Followers of my blog may have noticed that I have not posted many recipes in the last month. It is not that I have stopped cooking—in fact, my desktop is covered with pictures of the dishes that I have made. However, as well as the business of cooking for the holidays, I have been suffering from a bit of writer’s block about what to say about the dishes. Many of my recent were simply slight variations of past posts. Other dishes were seat-of-the-pants recipes—what can you write about when you are grabbing ingredients as the spirit takes you?
I made ham steak for Sunday’s dinner and I wanted some roasted vegetables to go with it. We were introduced to “roasties” when we visited New Zealand—before that they were simply roasted vegetables. Roasties may be as simple as roasted potatoes, but it is always more interesting if you mix it up and add other vegetables. The root vegetables we miss most from New Zealand are New Zealand yams,while these were labeled as kūmara—sweet potato—in the NZ markets, they are nothing like the American varieties.
For this Sunday’s dinner I wanted a wide variety of vegetables, so that everyone could eat what they pleased—Eilene does not like mushrooms and Miriam is off onions at the moment. Looking at other recipes for “roasties” many of them looked very finicky—several recipes called for flipping the vegetables every 10-15 minutes. With a full tray of vegetables this seemed like too much work. I decided to achieve the same browning results by adjusting the heat source—first baking and then broiling the vegetables.
While Vegans may use a vegetable oil, I like the flavor of buttered vegetables. I decided to use a wide variety of herbs, but Miriam cannot eat garlic at the moment, so I left this key ingredient out—feel free to add it to your own. After brushing them with herb butter, I grouped each vegetable in a separate part of the tray—I left a space for the zucchini, which has a much shorter roasting time.
Karl’s Mixed Roasties II
¼ cup butter, melted (vegetable oil for Vegan)
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. basil
½ tsp. marjoram
¼ tsp. sage
⅛ tsp. white pepper
pinch Kosher salt
2-3 cloves garlic (I left this out)
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. flur de sal
1. Melt the butter in a cup and mix in the thyme, basil, marjoram, sage, white pepper, and salt.
Tip: Let the herb butter sit for a few minutes to rehydrate the herbs and for the flavors to meld.
Note: You may also add crushed garlic, but For this dish I found that I really didn’t miss it.
2. Stems the mushrooms, so that the caps sit flat on the baking tray.
Tip: I discovered this trick by accident, the edges of the mushroom caps sealed themselves to the tray and trapping much of the juices and preventing them from evaporating away. Instead of drying into chewy, leathery disks, the mushrooms were bursting with juice and flavor.
3. Peel and cut the carrots into 1 to 1½ inch chunks.
Tip: Using a mix of heirloom carrots add color and variety.
Note: You want to make all of your vegetable bits near the same size, so that they roast evenly.
4. Peel, but do not cut the Cipollini onions.
Tip: Cipollini onions are small flat onions about an inch and a half in diameter.
Note: Like the mushrooms, keeping the onions intact prevents much of theor moisture from escaping.
5. Rinse and trim any bad spots from the potatoes.
Tip: Only cut any very large potatoes, you want most of them to be whole.
6. Cut the zucchini lengthwise and cut the halves diagonally into chunks.
Tip: Zucchini cooks much faster than the hard root vegetables, so butter then and set them aside until later.
7. Set the rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven—on Bake—to 400º F.
8. Brush each set of vegetables with the herb butter on all sides.
Tip: A lot of the butter will drip off of the vegetables as you brush it in. I found it useful to put sever pieces of vegetable on a small plate as I brushed the butter on. In between batches, I scrapped the excess butter back into the cup.
Note: Try to get plenty of the herbs stuck to each bit of vegetable.
9. Group each set of buttered vegetables on a lipped baking tray.
Tip: All the carrots together, all the mushrooms together, etc.
Note: For my last birthday, daughter Miriam got me a set of Sur la Table baking pans. These pans have a non-stick, pebbled surface that is amazing. I do not needed parchment paper when I bake with these pans, biscuits and even burned on sauces come right off.
10. When all of the vegetables—except the zucchini—are arraigned on the tray, set it in the oven and bake.
Note: leave enough room on the tray to fit in the zucchini without disturbing the other vegetables.
11. After 15 minutes, add the zucchini—center cut side down—and rotate the pan.
Tip: The hot pan will sear and brown the bottom sides of the zucchini.
12. Switch the oven to the broil setting—still at 400º F.
13. Broil the vegetables until they are well browned, another 15-20 minutes.
14. Sprinkle the vegetables liberally with pepper and salt and transfer the roasties to a serving platter.
Note: You may mix the vegetables together or serve them in separate bowls as I did this time.
15. Serve warm.