Friday, September 17, 2010

Lazy Sauce

No, friends, still no pictures. My mediocre writing will have to suffice. Someday soon I'll get myself a camera and do this blog right.

Yesterday I got a basket full of end-of-season tomatoes at the farmers market. It was probably 10 quarts or something. The farmer called them "paste" tomatoes, which I had never heard of, but she said they're no different from "sauce" tomatoes. In other words, they make good sauces and pastes.

I took them home, and, feeling moderately ambitious, decided to make sauce but not can it. This meant I could fool around with the recipe all I wanted; I just needed enough room in my freezer for the sauce.

I diced a couple of medium-sized white onions and started to saute them in a stock pot in some butter. I added a couple of diced bell peppers too, since we have approximately 250 in the fridge.

While the onions and peppers were doing their thing, I washed and cored the tomatoes in batches, and pureed them in the food processor, skins and all. Remember, this is lazy sauce. I added the pureed tomatoes once the onions had cooked long enough to be translucent. I could have deglazed the pan with some red wine or something first, but again, this is lazy sauce.

After adding the tomatoes, I threw in a few cloves of pressed garlic. I probably should have sauteed it with the onions and peppers, but I forgot. I also added a scoop of basil and scallion paste that Housemate's amazing sister made for us. You could just use some dried basil and probably oregano. I also added salt and pepper.

Then I let it cook down for about 3 hours, adjusting the seasonings every now and then. When it finished cooking, I ladled it into freezer-safe Mason jars, let them cool, and stuck them in my freezer. To defrost, I will stick a jar in the fridge a day ahead of when I need it, or put the whole jar in a pot of water on the stove (removing the lid first, of course!).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Sacramental Table

"We can not live harmlessly or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament; when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a such desecration, we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want." --Wendell Berry

Maybe I'll write more about this when I'm being less lazy...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Honey Dill Carrots

Here's a recipe for carrots with a honey dill glaze mentioned as a side for lemon herb chicken.

Peel and slice some carrots (on the bias, if you want to be all fancy.) Steam them in a pan with an inch or so of water, or roast them in the oven at 400 for half an hour-ish, then put them in a pan on the stovetop.

Add a few tablespoons of butter, the same amount of honey, fresh or dried dill, salt, and pepper, and cook on low for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with slivered almonds if you really want to get crazy.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

I've been on vacation, ya'll! Sorry for not posting, but I've been having too much fun traveling all around New York state (and a little bit of Vermont) for the past few weeks. Two awesome teammates and I made this roasted chicken for dinner during my giant (20+ person) family vacation on Keuka Lake.

The chickens came from the Pennsylvania Yankee Mercantile general store in Penn Yan, New York. No, nowhere near Pennsylvania--see the comments for an explanation. The store only sells items produced within 100 miles of Penn Yan. Their mission is to keep people in the community aware and in touch with their food chain. If you're ever in Penn Yan, please check them out!

Here's how we made the chicken:

2 small whole chickens (you could, of course, use just one)
thyme, marjoram, tarragon
salt and pepper

2 lemons

white wine

Preheat the oven to 350 or 375. Wash chickens and place in roasting pan. Smear the chickens with butter or drizzle with olive oil if you prefer. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and herbs.

Roll one lemon on the counter to get the juices flowing, then cut it in half and squeeze over top of the chickens. Stuff half of the lemon in each chicken, along with a clove or two of garlic.

Pour some white wine in the bottom of the roasting pan (enough to cover the bottom of the pan). We used a white table wine from the Salmon Run label of Dr. Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, a local Finger Lakes winery.

"Get the label in the shot, maybe they'll send me a free bottle," I shamelessly said to my cook teammate/photographer friend.

Roast for about two hours total, or until a meat thermometer reads 175 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken breast. Baste with liquid from the pan every 20 minutes or so, and add more wine if needed. Squeeze the second lemon over the chickens after about 45 minutes (once they've browned) and tent with aluminum foil to keep them moist.

We served these bad boys (girls, actually) with steamed carrots in a honey dill glaze, pasta Alfredo, green salad, and a watermelon and goat cheese salad.

By the way, this is the first post I've ever done on chicken. If you're someone who is intimidated by cooking a whole chicken, but knows that whole chickens are much much cheaper per pound than chicken parts, this looks pretty simple, right? You can follow the same steps, but change out the flavor components (lemon juice, herbs, wine) for different ones.

Remember to save the carcass (in the fridge for a few days or freezer for pretty much ever) to make stock with! Just plop it in a stock pot (or crock pot), add some quartered onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf, fill the rest of the way with water, and simmer on low all day. Skim the fat off, strain out the solids, and freeze in ice cube trays for later.

(Awesome photography by Sarah Amico)