Read my Berkshire Magazine piece on Bjorn Solmo and his restaurant, Nudel, in Lenox, MA here.
(Don’t let the picture fool you; this is a gorgeous holiday dish. I didn’t have time to snap a picture before the kale was gobbled up, but it’s bright green, topped with hot pink seeds and light pink pickled red onions.)
Holiday Kale Salad with Lemon-Anchovy Dressing, Pickled Onions and Pomegranate Seeds*
Gorgeous, tasty, make ahead. This spunky salad adds vibrant greens to your holiday meal, and the spunky acidity of the dressing cuts its richness— all without stealing stove top space.
1-Make quick pickled onions. (I used about 1/2 a red onion per good-sized bunch of kale. Mine were quickly made and more lightly salted than is traditional, as the anchovies have plenty of salt.) Just cut your red onion very thinly, then plunge it into boiling water. Drain immediately. Toss in red wine vinegar, sugar and touch of salt to taste. Let sit for 3 hours to 3 days.
2-Pull or cut the greens off lacinato kale stems. Pile, roll and thinly slice the leaves (called a chiffonade).Wash and dry.
2-Mash one garlic clove per bunch of kale with 2-3 anchovy filets that have been lightly rinsed with water. Toss with a dressing — about 4 parts oil to 1 part fresh lemon juice. Drizzle in a tiny bit of maple syrup to taste.
3-20 minutes to an hour before serving, dress well, mixing to bruise the kale a bit, so it absorbs the dressing. (Start lightly with the dressing, adding more dressing if needed. This should be dressed more heavily than a green salad, but don’t drown it:)
4-Toss with some of the pickled onions and pomegranate seeds. Top with remaining onions and the pomegranate seeds.
* Full disclosure: This is a wild variation on an Amanda Hesser recipe from Food52.
This is a fabulous recipe for a quicker cooking turkey that frees up your oven for other goodies. The challenge with any whole roasted turkey is keeping the breast moist while the thigh finishes cooking. The easiest way to do so is to cook a big bird. And why not? The leftovers are even tastier, including the turkey stock made from the carcass. (See end of the recipe.)
Servings: Convention says to allow 1 pound of turkey per person without leftovers. But, allow more: I never cook a turkey under 18 pounds!
1 fresh regional turkey, any size
Butter, if you like
Instant read thermometer
Stock, homemade if you have it, store-bought if not
Mushroom powder, optional
1-Look at the cooking times below and plan accordingly. Leave turkey out of the fridge for 2-3 hours before cooking. Rub with oil. Generously salt and pepper. If you like, push soft butter evenly under the breast skin (or butter mixed with chopped rosemary).
2- Add stuffing to the large and small cavity. Don’t stuff too tightly. Tuck a piece of bread over the opening, if needed, to stop it from spilling out. (Tip: There is never enough stuffing, so take my mother’s advice: Make double the stuffing. Bake the second half outside the bird. When done, mix the bird’s very moist stuffing with the drier oven-baked stuffing.Perfect.)
3-Place the turkey, breast side up, in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Baste with melted butter and roast for another 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and continue roasting, basting every 20 minutes. If the bird gets too brown, turn down to 350 degrees and/or cover top lightly with foil or cheesecloth heavily soaked in butter. (If using cheesecloth, pull it off with tongs once or twice to make sure it doesn’t stick.)
4- Look at the cooking times below: At the low end of the time span, test turkey with an instant read thermometer. Breast is done at 165-170 and thighs at 175-180. (Careful not to read the bone; stick it into the flesh.) Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Cover turkey lightly with foil and/or keep in warm place until ready to serve. (Wait at least 30 minutes to carve. This will give you a chance to crank up the oven and heat your side dishes.)
Generous Cooking times: (Check on the low end!)
Under 12 pounds: about 1-1/2-2-1/2 hours
12-15 pounds: about 2-3 hours
15-20 pounds: about 2 1/2 to 3-1/2 hours
20-25 pounds: about 3-4 hours.
5-Gravy: While the bird is roasting, start the gravy. Cover the giblets (no liver) with water, homemade or store bought broth. Add onion carrot and celery. Simmer for several hours. Strain. (Chop up giblets and add back to stock, if you are using them. Otherwise discard.) Reserve, along with extra broth. (You can’t have too much gravy!)
When the turkey is cooked, any pan juices into a defatter or measuring cup. Wait a minute, and then use a helpful defatter or a spoon to remove the fat. Season with salt and pepper.
