FIELD & FOREST

winter

a rather french roasted chicken

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, winterRachel SandersComment

Oh, hey! It's our old dining room!

I've been saving this recipe for a while because I wanted to tinker with a couple of things and see if it made the chicken even better, but nope! It was perfect to begin with. Go figure.

This is Frances Wilson's recipe, or at least, what my brain remembers of it from cooking school eight years ago. It is very French. There is tarragon and garlic and cream and alcohol and I usually listen to Yann Tiersen when I make it, which I'd like to think adds a little something extra (probably angst, if it is his most recent album). And even more than it is French, it is very simple, even with the addition of a pan sauce. The sauce echoes some of the ingredients from roasting the chicken, so there are fewer additional items you need to make it all come together. Quite practical, non?

If you have never made a pan sauce before, hooray! You are going to love it. Get all your goodies together beforehand, get your pan nice and toasty, and then sauce away. There is almost never enough pan sauce for me, and you could probably stretch it a little bit by adding some good quality (preferably homemade) chicken stock and letting it reduce down to a glaze. But if you don't have good chicken stock, just use the other ingredients and make sure everyone appreciates every drop of sauce they get.

I served this recipe with Suzanne Goin's soubise (which is like risotto with an inverted ratio of onions to rice) and some of those [roasted] Dr. Seuss carrots which Whole Foods has been carrying recently. You can serve it with whatever starch/veg you like (roasted potatoes would be awesome), though I'd keep the seasoning strictly to salt and possibly pepper, just so nothing takes away from your pan sauce.

I don't truss my chicken because 1) I am lazy, and 2) it cooks more quickly when it isn't trussed or stuffed (because the heat gets inside, yo). Also, 3) because part of the way I check a chicken for doneness is by sticking a fork in the cavity and tipping it up a little in the pan to see if the juices that start to run out are clear (if they are reddish pink, your chicken is not done). You can also use a thermometer to check for doneness by taking a reading in the meaty part of a thigh (avoid touching the bone for an accurate reading). Take your chicken out at 165˚F; the temp will continue to rise about 5˚F further out of the oven.

Also because 4) then the skin around the cavity and on the legs gets nice and crispy, mmm.

The flipping bit comes from Alice Waters' method for roasting chicken. I sometimes leave the chicken breast-side down for only ten minutes if it seems like the bird is browning very fast (adding the extra five minutes to the final portion while breast side-up), so be sure to keep an eye on your chicken during this part.


To make the roasted chicken: Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Lightly oil a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or cast iron skillet.

Remove any innards still inside of the chicken and pat the outside and inside dry.

Combine the rest of the ingredients for roasting the chicken in a small bowl, smushing everything together with your fingers. Ta-da! You've made a compound butter.

Gently lift the skin from the breast of the chicken just enough so that you can spread some of the butter around on the meat underneath the skin (this helps to lock in the flavor, baste the meat, and keep the garlic/herbs/zest from burning. Spread 2/3 of the butter on the breasts, then spread the remaining 1/3 underneath the skin of the thighs. Try your very best not to tear the skin of the chicken; you want it to stay in place to help keep the meat from drying out during cooking. Sprinkle a little salt inside of the chicken cavity and place in your pan breast side-up.

Put the pan with the chicken in the oven and reduce the heat to 400˚F (the extra bit of heat helps the skin to begin browning). Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the bird over breast-side down, and roast for 15 minutes. Flip again, and continue to roast for 20-15 minutes, or until the chicken is 165˚F at the thigh, the skin is browned and crisp, and the juices inside run clear when the chicken is tilted neck-up in the pan.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest, loosely tented with foil, while you make the pan sauce.

To make the pan sauce: place the roasting pan (still with its drippings) over medium-high heat and add the shallots, stirring constantly. Cook for 15-30 seconds, then deglaze the pan with brandy, scraping the pans bottom to stir up all of the fond (cooked on drippings/leftover meat bits) into the sauce. Let reduce by 1/2, then add the chicken broth, (if using) and reduce again until the sauce is viscous and approaching the consistency of a glaze.

