We've had a warm spell in Wisconsin, with temperatures hovering around 40 by day and 25 by night. Days are overcast and dull. Evenings are dark and inky but for the scads of colored lights around the neighborhood. The air smells of cold and wood smoke.
You can feel winter solstice is just around the corner.
Tonight seemed like a night for roasting chestnuts. I had plenty of inspiration from fellow bloggers. Christine at Christine Cooks, who always does such romantic things with food and wine, roasted them a few weeks ago. That inspired me to buy some chestnuts, step one.
At Cucina Testa Rossa on Dec. 15, Laura posted an evocative photo of a chestnut vendor in Luxembourg Gardens. I could feel the Paris breeze on my face and smell the Paris smell (imagining, because I have not been there in fall). That galvanized me to roast them, step two.
I don't have a fireplace, so my chestnuts weren't roasted on an open fire. (I've eaten them that way on a blizzard-y evening in December, and they are wonderful. It's the idea of the open fire that adds to the charm and the flavor.)
I do have an oven and plenty of old baking sheets.
Here's how I did it:
• I washed them, allowed them to dry and then using a little Victorinox paring knife, cut crosses in flat, dull topside of the shiny chestnut.
• I pre-heated my oven to 425 and found an old cookie sheet. I placed the chestnuts on the sheet, cross side up (as best I could). I left them in the oven for about 25 minutes, until they looked easy to peel.
• I let the chestnuts cool for just a bit, then wrapped them in a clean kitchen towel and squeezed them. They crackled and were ready to peel. I removed the inner skins, as well as the hard outer shells.
My next chestnut challenge is this: I've bought some chestnut pasta at the supermarket. What to do with it? Ideas are welcome.