Simple, last minute dishes to bring to Thanksgiving

THANKSGIVING2017-19THANKSGIVING2017-17

Oh festive times! We have some good stuff today and I’m really excited to share it. Addie and I collaborated on a Thanksgiving-centered recipe post, with us both contributing food. If you’re like us, and are going to a big family gathering this Thursday and need to bring something, we have a few ideas for you that are easy and guaranteed to be a hit. I also had a great time styling this shoot, especially the little rotisserie chicken (which isn’t featured in this post, it’s merely decoration) which is like, so tiny. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Appetizer: Rosemary Sea Salt Flatbread CrackersTHANKSGIVING2017-2

(This is Caroline speaking) I think Rosemary is one of the most magical herbs. It smells amazing and I even love it for its aesthetic quality. I love using it in savory dishes, especially this time of year. A few years ago I made some rosemary flatbread crackers using a friend’s recipe for a Christmas party we were throwing and it was just so insanely quick and simple and I thought it would work equally as well as an appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner. They go great with a soft cheese like brie, and Addie whipped up some compote using leftover cranberries from her tart (see further down). 

Ingredients

– 1½ cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
– 1½ Tablespoons Olive Oil
– ½ cup water
– extra sea salt for topping if desired.

Method

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place flour, salt, sugar and rosemary in a bowl, whisk to combine. Then stir in water and oil, stir until fully combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper (slightly larger than your baking sheet.) Roll the dough until it is about th of an inch thick. you may need to add a bit of flour because the dough is quite sticky. Try to keep the thickness as even as possible. Trim the edges if you want. The edges tend to be thinner and so they may burn in the oven before the rest of the crackers are done. Cut the dough into squares using a pizza cutter. Brush with a little water and sprinkle with more sea salt if desired. Use a fork to prick each square a few times. Transfer the dough, still on the parchment paper, onto a baking sheet and place it in the oven. Immediately reduce heat to 425. Bake for 12-17 minutes, or until crackers are starting to become golden.

(recipe from Fox and Briar)

THANKSGIVING2017-3

Cranberry Compote

Ingredients

– 1 orange
– 2 cups (8 oz.) fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Finely grate zest from orange and set aside. Using a sharp paring knife, cut off peel and white pith from orange. Working over a small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl. Combine zest, cranberries, sugar, juice, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce has thickened, 5–10 minutes. Chill until cold.

Gently stir orange segments into compote.

Side: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

THANKSGIVING2017-5.jpg

I was so pleased with myself for planting something green that I’m still able to harvest this late in the year. It coincided nicely with the holiday, and since Brussels sprouts are so common with Thanksgiving feasts these days, I decided it was a perfect simple side dish for this post. This preparation of Brussels sprouts was the first way I started cooking them after I started consuming them on a regular basis. There’s about a million recipes out there, but I think the simpler, the better. They just need a good deep caramelization, instead of a quick flash sauté. Once they get a good color on them and soften up, they’re done.

Ingredients

– Trimmed, halved Brussels sprouts (roughly 2 cups)
– 3 Large cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 large shallot, diced
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
– Fresh lemon juice
– Salt and pepper

Method

Melt butter in a sauté pan. Add sprouts, shallot and garlic, and stir around. Let the shallot soften and the Brussels get some color, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add a generous squeeze of lemon towards the end of cooking along with salt and pepper to taste.THANKSGIVING2017-6 THANKSGIVING2017-8THANKSGIVING2017-15

Dessert: Cranberry Curd Tart

THANKSGIVING2017-12I’ve admired this recipe from The New York Times for a long time, but I’ve been intimidated by the process of making the curd and the fussy preparation of the crust. I decided I could start simple and use a store bought crust, which really fits the spirit of what we’re going for here- simple last minute Thanksgiving dishes. The curd was stupid simple to make and it barely took any time at all. The fresh cranberries are pure garnish, but they add a really lovely extra bit of color.

Ingredients

-Pastry Crust

For the curd
-2 cups fresh cranberries
-Peel and juice of 1 large orange
-1 cup sugar
-1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
-2 eggs plus 2 yolks

Method

In a large sauce pan combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and peel (be careful not to include any of the bitter pith with the peel) over medium heat. Heat for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries have softened and popped. While the cranberries are cooking, crack two eggs plus two egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and whisk gently. Set aside. When the cranberries are finished, pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve (like a chinois) using a ladle to push as much of the liquid through as possible. (Side note: the leftover pulp was turned into a compote that we used for our cheese and crackers spread- waste not!) Whisk the softened butter into the cranberry liquid until completely melted. Slowly whisk the warm cranberries into the eggs to temper until totally combined. To thicken, return to the pot over a low heat until it starts to boil. Stir to make sure the curd has thickened and there are no lumps. Let cool completely to room temperature and set aside.THANKSGIVING2017-10

While the curd is cooling, prepare the crust. Grease a fluted tart pan and press the pastry crust into the sides, cutting off any excess crust. Prick the crust with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Once the crust has lightly browned, take out and let cool completely. Once the crust is cooled, pour the cranberry curd into the tart shell and smooth out the top. Bake for about 10 minutes to set the curd.

Optional garnish of fresh cranberries.THANKSGIVING2017-16THANKSGIVING2017-14THANKSGIVING2017-22

 

 

 

 

Cozy Squash Soup

SQUASHSOUP-8

Happy November! It’s been a little while since a recipe post (oops). Addie and I are on really different schedules. But, here’s a delightfully cozy soup recipe to kick off your November, personally one of my favorite months. I’ll let Addie take it from here:


Thai-inspired Butternut Squash Soup

One of the best things you could possibly do with butternut squash is turn it into soup. I have been slowly harvesting my squashes now that most have ripened and am trying to think of the best ways to use them up but my mind keeps going to soup. My dad always makes his squash soup with ginger which is spicy and comforting during fall, so I decided to basically recreate that recipe but also use the lemongrass I have in my garden that is finally ready to harvest. Not that a pureed squash soup needs any help to achieve a luscious, creamy texture, I added coconut milk to compliment both the ginger and the lemongrass for more of a Thai feel.

SQUASHSOUP-1

Ingredients

– 3 cups chopped, peeled butternut squash
(roughly half a large squash or a whole small one)
– 2 cans unsweetened coconut milk Chicken broth
(or vegetable broth to keep it vegan)
– 1 large knob ginger, peeled and grated
(roughly 1 tablespoon)
– 4 large stalks fresh lemongrass
– 1 small onion, diced
– Oil (canola or coconut)
– Salt and pepper to taste

SQUASHSOUP-9SQUASHSOUP-11

Garnish

– Roasted salted peanuts
– Sweet habanero
(this is what I had on hand from my garden, but you could also use Thai Chili instead)
– Cilantro

SQUASHSOUP-2

Method

Heat oil in a medium sized stock pot and add diced onion, stirring as it softens. Add both cans of coconut milk (shake well) and stir. Slice the lemongrass in half, or crush the stalk with the side of your knife. Keep the pieces large as you will need to fish them out later. Add along with the grated ginger and bring the coconut milk to a simmer. Let simmer until the lemongrass has infused into the coconut milk. While the coconut is still simmering, add the chopped and peeled butternut squash. Add roughly 1 cup of broth to thin out the soup and cover. When the squash has softened, remove the lemongrass stalks and puree using an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

SQUASHSOUP-6

Garnish and serve.

