Friday, November 29

Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turn leftover shredded turkey into easy turkey and cheese enchiladas.

Thanksgiving is a pretty glorious holiday for anyone who loves food - not just because of Thursday's huge feast, but because of the leftovers that last well into the weekend. Sure, you can simply pop leftover turkey, stuffing, and other sides into the microwave, but there are plenty of more creative things  you can do to makeover Thanksgiving extras. And what about those random ingredients that never made it onto your table, like that half bunch of celery that's sitting in your fridge with no apparent use? These recipes and ideas will help you get the most out of the food you so carefully planned, shopped for, and cooked this Thanksgiving.

Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers:
- Turkey & Cheese Enchiladas
- Mexican Turkey Soup
- Turkey Noodle Soup (Including Recipe for Homemade Turkey Stock)

Want More Ideas?
Add leftover turkey and roasted vegetables into a quick and easy fried rice.
Scatter leftover vegetables into a skillet, crack a few eggs on top, and add a dash of cream for baked eggs.
And perhaps the most obvious solution: make a sandwich. I like making a panini of sliced turkey and leftover brie from the cheese plate for a riff on this sandwich.

Wednesday, November 27

Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle

Since all my friends and family read this blog, there's a certain level of pressure that comes with cooking good food over the holidays. I've been put in charge of making half of the desserts for Thanksgiving and have spent the last few weeks testing out different recipes. Apple pie is traditional but can also be controversial (some like a lot of filling, some are all about the crust, etc.), so I tried out this apple cake recipe instead. In the end, I decided that the cake wasn't traditional enough for a feature at Thanksgiving, but it certainly has a spot at future dinner parties and more casual celebrations. Because layers of buttery sliced apples sandwiched between a perfect yellow cake wasn't decadent enough, I covered the whole thing in Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce before serving. The cake is thin and surprisingly light (the lemon zest helps to keep it tasting fresh), making the leftovers a passable breakfast item.

Related Recipes:
- Apple Tart
- Plum Skillet Cake
- Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle:
  • Peel, core, and thinly slice 4 large apples.*
  • Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add in the apples and sprinkle them with 2 tbsp. sugar and stir.
  • Cook apples for 10-12 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown in places.
  • Let cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, and 3/4 tsp. salt in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk 10 tbsp. melted butter and 3 eggs into the dry ingredients until combined.
  • Divide half of the apples into the bottom of a greased 8" cake pan.
  • Pour half of the batter over the apples, then repeat with another layer of apples and batter.
  • Bake in a 350F oven, rotating the pan once, for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from the pan and allow to finish cooling on a baking rack.
  • Drizzle the top of the cake with salted caramel sauce.**

Serves eight
*A semi-tart apple is best here.
**Or any store-bought caramel sauce you like best.

Tuesday, November 26

Slow-Roasted Crispy Duck

I love following tradition and strongly believe that there needs to be a turkey on the Thanksgiving table, but every other day of the year I'll choose a different kind of poultry: duck. In my opinion, it's the most delicious bird out there and because it's inherently flavorful you don't have to do anything to make it taste delicious. This slow-roasted duck requires just three ingredients and five hours to create the ultimate holiday roast. The skin crisps to a paper-thin crackling, the meat gets fall-apart tender, and you'll be left with nearly a cup of duck fat to use for future cooking. It's a stunning dish to serve for guests, and at $25 for a whole duck, it's very economical.

More Duck Recipes:
- Duck Breasts with Cherry Port Sauce
- Easy Duck Confit
- Orange Maple Duck Breasts

Slow-Roasted Whole Duck:
  • Remove neck and giblets from a 5-6 lb. whole duck, then wash and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Use a sharp pairing knife to create dozens of small slits all over the skin and fat of the duck, making sure not to pierce through to the meat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Place the duck, breast side up, in a roasting rack over a roasting pan and place in a 300F oven.
  • Roast the duck for an hour, then pour off and reserve* any fat at the bottom of the pan.
  • Pierce the skin again, this time using the prongs of a fork, and flip the duck breast side down.
  • Roast for another two and a half hours, making sure to drain, pierce, and flip every hour.
  • After four and a half hours, increase the heat to 350F and roast for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the duck from the oven and let rest, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes.
  • Carve and serve.
Serves six
*You'll be left with a cup or more of duck fat by the end of it. Save it in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for several months. Use duck fat in place of butter or oil in any recipe - it's especially good for roasting potatoes!

