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Appetizers, Salads, Sides, Snacks

The “Don’t be a hero” Dishes.

November 30, 2016

 

Tis the season to look at your calendar and ponder how it became, seemingly overnight, a microcosm of our universe in its ordered chaos. After enduring several holiday seasons that left me dizzy-as-a-whirling-dervish come January (in no small part due to my STUNNINGLY foolish ideas to make sure everyone is properly accounted for via homemade peanut butter cups, or a 6-hr cajeta, or a hand painted wrapping theme…WELCOME TO BEING YOUR OWN DAMN KRAMPUS Y’ALL), I’ve spent the last couple of years painstakingly simplifying the season in the hopes of returning it to a place of joy, with time spent in calm appreciation of those around me. All that is basically a euphemism for “come at me with one more time constraint and I spend Christmas as Margot Tenenbaum in the tub”. Thus, my holiday party style has become one of being polite, but not a hero.
The best way to go about that is two-fold:
1. Don’t say yes to anything you have to “figure out”. Either it fits in your schedule or it doesn’t, pop-culture acronyms be damned.  If you have to say no to someone who will be heartbroken at your lack of attendance, send them a bottle of something you know they’ll like with an open-ended lunch invite for the new year. This is the “don’t be a hero part”.
2. Don’t show up empty-handed, but do choose something completely simple to bring. This is the “be polite” part. If you can make that something an *unexpected* something, no one will see past the creativity to grasp how little time it took.
With recipes below, here are a few options I’ll be using this season:
Grapes 1

Crostini with pâté, roasted grapes, and a charred-herb salsa:

This…this!  It’s a favorite. You can buy the pâté at the store (I adore Fabrique Delices Duck Mousse with Port Wine if you can find it), roast off the grapes the morning of, and make the salsa up to 5 days in advance. The whole thing is perfect at room temperature, and assembly is as simple as a shmear, a plunk and a drizz.

[recipe id=”686″]
Endive 1

Endive cups with walnut, bleu, tart cherry and pear:

All this app requires is a bit of knife work and a spoon, and can be made a day in advance, which, albeit not *easier*, is a much kinder gluten-free option than rifling through your produce drawer to hand Candace that half-eaten bag of dried up baby carrots before getting back to your good time.

[recipe id=”685″]

Carrot Salad.

Shaved carrot salad with hazelnuts and black garlic dressing:
If you’re going to a dinner, this is the EASIEST. Do you know how to peel a carrot?  Great. Keep on peeling until they’re a tangle of ribbons that resembles the wrapping supplies you threw in the closet with exasperation and blissfully forgot about for a year. You can shave the carrots a day ahead, the dressing can be made a week in advance, it’s gf, df, veegs, and gives reason for the lingering zoodle trend to finally succumb to its rightful culinary dirt nap.

[recipe id=”681″]

Whether you endeavor to be the consummate hostess or the consummate guest, I hope these time-conscious options serve your purposes well.  Happy Holidays!

*It’s worth noting that I cooked, assembled, styled and shot all of these in under two hours, so believe me when I say that whipping just one of these up is a breeze!

Appetizers, Snacks

Fried Green Tomatoes with Tzatziki.

September 11, 2015

Tomatoes are probably my single favorite source of calories. I eat them as often as possible in as myriad ways as possible.  Unlike other vegetables (fruits, dirt candies, edible ovaries, WHATEVER), I get unreasonably upset when I buy a bad tomato. Also unlike other vegetables, when I get a good tomato, I turn into a full heathen, juice down my face, not caring that I ate the part where the stem is. I also use them (PRO TIP!) as a gauge to tell if my knives are sharp.

This year, I’m growing my own because I have the space and farmers market tomatoes are priced like loose diamonds. I just got back in from pruning them, talking to them, and making them cozy, and I’m now comfortable admitting that I went beautifully overboard with twelve separate varieties that I planted WAY too close together.  LEARNING EXPERIENCES, HOMIES. 

At this point, they’ve branched out into two long rows, indistinguishable from one another save for fruit shapes. In other words I NEED TO DO A LOT OF PRUNING.  Sometimes it doesn’t go well.  Sometimes I host my own impromptu, un-face-space-related hack-a-thon. Sometimes, like any NORMAL ADULT HUMAN I start ripping and clipping branches away like Christmas morning, seeking the bounty within. Sometimes I clip the wrong branch.  Sometimes I clip a branch with fruit on it and as a result I wonder who gave me a college degree. BUT THEN I REMEMBER FRIED GREEN TOMATOES ARE A THING AND I’M COOL WITH IT.

I have to suspect that clever (albeit as hack-a-thon-proned as I) southerners figured this out to also save their gorgeous young tomatoes, and I thank them dearly for that (as well as for saving me the embarrassment of a semi-public tantrum as I plunk down in the dirt, clutching sticky tomato stems, cursing my cavalier cutting, as chitlin in the playground across the street stare, probably thinking I’m upset because I have so many vegetables to eat).

Sliced

Tzatziki mise

Tzatziki

Tomatoes mise

Tomatoes assembly line

Tomatoes Frying

Tomatoes Final

[recipe id=”110″]

Dessert, Snacks

Watermelon & Cracked Black Pepper Granita.

July 28, 2015

It’s safe to say that this heat is stifling, right?  In the land of “it never gets too hot so we don’t bother with air conditioners”, today is uniquely hellish. I, for one, am embarrassingly namby-pamby when it comes to excessive heat, and am interested in any way to alleviate that feeling. 

Enter: Watermelon and cracked pepper granita. This granita is one of the simplest, most low maintenance, and refreshing frozen treats I’ve ever made, and on a day like today when minimum input for maximum output sounds like an equation I can get behind, this busts right on in like the Kool-Aid man to save the day (without the destruction or sugar or clothing stains or general-chemical-shitstorm-ness).

Mise

Blender

Pan

Scraped served

[recipe id=”280″]

Snacks

Radishes with Butter & Salt.

July 10, 2015

Have you guys seen all these fancy salts that are out now?  I’m a sea salt chick, with big cellars of it by both my cutting board AND stove. Apart from home-salt, there are tiny maldon tins in all of my handbags (suffer through an undersalted meal? GAWD NO!). If I’m feeling SUPER fancy I break out this truffle salt that I hereby refuse to live my life without. Reading back, basically, I AM A SALTY CHICK. There are a LOT of different salts out there, and I’m here to tell you that most of them are bollocks.

How much fennel salt do I need to get the fennel flavor into a dish without using fennel?  So much fennel salt that by the time you tasted the fennel you couldn’t actually taste the fennel because your palette was blown out by salt. When I was in school I thought having these fancy salts was cool and could add nuance to a dish but do you know how often I’ve used my fennel salt, my smoked sea salt, my coffee salt, my herbs de province salt?  Like, one time. And now they sit there because I can’t throw out a jar of salt I payed $12 for, especially knowing full well how under-salted the average non-packaged food experience is. BUT, if you are the same breed of asshole as I am, here’s a way to play with your stash of flavored salts in which you actually might get the salt and the seasoning: radishes with butter and salt.

Radishes with butter and salt is a classic french snack, and, like anything perfectly (read: infuriatingly perfectly) French, it’s simple, delicious, rustic and yet refined. Any salt will do for this snack (definitely reduce the pinch to a sprinkle if you go kosher), but I’m using the aforementioned, otherwise useless, fennel salt.

[recipe id=”37″]