When I was a kid, we mostly ate salads. My dad was not a vegetable-lover, and with a few notable exceptions (artichokes and asparagus) we primarily consumed our vegetables raw. As a result, I held a deep-seated prejudice against most forms of cooked vegetables. I rejected red peppers. I scoffed at spinach. I pooh-poohed parsnips. But the worst offender in my young mind was cooked carrots. (Possibly because this is one of those kid-friendly foods people were always trying to serve to me.) I despised and loathed cooked carrots. They were anathema, and not a morsel of the reviled substance passed my lips.
Fast forward several years to New York City, circa 2002. I was browsing the shelves of my favorite used bookstore in Soho (Housing Works. Wooden bookshelves, leather chairs, a little cafe in the back, a library ladder …) when I stumbled on a copy of the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle and Beck. Then, as now, I was lazy (let’s call it “time-pressed” – I was, after all, in law school) so I skipped through the eight-page cassoulet recipe or the 36-hour Boeuf Bourguignon, and lit upon the vegetables. Carrots, braised in butter. Six ingredients, two sentences. I was sold.
I cut up my carrots, added my butter, my water, my salt, my sugar, and what resulted was a revelation. Not nasty. Not watery. Not insipid. Carrots expressing everything glorious about carrots except the crunch. I was hooked. And that recipe, that first start, got me cooking more vegetables. which has brought me to my year of living vegetally. Because here’s the secret about vegetables. They are good for you. They are full of vitamins and nutrients. They have fiber and antioxidants, and you can feel morally superior when you eat them. But if we prepare them correctly and season them well, they are DELICIOUS. My husband and I were fighting over this particular batch.
Continue reading Garlic Butter Glazed Carrots with Mint
Let me tell you a tale – a tale of
four five six pies.
My family’s Thanksgiving philosophy is that you can never have too many pies. We often have 3 or 4 types of pie, which is a lot when you realize that we only have about 12 people. Last Thanksgiving, I decided to make a recipe for a spice pie I found in one of my cookbooks. The flavor was good, but the pie was too sweet and didn’t set. That was pie 1. Undaunted and not a little crazy, I remade the recipe with the rest of the pie dough I had stuck in the freezer. I upped the eggs which helped the set and replaced the milk with buttermilk. The result was a dream – a layered pie with a crust on top of an almost translucent custard, all deeply flavored with spices. I thought it was a hit. That was pie 2. (my family preferred the chocolate pie I made, which we will call pie number 3.)
Fast forward to this year, when I decided to share pie 2 with you, my lovely and deserving readers. I checked my favorite dessert cookbook, and made the buttermilk pie contained therein. It was pale, tangy with a hint of lemon. Good, but not the pie I remembered. That was pie number 4.
I looked in my journal, where I had helpfully noted not only the pie recipe I used, But also the modifications I made (like adding buttermilk.). “AHa!” I thought. And made that one. What I got was a firm, custard like pie, not unlike a good pumpkin pie. It was good, but I wanted that layered effect. This was not what I remembered. That was pie number five.
Continue reading Spiced Cocoa Buttermilk Pie
I know that there are large factions of people in America who think a sweet potato isn’t worth eating if it doesn’t have marshmallows on top. I’ve tried to see that point of view. I like marshmallows. I have nothing against sweet things. Last year I even bought those canned sweet potatoes in syrup and baked them up, topped with marshmallows. My reaction was decidedly meh. No texture, no flavor – its like someone is trying to get kids to eat their vegetables.
For me, sweet potatoes sing when they are paired with something savory. Not maple syrup, butter. Not brown sugar, smoked paprika. Instead of the ubiquitous marshmallows, a salty sharp Gorgonzola. My signature sweet potato dish is the gratin with smoked paprika and cayenne I posted 2 years ago (an aside: where does time go?), but this one might just give it a run for its money.
Continue reading Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola Cream and Toasted Walnuts
Halloween is over, and we’ve all recovered from our sugar highs (theoretically). Now is the home stretch for home cooks – less than three weeks until Thanksgiving, and then the sprint through the December holidays into New Year, when we all collapse in a faint of exhaustion. I know you’re already planning your Thanksgiving menu, so to make it easy, I collected the Savour Fare Thanksgiving recipes into one easy place. The best, most foolproof, most delicious, juicy, crisp-skinned roast turkey? We’ve got that. Instructions on making your own pie crust (with a bonus recipe for silky smooth, perfectly spiced pumpkin pie)? You’ll find that here. In the next few weeks I’ve got a few exciting new recipes coming up — another savory sweet potato dish, a refreshing fall salad, and new twists on old favorites like stuffing and cranberry sauce, but in the meantime, here’s the roundup of Thanksgiving recipes for your inspiration:
Easy, Dry-Brined Roast Turkey
You’re serving vegetarians?
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Kale and Cabbage Gratin
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Gratin
Onion Tarte Tatin
Your favorite thing is, of course, stuffing:
Old School Sage Stuffing
What vegetable side should you make this year? (see also, cooking for vegetarians, above)
Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts with Cream
Creamed Spinach with Jalapenos
Slow Cooked Green Beans
Creamy, Spicy Sweet Potato Gratin
It’s not Thanksgiving without pie:
Maple Walnut Pie
Vegetarian Mincemeat Pie
Perfect Pumpkin Pie, and a tutorial on homemade pie crust
Rice Pudding Pie
You don’t like Pie:
Cranberry Pecan Upside Down Cake
You’re stuck with the cranberry sauce but you still want a chance to shine:
Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Oranges and Pecans
You’re on Salad Duty:
Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Gouda
Homemade Salad Dressing
You’re keeping the relatives happy (aka mixing drinks):
The Perfect Manhattan
Aunt Helen won’t let you set foot in the kitchen, but you still want to help:
Five Easy DIY Holiday Centerpieces
Last Minute Tips on Hosting Thanksgiving