Carrot Jam on Toasts and Chevre on Thin Crackers
I have been having good luck with Laura Calder's recipes (French Food at Home). The past few weeks I have made 4-5 recipes of hers and we are always pleasantly surprised. This time I tried the carrot jam and because there is quite a bit of sugar in it, I was worried it would be too sweet as an appetizer so I thought I'd put some good looking cheese and crackers along side. It was sweet but it actually went perfectly with the earthiness of the cheese, it complemented it nicely. The recipe makes me want to try other unique fruits and vegetables to make different jams. It's carrots cooked until very tender then mashed and then cooked again with sugar and lemon juice and zest. It's finished with Cognac and 10 almonds, chopped. You let it cool then chill it and it's good for a couple weeks.
Whole Crispy Skin Chicken
This was a good experiment to try, we loved this chicken! I saw someone doing this (I think it was on Martha Stewart's good food fast show). I saw it a couple months back and I wasn't really paying full attention but It appears remembered the key steps. I took the bird out of the butchers paper and dried it with a paper towel, I salted the outside of the bird pretty generously with kosher salt and sat it on a tray and put it in the frig (uncovered). About 6 hours later when I was about to cook it, I took it out of the frig and paper towel dried it again and also wiping off the excess salt (this step dries out the skin a bit so when it roasts there is no excess moisture making the skin soggy). I let the bird sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes just so it wouldn't be stone cold when it goes into the oven. Using my fingers I separated the skin from the flesh all around the breast and onto the legs. I punctured the skin in several spots to allow the fat to escape from the skin to help it crisp up. I bashed a couple garlic cloves with a couple small branches of fresh rosemary, salt, pepper and 1/2 stick of softened butter in my mortar and pestle. I smeared the flavored butter UNDER the skin, on the breasts and legs, nothing on the outside of the skin. I put two lemon halves and two small halves of onion in the cavity. I tied the legs together and into a 350 oven for 50 minutes it went. I turned up the temperature to 450 and let it cook another 10 minutes. I took it out and let it sit for 15 minutes uncovered. When we cut into it, it made that crackling noise that you want to hear. The chicken meat itself was so moist and juicy, it had just the right amount of rosemary flavor, It was perfect.
I thought I'd make zucchini but how can I make it more fancy and different? I thought of a flan, so went hunting for a savory flan recipe. Emeril makes an asparagus flan so I followed his basic recipe but tweaking it along the way. Basically you slowly cook chopped up zucchini and onion in butter until tender. Puree it in a processor and add that mixture to eggs, heavy cream, Parmigiana Reggiano, salt and pepper. It's poured into ramekins and baked in a hot water bath in the oven for about 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the ramekins you use. I am not sure but I think I actually made this recipe before (the asparagus flan), I will have to look at my records. It's a very interesting side dish, fancy, with a nice texture.
As you may or may not know, mushrooms have become a new ingredient for me. I never liked them and recently thought I would give them another shot, now they seem to be growing on me (not in that way :)-). Chanterelle's are one I hadn't tried yet so I thought I'd do a Chanterelle Risotto. I love making risotto's, they are so satisfying and really simple to make, you just need to continuously stir with a wooden spoon for about 25 minutes, but with a glass of wine in your hand it's done in no time. First I cleaned off the mushrooms with a paper towel and tore them into bite sized pieces, then sauteed in butter until perfectly cooked. Remove them to a small plate and started the risotto in the same pan. When the rice is fully cooked add a pat of butter and a good handful of grated Parmigiana Reggiano. Then you use the wooden spoon to kind of "whip" the butter and cheese into the rice until the butter is melted in (The Italians call this something that begins with an M but I have no idea how to spell it) I guess it aerates it and adds a special something, and I think it does. I then folded in the cooked mushrooms and the heat of the rice warms the mushrooms through nicely as it sits a minute and I bring the other components together.
This was really good and so simple (compared to some desserts I make). It's crushed meringue cookies layered with whipped cream and cooked berries of some kind. I was going to make it slightly more time consuming by making my own Meringue cookies but I had to go out in the morning and I didn't get back until 2:00 and it was too late for me to start the cookies with all the other things I had to prepare. So I stopped and bought some meringue cookies at Whole Foods. I followed Ina's recipe which is so simple for the berry part of this dish. It's raspberries cooked with sugar and lemon juice for about 10 minutes so they brake down and become a sauce, then add more raspberries and Chambourd liquor off the heat and just mix in. Chill it until ready to serve. The only other thing to do is whip some heavy cream with vanilla and sugar. When you serve it, you layer the berries and whipped cream and crushed cookies. You must put it in a fancy glass and eat it with long elegant spoons.