Got Leftovers?
Try this Duck Hash or make a Duck Fat Potato Galette with leftover duck fat.

Monday, November 25

Thanksgiving Recipe Guide

Nothing says Thanksgiving like roasting a whole turkey. This recipe for maple roasted turkey doesn't require more than a few ingredients and a little time to achieve the perfect bird.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday and I can’t wait to celebrate with my friends and family. My husband and I are going up to my parents’ house during the day and then we’re all meeting up at our friends’ house for a Thanksgiving dinner. It will be our biggest Thanksgiving yet (around twenty people) and therefore requires more food than ever before. There will be two turkeys, four desserts, and more side dishes than I can count. Everything has been planned out, including two pies that I’m making the day before, but I know that there’s plenty of people who are still deciding on their menu or looking for something to contribute to their host’s table. Here’s a list of easy Thanksgiving recipes that will surely be a hit at your Thursday feast.

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Menu:
- Maple Roasted Turkey
- Pumpkin Soup
- Herbed Ciabatta Stuffing
- Crispy Pancetta Brussels Sprouts
- Apple Tart

Celebrating with a small group? Skip roasting a whole turkey and make Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts with Pan Gravy instead.

Turkey isn't your thing? You're not alone. Start a new tradition and serve a Perfect Roast Chicken instead.

Check out last year's list of Thanksgiving Side Dishes and 2011's  Thanksgiving Recipes Guide for more inspiration.

Friday, November 22

Mushroom Bourguignon

Temperatures have finally changed towards cooler weather in L.A. and I was eager to bust out my dutch oven for some slow-cooked goodness. This mushroom bourguignon recipe, which I first spotted in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook about a year ago, is a genius riff on the classic French dish of beef bourguignon. A variety of mushrooms are caramelized and then braised in a mixture of red wine and beef stock (substitute with a good vegetable or mushroom stock if you want this fully vegetarian) until a hearty stew forms. Try it over egg noodles or with a scoop of sour cream on top for a nod to stroganoff. Like all braises, it's even better reheated the next day.

Related Recipes:
- Braised Chicken and Mushrooms
- Mushroom Gravy
- Mushroom Chicken over Buttered Egg Noodles

Mushroom Bourguignon with Egg Noodles:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a large dutch oven over high heat.
  • Meanwhile, chop 1 lb. of portabello mushroom caps and 1 lb. of cremini mushrooms into uniform slices.*
  • Add a third of mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, stirring once or twice, until browned.
  • Remove the mushrooms and set aside, then repeat two more times until all of the mushrooms are cooked.
  • Lower the heat to medium, add in another tbsp. of oil, and add in 1 diced onion. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown, then add in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add in 2 tbsp. tomato paste and cook for another minute, then add in 1 c. red wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Increase the heat and bring the wine to a boil until it reduces by half, then add in 2 c. beef broth, 1 c. defrosted pearl onions, and the mushrooms. Season with another big pinch of salt.
  • Bring everything to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover with a lid.
  • Cook for thirty minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender.
  • In a small bowl, mash together 1 1/2 tbsp. flour and 1 tbsp. softened butter, then stir the mixture into the stew.
  • Let stew simmer and thicken for another 10-15 minutes. Spoon into bowls over cooked egg noodles and sprinkle with minced chives.

Serves four-six
*Any mushroom would work here, but I like the using a mix for different textures and flavors.

Thursday, November 21

Sweet & Sour Charred Cauliflower

This recipe is inspired by another dish that we ate at Gjelina last weekend. They do a great job with interesting vegetable dishes, and it's one of the few places where I often like the sides as much as the main courses. Part of their success comes from a super hot wood-burning oven (it's rumored to cook pizzas in 90 seconds) that adds a nice char and smokey flavor to nearly everything they cook. Most of us don't have our own pizza ovens at home, but searing the vegetables in a hot pan and then finishing them in the oven (the same way that I like to cook a lot of meat and fish) is an easy way to get the same dark charred flavor into your dishes.

