Friday, December 6, 2013
Apples are one of the best things about fall. They're an amazing fruit, one of the few that I find as enjoyable raw as they are cooked into pie, crisp, sauce or soup. They are also great in drinks.
Alcoholic apple drinks have a long, rich history, which Carrie Allan recently chronicled for The Washington Post. I was in the process of putting together this post when Allan's article came along (she has an amazing knack for timing stories about things I'm interested in at exactly the point I'd want to read them). Along with her article was a recipe for a modernized version of the Scotchem, a classic warm apple brandy (specifically applejack) and mustard cocktail, which I've reproduced below. Its hints of mustard and rosemary nicely complement the apple brandy.
Prior to Allan's article, I was already in the mood for a good apple brandy cocktail when I came across the Norwegian Wood (pictured above), the creation of Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, which I wrote about in The Feed not long ago. Serious Eats writer Lizz Schumer described it as like “licking a tree branch that has a little sap dripping off the end.” Not a bad description for this great cocktail.
Lastly, I've include the Widow's Kiss, an old-fashioned cocktail that pairs apple with herbal Chartreuse and Benedictine liqueurs.
Recipe by Jeffrey Morgenthaler
1 oz. Aquavit
1 oz. Laird's Applejack
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Dolin Rouge)
1/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with lemon twist.
This is a late 19th century cocktail created by New York bartender George Kappeler. A lot of recipes call for Calvados, a French apple brandy, but I made it with Laird's as suggested by the PDT Cocktail Book.
2 oz. Laird's apple brandy (Note that Laird's apple brandy is a different product from its Applejack. Read about the differences here)
1/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz. Benedictine liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Adapted from a Recipe adapted by M. Carrie Allan, The Washington Post
8 oz. fresh, unsweetened (nonalcoholic) cider
4 oz. applejack
1/4 tsp. Honeycup Uniquely Sharp Mustard (this mustard is available at grocery stores; I found it at Giant)
2 sprigs rosemary, for garnish (optional)
Heat the cider in a small saucepan over medium heat, making sure it does not come to a boil. When it's warm, add the applejack. When the mixture barely bubbles around the edges remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool slightly, then combine the warm mixture with the mustard in a cocktail shaker. Drop the spring from a Hawthorne cocktail strainer into the shaker, seal it tightly and shake for 15 seconds. Divide between two mugs and garnish with rosemary sprigs.
Note: The pressure from the warm liquid made my shaker explode (it didn't shatter, just popped the top off and made a mess). I might suggest alternatively that you whisk the mustard into the warm mixture in the saucepan and forego the use of the shaker.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
|Raw spaghetti squash|
But that's exactly what you get with spaghetti squash, which is remarkably easy to work with. Once roasted, the squash easily breaks into strands using a fork. And they're remarkably resilient. I was afraid the whole thing would turn to mush when I tossed it with the brown butter sauce, but it (mostly) held up.
|Roasted spaghetti squash easily separates into strands using a fork.|
Like the zucchini spaghetti I made last year, you're not going to fool anyone into thinking these are actually noodles. But the squash's flavor complements the sauce nicely and visually it comes pretty close to looking like a pasta dish.
|One squash was enough for two generous servings.|
Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Brown Butter
Makes 2 portions
1 spaghetti squash
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 to 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Cut the squash in half the long way (i.e. from the stem end to the base). Brush a baking dish with olive oil. Place the squash halves in the baking dish, cut-sides down. Roast in the for 50 minutes until the cut edges are lightly browned and the squash is softened. Allow to cool a bit.
3. Meanwhile, heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add pine nut and toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Add butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a light brown color. Add the sage and remove from the heat.
4. Use a fork to remove the squash meat from the skin and shred it. Place in a large bowl. Add the pine nuts and brown butter mixture. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve in bowls with grated parmesan cheese on the side.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
|Fan of sriracha? Better stock up. Read the CNN story below to find out why.|
The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.
San Francisco Chronicle: “Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe dies,” by Paolo Lucchesi.
Years ago, Chris and I visited San Francisco’s Zuni Café hoping to try its burger that we’d heard was one of the best in the country. Disappointed that they didn’t serve it at dinner, we opted instead for the roast chicken with bread salad, which at the time we didn’t realize was the one dish the restaurant is most known for. It was amazing, and I’ve made it periodically ever since. So I was sad to hear that Zuni’s chef-owner Judy Rodgers died of cancer yesterday. In addition to this story, the San Francisco Chronicle also published eight of the restaurant’s classic recipes, including the burger and the roast chicken with bread salad.
