Well we survived midterms [Ed. note: Anyone get the license plate of that truck that hit us?] and now, more importantly, it's two weeks until Thanksgiving!
It is never too soon to plan the meal. Right now I have a rough menu outline, but so far the only certainty is that this soup will start the evening off, either in a bowl or as soup shooters (shot glass).
Have made a bazillion different kinds of butternut squash soup over the years, but this is "The One." Velvety, flavorful, filling, but not heavy. You'll swear there's cream in there. There isn't. You can even make this dairy-free/vegan by omitting the butter and substituting olive oil. Full disclosure, I tend to tinker with recipes to tailor it to my or the BF's taste, but this recipe, didn't change a thing [Ed. note: wut].
The soup works well on its own, but if you want to kick the flavor up a notch I suggest adding the red curry croutons. (Butternut squash and red curry are a match made in heaven.) Another handy tip, I find the hand-immersion blender very convenient, but if you want a truly smooth, velvet consistency, break out the big guns, your "serious" blender, and mix like you mean it.
PS: Don't want to give away any secrets, but someone's birthday is coming up [Ed. note: wut]. Last year I didn't mess around and broke out Batman and the Joker for a positively killer caramel apple cake (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/caramel-apple-cake).
PPS: Marlowe is very happy if you voted!
Adapted from: Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan, The Pollan Family Table (soup) and Woks of Life (croutons)
Number of servings: makes about 2 quarts (4-6)
My father hailed from Vienna, and momala's parents were also from Austria. Oktoberfest fare? Only on days ending in "y."
Growing up, we had everything from Wiener Schnitzel (veal) and Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein (pork), to hasenpfeffer (rabbit), liptauer, palatschinke (crepes with jelly), sauerkraut, sweet-and-sour purple cabbage, Austrian potato salad, cabbage borscht, stuffed cabbage rolls, sauteed cabbage with caraway and lots of heavy duty Russian rye bread (with caraway seeds).
Extended family and friends raved about momala's sautéed green cabbage and sweet-and-sour purple cabbage. Me? Wouldn't know, because as a kid I literally hated all things cabbage-y, and wouldn't get near it, let alone eat it. Now I appreciate cabbage much more, and over the years have tried various ways to prepare, and this is how the BF and I like it. I think momala would be happy. [Ed. note: She would.]
The BF and I happen to love the flavor of caraway, but if you don't, just leave it out.
We added bratwurst to this super-quick supper, but any sausage will do. The BF and I have found a local brand that we love, Dibrov. A favorite is the Oktoberfest Bratwurst (not a sponsored post, we just love it). We paired this cabbage side with sausages, mustard, pickled cukes and onions, and German soft pretzel sticks. We also imbibed some delicious Marionberry Hard Cider that a few good Oregon friends left us this summer, and a German lager that complimented the Oktoberfest meal perfectly. [Ed. note: Am tempted to search for the Bob and Doug McKenzie movie Strange Brew.]
Even if you're not all about Oktoberfest, this cabbage side works any time of year, and goes especially well with pork chops or loin, brisket, chicken schnitzel, etc. Anything!
PS: Things got pretty spicy a year ago with this jalapeño, serrano and fresno pepper roast chicken (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/jalapeno-serrano-fresno-pepper-roast-chicken).
Number of servings: 4
We're getting deeper and deeper into October (don't know about you, but did this past week feel like a month or what?), which doesn't just bring us closer to my favorite holiday, Halloween, but all the signs are pointing to another very busy Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season. Meaning, with all of the impending insanity, it's always a good idea to have a few "make-ahead meals" on hand to save time on the off nights. Off nights that are better spent curled up with the BF watching a favorite show like Better Call Saul, or the World Series where his team the San Francisc—oh. Sorry. [Ed. note: Twist the knife, why don't you.]
This Moroccan stew is delicous the night it's made, and reheats well for lunches or make-ahead dinners, without losing any of its vibrant cumin, cinnamon and saffron flavors. Colorful and brothy, light and healthy, it's filling without being heavy.
It's also vegetarian, but can easily be made vegan by replacing butter with olive oil and skipping the yogurt (see note).
