I love my vegetables, and come winter I like them broiled, roasted, and sautéed. And you know I love a simple recipe that doesn't require me to be too fussy about measurements. This side dish came to me via my mom (do you discuss meals over the phone with your mom? I can't be the only one), and it's become a staple in our house. The sweet earthiness of the carrots is balanced perfectly by the oniony leeks, and they're all improved with the addition of olive oil and bright white wine.
One of the set-in-stone traditions that my mom, sister, and I have during our annual Puerto Rico trip is a lunch of fish tacos at the restaurant next to our hotel. We started going there because it would allow us to get back to the beach quickly, but we've continued going year after year for the fish tacos and, just as importantly, the accompanying hot sauce.
When it's 20° outside and dark before I've finished work, I crave comfort food. And pajamas. And Scotch. Problem is, I kind of over indulged on all three last month, and now it's time to bring some healthier habits back into my life. I need a meal I can look forward to, and a wan romaine salad just won't cut it. Instead, I'm making a dish that has plenty of spice and texture to distract me from the fact that it's not pie.
I don't have a latke recipe for you today. That's because I'm terrible at making latkes. I still have burn marks from my last latke-frying attempt. Meanwhile, Edward's latkes are always perfectly crisp and catastrophe-free. (Although I'm the Jewish one in the family, Edward is the southerner, and therefore our resident fryer.) Besides, latke recipes are a dime a dozen this time of year, so you'll have no trouble finding a good one.
Instead, I'm going to share one of my favorite and easiest appetizers. It's not, strictly speaking, a traditional Hanukkah dish, but chips, like latkes, are just potatoes cooked in oil, plus we Jews love our smoked fish so I say we're good to go. The dip is creamy, smoky, and lemony. The chips are salty and crunchy. Together, it's delightful. Perfect for your Hanukkah meal or any holiday party.
LEMONY SMOKED FISH DIP
1/2 pound filet of smoked fish (I used smoked trout this time, but bluefish and salmon are both delicious here. Just be sure you get a smoked salmon filet and not lox, which is plenty tasty but a very different texture.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lemon, or more to taste
2 scallions, diced
Good quality kettle-cooked plain potato chips
Remove the skin from your fish. Use a fork to flake the fish into a small mixing bowl, removing any pin bones you may find. Stir in the mayonnaise, half the scallions, and the lemon juice. If you want to taste to see if you need more lemon juice, use a chip to taste. There isn't any salt in the dip (the chips add plenty), and if you taste it on its own you'll miss that seasoning. Once the dip is ready, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining scallions. Serve with chips for dipping.
I've rounded out this dish with some marcona almonds and assorted olives. Easy, festive, and tasty as hell. Just what the holidays called for.
WANT TO SEE MORE?
In which I pick out things I like and think you should buy for people you like.
I've compiled the gift guide series of items I've tried and enjoyed or have been following and wanting to try. Whenever possible, they come from local and small businesses. No affiliate links or sponsors have been used. So get to shopping! And by all means, let me know if there's a gift guide you'd like to see in the future.
1. Copper colander
We all need more copper in our kitchens, and this little guy from Kohl's is a super price.
2. White oak salt cellar
I have fallen head over heels in love with everything Vestige does. Salt cellars make an unexpected but useful gift (and I vaguely remember reading once that they bring luck?), and this one is just stunning.
3. Pom pom napkins
Fine, these white dinner napkins from One Kings Lane may not be the most practical thing ever, but they're so cute.
4. Tobacco leaf tin plates
I just adore the tobacco leaf print on these tin plates from Furbish.
5. Walnut and brass servers
These High Street Market servers are too cool. Or just the right amount of cool.
6. Small planter
Now that it's December, my herb garden isn't looking so hot. Give the gift of fresh herbs to the chef in your life with a few small planters that would look great on any windowsill.
7. The Flavor Bible
I love cooking. I hate recipes. The Flavor Bible categorizes different cuisines and compatible flavors so cooking can be more about intuition and creativity and less about following directions.
8. Copper flatware set
Modern, shiny, and copper. The trifecta.
Who are you buying for this season? Have you finished your shopping? Have you started?
READY FOR MORE?
As I mentioned the other day, Edward and I spend Thanksgiving in Charleston with his family. A vacation house can definitely provide challenges for the holidays, but there are a whole lot of benefits. (Ocean views? You got it.)
Today we'll go from the dining room to the kitchen, and I'll share what I've learned when it comes to planning a menu and preparing a meal in a rental house. Since we drive to Charleston, we have a bit more freedom to pack than if we had to fly somewhere. If you're flying to your Thanksgiving destination, you'll need to narrow down this list. (Hint: Don't bring that knife.)
Not traveling? There's still some sanity-saving advice and plenty of recipe ideas.
Plus, one of my favorite recipes for Brussels sprouts.
Yesterday we slow-cooked a pork shoulder, made pulled pork tacos, and started stock for today's ramen. Raise your hand if you have stock bubbling away in the slow-cooker and your house smells like magic. Now let's put that stock to use with some (disclaimer: not in the least bit authentic but plenty tasty) ramen.
If you didn't follow along yesterday but would like to try today's dish, that's OK. You can still come to this ramen party. Chicken or vegetable stock will do in place of the pork stock, and you can use grilled chicken, tofu, or even a poached egg as your protein in place of the pulled pork.
Now let's get to it.