New York Times: “Stand-Alone Food Section Faces Demise in Bay Area,” by Leslie Kaufman and Kim Severson.
This story is a little older, but I wanted to include it, in case you hadn’t heard that the San Francisco Chronicle has planned to discontinue its food section early next year. Food coverage will continue, but be integrated into the paper’s lifestyle section. This is sad news for food section fans like me. I devoted a weekly feature last year to the coverage of the Washington Post Food and New York Times Dining sections. I am thankful they continue to be great sources of food stories.
CNN: “Sriracha factory ordered to put a lid on smell after locals pepper city with complaints,” by James O’Toole.
Heads up sriracha heads: better stock up. Huy Fong Foods, the California-based producer of the most popular brand of sriracha hot sauce in the United States was ordered to shutdown operations until it makes changes to address complaints from neighbors that the plant’s odors cause watery eyes and headaches. If this isn’t resolved soon, the popular condiment could become quite scarce or possibly very expensive.
Washington Post: “25 chocolate and fruit-filled Christmas cookie recipes,” by Food section.
Enough with the bad news. This is The Washington Post Food section’s annual holiday cookie issue! They’ve gathered 25 delectable recipes with an emphasis on chocolate and fruit, including honey maple pecan bars (which I’m pretty sure I’ll have to make), salt caramel millionaire’s shortbread (wow, that looks good too) and spicy peanut and coconut no bakes (which appeared on yesterday’s Kid’s Post page). Oh, and there’s pine nut shortbread with goat cheese and balsamic glaze. I could go on and on.
NPR: “Coffee Maker Cooking: Brew Up Your Next Dinner,” by Michaeleen Doucleff
It steams, poaches and even grills (maybe). It’s lightweight, doesn’t make a mess and chances are you already have one in your kitchen. Doucleff investigates cooking a meal of salmon, couscous and vegetables using nothing other than a common drip coffeemaker.
New York Times: “The Ceramic Canvas,” by Jeff Gordinier.
Gordinier examines the art of plating: how chefs arrange the food on your plate. There are a surprising number of ways dishes may be plated, and chefs have their own styles for how they do it. Gordinier talked to 11 different New York chefs about their unique visual styles for plating. Be sure to check out the slide show.
Vulture: “How Food Network Created and Lost Foodies,” by Jesse David Fox.
Fox traces the 20-year programming history of the Food Network, and his relationship with it over most of those years, which has gone from devoted to uninterested and then to reacquainted. During that time, he discusses how the network’s emphasis has changed from chefs to home cooks to reality and competition shows.
The Modern Farmer: “The Modern Farmer Pie Chart of Pies,” by Molly Birnbaum.
I had to share this super cute infographic on what pie you can make seasonally each month of the year. Of course, it’s arrayed in a pie chart.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
There are so many new restaurants on 14th Street; who can keep up? Apparently not me. Of the many new openings this year, I've only managed to write about Le Diplomate. I know there are some great places there, although to an extent, it also feels like a lot of hype. In a few years, how many of these places will still be standing?
That's perhaps why I find myself drawn to the Logan Circle restaurants that have stood the test of time. Admittedly, that's not a very long span. Anything older than a year on 14th Street feels old, making places like Birch & Barley, which opened in 2009, feel positively ancient. In that context, The Pig has settled nicely into adulthood.
Opened a year-and-a-half ago (in May 2012), The Pig is refreshingly casual in a city where new entrants chase "upscale chic" or "expensive hipster" motifs. Simple wooden booths with leather cushions are nestled along walls of weathered wood siding and white subway tiles. The restrooms are proudly plastered with pig-related media. The restaurant has an inviting, welcoming look that doesn't feel like it's trying to hard, but rather says "plant yourself here and enjoy some good food and drinks."Sounds like a plan.
|Hickory BBQ plate|
And good food is generally what we've had from The Pig. As its name promises, pork is the main attraction. The best I've sampled is the Hickory BBQ, a plate of hickory-smoked pulled pork shoulder doused in spicy vinegar sauce and served with a brilliant truffled mac & cheese. The red cabbage slaw that also comes with it was fine, but the least interesting player in this trio.
Bacon wrapped apples (pictured at top) were as tasty as they are beautiful to look at. The smoky-sweet appetizer was served with pistachios, blue cheese and honey. One of the better non-pork dishes we've had at The Pig is their sweet potato soup, pureed super smooth and served with a nice swirl of balsamic vinegar.