Changes made to the original Smitten Kitchen recipe: substituted yams for the plain potatoes (I recommend the dark red Garnet yam variety), and left out the preserved lemon.
The BF loves it over couscous, but I love it on its own. My dinner guests love all the toppings. A supremely versatile dish you can whip out while you prepare for the costumed kids soon to run amok. Amok! Amok! Amok!
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 6-8
NOTE: To veganize this, replace the butter with additional olive oil, use vegetable broth and skip the yogurt.
PS: Sweet tooth? Did you miss a year ago when I whipped out the caramel apple cheesecake that destroyed the BF? [Ed. note: And no, she's not kidding.] (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/caramel-apple-cheesecake)
PPS: Amok! Amok! Amok!
"Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin."
It's here. October. My favorite month of the year. The month where the BF hangs on for dear life, as I vortex all things pumpkin. [Ed. note: I'm worried about you, man. Seriously.] Pumpkin items I adore: bread, muffins, donuts, cakes, cookies, popovers (coming soon to the blog), ice cream, mousse, cheesecake, soups, curries, pancakes, french toast, scones, cinnamon rolls, trifle and candles. Lots and lots of candles.
Most unnecessary pumpkin-spice products that I've seen? Pringles, vodka, body lotion, kale chips, salsa, salmon and bagels (the BF had a bite and requested that I never, ever, pinkie-swear-on-penalty-of-death buy that again). [Ed. note: Can confirm.]
Side note: The Huffington Post "reports that their taste testers were struck with a variety of reactions to Pringles’ new line of potato chips, ranging from 'surprisingly not revolted' to a 'horrible abomination to humanity.'"
October is also the month to make a mean pumpkin lasagna, crispy pumpkin and sage cannelloni (coming to the blog close to Thanksgiving) and pumpkin gnocchi. Seriously, I feel like there are not enough days in October for everything I want to make with pumpkin. [Ed. note: So this is why you were pining for them in February.]
This pumpkin bread is moist, tender and plush on the inside, with a sumptuous cinnamon-sugar craggy lid. One of my biggest pet peeves when baking pumpkin bread are the recipes that use 1 cup of pumpkin puree out of a can that holds 1 ¾ cup. That leftover puree drives me bat-shit crazy. [Ed. note: Can confirm.] Fear not, this recipe utilizes every last drop of that canned pumpkin and it only takes one bowl to make.
Very key here is the size of your loaf pan, as this will fill out every inch of it. Mine holds 6 liquid cups; it’s 8 × 4 inches on the bottom and 9 × 5 inches on the top. If yours is even slightly smaller or you’re nervous, go ahead and scoop out a little to make a muffin or two.
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen says, "Finally, I know someone is going to say 'that’s way too much sugar!' but please keep in mind this loaf is gigantic, easily 1.5x a normal one and the sugar is scaled accordingly. You can decrease it if you wish but we have made this now several times and many people have commented about how in-check the sugar level tastes, not over the top at all."
PS: Can't forget last year's pumpkin challah (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/pumpkin-challah), and mini pumpkin whoopie pies with apple cider filling (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mini-pumpkin-whoopie-pies-with-apple-cider-cream-cheese-filling), which were client and reader favorites.
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 8-10
"Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."
My siblings and I did not grow up with macaroni and cheese. I know. It's like I have to turn in my "kid" card or something.
You see, Momala and Dad didn't exactly grow up with it either, so it never made an appearance on our dinner table. Not sorry at all, as she made the best spaghetti sauce I have ever had in my life. It took ten hours of cooking and, although it sounds odd, her secret ingredient was a cup of brewed coffee. It had a deeply exotic flavor and, as much as I have tried...never been able to replicate it.
This particular recipe is a mac-and-cheese lover's dream. Four cheeses. [Ed. note: Turns up the porn music.] Over the years, I have made a metric ton of mac and cheese for my clients, and have over a dozen different varieties on my menus. Typically, after trying a recipe for the first time, notes sprout around the margins with any changes I personally make to the original script, i.e., "Do again," "awesome," "needs tweaking," "BF likes it," "add to client menu," or the killer "do NOT make again." On this recipe, well...
