Saturday, November 26, 2016

Vaguely Southeast Asian Turkey-Noodle Soup

Vaguely Southeast Asian Turkey-Noodle Soup

It's day 2 of Thanksgiving leftovers, and already I'm getting a little tired of just reheating the dishes I served on Thursday. Time for something else! Early in the day, I thought about making a simple turkey-noodle soup. I'd already thrown out the carcass, so there wasn't going to be a "make your own stock" situation at my house (I know I should save it and use it, but the last few years, it just sits in the freezer).

I thought I'd making something simple with cooked turkey, onion, celery, carrot, egg noodles and turkey broth. But then it dawned on me that with some Southeast Asian flavors, I could probably make something just as satisfying and a lot more interesting. In went the ginger, garlic, star anise, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and cilantro. The results were a big hit around the table. Home run!

Vaguely Southeast Asian Turkey-Noodle Soup

6 oz. rice sticks (rice noodles, similar in size to linguine) broken in half
4-6 cups boiling water
2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 sweet onion, cut into slivers
2 stalks of celery, cut into slivers
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin julienne (like matchsticks--I recommend using a julienne peeler)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 inches of ginger root, peeled and finely grated
6-8 scallions, sliced into small pieces, white and green parts separated
2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium turkey broth
3 star anise pods
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked turkey cut into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1. Place the rice sticks in a bowl and add boiling water until the noodles are submerged. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then drain the noodles.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and sauté until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the carrot, garlic, ginger and white scallion parts, and cook another minute until fragrant.

3. Increase heat to medium-high and add turkey broth, star anise, fish sauce, soy sauce and white pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Add the turkey and simmer over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the star anise pods, stir in the lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in the cooked noodles.

4. Serve in bowls garnished with a good pinch of cilantro leaves and green scallion pieces.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Leftovers Frittata

Thanksgiving Leftovers Frittata

 Frittata is a wonderfully forgiving food. There are a lot of things you can throw together and encase with lightly scrambled eggs and some shredded cheese and it's guaranteed to be tasty. I've made frittata with 1) bacon, Brussels sprouts and caramelized onion, 2) sausage, mixed vegetables and gruyere, and 3) sausage and green beans, and each time it was a knockout dish. This is what you call a recipe for success.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Frittata

So why not give it a try with Thanksgiving leftovers? My version incorporates turkey, stuffing, and Brussels sprouts tossed together with some smoked gouda, but surely sweet potatoes, greens, and other vegetables would be delicious prepared this way. Just add eggs and a some cheese. Friday never tasted so good.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Frittata

Thanksgiving Leftovers Frittata

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced cooked turkey
1 cup sausage-cornbread stuffing
1 cup cooked Brussels sprouts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
Cranberry sauce (garnish)

1. Preheat oven broiler with rack 4 inches below the broiler.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick oven-safe frying pan over medium heat. Add the turkey, stuffing and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until reheated, about 2 minutes. Spread the ingredients evenly in the pan.

3. Whisk together the eggs and half the cheese in a large bowl. Pour the eggs and cheese over the turkey mixture. Continue to cook on the stove to set the bottom of the eggs, about 3 minutes.

4. Transfer pan to the oven and broil until the top is firm, about 3 minutes. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top and broil an additional minute to melt and brown the cheese (watch to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove from oven and cut into wedges for serving. Serve with cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving Central

Monday, November 21, 2016

Recipe for a Thanksgiving Rebel: Kung Pao-Style Roast Chicken, Gravy and Fried Rice

Kung Pao-Style Roast Chicken, Gravy and Fried Rice

Turkey is the traditional centerpiece of Thanksgiving. And while many people--including me--love a good roast turkey, there are those folks who don't like turkey. For whatever reason, it's just not their thing. They may feel guilted into making turkey anyway, because of the holiday. To those folks I say: be a rebel. Make something else! What's important on Thanksgiving is that make a meal your guests will love. It doesn't have to be all the "traditional" dishes if that's not what you and your crowd is into. Shake things up!

Kung Pao-Style Roast Chicken

Along those lines, I came up with this Kung Pao-style roast chicken. Before any of you food purists out there get huffy with me, I realize this bears no resemblance to actual Kung Pao Chicken (a dish I adore, by the way). Rather, the flavors of the glaze and, to some extent, the accompanying gravy and fried rice are inspired by the spicy-sweet flavors of a good Kung Pao (those desiring recipes for actual Kung Pao Chicken can look here, here or here). However, the presentation has been modified to be something more akin to Thanksgiving: a whole roasted bird with gravy.

