So you just had a marvelous four-day break and are feeling a bit insulted by the harsh return to reality?  Here, try some of this:

Baked oatmeal with apple + cranberry sauce

  • 1 large apple, peeled and shredded
  • 1.5 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups water
  • leftover cranberry sauce
  1. Combine the oats, water, and apple in a baking dish and bake on 400F for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the cranberry sauce to the top and bake for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Serve with honey.

Yes, I suppose you will still have to go out and brave the world.  But you will be going out with something righteous and warm in your tummy, and that helps a little.  (Oh, and coffee?  That helps a lot.)


Have I mentioned how much I love my slow cooker, but resent the fact that it does just fine without me and actually seems to frown upon my frequent poking and prodding and stirring?  It seems to sternly imply that things were going just fine under its tantalizingly steamy lid until I came along with my big spoon to assault it.  And indeed, the slow cooker does turn the most unlikely ingredients into rather lovely dishes with so little involvement on my part that I can hardly claim any credit–especially if leftovers are involved.  Like in the case of this soup…

Turkey + rice + kale + sweet potato soup

  • turkey leftovers–whatever you have!  (I used just that drumstick in the picture and it was plenty, flavor- and meat-wise; however, a fistful of white meat or dark meat should work just as well, and so should a piece of the good old carcass)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 10 cups water
  • 1.5 cup rice
  • salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste (may I recommend chipotle pepper, cayenne pepper, and some oregano?)
  1. Put everything except the kale into the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Add the kale and cook for another 30 minutes.

Three-rice pudding

November 28, 2009

Remember how the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” kept Hansel in a cage and fed and fed and fed him to fatten him up?  (Oh wait–is this another one of those stories that has a gentler American version?)  Well, I’ve spent the last week feeling a bit like Hansel.  First there were the four days in New Orleans, each of which typically started with something like this:

and ended with something like this:

with a bit of something like this in between:

And then we returned home to not one but TWO back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners:

Turns out, even a scrawny woman with a pro-wrestler’s appetite needs to rest after a multi-day food marathon like that.  And you know what’s a restful, soothing, straight-back-to childhood dish that really hits the spot at a time like this?…

Three-rice pudding

  • 1.5 cup rice (combination of wild, brown basmati, arborio… or whatever you have)
  • 3.5 cups milk (skim, in our case, since that’s what we had–but how could additional fat here not be tasty?)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • a splash of vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  1. Combine everything and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down and simmer on low until soft.

(If you’re using a pressure cooker–which is just perfect for this, because you don’t have to worry about the milk boiling over and making a mess all over your stove–wait until you hear the whistle.  Once you’ve turned down the heat, 15 minutes in the pressure cooker should do the trick; it will take more like 25+, and some intermittent stirring, in a regular pot.)

This is a fabulous starting point.  From here, you may decide that you want to add more sugar, or honey, or some powdered chocolate…

Best enjoyed curled up on a sofa with one husband, two cats, and three episodes of Mad Men.

I know how easy it is to lose a home, a city, a country.

What’s that?  Oh, you are here to hear about Brussels sprouts and chestnuts?  You had no intention of walking into some dark navel-gazing introspectiveness?  Tough luck, my friend.  It’s Thanksgiving–my favorite holiday for many reasons, and god-free to boot!–and I’m about to give thanks first.  So, where were we?

I know how easy it is to lose a home, a city, a country.  I know how hard it is to start from scratch.  Yet here I somehow am, in this magical second chance at life that contains:

  • a cast of funny, kind, brilliant people–all healthy!
  • a second hometown that hugs me with the ferocity of a friendly bear;
  • a job that not only pays the bills but tickles my brain on a daily basis, still, all these many years later;
  • a guarantee that I will never, ever run out of books;
  • a home, in which there’s a kitchen, in which there’s joy.

The word “thankful” does not begin to scratch the surface of what I feel.

