Cooking for two is boring -- I want to cook for the entire blogosphere!

Tuesday, March 6

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Lovely as a side dish with chicken or lentils, roasted vegetables hit the spot on a cold winter's night. But they don't have to be limited to side dish status -- I piled mine into a goat-cheese omlette. The creamy cheese is a wonderful foil for salty, strong-flavored veggies. Serve for lunch in your Northern California backyard, with a crisp beer and a little side salad, on a sunny March day!

Use any combination of root vegetables or squash that takes your fancy... The cooking time won't vary too much. By cooking hard roots like beets the same length of time as tender squash like zucchini, you guarrantee the same relative texture; that is, the roasted beets will still be firmer than the roasted zucchini, but none should be over or under-done.

1 medium sweet potato
1 large zucchini
1/2 large onion
2 large carrots
2 medium beets

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp dried sage
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.
Wash and peel vegetables, then roughly chop them; it's good if the pieces are relatively uniform in size. Put vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables, then toss so all are evenly coated with dressing.
Spread in a single layer (or as close as you can get) on an unoiled 11x17 baking pan, or use two baking sheets (Pyrex glass pans work fine as well). Bake for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until crispy, browned, and tender.

Recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

Monday, March 5

Candy Making 101

I am on a quest to learn how to make candy. I have the thermometer. I have the pastry brush. Lord knows I have the sugar. But I'm a little scared; I can't imagine a more ironic death for the sugar obsessed than spilling a pan and being burned alive by molten sugar. So I'm easing into the process by practicing with two very easy, no-fuss, no boil candy recipes. Both turned out great, so I am encouraged to move on to marshmallows and caramels!

Chocolate-covered cornflakes. How deliciously kitchy. In the article where I got this recipe, the author claimed she first had them at Jacques Torres chocolatier here in NYC, but I imagine they were cooked up by a bored housewife or a General Mills food promotions exec back in the '50s. In any case, chocolate-covered cornflakes are malty, crunchy, sweet, and spectacularly easy to make.


* 1/2 lb. Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
* 2 Cups Corn Flakes (fresh is best)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until almost melted. Take from heat and stir chocolate until smooth. Pour half over the corn flakes and quickly stir with rubber spatula. Add remaining chocolate and fold gently until all of the corn flakes are generously coated with chocolate. Using two teaspoons, scoop the chocolate-covered corn flakes onto a waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet, shaping into clusters. (Alternately, spread out on cookie sheet into individual flakes - or as close as you can get.) Let set. Makes about a cookie-sheet full. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Rocky Road Fudge. Having been a candy fiend for most of my life, I've sampled many different types of fudge from many different places - maple fudge from Vermont, chocolate fudge by the seaside in Santa Cruz, and peanut butter fudge in the unparalleled fudge hotspot of Mackinac Island. Most fudges are sweet and rich. The recipe I chose to make is rich indeed, but with a more sophisticated and grown-up chocolate taste. Its flavor depends on using quality ingredients - really fine chocolate is a must. But for such sophisticated taste, this is really simple to throw together.


16 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts
1 cup marshmallows

Line an 8x8" pan with a piece of greased aluminum foil, folded over to create a double layer (or use a single layer of heavy-duty foil). In a medium, heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler, toss together chocolates, soda, and salt. Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Place bowl over a pan of boiling water, taking care that the water does not touch the pan (same with double-boiler). Stir mixture for 2-4 minutes, until most but not all of the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir two more minutes, until all the chocolate has melted. Stir in the walnuts and marshmallows. Spread the fudge into the prepared pan and chill until set, about 2 hours.

As a note, these taste much better at room temperature than straight from the fridge. It's worth taking a piece out 20 minutes before you want to eat it to let it come up to room temperature.

These will keep about 2 weeks in the fridge or a month in the freezer.

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated.