Saturday, November 30, 2013

C is for: Candied & Pickled Jalapeños

Holy spicy and sweet.

If you like jalapenos, you've gotta try this.

My friend Sachi recently came to visit me in Connecticut and was absolutely raving about this candied jalapeno recipe. Being a lover of all things spicy and all things jalapeno, I knew I had to check it out.

I didn't follow her recipe exactly. Mostly because it called for canning the jalapenos. The only thing I know about canning is that my mom used to do it and it involved a lot of boiling of jars.

Just as I did with the aioli, I'm sure if I put my mind to it and researched a little, I could totally conquer canning as well. But I knew I was going to be eating these just as soon as they were ready (as opposed to sitting on a shelf), so I decided to do more of a candied/quick pickle approach that you can store in the fridge.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

B is for: Black Friday Breakfast Frittata & Green Bean Casserole Sliders

Black Friday is something I’ve never participated in. I have an aversion to large crowds of people fighting over discounted merchandise.

I prefer to do my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my home when possible (AKA online shopping), sometimes even collecting gifts before Thanksgiving. (Did I really just say that? Wow, I’m turning into my mom).

But for those of you who will be rising at the crack of dawn to brave the masses and wait in long lines… this recipe is for you (click here).

And if you’re like me and plan to just sit around and eat leftovers on Black Friday, well then, I have a recipe for you too (see below).

Remember my green bean casserole grilled cheese sliders (the ones that won bronze in a grilled cheese recipe contest?) Well, these are sorta based off those except much easier in that they just use leftover green bean casserole, turkey and dinner rolls from Thanksgiving, along with some brie cheese. (BTW... I hope you made yours with all homemade ingredients this year!) To get this super simple recipe, click here to head over to Tablespoon).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

B is for: Brie Mashed Potatoes

You need these potatoes on your Thanksgiving table.

No, I'm serious. NEED. THEM.

Recently I was at a local restaurant with some girlfriends, and one of the dishes was served with brie mashed potatoes. I don't even remember what the main dish was because the potatoes were so damned delicious. So creamy, so buttery, so subtly cheesy. I asked the waiter what was in them (besides the obvious... brie), and he told me sour cream.

This got me thinking. I already make my mashed potatoes with crème fraîche, which is basically a more fancy and tasty version of sour cream. I decided I would make my own recipe, but add some triple creme brie to the mix.

Want the ultimate proof that these potatoes need a spot on your turkey day spread? My brother in law, who doesn't even eat potatoes normally, ate these and loved them! So there you have it. BIL-approved. You NEED these potatoes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

B is for: Brine or not to brine?

colored turkeys at gozzi's turkey farm
For the last three Thanksgivings, I've brined my turkey. I'll admit, I sorta got caught up in the hype, the trendiness of having a fool-proof, uber-juicy bird. And sure enough, it got rave reviews from my family.

However, this also coincided with me starting to use farm fresh turkeys. So in the back of my head, I always wondered if the improved results were a product of that or the brining or both.

So I started doing some research. The more I read, the more I started to change my mind about brining. The osmosis thing sounds good in theory, but it really just creates the illusion of a moist turkey. In reality, it's more of a watery turkey. (And, to be perfectly honest, it's sort of a pain in the ass).

Then I read this food lab article, which actually did side-by-side tests of different techniques. I'm a sucker for a good experiment, and simply salting the poultry was the clear winner. Similarly, this L.A. Times article touts the "Judy Bird" technique used by Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Considering I love the roasted chicken at Zuni, I was officially sold. No more brining. Or, I should say... no more wet brining. The Judy Bird recipe is considered a dry brine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

B is for: Brussels Sprout Chips

If you're familiar with this blog, you likely already know how much I adore brussels sprouts. They're probably my favorite vegetable.

You also likely know that I'm obsessed with the brussels sprout chips at Marlowe and Park Tavern in San Francisco.

I've been meaning to take my own crack at them for awhile, and finally got around to it this week. I'm fairly certain chef Jennifer Puccio flash fries hers, which is one of the reasons they taste so good. However, that seemed messy, so I decided to roast the leaves at a low temperature in the oven, similar to my method with kale and fennel chips.

They're seasoned with sea salt and a Meyer lemon zest. The result? Pretty damn close if I do say so myself. Just as I do at the restaurant, I inhaled the whole batch in about three minutes flat, so I know I did something right.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A is for: Aioli

I have a confession to make.

For a long time, I've been afraid of making aioli.

It's an irrational fear. Anyone who cooks as much as I do should be comfortable making an emulsion. I think the science behind it is what made me nervous.

Turns out, it's actually super easy.

So, the moral of today: conquer your fears.

Onto the aioli. Aioli means different things depending on where you're eating it. The name literally means "garlic + oil"... which are the only two ingredients when making it in Spain (specifically Catalonia), where I studied abroad. But in the French version (specifically Provence), it often includes egg yolk and is basically a homemade mayonnaise.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A is for: Apples with Salted Caramel Pudding Shots

The person who decided that salt and caramel should go together deserves a medal. I mean, really. It might be the most delicious combination of all time. The perfect marriage of salty and sweet. 

Leave it to the folks at Stoli to transform that lip-smacking combo into a vodka flavor. Leave it to me to turn it into the perfect boozy fall bite.

These fall pudding shots uses Stoli's Salted Karamel vodka and an Apple Creme liqueur I spotted at the liquor store. They turned out fabulous! And you know how I love to put boozy concoctions INSIDE things like fruit, pie crusts, brownies, etc. For these, I hollowed out some apples so you can eat the entire thing!

To get the recipe, head over to ORGNL.TV.

Z is for: 'Za {NYC Pizza Restaurant Review}

When my dad and step sister came to visit last month, one of the items on Dad's "bucket list" was to drive to New York City. As a wheat farmer from Montana, New York isn't a place he ever had a reason to visit. But now, with his daughter just two hours away in Connecticut, he wanted to see what the Big Apple was all about.

When I asked what he would like to see and do in NYC (keeping in mind we were only planning a day trip), the two things at the top of his list: the 9/11 Memorial and New York Pizza. I hadn't yet had a chance to visit Ground Zero yet, so I was on board for that. And I love me some pizza... soooooo, we suddenly had a nice little itinerary.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Z is for: Za'atar Chickpea Fries

Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you:

The Original French Fry. 

Or at least that's what I'm calling them.

These fried little morsels are called "panisse" in the South of France (specifically Marseille). I don't believe I ever tried them during my travels, but like socca, they are made with chickpea flour. (I do remember eating socca in Nice with my mom, which is more like a pancake.)

Instead of potato, these fries are made with chickpea/garbanzo bean flour. 

(BTW... these are also similar to panelle, which is served in Italy as a patty or fritter and often served in a sandwich.)

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