Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow day .. after day .. after day ..

In the beginning, the snow was beautiful, fun, and we were filled with an appropriate sense of wonder. We dug a fort, made angels and snowballs, romped with the dogs. We lit fires and read books and cuddled on the couch under fuzzy blankets. We giggled a lot.

And we cooked. We made pancakes, s'mores over open fire, banana bread. Bison ragu, hand made pizza and lamb chops. Bottles of chewy red wine were consumed slowly, with meatloaf spiked with bacon, and Cesar salad made from Julia's own recipe. Pumpkin souffles were enticed to their highest peaks, cupcakes crowned with maple frosting, cheesecakes with raspberry hearts (it was, after all, St. Valentine's Day). When neighbors ventured over we celebrated by revisiting Nigella's yummy Christmas in a cup, which welcomed us like ex-pats to their native land.

Now the snow wanes (though more is promised tomorrow), drifts of 7 feet are plowed to the side, cast off like yesterday's news, children return to school and writers to their work. Our bleary-eyed appetites want a week at the spa, as if to recover from another round of holiday eating. But before we forget, here are a few of the highlights. Cheers!

Winter Champagne
adapted from Nigella Lawson

Put drizzle of gingerbread syrup (I got this at Starbucks, half-off after the holidays) or a candy cane in a champagne glass. Pour Proseco or other sparkler over. Stir with an icicle (optional).


Bison Ragu
1 lb. ground bison
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 T olive oil
1 T dried mushrooms
1 box mushrooms (I used Baby Bella) chopped
1 cup chicken broth
white wine
Fresh thyme

Boil water and pour 1/4 cup over dried mushrooms. Set aside.

Heat oil in pan and drizzle a few pinches of sea salt over. Add onion and stir until translucent. Add celery and stir another few minutes, until onion is beginning to brown and celery is translucent.

Add bison and stir to break up while sauteeing. Pour water off dried mushrooms into pan, add broth, a generous slug of white wine and three stalks of fresh thyme. Add chopped mushrooms, stir in, cover and let cook another 10 minutes.

Remove cover, take thyme stalks out (the leaves will have fallen off into the ragu). If you like, thicken ragu: take 1/4 cup of broth from ragu, add 1 t cornstarch and mix well. Pour back into pan and mix. Let mixture bubble five minutes longer to thicken.

Good over noodles, rice or baked potatoes. Topped with sour cream, if you wish.


Chicken braised with celery root
adapted from Gourmet

3 lbs chicken parts --- with skin and bones
1 t olive oil
1 t butter
1 celery root bulb, peeled and 1/4" dice
3 heads of garlic
1 cup chicken broth
2 fresh thyme sprigs

Pat chicken dry and season with sea salt and pepper. heat oil in heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot. Brown chicken, turning once, 8-10 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and pour off all but 1 T fat.

Add butter to skillet and heat until foam subsides, then add celery root and garlic. Stir until browned about 5 minutes.

Add broth and thyme and up the heat, scraping up browned bits on bottom of skillet, until broth boils 1 minute. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 20-25 minutes, I always take its temperature and make sure it's over 160 degrees).

Serve chicken with celery root. Squeeze garlic out of skin and eat solo or on crusty bread.


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