Monday, November 30, 2015

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower and Celery Quinoa Bowl

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? We certainly did. We're also stuffed and desperately in need of some of those more virtuous dishes that are supposed to provide the balance in the balanced-diet. So before we march forth with Christmas cookies, holiday get-together cocktails and other assorted year-end treats, let's pause and have something healthy--yet still quite delicious.

If you've never had cauliflower roasted, I suggest you get yourself a head of the slightly bitter branch-like vegetable and preheat that oven. It's really good when cooked this way (see the related recipe links below for other roasted-cauliflower dishes). Here I've tossed it with curry and other seasonings and served it in a grain bowl with quinoa, spinach, dried cranberries and cashews.

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower and Celery Quinoa Bowl

2-3 cups baby spinach greens
1 head of cauliflower (I used orange "cheddar" cauliflower)
1 bunch of stalk celery (flavorful farmers market celery is recommended)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup rainbow quinoa (may use other colors), rinsed
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 red onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp. honey
Sriracha (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F with two oven racks evenly spaced about 1/3 of the way from the top and bottom of the oven.

2. Place the spinach greens in a large bowl.

3. Remove the cauliflower core and discard it; cut the rest of the cauliflower into florets and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. of olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper and toss to coat the florets. Spread florets in an even layer on a baking sheet.

4. Remove the celery stalks and cut off both ends (discard the ends). Cut the stalks on an angle into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long. Transfer to a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive, salt and pepper and toss to coat the celery pieces. Spread celery in an even layer on a baking sheet.

5. Roast the cauliflower and celery until lightly browned around the edges, about 30 minutes, stirring both after about 15 minutes. When they come out of the oven, immediately add to the bowl with the spinach, which will make the spinach wilt a bit.

6. While the vegetables roast, make the quinoa: Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa and toast, stirring frequently, until the quinoa is fragrant and makes a popping sound almost continuously, about 5 minutes. Transfer quinoa to a bowl.

7. Add butter to saucepan and, when melted, add the onions and garlic. Season with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water and toasted quinoa and bring to a simmer. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat to low and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid and stir the quinoa.

8. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the spinach, cauliflower and celery. Add the cashews, dried cranberries, lemon juice and honey. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Serve in bowls topped with Sriracha, if desired.


Agave-Mezcal Chicken and Curry Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Mustard Greens Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, Almonds, Grapes and Chicken

Modernist Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower, Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

Friday, November 27, 2015

8-2-Eat: Thanksgiving Leftovers

8-2-Eat is my food-focused list series. A perfect Friday distraction. Since today is the day after Thanksgiving, if you hosted a meal yesterday, your fridge is probably stuffed with cold turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a probably a few bits of various other sides and desserts. Here are 8 ideas for what to do with them.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Tacos. A little salsa verde (green tomatillo salsa) makes this more than just thanksgiving bits rolled in tortillas, a spicy and delicious way to re-experience delicious leftovers (pictured at top).

Turkey Posole. This spicy Southwestern hominy stew is a particularly good choice if you end up with a lot of turkey.

Turlafel. Washington Post's Bonnie Benwick shows off D.C. chef Alex McCoy's inventive Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich inspired by falafel.

The Dilemma – What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers? Mother Would Know blogger Laura Kumin discusses what to do with leftovers, including useful tips along the food-safety lines for making sure leftovers are properly preserved.

Thanksgiving Leftover Mac & Cheese. From The Daily Meal, a surefire way to use up turkey and cranberry sauce.

Turkey Pie With Potatoes, Squash, Chard and Cheddar. From New York Times City Kitchen writer David Tanis, a savory pie (to go with the sweet ones you may still have on hand).

Pizza. My first Thanksgiving leftovers recipe turns the miscellanea of Thanksgiving dinner into pizza toppings.

12 Creative Turkey Sandwich Recipes. Many stories about Thanksgiving leftovers try to steer you away from sandwiches on the assumption that they are over-done. However, who doesn't love a good sandwich?! Real Simple has some great ideas to get creative with them.


Thanksgiving Central

November 2015 Digest

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving, Gobbled Up

November is always a unique month for me. Other months I have a mix of recipes, cocktails and restaurant posts, along with the occasional "other" food-related thing that interests me. But November is all about Thanksgiving, which means its all about recipes. Lots of recipes.

A few themes ran through the recipes I presented this year. The idea of reinterpreting traditional dishes led me to take The Silver Palate Cookbook's classic Chicken Marbella recipe and adapt those wonderful Spanish flavors into Marbella-Brined Roast Turkey Breast. Similarly, I played around with the idea that people stuff their turkeys because it gives the stuffing turkey flavor. I reserved this--using the stuffing to instead flavor the turkey with Stuffing-Brined Roast Turkey Breast.