I don't eat meat often these days, but when I do you can be sure I put every last bit to good use. This week, that means two different recipes for pulled pork. (Three, if you count the homemade stock we'll make with the bone.) Plus it's Monday, and you deserve tacos.
In addition to making tacos today, we'll start the pork stock for tomorrow's ramen. I'll post the full ramen recipe tomorrow. Between the slow-cooked pork and very slow-cooked stock, it's a fair amount of cooking time (your house is going to smell fantastic). You can always cook the pork a day in advance if you want to break up the recipe some.
If you plan to follow along for both recipes, read all the way through this post for the full ingredient list. I've included everything you'll need for tacos, stock, and ramen. There's a bit of ingredient overlap, so you won't be stuck with any leftover cilantro when all is said and done. Both recipes call for some quick pickling. If you've never pickled before (or even if you have!), I highly recommend both the pickled onions and spicy pickled radishes. Chances are you already have the ingredients in your pantry, the recipes take only a few minutes of active time, and then the pickles are ready in an hour. That's a lot of bang for your buck.
Let's get started on that pork.
We all know that Monday is for comfort food, but come Tuesday it's time to pay for the excesses of the weekend. I love Sweet Green's Spicy Sabzi salad, which manages to have plenty of healthful ingredients with just enough substance and spice to make you forget that it's healthy. (The second I feel like I'm on a diet is the second before I skip the salad and go out for nachos.) Sadly, we don't have a Sweet Green in town, so I've made this homage to my favorite menu item.
SPICY SABZI WANNABE SALAD
2 beets, trimmed
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
1/2 cup quinoa
1 package firm tofu
Large handful baby spinach, rinsed
Large handful kale, rinsed and trimmed
4 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp (more or less depending on your capacity for heat) Sriracha or Korean red chile paste (love this stuff)
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs fresh lemon juice or rice vinegar
Sprig basil for garnish
Crunch Dynasty topping for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 425°. Drain the tofu and prep it for roasting. You'll want the tofu to be as dry as possible, so after draining, place it on a plate between two paper towel sheets and put a heavy pan or plate on top to press any remaining water out. After at least ten minutes of pressing, remove the pan and paper towels and slice the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment, and arrange tofu in one layer on the sheet, spacing out the cubes a little. Roast for 15 - 30 minutes, or until browned and firm.
Meanwhile, toss broccoli with 1 tbs vegetable oil and place on baking sheet in one layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Roast broccoli in oven for 12 minutes, then flip and return to oven for 8-10 more minutes, or until browned and a little crispy around the edges. Now, the original Sweet Green recipe includes raw beets, and if you're into that then more power to you. However, I choose to roast the beets a teeny bit. They're still crunchy and nutritious, but more recognizable as, you know, food. If you choose to roast the beets, roast them whole on a sheet alongside the broccoli and tofu.
While tofu and vegetables roast, cook quinoa on the stove according to package instructions. Set aside.
To make the dressing, roughly chop one carrot and blend it in a food processor with remaining oil, Sriracha, garlic, and lemon juice until smooth. Adjust spice to your taste.
Remove vegetables and tofu from oven when done and let cool to room temperature. Using a vegetable peeler, peel remaining carrots into ribbons. Peel skin off beets and dice beets into small cubes.
To assemble salad, start with spinach and kale in a bowl. Add a scoop of quinoa, a handful of the roasted tofu, carrot ribbons, roasted broccoli and beets. Finish with carrot dressing, torn basil, and Crunch Dynasty.
It's Monday. It's raining. It's the perfect excuse to fill up the house with the smells of roasting chicken and garlic. And the best part is that none of the recipes for this meal require you to pay too much attention to detail. Once everything is started, you can set your timer, grab a glass of wine and a book, and chill.
Thomas Keller's roast chicken is the best and easiest chicken out there. The only requirements are a chicken, salt, and a love for perfectly crispy skin.
These slow-cooked Greek green beans are unfussy and delicious.
We're doing puréed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Yes, it's maybe a smidge healthier (although it still has plenty of butter), but it's comfort food alright. Also, the less starchy cauliflower means that you can't overwork it like you can with potatoes, so that's one less thing to worry about.
Puréed Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed and chopped into large pieces
1 bulb roasted garlic, peeled and with cooking oil reserved*
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup or so part-skim ricotta cheese (other dairy works well here - feel free to add cream, whole milk, and/or parmesan)
Salt and pepper
Parsley to garnish (optional)
Steam cauliflower in a pot of boiling, salted water for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Strain the cauliflower, reserving the water. Purée cauliflower in a food processor with the butter, garlic and oil, and cheese. Add some of the cooking water if the mixture looks dry. You can season it and serve immediately, or put it back on the stove on low, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.
*To roast garlic, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop off the top quarter off a bulb of garlic. Put the bulb in a ramekin, add extra virgin olive oil, a splash of water, and a pinch of salt. Cover the ramekin with foil and cook for about 45 minutes, or until garlic is very tender. Roasted garlic is divine spread on bread as well, which you should definitely try if this is your first time making it. And don't be afraid - it seems like a lot of garlic, but roasting it mellows the garlic out so it won't overwhelm you.
Open a bottle of wine and bon appétit!
Welcome! I'm Arielle, and this is Scotch & Nonsense. Whether you've come for the home projects, the recipes, or the cocktails, I'm thrilled you're here and I hope you'll stay a bit.