Accidental Locavore

Roasting: 10 Easy Steps to a Perfect Roast

by Anne Maxfield on December 22, 2016

Accidental Locavore Roasting Thai ChickenThe Accidental Locavore thinks that roasting meat (or vegetables) is one of the easiest ways to get an impressive dinner on the table.

Don’t be afraid of roasting. If you have the right tools, it’s a snap.

Roasting in 10 easy steps:

  1. Remove the meat from the fridge about an hour before you want to start.
  2. Make sure oven racks are in the middle of the oven and you have enough room for the roasting pan and its contents. If not, lower the rack until you do.
  3. Preheat the oven: 350° for most meats, 250° if you’re doing a slow roast duck, hotter for chickens and vegetables.
  4. Speaking of vegetables, tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper and throwing them on a sheet pan in a 400° oven always works.
  5. And don’t forget potatoes! Cut in chunks, boiled until just tender and tossed into the bottom of a pan about 15 minutes before the meat is cooked, makes wonderful roast potatoes (especially good under chickens and ducks!).Accidental Locavore Roasting Potatoes
  6. While the oven is heating, pat the meat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper liberally (i.e. use more than you think), inside and out.
  7. If you’re using a rack a quick spray or a light rub of oil makes clean-up easier.
  8. Place your meat on the pan (or rack) and put it in the oven. The length of time your meat will need to cook depends on the size of your roast and how well cooked you like your meat. This is where the instant-read thermometer will save the day. Click here for a handy chart and remember to always stick the thermometer in the thick part of your roast (for chicken it’s the thigh).
  9. When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This is not about torturing you or your guests, it’s about letting the juices re-circulate, making the meat tender and juicy.
  10. Carve, serve and enjoy!
    See, wasn’t that easy? What are your best roasting tips?

 

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Ultimate Chocolate Cookies

by Anne Maxfield on November 10, 2016

Accidental Locavore a Plate of Ultimate Chocolate CookiesSometimes you need to cook to take your mind off current events.

These ultimate chocolate cookies might distract you from things like election results.

And they taste amazing!

Might even put a smile on your face.

Pull out a cookie sheet and give it a try.

This makes about 12 cookies.

Ultimate Chocolate Cookies

  • 2 ounces unsweetened (baking) chocolate
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup sifted flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee (optional)
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 8 ounces walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Accidental Locavore Baking Ultimate Chocolate CookiesPreheat oven to 350°. Melt unsweetened, semi-sweet chocolate and butter together in a double boiler until melted (or see update below). Remove and let cool.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and coffee on high speed. Reduce to low speed and add chocolate/butter mixture. Add sifted ingredients and mix just until smooth. By hand, stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop tablespoon-sized cookies on sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until top of cookies get a cracked look. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Ultimate Chocolate CookiesMy verdict: This recipe came from an old friend and I had forgotten how good these cookies were! Frank tried them and loved them! They’re like a cookie version of a really good brownie, or molten chocolate cake. . I left the nuts out as I’ve had allergies, but they would be a great addition. I also left the coffee out as I like my chocolate unadulterated, but if you feel differently…While cookies aren’t a part of my normal repertoire, these are classics.

Update: I’ve made these at least four times recently, and they continue to be great! Recently, a friend said that he had melted the chocolate and butter in the microwave, so I tried it. About 90 seconds, but do it in 30 second increments.

The Accidental Locavore’s friend’s recipe has this at the bottom: DISCLAIMER: Not responsible for anyone’s actions after cookies have been consumed!!!

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Potato Salad With Lemon and Mint Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on August 25, 2016

Accidental Locavore Baby PotatoesPotato salad is a summer staple.

As good as potato salad is, the Accidental Locavore is not a huge fan of potato salad with either mayo or hard-boiled eggs. When I saw this from the NY Times, it looked like a nice change from my go-to French potato salad. Serves 4:

Accidental Locavore Potato Salad With Lemon and MintPotato Salad With Lemon and Mint Recipe

  • 2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size
  • Juice of 1 lemon, more for serving
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, more for serving
  • ¼ cup torn mint leaves, more for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, more for serving

Cut the potatoes in half, or quarters if they’re large. Put potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1”. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil.

Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with dressing, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper. Let cool to room temperature. Just before serving, top with additional lemon juice, scallions, mint and Aleppo pepper.

My verdict: Easy and good! Will they take the place of the French potato salad? Probably not, but how can you compete with bacon (and bacon fat)???

If you don’t have Aleppo, or ¼ teaspoon of some exotic pepper (because it’s soooo worth it to go out for 1/4 teaspoon of anything), just use freshly ground black pepper.

Other herbs to consider would have to include sage, rosemary and tarragon – essentially anything fresh.

I always cut the potatoes before boiling.  It saves time, both in cooking and in waiting for them to cool enough to cut. However, you must start the potatoes in cool water. Otherwise they’ll never cook evenly all the way through and especially with potato salad, you don’t want them mushy on the outside.

What’s your favorite potato salad?

 

 

 

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10 Things NOT to do at a Farmers’ Market

by Anne Maxfield on July 4, 2016

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes From Farmers MarketIt’s getting to be peak farmers’ market season. The Accidental Locavore thought it was a good time to re-run on of your favorite posts.

During the taping of a cooking show I was talking to a couple of farmers who have been at the various farmers’ markets for years.

They’ve witnessed a lot.

Drunks, dogs and kids all run amuck.

Women with cigarettes demanding to know if the produce is organic.

They’ve seen it all.

Some of their stories may surprise you and if you recognize yourself…

  1. Give yourself time to wander through and see what’s available.
  2. If you pick up a tomato to see how ripe it is, put it down, someone else picks it up, etc, etc., by the end of the day it’s essentially a tomato water balloon. Not good.
  3. Usually farmers are happy to let you taste berries. If you taste a berry and like it, take the box you picked the berry from. Don’t get a new box and don’t add more berries to the box you have.Accidental Locavore Corn From Farmers Market
  4. My big pet peeve at any market: shucking corn. It makes a huge mess. If you take it home shucked, it loses moisture and flavor. You’ve got nothing to grill it in, one of the best and easiest ways to cook corn. The way to see if an ear of corn is going to be good is to look at it. It should look fresh and moist, not dried out. If you are a corn shucker, try picking one or two ears that look good to you. Take them home un-shucked and see how they compare to the ones you made a mess with. My history shows a 98% success rate just going for the good-looking ones.
  5. Talk with the farmers, they’ll welcome your appreciation of their hard work. In return, they will be happy to help you pick out the best stuff and often give you tips on how to prepare it.
  6. Remember, all this beautiful food is really labor intensive. It’s planted, weeded and harvested, primarily by hand. Trust me, these guys work hard, harder than you or I. If you think prices seem higher than at a big supermarket, be thankful you have access to the remarkable taste that only comes from something being picked that morning, at the peak of flavor. Not to mention the variety. Even at the best stores, you never see twenty different kinds of eggplants or forty varieties of tomatoes. Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Exchange
  7. Even if you are in a rush, hand the farmers the money. If you leave the money on the counter, leave it right in front of them so they don’t have to reach across to get it (or worse, someone else picks it up). And if you’re in that much of a hurry, chill (and stop shucking that corn).
  8. Would you leave an empty coffee cup or other garbage on the counter at Tiffany’s? Then why do you think you can do it at a farmers’ market? Because it’s outside??? All vendors have trash cans, usually behind the counter. Ask nicely and they’ll toss your trash.
  9. If you want cheap prices, to be able to run in and out, grab a handful of plastic bags and toss money on a counter, go to a supermarket (use the self-service line). Don’t complain that the veggies don’t taste good.  When you go to a farmers’ market, look for a more personal experience, a slower pace, an interaction with the people who spend their lives bringing us great food to eat.
  10. And if you want to see if a tomato can actually be a water balloon, just do the one thing that’s universally despised by farmers everywhere…shake your bag in their face…

Don’t say you weren’t warned! Did I miss anything?

 

 

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