The Otium

[remodeling soon!]

Lemon-Rosemary Roast Chicken over Pear & Gorgonzola Stuffing


I just returned from a business trip to Russia, to find that summer has — at long last! — come to an end in Indiana.  The air finally feels like autumn, free from the traces of summer’s humidity that hang around far longer than the chirping cicadas.  The leaves are beginning to change color, and crunch beneath my feet on the sidewalk.  And the days remain chilly, despite the sun’s best attempts to burn off the frost.  So after a jet lag-induced early rise this morning, an outing to my neighborhood bakery, and a stop at the market, I was ready for a warm, hearty autumn supper.


This one-pan meal was the perfect fix for my craving, and it couldn’t be easier to pull together.  While the final product tastes like a day-long labor of love, it takes less than two hours from start to table.  This is a wonderful fall or winter meal, and even works for weeknights.


Since the chicken is butterflied, it will cook faster and more evenly — plus, all of the skin gets irresistably crispy!  I roast the chicken directly above the stuffing so that the drippings soak into the bread, providing a deep, rich flavor to round out the sweet pears.  And while gorgonzola — well, cheese in general — is not a common stuffing ingredient, it adds a creaminess that takes stuffing to the next level.


Lemon-Rosemary Roast Chicken over Pear & Gorgonzola Stuffing

Makes 4-6 servings | 30 minutes prep + 70 minutes cook time


  • butter (for roasting pan)
  • 7 C day-old French bread cubes (~1/3″x1/3″x1/3″)*
  • 2 small pears, cored and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • leaves from one sprig rosemary, very finely chopped
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, very finely chopped
  • half handful fresh sage leaves, very finely chopped
  • 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • coarse salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 whole sprig rosemary


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a small roasting pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine bread cubes, pears, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary leaves, parsley, sage, gorgonzola, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Toss to combine.
  3. Drizzle chicken broth over bread cube mixture, and stir to coat bread evenly with broth.
  4. Spread stuffing mixture evenly across roasting pan.  Place roasting rack into pan, over the stuffing.
  5. Butterfly the chicken by removing the backbone.  Rinse and pat dry.  Place skin side up onto roasting rack.
  6. Halve the lemon.  Lightly squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto chicken.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle coarse salt onto chicken.  Place whole sprig rosemary onto chicken.
  7. Place lemon halves, cut side up, onto roasting rack.
  8. Cover roasting rack tightly with aluminum foil, and roast for 55 minutes or until chicken internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  9. Switch oven to a low broil, remove aluminum foil, and place roasting pan on low oven rack (not right up close to broiler).  Broil for 10-15 minutes or until chicken skin is golden, and lemons have slightly caramelized.
  10. To serve, squeeze roasted lemons onto carved/pulled chicken, and sprinkle with coarse salt.  I also recommend you mix the stuffing together for a more consistent texture, because the center portion (directly under the chicken) may be wetter than the outer regions (directly exposed to broiler), depending on the size of your pan and chicken.

* If you do not have day-old bread, spread your bread cubes onto a baking sheet and toast in 250°F oven for 10-15 minutes.



Buttercup Squash Croissant with Maple-Bourbon Glaze


What a year it’s been!  A little over a year ago, my S.O. and I realized that neither of us were happy with the status quo of our life/work situation.  We began the process of relocating, but in the academic world, a job search is not as simple as rapid-firing your résumé to every recruiter you know.  It takes hours of searching for positions for which one’s research area is relevant, then tailoring one’s cover letter, research statement, and teaching statement to that particular position at that particular university.  Interviews last a day and a half, at a minimum, not including travel time.  Offers take weeks, if not months, to prepare and negotiate.


Once one accepts an offer, things become even more difficult.  And the difficulty grows exponentially with the amount of students, lab equipment, and federally-funded projects one is trying to move with them!

So now, more than one year later, I feel as though my life is finally — knock on wood — settling into place.  I am getting comfortable in my new home, happy with my new colleagues and students, and most of the administrative paperwork surrounding my move seems to be wrapping up.


I’ve been longing to get back into the kitchen, and got the chance to do so this past weekend — nothing inspires me to bake like fall weather!  I wanted a recipe that would be slow and laborious, to just recalibrate my internal balance after this mad rush of a year.  And a laminated dough is about as slow and laborious and one can get.  I used Saveur‘s recipe for the croissant dough, but basically swapped out their chocolate for a seasonally-appropriate buttercup squash and maple filling.  And instead of their egg wash, I use a sweet maple-bourbon glaze because the filling itself is not overly sweet.

I used buttercup squash, but you can use any pumpkin or winter squash with fibrous, not-too-wet flesh.  If you have left over filling, pour it into miniature custard cups and bake in a water bath at 350°F for 20 minutes for a little dinner side dish.


