Friday, October 24, 2014

Southwestern Fall Grain Bowl with Turkey, Squash, Pecans and Sage

Southwestern Fall Grain Bowl with Turkey, Squash, Pecans and Sage

Last week, while my blog was "dark," Chris and I were on vacation traveling around national parks in the Southwest. Next week, I'll be sharing with you what we ate, a wonderful (well, mostly) mix of Southwestern delights like Mexican and barbecue, and a pretty amazing sage margarita in what might be my new favorite cocktail bar in Santa Fe.

When you have a great time on a vacation, it can be hard to let go. So consider this Southwestern-themed fall grain bowl my attempt to hold on to some of those very tasty memories.

Hominy is a new ingredient for me. I had it several times earlier this year at the Mitsitam Cafe at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and a couple of times during our recent trip as the key ingredient in posole, a spicy pork and hominy stew. Hominy is corn soaked in an alkali solution that loosens the hull and causes the remaining kernel to swell. Dried hominy is used to make grits and corn tortillas. You can buy and cook dried hominy, which some say has better flavor and texture, but I used Goya canned hominy here, which worked fine. Giving it a few minutes in the pan with the onions helped it dry out a bit, and its texture, while probably softer than if I'd started with dry kernels, still had a nice chew.

Roasted butternut squash
All over the Southwest, especially in Santa Fe, we saw large arrangements of dried hanging chili peppers, known as ristras, and a lot of our food was pretty spicy, so I gave this a generous dose of New Mexico chili powder, which is actually pretty mild as chili powders go, so don't use it too sparingly. I knew I had to have some sage in this dish, since it was a key component in the aforementioned margarita and also just a great herb in fall dishes. And pecans are a natural for Southwestern foods too, as they are native to Mexico and are grown in several Southwestern states.

The resulting dish has a nice mix of sweet and spicy with a little bit of smoky too. It would make a great Thanksgiving stuffing actually. Vegetarians and vegans could easily omit the turkey and still have a wonderful dish.

Southwestern Fall Grain Bowl with Turkey, Squash, Pecans and Sage

Roasted squash:
1 lb. butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste

Cooked grains:
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup wild rice
1 cup farro, rinsed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Glazed nuts:
1/3 pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. New Mexico chili powder
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. agave nectar

Other ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
16 oz. can hominy, drained and rinsed
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp. (or to taste) New Mexico chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup dried cranberries
8 oz. smoked turkey, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 475 F. Combine squash, 2 tbsp. olive oil and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Spread squash on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes. Stir and roast another 15-20 minutes until the squash is softened and lightly browned. Set aside (refrigerate if not using immediately).

2. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a large (4 qt.) saucepan. Add the wild rice and boil for about 4 minutes, then add the farro (cooking the wild rice by itself first adjusts for its slightly longer cooking time), cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 to 18 minutes until the grains are cooked through but still a bit chewy. Drain of any remaining liquid and set aside.

3. Heat pecans in a small (8-inch) frying pan over medium-low heat. Once the nuts are fragrant, after about 5-6 minutes, sprinkle with chili powder and salt, then drizzle with the agave nectar. Stir to coat the nuts evenly and continue cooking until the agave has evaporated into a thick coating. Remove from heat.

4. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the hominy, then season with salt, chili powder and cumin, stirring to combine. Cook a couple minutes until the hominy has dried out a bit, then add the sage, dried cranberries and turkey. Add the roasted squash, cooked grains and glazed nuts, stirring until evening combined and heated through. Serve mixture in shallow bowls.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Bread and Herb Dressing

It's that time of year where roasted chicken and stuffing makes such a satisfying meal. This is a play on the roast chicken with bread salad I've made before that was made famous by San Francisco's Zuni Cafe.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Bread and Herb Dressing

Bread cubes:
About 3 cups of good-quality 1-inch bread cubes (from a crusty loaf of bread, such as sourdough with the crust cut off)
Olive oil, spray or about 1-2 tbsp.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

2 tbsp. dried currants
2 tbsp. pine nuts

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. (about 5) skinless bone-in (or boneless) chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2-3 cups baby arugula leaves
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1. Make the bread cubes: Preheat oven broiler with rack 9 inches below the broiler. Spray bread cubes evenly with olive oil (or toss with 1 or 2 tablespoons) and spread on a baking sheet. Broil until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the bread cubes over and broil for another minute until browned on the other side. Set aside to cool and dry out. Transfer bread cubes to a large bowl.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

3. Cook the vegetables: Heat butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add onion, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with 1 tbsp. sage and 1 tbsp. thyme and sauté until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and add to the large bowl with the bread cubes. Add the currants and pine nuts to the bowl.

4. Cook the chicken: Increase the temperature under the sauté pan to medium-high and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Sprinkle thighs with herbs and cook until brown on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the thighs over and brown the other side, about 3-4 more minutes.

