Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sultry Umami Dandelion Greens, Favorite Brussels Salad, Thanksgiving Thoughts

I hadn't planned on making this, a fridge bursting with work projects and all. But I seized upon this bunch of greens so bright and crisp and decided there was room for *one more* recipe, a tangent to indulge myself in the mix of cooking and shooting out-soon cookbooks and far-away magazine stories.

I realized recently that a lot of what I make is what-to-do-with-leftovers, or rescuing food, as I like to call it: creating an exciting meal from the stragglers leftover from work. Sometimes my best eating comes from this spontaneous way of working; I'm not complaining. But it isn't often I go to market and just buy food that I want to make.

A good dandelion salad can be cathartic. I was determined to make the best that I knew how.

And then it almost didn't happen... There was the month-long, seemingly never-ending move (the second in two years!) which had me maxed out. We moved house, office, and studio. Add to that, I am a collector and supply the props for nearly all that I shoot, so this was a certain kind of, ahem, undertaking…. Then hosting family in the first week at new home, new jobs to tackle….you understand.

Despite coming up short for long enough that the greens were near spent, I set aside time and relished the experience. At last.

And, ate almost the entire platter, save for a few stems for dear husband later. So he, too, would know just how magnificent it was.

Consider this at your Thanksgiving feast. It strikes a bright note to offset the many rich foods you may be serving, and is just So. Damn. Good.

Sultry-umami dandelion greens salad

1 bunch dandelion greens, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed
2 tsp white wine vinegar 
3 cloves garlic
6 anchovy filets
freshly cracked black pepper
about 1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp finely chopped (rinse beforehand) preserved lemon rind, or more, to your taste*

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
a couple good glugs of evoo - or a tablespoon of bacon fat - to fry them in

Over medium heat in a cast iron or enameled skillet, melt bacon fat or heat olive oil until it shimmers in the pan. Add breadcrumbs and mix together. Stirring occasionally, move breadcrumbs around the pan to brown evenly, no more than 5 minutes. Transfer them to a dish.

Mash garlic and anchovies in a mortar and pestle to make a thick paste - kind of like this dressing. Add freshly cracked black pepper and the vinegar, and whisk to combine. At a bare drizzle, whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. 

If you are unsure about the consistency or if the dressing is in fact emulsifying, drizzle the oil more slowly, or stop altogether and look at the whisked mixture. Taste. Keep whisking. Add more oil as needed. The end result will be a deeply savory-tangy, velvety, uniform dressing which coats the leaves once tossed together in a large bowl.

After you have tossed the leaves and coated them well in the anchovy dress, transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle the diced preserved lemon, then the crisp breadcrumbs over all. Give a final shower of black pepper, and serve at once.

*The idea for the preserved lemon is to impart occasional tangy-pickled citrusy-yum, rather than a heaviness of "salt". So, taste. Add the 1/2 teaspoon at first and see if it is indeed enough. You can add more as you like, or place a small dish with a bit extra beside the salad as you serve it, to pique interest, offering your guests their own taste.

 See that you don't devour every last leaf and crumb.

Yesterday I shared another great salad on Instagram, which received many requests for "recipe please?" It too makes an ideal accompaniment to your Thanksgiving plans….

Shaved Brussels sprouts & apple salad with hazelnuts and Parmesan

15-20 Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed
3-5 Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples (any tart, crisp apple is good)
2 lemons
good olive oil
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, rubbed of their skins, and crushed gently under the weight of a pan
shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Slice sprouts very thinly using a sharp knife or mandoline. Transfer the lacy pile to a large platter or serving bowl.

Slice apples into narrow wedges and add to the shaved Brussels sprouts. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze it over the apple slices to prevent oxidation. Gently toss the apples, lemon juice, and sprouts together. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture and taste for fat-acid balance. Add the other lemon - or just a half - and more oil as needed.

Top with the crushed hazelnuts. Using a vegetable peeler or cheese plane, shave Parm over all. Add freshly cracked pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt, and eat at once.

For more Thanksgiving ideas,

This cornbread dressing I made for The New York Times -

In today's New York Times, which features 15 American Thanksgiving traditions, I produced the ultra cheesy baked Sweeney Potatoes, and the brioche-like Venezuelan "Pan de Jamon." We are a nation of immigrants, of many wonderful traditions, and so much terrific food.

When Thanksgiving has passed, turn your mind to the end-of-year holidays and celebrate with these sour cherry ganache chocolate rye sandwich cookies, my last Bounty column with Where Women Cook. Yes, the Creating from the Bounty column is ending, but don't worry. We dreamt up a new column for the next year, one which features Kid Chef! It'll be out December 1st...

But before Thanksgiving comes - and then goes - I want to share a few organizations that could use our help in the name of justice for all, and giving thanks. Whether you contribute time and/or money, give what you can in lieu of the recent election results.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope the journey through this year brought you closer to good food in every form, and to the great people you can cook and eat it with.