Feeling incredibly decadent, we were prepared for the day-after this year. We made a quick stop at Alon’s bakery on our way home from a day of holiday shopping. And, this post-shopping bakery stop is bound to be a new tradition. The resulting turkey sandwiches were incredibly rich and delicious.
And, we smartly kept our buttery croissants in their paper bag until we were ready to eat. This kept each croissant crisp and flaky. You want sandwiches for the next day? Just head back to the bakery. Croissants need to be perfectly fresh.
They truly are a thing of beauty.
Day-After Turkey Day Sandwiches
thinly sliced turkey
a little stuffing
homemade lemony cranberry sauce (see below)
Carefully slice croissants. Layer turkey slices to your taste. Add a little stuffing, if you like. Top with homemade cranberry sauce.
You know you want it.
Lemony Cranberry Sauce
makes 1 medium-sized bowl
1 bag cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup simple syrup with lemon
juice of one lemon
1 scant cup water
Bring water and cranberries to a boil. Add sugar, lemon simple syrup, and juice of one lemon. Bring back to a boil and allow cranberries to pop for a minute or two. As it cooks the mixture thickens. For a chunky cranberry sauce, allow to simmer gently for about 3-4 minutes of boiling after the cranberries pop. (We like to see whole berries in our cranberry sauce. So, this is how we do it.) For a smoother cranberry sauce, allow sauce to simmer for about 10-12 minutes after the cranberries begin to pop.
(I reserved this simple syrup from making a batch of candied lemon zest (no pith). If you reserve the syrup from candied lemon peel with the white pith, it might be a bit too bitter.)
Waste Not, Want Not
This is one of the simplest, yet most important, life lessons that my grandmother left with me. Her mother had lived through some very lean years that taught her to never waste. In her eyes, it was a downright sin to waste good food when so many went hungry. Extra tomatoes from her garden were canned and good herbs were left to dry when winter came around.
I doubt that I’ll ever be as good at the art of frugality as she was. But, I always try to save good food when I can. After making a batch of candied lemon peel, I was left with some deliciously rich lemon syrup.
This recipe is a work in progress. But, it has an incredibly dense, yet tender crumb.
Lemon Pound Cake
makes 1 loaf
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon syrup (reserved from making candied lemon peel)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup lemon syrup, 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 eggs, and vanilla extract. Cream until very fluffy with a hand mixer. Add flour slowly as you continue to beat with hand mixer, just until combined. Batter will be very dense and fluffy. Do not over-beat. Pour batter into well-buttered loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
Cool nights mean one thing in our house. It’s time for hot chocolate! Mexican chocolate has a grainy texture that’s rich with sugar. So much sugar, in fact, that there is no need to add additional sugar.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
makes about 1 cup of hot chocolate mix
1 disc Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon espresso powder
a tiny pinch of chili powder (pasilla, ancho or even cayenne)
In a powerful food processor or blender, reduce chocolate to a powder. Add dark cocoa powder, cinnamon and chili powder. Pulse 2-3 times to combine. Place in an airtight jar or bottle.
In a saucepan, heat milk. Add 1-2 Tablespoons hot chocolate mix per cup of milk. Start with 1 Tablespoon per cup of milk and taste. If you want a richer chocolate flavor, add hot chocolate powder to your taste.
Or, try adding a spoonful of hot chocolate powder to your favorite mug and fill with hot coffee.
So simple, so easy and so delicious. How hard is it to carefully brown the butter, add a squeeze of lemon and pinch of sage? Answer: It’s not hard at all. There is, however, one tricky bit. You must properly apply the sauce to your pasta. This means using a light hand. You are letting the butter sauce envelope the pasta. Never drown it!
This makes a perfect sauce for pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli.
Brown Butter Sauce
for 10-15 ravioli
4 Tablespoons top notch butter
juice of half a lemon
1-2 Tablespoons cream
1-2 small sage leaves, each leaf cut into 3 pieces
a small pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano, to top
In a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan, brown the butter slowly over moderate heat. As the butter turns a lovely golden brown, you will notice a faint toasty-nutty scent. Immediately add the juice of half a lemon, sage leaves and a small pinch of nutmeg grated directly into the sauce. Swirl to combine. Reduce to a low heat. Add cream. Swirl again and turn off the heat. Remove the sage pieces and add pasta. Gently coat the pasta in the sauce. Plate each ravioli. Allow any remaining sauce to stay in the pan. Top lightly with very finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If you’re looking for massive amounts of tomatoes, go with cherries and plums. Without a doubt, this year we harvested more tomatoes than ever before. We picked over 6 baskets (6-8 cups each) of cherry and plum tomatoes alone. We also had the best batch of Black Krim tomatoes with over 10 gorgeous and very large tomatoes. And, we picked about 10 Golden Jubilee. There would have been more, but, a couple over-ripened on the vine.
The Sun Gold cherries and black plum tomatoes were the most rugged of the bunch. Followed by the Super Sweet 100s, they were the last three types of tomatoes to keep producing fruit.