If you prefer thickened gravy, you can boil this mixture with a touch of cornstarch, mixed in some cool water. Or use the old fashioned approach, which I do. Pour off any pan juices, leaving some fat behind. Scrape the cooking pan well. Add a few tablespoons of flour to the fat and whisk over a medium-low heat for about 2 minutes to cook the flour. (I like to stir in a little mushroom powder from my local farm too). Whisk in the defatted pan juices and stock and continue to simmer until it has reached the desired thickness. Strain.
6-To carve: Cut off the wing and legs at the joint to get at the breast. Cut the breast into thin slices, beginning at the wing corner and cutting parallel to the breastbone. (Or remove the breast from the bone on either side of the breast bone. Then slice across it across the grain.) Slice the dark meat from the thighs and legs and arrange on a platter. Serve the pan gravy separately. If you like, garnish with baby (love) apples, fresh rosemary, parsley or kale.
That leftover carcass: Make turkey stock, my favorite, which is liquid gold in soups, stews, grains or for saute dishes. Remove the meat from the bones and chill. In a large pot, the carcass and any remaining bones with water. Add 1 or 2 carrots, celery ribs and an onion, cut in half, along with some unpeeled garlic cloves and a handful of parsley, if you have any. (A splash of leftover white wine is optional.) Simmer for 3 or so hours, keeping the carcass covered with water. Strain. If it tastes great, use it. If the flavor needs a boost, keep cooking it until perfect. Salt to taste. Freezes well.
My mom, daughter and me.
A three generation Thanksgiving 7 years ago
Everyone asked for these early….I’ll post ‘em again….
Enjoy friends, family and the best of the harvest.
(Recipe links in grey)
Rescue Roasted Turkey with Gravy
About Local and Sustainably Raised Turkeys
Double Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Smashed Potatoes and Celery Root with Chive Butter (leave out the butter cause you’ve got gravy)
Corn (Some farms, like Taft Farms near me, strip corn and freeze it for the winter)
Corn Pudding (This time of year forget the fresh tomato salsa time of year and you can leave out the cheese too.)
Butternut Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Sweet Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Honey
Warm Apple Galette with Garum Masala
Local spinach and brussels sprouts are my two favorite Thanksgiving veggies…..
Butternut Squash Cranberry Squares
Savory Sweet Potato Soup
Simple, elegant poached pears won’t add to the tire that may be growing around your waste. A sprig of mint instead of chocolate will give add make
Wine Poached Pears
These colorful pears may be stored in their liquid for several weeks, for a festive no-fat dessert.
4 pears, preferably bosc, cored and left whole
l cup red wine
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
l cinnamon stick
l pinch allspice
chocolate stems, if available
l. Add all the ingredients to a small pot. Make sure the pears are covered, if not, add water to cover. Remove the pears. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, to marry the flavors.
2. Add the pears, covering with a parchment paper and small pot lid if necessary to keep the pears immersed. Simmer until the pears may be easily pierced with a fork–l0-40 minutes depending on their ripeness. Remove the pears and chill. Continue to simmer, until liquid is reduced by l/2. Chill with the pears.
3. To serve: Stand the chilled pears on a plate, with a mint sprigs, with a little reduced wine syrup. Chocolate shavings optional.
My lifelong passion for pie, start up stores with fun food themes, and my local library miraculously converged in one recipe last month.
Like so much tasty food invented by great home cooks, this pie is really an amalgam of recipes, re-imagined with gusto by local librarian Steve Stover. It’s a buttery crust, topped layer of coconut frosting, then filled with local sweet potato ambrosia and sprinkled with candied pecans. (Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, if you like.)
Last month it was the hands-down winner of the pie contest that I judged along with a bevy of bakers from the new Easthampton Small Oven Bakery. It all took place at the Haberdashery, a fun store with cool classes that you should check out here.
Read Steve’s recipe story below in italics. I’d love to hear about your culinary inventions.
Sweet Potato Surprise Pie (and a half)
(This recipe is easier than it looks!)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Step #1— Make the buttery pie crust (adapted from epicurious.com)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup chilled salted butter
5 Tbsp ice-water
-Mix flour and salt
-Cube the butter, and with cool hands, mix it into the flour mix until bead-sized pellets form
-add ice-water and hand-mix until dough forms
-flatten dough and cover in plastic wrap
-refrigerate for at least an hour
Step #2 — Make the candied pecans, frosting and filling while the dough is “resting”.
Candied Pecans for topping (adapted from allrecipes):
1lb pecan halves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
-Mix Sugar and spices in a bowl
-In a separate bowl mix egg white and water until frothy
-Add and pecans into egg mixture
-Stir spice mixture into the pecans until evenly covered
-Spread coated pecans onto a baking sheet
-Place into preheated oven, stirring pecans every 15 minutes until pecans are brown (about an hour)
-You only need a few for the recipe, and so you will have extra to barter favor with holiday guests. It is in your best interest not to nibble at these while you are baking. You must trust me.