Fried Rice

Consider the side of fried rice sort of like the accompanying stuffing, and I hope you'll see how this could be a satisfying alternative to traditional turkey and stuffing. Alternatively, you could just make this anytime for a satisfying dinner. You can this really spicy if you want by amping up the cayenne pepper and red chili pepper flakes. I went for something that gives a gentle undercurrent of heat. Be sure to cook the rice in advance for the fried rice.

Kung Pao-Style Roast Chicken

Kung Pao-Style Roast Chicken and Fried Rice
Chicken roasting method adapted (liberally) from a recipe from Epicurious; fried rice adapted from a Serious Eats recipe

Note: Please note that this recipe calls for already cooked white rice--plan ahead! Szechuan peppercorns are available from spice stores and Chinese markets. They are not "hot" like a chili pepper but rather create a numbing sensation. Pick through the peppercorns and discard any black seeds that may be present, as well as unopened pods--you only want to use the hulls. The seeds are gritty and don't taste good.

4-5 lb. whole chicken
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorns (see note)
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. fine garlic powder
Dash (less than 1/8 tsp.) cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)

2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
Pinch of red chili pepper flakes (or more, to taste)

Drippings from pan plus:
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. dry sherry (amontillado)
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch of red chili pepper flakes (or more, to taste)

Fried rice:
2 cups cooked white rice (plan ahead: cooking the rice takes about 35 minutes)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Set a V-rack into a roasting pan. Place the chicken, breast-side up, on the rack. Brush the chicken with vegetable oil. Combine ground Szechuan peppercorns, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water to the roasting pan and roast another 15 minutes.

2. Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Brush the chicken with glaze and continue roasting the chicken for another 40 to 50 minutes, brushing with glaze every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer stuck into thick portion of the breast or thigh should read at least 165 F). Remove chicken from rack and set aside on a cutting board to cool for about 10 minutes before carving the chicken.

3. Transfer drippings (about 2 tbsp. worth) from chicken roasting pan to a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, garlic cloves, chicken stock, cornstarch and red chili pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the gravy has thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Make the fried rice (you can do this while the chicken is roasting): Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rice and 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil and sauté until the rice is lightly golden and chewy, about 5 minutes. Remove the rice from the pan. Add the remaining vegetable oil and, when hot, add the onion and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Return the fried rice to the pan and add the soy sauce, sesame oil and peanuts. Stir to combine, then push the ingredients to the sides leaving a 4-inch dry circle in the middle of the pan. Add the egg to the circle, and stir to scramble, then combine with other ingredients.

5. Serve the chicken carved with the fried rice an gravy on the side.

Thanksgiving Central

Friday, November 18, 2016

California-style brussels sprouts with pistachio and pomegranate

California-style brussels sprouts with pistachio and pomegranate

This dish may look like Christmas, but the Washington Post ran it last year as part of a healthy Thanksgiving recipes article. Brussels sprouts are always welcome at my Thanksgiving table, and this is a beautiful way to serve them.

California-Style Brussels Sprouts with Pistachio and Pomegranate 
Adapted from a recipe by The Washington Post

2 lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed off and sprouts halved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water (Note: The original recipe calls for 1 to 2 tbsp. and says it is optional, but I think that using more water was necessary)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 oz. fresh pomegranate arils (seeds)
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice from 2 lemons (use about 2 tbsp. of zest and 1 tbsp. of juice)

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the Brussels sprouts. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sprouts are a bright-green color and golden around the edges, about 10 minutes.  Add the water, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes until the sprouts are tender. Season the sprouts with salt and pepper.

2. Transfer the cooked sprouts to a serving platter and top with the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Brandied "Pumpkin" Pie

Brandied "Pumpkin" Pie

Some prefer apple. Others go for pecan. A few brave the world of "mincemeat." But few can deny that pumpkin is the most traditional flavor of pie to serve for Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin is easy to acquire. Just buy a can of Libby's pumpkin puree and call it a day. Or....shake things up. Ditch the can and make a better pumpkin pie by not using pumpkin at all. Instead, make "pumpkin" pie with butternut squash. After all, I've ready that Libby's pumpkin isn't really pumpkin anyway but Dickinson squash--although Libby's will call it Dickinson pumpkin, and I might point out that "pumpkin" is a sort of generic term anyway, rather than a name for specific type of squash. So, it's all good (Snopes even looked into this).

