October 11, 2011 by A to Ziti
What a gorgeous weekend it was here in New England! Of course the weekend after the window air-conditioners have been stored away in the basement, we have 80-degree living rooms, but whatever. I’ll take it. This was probably the last insanely nice weekend we’ll have in a while. One in which we saw our neighbors working in their gardens either raking leaves, trimming bushes, or planting mums…a whole lot of mums. One in which Sean and I became the sounding boards for our neighbors’ marital discord over a pile of woodchips that have been sitting in their driveway for well over a month. He, who says to Sean, will “get it done.” She, who says to me, will not put out for him until it’s done.
So last night, Sean and I compared our stories about the he said/she said to a simple Autumn dinner that looked elegant, tasted amazing, and took no time at all to prepare. Well, ok, it took some time, but not so much that I missed out on spending time in the garden and overseeing Sean’s hanging of a new mailbox. (I just didn’t want to risk having to get a tetanus shot retrieving my mail, ok?!)
The cauliflower is something I just threw together while the girls were upstairs in the tub and by the time they were out, dressed, and hair combed, I was putting the final touches on the cauliflower with some toasted walnuts, which I also used on the game hens.
The game hen recipe is from my mom’s “Small Plates: Appetizers as Meals” cookbook and it looks so fancy that it might be intimidating, but really, I promise, you can make this on a weekday, or a weeknight for a dinner party, or even a holiday. Which, I guess yesterday was, wasn’t it? I just realized our mailman will get to see our new mailbox today! I’m sure he’ll be thankful that rust-infested mailbox with the dead cricket at the bottom is gone too.
oven-roasted cauliflower with lupini beans (made up by me, on the fly 10/10/11)
one head of cauliflower, broken into florets, washed
salt and pepper to taste (use salt sparingly as your lupini beans may already be salted)
1/4 cup lupini beans
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
Preheat oven to 450. Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss. Spread the lupini beans across the top and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning once or twice to get an even toasty look. Once finished, grate cheese over the cauliflower and sprinkle walnuts on top. Serve immediately.
holiday spiced game hens (page 61, Small Plates: Appetizers as Meals)
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
2 cups pomegranate or cranberry juice
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 to 6 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 game hens, cut in half through the breastbone (I didn’t do this, but you can if you want)
Seeds of pomegranate (for garnish)
1 cup chopped nuts, toasted
Makes 4-6 Servings
In a medium bowl, combine the orange zest, juice, pomegranate or cranberry juice, honey, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt and pepper; stir well.
Divide mixture in half; marinate the hens in one half of the liquid for 1-8 hours. Drain off the marinade and discard; roast the hens, skin side up for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
In a small sauce pan, heat the remaining half of marinade until thickened slightly. When hens are done roasting, drizzle with thickened sauce, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and toasted nuts, and serve at once.