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SND – The Fiasco Version

August 7, 2008

[Note: I started this entry…oh, 6 months ago? And am just now finishing it. Roasted chicken was just the thing to make… in February.]

I imagine that every self-taught cook has some dish that they’re absolutely petrified of for no good reason at all. Mine’s roasted chicken. Simple, right? Basically impossible to screw up, yes? Hundreds of time-tested recipes to choose from!

And yet, I have irrational fear of roasted chicken. But I decided to conquer that fear – to take on the roasted chicken and win! Which. I kinda did. An hour and half after all the rest of the food was already on the table.

Roast Chicken. Run!

No, I don’t know how it happened either.

So this entry is not about how to make the perfect roasted chicken. In the end, mine tasted pretty awesome, but I figure I’ll wait till I’ve cooked it a few more times and can actually offer pointers for how best to conquer the beast. Click on the link for side dishes and dessert.

Dinner:
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Potatoes
Chocolate Mousse with Chambord Whipped Cream


Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

I grew up hearing all about “evil little cabbages,” that are “completely slimy and disgusting.” My mother HATES brussel sprouts. I do not think that there are words strong enough in the English language to express her hatred; she often stops talking altogether and just gesticulates wildly. It’s kinda hilarious.

Evil Little Cabbages

Point being, I never ate a brussel sprout in my life until this year. They were served to me at a family dinner and you just can’t say “no” in situations like that. So, I plopped two on my plate to be nice and stared quietly at my mother’s nemesis. I popped one into my mouth – it wasn’t half bad. I wondered if perhaps my mom’s revulsion came not from the thing itself, but from her mom’s ability to make even the most fabulous food inedible.

I knew I had to find a recipe of my own to test out the theory. Thus, this recipe. WHICH. IS. AWESOME. Well, if you like brussel sprouts.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds Brussel sprouts
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut off the ends of the Brussel sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3. Place them on a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes, until crisp and darkened on the outside and tender on the inside. You’ll want to shake the pan about every 10 minutes to make sure they’re browned evenly.
4. Once out, sprinkle again with salt and serve.

Roasted Potatoes
Adapted from a Petra recipe

There are a thousand and six ways to season these super easy roasted potatoes. I (and everyone else I know) really love Petra’s original but I’ll let her talk about those.

Now, for me, this recipe is an ode to Penzey’s.

Don’t know Penzey’s? I suppose you can be forgiven, but only if you don’t live near a store. Which, I don’t. But Petra does and now every time I visit her I spend waaaaaay to much money on random spices that I use once. But come one, who can resist the allure of Chinese Mustard? And fancy rosemary? And vanilla beans!!! But now I follow the Petra method, but I sometimes season with Salt-Free Mural of Flavor or Herbes de Provence. And they’re AWESOME.

Chocolate Mousse with Chambord Whipped Cream
adapted from this recipe.

Mousse!

Recipe makes enough for four. If not separated before refrigerated, it won’t firm up enough. It’ll still taste good, however.

Ingredients:
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
3 large egg whites

Directions:
Place chocolate in blender. Bring 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and espresso powder to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour over chocolate. Cover tightly; blend 5 seconds.

The original recipe called for adding the egg whites to the blender. I whipped the egg whites in a separate bowl, then slowly added the chocolate mixture while folding. I think that worked really well – added more texture.

Pour into 4 small bowls. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

When serving top with Chambord whipped cream and raspberries. When whipping the cream, just reduce the amount of sugar a bit and stir in the Chambord to taste.

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