Archive | November, 2014

Quail, Turnip, Zucchini and Pear

Pan roasted, confit, poached and shredded. Fall flavors for a celebration.

Pan roasted, confit, poached and shredded. Fall flavors for a celebration.

We don’t do turkey anymore. A few years ago there was a turkey disaster, and we faced our Thanksgiving dinner with an array of lovely side dishes and hastily prepared chicken thighs standing in for the main attraction. So the family decided that it was a good time to ditch the traditional main course and go with something everyone preferred: a standing rib roast of beef. Same sides, different star.

I love all manner of birds though, and quail is easy to find here in South Louisiana. The local Super1Foods has them in the freezer occasionally; a local producer shows up at the farmers market once in a while, and Whole Foods had them the last time I was there. Two quail make a perfect serving, and they’re quick and easy to cook. They’re delicious, too, and fall pears, cranberries, and turnips complement the rich meat so well. I added the zucchini because the mom in me can’t bear to see a dinner plate without something green on it. Habits die hard. This recipe for zucchini is a nice change from the usual zucchini preparations. Shredding the vegetable and squeezing out the liquid improves the texture considerably.

Turnips are the wild card in this meal. Some people love them, others not so much. I fall on the not-so-much side. I love the idea of turnips — they’re a nice substitute and change from potato with much less starch, but they can be bitter. I thought I’d try brining them to see what happens, and I found that much of the bitterness is removed when taking this step. It’s up to you and your tastebuds. Hey. Maybe that could be the new term for your “foodie” friends and family. The term foodie has lost its appeal; it’s almost an insult these days.

This entrée is easy to make. There are several steps involved, but none is difficult. And components of the meal can be prepared in advance making the final cooking that much simpler. It’s also a dish that isn’t going to make you feel overfull and uncomfortable, which is a boon in this season of edible excess. To start I’d suggest Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon: soothing and seasonal, it’s a warm way to open the meal. So whether you want to treat yourself, surprise a special someone, or have a holiday menu that will please a wide range of diners, this menu should do you proud.

I sincerely hope that this Thanksgiving brings you joy and genuine gratitude. For the music, I’ve selected a playlist with the theme of hopeful thanks. Wherever and however you celebrate the day, may you feel love, peace, and appreciation.

Pan roasted, confit, poached and shredded. Fall flavors for a celebration.
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Quail, Turnip, Zucchini and Pear
Autumn opulence and straightforward prep combine in an elegant meal for many or one.
Quail, Turnip, Zucchini and Pear
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Autumn opulence and straightforward prep combine in an elegant meal for many or one.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 30minutes 40minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 30minutes
Cook Time
40minutes
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add water, salt and honey. Stir to dissolve. Place turnips in brine and let soak for 30-60 minutes. (If you do not find turnips to be bitter, skip this step.)
  2. Meanwhile start the poached pears (if not prepared ahead of time) and zucchini.
  3. Peel the pears, slice lengthwise and remove seeds with small spoon, set aside. Add cranberries, wine, water and honey to saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Trim the ends from the zucchini and shred on large holes of box grater. Place half of the zucchini on a clean kitchen towel. Draw up the sides and ends around the zucchini and twist, removing as much liquid as possible. Place squeezed zucchini in a bowl and repeat with remaining shreds.
  5. Place pear halves in cranberry sauce mixture, submerging as much as possible. Poach for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that all sides of the pears become tinted.
  6. Drain turnips and dry well with paper towels. Melt ghee in saucepan over medium heat. Add turnips and cook gently until tender, about 10 minutes. You don't want turnips to brown. Lower heat if necessary. Turn heat to very low to keep warm.
  7. Remove pears to a plate and slice lengthwise. Continue to cook cranberry sauce until thickened and syrupy. Taste for sweetness and add honey as desired. The pears can be made 1-2 days ahead and refrigerated. Serve warm, room temperature or cold, depending on your preference.
  8. Preheat oven to 375. Season quail and melt ghee In an oven proof skillet over medium high heat. (If you don't have an oven proof skillet, use a baking sheet to oven roast the quail.)
  9. Place 4 quail in the skillet and brown for 3-4 minutes, turn and brown the other side an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining quail. Replace first 4 quail in the skillet in a single layer or place all quail on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil.
  10. In a large skillet heat butter over medium high heat. Add shredded zucchini, season and cook, stirring well and often, for 5-7 minutes depending on your preference for texture. Add parmesan if desired. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.
  11. Remove turnips from pan and drain well. Season to taste. This meal can be served individually plated or family style.
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Luscious sweet potato soup is an easy starter to a festive meal.
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Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon
This super simple sweet potato soup is a lovely appetizer or lunch choice and reheats well. The bright flavors enhanced by lemon and bold color will cheer and nourish throughout the seasons.
Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon
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This super simple sweet potato soup is a lovely appetizer or lunch choice and reheats well. The bright flavors enhanced by lemon and bold color will cheer and nourish throughout the seasons.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 15minutes 30minutes 20-25minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 20-25minutes
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Instructions
  1. Melt butter in Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add onion and sauté without browning about 5 minutes. Add celery and sauté 5 minutes. Add ginger and bay leaves and sweet potatoes. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, stir to combine, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook 20 minutes.
  2. Check sweet potatoes for doneness. They should be tender and mash easily. Remove bay leaves and using an immersion blender, purée. You can also purée in batches in a blender or food processer. Or you can use a potato masher if you prefer a chunkier texture.
  3. Add heavy cream or coconut milk, stirring to combine and heating for a minute or two. At this point you can cool to room temperature if serving later and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat. Ladle into serving dishes, squeeze lemon juice on each serving, garnish with lemon slices and serve.
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Grill Pan Lamb, Peppers and Onions

Take kebabs indoors without the skewers; marinated lamb, peppers, green onions, pomegranate, and feta.

