cup of coffee and a freshly baked biscuit but never have time to actually make biscuits. This morning I made the time. If you shop at Costco you might have seen this fantastic waffle mix called Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes. It’s a waffle mix high in protein and fiber and I love it. I make up waffles on the weekend and freeze them for easy reheating in the toaster before work during the week. I got to thinking maybe I could make a buttery biscuit out of this mix and I did!
It would seem that I’m using this month’s theme as an excuse to eat chocolate at breakfast, While I’m a little surprised – I *do* try to be a healthy eater – as a social worker, I’ve learned that sometimes you have to look beyond what people say (“I’m a healthy eater”) and instead look at their behaviors (2 of my 3 posts this month involve eating chocolate at breakfast).
In my defense, these scones are really good. I used a trusted and loved simple scone recipe, edited to meet my needs. Because the scone base itself doesn’t have much sugar, the espresso flavor stands out, and the scones don’t become overly sweet with the addition of the dark chocolate. There are two glazes – plain and cinnamon – because why wouldn’t we?
Chocolate and mint is a favorite flavor combo in my house – when I can trick myself into thinking an indulgent dessert falls on the side of being a refreshing snack, it’s pretty hard to stop from plowing ahead in coming up with additional ways to get this dream team of ingredients together.
The New York Times just recently posted a recipe for their chocolate mint bars – aka Peppermint Patties – and while it looked pretty good, many of the commenters noted that the dessert came out way too sweet. I also wasn’t excited about a crunchy shortbread base; I wanted something a little more – if you don’t mind my saying – tender. Swapping out the base for a slightly-less-sweet thin brownie, filling the middle with sweet mint, and pouring on a solid chocolate topping created a delicious and satisfying treat.