Ok, now we can get back to business.  Here’s the latest lick of that kitchen joy:

Roasted brussels sprouts with chestnuts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • ~2 large fistfuls of roasted, peeled chestnuts (you can roast them yourself… or, if you’re like us, you can pick up a jar at Whole Foods if you don’t want to risk repeating the exploding-chestnuts-in-oven episode, the aftermath of which resembled the brain detail scene from Pulp Fiction)
  • a generous glug of olive oil, and a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce
  1. Cut the sprouts into quarters and put them into an oiled baking dish.  Coat them with olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce.
  2. Roast on 400F for ~10 minutes.  Then, add chestnuts and toss to combine.
  3. Back into the oven it goes for another ~10-15 minutes.  It will be done when you decide the sprouts are tender enough.  And believe me, they will be delicious enough.

Cranberry sauce

November 25, 2009

“Cranberry sauce can be good? Really? Show me how, please!”  That was my plea to Serious Eats this morning.   I mean, sure, cranberries are darn handsome… but are we sure they are edible?  I can understand why the Pilgrims tried them–but now we have Trader Joe’s, and Subarus to take us there!

However, since I suffer from intermittent episodes of open-mindedness, I suddenly felt compelled to figure this out.  Is some south-European gene mutation responsible for my  inability to enjoy the sour cranberry concoction that stares at me from every Thanksgiving plate?  Or, have I been missing something: THE recipe, perhaps, that real Americans are born knowing?

The Serious Eats community came through with an abundance of suggestions.  There was talk of cranberry chutneys and salsas and sorbets, and of sauces involving horseradish and pomegranate seeds.  Sugar and booze frequently appeared in starring roles.  And I felt inspired, and I bravely plunged in.

Cranberry Sauce

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 orange, peeled and roughly torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-3 drops vanilla
  • 1/2 shot St-Germain liqueur
  • 1 12oz bag cranberries
  1. Melt the sugar in water on low heat to create a syrup.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

(…Do you suppose that eating a third of this sauce while standing over the stove officially makes me a convert?)

Vegetarian paprikash

November 23, 2009

This is Part II in the Must Empty The Fridge series, starring:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 5-6 medium potatoes
  • 2 smallish eggplants (or 1 large)
  • 1 bell pepper (composed, in my case, of 1/2 a green one and 1/2 a red one)
  • ~2 cups of liquid (chicken broth, vegetable broth, water, or a combination)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (at least!  …I won’t tell you how much I really used)
  • salt to taste
  1. Saute the onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes, eggplant, paprika, salt, liquid.  Simmer until the vegetables are soft; 15-20 minutes should do the trick.
  3. Add the peppers and let them get warm and happy for another minute or so.
  4. Serve over egg noodles.

Now, paprikash can be one of those comfort foods that transports some of us straight to our grandmother’s house, to a different continent and a different time…  But that’s perhaps only if sweet paprika is used?  I happened to use hot paprika, which gave the dish zero grandmotherly comfort but a whole lot of delicious roars and thunderbolts.

Galatoire’s revisited

November 23, 2009

Dear Galatoire’s

Just hours after we landed in New Orleans and I attended to some Very Important Business, Mr. Onepot and I donned the duds that make us look like a couple of proper young Republicans (yes, your food is good enough to justify even that requirement) and headed straight over.  And there you were, all these years and a hurricane later: still exactly the same, right next to that nudie girl neon sign on the western end of Bourbon St.

Oh, your soft shell crab in its many incarnations: as an appetizer, along some amazing shrimp; on top of a popmano, to make a good thing even better; as an entree, starring as its own lovely self…

Oh, your pumpkin cheesecake! somehow not even remotely related to the tired, predictable version that we typically encounter everywhere  around this time of year…

And then, just as we thought we couldn’t get any happier, you surprised us by combining three of our favorite things: coffee, booze, and fire!  Where has cafe brulot been my whole life?

Many thanks, dear Galatoire’s.  We will keep coming back despite your Republican dress code; we know you don’t mean it.