YOLO COUNTY NEWS

Food & Drink

Twelve for $40: May your oven runneth over

By From page A5 | February 20, 2013

It may feel like spring (or, by the time you read this, it may not!) but the available produce still says “winter.” No worries! We’ll take advantage of good prices on basics like chicken, beets and squash to while away these last few weeks of the winter growing season with delicious savory dishes.

When you run your oven, it’s ideal to fill it up with things that can cook all at the same temperature. For this menu, we can roast chicken with vegetables and bake potatoes to go with it. That leaves room in the oven for a tray of winter squash and a little dish of beets. You’ll be pleased later in the week to pull out ready-to-use vegetables!

Whole chicken legs are often a good buy this time of year, but they can be intimidating to the home cook. They roast nicely, and the dark meat is very easy to keep moist. Disjointing the chicken legs is a little disconcerting the first time you do it, but a worthwhile technique to learn, since whole legs are half the price of thighs, and often on sale. The trick is to slide a sharp knife into the joint and cut through the connective tissue instead of bone, You can find the joint by flexing the leg — the bendy bit is where you want to cut.

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Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days’ worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week* for around $40. These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cookbook.

Below the menus are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “In the fridge for future meals” then save those items from this meal for later in the week. That’s been included in the shopping list.

*(Everybody needs to go out, or share potluck with friends, or otherwise enjoy life once a week!)

Menus
Saturday
Roast Chicken Legs with vegetables
Baked Potatoes
In the fridge for future meals:
carrots
Tip: Reserve juices from the chicken to enrich the “risotto” tomorrow.

Sunday
Mushroom “Risotto”
Beet Greens
In the fridge for future meals:
beets
Parmesan
Tip: Sauté garlic. Toss in washed greens, cover and let cook until tender.

Monday
Butternut Bisque with Pears & Onions
Whole grain toast
In the fridge for future meals:
Cream
Roasted Squash
Bread
Tip: Roast the whole squash, save half for Thursday.

Tuesday
Creamy Spaghetti
Beet & Citrus salad
Tip: If you’re serving someone who isn’t a beet fan, golden beets are milder and the color a little less alarming.

Wednesday
Grilled cheese with pears and arugula
Carrot sticks
In the fridge for future meals:
Cheese
Tip: Layer thinly sliced pear, grated cheese and a big handful of greens between bread. Grill and gobble!

Thursday
Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
Tip: This delicious dish is a great way to use up leftover bits.

Shopping
Our shopping and recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household.

We shopped this list at the Davis Food Co-op on Feb. 15. We chose organic wherever affordable (marked “OG” on our list), and picked what we’d use at home — the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $40.28

* In the pantry:
oil
vinegar
soy sauce
prepared mustard
flour
garlic
salt
black pepper
garlic powder
nutmeg

* Produce:
onions, 3
pears, 2 OG
carrots, 6
crimini mushrooms, 14
shitake, 6
winter squash, 3 pounds OG
arugula, 2 ounces OG
garlic, 1 small head OG
shallot, 1/4 cup or 2 ounces OG
beets, 1 bunch OG
orange, 1 OG
russets, 2

* Dairy & cheese:
butter, 1 stick
cream, 3/4 cup
parmesan, 1/3 cup or 2 ounces
eggs, 2
milk, 1½ cups
Jack cheese, 1 cup grated or 4 ounces

* Grocery:
spaghetti, 8 ounces
whole grain bread

* Meat:
2 whole chicken legs
2 slices bacon

* Bulk:
sliced almonds, 1/4 cup or 1 ounce
rice, 1½ cups or 10 ounces
vegetable broth powder

The recipes

Roast Chicken Legs
The ingredients:
2 whole chicken legs
½ an onion, sliced
8 crimini mushrooms, quartered
4 carrots, cut into carrot sticks
salt
pepper
garlic powder

Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss carrots, onions and mushrooms into roasting pan. Cut legs into drumstick and thigh and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place chicken on top of vegetables. Roast until chicken is nicely browned and vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes.

Oven Mushroom “Risotto”
The ingredients:
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon butter
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced thick
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
½ an onion, chopped
1½ cups rice
3 cups water or broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Putting it together:
Toast almonds in a dry pan until fragrant. Set aside. Cook mushrooms and onions in butter until tender. Grease a 6-cup casserole dish and add mushroom mixture, rice, broth and soy sauce. Cover and cook at 350 degrees until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in reserved nuts and parmesan cheese before serving.

Butternut Bisque with Pears and Onions
The ingredients:
1 butternut squash, around 3 pounds
1 small head of garlic
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
½ cup heavy cream
pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon finely grated orange rind
kosher salt to taste
½ a medium onion
1 firm pear

Putting it together:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon liner or tin foil. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on the baking sheet. Cut off top ½ inch of garlic and place on baking sheet. Bake until squash and garlic are both squishy and slightly browned, about 1 hour. Let cool. Reserve half of squash for another meal.

Slice onion and pear as thinly as possible. Cook onions in oil over medium heat until golden. Add pears and continue cooking until tender.

Heat broth. Scoop out insides of squash half and squeeze garlic out of head. Using a potato masher, electric mixer or stick blender, beat cream into squash mixture. Slowly stir in vegetable broth. Add nutmeg, rind and salt to taste. Spoon into bowls and garnish with pear/onion mixture.

Creamy Spaghetti
The ingredients:
8 ounces spaghetti
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup sliced shallot
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Putting it together:
While spaghetti cooks, cut bacon into bite-sized pieces and cook until crisp. Cook shallots in bacon fat until golden. Drain off fat, leaving shallots in pan. Add cream and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in parmesan and reduce heat to low. Drain pasta, reserving a little pasta water. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon pasta water to sauce and stir to coat. Let stand, covered, a minute or two. If it seems too dry, add a little more pasta water. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and a generous grate of pepper.

Beet & Citrus Salad
Ingredients:
4-5 small beets
1 grapefruit or orange
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
pinch dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard

Putting it together:
Wash beets and cut off top and tail. Steam or roast until tender. Let cool until you can slip off the skins, and slice. Peel and slice citrus. Mix remaining ingredients and shake vigorously. Taste and correct seasonings. Dress salad to taste.

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
Ingredients:
3-4 cups torn stale bread
½ roast squash, chilled
½ an onion, thinly sliced
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup finely grated cheese

Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube or spoon out squash. Grease a dish and mix the bread, squash and onion together. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over top of bread mixture. Cover dish and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Julie Cross

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