The turkey, the mashed potatoes, and the stuffing often get starring roles on the Thanksgiving table, leaving cranberries off to the side as a obligatory “relish.” But the enduring place of the cranberry at Thanksgiving is anything but happenstance — and canned cranberry jelly, that ever-polarizing ridged and wiggly Thanksgiving dish we know today, has a very specific story born out American agriculture. Do you know why we eat canned cranberry jelly? Let me explain.
I’m a member of a Facebook group where people share what they’re making in the kitchen: the trials, the tribulations, the recipes. It’s a fun group, and most of the cooks are southern like me. Recently, a member posted this, “I made really good rice!!!!!!! yeah 2014.” I responded to the post, asking what brand she used, prepared to hear about her amazing rice cooker. Her answer surprised me, though it shouldn’t have.
In a recent piece about frittatas for The Washington Post, food writer Joe Yonan discussed deciding which cheese to use for his spring frittata. He favors a salty feta, although he recognizes that not everyone agrees. For instance, he mentions that chef and cookbook writer Lidia Bastianich reaches for a rich, whole-milk ricotta (which I’d never thought to do).
Roasted beets are a mainstay in our house. As with most roasted vegetables, they’re simple enough that I can put them in the oven and forget about them, and they’re versatile enough that they make their way into salads, dips, grain dishes or even sandwiches. But with summer barbecue season on its way, I’ve begun to see a number of recipes out there celebrating the grilled beet. And an excuse to spend more time outdoors is something I can really get behind these days.
Leeks are a staple in my household. They are a sturdy, versatile, flavorsome vegetable with many uses, and you will always find a few lurking in my produce drawer. A real kitchen workhorse, they can be blanched, steamed, braised, or grilled and then used in soups, stews, omelet fillings, or even confit. But sometimes it can be confusing to encounter a leek. How much of the greens should one cut off? What’s with all that grit?
Q: I recently bought Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and have been making delicious stir-fries for dinner several times a week. I’d like to share my newfound skills with dinner guests, but most of the recipes serve 3 to 4 as “part of a multi-course meal.”Making several stir-fries is logistically difficult when trying to deal with guests’ arrivals and a 1 1/2-year-old.
Irio [eer-ee-o], noun: In the Kenyan tribal language of Kikuyu, irio just means food. But it usually refers to a simple, plain dish of mashed potatoes, maize, and peas or greens.A couple years ago I spent a week in Kenya, in the highlands of the Rift Valley about an hour away from Nairobi. I really enjoyed the good food of this agricultural region. Here’s a very typical dinner dish: bright green irio!We ate plain Kenyan food all week, prepared by wonderful cooks.
Ugali [oo-gahl-ee] noun: In Kenya, ugali is the name for the most common mealtime starch: a thick, stiff porridge made from white cornmeal or red millet.In Kenya, ugali is one of the most common dishes you can find. Served with meat or mashed vegetables, it’s practically the national dish. It’s found throughout Africa, in fact; in South Africa it may be called pap, and in Zimbabwe you can find it by the name of sadza.
I picked up two prepared side salads at the store the other day, thinking they’d help round out the meal I was planning. They looked beautiful in the case and beautiful when I transferred them to serving dishes, but after one bland and disappointing spoonful, I was done. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, I have a few easy tricks for turning a boring side salad into something tasty with none the wiser.
Chive blossoms have been the prettiest thing at the farmers’ market for two weekends in a row, and both neighbors on either side of me here in Seattle are growing them in the front yard. I’m seeing them everywhere I turn! But what are chive blossoms? Simply put, they’re wild chives with beautiful purple flowering blossoms. You’re probably familiar with chives.
Building a great meal can sometimes feel like casting a big Hollywood movie: it’s easy to pick a starring main dish — it’s finding the supporting cast that can be tough. What is the best way to choose side dishes that will complement the main course without distracting from it, will look great on the plate, and won’t require more time and energy than you can spare? Consider these six elements the next time you are looking for a good match for your show-stopping main dish.
I received several questions and comments during Dinner Week asking for discussion and help on pairing side dishes with main dishes. This left me scratching my head a bit, as I think it’s hard to discuss this generally, without a specific menu in hand. I thought about the way that I assemble my own dinner party menus, though, and some patterns emerged. Here are a few very general thoughts on putting together a good dinner.
I was a vegetarian for fifteen years, a time when grains and legumes were an everyday mainstay. Now, although I do eat meat and fish, I still rely on hearty, satisfying side dishes to accompany small portions of salmon, chicken or pork.This time of year, a hearty side dish filled with whole grains and protein-packed beans or lentils is what keeps me going. And the great thing about so many of these side dishes is that they honeymoon as a wonderful, filling mid-day meal.
Some might like them perfectly smooth and buttery, others a little rustic and chunky, but when it comes to mashed potatoes, nobody likes gluey. Over at Gilt Taste, the innovative folks at Mission Street Food have shared a recipe so foolproof, even the name promises success: Guaranteed Non-Gummy Mashed Potatoes. Starch is the culprit behind paste-like potatoes, so this recipe first removes some surface starch from the cut potatoes by soaking them in water overnight.
Q: I will be cooking Valentine’s Dinner for a large group of people and I decided to cook chicken cacciatore. For the side, I heard fennel was a good match with chicken so I bought one and tried it but I really didn’t like it.Do you have any good, refreshing vegetable sides for this chicken dish?Sent by JuliaEditor: Julia, as avowed fennel-lovers we hate to see you give up on it so fast!
We’re always interested in learning
How To Peel Things, and when Kitchn reader Niamh recently asked about
celery root, we were inspired to try a few different techniques. Knobby and often hairy, celery root (also known as celeriac) may seem daunting to peel but it’s actually quite simple. Here’s the best technique we found.Celery root’s skin is too tough and bumpy to peel with a vegetable peeler.
Recipe: Chile Relleno with Pecan Cream SauceCategory: OmnivoreHow long does it take? 45 minutesName: MarinaWhy is it a favorite meal? This is more of an impromptu dinner party dish. It looks like it should’ve taken all day to make but it’s surprisingly quick!Chile Relleno with Pecan Cream SauceThis is an easier spin on a traditional Mexican dish, Chiles en Nogada. With the lean bison and quinoa it’s a healthy, well-rounded dinner.
What Are Gnocchi? While there are actually several different kinds of gnocchi (and we talked about some of them a few weeks ago), today we’ll just focus on potato gnocchi. This is a half-pasta, half-dumpling that hails from the northern part of Italy. As you can probably guess from the name, they’re made from cooked potatoes that get mashed, mixed with egg and flour, and kneaded into a dough.