Deconstructed Sweet Potato Casserole

One of my favorites along these lines is the Deconstructed Sweet Potato Casserole, which reinterprets the traditional marshmallow-covered (overly) sweetened puree into a dish of roasted sweet potatoes with pecans, bacon and (just a few) mini marshmallows all brought together with a bourbon-maple sauce.

Another theme was incorporating international flair into the meal. I experimented with Indian flavors in both the Indian-Spiced Nan Bread Stuffing and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Honey-Curry Yogurt. I turned to Mexico for the inspiration behind Sweet Potatoes with Mole and Queso Fresco.

Then there were a few recipes that spoke to nostalgia and simplicity, namely my favorite recipe for Sausage-Cornbread Stuffing and a traditional take on Buttery Mashed Potatoes. And for biscuit lovers, I definitely have to mention the Butter-Flaky Biscuits.

Noodle Me Momofuku

The D.C. restaurant has undeniably heated up in recent years. The latest trend is for big-name chefs from other places, namely New York, to open outposts in D.C. Danny Meyer's burgers have been winning Washingtonians over for several years now with several locations of the New York-based Shake Shack. The biggest of such imports last year was Daniel Boulud, who opened DBGB Kitchen and Bar in the downtown CityCenter development. As popular as these spots are, neither grabbed headlines the way the arrival of David Chang's first D.C.-area Momofuku has. Much ink has been spilled in anticipation of the opening of Momofuku CCDC which, like DBGB, is located in CityCenter. Riding shotgun in the new restaurant's corner space is an outpost of the Momofuku bakery, Milk Bar, known for Christina Tosi's creative confections like crack pie and corn cookies. We snagged a much-coveted Saturday night reservation and enjoyed some pretty tasty appetizers, noodles and, of course, those cookies.

Food Recipes

  • Marbella-Brined Roast Turkey Breast Spanish flavors of the classic Silver Palate Cookbook recipe Chicken Marbella infuse this wet-brined turkey.
  • Stuffing-Brined Roast Turkey Breast Some people stuff turkeys to flavor the stuffing with the turkey. But what if you instead flavor the turkey with stuffing?
  • Buttery Mashed Potatoes Mashed potatoes seems simple, but there are some techniques involving how you mash and butter the potatoes for optimal texture and flavor.
  • Sausage-Cornbread Stuffing My all-time favorite stuffing recipe handed down from my mother.
  • Butternut Squash, Pecan and Bacon Bread Like pumpkin bread but with butternut squash. Oh, and bacon. Yeah, bacon.
  • Indian-Spiced Nan Bread Stuffing Indian spices flavor this stuffing made with Indian nan bread.
  • Butter-Flaky Biscuits Through folding and rolling, these biscuits have buttery flaky layers.
  • Apple Butter A wonderful fall accompaniment to biscuits and other breads.
  • Deconstructed Sweet Potato Casserole Re-thinking the Thanksgiving classic side to be less sweet and gooey with a stronger focus on good sweet potato flavor.
  • Kale, Smoked Gouda and Pecan Gratin Gratins are awesome because you can get credit for eating a vegetable side, but it's actually an excuse for eating something creamy and cheesy.
  • Green Bean Salad with Almonds and Quinoa A truly healthful side dish to help balance all these other rich holiday dishes.
  • Sweet Potatoes with Mole and Queso Fresco A simple side of roasted sweet potatoes with spicy Mexican mole sauce and cheese.
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Honey-Curry Yogurt Another Indian-inspired dish, a simple affair of roasted sprouts and pecans with yogurt mixed with honey and curry powder.
  • Caramel Apple Custard Pie Another look at the apple custard pie--a nice compromise between a pumpkin pie and an apple pie--this time with a graham-cracker-coated crust and caramel sauce.

  • Cocktail Recipe

    • A Sage Old Bourbon This whiskey and sherry cocktail, with flavors of cranberry, celery and sage, is inspired by the savory flavors of a Thanksgiving dinner.


    Thursday, November 26, 2015

    Thanksgiving Menu, 2015

    Happy Thanksgiving! This is what we'll be enjoying today. Expect to see some of these recipes on my site next year. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and please feel free to share in the comments about what you're eating at your celebration.

    Marbella-Brined Roast Turkey Breast with Turkey Gravy
    Ginger-Orange Cranberry Sauce
    Fluffy Herbed Mashed Potatoes
    Sausage-Cornbread Stuffing
    Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Celery with Garlic and Rosemary
    California-Style Brussels Sprouts with Pistachio and Pomegranate
    Cranberry-Walnut Drop Biscuits

    Fall-Leaf Apple Pie
    Brandied "Pumpkin" Pie
    Butter Pecan Ice Cream

    Sokol Blosser (Oregon) Pinot Noir
    Chateau Ste. Michelle (Washington) Riesling

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015

    All Thanksgiving 2015 Recipes

    It's the day before Thanksgiving. Hopefully your menu is set. If you're like me, you may even be busy cooking and prepping some dishes today. Below are links to all of my Thanksgiving recipes and other stories for this year.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    Stuffing-Brined Roast Turkey Breast

    Stuffing-Brined Roast Turkey Breast

    I've never stuffed a turkey. Partly that's because I usually (okay always) roast a turkey breast instead of a full turkey, and with the back removed, you can't really "stuff" the turkey, since the cavity is half-open. But even without this limitation, what is the reason for stuffing a turkey?

