We’ve had a big influx of new cookbooks in our household this week. This was partly our own fault, as we used my husband’s birthday discount at Village Books as an excuse to go a little nuts in the food section. Then a friend who’s in the midst of serious decluttering offered me some of her books, and I never can say no to a cookbook. So we have nine new books to find space for on our bulging shelves. Not to mention cook out of.
They all have possibilities, but the one I’ve been glued to most is David Tanis’ new book Heart of the Artichoke. I don’t own his previous work, A Platter of Figs, but I checked it out from the library so many times it felt as if I did. I love his approach to food and the way he puts meals together, plus I adore the shadowy, evocative photographs that accompany his work. I will always be grateful to him for turning me on to parsnips roasted in butter, something I love so much I tend to eat the whole pan’s worth while it’s cooling on the counter.
You ever have something in your fridge or pantry that’s really old, not very appealing any more, but not nasty enough to just throw away? I have this problem with preserved lemons – not the lemons themselves, I usually use them right up – but the syrup that they come in. Even after the lemons are gone, that juice is still good! But then you forget to use it, and it gets shoved to the back of the fridge, and you feel guilty about it but never quite want to toss the jar and buy a new one…at least that’s what happens to me.
So anyway, I wanted to do roasted sweet potatoes this week, so we went to the store looking for something to go with them. Pork chops sounded nice, and we were suddenly struck by the notion that we could use some of our leftover lemon goo on them! We used to roast pork blade steaks with preserved lemon and garlic, but hadn’t thought of it in a while.
I’ve always liked roast chicken fairly well, although for a long time the main reason I made it was to be able to make chicken stock afterwards. The chicken itself didn’t seem all that exciting. Then I bought the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers (ostensibly as a present for J, but really of course for myself) and was enticed by her roast chicken recipe. I don’t have a wood burning oven like she does, and I find it difficult to find chickens small enough (the first time I tried it I had somehow found a two-pound chicken and it was ambrosial), but it still makes a chicken that’s downright exciting to eat.
The keys to the method are: salting the bird thoroughly at least a day ahead of time, earlier if it’s a bigger bird; stuffing herbs under the skin – I like fresh bay leaves best; and roasting at very high heat. Continue reading