End of Summer Pickles

PICKLES-18

Hi, this is our last food post of the summer! Honestly I’m pretty relieved. Having a garden has been fun but I’m overwhelmed by the abundance of the harvest. I’m doing what I can to salvage my tomatoes and cukes but there’s just so many! Once I have more mouths to feed this should be easier. Anyway. I’m really looking forward to some cozy ass recipes for this fall and winter. For now, I’ll let Addie tell you about pickles:

Basic Refrigerator Pickles

PICKLES-1

At this point in the harvest season, it’s easy to become fatigued by all of the fruits and vegetables you have coming in in your garden. Taking small easy steps for preservation can save you the heartache of having to toss the veggies you just couldn’t consume before they’d spoiled (which has happened to me more than once this summer). There are tons of preservation techniques to give a new life to your fresh produce, but pickling is probably one of the easier ones. I’m advocating here for quick refrigerator pickles, which are super easy and nearly fool proof because you don’t have to deal with the sanitizing and sealing that goes one with true canning and pickling for shelf stable pickles. It also means that if you want pickles with dinner tonight, make these in the afternoon, and they’ll be ready. 

PICKLES-12

Basic Brine

Ingredients
– 1 part sugar
– 2 parts water
– 3 parts vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)

Method
Bring brine to a boil in a sauce pan. Pour over vegetables and any pickling spices while still boiling hot. Make sure to fill container so that vegetables are completely submerged in the pickling liquid. Weight down with a plate or a bowl so that vegetables stay submerged. Wait until liquid has completely cooled to before putting lids on containers. Once cooled and lidded, put pickles directly in the fridge. Pickles will keep in the fridge for about 6 months. Use your best judgment, but I used 2 cups sugar, 4 cups water, and 6 cups vinegar for three quart-sized mason jars worth of vegetables.


PICKLES-1-2.jpg

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the obvious pickle, and by now I think most people know what kind of cucumber pickles they like. Sweet, dill, spicy, you can probably easily judge what types of seasonings and spices you’d like to add to these before pickling. Here is what I used that really almost encompasses all three flavor profiles:

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Chili Flake
– Whole black peppercorns
– A few small slices of jalapeño
– Dill
– Basil
– Curry Powder
– Fennel Seeds

PICKLES-9If you want to really highlight the sweet, add some whole cloves and cinnamon stick. If you want spicier, add more jalapeño. If you want a little bit more straight dill, just go with garlic, peppercorns, dill and salt.

I sliced my cucumbers thinly, so they would pickle a bit faster. Spears work well, too. I grew pickling cucumbers in my garden, but other cucumber varieties will work just as well.

These pickles will be ready to snack on within about 30 minutes of sitting in hot brine.


Green Beans

Green beans are a great thing to pickle because they are so crunch and snappy. They are truly an abundant crop, so they beg to be preserved in some fashion. The only disadvantage is these may end up taking a little longer if you’re looking for a strong vinegar flavor. You can use these the same way you might use any other pickled veg, but mine will be reserved for snacking, cheese plates, and chopped up in potato salad.

PICKLES-10

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Chili Flake
– Whole black peppercorns
– A few small slices of jalapeño
– Basil
– Fennel seeds

Make sure to trim beans before pickling, and cut in half it they are especially long. You want to make sure they will all fit underneath the brine.

These will have a milder flavor right away, but will become more vinegary as they sit.


PICKLES-3

Jalapeños

This is one of the best ways to preserve these peppers. It’s great to have pickled jalapeños on hand for tacos/nachos, chili, bloody marys. They will still be pretty aggressively spicy, so use these only in the same way you would use jalapeños raw.

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Basil

Slice jalapeños thinly for the best effect. This will make for easier use in the long run. I had some jalapeños that did not come in too spicy in my garden, but when they share the same brine as really hot jalapeños they will pick up their heat.

These will still be pretty hot right away, but will mellow out and become a bit more complex as they sit.

PICKLES-17

End of Summer Salads!

SUMMER_SALADS-29

If you’re like me, you started a garden for the first time this year, and it was more successful than you ever could’ve imagined, and you also get a CSA, and now you’re like “what the hell do I do with all this?”

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of salads. Must be something wrong with the types of salads I usually have. It feels like they’re always too dry, and it’s difficult to mix everything up. When Addie came over and announced she was going to make just salads for this post, I was not 100% on board. She assured me that I would learn some ways to use up a bunch of vegetables, notably tomatoes and cucumbers (guys, help me, I have TOO many cucumbers).

