Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Parents Weekend

My parents came up to visit Columbus Day weekend to get some New England fall foliage, and of course, eat some good food. It's no secret that fall is one of my favorite times to cook, with the abundance of autumnal produce, so I enjoyed cooking for our house guests. For lunches I made:

Wild mushroom and gouda tart 

Served warm with baby arugula:

We went up to Brattleboro, Vermont, and I had a field day at the Brattleboro Farmer's Market. With live fiddle music, crafts, and an assortment of exotic food (for lunch we had West African curry) in addition to the vast selection of produce, apple cider, baked goods, and local wines and ciders - not to mention the awesome eccentric locals - it felt to me more like a hippie Renaissance festival than just a market. I loved it.
Gorgeous beets at the farmer's market

We rounded out our Vermont day with a stop at Hidden Valley Maple for some authentic Vermont maple syrup, and a visit to Grafton Cheese to sample the sharp cheddars (and then a much-needed hike.) For dinner I made roasted root vegetables:

Heirloom carrots, turnips, parsnips, and purple potatoes

Maple-glazed sea bass over walnut arugula:

And pan-seared halibut with fresh herbs:

Served with a fall cocktail made from the cranberry wine (we bought at the farmer's market) and prosecco. A fall feast!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cast Iron Skillet Cooking

My Grandma gave me a cast iron skillet as a housewarming gift and it's officially my new favorite toy. I'm obsessed with it - and am now experimenting with all the things it can do (besides cook a mean steak.) Here are some of the things I've done so far:

Iranian saffron roasted chicken with carrots and apricots. This is my attempt at a recipe my friend Nassim made for us during my trip to Qatar (my first homemade Iranian meal, so good!) - I couldn't pretend to replicate hers, but this was at least a tribute. I used real saffron I brought back from Egypt and braised the chicken thighs in the infused stock, allowing the carrots and apricots to caramelize and add a bit of sweetness to the savory dish. I served it alongside (brown) basmati rice, and finished the meal with tea.

Then for a more Spanish-style meal:

Queso fundido with spicy chorizo, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, fresh thyme, and at the last minute I threw in some fresh green heirloom tomatoes on top for more color. I sauteed the vegetables until soft on the stove top and then added the cheese, broiling in the oven until bubbly on top. I served the dish with toasted flour tortillas and lime, and we just ate right out of the skillet. Comfort food to the max.

Next I plan on baking in the cast iron skillet, to use it in a whole new way!