As a food blogger I must, of course, write about my Thanksgiving meal. Last year Jasper and I hosted both or our parents and siblings at our house in NoVa. This year, we were able to travel out to Bend, OR to spend the holiday with his family.
When I don't plan ahead for a week of meals, it can get a bit random and haphazard in the kitchen. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Here is a sampling of what I threw together recently during a hectic week.
Sandwiches don't have to be boring, I threw together a gourmet panini with ingredients that I happened to have hanging around already: turkey, arugula, fig jam, and taleggio cheese. The pungent cheese, rich and sweet jam, and spicy arugula are perfect for turning turkey into something special.
I revisited a recipe that I demoed in a technique class at Williams Sonoma back in February. This Peruvian dish, called Aji de Gallina, uses aji pepper paste for flavor (but not necessarily for spice) and evaporated milk and ground walnuts for creaminess and texture. The original recipe (which you can find here) called for poaching a whole chicken. Instead, I used rotisserie chicken from the store to save me time and effort and it worked just as well. I actually had leftover steamed rice from PF Changs on hand, so I re-steamed it in the microwave (sprinkle water over the rice and cover with a damp paper towel) and served it with the chicken. Using those shortcuts made it easy to put this hearty dish together on a weeknight. I also added a soft-boiled egg (a traditional addition to the dish), but decided I would have liked it closer to a medium boil - the flavor of the raw yolk got lost and overpowered by the flavor of the aji paste.
Ramen noodles may not seem like anything special, but you can definitely add ingredients to make them more exciting. I love to poach an egg in the soup (you can see one peeking out in the left side of the bowl in the photo) and top it off with scallions. Using less water and topping the noodles with breaded chicken or pork is another great option.
Lastly, I made some brisket. Smoking a brisket can be quite a process, but there is definitely an easier way to cook it. I just throw it in my slow cooker with some starter sauce and onions and leave it alone all day! The brisket comes out tender and the braised onions are ridiculously good. I served it up with some mashed potatoes and steamed green beans topped with butter and lemon juice. Let me tell you, after all those vegetable heavy meals over the summer, Jasper was so happy to get some meat and potatoes!
This is one of my husband's favorite entrees - which is great because it is actually healthy! Ground turkey is mixed with sauteed onions and spinach to make meatloaves that are super moist and flavorful.
There are infinite sides that will go well with this dish. This week I decided to use some of the green beans from the CSA.
I served the meatloaves with the green beans and some potatoes (also from the CSA) that I roasted with olive oil, salt, and rosemary.
Turkey Mini Meatloaves
adapted from Cook Yourself Thin
Serves 4, 230 calories per meatloaf
For the meatloaves:
1 slice whole-wheat bread
1/2 cup skim milk
1 onion, diced
5-oz bag baby spinach leaves
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
For the glaze:
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grind the bread in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl, and pour milk over crumbs.
Heat oil to a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, and stir until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with soaked crumbs. Add the turkey, cheese, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Combine the mixture with your hands or a wooden spoon until well mixed; it will be quite wet.
Pack 1 cup of the mixture into a 1-cup dry measuring cup. Invert the cup onto a rimmed baking sheet, gently shaking the cup to release the mixture. Gently pat the mound to smooth its shape. Repeat three times with remaining mixture. Bake mini meatloaves until cooked through and golden, about 40 minutes. While the meatloaves are cooking, make the glaze: In a small bowl combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Brush over meatloaves.
Green Beans with Shallots
adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/05/haricot-vert-with-shallots/
1/2 lb of haricot vert (thin green beans), trimmed
2 tsp butter
1 small shallot, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp diced tomato
Wedge of lemon
Bring a pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil haricot vert for 3 1/2 minutes. Plunge them into an ice bath and drain the beans.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent, not browned – about one to two minutes. Add the drained and cooled haricot vert back into the pot and reheat them in the butter and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Spread haricot vert and shallot onto a plate, throw the diced tomato over them and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the dish. Serve immediately.
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
1 lb baby potatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried or fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary until well coated. Dump the potatoes onto a baking sheet or into a shallow baking dish and spread out into 1 layer. Roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Toss occasionally to ensure even browning.