Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
After days and days of Thanksgiving leftovers (we cooked a 20+ pound bird this year, but the guests filled up mostly on sides and pie, which means there was mucho turkey meat to consume afterwards), I finally said ENOUGH, and decided to make something in the complete opposite direction…which for me is avocado toast. I know that avocado toasts have been having a moment (there are endless paeans to the combination of smashed avocado and toasted bread all over the interweb, and even this funny backlash on it’s popularity), but I honestly can say that the first and best avocado toast I ever ate was EIGHT YEARS AGO (so very pre-trend) while visiting a family of winemakers on their commune/farm in New Zealand. I was on the North Island, north of Auckland, reporting on a story for Saveur magazine, when the matriarch of the family made me a simple breakfast of toasted bread (fresh baked, she also ground the wheat into flour herself) slathered with butter (that she churned herself from their own cows’ milk), homemade (naturally) succotash, and smashed avocado from their lush garden out back. It was one of the most truly from-scratch things I’ve ever eaten and I’ll never forget it. Which is why every time I make myself an avocado toast, I think of that family and their sub-tropical paradise of homemade wonders in New Zealand. I never prepare it the same way twice, but I do always slather my toast with soft butter and then go from there.
Turkey-fatigue toast combination (as pictured above):
Toasted rye bread, slathered with butter.
1/2 a smashed avocado
Sprinkle with flaky salt, freshly ground pepper, and a big squeeze of lime juice.
Top with thinly sliced radish.
Shaved ricotta salata.
Dot with sriracha.
Thursday, November 27th, 2014
On this Turkey Day eve, I wanted to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and delicious Thanksgiving holiday. I’ve been in prep mode all day—it helped that it’s been snowing all day here in the northeast, a perfect excuse to stay inside and chop, toast, wash, etc.—and so hopefully I’ll be ready for game day tomorrow. So far I’ve made (as pictured above): The roasted pumpkin soup; finished the fresh cranberry-orange-ginger sauce (there will be canned as well…it’s just a must for me), removed seeds from the pomegranates, toasted walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled golden raisins, washed and steamed brussel sprouts, roasted squash, sliced mushrooms, and chopped shallots, celery, and spinach. All that’s left for tonight is to give my dry-brined turkey a good rubdown…sexy, right?
So good luck tomorrow! I hope it all goes your way—that the dog doesn’t steal the bird, the pie crust turns out just right, the relatives behave, the mashed potatoes aren’t lumpy, the children aren’t grumpy, and the wine flows freely.
Friday, November 21st, 2014
Happy Friday! Is there anything more fun than a waffle bar? I don’t think so. And who says you have to sign up for a breakfast buffet at a casino or on a cruise ship to enjoy one? Why not make a waffle bar at home? You could to it this weekend, or if you have a mess of relatives arriving for the Thanksgiving holidays, then it’s the perfect casual extended-family breakfast.
For some waffle bar inspiration check out the fantastic parenting site Momfilter, where I wrote about Belle’s Slumber Party Waffle Bar–pajamas, waffles, lots of toppings–just go for it! And have a great weekend!
Monday, November 17th, 2014
I got a beautiful mess of small orange and red carrots from my CSA last week…sadly one of the last shares of the season…and the green feathery tops were so lush and verdant, I just couldn’t cut them off and plunge them into the waste bin. Also, it’s just become too rare to actually find carrots at the store with their tops on; and if they are still attached, then usually they look sad and floppy. So this seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I know they can be used in place of herbs to make a terrific pesto, but I still have plenty of the stuff in the freezer from summer. Then in the deep recesses of my brain, I recalled eating a roasted carrot in a restaurant once, that still had its top attached— papery, slightly charred, and meant to eat. It was excellent. So I decided to give it a try with my tops…
I basically winged it, deciding to roast the tops with them still attached to the carrots (rather than cut them off and roast them separately), since the carrots were so small and fresh-out-of-the-ground, I knew they wouldn’t take long to roast, nor would the tops burn. I tossed the carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin and cardamon; the tops with just the olive oil, salt and pepper. I roasted them on a sheet covered with parchment paper for about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees (if you do this at home I suggest adjusting the time depending on the size of your carrots). They came out tasting like potato chips—salty and crunchy— but obviously a bit better for you. I crumpled them into a grain salad along with the carrots, some roasted beets, avocado, lettuce, and a mustard-vinaigrette. But you could just eat them like this:
Friday, November 14th, 2014
Last weekend, I found myself in one of those rare situations where I had the television all to myself and could watch whatever I wanted. Which basically meant I could watch a movie with subtitles and no one would stop me. I’d been dying to see the French movie Haute Cuisine ever since it came out last year, and luckily, it was available on Netflix! HERE is the trailer so you can savor for yourself…
I know there’s been a trend of food-related films lately (The Trip, Chef, Hundred Foot Journey) and although I haven’t seen them all, I can attest that this one is worth seeing, mostly for its gorgeous, not ostentatious or porny, food photography; but also the fact that it recounts the true story of Hortense, who is unexpectedly hired to be French President Francoise Mitterrand’s private cook. Unlike the chefs in the official palace kitchen, Hortense is instructed to create meals that are evocative of the French homecooking of Mitterrand’s childhood (although most of what she makes could hardly be called simple home cooking…like the choux farci au saumon, a perfect dome of layered cabbage and salmon).
Watch it this weekend, perhaps with something bubbly…and enjoy!