Although I haven’t been posting about it much, I have in fact been cooking at home a TON lately. Now that it’s dark and cold by the time I get home from work, getting warm in the kitchen seems like the only and best thing to do. I’ve been focusing on making simple recipes, and getting comfortable with the basics. I’d like to be able to pull together dishes without double and triple checking recipes as I go along, and I figure the best way to do this is just repeat the same thing a few times. The main obstacle for my winter cooking is a BEAUTIFUL antique oven that seems to have it’s own mind regarding temperature. At this point, I’ve used my skills as a scientist to deduce that it generally runs 50 degrees too hot, and once it hits 400 it DOES NOT STOP (while toasting baguettes recently, we got up to 600 degrees, the knob only on 400).
Using the Joy of Cooking chocolate chip cookie recipe, I made chocolate pepita cookies with roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (I’ve been crazy for these lately: salads, snacking, cookies, you name it). I also added a dash of cinnamon to make the theme of the cookie overall a little more Mexican, but sadly didn’t add enough. But, the end product is still delicious and they baked perfectly in my temperamental oven.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, grease baking sheets.
- Mix together 2 cups plus 2T flour with 1/2t baking soda in one bowl, set aside. You can try mixing in up to 1t cinnamon here as well. In a separate mixing bowl, mix 1 stick room temp butter (8T), 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in 1 egg, 1 1/2 T vanilla, and 1/4 t salt. Blend in the flour mixture. Add 1cup chocolate chips and 3/4 cups crushed, roasted, salted pepitas.
- Drop one teaspoon balls of dough 2 inches apart from each other. Bake one sheet at a time, for about 8 minutes. I suggest rotating the sheet after a few minutes, and keep a close eye on them to pull them out at the right time.
Dinner tonight is also very simple and traditional: Roast chicken with gravy and braised carrots, side of brown rice. All recipes from Joy of Cooking, and are easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Chicken with Gravy and Braised Carrots
- Rinse your giblet free chicken (~4 pounds) with water under the faucet and tap dry with paper towels. Rub a generous tablespoon or so of salt all over the outside and inside of your bird. Then brush with 2-3T melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees in an oiled roasting pan for about an hour, till the thigh registers about 180 degrees. Let that bird sit for about 15 minutes before carving (great time to make carrots and gravy!)
- I threw some peeled garlic into the pan as an experiment. At the end of the roasting, the garlic was too dry and burnt to do much with, so next time I’m going to experiment with tossing the garlic in with the peel and some more oil. I really want to mash some creamy garlic into the gravy in the future.
- While the bird roasts, chop about a pound of carrots into similarly sized sticks, and toss in a large saucepan. Simmer, covered, over medium high heat with 1/2 cup chicken broth or water, 1 1/2 T butter, 1T sugar (brown preferred), and 1/4t salt for about 15-20 minutes. Serve with s&p to taste, parmesan (or my latest obsession: ReNero pecorino!), and parsley.
- If you want some delicious gravy, it’s easy. I’m not much of a gravy fan myself, and had never made it before, but I definitely will again. Over medium high heat de-glaze the pan drippings with about 1/4 cup dry white wine, scraping up all the bits from the pan. Either in the pan, or moving liquid to a saucepan, whisk in 3/4 cups chicken broth, 1T butter, and 1T flour, until thickened. If using the chicken recipe above you absolutely will not have to add any salt, but pepper to taste and vinegar if you choose.