Remove the pan from the heat, add a generous squeeze of lemon, the fresh tarragon, and the cream, and stir to combine. Taste, and add additional salt and/or lemon if necessary. The sauce may be held briefly on the lowest possible flame while you carve the chicken, though you may need to whisk it briefly before serving (do not let it boil once you've added the cream, or it may separate and become greasy looking).

Serve the carved chicken straightaway with the sauce.

FOR THE ROASTED CHICKEN:

1 whole chicken, preferably organic and air-chilled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of 1 lemon (save the rest of the lemon for the pan sauce)
1 generous pinch kosher salt, plus additional salt for the chicken cavity
a little freshly ground black pepper (but not very much, just a grind or two)
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

FOR THE PAN SAUCE:

1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup homemade/good quality chicken stock (optional; omit if not good quality)
lemon juice, to taste
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
1/4-1/3 cup cream
kosher salt (optional! Taste the sauce before adding, it may be salty enough from the chicken drippings)


fridge clean-out minestrone

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, soups, spring, vegan, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment
fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest

One of my New Year's resolutions from like, 2012, was to get better at using up all of the odds and ends that accumulate in our fridge. For the most part, we've failed. We still fill up a little compost container with past-their-prime veggies/fruits/cheese ends/what have you every month or so. 

But, had I known the recipe for building this skill was one part Richard saying "I want soup" and two parts us being too lazy to travel 2.5 blocks to the store, we might have cracked this fridge clean-out thing a loooong time ago.

I feel funny sometimes when I share these kinds of recipes with you because they aren't flashy or profound or beautifully styled. This is base-level practicality at its core. But geez, there is so much gorgeous food inspiration among the cookbooks and the Instagram and the Pinterest that I sometimes really need someone to slap me across the face and say "put down the pea shoots and make some goddamn food with what you goddamn have."

(I picture this someone as one (or both) of my economical depression-era grandmas, which makes me feel happy in spite of the slapping.)

I'm guessing your fridge looks different than my fridge, and since this is about making the most of what's available to you in the moment, you shouldn't feel constrained by amounts of things or by particular ingredients. An onion, some olive oil, an acid, and maybe a little meat will be enough to carry any veggies pretty far along, and you can even get away with using water if you don't have veggie/chicken/beef broth hanging out somewhere. This soup will not be French Laundry soup by any means but it will be inexpensive and healthy and nourishing and soul-satisfying and delicious.

Pretty much everything we need.

fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest
fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest

butter
olive oil
2 leeks, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and rinsed (white and light green parts only), OR 1 large onion, chopped
salt
1 bunch carrots (~5 carrots) (alternately, use parsnips/sweet potatoes/what have you), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme or 1 of rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups broth, water, or a mixture of broth and water
1 can chickpeas (alternately, use cannellini beans or other canned/cooked beans), drained and rinsed
1 cup ditalini (or other small) pasta (alternately, break up long pasta into small pieces)
1/2 bunch red Russian kale, chopped (alternately, other robust greens, chopped, or whole leaf baby spinach)
black pepper
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
(optional: cooked sausage, bacon, or shredded cooked chicken)

To serve: shaved parmesan, red pepper flakes, olive oil

In a pot set over medium-low heat, melt a small knob of butter (a tablespoon or so) and add a quick swig of olive oil. Add the leeks (or chopped onion) along with a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until they become soft and translucent. Add the carrots and garlic and cook for 5  (adding more oil or butter if the vegetables are sticking to the pot) until the carrots are just beginning to soften.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the wine. Let the wine cook down until the pan is almost dry again, then add the water or broth. Bring the pot to a boil, add the chickpeas and pasta, and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to maintain a brisk simmer, add the kale, and continue to cook until the greens have softened and the pasta is al dente. (If you are including leftover cooked meat in your soup, add it along with the kale.)

