Tuesday, October 23, 2012

boom, roasted

I know what I'll do with that squash, I said. I'll make a soup with cumin in it.

Everything else grew out of that, using stuff I happened to have in the house.

Roasted squash soup with cumin and lime; with brown butter peanuts and goat cheese.

I chopped the squash into pieces that would fit in the pan and roasted them at 375 for several hours - you can roast a squash in about an hour, I just wanted bigger, deeper flavor.

Roasted squash
Meanwhile I used my kitchen torch to roast some red chiles.

Roasted chiles

I scooped the roasted squash out of the shells and pureed it with the chiles, the juice of two limes, a good deal of cumin, a tablespoon of red miso, two cloves of black garlic, a teaspoon or so of "black mint" (use cilantro or whatever other herb you like), and a bit of hot water, and strained it. The seasonings were picked partly because they go well with cumin, and partly for the earthy umami flavor they contribute.

The strained soup was topped with hoja santa goat cheese and brown butter peanuts (heat butter until it starts to brown, add Trader Joe's blistered peanuts and stir until you smell peanut).

Squash soup

You can see the soup clinging to the tortilla chip in the upper left.

Spicy, warm, not overwhelmingly rich or monochromatically earthy thanks to the lime juice.

Friday, October 12, 2012

sandwich creamery

While we were up at the lake, we made the journey out to Sandwich Creamery, which makes ice cream, sorbet, and cheese, and has a little store on-site that's open to the public. When I say little, I mean little: there's a cooler of cheese (only cheddar and fresh cheese when we went) and organic eggs, a freezer of ice cream and sorbet, and a table of amazing sourdough bread. No staff, cash only - you put paper money in one slot and coins in another, and a video camera enforces your honesty.

The Creamery is kind of in the middle of nowhere.

Sandwich Creamery

... no, seriously:

Sandwich Creamery
You drive through the center of Sandwich - which was at the time hosting the Sandwich Fair - and then down a country road, turning off that country road onto another country road (marked by the sign above), then another country road, then another. The winding dirt roads reminded me of Hollis when I was a kid, before everything was paved and they put a traffic light in.

Sandwich Creamery
Sandwich Creamery
There were a few people eating ice cream at the tables when we got there, but they'd left before I took photos.

Sandwich Creamery
The little shack on the left is the part open to the public:

Sandwich Creamery
Cooler of cheese and eggs.

Sandwich Creamery
Bread. I apparently forgot to take a photo of the ice cream! We picked up three small containers of ice cream (each about two small servings): cranberry, cinnamon, and "tipsy turtle," which tasted like chocolate, amaretto, and pecans. All excellent, as always.

Sandwich Creamery
Like most cheesemakers these days, Sandwich Creamery buys its milk from other farmers, so there are no cows there - we did see sheep, pigs, and chickens.

columbus day weekend

Cabin, Columbus Day

Columbus Day weekend up at the lake!

Squam, Columbus Day

Caitlin got the fire going when necessary - it was certainly colder than last year - and I handled the cooking.

We started with that most autumnal of dinners, the roast chicken:

Chicken to be roasted
That's an eight pound chicken - don't be fooled by the enormity of my pan, which I've roasted turkeys and fresh hams in. It's covered in zaatar - sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds - and drizzled with a little olive oil, and resting on top of chunks of parsnip, celery root, and fennel.

Really, the parsnips were my favorite part here - sweet and rich and caramelized from roasting underneath the chicken. We had sides of freekeh cooked with garlic. Freekeh is similar to the marginally more common wheat berry, but the wheat is picked green, roasted in an open flame, thrashed, and sun-dried. The result is extremely flavorful and nutty - I wish I weren't out of it now!

Roast chicken with freekeh
Roast chicken with freekeh

Leftover chicken gave us a few more meals - to start with, I made a chicken stock from the bones and vegetable scraps (which wound up very dark because I cooked it down too far - the stove up there heats up much hotter than mine on low and medium), with bits of chicken, parsnip, celery root, kale, the leftover freekeh, and the drippings from the chicken.

Chicken soup with freekeh

Most of the rest of the chicken went into a chicken hash. I'd boiled potatoes ahead of time, let them cool, and chopped them into chunks - crisped them up in butter, added chopped cooked chicken, smoked mushrooms, and cream.

Yeah, smoked mushrooms: straight-up supermarket button mushrooms, marinated in olive oil and soy sauce for a day, smoked for half an hour.

Topped with a fried egg.

Chicken hash with smoked mushrooms

Other odds and ends.  Quince!  Quince - chopped, cored - covered in ginger beer and roasted, covered, until soft, then uncovered until the ginger beer got syrupy.

Roast quince with ginger beer
We had the quince with ice cream from Sandwich Creamery - both their cinnamon ice cream and their cranberry ice cream.

Finally, a Campari drink inspired by Dave Wondrich's Corn Goddess:

Pink corn juice drink
Roughly equal parts of strained corn juice, gin (The Botanist), Campari, and lime juice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I thought everyone was clear on this by now.

If you insist that you only like "bone dry martinis," if you recite ridiculous things like "just tap the bottle of vermouth against the shaker" or "whisper 'vermouth' across the ice," if you pour a little vermouth in the shaker and then pour it right back out so it just coats the glass ...

... you don't like martinis. You don't drink martinis.

You like glasses of gin. There's nothing wrong with liking gin. But a glass of gin isn't a martini.

Here is a bone-dry cheeseburger to have with your martini. After assembling the bread and cheese, I waved my hands over it and whispered the word "cow."

Grilled cheese

(Grilled cheese and vegemite, which I'd meant to post on National Grilled Cheese Day but forgot.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

chicken pot chicken pot

Chicken Pot Pie, Day 1:


Roast a chicken. My chicken roasting method has been the same for a decade: spatchcock it (cut through one side with a sharp knife and split it open) and roast it at high heat, 450, for an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the chicken.

Seasonings are unnecessary unless you plan to eat some of the chicken without putting it in the pot pie.

Let the chicken cool completely.


Remove meat from chicken carcass, chop up, and put in the refrigerator.

Add skin and bones and drippings from the pan to a pot (crockpot's fine), cover with water, and let simmer all day and night.

You can season the chicken stock with any vegetable scraps you happen to have, but carrot, celery, turnip, and onion work especially well.

Chicken Pot Pie, Day 2:


Make pie crust and refrigerate until needed.

Strain chicken stock and reduce until it's no bigger than the volume of a pie plate.

Refrigerate chicken stock.

Chop vegetables: celery, carrot, onion. (I have interesting things in my freezer, so actually used celery, onion, green chile, and ramps.)

When it's time to make dinner:

Remove solidified chicken fat - schmaltz - from the surface of the chilled chicken stock. Melt in a pan big enough to hold the stock, chicken, and vegetables. Add a little flour and stir together until the flour is no longer raw.

Add vegetables to the roux, stir for a few minutes, and add the stock. Cook down as needed. Add chicken, salt and pepper (do not skimp on the salt), and pour into a pie plate lined with pie crust. Cover with second crust. Brush top crust with a little butter.

Bake at 350 for an hour.

Let cool 15 minutes before eating.

(It's raining, I can't get a good photo. You know what chicken pot pie looks like.)