The Weekend Menu: One Pot Chicken with White Beans and Chorizo

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Healthy comfort food IS a thing, y'all. In fact, it's my thing X 23957484. If you watch my cooking stories on Instagram and YT I'm always trying to whip up something that soothes the soul while keeping the body in primo shape. Why? Because I'm an individual that loves delicious food and eating, but I'm also a top-level narcissist that isn't super eager to expand my waistline. Quite a conundrum, until I went to culinary school and figured out how to make food I love to eat with healthy ingredients.

And with that being said, may I present to you One Pot Chicken with White Beans and Chorizo - a healthy, comfort-food triumph. There is nary a dairy or bread within 50 miles of this dish - just a high fiber, high protein, good carb masterpiece of flavor.

Here's what you need and how to make it (and you can catch the video pinned to my Instagram page for a visual on the step-by-step):

INGREDIENTS:

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 chorizo sausage, casing removed, sliced thin (or about 1/2 -3/4 cup)
  • handful of basil, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups white beans
  • 4 chicken legs/thighs (if you use breasts make sure they're skin on and cook for less time)
  • salt and pepper to season

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425F.
  2. In a large, oven-friendly pan (I use a le creuset), heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and then add your diced onion to the pan. Add just a touch of salt to open up the onions and speed up the cooking process, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Don't let the onions brown - if they start to do so, turn your heat down.
  3. Add your minced garlic and cook for about a minute before adding your thinly sliced chorizo. You want these thinnnn because we want to get them crunchy before going in the oven! Keep stirring this on medium heat until everything is well combined. Feel free to add some basil during this part of the process also.
  4. Once your chorizo is on the way to crunch-town, add your tomatoes to the pan. After another few minutes, gently press down on them to release some of the juice and to open them up. Then, deglaze your pan with white wine, allowing it to come to a boil, then reducing the liquid in half.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add your white beans (drain them first). Then season this mix with salt and pepper and taste test it!
  6. Next, wash and dry your chicken legs. Salt and pepper both sides, then place them on top of everything in the pan, skin side up. Coat with a bit of olive oil and get the whole pan into 425F oven for about 25 minutes or until the juices run clear on the chicken.
  7. When the chicken is done, if it's not quite as brown as you want it, turn on your broiler and brown them up quickly in the oven. Watch them the whole time. Do not walk away from the oven with that hot broiler on, unless you want burned One Pot Chicken.
  8. Pull from the oven, snap a pic and tag me on the GRAM and enjoy hot! Feel free to garnish with more basil.

Love Yourself: Bring This Healing Vegetable Soup To Work For Lunch

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February is for lovers, right? Ha. No. While I've practiced and enjoyed a Valentine's Day in my life, and will certainly do so again, I find that February is actually one of the best months out of the year to practice self-love rather than consume yourself with romance.

It's an even better month to do it than January frankly, because too many of us make resolutions too lofty to keep. February is when reality sets in again, the snow is blowing, and the time to self-reflect, heal yourself, and fall in love with who you are all over again is happening.

I practice self-love through cooking, which I try to do many days a week. I find that feeding myself a meal cooked from scratch brings a fulfillment that ordering in simply cannot match, even in the most hungover of moments. I like to make big batches of food - whether it's chicken meatballs or a delicious soup, so I can feed myself for days.

Today I'm sharing my recipe for Seasonal Vegetable Soup, a hearty and filling soup that's packed full of nutrients to keep your personal engine running smoothly. I say "Seasonal" because the same cooking method can be applied with any vegetables you choose. 

I went with Romanesco, Broccolini, Yellow Squash, and the classic onion, celery, and carrot. My chicken broth is flavored deeply by adding a chicken carcass from a roasted chicken made earlier in the week - doing so adds flavor because it's pulled from the bones, along with vitamins and minerals to enrich the stock even more for good health. You can make this soup in about an hour, but it always tastes better the next day.

