Tis’ the season for easy recipes. The hardest part of this one is finding a suitable salsa. Many supermarkets carry it fresh in the refrigerator so if you can, avoid the jarred variety. If you find your only options are on the shelf, click the image below for the results of a taste test done by The Daily Meal.
Hopefully you haven’t polish off all of the stuffed Tupperware containers yet. Brighten up that last long weekend morning with poached eggs on leftover sauté. This particular blend combines stuffing, sweet potatoes and creamed spinach with a bit of crumbed, cooked bacon sprinkled on top. But almost any leftover combo will work. Place an egg on top for an irresistible breakfast. Or lunch.
You can find general recipe directions at the bottom of this post although I recommend sautéing your ingredients in melted butter in a frying pan. Enjoy!
Although tradition dominates the Thanksgiving feast, leaving little room for variation much less something entirely new, here are a few favorites and tips to stir up inspiration prior to the big week ahead.
COOKING THE BIRD
For a turkey deep in flavor and a moist, yet firm consistency, try following the award-winning Judy Bird technique inspired by the roast chicken made famous by the late Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. (See my post here about the chef, her philosophy and restaurant and her recipe for Salmon with White Beans, Bacon and Red Wine.)
NOTE: I do not follow Step 7 and start the bird in the oven breast side down.
The turkey is dry brined for three days although I have done it for much less with equally good results. Here is a tasty dry brine recipe.
STOCK and GRAVY
How to Make Stock, A video tutorial with simple instructions from Mario Batali on Food 52.
How to Make Gravy, from The New York Times Cooking
Although no dessert would be shunned, Apple Pie is a must. If you have any doubt, read this, and you may get lured into making it a regular closer to your feast too, if it isn’t already.
Butter Pie Crust, from Epicurious
Crust Tips, from Joy the Baker
THE Apple Pie, inspired by Kierin Baldwin
Ala Mode, a basic vanilla ice cream recipe
Best Apples for Pie, from Baking Bites
(This is a good framework that you can alter based on what you have leftover.)
If you try one of these recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. Or take a photo and post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #realdealmarin.
There’s no question that making pancakes from scratch is well worth the limited effort. But a recipe debate has risen lately as a new contender has entered the fray. On the one side are the original Fluffy Homemade Pancakes, the most visited recipe on this site. And on the other, Fluffy Homemade Pancakes Version Two (recipe below) which has gained a position on the top of the rotation.
So if you find yourself in the mood for pancakes in the coming couple of weeks, I pose a request that you give this new one a try and compare it to the original. Maybe you’ll find no discernible difference. Or perhaps regardless of the results, you’ll align with the kids’ Nana and prioritize the lower sodium content of the first.
Whatever the case, if you seek a no-frills, go-to homemade pancake mix for the every day, you can feel you’ve done your due diligence and have what you deem to be the best basic recipe ready for the wanting.
You can cast your vote here and please share comments below. I will post the results before the holidays draw more morning time in the kitchen. Thanks for your input!
Tips for Quicker Pancakes
Here are a couple of strategies to streamline the pancake preparation process, particularly helpful on a weekday morning:
1) Keep a storage container filled with the dry ingredients in your pantry. Whisk 2 cups of the dry mix (which has previously been sifted as per the recipe) and then add the butter, milk, egg and vanilla.
2) Make extra pancakes and, when cool, refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. (If freezing, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. After two or so hours, transfer to a ziplock bag.) To reheat, lightly toast or heat in the microwave. Great for a quick breakfast or snack.
Fluffy Homemade Pancakes - Version Two
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Heat a griddle or frying pan over low to medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Lightly grease with canola or vegetable oil.
- In a large bowl, sift together or whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Melt the butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter.
- Crack the egg and vanilla into the measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork. Add to the bowl.
- Measure the milk in the cup and add to the bowl.
- Mix with a spoon until smooth with a few remaining lumps. Don’t over mix.
- Spoon the batter onto the griddle or pan. When bubbles begin to form on the surface, turn the pancakes and cook for another minute until golden brown.
It may be fall, but the deep heat I experienced on both the east and west coasts last week was no indication. A football tailgate spent seeking shade rather than warmth has thankfully delayed the inevitable seasonal shift in mindset.And since summer produce remains readily available at the farmers market, the hearty squashes can be nudged out for a bit longer as far as I’m concerned. Soon enough.
Try to fit this colorful, flavorful veggie casserole in before the turn. You get the joy of layering but without the heavy prep of lasagna. And you can delete, substitute or add just about any vegetable which is a great way to use things up you have on hand. Any way you stack it, it’s simple to throw together and delicious to go along with any meat, poultry or fish.
Zucchini, Mushroom and Tomato Roasted Casserole
- 3-5 Zucchini, sliced lengthwise or in rounds (amount depends on variety/size)
- 15 Mushrooms (sliced)
- 5 Scallions (sliced up to dark green stalk)
- Tomatoes (one basket cherry or 4 -5 sliced whole *)
- 1 Tablespoon Salt (Herb, Large Grain or Kosher)
- 3/4 Tablespoon Black Pepper, preferably freshly ground
- 1 Tablespoon Thyme (Dried)
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup or more Parmesan Cheese
Note – Measurements are approximate.
* If using whole tomatoes, slice and place on a paper towel while prepping other ingredients to soak some of their liquid.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Arrange 1/3 of the vegetables on the bottom of an oiled or buttered medium baking dish.
- Sprinkle with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over and sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan cheese.
- Repeat three times.
- Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
My first introduction to artichokes was an unpleasant one. Just after college, I was invited to have dinner with my friend and his parents at their home in a high-end New York suburb. They had the kind of dining room table that is perfect for Thanksgiving but otherwise does not promote intimate conversation. We each had a side on which to hold court.
To start off the meal, we were presented with an artichoke, an unusual budding flower head that was entirely unfamiliar. Certainly New Jersey, my birth place, provides impressive crops of corn on the cob and beefsteak tomatoes, but these? Since 100 percent of all artichokes sold commercially in the United States are grown in California, it’s not a wonder that we had never crossed paths, but still.
What could I do but mouth a plea of “Help…!” to my friend across the expanse of table. He got the hint and I was able to imitate my way through navigating this tricky thistle. It was equally disconcerting when asparagus, another flowering perennial plant species that had not seen its way to my plate before, was served as a side dish. It was a challenging dinner.
Although neither item won me over first time around, both have become favorites, especially considering Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world, is now a not too distant neighbor.
Artichokes are readily available in spring and fall. Select globes that are deep green and have petals that are tightly closed rather than splayed out and dehydrated looking. They should feel somewhat heavy for their size and will squeak when squeezed.
To store, sprinkle with a little water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Do no wash before storing. They should last a week.
With a sharp or serrated knife, slice off the top 1 inch and most of the stem of the artichoke, snap off the small, tough outer leaves and with scissors, snip off thorny tips.
From there, go through the following steps:
Immediately add to lemon water where they will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days until ready to cook.
Here’s to enjoying them while you’re young!
Pan Roasted Artichokes
- 3 lemons, quartered
- 4 medium to large artichokes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 to 6 peeled garlic cloves, crushed
- Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze in the juice from the four quarters of one lemon.
- With a sharp or serrated knife, slice off the top 1 inch and most of the stem of the artichokes, pull off the small, tough outer leaves and with scissors, snip off the thorny tips.
- Cut in half or quarters lengthwise.
- Separate the first few, purple-tinged leaves in the center from the base by pulling them away from the choke with your fingers.
- Use a spoon or melon baller to scrape the fuzzy center from the choke. (See slide show above.)
- Immediately put artichokes in the lemon water to help avoid discoloration. Keep in the water until ready to cook; they may be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Just before cooking, spread the artichokes on paper towels, sliced side down, and pat dry.
- When ready to cook, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high flame. Warm the olive oil until nearly smoking. Sprinkle the pan generously with salt and pepper.
- Carefully place the artichokes sliced side down in the pan. Do not overlap. Season with more salt and pepper and slip the garlic into the spaces between the artichokes.
- Cook, shaking the pan occasionally to keep the artichokes from sticking, until they are evenly browned underneath, 6 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, lift 1 or 2 artichokes up to check for doneness.
- Add the quarters of the second lemon to the pan, place a piece of foil over the pan and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and keep covered for 30 to 45 minutes or if longer, briefly re-heat over low flame.
- Transfer the artichokes to a serving platter. Squeeze the juice from the cooked lemon wedges into the pan and whisk to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Pour the juice over the artichokes, garnish with the remaining lemon quarters and serve with Garlic, Basil Dip.
Adapted from: The Food Channel
Garlic, Basil Dip
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
It is an honor to have been selected April’s Blog of the Month by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution team. I became a fan of his before he was known as a food activist when a friend raved about a recipe she’d made from her new cookbook The Naked Chef. Once I got past what I assumed to be a typical literal reaction and was relieved of a somewhat disturbing image, I got to hear in detail about the book’s amazing but simple recipes like Rosemary, Garlic, Lemon Marinade, Pork with Peaches and Huge Yorkshire Puddings.
These days, Jamie Oliver is well-known for his pioneering efforts to address the childhood obesity crisis in the U.S. and Great Britain. He is a proponent of cooking in a simple, unadorned way (hence the nickname) mirroring my own Make It Simple Cooking Philosophy which is to:
Stock up on whole staples and fresh produce and proteins, use the guidelines of recipes and your intuition, enjoy what you create and worry not about perfection.
FOOD REVOLUTION DAY – FRIDAY, MAY 16
Next Friday, May 16th is FOOD REVOLUTION DAY, Jamie Oliver’s global call-to-action which he hopes will inspire the cooking and eating of good, real food and raise awareness of how what we eat affects our health and well-being.
