Curly Fries

I am not a huge French fry person, but I do love curly fries. 🙂 When my husband surprised me with a spiralizer, I planned to use it to make zucchini noodle dishes… Somehow, curly fries moved to the top of the list. Zucchini noodles will be next!

This recipe was adapted from Ree Drummond, via Food Network.com. I think that they were especially delicious because of the seasoned batter. This recipe would be amazing with sweet potatoes too.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

For the Potatoes:

  • 3 large potatoes (I used Yukon gold)
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying (about 3 liters- I used a combination of sunflower and canola oil)
  • Kosher salt

For the Batter:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used Slap Ya Mama creole seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smitten Kitchen’s Creamed Spinach

This was a belated side dish to add onto my husband’s celebratory birthday meal. We love drawn out celebrations. 😉 (We also wanted to spread out our indulgences!)

This classic recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com; I modified the proportions and method. I may add shallots instead of yellow onion next time. It was fabulously rich and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach or regular spinach, tough stems discarded (I used baby spinach)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk and/or heavy cream (I used 1 cup whole milk & 3/4 cup heavy cream)
  • 1/2 of a large onion or 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Wash your spinach well but no need to spin or pat it dry.
  2. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. (I used a pasta pot without the insert.) Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach.
  3. Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by using a potato ricer (my favorite method), wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible.
  4. Coarsely chop the wrung-out spinach.
  5. Wipe out large pot so you can use it again. (I actually used a medium saucepan instead.)
  6. Heat milk or cream in a measuring cup in the microwave or in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. (If using the microwave, heat the mixture immediately before using.)
  7. Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes.
  8. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes.
  9. Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes.
  10. Stir in nutmeg, chopped spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.

Do ahead: Creamed spinach can be made one day ahead and chilled, covered then reheated over moderately low heat until hot. However, it really tastes best eaten immediately.

Creamy Cucumber-Avocado Salad

This fabulously easy salad was creamy and delicious. We ate it as a side with grilled vegetable and fresh ricotta sandwiches, but it could also be served as a light summertime main dish.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used avocado mayonnaise, chipotle Cholula hot sauce, and cilantro. My kids thought that it tasted like guacamole. 🙂 Great.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 1 seedless cucumber (about 3/4 to 1 pound), washed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used avocado mayonnaise)
  • juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Chipotle Cholula, to taste
  • chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce; adjust to taste.
  3. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with chopped herbs.

Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin

This dish was part of our Thanksgiving feast as a second potato dish to compliment my son’s mashed potatoes. (He almost exclusively eats potatoes on Thanksgiving Day!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by J. Kenji López-Alt, from his book titled “The Food Lab.” I substituted unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes for the peeled russet potatoes and added extra garlic and cheese. 😉 I actually added the cheese at the wrong time (oops!) and was thankfully still quite pleased with the results.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: about 2 hours

  • 3+ ounces finely grated Gruyère or Comté cheese
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 to 5 pounds unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine cheeses in a large bowl.
  3. Transfer 1/3 of the cheese mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Add cream, garlic, and thyme to cheese mixture.
  5. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.
  7. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish dish with butter.
  8. Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically.
  9. Continue placing potatoes in the dish, working until all of the potatoes have been added. The potatoes should be very tightly packed. (If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole.)
  10. Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. (You may not need all of the excess!)
  11. Cover the dish tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 minutes longer.
  13. Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to the oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.

Cornbread Dressing with Bacon & Sage

I am not usually the biggest fan of Thanksgiving stuffing but I was in love with this version. This classic Southern stuffing had wonderful flavor and a perfect balance of crunchy and custardy texture. Perfect. It will definitely be part of my Thanksgiving menu next year.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Josh Miller. The skillet cornbread is baked in a piping hot cast iron skillet sprinkled with salt- resulting in a fabulously crispy crust. This cornbread would be delicious on its own as well. I made the cornbread a day in advance. The stuffing can be completely assembled one day before serving and baking.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Dressing:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss together 5 cups cornbread cubes, torn white bread, 1/2 cup melted butter, and sage in a large bowl.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. In 2 batches, add cornbread mixture to skillet; cook, stirring, until bread is toasted, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer corn-bread mixture to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean.
  4. Add bacon to skillet; cook over medium, stirring often, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon; add to cornbread mixture.
  5. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet; discard remaining drippings or reserve for another use.
  6. Add onion, apple, celery, parsley, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add onion mixture to cornbread mixture.
  7. Crumble remaining 5 cups cubed cornbread into cornbread mixture.
  8. Whisk together 3 cups broth, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl until blended. Fold into cornbread mixture.
  9. Spoon mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  10. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup broth and remaining 1/4 cup melted butter. Bake in preheated oven until lightly toasted, about 35 minutes.
Note: Dressing may be assembled up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill until ready to bake.

For the Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread:

  1. Add oil to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; place skillet in oven, and preheat to 450°F, preferably on convection. (Do not remove skillet while oven preheats.)
  2. While oven preheats, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in buttermilk until smooth; stir in eggs, then stir in butter.
  4. Carefully remove skillet from oven; pour hot oil from skillet into cornbread batter, stirring until blended.
  5. Working quickly, sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in bottom of skillet, then immediately pour batter into hot skillet (do not stir), and return to oven.
  6. Bake at 450°F until top is golden brown, about 22 minutes.
  7. Immediately invert cornbread onto a wire rack (to retain the crispy crust); let cool completely before using, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinegar

Brussels sprouts are an essential part of my Thanksgiving weekend menu because my mom and mother-in-law are here to gobble them up with me. 🙂 In this dish, they are sweetened- and darkened- with balsamic vinegar.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I significantly reduced the amount of breadcrumb topping. It was a nice side dish to serve on Thanksgiving because it comes together quickly and requires minimal oven time.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs baby Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed (cut larger ones in two)(I used an entire stalk of sprouts)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta in small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 T minced shallots
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veal stock or rich chicken broth, more if needed
  • 2 T chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with 2T olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Heat butter and remaining 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy.
  4. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes; add more stock if needed.
  8. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary.
  9. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs and chopped parsley on top.

Roasted Carrots with Chimichurri

In addition to serving the Voltaggio brother’s cornbread stuffing last Thanksgiving, I also served this savory-sweet roasted carrot dish from Bryan Voltaggio’s cookbook. I loved that the sauce incorporated the carrot greens and that additional greens were used as a garnish.

The recipe was adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio. I used rainbow carrots and modified the proportions in the sauce. I also found the sauce too coarse to pass through a fine mesh sieve. (I often skip that step anyway!) 😉 It is interesting that his technique is to cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces after they are cooked.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Roasted Carrots:

  • 2 1/3 lbs (1 kg, about 13 medium carrots) carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 2 T (28g) olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp (1.5g) cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (3g) ground peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
  • 3/4 tsp (4.5g) fine sea salt

For the Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1.8 to 2 oz carrot greens
  • 2 oz (56g) baby spinach or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 1/2 T (35g) olive oil
  • 1 T (14g) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) fine sea salt
  • small carrot greens, for garnish

To Roast the Carrots:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Peel and trim the carrots.
  3. Set a large skillet with a lid over high heat and add the olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the carrots and cook, stirring, until they are golden brown and caramelized.
  4. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, and salt; stir to blend.
  5. Cover and transfer to the oven to cook for 35 minutes, or until the carrots are completely tender.

To Make the Chimichurri Sauce:

  1. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Prepare an ice bath.
  3. Blanch the carrot greens for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to the ice bath.
  4. Blanch the baby spinach (or parsley) for 1 minutes and transfer to the ice bath.
  5. Once cool, squeeze out the spinach and carrot greens and put in a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  6. Add the garlic, oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and purée until smooth. Set aside.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Remove the carrots from the oven, cut into bite-sized pieces, and transfer to a serving bowl.
  2. Spoon some of the Chimichurri Sauce over the carrots and garnish with small carrot greens.
  3. Serve family-style with reserved sauce on the side.

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