Seasonal Vegetable Soup

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small head of Romanesco, chopped
  • 2 yellow squash, halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small head of broccolini, with most of the stems removed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • chicken carcass (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • handful of parsley stems
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper

Procedure:

  1. In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook onions until they start to become translucent. Adding a tiny bit of salt at this point helps to open them up and speed up the cooking process.
  2. Add carrots and celery and cook veggies, stirring occasionally until brown. Add the rest of your vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes, browning a bit and adding flavor to the pan.
  3. Deglaze your pan with white white and let reduce for a minute or so.
  4. Add your chicken stock, and your optional chicken carcass, along with your bay leaves, thyme, and parsley stems. Boil for about an hour.
  5. Remove the carcass, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Here’s The Last Guacamole Recipe You’ll Ever Need

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When it comes to guacamole, forget any ingredient that isn’t REAL. Like, no mayo (we used to put this in as a kid but my Mom is Dutch and couldn’t help herself). Nothing weird. 

Just fresh, fresh, fresh organic produce. That’s it. Follow my lead and you’ll have the tangiest, richest guacamole ever and you’ll never deviate from this basic recipe.  

If you want to hit your guac with a touch of spice, I’d recommend jalapeño. If you gotta have tomato in yours, make sure to remove all the seeds before you add to the mix.  

The correct way to combine everything is with a fork, after meticulously chopping the onion, garlic, and cilantro. If you are lazy however, and in a rush, like moi, I’d highly recommend dumping everything into your food processor and pulsing until you get the consistency you want.  

Guacamole is all about keeping it real, party people. Final tip - save the pit and place into your bowl to keep it from going brown. A squeeze of lemon or lime on top will help also.   This recipe should feed at least 6 people.

Ingredients: 

  • 5 avocados
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • 2 limes (peel these and put in the entire fruit) 
  • black pepper 
  • salt

Procedure: 

  1. Peel your limes and place everything into the food processor. Pulse until your desired consistency is reached.  
  2. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately or place pit into the guacamole so it doesnt get brown.  

These Big Game Veggie Chips Are Easy to Make After Work

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I love chips. Any kind of chip. Put it in front of me and I will eat it. For the Big Game this year I'm making a homemade variety of baked vegetable chips because 1) they are delicious and 2) it means I can eat some junk food too because these are so low calorie.

A vegetable chip can come in many varieties: beet, sweet potato, potato, zucchini, you name it. I like baking up sweet potatoes and beets personally, because they don't require breading and the delicious cucumber and dill dip I made to go with them makes them extra tasty. These are certainly a crowd-pleaser, and if you're like me and you like to cook, any excuse to use a mandolin is like, super fun.

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When you're baking veggie chips the point is to essentially dry them out in the oven while adding flavor, so a low heat (250F) along with some spices and just a touch of olive oil will get the job done. I can't wait to bring these to my pal's Super Bowl party this weekend!

 before the oven...

before the oven...

It will take you about 90 minutes from start to finish to get this snack going, and you can make them the day before so hit the store and get cooking with me.

Baked Vegetable Chips

Ingredients:

  • sweet potato
  • beets (any variety)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • garlic salt
  • paprika

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 250F. Wash and peel your vegetables of choice. Set your mandolin to a thin setting (you want the chips to get nice a crunchy) and slice away.
  2. On parchment paper on a baking sheet, lay out your chips so they don't overlap each other. Season, get a bit of olive oil on them (I like using a squeeze bottle for this) and get into your oven. Cook for about 50 minutes until they're crunchy.
  3. Flip them at about 30 minutes, and then again right before they are done. Let cool and enjoy!

 

Cucumber and Dill Yogurt Sauce

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Ingredients:

  • 2ish cups of whole greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • handful of fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. In a blender or Vitamix combine your cucumber, lemon, garlic cloves, dill, salt, and pepper until sorta smooth.
  2. In a bowl, fold your veggie mixture into your greek yogurt. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Enjoy with your chips or any other snack.

Gluten-Free Lamb Meatballs, Sweet Potato Noodles, and Lemon Yogurt Sauce

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There's really something to be said for the spiralizer - the device that helps turn everyday vegetables into twirls and strands of noodles that delight the culinary senses. Especially loved by celiacs around the world, being able to enjoy a veggie noodle in place of a white-flour number is a welcome treat. If you haven't tried a naturally gluten-free noodle yet, what ya waitin' for?!

