Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pan-Roasted Chicken

There are few aromas as wonderful as roasting chicken. Especially chicken slathered in butter, lemon, and garlic roasting away on an autumn afternoon. The citrus adds a bright, aromatic note to counter the richness of the butter, and the dish is finished with a flavorful sauce made from pan drippings and a touch of cream that is just as delicious atop the chicken as it is drizzled on accompanying potatoes or vegetables.

Pan-roasting is my go-to method for mouthwatering, succulent chicken. Browning the meat on the stove first locks in moisture and creates beautifully crispy, golden skin. Then the chicken is finished in an oven, still in the pan with the drippings and a flavorful stock, until it is evenly roasted to golden perfection. In less than an hour, you have a deliciously tender, luscious meal that tastes like it took hours of preparation.

This recipe is equally befitting of a cozy weeknight in, or a night of elegant entertaining.

Recipe after the jump... 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seasonal Spotlight: Brussels Sprouts


It's beautiful in the city this time of year - with bright, changing foliage, crisp, autumnal air, shops aglow with festive displays and colorful holiday lights dotting the trees. It's my first Fall in San Francisco and I've been feeling nostalgic; missing home, family, the familiar holiday traditions. Craving comfort foods. Flavorful soups, braised meats and roasted, earthy vegetables.

This combination of smokey bacon, sweet caramelized onions and golden-kissed Brussels sprouts is the perfect antidote for chilly days. Warm and flavorful, yet still light.

I must confess that this is not an old family recipe. Growing up, vegetables were always strongly encouraged. But despite a large edible garden that produced a nearly year-round bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, Brussels sprouts not only never made it to our dinner table, they didn't even get planted. There was some kind of long-standing familial boycott. In fact, I had never even tried Brussels sprouts until recently. I expected to detest them, given their generally terrible reputation. Instead, I was surprised that I actually liked them, and - to the great chagrin of my family - inspired to explore the possibilities of this new-to-me ingredient.

So I started some research and discovered that overcooking Brussels sprouts brings out an unappetizing sulfurous smell, bitterness and dull color (I would suspect the reason for my family's embargo). Armed with that, I decided that quickly sauteing them to a crisp al dente would be a wonderful way to retain their bright, slightly sweet flavor.

If that's not enough encouragement for you to try these look-alike miniature cabbage heads, consider that Brussels sprouts share many of the health benefits associated with cruciferous vegetables: high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C and soluble fiber. They are members of the Brassica family, along with cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and collard greens, and numerous studies point to a strong connection between Brussels sprouts and cancer prevention. And when they're sauteed in bacon drippings, garlic and caramelized onions, it's nearly impossible to remember just how good for you they are. Even the non-believers will be converted.

Recipe after the jump...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup and getting back on track...

I had a plan. I was on track. Things were working. But sometimes life has other plans, and at the end of the summer I was dealt a devastating blow that changed things dramatically. I lost the most important person in my life, unexpectedly, and it derailed me.

I couldn't cook for a long time. I didn't want to eat. The sadness felt inescapable. Everything triggered a memory. And the comfort and joy I had always found in the kitchen became somehow empty and painful when it was so difficult just to get out of bed each morning and be functional. Get dressed. Get on the bus. Go to work. 

So this project was abandoned, and it's taken me a long time to regain my focus. I'm finally now starting to cook again. Easing back in. One day at a time. Finding comfort in classic family recipes. Trying new ingredients. I'm not there yet, but cooking is feeding my path to healing.

This recipe is a new one. Simple ingredients and perfect for the cold, windy, autumnal days we've been having in the city lately.

Recipe after the jump...


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