5. Add the chicken broth to the bowl with the bread cubes and vegetables and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Spray a 9 X 13 roasting pan with olive oil. Spread the bread-and-vegetable mixture evenly in the roasting pan and place the chicken thighs on top. Use a spatula to scrape any bits from the sauté pan and spoon on top. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes (chicken should reach internal temperature of 170 F). Remove the chicken thighs, set on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Stir the bread-and-herb dressing and roast for another 10-12 minutes.

6. Serve the chicken thighs on plate or in shallow bowls on top of the dressing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Feed: October 22, 2014

Tea Bags
Tea bags may be convenient, but as Bonnie S. Benwick writes in the article below, there is a better way.
The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.

Washington Post: "Tea Might Become Your Favorite Hot Beverage, if You Ditch the Little Bags," by Bonnie S. Benwick.
As a typical American, I start my day with a cup of coffee (cup and a half actually, down from the former two). But around the world, tea is the hot drink of choice, especially when brewed with higher-quality loose-leaf tea instead of the easy but less-flavorful bagged variety that are so popular here. Reading Benwick's article inspired me to make my first cup of tea in a long time, and might just get me to pick up some loose-leaf tea at Teaism soon.

Washington Post: "Ten Fruits and Vegetables You're Storing Wrong," by Candy Sagon.
Articles about produce storage have been done before, but it's so easy to forget the rules, so I appreciated this reminder that includes good tips like not storing fruits and vegetables together (gas the fruit gives off will speed decay of the vegetables) and not washing them ahead of time (the moisture promotes bacteria). Sagon goes on to provide specific tips for 10 fruits and vegetables.

Washington Post: "Plate Lab: When Squash and Celery Root Turn into a Dish of 'Noodles'," by Joe Yonan.
Treating spaghetti squash like pasta is a popular trick this time of year, but Yonan writes how D.C. restaurant Thally (a great place I visited earlier this year), is turning butternut squash into its own unique "noodle" dish. Check out the accompanying video.

New York Times: "Washington Has More on Its Plate," by Jennifer Steinhauer.
Should I consider this an olive branch or sorts? An article from the New York Times actually talking up the D.C. restaurant scene? Sure, this year D.C. was named coolest city by Forbes and best city to travel to by Lonely Planet, but when it comes to eating out, D.C. has long had a inferiority complex in comparison to the Big Apple. While I think the latter still wears the national dining crown, there are a lot more jewels in D.C. these days. It's nice to see that publication from up north taking notice.

New York Times: "As American as Tarte Tatin," by Julia Moskin.
Moskin describes French Tarte Tatin as a dessert much simpler to assemble than pie consisting of apples, caramel and crust. Need I say more? Sold!

Wall Street Journal: "Recipes That Take Tahini in New Directions," by Louisa Shafia.
If you're like me, you might have a tub of tahini in the fridge because you bought it to make hummus. Turns out the nutty sesame paste with a texture like super runny peanut butter has lots of other great uses too. Chef Alex Stupak of New York's Empellón Taqueria serves it with eggplant, for example. This article got me thinking, what would it be like in a cookie?

Los Angeles Times: "Soaking Beans? In Most Cases You Don't Need to," by Russ Parsons.
Every recipe I've ever seen that calls for dried beans also calls for soaking them overnight, which means 9 times out of 10 I reach for canned beans instead, since I don't have to think about the pre-planning of a 24-hour bath. Well guess what, Parsons dispels the notion of a required soak, noting that instead you can just cook the beans a little longer until they are tender. Genius! (I actually did this with the Smoky Pinto Beans I made last year).

Eater: "How the Aperol Spritz Became Italy's Favorite Cocktail"
It's Cocktail Week over at Eater, where I've been enjoying in particular the D.C. coverage. This story, from the national site, chronicles how the Aperol Spritz became so popular in Italy.

Mario Batali: "A Kernel, and the Truth," by Jim Webster.
This is just a shout out to Jim Webster (D.C. writer who co-wrote with Mario Batali the new book America--Farm to Table), who, like me, is bemoaning the fact that New Morning Farm's corn season has passed, and it will be many long months before we can enjoy those wonderful, sweet ears again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Frittatas are really easy to make. I'm surprised I don't do it more often. It goes something like this: assemble a few key ingredients, like a vegetable or two, a meat and a cheese, then pour egg over them, let set on the bottom, then broil to set on top. And you're done.

Because the actual making of the frittata is so simple, I don't mind putting a little extra effort into getting the ingredients just right. In this case, I roasted Brussels sprouts until they were wonderfully brown, pan-crispsed some really smoky thick bacon slices and caramelized a sweet onion. I even grated a little gruyere, one of my favorite cheeses.

Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion Frittata

12 oz. Brussels sprouts, ends cut off and sprouts halved (with cuts made through the stem ends so they hold together)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt, to taste
8 oz. thick hickory-smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, cut into thin pieces about 1-inch long and 1/4-inch wide
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
7 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Put cut sprouts in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt, then spread on a baking sheet, flipping any sprouts over so the cut-side is down. Roast for 35 minutes until golden brown in places. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. This step may be done in advance with the roasted sprouts stored in the fridge.

2. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate.