I personally adore sweet potato noodles - they're creamy and sweet, and make a perfect pairing with a savory protein like lamb. The combo, especially with a touch of lemon, is quite nice and feels like comfort food without being too comforting to your waistline.

Per usual, I loosely came up with the recipe while wandering the aisles of the grocery. I don't plan meals ahead a ton and am often inspired by what looks best when I see it, piece-mealing together what I plan to make as I make my way through the produce section and by the butcher. That's what happened with this gluten-free Lamb Meatballs, Sweet Potato Noodles, and Lemon Yogurt Sauce dish. Felt inspired and took a chance - and it paid off! I also made a bowl without the meatballs for a quick vegetarian version for a friend.

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This recipe is perfect for anyone on a diet, those who need to avoid gluten, and generally for people that like their delicious food to be healthy as well. It provides a good serving of protein and good carbohydrates and is totally satisfying.

Let's get to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

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Lamb Meatballs

  • 1 lb. freshly ground lamb
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup whole greek yogurt (you can use whatever fat content you want)
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 2 tablespoons dried cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ghee for cooking

Sweet Potato Noodles

  • 4 cups peeled sweet potato noodles (raw)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • micro arugula for some green color at the end

Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup whole greek yogurt
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (or more)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • pinch salt
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PROCEDURE

Some notes on procedure before starting. First, prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking this meal. It can come together fairly quickly and I find that when you're juggling 3 things at once it's easy to get messed up. Measure, chop, and be prepared.

Next, DON'T BOIL your sweet potato noodles. Only sauté or roast them. They'll disintegrate into nothing if you boil them and your dinner will be a sad puddle of watery goo. I made my meatballs first, noodles second, and the yogurt sauce while my meatballs finished cooking.

Lamb Meatballs

  1. In a food processor, combine red onion, lemon, and onion and pulse into fine. Mix that into a bowl with your lamb and the rest of your ingredients (except for the ghee). Don't combine everything together to death - you want light, fluffy meatballs so try not to make everything too compact.
  2. Before you form your mixture into balls, do a taste-tester in a pan to check for seasoning. Over medium heat, add a bit of ghee and just a tiny meat of meat and cook through (it should only take a minute, so don't skip this step). If they taste great, you're good to shape your balls. If not, season and taste again.
  3. Shape your balls and place them on a sheet of parchment paper or alum foil. Once you get your ghee going into a pan over medium-high heat you'll want to get them in quickly for even cooking so having them shaped before is important.
  4. Cook the balls on all sides, flipping once each side gets brown. They should take about 10 minutes and don't be afraid to reduce the heat to avoid burning.
  5. When done, let some fat drain off by placing them on a cooling rack over a piece of fresh parchment paper. If you're great at getting things timed, your meatballs may be done when your noodles finish and in that case serve immediately. If not, turn on your oven to 450 so you can re-heat your meatballs quickly when your noodles are ready.
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Yogurt Sauce

  1. In a bowl combine all your ingredients and taste. You'll add a scoop or 2 of this to your dish when complete and it will melt into your noodles.

Sweet Potato Noodles

  1. In a large sauce pan, quickly sauté your minced onion and garlic in olive oil. These will brown quickly so be very careful with the heat. Add your noodles and additional olive oil if necessary, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using tongs, sauté the noodles. They'll cook through in about 5-7 minutes depending on how thick they are. They should be fairly tender when done, but still feel a little al dente like a real noodle. You want them to have some body.

To serve, add noodles to a bowl, add a dollop of yogurt sauce and the meatballs, and then finish with a sprinkling of micro-greens like arugula for a bit of color and flavor.

I hope you enjoy this gluten-free meal as much as my friends and I did! Satisfied taste-buds and tummies for sure. Leave me your comments below on what you'd like to see me make for dinner next!


Try This Diet-Friendly Dessert: Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

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It's diet season, y'all. I know, January is the worst. It's also like a full-on SNOWPOCALYPSE on the east coast right now, and I know that if you're locked inside you'd like something fun to do, ideally something fun that's also delicious. You prob have chocolate and bananas lying around your house allowing for the perfect, diet dessert alternative to left-over holiday treats, cookies, and pies (you really should ditch those by now, come on). One little bite of a frozen chocolate banana isn't going to kill you, but 2 week old pie could do some damage in more ways than one.

