Slow-Roasted Vegetables, French Onion Soup, Fresh Bread, Aged White Cheddar, and Plum Cheesecake
We spent the day at home working on a project we need to get done for the one of the businesses. As usual, we’re big believers in concurrent time management so we used the opportunity to test slow cook recipes and soups because they could largely sit without a lot of attention for long stretches at a time. My task was to come up with two classic slow-roasted root vegetable dishes that can become part of our permanent recipe collection, ready to grab whenever we need them.
The first of these two is going to be a traditional American autumn variety that makes you think of days when there is a slight nip in the air and you want to stay at home, wrapped in a blanket and sitting by the fireplace as the leaves fall. I want something that can be left mostly unattended for five hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit and consists of easy-to-attain vegetables available here in the United States. If possible, I want little to no added sugar, and only a tiny amount of sodium. It needs to have substance; potatoes, carrots, onions. For the initial test, I began by taking a mixture of vegetables in an appropriate proportion and tossing them with a handful of fresh herbs, olive oil, and kosher salt.
It was a good start but the turnips threw off the flavor profile and the scent. The spiciness isn’t something you ordinarily encounter in American kitchens so it doesn’t create the same sort of emotional response I want to trigger. In the next round, they will be eliminated. I am also going to try roasting the next batch in high quality butter rather than olive oil to see how the choice in fat changes the final dish.
Whenever I get this one perfected – which could be a few days or a few months (or, heaven forbid, longer; the cinnamon rolls took ten years) – I’m going to move on to a dessert-like vegetable roast founded on carrots and sweet potatoes. I want to add some brown sugar, maybe golden raisins, and perhaps a touch of brandy to absorb into the vegetables profile as it cooks down, concentrating the flavor profile into a rich side dish that you would expect as the family gathered around the table for a Sunday dinner or Christmas afternoon. I can see it in my head and taste it on my tongue. Now I just need to figure out the chemistry. It’s getting easier as I do this more often but there is still a good deal of trial and error.
Meanwhile, Aaron was testing French onion soup recipes, toppings, and breads. Today, he contrasted Julia Child’s preparation and ratios from the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking with a much different version from America’s Test Kitchen to give him an idea of how he wants to modify the ingredient list and methodology to come up with one we’d be proud to serve our guests. He has already concluded that he vastly prefers Vermouth in the soup to Sherry. We haven’t, yet, found the ideal bread to go with it, despite starting the search last week. On Thursday, he handmade a famous peasant bread recipe from St. Louis first invented in the 1800’s but I found it too bubbly; almost like a fizzing carbonated beverage in my mouth texture-wise if that makes any sense.
Though I have to admit, I found this bread a perfect compliment for lunch. We both took to making cheese plates with aged white cheddar, golden raisins, and traditional honey once it had dried out a bit. Now that I’m writing this, I may have him make it again because I wouldn’t mind having this for one of my meals later this week. Though, I think we have a chicken that needs to be cooked, as well as a fairly good-sized turkey, too. Those will have to come first.
I haven’t made a proper dessert since the plum cheesecake, which I never posted, though I do have pictures of the process.
I feel like time is going too quickly this year. I still have a dozen or more seasonal dishes I want to make and before long, it will be time to switch over to pumpkins, squash, apples, and ciders. If push comes to shove, I might buy a bunch of fresh fruit and have it frozen. It isn’t ideal, but I’ll still be able to tell if the recipe itself is a success.