Now that we’re relying on store-bought tomatoes, we’re getting more creative to bring out the flavor of season’s end produce. This one is lovely. We’ve adapted it from Bon Apetit’s recipe.
Bloody Mary Salad
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 small cucumber, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
Bloody Mary Vinaigrette
1 small red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup your favorite green olives, pimento or jalapeño stuffed
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 Tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup your favorite olive oil
1 ounce vodka
splash of Worcestershire sauce
splash your favorite hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
fine sea salt, to taste
In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber and celery. Set aside.
In a mason jar (or any sealable vinaigrette bottle), combine all vinaigrette ingredients. Seal and shake vigorously. Drizzle over salad and toss to combine. Pour into salad bowl. Serve with slices of grilled bread and steaks (or grilled chicken, or lamb chops or pork chops).
These round Korean squash were a real find. They were very similar to zucchini. But, they’re prettier, lighter green, slightly sweeter and more tender. Best of all, one good sized squash makes a perfect side dish for two people. I’d buy them again any day.
Sautéed Korean Squash
makes side dish for 2
1 Korean squash, washed and sliced into thin wedges
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
splash of hot sesame oil
splash of soy sauce
salt & pepper, to taste
Sauté onion slices in peanut oil briefly. Add squash, hot sesame oil and a splash of soy. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Plate and serve immediately.
So simple & delicious.
Almost always, the simple things are the best things. A freshly picked fig rarely makes it out of the garden and into the house. Normally, we stop where we stand and eat them instantly. On the rare occasion a fig does make it into the house, this simple recipe is one of the best.
Fig, Bleu Cheese & Honey
fresh figs, halved
bleu cheese wedge
your favorite honey
(my current favorite is chestnut honey from Alon’s)
freshly ground black pepper, if desired
Serve figs, bleu cheese, walnuts and honey on a cutting board or platter. Build each bite as you go. Or, nibble any pair of ingredients on their own. Just be sure to get one bite of fig, bleu cheese and honey on your first bite.
After fighting the army of squirrels, chipmunks and birds, this was our biggest fig harvest of the year. All summer we were lucky to get 3 or 4 figs at one time. And, there are a handful of kadota figs that refuse to ripen this year.
There’s always something in bloom. If you have allergies, some of those things are more bothersome than others. Is it goldenrod aggravating your allergies or common ragweed? It’s probably the more ordinary looking common ragweed that’s a problem for you given the nature of its pollen. The pollen of goldenrod is sticky. This requires an insect (like a bee) to carry its pollen. Common ragweed sends dry pollen into the air to be dispersed by a light breeze. This is the pollen we breath and inhale.
My allergies are quite mild. And, I’ve found a simple solution.
Bee Pollen & Raw Honey
1 heaping teaspoon of your favorite local raw honey
1 teaspoon local bee pollen
Sprinkle bee pollen over the spoonful of honey. Or, just carefully dip your spoon into the bee pollen being careful to keep the honey on your spoon. To be sure that your allergies aren’t too severe. Try a couple granules (up to a 1/4 teaspoon) of bee pollen before eating a whole spoonful.
Another great excuse to visit your local farmer’s market!
Local honey and bee pollen work the best. They’re most likely to contain the pollen that is aggravating your allergies.
Another great snack is a little bowl of Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and topped with a sprinkle of bee pollen.
Try it! You’ll like it.
The summer is coming to a close.
So, now’s the time to grab all of the fresh vegetables that you can. We had tons of baby greens, gorgeous tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, spring onions, cilantro and lime. So, we paired our grilled corn with a big plate of salad greens. With bowls on the side, we each built our own salad to our tastes.
Even including the time to heat up the grill, this meal took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. As the grill heats, prep your salad greens and crumble your cheese. That’s really all there is to this meal.
Grilled Corn With Queso Fresco
6 stalks of corn, shucked and washed
1/4 lb queso fresco, freshly crumbled
cayenne or chili powder of your choice
lime wedges, if desired
Preheat the grill for at least 5-7 minutes. Place corn on the grill and cover. Grill for 5-6 minutes. Turn. Grill until corn is tender and the marks are to your liking. Place one piece of grilled corn on each plate. Brush each piece with mayo. Then, sprinkle on the queso fresco and chili powder. Serve lime wedges on the side, if desired. (You can add a sprinkle of finely chopped cilantro, too.)
Drizzle each salad with olive oil and lime juice. Add a sprinkle of chili powder, fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I love them. But, I don’t love the way they fade and bleed into soups and stews. So, I tried something different. I nuked them. Three minutes for the first try. And, then they went back into the nuker for another 2-3 minutes. Cook til fork tender. And, guess what? When they were done, they still possesed the gorgeous purple color that I love.
Usually, my microwave oven is reserved for the sole task of making popcorn. Now, it has two tasks.
Purple Potato Salad
makes 1 large salad
6-8 small purple potatoes, cooked to be fork tender
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
grind of fresh black pepper
pinch fine sea salt
pinch smoked paprika or cayenne, to garnish
dill, roughly diced, to garnish
Combine all in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine. Plate. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and dill.
Do you want to make it a bit heartier? Add a handful of freshly boiled shrimp.