A frozen banana bite is satisfying, sweet, filling, and won't totally break the bank if you're on that dreaded New Year's diet (even though my recipe is a bit more indulgent than others you may find on the internet). I'm skipping coconut oil in favor of butter and cream for these bites because they turn out about 1935784 times more delicious, and also, I didn't have any coconut oil (shocking, I know).  I eyeballed the cream until it thinned out the chocolate enough to make it appropriate for dipping and then decided butter was also a great idea for some additional richness because, yum. If I'm going to convince you to skip cake in favor of these, they should at least taste heavenly, one tiny little bite at a time. Don't go overboard and shove them all into your mouth at once and you'll have successfully conquered the sugar monster by feeding it a little, but not a lot.

On to the recipe!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 bananas, cut into thin slices

PROCEDURE:

1. Find a metal bowl that will fit inside one of your sauce pans so that the bottom of the bowl could touch water inside of it, but so that the rim of the bowl fits outside of the sauce pan. Or use a double boiler. Point is - you want the bowl to sit in water in the sauce pan. Fill the pan with some water.

2. Add your chocolate chips to the bowl and get the heat going to medium high. Stir the chocolate as it begins to melt. Add the butter and cream to help the chocolate thin out a bit. It will start to get shiny and when it does, you're ready to start dipping your banana slices. Keep the heat on low during this part so that your chocolate sauce stays thin.

3. Have a piece of parchment paper ready to go on a sheet pan. Using 2 forks, dip a slice of banana into the chocolate mixture with one fork, shake off a bit of the excess chocolate, then slide the slice off the fork with the other fork so that it lays flat on to the parchment paper. This will keep as many sides of the banana slice looking pretty and covered in chocolate.

4. Dip all the slices, then wrap the sheet pan in plastic wrap and get into the freezer for at least an hour. Enjoy these little treats whenever you have a craving for something sweet!


How To Perfectly Time Your Thanksgiving Dinner

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I'm a French Culinary School grad, so Thanksgiving is like my Super Bowl. Getting everything timed perfectly for dinner can be a bit of an art and I don't like to take chances, so I really think through my process and write out a list to help me get dinner on the table HOT for my family.

If you're cooking this year, give my list a once-over and see if it will lend a hand. I focus on the mains: turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans - so add extra time if you make more dishes and if you do everything the day of. I start my prep the day before, and I recommend you do as well.

The Day Before

9am: Prep Turkey; wash, dry, remove wings for confit, dry brine and get into fridge overnight.

10: Confit wings; cook at 250 for 5 hours, remove from heat and let come to room temp, then fridge over night.

6pm: Prepare stuffing; cut bread into cubes and dry out in a 250 oven for an hour.

6:30pm: Gravy Base; make a roux and add stock, boil, then bring to room temp and fridge overnight.


Thanksgiving Day

8am: Make turkey stock; take turkey bones and brown along with onion, carrot, celery, add water and herbs and cook for 2.5 hours.

9am: Create stuffing base; cook onion and celery and sausage, mix with bread and get into the fridge.

11am: Add turkey stock to gravy base for traditional gravy, and gluten-free/dairy-free gravy.

12pm: Cook the turkey in parts; breast at 450 then 300F, and legs at 500F. 

1pm: Remove stuffing from fridge so it can come to room temp and prepare the green beans.

2pm: Cook the stuffing, and pull turkey from the oven. Finish the gravy with brown bits from turkey pan.

3pm: Cook rolls. Then re-heat the rest of of the meal in this order:

  • green beans
  • stuffing
  • turkey

3:15pm: Brown confit wings

3:30pm: EAT UP, TURKEYS.


Gravy 3 Ways: Traditional, Gluten/Dairy-Free, and Vegetarian

GRAVY FOR EVERYONE

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The things you do for your family, amiright? This year, due to dietary restrictions and for the health of my loved ones, I'm making 3 different varieties of gravy - a traditional gravy, a gluten and dairy free gravy, and a vegetarian gravy. Le sigh. I'm starting the day before to make it easier on myself, but in reality, making gravy is pretty easy when you make a gravy starter like I do.

