Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eating Well

In the past week or two, I've commented several times that the sb and I eat very well. We both love to cook and vastly prefer it to take-out (most days). It's something we can do together (aka "I can boss him around in the kitchen") and the results are usually delicious. Here's just a smattering of the dishes we've made in the past few weeks:
  • Japanese-style curry with chicken and potatoes
  • Whole lemon and herb roasted chicken with roasted vegetables and fresh bread
  • Grilled pineapple drizzled with honey, topped with vanilla gelato and crushed pistachios
  • Breaded pork tenderloin with balsamic-butter glazed potatoes
  • Seared New Zealand ribeye with mashed sweet/russet potatoes and sugar snap peas
  • Grilled spice-rubbed pork chops with zucchini, mushroom, and potato salad
Here's a simple, customizable recipe for roast chicken. Add or subtract other aromatics as desired. Additional spices such as garlic powder and paprika would be nice.

1 whole roasting hen (4 lbs), innards removed
1 lemon, zested
1 large onion, quartered
1/2-1 head garlic
handful fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.), chop half
1-2 tbsp butter, softened
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water, pay dry. Cut away excess fat.
3. Rub butter all over chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, lemon zest, and chopped herbs. Squeeze juice of half a lemon all over chicken.
4. Squeeze remaining half of lemon into cavity of chicken. Cut lemon into quarters and stuff into cavity along with onion, garlic cloves (unpeeled), and a bunch of herbs.
5. Tie chicken legs together with twine if desired. Place chicken, breast side up, into a roasting pan with rack. (If you don't have a rack, use a bunch of celery and carrots.)
6. Roast at 475 degrees for twenty minutes, then drop temperature to 400 degrees and cook for another 40 minutes or until done.
7. Let sit ten minutes, carve, and serve - crispy, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone tender!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mount Vernon Wine Festival (Virginia)

Mount Vernon, the former home of President George Washington, occupies a gorgeously green space overlooking the Potomac River. While visitors flock to this historic site 365 days a year, one weekend each spring, hundreds of people descend upon the estate for the Mount Vernon Wine Festival, which showcases local Virginia wineries amidst the backdrop of the Mount Vernon mansion, the Potomac River, and the music of local jazz bands.

Although I attended the last day of the festival on a Sunday night, the wine tasting tent was still teeming with people when I arrived. It was a struggle to push my way to the front of each table for a small sip of wine. I stuck mostly to reds - Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots were quite popular - and tried a couple whites - Viogniers and Riesling mixes - but the one wine which stood out to me the most was Sarah's Patio Red from Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA. This wine, made from the local Norton grape, is a fruity and sweet chilled red that is very drinkable and perfect for summer grilling.

I bought two bottles, one to take home and one chilled and opened immediately for sharing with friends while we sat on the lawn with baguettes and hummus from Firehook Bakery, listened to jazz, and watched the sun go down. Could there be any better way to close out a weekend?