Taste the soup and season with more salt, a little pepper, and the lemon zest and juice. Serve immediately, with shaved parmesan, red pepper flakes, and olive oil on the side.

fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest

marie-hélène's apple cake with cardamom and orange blossom

autumn, breakfast, desserts, sweet, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment

Being a grownup is hard. You have to deal with unforeseen and sometimes high-stress life situations, you have to keep a level head when really you feel like exploding all over the place, and you are solely responsible for managing your cake intake. I feel like we're doing okay with the first two things this week, given that we've been experiencing some wily circumstances (long story for a future post), but to say I managed my cake intake would be a gross overstatement.

This is a good cake to keep around in these kinds of times, primarily because it is delicious, but also because it is mostly apples! So eating a bunch is NBD. Which is good, because I'm actually eating another piece as I write this post. #grownupdecisions

(Update: this cake is now gone! We ate it all. Sorry/not sorry, local friends.)

I feel that I must point out that the original recipe for this cake (from Dorie Greenspan) contained rum instead of the cardamom and orange blossom water. Rum and I haven't been friends since an unfortunate incident in college involving a very boozy drink served in a hollowed-out pineapple, hence the change in flavor additions. But if you would like to go Dorie's route, nix the cardamom and orange-blossom water and add in 3 tablespoons of rum. I think I'm going to make this with 3 tablespoons of Applejack (brandy and I are still friends) and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg next time, so I'll let you know how that goes when I give it a try.

I would like to say, though, that the cardamom and the orange blossom water made the whole thing smell REALLY good while it was baking. Really, stupid good. Plus, even without the booze, the cake was still incredibly moist and never dried out, even though we left it unwrapped as per the original recipe's instructions. That is impressive for any cake in our bone-dry state.

One more note: there really are a lot of apples in this cake! It won't feel like there's enough batter to hold them all, but there is, trust me. You can move the apples around a bit in the pan to spread out the mixture evenly, but believe that the batter will help to fill in the cracks and empty parts.

makes one 9-inch cake - serves 8 (or maybe just 2)
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe in Genius Recipes)
 

I didn't peel my apples when I made this cake, and I'm very happy I made that decision. Because I used some Pink Lady Apples, the bright pink peel caused the apple flesh to blush in the oven, and gave this cake really lovely pops of pink. Plus, I feel that there is enough flavor in the peel that I'm more than willing to risk the slight hesitation in texture it gives to each bite. You may peel your apples if you disagree.


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cardamom (freshly ground, if possible)
4 large apples (use different kinds, if you can! I used two Pink Lady, one Fuji, and one Opal)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Generously butter and flour an 8 or 9-inch springform pan, and place it on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together in a small bowl. Cut the core from the apples and cut the apples into 1-inch chunks.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until foamy. Add the sugar and whisk to blend well. Whisk in the orange blossom water and vanilla extract. Add half the flour mixture to the bowl and whisk until just combined. Add half of the butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter, mixing gently after each addition. You will have a smooth, thick batter.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it is coated with batter. Scrape the mixture into the prepared springform pan, and move it around a bit so that there aren't any large holes or gaps, and so the mixture evenly reaches the inner walls of the pan.

Slide the baking sheet with the pan into the oven, and bake for 45-60 minutes (begin checking the cake at 45 minutes), until the top of the cake is golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when touched. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

Carefully run an icing spatula or a thin knife between the cake and the pan, and remove the sides of the springform pan, making sure there aren't any apples stuck inside the pan. If you want to remove the bottom of the springform pan from the cake, wait until the cake is almost completely cooled and run a long spatula between the pan's bottom and the cake. Cover the top of the cake with a piece of waxed paper or a clean, lint-free dishtowel, and invert onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and re-invert the cake onto your serving plate.


We ate this warm, at room temperature, and after it had sat around for a bit. It is great each and every way! Dorie recommends NOT wrapping this cake, as it is so moist that it will cause the nice, crusty edges of the cake to become a bit soggy. After testing this cake in one of the driest states in the Union, we concur. Simply place a piece of waxed paper against to cut parts of the cake to keep them from drying, or just cut off any dry-ish parts before serving and eat them yourself. :)


ruined cake parfaits

breakfast, desserts, sweet, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment

Good grief, did this holiday season kick anyone else in the pants? I realize we're more than halfway into January (how did that even happen?!) and have gotten back into the swing of reality, but all I really want to do is have a solid lie-down and binge watch The Great British Baking Show in my pajamas.