Yes, the secret is a gravy starter! You can make this the day before in a flash. In essence, it's just a roux combined with stock. Simple to re-heat, or keep low on the stove if you make it the day of Thanksgiving. When you're ready to turn it into the real deal, you simply add turkey stock and the brown bits from your turkey pan and flavor til it's perfecto. Or, if you go the vegetarian route, you can add brown bits from whatever veggie main you've maid (prob mushrooms, or something).

Let's get started first with my personal favorite: traditional gravy, made with butter, flour, homemade turkey stock, chicken stock, and a whole lotta love.

TRADITIONAL GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Brown bits from turkey pan
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce

PROCEDURE

1. The base for your gravy is a roux - a combo of butter and flour that thickens up stock. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Once melted, quickly stir your flour into it with a whisk and stir continuously for about 5 minutes to cook the flour. You'll want to get a roux a nice light, golden brown color. It should kind of expand and look like a science project in your pan. It should smell nice. If you burn it, start over.

2. Once your roux is cooked, add chicken stock in a steady stream while stirring. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil then a simmer. Your gravy base will start to resemble gravy as it thickens over the heat. You can season a bit here but I always hold off until my turkey stock is done and I add the liquid and brown bits from my turkey pan. Let this cool and put in the fridge if you're making it ahead, or keep it warm if it's close to dinner time.

3. To make turkey stock (I highly recommend doing this in addition to using chicken stock in the base) brown your turkey bones in butter, then brown  onion, carrot, celery in the same pan. Put everything back in the pan, along with black pepper and parsley stems, then add water to cover and cook for about 2 hours. Strain and ta-da: turkey stock!

4. When it's dinner time, get your gravy base back on the stove and to a simmer. You'll want to add some turkey stock to make it taste like turkey gravy, and you can deglaze your turkey pan (only if the bits aren't burned) with some white wine. The brown bits may be so flavorful that you'll want to add them to your gravy just a bit at a time until your gravy is the right flavor. You may not even need to season with salt, but I do add black pepper generally. I also add a hit of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire. Then, it's gravy time.

 

GLUTEN-FREE / DAIRY-FREE GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance (to replace the butter)
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour 
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Brown bits from turkey pan
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

PROCEDURE

In this gluten-free and dairy-free gravy, simply follow the directions for the traditional gravy but use Earth Balance instead of butter, and gluten-free flour instead of flour. The roux on this one may require a bit of management on the proportions since we aren't using traditional ingredients. You'll want the consistency to be like a thick paste before you add stock. ALSO - CUT OUT THE Worcestershire sauce in this one - most are NOT gluten-free.

I'll assume if you're eating a dairy-free gravy, you won't be adding butter to your turkey pan for brown bits, so feel free to add these to your gravy for flavor.

 

VEGETARIAN GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Small amount of white wine
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Brown bits from your main veggie dish

PROCEDURE

For a vegetarian gravy, follow the recipe for traditional gravy, but use vegetable stock in place of chicken/turkey stock. When it's dinner time, deglaze the pan used to make your veggie main to get any brown bits off the bottom, and add to your stock a bit at a time until it's really tasty. Season and you'll be ready to go!

-side note, a keen reader just told me Worcestershire sauce also contains fish sauce so it isn't vegetarian so don't add to your gravy. Who knew?!


How To Cook The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Of All Time

GOBBLE, GOBBLE, Y'ALL

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Happy Day Before Thanksgiving, my loves! My favorite holiday is upon us, and as it stands, I always start cooking the day before. You could, conceivably, do it all the day of, but why kill yourself over it? If you're the chef, like me, get started today and make room for an extra glass of wine tomorrow.

Today I'm sharing how I cook my turkey, and brace yourself, because it's a bit unconventional. It yields however, the most delicious bird ever, so get into it. Here's what's up: I cook the bird in 3 separate pieces for maximum flavor, tenderness, and to keep it super moist. That's right. I take the bird apart into the breasts, legs/thighs, and wings and cook each piece in a different way. And while it means I can't present the bird as the pièce de résistance of my table, it's so effin' good it don't even matter. Oh, my turkey also cooks in like 2 hours so that's pretty awesome also. How? Super high heat - it's the best, guys. 