More Cauliflower Recipes:
Parmesan-Roasted Romanesco
Cheddar Cauliflower Soup
Cauliflower & Pancetta Shells

Sweet & Sour Charred Cauliflower:
  • Combine 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. fish sauce, and 1/2 tbsp. sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. canola oil in a skillet until very hot and almost smoking.
  • Add in 1 head of cauliflower,* cut into florets, and do not stir for 3-4 minutes (this will allow the cauliflower to brown and char in some places).
  • Turn the cauliflower with a spatula, sprinkle 1 sliced Fresno chile** on top, and transfer the skillet to a 450F oven.
  • Cook for 7-8 minutes, then toss with the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and cauliflower is tender.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve.

Serves two-three (side dish)
*I used heirloom cauliflower from my farmers market, which is why it is green in the photo.
**Remove the seeds to cut down on the spice.

Wednesday, November 20

Chicken & Black Bean Nachos

The ultimate nachos with layers of melted cheese, grilled chicken, and black beans

Chicken and Black Bean Nachos

In college, my roommates and I were known to come home after the bars and make an epic (or so it seemed after hours of drinking) batch of nachos. It was a collaboration: someone would have a half-eaten bag of chips, a few people would have some cheese or salsa, and we'd throw it all together and eat it straight off the baking sheet. These nachos are so much better than that. They're full of grilled chicken (double or triple the recipe below and use the extras in tacos or fajitas), slow-cooked black beans, layers of melted cheese, and restaurant-style tortilla chips. The ingredients are important, but the real success comes in the construction - nachos need to be constructed in layers so that you're not left with a bunch of naked chips at the bottom. I also like to serve the condiments on the side, so each chip can be dipped in guacamole or salsa as guests wish. This is my ultimate version, but feel free to use whatever toppings you like best.

Related Recipes:
- Baked Tortilla Chips
- Homemade Guacamole
- Slow-Cooked Black Beans
- Tomatillo Salsa

Chicken & Black Bean Nachos:
  • Season 1 boneless skinless chicken breasts with 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. chile powder, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.
  • Grill chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, or until outside has some char to it and the inside is just cooked.
  • Let rest for a few minutes, then chop into small, bite-size pieces.*
  • Meanwhile, arrange 1 even layer of tortilla chips on a baking sheet.
  • Top with 3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese and 3/4 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 c. cooked black beans and half of the chicken.
  • Repeat with another layer of chips, cheese, beans, and chickens.
  • Bake in a 400F oven for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and fully melted.
  • Sprinkle with thinly sliced jalapeƱos and serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc.

Serves two-four (main dish)
Serves six-eight (appetizer)
*Can be cooked a day or two ahead and kept in the fridge. Or use any leftover cooked chicken you have on hand.

Tuesday, November 19

Grilled Skirt Steak with Salsa Verde

My husband and I went on a double date with our friends to Gjelina over the weekend. We'd been looking forward to it for weeks (planning ahead was necessary since the wait for an ideal reservation can be close to a month) and it didn't disappoint. Everything we ordered (ten dishes overall) was shared family style which allowed us to taste a bit of everything and bargain over second bites of our favorites. Later that weekend, I saw a feature on Travis Lett, Gjelina's chef, in Bon Appetit, which was all the impetus I needed to create my version of his food at home. This steak with salsa verde was one of the small plates I created and packs a ton of flavor into each bite. The salsa verde, which is full of bright, briny freshness adds a lightness to the beef but will work well on everything you could ever drizzle it on (vegetables, fish, chicken, bread) or snuck by the spoonful.

Related Recipes:
- Skirt Steak Tacos
- Grilled Chicken with Salsa Verde
- Grilled Flank Steak with Tomato Relish

Grilled Flank Steak with Salsa Verde:
For Salsa Verde
  • Finely mince 2 anchovy fillets,* 1 tbsp. capers, 2 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves.
  • Add mixture to a bowl, and stir in 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar and 1 pinch of red chili flakes.
  • Slowly whisk in 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and check for seasoning.
For Steak
  • Lightly brush a 3/4 lb. skirt steak with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook on a hot grill for 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice against the grain and spoon salsa verde on top.

Serves two (more if serving many side dishes)
*I get fillets that are salted and stored in olive oil.