3. Heat a large (12-inch) frying pan over medium heat. Add butter. When melted, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes (add water as necessary to prevent onions from browning too quickly). Stir in the roasted sprouts, bacon and thyme. Use a spatula to spread the ingredients in an even layer in the pan.

4. Preheat oven broiler.

5. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, seasoned with salt and pepper. Pour eggs evenly around ingredients in the frying pan. Using a spatula, gently lift the ingredients around the edges and in the middle as the egg sets to let the runny eggs run down into the pan (similar to what you'd do with a omelet). When the egg is fairly set on the bottom, sprinkle the gruyere cheese on top, then put the pan in the oven under the broiler. Broil for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned and the egg is set on top. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Moroccan-Spiced Meatloaf

A great place to find inspiration for new dishes is from other food bloggers. A couple months ago, I was chatting with Cathy Barrow of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen on Twitter, and somehow we got on the subject of meatloaf.

I hadn't made the classic dish for quite some time and was looking for ways to put a new spin on it. Cathy suggested using oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, which she said should be soaked in milk. That sounded like a great idea. The oats got me thinking about cinnamon and raisins, which made me think about pushing the meatloaf in a Moroccan direction, spice-wise. So in went ground cumin, turmeric and paprika.

This meatloaf turned out with a wonderful, moist texture. The oatmeal really disappeared into the rest of the ingredients, and the spices and raisins gave it a nice spicy-sweetness.

Moroccan-Spiced Meatloaf

3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for spraying the baking dish
1 yellow onion diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb. ground beef or meat loaf mix (I use Whole Foods' mix of ground beef, pork and veal)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat 350 F. 

2. Combine the oats and milk in a small bowl to soak.

3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.

4. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the large bowl with the sautéed vegetables, then add the milk-soaked oats. Using your hands, mix the ingredients until well combined, then transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with olive oil. Shape the mixture into a long loaf and bake for about 1 hour, until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 F. Allow to rest about 5 minutes, then slice until 1-inch slices.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Taking a Week Off: Fall Recipes

Looking for fall recipes? I've got lots here. Pictured is the Fall Grain Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes.

I'm taking a week off from Cook In / Dine Out this week, so there will be no new recipes and no edition of The Feed on Wednesday.

To tide you over until I return on Monday, October 20, here are some great fall recipes.


Like spaghetti squash? Check out my recipe for Stuffed Spaghetti Squash or, if you want to play up this squash's pasta-like quality, try Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Brown Butter. Butternut squash more your style? Check out this Fall Grain Bowl with Butternut Squash. It's also good in a soup, like Smoky Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. But my favorite way to serve it is in Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Sausage Lasagna. Don't forget this classic: Stuffed Acorn Squash.


I recently did a whole week on apple recipes, including Apple-Potato Soup with Chicken-Apple Sausage, Triple Smoky Apple-Blue Cheese CrostiniRoasted Stuffed Caramel Apples. Previously, I've shared recipes for Grown Up Applesauce,


Speaking of squash and apples, the both show up in this Fall Kale Salad along with pecans and dried cranberries. Barely cooked squash is the star in this Shaved Delicata Squash Salad. And if you still have figs, I definitely recommend the Beet, Fig and Prosciutto Salad or Watercress and Fig Autumn Salad.


Colder weather always puts me in the mood for the woods, which I tried to capture with the Scent of the Woods cocktail made with eu de vie of Douglas Fir. Bourbon lovers should definitely check out the St. Germain Cocktail, which nice balances the caramel notes of bourbon with floral St. Germain. For apple lovers, there's the Honey Bourbon Apple Cider and How Do You Like Dem Apples, which features three apple ingredients. Pumpkin may be overplayed this year, but I still love these Pumpkin Cocktails.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cocktail: Scent of the Woods

Scent of the Woods Cocktail

I love drinks with smoky, woodsy flavors. Rosemary is a good vehicle for this, since the spiky herb is redolent of pine. This drink honors a different evergreen tree: the great Douglas Fir. While you will find a lot of pine trees in the drier central part of Oregon east of the Cascades, in the wetter west part of the state, fir trees rule, particularly Douglas Fir, which is the state tree. We had them in my front and back yards growing up. They smell wonderful.

The Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Oregon makes a variety of eaux de vie (that's the plural of "eu de vie"), a type of clear brandy typically infused with fruit, although as Clear Creek has shown, it can be infused with other flavors too. The distillery's founder, Steve McCarthy, worked 10 years to perfect the Eu de Vie of Douglas Fir used in this drink. It adds a nice subtle note of fir.

I considered mixing this cocktail with whiskey, although most of the recipes I found online that used this brandy mixed it with gin. So I compromised with barrel-aged gin, a sort of whiskey-like gin that's brown and aged but not as assertive as whiskey. The St. Germain gives the drink a nice touch of citrus and floral.

Cocktail: Scent of the Woods

2 oz. Few barrel-aged gin
3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. Clear Creek Eu de Vie of Douglas Fir
Lemon twist

Combine the gin, elderflower liqueur and Eu de Vie of Douglas Fir in a cocktail mixing glass. Fill the glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.