THANKSGIVING TURKEY 3 WAYS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Turkey (keep the neck and organs)
  • Box of Kosher Salt for dry brine
  • Dried herbs for dry brine like rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • 1 big plastic bag/trash bag (not food but you need one)
  • Canola Oil (about 8-9 cups for the confit, plus more for the breast/thighs)
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 10 TBSP honey, give or take
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 apple

PROCEDURE

the day before

The day before Thanksgiving, or two days before, we're going to confit the wings of our turkey and also apply a dry brine to the rest of the turkey. To "confit" means to slow cook an animal protein in it's own fat, or the fat of another animal. Because I don't want to buy gobs of duck fat, I just use canola oil to confit my turkey wings. I even buy 4 extra wings because they turn out so good. So with time in mind, I confit the day before as it takes many, many hours. The day of, I brown the wings in a pan right before dinner and they're crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. It's a great way to enjoy a part of the bird that otherwise goes under-appreciated.

When the wings are removed I apply a dry brine of kosher salt and dried herbs all over my intact bird. I'll break down the bird to the breast and thighs the day of for cooking. A dry brine gives a lot of flavor to the bird and is way easier than a salt water brine. Trust me on this.

1. Wash and dry turkey completely. Save the neck and organs and set aside in the fridge. Cut off the wings of the turkey and set aside. Combine your dried herbs of rosemary, sage, and thyme with kosher salt (you'll be looking for about 2-3 cups of salt/herbs because a lot falls off). Pat the salt/herb combo all over the outside and inside of the turkey. Grab an enormous plastic bag, or a fresh trash bag (my preferred method) and place the turkey inside, making sure to twist the bag so it's air-sealed as best as possible. Put that turkey in the fridge until cook time on Thanksgiving.

2. To confit the wings, completely submerge wings in oil at 250 degrees for 4 to 5 hours (you could get away with 3.5 hours the day of) then let the wings (still in oil) to come to room temp for at least 2 hours before putting the wings in the fridge. Brown them in a pan right before meal time. You'll want to season the wings with salt, pepper, and your herbs before placing in the oil.

the day of

On Thanksgiving Day, I start early so that I can get a good turkey stock going for gravy from my turkey bones, but the actual cook time on the bird is like 90 minutes or LESS. I know - it's a far cry from your mom and grandmother's slow-cooked turkeys, but when you blast the bird with heat, skin-on, it seals in moisture, browns the skin beautifully, and makes for super tasty meat. Plus, it's really easy. As I mentioned before, I cook the breast and thighs separately at different temperatures but the same method, because they SHOULD be cooked at different temps so they can be pulled at the right time for well-doneness. The thighs inherently take longer and should be cooked at a higher temp than the breasts, so removing them from the bird makes a lot of sense. When you do this, you also get the rib bones for stock which guarantees excellent gravy.

1. Remove your turkey from it's trash bag (lol) and wipe off any excess salt/herbs that remain. At this point we'll be breaking the turkey down into pieces - if you've never done this before I highly recommend you watch a how-to video on YouTube. Remove the thighs/legs first, followed by the breast. Hold onto the ribs - break them into smaller pieces and save for stock/gravy.

2. Heat your oven to 500 degrees F for the thighs (if you have 2 ovens, heat one to 500 and the other to 450 for the breast). 

3. Wash, dry and chop your fresh herbs. Rub them over the breast and thighs, then give your turkey a little massage with room temp butter to give it a layer of fat over it's skin. This can get messy, but don't worry about it. If any of the herbs fall off just put them back on. No big deal. Place the thighs in a low-lying dish (you could choose a glass casserole to make it easy) and throw in some onion and apple. Drizzle with canola oil (this helps them get nice and brown). Get them into your 500 degree oven and cook until they hit 160 degrees on your meat thermometer. They'll continue to cook a bit once they're pulled from the oven and when we re-heat the thighs for dinner they'll cook just a bit more. While the thighs cook, drench them in a mixture of melted butter and honey a few times (I use a brush to do this) so they get a nice, crunchy glaze to them. Because the heat on this part of the bird is so high, you may end up burning bits of the herbs in the pan. I tend to avoid the liquid that comes off the thighs for gravy just in case there's anything burned in it because I don't want to risk imparting that flavor into the gravy. When you cook at 500 degrees you run the risk of some brown bits that border into sort of burned territory. Worry not though - the liquid and brown bits that come off the breast will do just fine!

