Monday, November 24, 2014

Broccoli Crunch Recipe

They say there are no original ideas and sometimes even when I think I've come up with something new, I find a quick search on the internet proves otherwise. While I try to invent my own creative combinations, sometimes I do find my inspiration online, in cookbooks or in restaurants. Recently I was in Las Vegas where I had a couple of very inspiring meals at Carson Kitchen.

The restaurant serves rich small plates including impossibly crunchy chicken skins and meatballs in a luscious creamy foie gras sherry sauce. One of the dishes I knew I would want to try and recreate at home was their “broccoli crunch.” It turns out there are lots of versions of this dish online, although their version was certainly unique. The menu description included sunflower and pumpkin seeds as well as green goddess dressing. The salad also has dried cranberries and a handful of halved grape tomatoes. I decided to substitute tangerines in place of the tomatoes, which aren’t really in season this time of year. I like the way this dish straddles the line between salad and green vegetable. I plan on serving it at Thanksgiving.

Green goddess dressing is something I had never made before. The original recipe comes from the Palace Hotel here in San Francisco. It was named in tribute to an actor who was starring in a play called The Green Goddess. The original recipe blended green onion with mayonnaise, tarragon, parsley, vinegar and anchovies. I adapted my recipe from some updated ones I found that included sour cream and use chives instead of green onion. The creamy herbal dressing really complements the fresh crunchy broccoli, the rich crisp seeds and sweet notes from the cranberries. The tangerines provide that pop of bright acidity as well as sweetness.

Broccoli Crunch 
Serves 4- 5, easily doubled or tripled for a crowd

1 pound broccoli cut into bite-sized florets
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tangerines or mandarins, peeled and seeded 

2 anchovies
1 1/2 teaspoons minced tarragon
2 Tablespoons minced chives
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
Freshly ground pepper

Heat a large pot of water and when it boils add the broccoli and blanch for one minute, then drain and place in a bowl of ice water to chill. Drain and dry thoroughly. Combine the broccoli with the cranberries, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Break the tangerine into segments and cut each segment in half crosswise. Add tangerine pieces to the broccoli. 

In a bowl mash the anchovies. Add the herbs, vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir until well combined and taste. 

Combine the salad and dressing until thoroughly combined. Chill until ready to serve.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cooking Turkey for Small Gatherings

I've cooked whole turkeys when developing recipes for clients, but a Thanksgiving feast? I’m most thankful that I can spend the holiday at my parents house and let them take care of cooking the bird.

Some years I return home with leftover turkey, other years I buy a turkey at the store and ask the butcher to cut it into either halves or quarters so I am not overwhelmed with too much turkey for my household of two. 

Here are some more great ways to enjoy turkey without buying a whole bird:

William Wilkinson

Dark meat
Legs and thighs are great for lovers of dark meat. They can be roasted or braised. 


Light meat 
Turkey breast is a good option for roasting, if you like light meat only.   If you are only cooking the breast, it will be much easier to cook since the breast meat tends to cook faster and become dry more quickly than other cuts. 

Dark & Light meat
This year I got a chance to try the Diestel light and dark roast. They are fully cooked, from boneless breasts, legs, and thighs with skin and are hand-netted. Size wise they are around  2 1/2 to 3 pounds (more than enough for 4 people) and cost $34.99. Each slice has both dark and light meat. The instructions recommend coating the roast with paprika but I used an herb and spice mix. These roasts are available at Whole Foods market

Disclaimer: My thanks to Whole Foods for providing a Diestel roast for me to try. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pomsgiving Cocktail: Drinks on Friday

pomsgiving cocktail
The last few years I've created a cocktail for Thanksgiving. It's a fun way to start the long Thanksgiving day feast. It perks the appetite and gives everyone something to talk about.  I recently attended a POM Wonderful lunch and was inspired by all the wonderful cocktails. So instead of using the more common cranberry juice, I thought it would be interesting to try using pomegranate juice.

This cocktail uses truly some of my most favorite things--limoncello, Plymouth gin and La Marca prosecco. I discovered La Marca prosecco when I was looking for the perfect prosecco to make the Ruby Sparkler last year. It's from the Veneto, tart and fresh with plenty of bubbles. It's about $10 at Costco and makes a terrific mixer. Plymouth gin is my go to gin, I find it the easiest for mixing because the botanicals are so well balanced. Use whichever limoncello you like. 

I am not a bartender and I find it tricky to come up with cocktails. Working out the proportions took some time but I'm very happy with the final result and hope you like it too! I haven't decided on a garnish yet, what do you think? Lemon peel? Pomegranate arils? Let me know in the comments. 


3/4 ounce Plymouth gin
1/4 ounce limoncello
1 ounce POM Wonderful juice or freshly squeezed pomegranate jucie
Prosecco (La Marca recommended)

Combine the gin, limoncello and pomegranate juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass, top with prosecco. 


Disclaimer: My thanks to both POM Wonderful and Plymouth gin for providing me with product to use in my cocktail experiments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stoneline Cookware Review

For the last four months I’ve been using Stoneline cookware in place of my regular pots and pans. I’m always interested to try out non-stick cookware because I hate scrubbing pots and pans. I put the cookware through the paces. I don’t just follow the instructions, I do some of the things you're not supposed to and see how it performs.

The problem with most non-stick pans is that the surface eventually peels, flakes, chips or stops being non-stick, also some of it like Teflon is made with harmful chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acids aka PFOAs. In four months of using the Stoneline cookware (which is PFOA free) there has been no degradation of the cooking surface. The surface of the pans is smooth but looks like stone, there is nothing to peel or flake. Unlike ceramic non-stick it’s very durable and even when stacked up the pans don’t scratch or chip. They also don’t stain.
  • Stoneline describes the cookware surface as a “reinforced stone coating” made of microscopic particles of stone that are transformed into an ultra-hard non-stick coating that won’t scratch, is extremely durable and resistant to abrasion. 
  • Stoneline cookware works with all stove tops—gas, electric, induction and ceramic. It can be heated up to 350 degrees on the stove or oven.  
  • The pans are initially seasoned with a few drops of oil, something that can be repeated, but I have not found it necessary to re-season them.
  • The cookware has a 12 year warranty and a money back guarantee within the first 30 days if you decide you don't like it. 
The first thing I noticed about the cookware is how much hotter it seemed to get than other types of non-stick. I tried cooking eggs because they tend to stick. I learned quickly that I had to use much lower heat than I was used to, but even overcooking the eggs, they easily slipped out of the pan. The instructions say you don’t need to wash the pans, just wipe them with paper towels. That works fine for most things, but some liquids and sauces need to be rinsed off when reduced. That said, there is no need to use detergent or to scrub! But just to see how it would fare, I scrubbed and found the pans still did not scratch. I gave a few of the pieces of the set away and the feedback I got was consistent—that it heats well and evenly and browns food without sticking.

I will keep using these pans, so far I'm very impressed with their performance.

Disclaimer: My thanks to Stoneline for providing the cookware to review. I received a 13 piece set a wok and a roaster. I was not paid for this or any other post.