I need to give salad more credit. We all could probably use more veggies in our diet, and these are a terrific way to do so. They’re also super quick and easy. I’ll let Addie take it from here.


Macerated Tomato Salad

When I was growing up, I hated raw tomatoes. I was probably eating out of season tomatoes that had been kept in the fridge. I remember the first time I had heirloom tomatoes in peak summer, I almost felt embarrassed for being so proudly against tomatoes my whole life. They’re delicious! And treated properly, they’re like candy. This “recipe” is how I like to treat my large heirloom tomatoes. They’re too lovely to be turned into sauce, or baked (I still don’t care for baked tomatoes-too sour). The flavor is really more on the sweet side thanks to the copious amounts of balsamic vinegar, so it could be appealing for tomato lovers and haters alike.

SUMMER_SALADS-3

A note: This recipe is for tomatoes only without greens, but I often eat this served over arugula (which is abundantly in season right now and peppery and delicious!) or raw kale. If you’d like to serve over arugula, follow the recipe and top the arugula just before serving. The liquid that releases during the macerating will be the dressing. For kale, do a thin chiffonade and macerate the kale and the tomatoes in the same bowl together at the same time. SUMMER_SALADS-30

Ingredients

-Several large heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine are best, Valencia are great as well)
-A large handful basil
-1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh feta
-1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

Method

Slice tomatoes into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Douse with balsamic vinegar-more than you think you need. About 1/2 cup for 3 large tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss. Roughly chop basil and combine with the tomatoes. Let sit at room temperature to macerate for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. Crumble the feta and chop the almonds to top the salad. Sop up remaining macerating liquid with bread or store in the fridge for salad dressing.

SUMMER_SALADS-31


Cucumber Salad

It’s the end of August and cucumbers have been exploding for some time. Every time I’ve gotten out to my garden, I have at least 10 I need to harvest. It feels irresponsible to use them in a recipe that doesn’t truly highlight them when you have so many. Creamy cucumber salads can be a little tricky to get right-if the cucumbers don’t release enough liquid before dressing, the whole salad ends up watery and flavorless. So with that in mind, I’ve been making a nice light vinegar based salad this summer and it’s such a perfect answer to the over abundance of cukes. Goes really well alongside grilled meats as a side dish.

SUMMER_SALADS-9SUMMER_SALADS-19

Ingredients

– 2 large cucumbers, half peeled
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar but red wine vinegar is more delicate if you choose)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake (or more, or less)
– 8 large basil leaves

SUMMER_SALADS-11

Method

Half peel two large cucumbers. Slice in half length-wise and chop 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a mixing bowl with vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chili flake to taste. Chiffonade basil and and gently toss together, and serve immediately.

SUMMER_SALADS-21

Green Bean Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salads have many variations, but its fairly easy to spot one when you see one. Nobody really needs another Niçoise recipe, but here’s mine. This is the only salad that requires any actual cooking. It’s also the only one that could realistically be enjoyed as a main course, so it’s worth the minimal amount of effort. It’s hearty and satisfying for a salad, and all of the different briny elements make for an incredibly satisfying meal. I usually use greens as well, but I wanted to make the green beans the star. If I were making this earlier in the season, I would swap radishes for the Sungold tomatoes.

SUMMER_SALADS-32

Ingredients

– 1 1/2 cups Green beans
– 2 eggs
-1/4 cup olives (I use Kalamata olives simply based on personal preference)
– 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (such as Sungolds) halved
– 1/2 can canned tuna
– Dijon vinaigrette
– Microgreens (for garnish)

SUMMER_SALADS-15SUMMER_SALADS-25

Method

Hard boil two eggs. While eggs are cooking, prepare green beans by trimming the ends and then rinsing. If the beans are particularly long, slice in halves or thirds. Be sure to use beans that are a bit thinner, as opposed to more mature beans that can be a bit woody. Blanch the beans to take out some of the starch and set aside. Halve the cherry tomatoes and roughly chop the olives. Make Dijon vinaigrette by whisking together a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Compose the salad by placing the green beans in a bowl, and arranging the tomatoes, olives, halved eggs, and half a can of tuna on top. I like Wild Planet tuna which comes a bit more steak-y and a little less shredded. Drizzle dressing over the salad and top with microgreens (I used radish microgreens).