Friday, November 15

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade

A summertime classic that's the perfect blend of sweet and tangy

Fresh-squeezed Lemonade

My favorite part of our apartment is our private back patio, and specifically, our lemon tree. As an avid cook and someone who actually enjoys going grocery shopping, it’s even more exciting to actually grow and harvest my own produce. The problem is that sometimes we have more lemons than I know what to do with and if I neglect picking our ripe lemons they will eventually shrivel, rot, and attract hungry insects (ew). Last weekend I spent a good hour pruning our tree, picking all the lemons, and juicing them into mass quantities of lemonade. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool glass of the stuff, and spiking it with some vodka has become an easy and delicious cocktail favorite. When life gives you lemons, you really should make lemonade.

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade:*
  • Bring 3/4 c. sugar and 3 c. water to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, juice enough lemons to equal 4 c. of lemon juice.**
  • Stir together the lemon juice and simple syrup and test for balance.
  • Let lemonade cool in the fridge, then pour into glasses and serve.

Serves ten or more people
*This recipe can easily be halved.
**I juiced about 10-12 lemons.

Thursday, November 14

Baked Eggs with Chanterelles & Cream

There's nothing better than a long weekend to relax and recharge. My husband and I stayed home on Monday and used it as an extra day to laze about and catch up on things after I was away on business last week. I made these baked eggs that are super simple but feel a little indulgent from the chanterelles and cream. The eggs are essentially a blank canvas, so really any type of mushroom or vegetable would work here. It's a great way to use up leftovers in your pantry or to treat yourself to a small amount of something fancy, like I did with these special chanterelles from the farmers market. Make sure to serve with some nice toast and enjoy.

Related Recipes:
- Shakshuka
- Baked Eggs with Beet Greens and Spiced Butter
- Roasted Chili and Cheese Egg Bake

Baked Eggs with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Cream:
  • Thickly slice 1 c. of chanterelle mushrooms and place in a hot pan with 1 tbsp. butter.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until starting to caramelize, then transfer to a plate and let cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the mushrooms to a small baking dish* and crack 4 eggs on top, nestling between the mushrooms in an even layer.
  • Drizzle 2-3 tbsp. of heavy cream on top, then sprinkle with a handful of grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
  • Bake eggs in a 400F oven for 7-9 minutes, or until whites are set and yolks are still slightly runny.
  • Drizzle eggs with truffle oil** and serve with bread.

Serves two
*You can also divide mushrooms into 4 small ramekins and crack one egg in each.
**Optional, but delicious!

Wednesday, November 13

Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts with Pan Gravy

I was in Chicago last week for a work conference and wanted to make something before I left that my husband could eat for leftovers while I was away. Thanksgiving yields the ultimate leftover situation, but since I wasn't about to roast a whole turkey before a week of hectic travel, I went with just as delicious but much more manageable roasted turkey breasts. Bone-in, skin-on turkey gets rubbed with a flavorful herb-garlic butter and then cooked in the oven until juicy and golden. The drippings get made into a super simple pan gravy that will have you begging for mashed potatoes. Leftovers make the perfect turkey sandwiches and will last for days in the fridge.

Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts with Pan Gravy:

  • Combine 1/2 stick room temperature butter with 1 tbsp. minced rosemary, the zest of 1/2 lemon, and 3 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Pat 2 bone-in skin-on turkey breasts* dry with paper towels, then rub the butter all over the meat, making sure to loosen the skin and smear some butter between the skin and meat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Place the turkey breasts, skin-side up, in a rack over a large roasting pan and add 1/2" of low-sodium chicken stock in the bottom of the pan.
  • Roast the turkey in a 400F oven for 60-75 minutes, or until the turkey registers 165F in the thickest part of the breast.
  • Transfer turkey to a platter, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat.
  • You should have around 2 tbsp. of turkey drippings and fat, but if you have more pour off all but 2 tbsp. and if you have less, add enough butter to equal 2 tbsp.
  • Whisk in 2 tbsp. flour until a smooth paste forms, then whisk in 1 c. chicken stock and reduce until the gravy is thickened. Add more stock if it's too thick.
  • Pour in a splash of cream, then strain the gravy through a fine mesh sieve. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • To serve, slice the turkey and serve with gravy alongside.

Serves six-eight
*I could only fine split breasts and the two combined weighed 3 1/2 lbs.