November 21 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

cabbage, carrots, celeriac, chicory, kale, onions, pumpkin

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 markets to enlist their meat & seafood expertise in support of this preview & salute to the sensational sides.

Friday – hold the pizza

savoy cabbage gratin (Orangette)
spiral sliced ham

Saturday – go fish

kale salad with local cranberries and hazelnuts (James Beard)
pearl barley and root vegetable pilaf (Bon Appetit)
halibut fillets

Sunday  – gratin, take 2

celery root gratin (Diane Morgan, Roots)
grilled new york steak

Monday – scrumptious in 15 minutes 

honey glazed carrots (Food Network)
crab & shrimp cakes

Tuesday – carving practice

crispy baked kale with gruyere (Food and Wine)
roasted chicken

Wednesday –  pre-feast soup night 

white bean and chicory soup (Gourmet)
smokey & sweet roasted pumpkin soup (Food52)
crusty bread

Thursday –  thanksgiving feast…stay tuned


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Friday –  hold the pizza

savoy cabbage gratin (Orangette)
spiral sliced ham

Not much dissuades me from friday pizza night. But, admittedly, I get totally sucked into the onslaught of Thanksgiving recipes, and just have to go in this direction at every opportunity. Seems like there’s a gratin for every veggie, with cabbage being no exception. I stumbled upon this recipe for cabbage gratin long ago when searching for a contribution to a frenchie feast. And oh, how glad I am that I did!  With just cabbage, onions, broth, and a decadent creamy cheese, this dish melds into a true masterpiece. I could enjoy it as the author suggests, on its own, with a hunk of good bread. For some reason ham seems to fit the bill nicely as an accompaniment, especially if you can get an easy pre-baked, pre-sliced version. Use any leftovers in weekend lunches of ham and apple butter paninis.

Saturday – go fish

kale salad with local cranberries and hazelnuts (James Beard)
pearl barley and root vegetable pilaf (Bon Appetit)
halibut fillets

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 Portland Farmer’s Market 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. The pilaf recipe is actually part of a larger roasted chicken dish. I go back to it again and again, just for the pilaf part, making it a bit healthier by using a couple tablespoons of olive oil instead of the bacon and bacon drippings. And I modify the recipe, using whatever root vegetable is calling out, and MORE of it – this week, I’ll use some carrots and celery root. New Seasons has halibut fillets featured this week at an extra-special price. Go get some  – quick, while everyone else is thinking turkey! I usually just rub it with a bit of olive oil, some salt & pepper, and maybe a sprinkling of lemon juice and fresh herbs if I’ve got any. Bake it at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes, and add to the veggie feast.

Sunday – gratin, take 2

celery root gratin (Diane Morgan, Roots)
grilled new york steak

I plan to transform my furry, knobby bulbs into something creamy and irresistible. The celery root adds a surprising earthy, herbal richness to a bubbly, cheesy gratin. This would be a fantastic choice for Turkey Day. Tonight I’ll grab some special occasion New York steak at New Seasons while it’s at a fabulous price this week. Marinate it in a simple olive oil, balsamic, garlic vinaigrette, and cook it up on the indoor grill pan as a perfect “side” to this farm fresh feast!

Monday –  scrumptious in 15 minutes

honey glazed carrots (Food Network)
crab & shrimp cakes

As we get closer to the Big Feast, simplicity is the name of the game. I always love a straight-forward 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 crab and shrimp 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.

Tuesday – carving practice

crispy baked kale with gruyere (Food and Wine)
roasted chicken

Kale, onions, torn sourdough, and gruyere…not much could go wrong here. Again, a really beautiful taste sensation, sure to receive rave reviews at the Real Feast if you save it. But just as fabulous on an uneventful Tuesday. I can see topping each serving with a poached or fried egg and calling it a meal. A made-by-someone-else roasted chicken would also be a perfect contender for a side. Not to mention the bird-carving skills you’ll hone, just in time.

Wednesday – pre-feast soup night 

white bean and chicory soup (Gourmet)
smokey & sweet roasted pumpkin soup (Food52)
crusty bread

Nights like these, where there might 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, hopefully whipping up a batch (or two) ahead of time. The white bean and chicory soup takes maybe fifteen minutes to pull together, plus a little simmering time. The bitterness of the chicory is gone, replaced by a garlicky goodness and white bean creaminess. I’ll put my immersion blender in the pot, pureeing it until it seems just right. You may be tempted to save this pumpkin one for the Thanksgiving table – it would be a lovely addition, with a few unexpected twists. It uses our cute little sugar pumpkins, some onions, and some other expected ingredients. The surprise comes when you add a tart apple and some smokey paprika and cayenne. Pureed, it’s a smooth, creamy, taste sensation! Come Wednesday, I’ll pull out the soups, get them simmering on low, add a favorite bakery bread and some wine. I get this going early, setting the stage for a casual help-yourself-when-you-want kind of dinner. I can be cooking away, for the feast ahead. And if an unexpected guest or two shows up, as tends to happen during vacations and holidays, no problem…soup’s on!

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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