It feels like capitulation to turn the furnace on so soon, despite the fact the first cold of the season has made its way into the house – a sniffling, hacking reminder to put a big pot of chicken soup on the weekend to-do list.
The soup can wait till tomorrow. Today’s task is to warm up the house without succumbing to the inevitability of central heating. There is still hope for an Indian Summer and, if luck is with us, the heat will stay off until November.
So, baking all day it is (cookies, anyone?). And, who knows, the warmth emanating from the kitchen might draw the strange teenage mole creatures from their lairs. The cookies might loosen them up enough to talk instead of grunt. But let’s not get overly optimistic.
Later on, crank up the heat a little and make a dish that’s perfect for this cusp between the seasons – a fall braise that uses the last of the home-grown tomatoes (they become super sweet) to keep it bright and summery. The subtle herbes de Provence and a little fennel seed add a surprising depth of flavour to the chicken. It’s both hearty and light. Serve it with a light red wine and eat in the kitchen where it’s still warm.
(adapted from Gourmet, March 2008)
4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1/2 cup drained brine-cured black olives
4 large garlic cloves, sliced, plus 1 teaspoon minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 whole chicken, approximately 4 lbs
Preheat oven to 425 F