-After the pecans are candied, remove from the oven and up the temp to 350 to pre-heat
Coconut Cake Frosting [(adapted from Betty Crocker’s German Chocolate Cake Frosting)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 local egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut
-In a saucepan, mix the evaporated milk, brown sugar, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla
-Place over medium/low heat, stirring continuously until it becomes caramel-thick
-add pecans and coconut and stir well
-let cool for 20 minutes
Sweet Potato Pie filling (adapted from allrecipes):
1 lb. local sweet potato
1/2 cup local salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup local milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
-Peal and boil sweet potato until soft
-Mash in a saucepan with butter and apple cider over medium heat until smooth
-Lower heat and add other ingredients except eggs
-Turn off heat allow to cool and then add eggs, mixing until well combined
Step #3 — Assemble and bake
-When everything is prepared, roll out the pie crust.
-Fit into a pie pan or a cast-iron skillet, trimming it around the edge.
-Spread a thin (1/8″) layer of the cake frosting over the bottom of the crust
-Pour in the sweet potato filling until nearly level with the edge of the pan
-Place the pie in the preheated oven
-The pie is done when the edges are brown, the center is firm, and a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (and provided your oven retains heat, it shouldn’t take 3 hours)
-Let the pie cool and refrigerate to set, adding few candied pecans: voila!
-And of course, if you like, add freshly whipped cream
Note: The 5″ cast-iron skillet which was used to make a pie from the remaining ingredients was Briana’s mercurial cunning, and I really have her to thank for the ribbon awarded me.
From Steve —
I will try to recount my adventure into the local competitive pie circuit. First, it must be said that the main impetus behind my participating was to support The Haberdashery. Figge and Melody are great friends and an inspiration in all things ‘do-it-yourself-&-get-it-done’.
I had been at table with friends, Melody among them, and the question arose: “If you were to participate in a pie-baking competition, what kind of pie would you bake?” I feel it would undermine the bonds of trust to disclose the existential turns taken in that conversation. Suffice it to say, later that night, when the table had been cleared and my friends had all gone home, inspiration came to me. It was in the form of a sweet potato.
I had purchased a couple sweet potatoes from Old Friends Farm at their stand in Northampton’s Tuesday Farmer’s Market some weeks prior. Phillip and Missy had recently given life to a second child who was strapped to one of their torsos and sleeping. I must have congratulated them and purchased young ginger and turmeric roots. As always, I lost myself in the market bustle and ended up at home with odd groceries that demanded a great deal of ingenuity to manufacture into a meal. For example, a celeriac root, a jar o’ raw honey, black trumpet mushrooms and several apples.
Those sweet potatoes were begging to be used and I could no longer ignore their imploring. Knowing the rage of the day, I insisted that caramel should be incorporated, but I knew not how. I thought of caramel ribbons throughout the pie’s filling, a thin layer atop, or a hidden layer like the ultra-rich chocolate-ganache torts that they used to make at the Hungry Ghost before their pastry-cooler broke down. As I say this, the back of my hand meets my forehead and I feel melodramatically faint. Have you ever eaten one of their eclairs?
At this point, I must confess that I have many sweet teeth and a perennial favorite birthday cake of mine is the German Chocolate Cake. The frosting is one of intermingling caramel, pecans, and coconut. My birthday having recently passed, this cake was fresh on my mind, and the convergence of ingredients was as natural as peanut-butter and chocolate, or bananas and chocolate, or caramel and chocolate. I would put a thin layer of combined caramel, pecans, and shredded coconut beneath the sweet potato pie filling.
After an idea, Amy, comes its execution, and so here are the ingredients with the recipe that I put together!
Don’t forget to chop up some local hot peppers to freeze in a bag for seasoning everything in the winter.
(But remember to use gloves or wash your hand VERY thoroughly!)
Improvisation of the day
Fish cakes with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomatillo Salsa. Take left over flaky white fish — I often make too much —then pulse with onion an a good handful of fresh herbs from the garden, as well as half a hot pepper. Salt to taste. Stir in crunchy bread crumbs and egg. Salt Form into patties and coat with more bread crumbs. Saute in very hot olive oil over medium-high until crispy brown on both sides. Serve with roasted red pepper from the garden and a touch of tomatillo salsa from the freezer from my ice cube batch I froze earlier this season harvest. Place on a great bun.