The focus this year is on educating kids about food and where it comes from and equipping them with basic cooking skills.
Healthy diets are critical to healthy lives but our children lack the knowledge to make the right food choices or the skills to create healthy, wholesome and nutritious meals. Jamie Oliver
For a list of ideas on how you and your kids, school, workplace or community can participate and celebrate, click HERE.
GETTING KIDS COOKING
What was the trigger that shifted my son from cooking spectator to once-in-a-while initiator and leader in the kitchen?
Had I suggested he make crepes or some other reasonably enticing item on his own, he likely would have insisted that many other priorities took precedence. It was cooking with a small group of classmates for a project that gave him an appreciation for the act of creating something delicious.
If cooking is not a part of the home routine, it is even more imperative that children learn at least the basics of cooking in school.
We need every child to understand where food comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their body. This is about setting kids up with the knowledge they need to make better food choices for life. Jamie Oliver
Otherwise, as Alice Waters, the founder of The Edible Schoolyard Project who was recently honored one of Time Magazines most influential people of 2014, has said “We’ll pay out back if we don’t pay up front.“
Find a selection of Jamie Oliver’s kid friendly recipes HERE.
MORE ABOUT JAMIE OLIVER
PRIZE WINNING TED TALK: Teach Every Child About Food
RESOURCES for TEACHERS: Toolkits for Change
“These toolkits arm you with facts, empower you with ideas and support you in making real change on the ground. The Food Revolution Team has worked with experts in the field to create toolkits specific to a number of different issues facing our schools. They are meant to be used, printed, shared and passed on! Together we have an opportunity to support schools in making sustainable change.”
BIG RIG TEACHING KITCHEN
The mission of this 70-foot long mobile kitchen is to, through free teacher training, basic home cooking classes and take-home recipes, improve health and spread food education. The 40 week journey to underserved communities across the state of California winds up its tour in San Diego this month. See a schedule of events HERE.
If you’re celebrating Food Revolution Day next Friday, please share your plans below in the comments!
Farm to Table has become a common restaurant tagline as the burgeoning movement touting the benefits of local, organic foods is increasingly influencing patron purchasing decisions. The notion of garden beds brimming with perfectly aligned rows of greens or cattle grazing rolling pastoral hillsides can’t help but incentivize diners to drop in for some deliciously fresh fare.
Not only will you get a meal made with ingredients at the peak of flavor but you’ll be supporting restaurant owners and chefs who buy from local farm suppliers.
MARIN SUN FARMS RESTAURANT
David Evans, a fourth generation cattle rancher in Point Reyes, is a pioneer in the local meat movement. His restaurant Marin Sun Farms is more than just a dining destination as it is located at the gateway of a national seashore with endless possibilities of exploration. Just off the main street in Point Reyes Station, it’s a perfect start or end to a day’s adventures with incredible food that comes from the land that surrounds it.
For a review of the restaurant, click below for my segment on Check Please Bay Area or go to the KQED website for a written version.
IS GRASS-FED BEEF WORTH A HIGHER PRICE?
The price of a burger at Marin Farms will run you $15. It’s juicy and deliciously prepared with MSF Bacon, Gruyère cheese and house made pickles. And because grass-fed beef is lower in calories and has more omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals, it’s healthier than your typical burger.
But taste and nutrition aside, is grass-fed beef worthy of a higher price tag? For many, the value lies in choosing to eat meat more responsibly with consideration to the welfare of animals and the environmental impact of industrial farming practices.
- For compelling insight on animal welfare and the merits of grass-fed beef for a sustainable food system, read this post by Michael Pollan. Or better yet, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, an incisive, engaging book about conscious eating.
- For finding sources for grass-fed beef for eating at home, see the Eat Wild website and their comprehensive directory of pasture-based farms, grass-fed basics and much more.
- For information on how to make purchasing grass-fed beef more affordable, check out You Can Afford Grass-Fed Beef! The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money by Eating High-Quality, Local Meat (Available on Kindle)
MORE on MARIN SUN FARMS
Sustainable Food Model and Food Shed
For information on Marin Sun Farms mission to create a more sustainable food system and their Food Shed approach, click here.
And for a list of their co-producers, click here.
Impact of Drought
Lack of rain in Northern California is reducing the amount of grazing land and impacting grass-fed meat production. For the first time, Marin Sun Farms is needing to supplement with grain. To be transparent, they have created three-tiered labeling system. For updated information, click here.
Tips for Making the Perfect Steak Indoors
from Marin Sun Farms Head Chef Paul Bondick
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on both sides of the meat and rub with a little bit of olive oil. Let sit at room temperature for a 1/2 hour.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high flame until hot.
- Sear meat for 3-4 minutes a side.
- Place the skillet in the oven for 8 minutes for medium-rare. Use a temperature probe for accuracy.
- Spritz with lemon juice. (Optional)
For meat perfectly done to your specifications, use the following for internal temperature:
Medium rare 130º-135º
Medium well 140º-150º
Well done 155+º