Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vegan MoFo 9: Cooking Time Audit #2

Another appropriate title might be, "That time Veganomicon accidentally thwarted us and we may have at some point used a hammer but we still got something delicious."

This is the second in my Vegan MoFo series of Cooking Time Audits, in which I try to figure out whether those cooking times in the cookbooks are any actual indication of how long it takes to get a recipe on the table. Click here for my first race against the clock: Sweet Potato-Pear Tzimmes.

For tonight's recipe I enlisted Fiance John's help. I thought with twice of us against the book, there was a chance we'd make it. Not so.

We chose the Veganomicon:
Carmelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts 

Estimated Time: 1 hr 30 mins. 0-10 mins prep, 1 hr 20-30 baking
Actual Time: 1 hr 35 mins.
(Actual time elapsed - 2+ hrs, but I paused the timer to save our hazelnuts*)

Hurdle number 1: We couldn't find chestnuts. And we learned from some reading water chestnuts are not the same. We looked in a couple stores, and finally settled on hazelnuts as a substitute. 

*Hurdle number 2: Being nut-roasting novices, we read that hazelnuts will roast in about 10 mins at 300 degrees and then the skins should peel off easily with a rough towel. The hazelnuts had been in the oven for like 25 mins and showed no changes. Turns out you shell them before you roast them. 

Post-25 mins - skins not peeling. Why? Because we didn't shell them.

The ones on the top still have shells. The bottom ones are what they look like after they come out of the shells, with the skin still on. Classy people would probably use a nutcracker to shell them.

We don't have a nutcracker. We did have a hammer, so we poured the hot post-oven failure nuts onto a towel, took them out to the garage, hammered them all open, and returned the nuts to the oven. 10 minutes later - successfully roasted hazelnuts. It was this step that I paused the timer for. 

The rest of the recipe went smoothly. The only other comment I would make is to leave out the salt if you're using regular vegetable broth - it was way too salty on it's own.

We served it with cauliflower mashed potatoes (1:1 ratio cooked cauliflower : red potatoes) and it cut the salt perfectly. The description of this recipe mentions it's a perfect fall dish when you're feeling Thanksgiving-y. I'll call this one a little shout-out to my Canadian friends and say I would definitely agree it tastes like the holidays. Now if only it would drop below 80 degrees again.

Time Audit Comments: This recipe allows almost no prep time because all except the onions can be chopped/mixed while the preceding step is in the oven. Therefore, I attribute the variation to a little leftover time from the hazelnut disaster and say that this one is a pretty accurate estimate. 

Combining this with Time Audit #1, they're pretty close so far. Next time I'm planning to cook from a different book and see how consistent it stays. Stay tuned for #3. And also a later post on proper nut-roasting technique, since I've now learned in a trial by failure. 

Okay, what's your favorite kitchen mistake story?

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