Take kebabs indoors without the skewers; marinated lamb, peppers, green onions, pomegranate, and feta.

My least favorite day of the year is when the clocks turn back, and it gets dark early. I always feel like the curtains are closing on the best part of the year. Already the yard is full of brown leaves. The foliage is thinning; it’s getting too cool to eat outside on the deck. We’ll continue to grill outdoors, and even have the occasional supper or brunch al fresco, but it’s going to be a long haul until spring. It’s not a total bummer by any means, though I’m not a winter type even here in moderate South Louisiana. The humidity of the 40-degree days goes deep in the bones. For sure it’s gumbo weather and after a too-long wait, Hawk’s will be serving boiled crawfish. But it’s an adjustment time for me. For Harris, it’s just pure aggravation. He likes it hot and humid, and everything else is second rate.

We’ve got nothing to complain about; I realize. But I’d be less than honest if I said it didn’t bother me. So I decided to turn my attention to indoor grilling and inadvertently came up with a dish that looks like Christmas on a plate. That was cheering. And that’s how I try to roll with the changing seasons. I just have to move my mindset out of the spring and summer and look for the pleasures of now.

Harris finished building a greenhouse last weekend. He moved lots of containers inside the cozy warmth. He has tomatoes ready to ripen; Tabasco, shishito, and poblano peppers in various stages of growth; a transplanted cucumber vine that was flowering in the garden; as well as flowers, berries and all kinds of neat things.

He rewired an outdoor light with his brother-in-law, Nathan’s, help so he can plug in the heater. It’s about 100 square feet of sunshine and heat. Harris says he’s going to drag a chaise lounge in there so he can pretend it’s still summer. The garden is still kicking, too. Harris has broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts and there’s a bit of okra flourishing.

I wanted to cook some lamb this week, and we enjoy charcoal-grilled kebabs often. It seemed a good time to explore indoor grilling options. Harris gets out his compact spotlight and will grill all year, but sometimes it’s nice not to have to work in the dark and the cold.

By removing skewers from the equation, preparation for this entrée is simple. And since each component cooks separately, there’s no worry about anything being over or undercooked. Feta and lamb are great together and sprinkled on top with the sweet pop of the pomegranate seeds makes for a colorful and spritely dish.

We usually have rice with lamb, but I thought rice noodles would be a nice twist. And Inglewood Farm had tatoi in the CSA this week and last, so I wanted to incorporate it in the side dish. Very much like spinach, tatoi is a mild green and delicious with the rice noodles and savory sauce.

I was in a global mood when I put the Spotify playlist together. Warm tunes to take the chill off the start of fall. I hope you enjoy this week’s menu as much as I enjoyed creating it. Stay cozy!

Take kebabs indoors without the skewers; marinated lamb, peppers, green onions, pomegranate, and feta.
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Grill Pan Lamb, Peppers and Onions
Take kebabs indoors without the skewers; marinated lamb, peppers, green onions, pomegranate, and feta. Christmas on a plate anytime.
Grill Pan Lamb, Peppers and Onions
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Take kebabs indoors without the skewers; marinated lamb, peppers, green onions, pomegranate, and feta. Christmas on a plate anytime.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 20minutes 30minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 20minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Ingredients
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Marinate cubed lamb in grated onion, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne in refrigerator up to one day in advance, but even an hour will give good flavor. An hour prior to cooking add lemon juice. (Adding the lemon juice too far ahead will make the meat mushy.)
  2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees F and place a baking sheet in the oven. Heat grill pan over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Brush green onions with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Place whole green onions in pan without crowding; cook two batches if necessary. Cook for 3-4 minutes until spotty brown on the first side. Lower heat if needed to prevent burning. Turn the onions over and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove to oven as they finish.
  3. Brush peppers with olive oil and season. Place in pan without crowding. Cook 4-5 minutes and turn. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until peppers are desired texture. Remove to baking sheet in the oven.
  4. Drain the lamb, shaking off excess marinade. Place meat in heated grill pan without crowding. Grill 4-5 minutes without turning to ensure a nice crust develops. Turn and cook 2-3 minutes more. Remove a sample piece, cut into and taste. If degree of doneness has been achieved, remove lamb from pan and add to baking sheet. Continue to cook remaining lamb.
  5. To serve arrange vegetables on platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with lemon juice, feta and pomegranate seeds.
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Noodles and spinach-like tatoi combine in a savory sauce of broth and butter.
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Rice Noodles and Tatoi
Noodles and spinach-like tatoi combine in a savory sauce of broth and butter.
Rice Noodles and Tatoi
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Noodles and spinach-like tatoi combine in a savory sauce of broth and butter.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Place noodles in heat-proof bowl large enough to hold noodles and one quart of boiling water. Add boiling water and allow to soften for 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently to keep noodles separate. Drain, add a tablespoon of butter or ghee, and set aside.
  2. Shake off excess water from tatoi or spinach. Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the tatoi in handfuls, stir until partly wilted and continue adding until all the vegetable is in the pan. Keep stirring and turning until uniformly wilted. Add remaining butter or ghee, broth, honey, Worcestershire, fish sauce and seasonings. Add noodles, stirring and turning until heated through. Taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls with a few spoonfuls of sauce.
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