Saturday, December 29, 2012

Roast Chicken and Roots

Monday 10 December
We are sort of tired of Thomas Keller's high-temperature chicken, which may be amazing from the ovens of Per Se but is nothing extraordinary from ours.  So we returned to our old pattern of rubbing the chicken's skin with some lemon and olive oil, skooching some chopped rosemary and thyme and more oil up under the breast and thigh skin, putting the extra herb twigs and squeezed lemon up the chicken's butt, and roasting it at the People's Temperature (350º F.). 
Best of all, the lower temperature makes it easier to get the panful of chopped turnips, carrots, onions, and parsnips to roast evenly and not burn.  If you want the skin a bit more brown, raise the temperature to 400º at the very end.  And after all, what more could you ask for?  

Bean Soup with Sausage and Chard

Sunday 9 December
Back in October 2006, we were inspired by a mere description of a dish of sausage, kale, and cannellini beans.  Back then, we used potato and chard instead of beans and kale, but this time we used great northern beans, chard, and Charles Bare bulk sausage.
It could be a stew, but as a soup it was extra-thick and good.

Scallop Mousse

Saturday 8 December
This was the first night of Chanukah, so of course we ate trafe.  Holt bought a pound of bay scallops and made a mousse of them.
As the tarragon is gone for the winter, we substituted lemon thyme.  And instead of the asparagus, we made a fresh tomato sauce of (home-grown and bag-ripened) tomatoes, shallots, butter, and wine: just simmer until limp, purée with the stick mixer (our magic wand), and montez au beurre.
Our side dish was garden fennel sliced and steamed with butter; Holt had used its fresh fronds as well as parsley and thyme to line the timbales he filled with mousse, and when he unmoulded them, they were more elegant than an elegant thing indeed.

Classics Department Party at Baba Budan's

Friday 7 December
It was raining like hell, just about perfect for a day that will live in infamy anyway.  But at 6 PM, everyone struggled and straggled across the street to Baba Budan's for the Classics Department's holiday party.  It's lucky that there's an open bar, which helps everyone get happy, even if they don't dry off.
The food was an odd mix, just like last time.  Dry balls of falafel appeared both in appetizers and in wraps; there were bowls of Greek salad as well as platters of their component ingredients, some hummus, and a pallid imitation of tzaziki.  But there was also a good hot vegetarian lasagna, some rice, and some chicken legs and thighs for the carnivores. 
Dessert was fruit and cookies; or wine, in our case.  It was going to be one for the long squish home, but nice Carol gave us a ride, and we were happy to be high and dry.

Chicken and Artichoke Fricassee

Thursday 6 December
This afternoon Ute, Patrick, and Jud produced a Tytus-scholars' tea, featuring Ute's cheese hors d'oeuvres, tangerines and apples, stollen with marzipan inside, sugar-dusted cookies, chocolate-dusted almonds, and a performance of Theodor Storm's Knecht Ruprecht, with Patrick in the title role.

All that meant that we weren't very hungry, but nonetheless came home for a hearty meal of chicken and artichoke fricassee.
Of course, we made a few changes.  We didn't use flour or bay leaf, we used the regular white mushrooms we had rather than the morels we didn't, and as we were using boneless breast, we sliced and added the chicken at very end.  Oh, and a shot of whipping cream and salt stood in for the crème fraîche.  It was tasty enough to waken our appetites even after our sugar-dusted tea.

Cilantro, Clifton

Wednesday 5 December
Before going with our friend Kathy to an exciting workshop performance of the opera Morning Star (on family, immigration, love, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), we thought we'd try a quick meal at the new location of Cilantro.
Sorry to report that, unlike the touching and uplifting opera, the food at Cilantro is bland and ho-hum.  We had beef vermicelli noodle bowl, sort of a clueless lettuce salad on top of noodles; and Hu tieu with egg noodles and shrimp.  Neither is a patch on Lu Lu's, where we swoon over bowls of Best of Both Worlds Soup.
We needed some Graeter's when we got home (cinnamon and peach, to be precise).