    Just about everyone recommends not stuffing your turkey these days. The food-safety people will run from the room ranting about pathogens and cross-contamination from stuffing that soaks up raw turkey juice and doesn't fully cook. From a physics perspective, stuffing the turkey means the turkey will take longer to cook, since instead of a nice cavity for warm air to flow through, you've got this dense mass of bread and water that also must be cooked.

    So what the reasons some people still do it? I've been asking Google, and I can't figure it out. I can only assume it either adds turkey flavor to the stuffing. But stuffing already has a lot of flavor going for it. Onions, celery, good bread, herbs and seasonings. Is additional turkey flavor really needed? Instead, why not use the stuffing to flavor the turkey?

    Enter the stuffing-brined turkey. That's right. This turkey is brined with the flavors of stuffing. Now, I didn't actually go through the trouble of making stuffing. There's no bread in this brine, as I figured that bread wouldn't add any flavor via a brine. But I did sauté and puree the typical aromatics (onion and celery), herbs (sage and thyme) and, instead of cornbread, I used freeze-dried corn, an ingredient I first came across making Momofuku Milk Bar corn cookies. It adds wonderful corn flavor to not only those cookies but also cornbread, so I figured it would be a nice addition to the brine.

    Stuffing-Brined Roast Turkey Breast

    Note: For the freeze-fried corn, I use Just Tomatoes brand "Just Corn," available from Amazon. Grind the corn until fine in a food processor before using in this recipe.

    1 tbsp. olive oil
    2 onions, chopped
    2/3 cup chopped celery
    1/2 cup ground freeze-dried corn
    4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    3 quarts water
    Shopped sage and thyme
    ½ cup kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt)

    6-8 lb. turkey breast
    3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add sage and thyme to the pan and cook another couple minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor, add the freeze-dried corn and puree. Combine pureed mixture with chicken broth and cold water in a large pot or brining bag and stir to combine. Add salt and stir to dissolve. Place turkey breast in pot/bag. Cover pot or seal bag and refrigerate to brine overnight.

    2. Preheat oven to 450 F. Set a V-rack inside a roasting pan. Remove turkey breast from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Put turkey breast on top of rack. Brush turkey all over with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.

    3. Roast turkey for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165 F, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total roasting time. Let breast rest 30 minutes before carving.


    Thanksgiving Central

    Monday, November 23, 2015

    Buttery Mashed Potatoes

    Buttery Mashed Potatoes

    Mashed potatoes seem like something that should be easy to get right. After all, they are just potatoes, butter, milk and salt, with optional additional flavorings like herbs, garlic, cheese and spices tossed in as desired.

    But like many foods, potatoes are more complex when you take a closer look. The inside of a potato is basically a lot of little sacs containing starch. Many, but not all of these will swell and burst while the potatoes are cooked, which contributes to mashed potatoes' fluffy texture.

    Breaking too many of those sacs releases too much starch, making the mashed potatoes "gluey" rather than fluffy. This is why it's a no-no to use electric devices like a hand mixer, food processor or blender to mash or "whip" potatoes, especially if you're making mashed potatoes with russet potatoes, which are higher in starch than other potatoes. You want the gentler processing achieved by hand tools like a potato masher or, my preference, a ricer, which looks like an oversize garlic press.

    The other trick is to add the butter before the milk, as adding the fat first coats the starch and makes for better texture (or so Cook's Illustrated recommends, and they are usually right). This recipe is from adapted from BonAppétit, applying these key principles for making optimally delicious mashed potatoes.

    Buttery Mashed Potatoes
    Adapted from a recipe by Bon Appétit

    4 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2” pieces
    1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
    1½ cups whole milk
    3 sprigs thyme (optional)
    2 bay leaves
    ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for serving

    1. Place potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by about an inch. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are very tender but not saturated or crumbly, about 20–25 minutes.

    2. Drain potatoes and return the potatoes to the pot and set it over low heat. Gently stir until the potatoes are dry, about 1 minute.

    3. Heat milk and herbs in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is warm (do not let it boil). Remove from heat.

    4. Pass the hot potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl (if allowed to cool, the potatoes will become gummy). Add butter and stir with a wooden spoon to combine with the potatoes.

    5. Remove herbs from the warm milk mixture and discard. Gradually add milk mixture to potatoes, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth; season with salt.

    6. Serve mashed potatoes with a few pats of butter on top.