Foodie Tuesday: It’s roasting in here!

Welcome to 2012, friends!  I have been woefully negligent of this blog as of late, and my only defense is that everything seems to accelerate mercilessly during the holiday season and I simply couldn’t keep up with everything.  It will surprise no one, however, that my enthusiasm for eating has flagged not at all, which brings me to the first Foodie Tuesday post of this new year: oven roasting and Diana Henry.

Last year I received a beautiful cookbook as a gift: Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry.  The book’s hearty wintertime recipes were interspersed with gorgeous photographs and vivid, in-praise-of-eating excerpts from authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Italo Calvino, Robert Frost, and Colette.  I read the book cover-to-cover and made the Swedish Thursday soup with split peas and ham, then set about learning more about Diana Henry, an Irish food writer and cook.

I found and ordered two more cookbooks by Henry, which immediately became indispensable resources in our Brooklyn kitchen.  I would go so far as to say that, if you were to have only one cookbook in your home, you’d do well to own either Plenty or Pure Simple Cooking.  Henry’s prose and recipes are practical, unassuming, and delicious.

She is a major advocate of oven-roasting, a nearly effortless way to serve a meal that is at once rib-sticking, homey, elegant, and sometimes even exotic (I am given, here, to a profusion of adjectives–forgive me!).  Oven-roasting is a very simple concept, but the resulting flavors are nuanced and eminently satisfying.

Nearly every recipe in Plenty and Pure Simple Cooking is appended with a variation or two, which means that an Italian-style roast chicken with rosemary and balsamic vinegar can easily become instead a Catalan roast chicken with pimenton, preserved lemon, and black olives.

As these winter days grow ever-colder (14° F today!? Sheesh.), the humble bounty of oven-roasted meats and vegetables warms both the home and the soul.  Happy cooking, happy eating, and Happy New Year!



Catalan-Style Baked Chicken – adapted from Diana Henry’s Pure Simple Cooking

Marinate 8 chicken thighs in 1/4 C olive oil, 1 Tbsp. pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika), 5 crushed garlic cloves, & the finely sliced flesh of 1/2 preserved lemon, plus 2 Tbsp. juice from the jar of lemons.

Put into a roasting pan with 2 lbs. unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into big chunks, & 2 red onions, cut into wedges.  Season with salt & pepper.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 45 minutes, until cooked through, adding a handful of pitted black olives & the shredded zest of the lemon 15 mins. before the end.  

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley & mint or cilantro & serve.


8 thoughts on “Foodie Tuesday: It’s roasting in here!

    • Kelly, I can’t tell you how often we use those books…she has so much really practical, useful info about buying seasonal ingredients, as well as lots of great tips for inexpensive cuts of meat. Plus, the books are lovely to read, too! Then again, perhaps not everyone reads cookbooks as though they’re novels. (-:

  1. You’re right, roasting is a good place to direct your thoughts these days, especially with a good guide and great recipes in hand–though I was greatly relieved after first inattentive skim of your opening paragraph to learn that you were not telling us how to oven roast Diana Henry. 🙂

    Now that I’ve returned to normal breathing, I am pleased to find this excellent advice on what to use my preserved lemons for next time I get out the jar!

    • Ha! I love preserved lemons, but never know how to use them. Diana Henry’s books are great because her recipes feature a lot of basic pantry staples, but also some more unusual ingredients. Enjoy!

  2. Reading cookbooks like they’re novels is a favorite past time of mine on a lazy Sunday afternoon! I’ll definitely check out these books. It took me awhile to replace the ease and sheer yumminess of roasting when I gave up meat, but now I think I like roasted root vegetables with slow beans or lentils just as well. Thanks for the inspiration on this cold day!

    • Abi, I totally hear you on roasting veggies & doing beans & lentils, too…such comforting cold-weather food! And roasting really is my favorite way to do veggies, just about any time of year. I love how it concentrates the flavor & creates some caramelization. Let’s make that dinner hang happen in this new year! Until then, happy new year to you all!

  3. thank you for sharing a wonderful recipe. i know thighs are a cheaper cut of meat than breasts, but i personally cannot stand them, USUALLY…however this recipe sounds worth trying!!! I, too, love cookbooks – i collect them, but rarely use them other than as ‘points of reference’. I have 2 personal favorites, which are both history books as well as recipe guides — “History from the Hearth” from Ft. Michillimackinac, full of original recipes from colonial times as well as exerpts from letters and details of daily life at the Fort, and then ‘First Ladies Cookbook’, which shares favorites recipes of each president from Washington to Carter, a details from the First Ladies perspective…..anyway, just wante to share 🙂

    • Amber! I love chicken thighs! If we ever have Thanksgiving together, we know we’ll never fight over who gets the light & who gets the dark meat, right? (-: In any case, you could easily do this recipe with a whole chicken, broken down, instead of just the thighs. Both of those books you mention sound like fascinating reads! I am re-reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series right now & am so enjoying reading about how they prepared their meals pre-electricity, running water, and gas stoves. Love to you & your family!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s