Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cold Nights, Hot Dishes, & One New Recipe a Week

Temperatures have dipped below freezing for the past few days. The car locks are frozen solid in the morning. Every leaf and grass blade is fringed with white. The Anna's hummingbird who rules the side garden perches in the bare plum tree, waiting for me to blow-dry the frozen sugar-water-filled feeder so he can have his breakfast.

These are fine days to stay inside and make good on a New Year's resolution to cook at least one new recipe each week.

The kitchen shelves creak under the weight of yards of cookbooks and bins of recipes clipped from magazines even though, week in, week out, I tend to plonk down the same routine of pasta and sauce, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, hastily tossed-together stir-fries, and roasted chicken with rice and broccoli.

Not that it's a bad routine, but those cookbooks are looking sort of resentful and making me feel kind of guilty.

So: the first week of 2013's new recipe was...roasted chicken.

But not just the usual "throw in oven, turn up heat, cook til done" roasted chicken I usually make. I took the time to brine two chickens and roast them according to the instructions in the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

The friends we'd invited for dinner brought the side dishes (spinach salad, couscous with cranberries).

Having guests--a rather rare event, sad to say--inspired the try-out of a second new recipe: a dessert of Apple Bundt Cake, taken from the pages of Bundt Cake Bliss by Susanna Short. Served with powdered sugar and a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top, it tasted what like living inside an apple tart might be like. Which I mean to sound like a good thing.

This week's freezing weather has been offset by roasting pork loin, again using the brine-and-roast method from the Family Cookbook, which yields a succulent roast that cozies up nicely with red cabbage, egg noodles, and peas.

Sadly, there's no bundt cake to round out this meal. After all, there's that other pesky New Year's resolution--the one having to do with getting in shape--to uphold.

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