Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kale Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas

Here's a roasted vegetable salad for our off again, on again spring weather. Roast the carrots and chickpeas while it rains, and toss together the salad to enjoy when the sun peaks out. I roasted the carrots and chickpeas in an rich coating of cumin and smoked paprika, and spiked the tahini dressing with a good dose of lemon. The dressed kale will hold up well even if you have to wait a while for the sunshine. 

Kale Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas

1 bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves cut into 3/4 inch ribbons
2 large carrots, rinsed and sliced on the diagonal
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste

2 tsp tahini
1 tsp white miso paste
1/4 tsp honey
juice of one lemon
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare the roasted toppings. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, dump the sliced carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and a good sprinkle of salt. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss the drained chickpeas with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and a good sprinkle of salt. Spread out and roast for about 20 minutes, turning the carrots with a spatula occasionally, until they are soft and have started to brown around the edges, and shaking the chickpeas occasionally, until they have browned and crisped. When the roasted toppings are done, set them aside.

2. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all of ingredients until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and add more of any ingredient to adjust the flavor to your likening. 

3. In a large bowl, toss the chopped kale leaves with the dressing until well coated. Gently toss in the roasted toppings. The salad is nice served at once, but it can also stand for a few hours. Enjoy. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chicken in Milk

With a steady supply of pastured chickens from our Fair Valley Farm CSA, I'm always on the look out for easy whole chicken recipes. Today I tried a one pot Jamie Oliver recipe, classified as genius by food52, with a surprising ingredient list: cinnamon stick, lemon peel, garlic cloves, sage leaves, and milk. The end result was fragrant and succulent, and will definitely be staying on our dinner rotation. You start by browning your chicken in a snug pot, then after decanting the browned butter (which I used in our mashed potatoes), you toss in the remaining ingredients and shove it into the oven for 90 minutes, occasionally basting the chicken with the sauce. The chicken browns but stays wonderfully moist (I positioned the breast side down to keep it submerged), the milk solids separate out, leaving a flavorful sauce, and best of all are the whole roasted garlic cloves to squeeze into your mashed potatoes. This is a perfect weekend afternoon dish because it requires little attention, while infusing the house with delicious smells, and leaving time for other kitchen puttering. As the chicken cooked, I prepared the mashed potatoes and used the lower rack of the oven to rotate through several baking sheets to roast: broccoli for a couple dinners, and cumin carrots and chickpeas for a salad later in the week. It's nice to start the week with a chicken in one's pot and several dinners already in the bag.

One 3-pound (1 1/2-kilogram) organic chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (1 stick or 115 grams) butter or olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
Zest of 2 lemons, peeled in thick strips with a peeler
10 garlic cloves, skins left on
1 pint (565 milliliters) whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and fry it in the butter or olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot (or save for another use). This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on. 

2. Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, then cook it in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. (Oliver leaves the pot uncovered, but you can leave it partially covered if you'd like it to retain more moisture and make more sauce.) The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic. 

3. To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

This Easter I decided to try my hand at baking hot cross buns, mostly because I noticed that this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini called for two ingredients I already had fermenting in my refrigerator, bread starter and creme fraiche. I combined these into a wet dough that greeted me in the morning with happy bubbles.

Traditional hot cross buns call for currents, which I knew my daughter wouldn't like (she diligently picks out all the raisons from her stollen slices), but I noticed this BBC Good Food recipe included diced apples and cinnamon, which are always a hit in our household, so I folded some into the dough in the morning.

After the buns had risen, I decorated them with the traditional flour paste cross, following these instructions for making a parchment paper piping cornet, which was remarkably simple. One could also use a sugar icing for the crosses after the buns are baked, but then they won't survive reheating.  

Instead of icing, to give the buns a little sweetness I glazed them with apricot jam. We sampled one to determine that they tasted as nice as they smelled, and are saving the rest for Easter breakfast.

Hot Cross Buns
(adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini, makes one dozen)

for the dough
120 grams (4 1/4 ounces) ripe 100% starter
340 grams (12 ounces) all-purpose flour [if you don't use a starter, use 400 grams (14 ounces)]
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast [if you don't use a starter, use 2 teaspoons]
175 ml (3/4 cup) milk, at room temperature [if you don't use a starter, use 225 ml (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon)], plus a little for brushing
125 grams (1/2 cup) crème fraîche (or equal parts sour cream and heavy cream)
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

for the apple filling
1/2 apple, cored and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crosses:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons apricot jam

Day one: Prepare the dough for overnight fermentation.
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, starter if using, yeast, milk, crème fraîche, and honey to form a shaggy mass, making sure all of the flour is incorporated. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Mix in the salt. Fold  the dough for 4 minutes -- or set the stand mixer on low speed -- until the dough starts to get a little smoother.

3. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with a plate, and place in the fridge for 12 to 18 hours.

Day two: Divide and shape the buns for the second ferment, decorate, bake, and glaze.
4. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, remove the plate, and let rest for 30 minutes; it should have risen moderately, not quite doubled. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

5. Core and dice the apple into small pieces and toss with the cinnamon and ground ginger.

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured working surface -- the dough will be fairly sticky, but if you work quickly while it is still cold from the fridge, you will be fine. Flatten it out, dump on the spiced apples, and fold the dough over itself. Fold it several more times until the apple pieces are incorporated. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 90 grams or 3 1/6 ounces each), and shape each piece into a squarish bun (the dough is a bit sticky, just do your best) and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of space between them: you do want them to touch as they rise and bake.

7. Cover with a clean, floured towel and let rest for 2 1/2 hours, until they've risen to about 1.5 times their original size.

8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the buns lightly with milk (this will foster browning).

9. Prepare the flour paste for the crosses: in a small bowl, place the flour and water and whisk with a spoon until smooth; it should have a consistency a bit like face cream, spreadable but not too thick. Spoon this mixture into a small paper cone (a cornet) assembled from parchment paper as demonstrated here. Snip the tip of the cone to form a 3-mm (1/10-inch) opening and pipe the flour paste over the buns to form a cross.

10. Insert the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned. Transfer to a cooling rack.

11. To prepare the glaze, heat the apricot jam carefully in the microwave, and add a tablespoon of water if it seems to thick. You can strain it if you like, or just avoid transferring apricot bits on your brush. Brush the buns with the glaze while they're still warm. Once cooled, hot cross buns should be split in two horizontally and toasted.