Time for roasted peppers…now for later
Last of the season’s sweet peppers. I love saving ‘em for later to use on sandwiches or in an antipasto with anchovies. Grill whole under broiler, on outdoor grill or directly over gas flame, turning until charred. (Or if you have a ton of them and no time, you can stuff ‘em into a brown bag and roast ‘em at 375 or so in the oven until shriveled. Cover (or leave in the bag) until cool. Split and remove stem and seeds, pulling off most of skin or scraping it off with the flat side of a large knife. Use or freeze, separated with wax paper for later use. (Sometimes I just freeze them whole and do the work in the winter.) Great staple!
The best of life in a sandwich
Salt and fat, sweet and winey. Sausages mingle with cook plums in this heavenly sandwich…. and we all know that cooking transforms even the most mundane plums into ambrosia. Recipe here. Excellent and easy plum cobbler here.
Now that it’s happy apple season
Why not take a look at commericial apple’s awful past. The history of the misnamed Delicious apple here.
Last of the season
Naomi’s Parsley Pesto with Fresh Savory: Make a pesto with parsley instead of basil. (Pesto is basil, olive oil, pine nuts or walnuts, garlic & a hard cheese in the Parmesan family). Instead of basil, add 3/4 parsley & 1/4 summer savory. You can also substitute a spring of rosemary leaves for the savory or try cilantro pesto with 50/50 parsley and cilantro. (Use on the pizza above too!)
Keep up to date on new labeling laws for California’s olive oil here.
Recipe link: Oysters with Apple Mignonnette
Now’s the season to bite into a just picked apple, so tangy it cleans your teeth. When you can, buy directly from the farm. Right now, farmers markets are stocked with crates brimming with green and red apples. The Vendors are orchardists who are know about the flavor and best use for each variety, whether it’s to cook or eat out of hand. Better yet, go directly to the source. Take expedition to the nearest orchard, where the trees are now heavy with crop, and pick them yourself, which makes them taste even better.
Apples go in and out of season, so it’s best to ask your local orchardist what’s available and try it. Eating a wide variety of apples assures us that future generations will have access to a bio-diverse crop. Be sure to sample a range of varietals — from McIntosh, for a flavorful sauce to complex Macoun, best eaten out of hand, and including superb baking apples, such as Golden Delicious or Mutsu. Taste heirlooms and regional varieties, like Pippin, and Rhode Island Greens, both great for pies too.
In fact, it’s fun to turn dessert into apple tasting where three to seven varieties are compared for flavor and texture. We often get stuck in one favorite, like the fabulous tasting and widely popular Honey Crisp, but each apple has its season, which is sometimes short, and is best eaten when it peaks. Some hold better than others, so savor those that don’t and eat the keepers all winter long.
Freshly picked raw apples marry perfectly with local cheeses, which abound, especially cheddar, blue or fresh goat cheese. Or slice apples and throw them into salads, where their sweetness loves to be paired with a bitter fall greens like escarole. For a treat, I love them in an apple mignonette atop oysters on the half shell. (Recipe link above.)
Cooked, apples transform into a fall ambrosia. And homemade sauce blows the canned stuff away. I always pick up several giant bags of utilities apples — sold in bulk so inexpensive — to make sauce with mixed varieties in it. It’s a snap. Simply cut the apples in quarters, peel and all, then cook in a large pot until very soft with a little water or cider at the bottom to prevent burning. Put through a food mill, which miraculously removes the stems, seeds and skins. (Alternatively, you can core and peel apples, but even for a once year venture, a food mill is worth the price, and you can often pick them up at garage sales.) You can sweeten your sauce with sugar, honey or maple syrup and season it with lemon and Christmas spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. But, I much prefer it made with solely apples, served warm, when its flavor surprises even the most sophisticated diner. Each year I make enough to freeze extras and eat it all winter long, as a snack or dessert, topped with yogurt, baked into a cake, or, as my husband enjoys it, with pork.
You can also stew apples to serve with vanilla ice cream. Simply peel and chop, then flavor with local honey, brandy and spices. Simmer until soft. For guest, thin with a splash of cider for a dessert soup. Serve in a shallow bowl with the ice cream in the center.
Or simmer apples into tangy chutney to accompany cheese or grilled poultry. For each cup, combine one tart apple, peeled and chopped, with ½ cup chopped onion, 3 Tbsp raisons, ¼ cup brown sugar and cider vinegar, ½ tsp mustard seed and chopped fresh ginger with salt cayenne pepper to taste. Combine the ingredients then cook until the apples are soft and the flavors are married, about 30 minutes.