Lessons from my roasting mantra | Kitchen to Kitchen

Sidonie Maroon
Posted 7/8/21

I lived at the Olympic Hostel at Fort Worden from 2006 to 2011. My husband, Christopher, ran this peaceful and friendly accommodation for 18 years.

When I arrived, our culinary scene changed. We …

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Lessons from my roasting mantra | Kitchen to Kitchen

Roasted peaches are a welcome delight on any table.
Roasted peaches are a welcome delight on any table.
Photo courtesy of Sidonie Maroon
Posted

I lived at the Olympic Hostel at Fort Worden from 2006 to 2011. My husband, Christopher, ran this peaceful and friendly accommodation for 18 years.

When I arrived, our culinary scene changed. We had plenty of dining space and gave large dinner parties, indoors and out. I often cooked for crowds, and it helped that we had three full-sized ovens, two in the hostel, and one in our adjoining apartment. In those days I was chef-crazy and would stop at nothing to fulfill whatever flavor aspiration I was chasing. 

Once, we gave a Greek-themed party for a gathering of 40 nature artists. I worked several days on eight moussakas and had them in the ovens, with dinner only half an hour away, someone locked both of the ovens by starting the self-cleaning cycle. We got those casseroles out, but it was close. 

During this time, I discovered the benefits of roasting fruits and vegetables. I used six jumbo rimmed baking sheets that came from the closed Port Townsend Baking Co. at Fort Worden. (Do you remember the sourdough from that bakery?! It makes sense that Frank d’Amore was their lead baker.) I was forever moving trays of roasting onions, zucchini, red peppers, or plums and peaches in and out of the ovens. I am grateful to the student who showed me how to line the trays with parchment paper. It made the cleanup easy and I could lift the food with the paper.

At the Olympic Hostel I began teaching international foodways classes, and my roasting method was a hot topic. 

This was my roasting mantra:

Use parchment paper.
Don’t overfill the baking sheets, or the ingredients will steam instead of roasting.
Cut everything to a similar size.
Rub in salt, flavor pastes and spices.
Use enough oil to keep everything loose and flavorful.
Roast at 425F for 30 minutes, on middle racks, then check and move the edge ingredients to the middle, and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes or until done.
I explained to my students how flavor builds through the dry heat of the oven, caramelizing the natural sugars in the produce. We’d roast and eat trays of deliciousness together in conversion experiences.

There is nothing like the smells that fill the kitchen, of roasting fruit and vegetables. It’s all hands-on chopping fresh produce and initiating it through heat into the society of elevated flavors. 

It’s so easy, pure science and yet miraculous. Roasting adds indescribable depth to a dish, a melting sweetness with smoky after notes. Repeat with me — 425F on parchment-lined baking sheets.  

WHAT TO ROAST?

Roast stone fruits like cherries, plums and peaches to use as sauces, chutneys or fillings.
Caramelize onions.
Make fruit sauces to freeze or can.
Roast vegetable medleys with different spice ways from Mediterranean to Indian.
Make the vegetable components that will go into soup, stew, salad or flatbread.


ROASTED FRUIT COMBINATIONS TO LOVE

Plums with cinnamon and vanilla
Peaches with ginger, lemon and bourbon
Apricots with cardamom and orange
Roasted veggie combos to swoon over  

Cauliflower, onions, garlic, lemon, salt, and black pepper
Red peppers, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and Roma tomatoes
Carrots, lemon, coriander, and fennel seed

Versatile Roasted Chutney

Makes 4 cups.  

Make this delicious chutney with stone fruit, or use other summer vegetables like zucchini or cauliflower. 

INGREDIENTS

1½ lbs sliced stone fruit, like plums, peaches or apricots

½ cup raisins

2 onions, chopped

½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes 

2 teaspoons fennel seed

1 teaspoon black mustard seed

1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger

3 tablespoons finely minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

¼ cup olive oil 

DIRECTIONS

Toss everything together on a parchment-lined large rimmed baking sheet.
Roast in a preheated oven at 425F for 30 minutes. Stir, bringing the edge ingredients into the center. Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes or until you love it.
Serve warm or cool. Will keep for a week refrigerated, and freezes well.

(Sidonie Maroon is the culinary educator at The Food Co-op, abluedotkitchen.com. Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, Cooking with the Co-op. Find recipes for Roasted Apple Plum Poppy Seed Rye Crisp, Roasted Beet, Apple & Tomato, Roasted Cauliflower Medley with Tahini Sauce on The Food Co-op blog, www.foodcoop.coop/blog/roasting.)

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