Apple Cake and Roasted Chicken

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IMG_20141018_130956492 This weekend we indulged ourselves in a long, leisurely lunch with family. For most of September and part of October, I’ve been finishing up my hours to become a Master Gardener volunteer (yay!). And while it’s been a whole lot of fun, it sure feels good to slow down a bit.

This type of get-together is one of my favorite things about autumn. Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping and it’s time enjoy the fruits of the harvest.

For our luncheon, we had sauteed green beans, couscous, parsnips and roasted chicken. We also had the apple cake from Deb Perelman’s cookbook. And yes, it really is as good as she says (and easy to make too!). So much fruitiness in one delicious pound-cake-like confection.

We were also pretty happy with how the roast chicken turned out. It’s one of our favorite dishes, and we’ve accumulated lots of tips from various sources over the years….

Super Moist Roast Chicken

For starters, we’ve learned to dry it thoroughly before putting it in the roasting dish, breast-side down. This helps with the moisture. We also pour off the juices about halfway through to make it a dry roast. We like to lightly salt it on the outside and on the inside. We prefer the flavor and it still comes out just as moist as when it’s more heavily salted. We roast it for about an hour on high heat and then turn it down before taking off the lid for the final brown. We also use a ceramic roasting pan, which really keeps a consistent heat.

Any other roast chicken fans out there? Got some tips for us? We are always trying to improve this dish, like I said, it’s one of our favorites!

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Oh the apple cake! Really, you should make this like today. Happy Monday folks!

Nesting and a Fall Bucket List

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Tonight we’re making roasted garden vegetables and pork roast for dinner. We are nearing the end of our beet harvest, oh dear. Every year we plant more, and every year we seem to gobble them up before we can try anything fancy like overwintering etc. This year though, we’ve got some seedlings started, so hopefully we should have beets by early spring.

Today was such a autumn-y kind of day. I experimented in the kitchen while kitty snoozed on the couch. In between cooking projects this afternoon, I decided to make a fall bucket list. And then when I saw this pin, I decided that a fall bucket list is way more fun in the shape of an apple.

fun apple

I’ve already done some of the things on this list. (see previous post here) But I can’t wait to make molasses cookies and jump in big piles of leaves. I’m also excited for tromping through mud puddles and maybe some impromptu stargazing. (With lots of blankets of course) How about you? What sort of autumnal antics are you planning?

Pie O’Clock: Bring on the Blackberries!

I am going into fall nesting mode these days. Once in awhile on a sunny day, I find myself fantasizing about rain, a cup of tea and a good mystery novel. Don’t be surprised to see a mystery-based Book Crush one of these days soon!

BlackberryPie

The sun is still out and I am loving it, but with the summer’s harvest coming on I can’t wait to cook, broil and bake with all these gorgeous fruits and vegetables.

This time of year is one of my favorites because it means….blackberries! There’s nothing quite like the flavor of wild sun-ripened blackberries. (Even Galway Kinnell agrees with me – Listen to his poem here)

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When I think of blackberries, I think of pie. Blackberries and pie go together, well, like tea and a good book. Brilliantly!

pie.

New to Pie Crust? Here’s a few quick and dirty tips to take you beyond the recipes, and really get your pie on.

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Tip #1: Give yourself Spaaaaace

As someone who’s always cooked in apartment kitchens, I realize space can be at a premium. But it’s hard to get a nice, wide, even roll of pastry when your elbows are tucked into your side and your crust is creeping toward the toaster. Consider the kitchen table as an alternate work surface.

Tip #2: Icy Water is Worth It

Pastry is all about temperature. That’s why making pie crust on an extremely warm day can be so difficult. Take the time to float some ice cubes in the water you intend to use. You’ll thank me later.

Tip #3: It’s Okay to Use Your Hands

Most recipes tell you to use a pastry cutter or a fork. And while I’ll often start mixing with a fork, I get the best results using my fingers to cut the lard, shortening, butter etc into the flour.

Have fun!

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How about you?  It’s been a long, hot summer. Are you ready for autumn? Dreaming about soups and raviolis like me? Still clinging to the sunshine? Or are you baking pumpkin muffins? Mmmmmm pumpkin…..

 

 

 

 

 

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