"Holy Shit! Great!!!!" [Ed. note: Take it from a guy who wrote and edited for a magazine that literally had its name, with one exclamation point, trademarked: Four exclamation points is serious.]
Ooeey, gooey, stringy, melty goodness, with a crusty golden top and phenomenal flavor that both kids and adults adore. In fact, on my menu it's called "Adult Mac & Cheese." [Ed. note: Porn music continues.]
This recipe comes from the late Anthony Bourdain's Appetites. The BF and I are longtme fans of his books and television shows, and for me, personally, he had a monumental impact, instilling a great respect for food, the animals themselves, the restaurant business, and the people behind every aspect of meal creation.
A quick aside: two years ago Bourdain was on a spoken-word tour in San Francisco. On previous tours, I had tried to get tickets for the BF and I, but they had always sold out too quickly. This time, I was a redailing machine and scored the tickets. Excited as I was, my personal-chef schedule was so busy that I couldn't adjust my client for the night of the show, so the tickets ended up being given to my dear friend Maria, who of course loved it. Was disappointed that I didn't get to see him, but I assured myself Bourdain would come back to San Francisco again on a future tour.
Of course, that will not happen.
At the show, Maria was kind enough to buy me a copy of Appetites as a gift. Very thoughtful gesture at the time, but now, considering his passing, I cherish it more than ever. If you look at the picture below, you can see the ragged bookmarks and Post-It tabs demarking the dishes I have made and have yet to try. When I open it up now, I feel like hugging my loved ones a little tighter, for a little longer.
I may or may not be traveling to parts unknown anytime soon, with or without reservations, but hopefully channeling his spirit I will continue to share my table and break bread with people I love. Old friends and new. People who look, talk, dress, or vote differently than I. Am not one to want to sound as if on a soapbox, but I believe food brings people together in spite of any differences, and think Bourdain believed that, too.
Going to miss you, Chef.
Adapted from: Anthony Bourdain, Appetites: A Cookbook
Number of servings: 8-10
NOTE: This makes a large amount of mac & cheese, but it's easy to cut the recipe in half for four servings.
"Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti."
- Sophia Loren
The BF and I don't have pasta very often. When we do it's usually a celebration of some kind. [Ed. note: Why oh why can't it be a day ending in "y?"] Last time I made this dish was for my dear honorary niece and her BF, who were moving out of the state for a job opportunity.
Don't know about you, but every time I eat spaghetti I think of Louis Prima singing "Angelina" or "Just a Gigolo," or that scene from Lady and the Tramp wafts across my brain. Not sure what the BF is seeing when he looks across at me eating my bowl of spaghetti [Ed. note: It's not David Lee Roth's version of "Just A Gigolo," I'll tell you what"], but my noggin is loudly vibrating with various songs and images.
This pesto is not your traditional pesto. It's made with smoked almonds and arugula. Smoked almonds, folks. They bring this pesto to a whole other level.
Bonus: make this a vegan option and simply don't add the cheese.
Summer in your mouth.
PS: in case you missed them, one year ago:
Adapted from: Feasting at Home
Number of servings: 4
NOTE: The pesto will taste salty and slightly bitter on its own, but don’t worry. Once it mixes with the bucatini, the pasta will soak up some of the salt and it will all balance out.
Over the years (I started making this about ten years ago), many clients have grown to love this lentil salad. One of them orders it practically every single week. No wonder.
So easy to make, it's an extremely versatile side dish, and by itself as a main course it's straight-up vegan. The BF loves it, but he needs another protein, so I like to add soft-boiled or poached eggs, and/or chicken sausage (pictured above). Easy to pack for on-the-go sojourns, the dish can be served cold, warm, or at room temperature, and it even tastes better the next day.
I cook fresh lentils all the time, but have to say a terrific hack and time saver is to use Trader Joe's steamed lentils, which are found in their fresh produce section. They're delicious and have a firm texture, which is key to this salad.
This one is a perfect summer dish, and unlike most of these blog recipes, isn't an adaptation–it's wholly original. Feel free to make subsitutions, i.e., substitute parsnip for carrot, dill for parsley, and if you don't like fennel, use only celery. Make it your own.
