There are days to go wild in the kitchen and make all manner of complicated dishes, to bake angel food cake or croissants (many days), to make beef stock from scratch, including roasting the beef bones so as to make onion soup...something I did when I was much younger and very silly. But I rarely have days like that. One of the things about having so many enthusiasms is that the time for each is more limited than if I only loved, say, baking.
These days I'm much more likely, as are many folks I've been told, to be keeping lots of balls up in the air at one time so to speak. Cooking often is a team affair with Sweetie cooking one part and another part being mine. On days like today, or yesterday for that matter, it's important to remember something a teacher once taught me: KISS or Keep It Simple, Silly (well, she might have said 'stupid' for the last 'S', but silly is OK, too).
My KISS for today was roasted red potatoes. Perhaps it's my Irish heritage, but I often turn to potatoes when I'm doing the starchy part of the meal. These potatoes are quick and easy, but taste wonderful. A small amount of chopping of potato, onion and garlic, plus a shake of ingredients and some time in the oven combine a simple set of tasks that yield delicious potatoes.
The potatoes get nice and soft with crunchy browned bits and there is garlic and onion for flavor and rosemary for flavor and fragrance.
Rosemary is such a wonderful herb, although it can be an assertive flavor. To see some more great herb recipes, go over to Anna's Cool Finds for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by the delightful Anna. This is my first attempt to join in, so I'm hoping that Wednesday is close enough to the weekend to count.
Sweetie provided the steamed asparagus and broiled steak (every now and then he insists on red meat...what can I say?), which are both also KISS items.
Roasted Red Potatoes with Onion, Garlic and Rosemary
4 medium red potatoes, or other waxy fresh potatoes like Yukon Gold
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion (yellow, white or red), diced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried (or more, to taste)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces. Place in a plastic bag or zip-lock bag.
Add the minced garlic and diced onion to the bag.
If the rosemary is fresh, roughly chop it. If it is dried, break the needles up a bit. Add to the bag.
Add salt and pepper to taste to the ingredients in the bag. (This really means to add the amount of salt and pepper you usually use for these many potatoes. You can wait until it is all cooked and add salt and pepper then if you prefer.)
Pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil into the bag. Close the bag and shake vigorously.
Pour the contents of the bag into a baking pan which can hold them in a single layer.
Roast in middle of oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a paring knife.
Serve at once. Serves 2-3.
Weekend Herb Blogging
(Edit taking place in April 2008) Although I'm not yet a member, I've asked to become a member of the Daring Bakers. Here is the February challenge:
The Daring Bakers, although still not being called that except by two, are now 10 bakers strong and the term 'challenge' is being used. The challenge was probably chosen by a vote.
from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book (makes one 9-inch cake)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 62% cocoa), finely chopped
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brewed coffee
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round and butter the parchment. (If you're using a pan with a removable bottom like a springform, make sure to wrap the pan with 2 or 3 layers of foil.)
Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl.In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir butter, sugar and coffee until the butter is melted and mixture is boiling. Pour the hot mixture over your chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs vigorously until blended. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Slowly add about 3/4 cup hot chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. (Tempering the eggs with a little bit of the hot chocolate mixture will prevent "scrambled eggs" when combining the two mixtures.)
Add the egg mixture to the hot chocolate mixture and whisk to combine well. Strain the batter through a sieve (to catch any cooked egg bits) and then pour batter into prepared pan.
Set cake pan in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is shiny and set but still a bit jiggly.
Transfer cake pan to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cardboard round on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove pan and carefully remove the parchment paper.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before glazing with chocolate glaze or before serving unglazed with crème anglaise.
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the vanilla.
Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.
To glaze the cake:
Place the chilled cake, still on the cake round, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the hot glaze onto the center of the cake. Smooth the glaze over the top and sides, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet.
Scrape the extra glaze from the baking sheet and put it in a small ziploc bag. Seal the bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners. Gently squeeze the bag over the top of the cake to drizzle the glaze in a decorative pattern.
Refrigerate the cake at least one hour before serving.
Crème Anglaise(makes about 2 1/4 cups):
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
6 tbsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
Pour milk into a heavy saucepan. Scrape vanilla bean seeds into milk and add the pod, sugar and salt.
Heat the milk mixture until warm but not simmering.
Prepare an ice bath (a bowl nested in a larger bowl filled with ice water).
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks lightly. Slowly add about 3/4 cup of the warm milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan.Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Strain custard into the bowl set in the ice water. Stir the crème anglaise to cool it down.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.