I suppose our holiday break got off to a bad start when our car broke down (at 1:30am, on a dirt/mountain road, in a storm), and was punctuated by various unforeseen events (including more car trouble) through the New Year. I mean, really, everything was okay in the grand scheme of things (and the car trouble meant we were able to have more time with family), but it felt like each day something made us say, "WHOA, okay... guess we're dealing with this, now." We're both still reeling a bit.

And then last week, on a day when I really needed things to go right, I baked a cake.

And it SUCKED.

It stuck to the pan, the top came out strangely tough while the inside was quite delicate and almost under-baked, it didn't rise the way I expected... blah. It has been a while since I've adapted a cake recipe, and I had forgotten how devastating it can feel to put a lot of time and effort and care into making a cake and have it not turn out the way you want. Granted, I did mess around with the recipe quite a bit, but in a way that I honestly thought would turn out okay, if not extremely well. That probably sounds arrogant, but CLEARLY I WAS WRONG ANYWAY.

Phoo.

So, when we bake a cake and it turns out wrong, what do we do? Do we cry (maybe), do we eat a lot of the part that was stuck to the pan (probably), or do we find a way to remedy the situation (um, sure?)?

Some ways have already been devised to rescue weird cakes (remember cakepops?), but usually when I am making a cake, it is because it is a celebration or special event of some kind, and I want to make something a little more special or fancy. It also usually means that I am cooking other things, and I don't have the time or wherewithal or emotional capacity to deal with stuff like tempering chocolate and finding skewers or popsicle sticks.

No time like the present to break out a good old parfait.

A parfait is, in its most elemental form, layers of cake or cookies, whipped cream, and fruit. Sometimes the cream has other things going on with it, like mascarpone or creme fraîche whipped in (or maybe a wee bit of booze). I personally like my whipped cream tempered with yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. It is just rich enough for dessert, but still feels quite light and has a pleasantly subtle tang; you could serve it for breakfast and nobody would say boo.

So next time you plan to make a cake, on the off-chance it decides to be temperamental, grab a pint of cream, a container of yogurt, and some fruit just in case you need to perform some parfait magic, and no one will EVER know that your cake was a near-disaster. Unless, of course, you write a blog post about it later.

(Also, Richard and I agree that we like this so much that we'd make it again with a not-ugly cake, too! Though I may save at least the next good cake for something else, if only for my ego's sake.)

ruined cake parfaits

serves 6

You can scale this recipe up or down quite easily, depending on the number of people you want to serve; just keep the 1:1 cream to yogurt ratio.

I was testing out a recipe for a sesame cake when I made these parfaits, and decided to use cara-cara oranges and lime zest to go with the sesame flavor. The combination was out-of-this-world good, and I'll be sure to share the recipe for the sesame cake once I get it dialed. Serve this cream with any cake you like, and with any fruit you like, but here's a quick thought regarding chocolate cake - I'd actually replace the yogurt in the cream with mascarpone, as I think it would taste better to have something slightly richer and less tangy to go with the chocolate.


1 cup full or low fat plain yogurt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

1 cake, sliced or broken into bite-sized pieces
fresh fruit, cut into slices or chunks (reserve a few pieces for garnish)
lime/citrus zest (optional)


Whisk together the yogurt and cream in a large bowl. If the yogurt and cream are not straight-out-of-the-fridge cold, place the bowl into the fridge for 15-20 minutes to chill (it won't whip properly if it is not cold). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand whisk, beat the yogurt/cream until soft peaks form. Continue beating for a few more seconds to stiffen the mixture, but keep it somewhat billowy and soft (it will look prettier and be easier to layer).

Layer the cake, cream, and fruit in individual glass jars or wine glasses, beginning with the cake and ending with the cream. Garnish each parfait with a piece of fruit and some fresh citrus zest, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve