Friday, November 30

Red Curry-Miso Roasted Squash, Tofu & Kale

One week later, we finally finished up our Thanksgiving leftovers and are getting back on track with our normal weeknight cooking routine. With all the turkey we just ate, something healthy and vegetarian is a nice way to balance things out. This recipe, which is adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, has unique flavors that manage to be both seasonal and comforting and also new and exotic. Some of my favorite winter produce (squash and kale) get tossed with a powerful Asian spice paste and roast in the oven until caramelized. Adding in the tofu and sunflower seeds provides more substance and protein, making it a really well-rounded and satisfying vegetarian meal. It’s also worth noting that delicata squash has surpassed the butternut as my favorite variety, since the skin can be eaten and it takes only a minute to prep.

Red Curry-Miso Roasted Squash, Tofu & Kale:
  • Combine 1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. white miso paste, 2 tbsp. red curry paste, and 1/2 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
  • Meanwhile, scrape the seeds out of 2 small delicata squash and slice into thin half moons.
  • Add the squash to a large mixing bowl, along with 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, and 8 oz. diced extra-firm tofu.
  • Pour 1/3 of the miso-curry paste over the squash mixture and toss gently to coat.
  • Arrange the squash in one layer on a large baking sheet* and place in a 400F oven.
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing once with a spatula, until vegetables are tender and brown on the edges.
  • Whisk 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice into the remaining miso-curry paste and toss with 1 bunch of diced kale.**
  • Add in the roasted squash mixture, 1/3 toasted sunflower seeds, and 1 bunch roughly chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Toss everything together, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Serves three-four
*I needed to use two baking sheets, which I rotated in the oven halfway through cooking.
**Remove ribs from kale before tossing. I like using the black/lacinato/dinosaur kale here.

Thursday, November 29

Potato Latkes

Growing up, I remember always being jealous of my friends who were celebrating Hannukah. Besides the eight days of presents and gold chocolate coins, I love Jewish food. My favorite dish is latkes (crispy crunchy potato pancakes), which I've made several times over the years. This recipe is super simple and requires only a few ingredients. They make a great side dish served with sour cream or apple sauce, but try mini versions as appetizers at your next holiday party or larger latkes topped with smoked salmon for a light meal.  I served them to my fiance and friends for a substantial football-watching snack that paired great with beers.

Potato Latkes:
  • Peel 5 large Russet potatoes and 1 large yellow onion and grate using the large holes of a box grater.*
  • Place the grated vegetables in a large kitchen towel and squeeze out all the excess water.**
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 eggs, 1/4 fine plain breadcrumbs, 2 tsp. baking powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Add in the grated potatoes and onion and stir until well combined.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. canola oil and 2 tbsp. duck fat*** in a large, preferably cast iron, skillet until very hot but not smoking.
  • Roll the potato mixture into golf-ball size balls and place in the skillet.
  • Use the back of a spatula to form the latkes into disks.
  • Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until cakes are brown and cooked through.
  • Remove cakes with a spatula and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
  • Keep the cakes warm in a 325F oven while you finish cooking the rest of them.****
  • Remove latkes from the oven and serve with sour cream, applesauce, or both.

Serves six - ten
*Or use a grating attachment on a food processor.
**This is extremely important to making sure your latkes are crispy.
***Optional, but gives great flavor to latkes.
****You will probably need to add more oil and fat in between batches and repeat at least two more times before all the batter is done.

Wednesday, November 28

Turkey & Cheese Enchiladas

My recipe for chicken enchiladas is a real favorite among my family and friends, and I've been making it the same way since college. I finally got the courage to change it up with an even quicker and easier version utilizing the last of my Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. I usually prefer using a green sauce in my enchiladas, but I tried Trader Joe's red enchilada sauce this time and it had a great, restaurant-quality taste. It completely transformed my leftovers and took just a few minutes to put together. Make a big batch and reheat leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

Turkey & Cheese Enchiladas:
  • Combine 2 c. cooked, shredded turkey* with 1 tbsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, and salt.**
  • Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce*** into the bottom of a large shallow baking dish.
  • Pour more sauce into a large shallow bowl and dip a flour tortilla in the sauce to coat both sides.
  • Add in 1/6 of the chicken and a small handful of a grated Mexican cheese blend and tightly roll up the tortilla.
  • Place the enchilada, seam side down, into the baking dish and repeat five more times.
  • Pour the remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese.****
  • Bake enchiladas in a 375F oven for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling.
  • Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serves four
*I used both white and dark meat. Can substitute for chicken.
**You may not need to salt depending on how salty your leftover turkey is.
***From a 12-14 oz. bottle.
****You should use about 1 1/2 c. of cheese total.

Tuesday, November 27

Turkey Noodle Soup

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving (besides the Black Friday sales) is the leftovers, which can be stretched and re-used in several exciting ways. Not wanting to waste anything, I used the carcass from our turkey and leftover herbs and veggies to make a super rich turkey stock. I froze half the stock for future meals and used the rest for the base of this simple turkey noodle soup. I'd ran out of veggies so this is a noodle, turkey, and broth-only version, but the soup is so flavorful that it really doesn't need much else. It's a nice, light meal after such a gluttonous weekend and leftovers can be frozen and reheated all winter.

Turkey Noodle Soup:
For Broth
  • Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot and add in 1 quartered onion, 3 halved stalks of celery, 1/2 head of garlic and several sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary.*
  • Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, then add in a roasted turkey carcass and cover with water.
  • Add in a 4-5 whole black peppercorns and season with salt.**
  • Bring stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for at least 3 hours.
  • Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  • Spoon any fat off the top of the stock and place in an airtight container for storage.
For Soup
  • Add 8 c. turkey stock*** to a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add in 1 1/2 c. wide egg noodles and cook for 6 minutes, or until noodles are almost tender.
  • Add in 1 c. shredded cooked turkey and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Serves three - four
*Feel free to add in whatever leftover vegetables and herbs you have on hand.
**If turkey has been brined, add less salt. Salt flavor will intensify as stock reduces.
***In a pinch, store-bought turkey or chicken stock will be fine.

Monday, November 26

Thanksgiving Turkey

I'm finally back after a super relaxing and indulgent trip to Costa Rica and a whirlwind holiday week. My fiance and I drove up to my parents' house for Thanksgiving, arriving early so that I could help my mom make the meal. I was so excited about the turkey that I insisted on cooking a seventeen pound bird so that there would be tons of leftovers (recipes coming soon). This is the same recipe that we've been doing for years, and it comes out great every time. The skin gets crispy and slightly sticky-sweet from my the maple syrup, while the meat stays tender and juicy. It's the ultimate Thanksgiving turkey, although it makes a great meal for Christmas, too.

Maple-Roasted Turkey:
  • Brine a 16-17 lb. turkey overnight,* rinse with water, and dry completely with paper towels.
  • Transfer turkey to a roasting rack on top of a roasting pan and tuck wings under the body.
  • Stuff the cavity with several sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, 1 quartered onion, 1 quartered lemon, and 1 halved head of garlic.
  • Tie the legs together with twine.
  • Use your fingers to rub 1 1/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter over the entire skin of the bird, season with salt,** pepper, and 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves.
  • Add 2 c. chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting pan to prevent the drippings from burning.
  • Roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325F, cover pan with aluminum foil, and cook for another 3 to 3 1/2 hours, basting every thirty minutes.
  • Remove the foil from the turkey and brush the skin with maple syrup.
  • Roast turkey for another 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reaches 165F.
  • Remove turkey from the oven, cover with foil, and let rest for 45-60 minutes.
  • Carve the turkey and serve on a platter.

Serves fourteen+ people
*Optional, but I think it makes a more flavorful, moist turkey.
**If bird is brined, you might not need any more salt.

Friday, November 9

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Classic stuffing is the ultimate Thanksgiving side and my personal favorite. Pictured: Ciabatta Herb Stuffing
Skip the marshmallow-topped casserole and go for a fluffy, creamy mashed version instead. Pictured: Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Put a few greens on your plate and you'll feel less guilty about having two slices of pie. Pictured: Lemon & Pecorino Roasted Brussels Sprouts

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. I've been spending the holiday on vacation the past few years, but this year my fiancĂ© and I are travelling before (leaving for Costa Rica tonight!) so that we can come back and be at my parents’ house for a more traditional celebration. I’m extremely excited to spend the day in my family’s kitchen and cook all the dishes with my mom like we've done so many times before. My favorite part of the meal is the sides, so it's only fitting that I listed some of my favorite recipes to accompany the turkey.

Homemade bread is a crowd-pleasing side dish and leftovers are great for making turkey sandwiches. Pictured: Buttermilk Rye Bread
Gravy can be the most stressful part of the meal. This recipe is fool-proof and tastes good on everything. Pictured: Mushroom-Thyme Gravy
Soups can be made ahead and quickly re-heated before serving. They'll keep your vegetarian guests happy, too.  Pictured: Carrot Soup

Thursday, November 8

Whole Wheat Mushroom-Lentil Flatbread

This dish is an adaptation from a Ottolenghi recipe I've been meaning to try out for the last year. Flatbread can have a lot of different interpretations, but this version is similar to a pita or naan bread. Making your own bread might seem like a lot of work, but this is super easy and requires very little time to make. The mushroom-lentil ragout is super hearty and has a great depth of flavor from using both fresh and dried mushrooms. The combination makes an interesting, filling vegetarian meal but both components are certainly good enough to stand on their own.

Whole Wheat Mushroom-Lentil Flatbread:
For Bread
  • Combine 1 c. and 1 tbsp. whole-wheat flour, 3/4 c. Greek yogurt, 3 tbsp. minced cilantro, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt and in small mixing bowl.
  • Knead the dough for a minute, or until it forms a ball, adding more flour if the mixture is sticky.
  • Flatten dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Keep dough in the fridge until read to use.*
  • Divide the dough into six pieces and roll each into a ball.
  • Roll each as thin as possible, dusting with more flour as necessary.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet until hot.
  • Add in the bread, one at a time, and cook for 1-2 minutes a side, or until golden brown.
  • Repeat, adding more butter and flour as needed,** until all breads are cooked.
  • Top with mushroom-lentil ragout, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and serve.
For Ragout
  • Add 1 oz. dried mushrooms*** to a bowl and cover with 2 1/2 c. hot water.
  • Meanwhile, add 1/4 c. lentils to a pot, cover with water, and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, or until al dente.
  • Drain lentils, rinse with cold water, and set aside.****
  • Melt 2 tbsp. butter with 1 tbsp. olive oil in a hot pan.
  • Add in 1/2 diced white onion and 3/4 lb. halved crimini mushrooms.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables have softened and are starting to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add in 2 cloves of minced garlic and stir, then pour in 1/3 c. dry white wine.
  • Let the wine reduce for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Fish the dried mushrooms out of the water and roughly chop.
  • Add the mushrooms and 1 1/2 c. soaking liquid to the pan and lower the heat medium-low.*****
  • Cook mushroom mixture for another 8-10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed, then stir in the lentils, the zest of 1 lemon, and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
  • Season ragout with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves three- four
*The dough can be made a day ahead of time. I recommend chilling for an hour or so before rolling it out, but you can pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes if you're in a rush.
**I found that I needed to add more after every 2-3 breads.
***I used shiitakes, but porcini would be great too.
****Can be done a day in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use.
*****Be careful not to pour any grit from the mushrooms into the ragout. I like to pour the liquid through a paper towel to catch any.

Wednesday, November 7

Scotch-Glazed Shrimp

Dinner doesn't get much easier (or tastier) than this five-ingredient recipe for Scotch-glazed shrimp. I generally like to buy already peeled and de-veined shrimp, but it's worth taking a few extra minutes of prep work here by buying extra-large shell-on shrimp. The shells toast in the hot pan while the meat stays moist and succulent. At the last minute, a knob of butter and a few splashes of Scotch Whisky get added and form a rich, smokey sauce. I like to pile the shrimp on a platter or serve it family-style right out of the skillet for a fun (and messy) meal. Crusty bread must be served alongside to mop up any extra sauce.

Scotch-Glazed Shrimp:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a large, preferably non-stick, skillet over high heat.
  • Meanwhile, use the sharp tip of a knife to slice through the shell and down the back of 3/4 lb. of large shrimp and pull out the dark vein.*
  • Add the shrimp to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper.** 
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until shells are golden brown and shrimp is starting to turn opaque.
  • Flip the shrimp to the other side and turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Add in 2 tbsp. butter and 3 tbsp. Scotch.***
  • Let the sauce reduce for 2-3 minutes, or until the alcohol has absorbed.
  • Serve with crusty bread.

Serves two
*Or buy it this way, if you can find it. Often called "easy peel shrimp".
**I used course sea salt flakes.
***Remove pan from the stove before adding in the alcohol or it could flare up.

Tuesday, November 6

Lentil, Squash, & Goat Cheese Salad

A hearty winter salad full of roasted squash, lentils, and goat cheese

Butternut squash is one of my favorite winter vegetables and shows up in my cooking at least a couple times a week during the chilly months. Peeling and dicing one can be a pain, so I like to prep it once and use it in a bunch of meals (sometimes you can buy cut-up squash at the grocery store, too). I had a little leftover raw squash from this meal - and I was close to throwing it since it wasn't enough for a full side dish - until I stumbled upon this simple salad recipe. The squash gets roasted with a few savory spices, which helps to balance out its sweetness, before getting tossed with black lentils, baby kale, and goat cheese. If you have more squash than I did, I’d recommend roasting it all in the spices and then saving it for a quick side dish another night. The recipe is super versatile and makes a great use of leftovers, so any nuts, cheese, herbs, or greens you have on hand can be substituted and added. 

Lentil, Squash, Arugula, & Goat Cheese Green Salad:
  • Toss 1-2 c. diced butternut squash with 2 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika, ground cumin, and kosher salt.
  • Place squash on a sheet pan and roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes, tossing once, until tender and caramelized.*
  • Add 1/4 c. sunflower seeds to the pan and roast for another minute, or until seeds are lightly golden.
  • Meanwhile, add 1/2 c. black lentils** to a sauce pot and cover with several cups of water. Season with salt.
  • Bring pot to a medium simmer, cover partially with a lid, and cook for 25-35 minutes, or until al dente.
  • Drain lentils, rinse with cold water, and add to a large bowl.
  • Add in the squash and any spiced oil from the sheet pan and toss with the squash.
  • Add in a handful of baby kale,*** 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Crumble in 2-3 oz. fresh goat cheese and lightly toss again.
  • Divide salad onto plates and serve.

Serves two - three (side dish)
*Can be done one day in advance and re-heated before adding to the lentils.
**Green lentils would work too.
***Or any other hearty green.

Monday, November 5

Squash Ravioli with Shrimp & Bay Scallops

Halloween was a pretty low-key event for me this year - my fiance and I dressed up as a 1920's bootlegger and flapper for our work party but came home in time for trick or treaters. We had a couple friends over for a casual dinner, and since I knew we'd be raiding the candy bowl, I wanted to make something light but still festive. I was hoping for pumpkin ravioli, but the butternut squash tastes great and pairs really well with the seafood and brown butter-sage sauce. The squash cubes can be roasted in advance so that putting the whole thing together is as simple as boiling water after guests arrive. It's a great, easy meal to enjoy on a chilly evening (at least until you get sick of pumpkin).

Squash Ravioli with Shrimp & Bay Scallops:
  • Toss 1 c. diced butternut squash with 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Place in a 400F oven for 30 minutes, tossing once or twice with a spatula, until tender and caramelized in some places.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add in 1 lb. pumpkin ravioli.*
  • While ravioli is cooking, melt 1/2 stick unsalted butter in a large skillet and add in 6 fresh sage leaves.
  • Add in 1/2 lb. rock shrimp and 1/2 lb. bay scallops and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook seafood for 5 minutes, until just cooked through, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Turn up the heat on the butter and let it get lightly brown and nutty.
  • Drain the ravioli and add it to the butter, along with the seafood and roasted squash.
  • Toss to combine, then divide onto plates and serve.

Serves four
*Or butternut squash. Fresh or frozen is fine, but look to the package for accurate cooking time.

Thursday, November 1

Black Sesame Green Beans

These green beans are one of those all-purpose sides that work well hot or cold, so definitely make twice as much and eat some for leftovers. The beans get blanched and then tossed with a sweet and spicy black sesame paste (seen here) that coats the vegetables and adds tons of flavors. I like to keep the beans a little bit al dente, so that they hold their shape and have a little crunch left. It's a great accompaniment to a piece of fish (like this, this, or this) and both the paste and the beans can be made far in advance of serving.

Black Sesame Green Beans:

  • Toast 1 tsp. chopped walnuts and 1 tsp. sunflower seeds in a skillet for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in 1/2 c. black sesame seeds* and continue to toast for about 1 minute, being careful not to burn anything.
  • Transfer the mixture to a mortar and pestle** and pound until a sand-like consistency.
  • Stir in 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. mirin, 2 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, and 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add in 10 oz. trimmed green beans.
  • Cook beans for 5-7 minutes, or until al dente, then drain in a colander.***
  • Toss beans with the sesame paste and serve.

Serves four (side dish)
*Can substitute with regular sesame seeds if necessary.
**Or use a food processor.
***If you want to serve the beans as a cold salad, immediately transfer drained beans to a bowl of ice water.