Number of servings: 4
NOTE: If using Trader Joe's steamed lentils, take out of box, make three slits in the plastic. Place on plate and microwave for approx 45 seconds.
One year ago the BF and I did an abbreviated version of Whole30 (we allowed for an exception...or two). He lost 8.5 pounds and thought it was pretty easy to stay on the program. [Ed. note: You give me meat an potatoes and I shall find a way to survive.] I didn't fare that well in the weight-loss department, but it was a terrific reboot, and the real saving grace was the coconut milk sauce I developed that was incorporated into everything. With the exception of Indian and Thai dishes, I rarely used coconut milk. This turned out to be a worthwhile challenge, and the result was a savory sauce that is a brilliant dairy-free option.
Here the coconut milk –infused into a garlic turmeric sauce– is a perfect foil to the crunchy cabbage, spicy chives and crispy skinned potatoes. We actually had this as a main course, but it would work as a side dish for steak, chicken, pork, or any protein. (We are unapolegetic carnivoires.)
We will be hopping on the Whole30 again soon, and certainly will be incorporating this into the process.
Inspired by Dolly and Oatmeal
Number of servings: 2-3 entrees or 4-6 side dishes
Coconut-Garlic Turmeric Sauce
Yotam Ottolenghi says of this eggplant dish, "I can't think of a more rustically elegant (is that a contradiction in terms?) starter." Contradiction? Hardly.
Ottolenghi is an Israeli-Italian chef residing in London, with a flavor palette that's out of this world. This recipe is adapted from his 2010 cookbook Plenty, and I selected it for today's post because of its gloriously gorgeous colorful presentation, not to mention it's delicious and a perfect easy-to-make dish for your holiday table (or anytime). I prepared it for an anniversary dinner party, not as a starter, but as a side dish with grilled lamb chops and naan--it was heavenly.
Another advantage for a dinner party: it can be served at room temperature, meaning it's easier to make ahead of time.
Adapted from: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Number of servings: 4 as a starter or side dish
Writer Julian Barnes said of mourning, "The thing is—nature is so exact, it hurts exactly as much as it is worth, so in a way, one relishes the pain, I think. If it didn't matter, it wouldn't matter."
A friend sent this line in a condolence letter when my momala passed away, and it has resonated ever since. The grieving is commensurate with the loving, a testament to what’s missing.
This has been a particularly difficult year for my boyfriend (the blog's man behind the curtain, the one behind the editorial notes), who is grieving the passing of his mom, and today is actually the one-year anniversary.
Kathryn Bailey was an accomplished jazz pianist based in the San Francisco bay area, who accompanied everyone from Billie Holiday to the Buddy Morrow Orchestra, Berkeley's Straw Hat Theatre, and Ronnie Cass.
We miss you everyday, Kathy.
There is no gray area with brussels sprouts. People love them or hate them. Luckily, I live in a house were brussels sprouts rule. The BF actually requests this cruciferous vegetable any chance he gets.
The many health benefits of brussels sprouts are well documented. They're loaded with vitamin K (great for bone health), promote weight loss and lower cholesterol levels, are a great source of protein, and can even reduce cancer risk.
When cooking with them, can't stress this enough: buy good sprouts. They should feel firm and have tight, shiny-edged leaves. I like to buy medium-to-small ones, because I find the larger ones have a more bitter flavor (especially those gigantic, loose-leafed monstrosities). Never buy those.
Several thousand acres of sprouts are planted in coastal areas of San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties of California (lucky to have this level of quality available locally), which offer an ideal combination of coastal fog year-round.
Roasting brussels sprouts (in the oven) was my way of winning over skeptics (like the BF), but this recipe works whether you steam them on a stove top or use the microwave. Those of you with one oven, like me, will appreciate not having to use it for multiple dishes, especially on Thanksgiving or other holidays.
This dish is delicious alongside any meat that typically graces the holiday table: beef, turkey, ham, lamb, pork, duck or sausage (second pic).
NOTE: I make these in the microwave for convenience, but feel free to steam the sprouts on the stove top.
Number of servings: 4 (depending on how many other side dishes you offer)
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.