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.

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Foodie Tuesday: Nigella Lawson

I have a massive lady-crush on Nigella Lawson.  She is capable, articulate, indulgent and eminently practical.  Oh, yes, and she’s also a stunning beauty, possessing qualities both delicate and earthy.  I watch reruns of her shows whenever I can, and afterward always feel that I’ve learned something substantive about cooking.  Her 2007 tome, How to Eat, has become an indispensable resource in my kitchen.  Nigella’s witty musings on the art and appreciation of eating, not just cooking, hooked me from the first paragraph.

And so today’s Foodie Tuesday post is a virtual raising-of-the-glass to Nigella Lawson, who perpetually reminds us to live voluptuously.

Cooking is not about just joining the dots, following one recipe slavishly and then moving on to the next.  It’s about developing an understanding of food, a sense of assurance in the kitchen, about the simple desire to make yourself something to eat.  And in cooking, as in writing, you must please yourself to please others.  Strangely, it can take enormous confidence to trust your own palate, follow your own instincts.

…I don’t believe you can ever really cook unless you love eating.  Such love, of course, is not something that can be taught, but it can be conveyed–and maybe that’s the point…I have nothing to declare but my greed.  –Nigella Lawson, “How to Eat”