However, it's even better if you use butternut squash, which is, after all, my favorite squash, and I suspect it might be yours as well (it's really good). Just roast the squash first and puree it, making sure you have enough for 1 3/4 cups, which is about the amount you'd get in a 15 oz. can. And since booze and dessert go so well together, this recipe also calls for some brandy. Cheers to that!

Just who came up with this wonderful variation on the Thanksgiving pie? Melissa Clark, the New York Times recipe writer who, at this point, I think is safe to say is the goddess of all things delicious.  Seriously, I've never met a Melissa Clark recipe that wasn't incredibly good (her garlicky chicken thighs and pinto bean soup recipes are among my favorites).

Brandied "Pumpkin" Pie
Adapted from a New York Times recipe by Melissa Clark

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams)
1/4 tsp. salt
10 tbsp. (1 stick plus 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tbsp. ice water

For the filling:
2 1/2 to 3 lb. butternut squash (to make 1 3/4 cups butternut squash purée)
2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
All-purpose flour (for the work surface)
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (153 grams)
2 tbsp. brandy
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
 Pinch ground clove

1. Make the crust: add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse into the mixture forms pea-size pieces. Add ice water in 1-tbsp. increments, pulsing after each addition, until the dough just comes together (you may not use all the water). The dough should be moist but not wet. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a ball, then flatten it into a large disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, up to 2 days.

2. Make butternut squash purée: Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel and halve the squash and remove and discard its seeds (pro tip: an ice cream scoop works great for removing squash seeds and slimy membranes). Cut the squash into 1 1/2-inch pieces and place them in a large bowl. Pour the melted butter over the squash and toss to coat. Transfer the buttered squash cube to a baking sheet and roast, stirring every 15 minutes, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, then puree in a food processor.

3. Lightly flour a work surface. Place the chilled dough disc in the center and roll out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edges of the dough under so the dough comes up to the top of the pie plate (see photo above). Crimp the edges with fork tines and prick it the dough all over with the fork. Place the pie plate in the refrigerator to chill the crust for 30 minutes (don't skip this step--the dough needs to be cold when it goes in the oven to minimize shrinkage).

4. Heat the oven to 375 F. Line the top of the chilled crust with aluminum foil and weight it down with pie weights (you can also use coins or dried beans). Bake the pie crust for 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool a bit.

5. Lower oven temperature to 325 F. To the bowl of a food processor, add the squash purée, eggs, cream, dark brown sugar, brandy, ginger, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg and clove. Turn on the food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour squash mixture into the cooled pie shell. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling jiggles just a bit in the middle when shaken, about 50 to 75 minutes (Clark says to bake the pie 50 to 60 minutes; I recommend using an instant-read thermometer and cooking the pie until the filling registers 165 F). Remove the pie from the oven and cool before serving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Probably the best cranberry sauce we've had at Thanksgiving. "Tastes like summer," said Chris.

Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from a recipe by Sheila Lukins for Parade via Epicurious

22 oz. fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
4 tsp. finely grated ginger
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries pop open, about 10-14 minutes. Smash the berries around a bit with a spoon as they cook so some break up.

2. Using a spoon, skim any foam off the top surface of the sauce and discard the foam. Cool the sauce to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 months.

Thanksgiving Central

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Celery with Cumin, Garlic and Rosemary

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Celery with Cumin, Garlic and Rosemary

Every good Thanksgiving spread needs some good vegetables sides. And not vegetable sides loaded with so much butter and sugar that they are pretty much a dessert, but honest-to-goodness recipes that honor the vegetables at the core of the dishes. That's what I'm aiming for here, a sweet potato side with no added sugar and no butter: just an assist from celery and the flavorful mix of garlic, rosemary and cumin.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Celery with Cumin, Garlic and Rosemary

3 lbs. red-skinned sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 4 small), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch of celery, ends trimmed and stalks cut on the diagonal in 2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Combine sweet potato cubes with 2 tbsp. olive oil, season with 2 tsp. cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to coat potatoes with oil and seasoning. Transfer potatoes to a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.

3. Combine the celery with the remaining tbsp. of olive oil, tsp. of cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl and toss to coat the celery with oil and seasonings. Remove the roasting pan with the potatoes from the oven and stir in the seasoned celery, along with the garlic and rosemary. Return the roasting pan to the and roast another 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Serve in a large bowl.