Sometimes, I operate under the delusion that I have excellent time management skills, that I can multi-task and that no goal is unattainable. Take this roasted cauliflower, for example. I wanted to share it with you before I left for my vacation to L.A., but I got a bit distracted and failed to do much of anything. And then I thought I might even write about this while on my vacation, but who was I kidding? Not that I didn’t have an opportunity – L.A. was rainy for the 4 out of the 6 days. So much for their eternal sunshine.
It pains me to say this – but the cookies must take a break for a bit. My pants have told me this as well as the fact that I went through a total of twenty pounds of butter making treats for work. Twenty. Pounds. Of. Butter. And there are still butter reserves in my freezer, it’s like a mini-China in there. I promised the butter I would not abandon it forever, but a breather is much needed after the month of decadent and sweet treats.
In addition to me swearing off cookies for awhile (let’s see how long that lasts), I also signed up for a half marathon in a few months to keep myself honest and motivated. While it’s both exciting and intimidating, I know it’s very achievable if I stick to a training routine with some discipline.
I first made this stir-fry a few days ago as I was trying to save wilting spinach and sad-looking okra and was attempting my hand at something moderately healthy – and it was delicious. I threw in some ginger and spices for an added kick and served the vegetables over some brown rice. I know that not everyone likes okra – and it is a tough vegetable to love. A little slimy, without much flavor, okra is like an ugly step-child of the vegetable family. But it readily absorbs other flavors and envelops the dish in softness, which to me tastes comforting – perfect for a winter meal.
And if tofu is not your thing, throw in some chicken instead, or other vegetables you might like. It’s a stir-fry so really – just about anything goes. Except for, maybe, cookies?
While I am delinquent with telling you about an ingenious way to reinvent your turkey after Thanksgiving, because let’s face it, turkey leftovers can only get so exciting, I am way ahead of schedule in prepping you for the holidays. And here it goes. Hanukkah or not, I have not met a soul who doesn’t like latkes. And what’s not to love? Crispy, fried, and if done right, lacy pancakes that melt in your mouth. And a Hanukkah with out latkes is like Christmas without a Christmas tree – it’s a must. For all the various latke recipes out there, including the permutations with sweet potato, zucchini and other vegetables, I hold the classic potato recipe near and dear to my heart. A classic is a classic for a reason – its sheer simplicity and elegance outshine any attempts for a trendy update.
Ironically though, it is the simplest and most elementary of things that are at times hard to get just right. I’ve had my fair share of latkes – some good, some bad. The really heavy ones drenched in so much oil, you wonder where the potato went, the really bland mushy ones that aren’t at all crispy, really good ones you pile a ton of sour cream on (I didn’t grow up with apple sauce on my latkes and I still don’t enjoy it).
But this recipe has completely flipped my latke world upside down. I’ve never had latkes so good and the fact that I ate the entire batch I made in just about one sitting is proof enough. I even called my mother to tell her that our family recipe, which I boasted as being the best – was going to have to take a backseat to this one. Martha Stewart, yet again, has exceeded my expectations – because her latkes recipe (her mothers, in fact) is tremendous. Perhaps, it is because she ingeniously figured out a way to decrease the amount of moisture, while maintaining the same starch ratio, which makes the latkes extra crispy. Also, no matter what anyone tells you, you should hand grate the potatoes using the coarse side of the grater. It only takes a few minutes more than the food processor, and the results are a lacier latke, which means a crispier, more delicious latke.
Of course, that means you are in danger of eating your own batch and not sharing with anyone. Hardly a problem in my book, especially if you have plenty of sour cream on hand.
I must first apologize for the ugly picture above. No matter how hard I tried, these sprouts refused to look sexy for me, and instead you get this washed out, glib picture. I’m sorry for that, I really truly am. But as disgusting as this picture looks, that’s how good these sprouts are. Better even, they’re stunning, operatic, grand. Sure, they may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, braised in cream this is a royal dish. One that is perfect on its own, or as as side to some hearty roasted meat. Or maybe even, say turkey?
Everyone is probably counting the days down to Thanksgiving, I know I am. Menus have been planned, dishes have been discussed, shopping lists drawn. And yet, in my emails with friends from here and there, I keep hearing the same sentiment - I just need more sides. Well, if more sides is what you need, here, use this one. Because, let’s face it, the green beans have been overused to the point of delirium. They could use a break from all this pressure to perform on the foodiest of all the food holidays. Here, give Brussels sprouts a go.
Disliked by many a child, I am almost positive that he (or she) will gobble this up in minutes. And maybe even ask you for seconds. I think that the trick here is cream, which in my opinion, makes most things better and elevates them to a status fit for a feast and not just an everyday side. Lemon juice, too, makes it sparkle even more so. And seeing as this is really easy to make (I know, here I go with this easy stuff again!), you won’t even feel taxed adding one more side to your Thanksgiving menu. And it’ll look that much more impressive!
Honestly, whatever yield I give you below, I am lying through my teeth. This was devoured in one sitting by three people and quite honestly, we would all have gone for seconds. Or, in my case, I probably would have had three helpings if that were an option. This recipe, which was adapted from Molly, is a true stunner and one to be made over and over this cold wintry season.
In case this is not an appealing side dish for you – I’ve compiled a few Thanksgiving dishes that should be pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. And will post it tomorrow!
I think I should let you in on a small secret – make me mashed potatoes and I’ll be instantly won over. I know – I sound like I’m setting the bar low here. But in all seriousness, I am truly in love with well-prepared mashed potatoes. You know the kind – perfectly salted, hearty, filling, richly-flavored and undeniably seductive. Potatoes? Seductive? I’m certain some of you are rolling your eyes at me.
Except I think that the potato is kind of like the little black dress – indispensable, perfect for just about any occasion and with limitless possibilities on variations and accessories. I could rattle off at least a dozen mashed potato recipes, each with its own unique flavor, because as ubiquitous as the spud is, its every day appeal is precisely what gives it the versatility it possesses.
So why am I giving you what seems to be the most basic recipe? Why am I even omitting garlic? The trick to these mashed potatoes, in this particular case, is olive oil. The best you have in the house. The best you can afford. Because how sublime your mashed potatoes will taste will depend exclusively on the quality of the olive oil used. It should also be noted that this is a vegan recipe and is perfect for those with lactose intolerance. Or, if you keep kosher, this works well with any poultry or meat dish you are cooking alongside.
And just as it’s sometimes best to keep your little black dress free or any bold accessories – this is one recipe that wins because of its understatement.
I think baby-anything is cuter than its adult version. Puppies, kittens, baby seals, baby pandas, regular people babies. Baby vegetables, especially turnips, are cuter than their adult counterparts too – just look at these baby turnips – aren’t they just adorable?
Just look at them – aren’t they adorable? So little and white and perfectly-rounded – bursting with spring freshness! As soon as I saw them at the market, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them and it wasn’t anything complicated. Why mess with perfection?
So what I did was a simple braise – in olive oil and lemon juice with a few garlic cloves thrown in for flavor. Some herbes de Provence a little salt and white pepper – and that’s it. And then I had the turnips with a little white wine, closing my eyes in bliss. They didn’t taste of the earth like mature turnips do, but of the sun and rain, filled with juice, bursting with a sweet flavor – unhardened by the seasons and the temperature. Babies they were – so unpolluted and pure – and so darn cute on my plate, I almost paused to eat them. Almost, of course. And then a few minutes later, they were gone, with a lemony taste lingering in my mouth for a few more moments.