Great porky dishes are also available for brunch and lunch. When we visited in the summer, I greatly enjoyed the gruyère waffle with ham, pork belly and sunny side up egg. The egg arrived more over-hard than sunny-side-up, but the pork belly was wonderfully smoky and a bit peppery. A touch of espresso added a nice bitterness to the syrup. The pork cutlet sandwich with gruyère, shaved onion, pickles and mustard was also tasty, although a bit over-breaded, and served with salty-herbed potato chips that we couldn't stop eating.
|The Pig's love of pork even extends to its cocktails, like this bourbon and pear puree concoction garnished with a huge slice of bacon.|
As the dozens of new restaurants on 14th Street continue to vie for "latest and greatest" status, it's nice to know that The Pig aims for comfort and consistency, a place where you can dine on the restaurant's moniker without feeling like one.
The Pig, 1320 14th Street NW (between N Street and Rhode Island Avenue), Washington, D.C. (Logan Circle). (202) 290-2821. Reservations: Open Table.
Monday, December 2, 2013
When I made bolognese lasagna in March, I mentioned that this fall version with butternut squash and goat cheese is one of my favorites. I liked the bolognese lasagna so much that I adapted some of the techniques from that dish into this one.
For lasagna fans used to tomato-based sauces, butternut squash is a great alternative, especially during the fall and winter months. I didn't cook the sauce for such a long time; since the butternut squash is roasted separately, I didn't feel that was necessary.
I did include béchamel sauce, rather than ricotta cheese, to give the sauce its richness. Marcella Hazan's instructions for making the sauce are the best I've seen. It comes out nice and thick.
Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Sausage Lasagna
Aspects of this recipe are adapted from Lasagna, Bolognese Style by Marcella Hazan
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 celery ribs, finely diced
1 lb. Italian chicken sausage (removed from casings)
3 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
4 oz. soft goat cheese (chèvre)
1 lb. dried lasagna noodles
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
12 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (3 cups)
1/4 cup grated marmigiano-reggiano
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Add butternut squash cubes to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit.
2. As the squash roasts, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrot and celery and sauté another 5 minutes. Add sausage, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Add milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the milk has mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add wine and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has mostly evaporated, another 15 to 20 minutes. Add the chopped sage to the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the squash is ready.
3. Transfer squash to a food processor. Heat the goat cheese in a microwave for 30 seconds and then add to the food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add to the pot with the sausage and vegetables and stir to combine.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook as directed for al dente. Drain and set aside.
5. Make the bechamel sauce: Heat remaining 2 cups of milk in the microwave until warm (about 2 minutes). Heat 4 tbsp. butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add flour, whisking constantly. Remove saucepan from heat. Add 2 tbsp. of the warm milk and whisk to combine. Continue adding milk in 2 tbsp. increments, whisking to combine, until half the milk is combined. Then add the remaining milk in two 1/2-cup increments, whisking to combine each time. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened like sour cream. Set aside.
6. Assemble lasagna: Brush bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Spread 1 tbsp. of bechamel evenly on the bottom of the dish. Lay down a layer of noodles (with standard lasagna noodles, 3 laid the long way should be enough for one layer, so with 18 noodles, plan to make 6 layers). Stir remaining bechamel into the sausage-butternut squash sauce. Spread a layer of sauce on the noodle layer (aim to use about 3/4 cup of sauce per layer). Spread about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella on the sauce. Repeat layering (noodles, sauce, cheese), finishing with the grated parmesan on top. Bake until bubbly on the sides and golden on top, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
What would a proper Thanksgiving dinner be without leftovers the next day? As exciting as the dinner itself may be, I have a sneaking suspicion there's a not insignificant portion of the population that's actually more excited about the food the next day. Freed from its more formal presentation Thursday, Thanksgiving leftovers on Friday are a chance to experiment and get creative.
Sandwiches are the easy way out and, while certainly satisfying, I like to find other interesting ways to use up that little bit of cranberry, that massive mound of bread stuffing. In that vein, last year I offered a Thanksgiving leftovers pizza topped with turkey and various sides. This year, I'm headed south to the versatile taco.
Tacos and Thanksgiving leftovers are made for each other. You can fill a taco with just about anything, although with a little care, the tacos can be especially good. A few tricks: don't over-stuff them. Focus on a combination of a couple ingredients and garnishes that complement each other. Offset something savory with a little something sweet. And don't over-carb it. Piling potatoes on stuffing in a tortilla seems like a bit much.
Tacos frequently have the one thing missing from Thanksgiving: fire. So I spiced this dish up by further seasoning the turkey and adding a spoonful of salsa verde with poblano pepper. Prepping the turkey is pretty simple: I chopped it and reheated it in a frying pan with a little oil and the additional seasonings of oregano, cumin and chipotle chili powder. Salsa verde requires a little more work, but comes together in about 40 minutes. If you don't feel like making it, you could buy it. Same goes for the totillas (although they really are better homemade).
Thanksgiving Leftovers Tacos
Serves 4 (3 tacos each)
2 tsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
12 oz. roasted turkey, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
12 corn tortillas (see recipe to make your own)
Green tomatillo salsa (see recipe below)
4 cups of basic bread stuffing (such as southwestern cornbread, classic 11-ingredient bread, or rye bread stuffing)
1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add chopped turkey and season with cumin, chili powder, oregano and garlic powder. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant and heated through.
2. Assemble tacos: start with a corn tortilla base. Top with a little spiced turkey, salsa verde, bread stuffing, a spoonful of cranberry sauce and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Salsa Verde (Green Tomatillo Salsa)
Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything
6 tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
3/4 cup diced sweet onion (about 1/2 onion)
1 poblano pepper, seeded, ribs removed and finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place tomatillos in a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven until softened, about 20-25 minutes. Remove, allow to cool a bit, and dice.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, poblano pepper and garlic and season with salt. Sauté until the vegetables are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Add chopped, roasted tomatillos and 1/2 cup of water. Increase heat until mixture boil, then reduce heat to medium for an active simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced, about 7-8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse to a chunky puree. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Here's a rundown with links to all of the Thanksgiving recipes I've featured this year. Come back Friday to find out what I think you should do with your leftovers!
Roasted Turkey Breast with Herb Butter - Compound herb butter tucked under the turkey skin promotes crispness and flavor; a simple way to infuse the meat with good flavor when you don't have time for a brine.
Easy Turkey Gravy - Banish your fears of unsatisfying gravy and skip the jarred kind with this simple recipe for making the real thing.
Southwestern Corn Bread Stuffing - Spicy chiles and other Tex-Mex flavors give this stuffing a sensation that's rare to Thanksgiving fare: a fiery kick.
Rye Bread Stuffing - Spicy rye bread gives an unexpected dimension to this bread stuffing with onion, bacon and apple.
Classic 11-Ingredient Bread Stuffing - A simplified basic stuffing recipe that still packs lots of great flavor.
Green Bean Casserole with Bacon and Mushrooms - This updated version of the Thanksgiving classic made with fresh, not canned, ingredients has really struck a chord with readers: it's my most popular Thanksgiving recipe this year.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Maple Glaze and Smoked Almonds - A sweet potato side that, instead of being overly sweet, punches up the toasty, smoky flavors of bourbon, maple and smoked almonds.
Cheesy Scallion-Corn Biscuits - Manchego cheese and green onions elevate the flavor of a Thanksgiving favorite. They're even better with Homemade Compound Butter.
Wheat Berry Salad with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Sage - A healthy, whole-grain side that would be a great reminder of Thanksgiving flavors any time of year.
Kale-Swiss Gratin and Swiss Chard Grain - Leafy greens and cheese come together in these simple baked vegetable sides with a bread-crumb topping.
Baked Apples with Fennel and Onion - Too often relegated to dessert, with this side, I wanted something that could bring apples to the main Thanksgiving course.
Sautéed Garlic-Ginger Green Beans - A simple green beans side with a bit of Asian flavor.
Simple Corn Bread - The corn bread stuffing above uses a special "Southwestern" corn bread, but if you just want a good basic version, you can't go wrong with this.
Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart - A beautiful, rich and absolutely delicious dessert alternative to pumpkin pie from a Fine Cooking recipe.
Apple Custard Pie with Gingersnap Crust - Because I couldn't decide between pumpkin and apple pie, I decided to combine the best of both with this apple custard pie, supported by a tasty gingersnap cookie crust just because.
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Crostini with Crispy Shallots - A beautifully presented way to tempt your Thanksgiving guests before the big meal.
(Wild) Turkey with Cranberry - For fans of turkey and cranberry on Thanksgiving, here's a different take on that classic pairing, made with Wild Turkey rye whiskey, cranberry bitters, Aperol, ginger liqueur and a flamed orange peel.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Tacos - Fill corn tortillas with a mix of leftovers and top with a dollop of green tomatillo salsa for a tasty alternative to sandwiches.
Plus...don't forget about last year's recipes, which included a wonderful herb-and-spiced-brined roasted turkey breast, Oregon and Italian stuffings, hot butternut rum cocktail, a roasted parsnip and quinoa salad and an apple pie with vodka crust.