SUMMER_SALADS-27

Garden Cocktails For Your Weekend

BLUEBERRYMOJITO-10

For this edition of Cookin’ Sisters (that’s not what it’s called) we thought nothing would be more fitting for the middle of summer and the sometimes oppressive heat than some delicious cocktails. I encouraged Addie to come up with some drinks that were good and boozy but also a little innovative. AND! I wanted to use local spirits because there are *so many* in Minnesota. By the way, we (me, Addie and Alan) all tested these out and can vouch for their fortitude. We have two for July and we’ll have two more in August!


LEMONFIZZ-10

Chamomile Basil Lemonade

I wanted to make a fresh herb cocktail that was a little less obvious than some cocktails can be, but one where I knew the flavor combinations would be spot on. I have fresh chamomile growing in my garden and I had the idea to use chamomile simple syrup to elevate a simple lemonade cocktail to be a bit more floral and fresh. It pairs really well with the basil, which is subtle enough because you’re only using it to shake the drink and then garnish. This is a drink that I originally wanted to make without the alcohol, but the addition of vodka was a no-brainer. Feel free to omit the booze for an n/a summer drink you can enjoy anytime.

LEMONFIZZ-2

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces chamomile simple syrup
1 ounce vodka
Juice of one lemon
5 fresh basil leaves (3 for muddling, 2 for garnish)
Soda water
Lemon wedge (for garnish)

LEMONFIZZ-3

Method

For the simple syrup: Heat equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Add your fresh chamomile (dried if you don’t have fresh, preferably loose-leaf). For this recipe I used 1/2 a cup each of water and sugar to about 1/4 cup of the chamomile flowers. Steep for 15 minutes and strain. Let cool.

Using a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 to 4 basil leaves in the bottom of the cup. Add simple syrup, vodka, lemon juice, and ice cubes. Cover and shake for about 15 seconds. Pour into a lowball glass filled with a few ice cubes. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. Finely chiffonade the remaining basil for garnish.

LEMONFIZZ-9 LEMONFIZZ-12

 

BLUEBERRYMOJITO-8

Blueberry mojito

I have a soft spot in my heart for rum. I went to college in small town Wisconsin, so I cut my teeth on cheap rum and cokes. While white rum doesn’t quite have the same warmth as a darker, spiced rum, it’s perfect for fresh garden cocktails. Upping the ante by adding blueberries to the ubiquitous mint mojito makes it feel even more summery and adds a little more depth (Ed. note: July is also National Blueberry Month!). If you grow your own mint, you’ll have it coming out your ears by the time July rolls around when the fresh local blueberries start arriving. Which will be the perfect time to make this drink over and over.

BLUEBERRYMOJITO-5LEMONFIZZ-15

Recipe

1/4 cup blueberries (half for muddling, half for slicing)
1 ounce white rum
1 small bunch mint (about 10 leaves or so)
1 teaspoon white sugar (more if you prefer it sweeter)
Juice from one lime
Soda water

BLUEBERRYMOJITO-6 copy

Method

In the bottom of a lowball glass, muddle 6 or 7 mint leaves with the sugar and lime juice. Add half of the blueberries and mash into the mint with your muddler. Add the rum, sparkling water, the other half of the blueberries sliced in half, and the rest of the mint leaves. If you prefer to mix separately and strain before adding the soda and garnishes, it will be much cleaner, but I prefer the look and taste of it without straining. That being said, you may wish to use a cocktail straw in that case.BLUEBERRYMOJITO-11

%d bloggers like this: