November 22 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

brussels sprouts, carrots, celeriac, kale, leeks, potatoes, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

As much as I want to start dreaming, planning and writing about The Big Meal next week, I can’t just yet. Believe it or not, the monster bunch of veggies pictured teetering on my table is just the prelude. I get a whole new load, especially for the holiday, early next week. So, instead, I’ll pour my cooking (and eating!) energy into the runners up – those side dishes I so wish could grace the Thanksgiving table, but to do so would be ludicrous and overindulgent. My tendencies could very possibly steer me that direction anyway! This week, have fun visiting and supporting your favorite Northwest market to enlist their meat & seafood expertise in support of this preview & salute to the sensational sides.

Friday – hold the pizza

creamy leek and kale gratin (Ivy Manning)
spiral sliced ham

Saturday – not your grandma’s spuds & carrots

caramelized leek mashed potatoes (Huffington Post)
honey glazed carrots (Food Network)
salmon cakes

Sunday  – a chicken in good company

shredded brussels sprouts & kale salad (Saveur)
roasted carrot and cumin puree (Food and Wine)
roast chicken

Monday – miso, harissa, & lemon…oh my!

roasted delicata squash salad (101 Cookbooks)
leek bread pudding (Martha Stewart)

Tuesday – from orchards to bogs

kale salad with local cranberries and hazelnuts (James Beard)
wild rice & mushroom stuffed squash (Martha Stewart)

Wednesday –  pre-feast soup night

celery root bisque (Bon Appetit)
ginger carrot soup (Food Network)
mama leone’s chicken soup + kale (Elephant’s Deli)
baguette

Thursday –  thanksgiving feast…stay tuned


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Friday –  hold the pizza

creamy leek and kale gratin (Ivy Manning)
spiral sliced ham

Not much could dissuade me from friday pizza night. But “crunchy brown butter bread crumbs” did just that. Had to squeeze this one in, so pizza to the back burner. I’ll simplify by buying pre-made New Seasons bread crumbs, which I’m sure have been toasted in olive oil already. But to gain that extra special brown butter flavor, I won’t skip the step of mixing the crumbs with just a bit of browned butter (and fresh thyme!). I’ll lighten it up just a little by using half and half instead of cream. And when I saw pre-cooked spiral sliced ham featured at New Seasons this week, I knew just where it belonged! Use any ham leftover in weekend lunches of ham and apple butter paninis.

Saturday – not your grandma’s spuds & carrots

caramelized leek mashed potatoes (Huffington Post)
honey glazed carrots (Food Network)
salmon cakes

Besides the big bird, the classic fluffy mashed potatoes seem to the quintessential, “must have” Thanksgiving dish. I can count on one hand the other times throughout the year that I make mashed potatoes. Either I build them up to be too much work (which they’re not), too sinful (which they don’t have to be), or just too darned Thanksgiving-ey. ‘Tis the season! I’ll make this caramelized scallion version (substituting my leeks), halving the recipe, and saving the big batch for the big day. I’m inclined to use whole milk instead of half and half, making up for any lost richness with copious amounts of butter and out-of-this-world caramelized leeks. And I always love a simple carrot side dish –  they make such a statement, in their whole state, with just a bit of their green top left intact. I’m likely to toss the carrots with just a bit of olive oil and roast them in a hot oven until they’re lightly browned and tender (roasting, in my opinion, is just the way to go with carrots to avoid that mushy cooked-carrot flash-back).  Just drizzle this melted honey, butter sauce over the top for their last few minutes in the oven. Again, New Seasons saves the day (and the main dish) by offering these delightful salmon cakes in their fish department. Pick up a couple per person, and lightly sauté in olive oil until the center is done and the outside is golden with just a little crunch.

Sunday – a chicken in good company

shredded brussels sprouts & kale salad (Saveur)
roasted carrot and cumin puree (Food and Wine)
roast chicken

This is especially for those who swear they don’t like brussels sprouts. How could this be? I don’t know – I adore the darling little mini-cabbages, cooked, raw, or anywhere in between. Maybe people are reminiscing about their grandma’s over-boiled, mushy, flavorless version from the 1970’s. Fast forward to this century, and the myriad of ways to roast these beauties to golden brown perfection is just endless. But tonight we’ll focus on the raw, shredded, salad version (mainly because I know I’m getting more, and those will be browned with bacon!). I’ll break out the MagiMix and shred both the sprouts and the kale in a jiffy. The dressing is a simple lemon mustard vinaigrette; the salad could easily be fancied up with some special farmer’s market cheese & nuts. I’m really tempted by this carrot puree for the actual big feast. But this is exactly how I end up with 3 card tables full of side dishes! Better to make and enjoy them now – get it out of my system! This carrot puree looks silky and smooth, a little tart, a little sweet, and a little smokey…YUM! My go-to New Seasons roasted chicken rounds out the Sunday supper nicely.

Monday –  miso, harissa, & lemon…oh my!

roasted delicata squash salad (101 Cookbooks)
leek bread pudding (Martha Stewart)

The last thing I’d call this hearty, succulent looking mix of golden roasted squash & potatoes, slathered with a bold miso/harissa combo, finished with a little crunch of kale and marconas, is a salad. I’d call it my main meal, for sure. Especially since it would be a perfect candidate in which to mix in some of last night’s leftover chicken. But since I’m on a Thanksgiving sides mission here, I’ll call it a salad too, and keep it company with a leek bread pudding. Now I’m all about bread puddings. New Orleans style (rich, bourbon & raisin laden), Oprah style (creamy & sweet, with lots of vanilla), and breakfast  style (fresh toast on steroids style). But, I’ve never made one starring leeks. This one looks to be almost like assembling a lasagna – layers of toasted challah chunks, soft & buttery leeks, and cheese, all covered with a milk/cream/egg custard and slowly baked. I’m fairly certain this meal does not qualify for any dinner in a flash designations, but hey, nothing’s going to stand in my way of my week of will-not-miss holiday side dishes!

Tuesday – from orchards to bogs

kale salad with local cranberries and hazelnuts (James Beard)
wild rice & mushroom stuffed squash (Martha Stewart)

I’ll improvise on this James Beard classic kale salad, making it into our own little slice of Oregon heaven. Start with a finely shredded kale salad, dressed with basic evoo & lemon juice. Special guests:  Vincent Family dried cranberries, straight from the cranberry bogs of the southern Oregon coast, and freshly roasted Willamette Valley Freddy Guys hazelnuts. (I make a stop at the Freddy Guys PFM booth each year around the holidays. Their chocolate covered hazelnuts, and chocolate hazelnuts spread, make perfect gifts for anyone – including yourself!) I’ll skip any onions, but just maybe add a sprinkling of soft, tangy, farmer’s market cheese. And look at me…I’m going to make my own main dish tonight! I adore a good stuffed squash, but do think them a bit overwhelming with everything else on the Thanksgiving table. Go crazy picking out your favorite local mushrooms – they are everywhere right now. I’ll use wild rice instead of white, and my wonderful delicata squash for stuffing. The baking time may be adjusted down a bit, as they cook a little quicker. You could easily add some browned sausage to the mixture for an extra special touch.

Wednesday – pre-feast soup night

celery root bisque (Bon Appetit)
ginger carrot soup (Food Network)
mama leone’s chicken soup + kale (Elephant’s Deli)
baguette

Nights like these, where there might already be all sorts of turkey day food preparations already under way (aka kitchen chaos), are perfect times to pull out the (pre-made) soups. I’ll put it on my weekend “to-do” list, whipping up a batch (or two or three) ahead of time. Both the celery root and carrot ginger soups are simple cook it, purree it, cream it processes, making them into a rich, velvety, decadent concoctions. This is where an immersion blender really is indispensable! No back and forth, pot to blender, etc. The chunkier, more substantial soup I’ve chosen is an all-time Elephant’s Deli family favorite. It’s a chicken soup that’s rendered just so unique with the addition of the Hungarian paprika. I’ll probably use a leek instead of an onion, some chopped celeriac instead of celery, and thinly sliced kale instead of spinach. Come Wednesday, I’ll pull out whatever soups I actually managed to make ahead, get them simmering on low, add a baguette and some wine, and I’m ready for any relative or friend that might arrive. In a really relaxed, avoid-the-kitchen-mess-today, way!

Thursday – thanksgiving feast…stay tuned

“What the Kale?!?”

Don’t panic and get out the compost bin if all of the sudden you have a giant veggie delivery coming your way, and you still have a fridge full.  Here are a few suggestions for preserving the bounty!  (Soups and stews freeze wonderfully in those gallon zip lock freezer bags.)

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