Squash & Maple Croissant with Bourbon Glaze

Makes 18 croissant | Start a day ahead

For the Dough (copied from Saveur)

  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 C hot water, just shy of boiling
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 4 C flour
  • 1 + 1/2 C + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened slightly

For the Filling

  • 1 + 1/2 C roasted squash puree
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 eggs

For the Glaze

  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon
  1. In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over water, and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.  Stir in milk, melted/cooled 3 Tbsp butter, sugar, powdered milk, and salt.  Using dough hook on stand mixer at medium speed, incorporate flour to form a firm dough.
  2. Split dough into approximately two halves.  Place each half onto a sheet of parchment paper. Roll each half of dough into a ~9″ x 9″ square.  Cover each square with another sheet of parchment, folding edges of parchment around the dough.  Place each parchment packet into a zip-top bag and lay flat in refrigerator for 2 hours.
  3. Place the remaining butter (1 + 1/2 C + 2 Tbsp) between two sheets of parchment paper, and roll to form into a ~9″ x 9″ square.  Wrap parchment snugly around butter square, place into zip-top bag, and lay flat in refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Remove butter and dough from refrigerator.  On a lightly floured work surface, layer dough, then butter, then second dough.  Press dough edges together to completely seal butter within the dough.
  5. Roll dough into a ~12″ x 9″ rectangle, then tri-fold like a letter.  Rotate 90°, then repeat rolling dough into ~12″ x 9″ rectangle, then tri-folding.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  6. Prepare filling by creaming together all ingredients in a stand mixer.  Place filling into plastic zip-top bag (with one corner cut open for piping) or pastry piping bag.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  7. Repeat step 5 twice more, finally chilling dough for 1 hour.
  8. To shape croissant, roll dough to ~20″ x 14″ rectangle with 1/4″ thickness.  Use a pizza cutter to halve the dough lengthwise, then cut each half into 9 triangles.
  9. At the base of each triangle, slit a small trough.  Pipe squash filling into trough.  Roll dough into croissant shape, being careful to not roll too tightly and push filling out.  Place croissant onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silpat, tip/end of triangle side facing down.
  10. Place baking sheets in warm area, cover with tea towels, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
  11. Preheat oven to 350°F
  12. Prepare glaze by combining ingredients in a small bowl.  Brush glaze onto croissant.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes.  Apply another layer of glaze, and rotate baking sheets between top and bottom racks of oven.  Bake for another 10 minutes, or until croissant are golden brown.
  14. Place on wire rack for cooling.


Holiday S’Mores – Gingerbread Grahams, Cranberry Marshmallows, & Red Wine + Maple Poached Cherry Cordials

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Happy New Year!  In the spirit of healthy resolutions, I’ll post an indulgent, sweet recipe, but it will be a recipe that you won’t want to make for another 12 months, at which time your resolution will be long broken.

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At Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law confessed that she had tried a s’more for the first time in her life this past summer.  After getting over my initial surprise, I got to wondering why we associate s’mores almost exclusively with summer.  Sure, summer lakeside camping goes with evening campfires, which lends itself perfectly to toasted marshmallows, and naturally, to s’mores. (more…)

Cranberry & Ginger Ale Panna Cotta

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The S.O. and I spent Thanksgiving back in Michigan with his family.  It was a wonderful trip — how we miss the Mitten State!  But I knew Thanksgiving day food prep was going to be a challenge.  Since the S.O. and I were in a hotel, there wasn’t much we could do to help with food prep ahead of time.  The in-laws’ oven was the only oven we had, and it was working overtime to bake bread, several casseroles, and the turkey.  So I knew that a pie would just complicate matters — plus, my father-in-law and I are the only pie-eaters of the bunch. (more…)

Stilton & Beurre Noisette Dutch Baby with Winter Squash and Sage Whipped Cream


Fall has come and gone so much faster than I wanted.  There are a dozen stagnant items on my to-do list that have been glaring at me since September.  They’re a constant, looming reminder of how quickly time has gotten away from me these past few months.  Work has been beyond hectic.  But with grades submitted today and a job offer for my first graduated grad student, I am beginning to feel like I’m getting back in control of my to-do list…

…even if only temporarily.  This winter break could not have come at a better time, as I am bracing for an awful January and February.  I’ll have four weeks of travel and a week of jury duty in the first six weeks of the new year, on top of four major proposal deadlines in that same span.


But for now, I’m breathing deep and unwinding.  I’m drinking lots of wine while binge-watching The Good Wife.  I’m getting a 90 minute massage tomorrow morning.  I’m going to cook up a storm this Christmas.  And in the meantime, I also want to share this recipe with you. (more…)