4. For the honey/butter glaze - simply melt butter in a sauce pan and add honey, keeping at a very low temp on the stove for easy access.

5. When the thighs are done, pull them from the oven and wrap them gently in aluminum foil. Get your oven to 450 for breast-cooking time. I like to put the breast on a rack over a pan - because they cook at a lower temp there's less risk of any burned bits in the pan, which means tasty gravy for all. Do the butter rub along with the herbs, and the canola and add onion and apple to the pan. Cook the breast at 450 for about 30 minutes to get a nice brown on them (and moisture seal), and make sure to get the butter/honey glaze going on it during this time. Drop the heat to 300 degrees, then cook the breast until they hit 145 degrees. Again, they'll cook more after being pulled, and they'll cook a bit more when re-heated for dinner. Wrap in aluminum foil until you're ready for dinner. If you serve the breast right away let it sit for at least 15 minutes before eating so that the meat re-absorbs all the liquid that comes to the surface.

6. When it's time for dinner, get your wings out of the fridge so you can brown them in a pan. Add a bit of canola or clarified butter and brown them up. Once brown you can cut pieces off of them - they will surely be the hit of your Thanksgiving meal. 

7. Reheat your breast and wings for about 5 minutes at 300 degrees, and slice into beautiful pieces for a serving platter for your Thanksgiving table.

8. Eat up, and enjoy the tastiest bird you've ever eaten.


You Must Try The Insanely Delicious Mushroom Toast from the Gjelina Cookbook

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O M F G !

This toast will blow your socks off.

My Cookbook Club and I got together this week to make our favorite dishes from Gjelina, the crazy tasty restaurant in Venice, CA. They put together a gorgeous cookbook of the restaurant's dishes and it's quite extensive and thorough. The restaurant is best known for their pizza, but their veggie sides and pastas also fall under the category of insanely delicious.

I'm a sucker for mushrooms and decadence, so I chose to make the Mushroom Toast to bring to dinner. If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying a classic dish like Mushroom Toast, I suggest you immediately get yourself to the grocery to pick up the ingredients. Like, right now. I'll wait.


Back? Picked chanterelles or Hen of the Woods or another tasty mushroom variety? Delicious. I went with Hen of the Woods due to availability, and also scored on some Creme Fraiche at Citarella (lucky me). I cooked this dish on my Instagram Story and shared the step-by-step procedure, and I'm happy to share that this is a really easy dish to make. Since Stories disappear after 24 hours, I've put together a compilation of the video. Apologies that it's not the highest quality - it's hard to turn an Insta Story into great video content afterwards but you'll get some good tips from it nonetheless. The garlic confit is made using a process I learned in culinary school rather than the way Gjelina suggests it - I think my way is easier and less time-consuming.


here's the recipe from GJELINA in it's entirety:


Excerpted from Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California by Travis Lett. (Chronicle Books) Copyright © 2015

Our customers freak out over this dish, and there is a good reason why — seared mushrooms, lashed with house-made crème fraîche, a splash of wine, and a few herbs, mounded on top of grilled bread is always a crowd-pleaser. We make no claims for inventing this combination, but we proudly carry the torch. There’s a classic version that calls for brioche and wild spring morels, with an optional shower of black truffles. A similar, far less opulent version, can be made with everyday cremini mushrooms and simple ciabatta or a baguette. We opt for a variety of mushrooms supplied by our friend Matt Parker at Shiitake Happens, including nameko, clamshell, pioppini, chanterelle, and hen of the woods, in addition to porcini, matsutake, and the seasonal morels we occasionally score.

Buttermilk stirred into good-quality heavy cream left out to culture for a few days yields a decadent crème fraîche with limitless possibilities. Real farmstead raw-milk crème fraîche is very difficult to come by, but if you are lucky enough to have access to it, by all means use it here. Do not substitute store-bought sour cream. It doesn’t hold up to the heat and may break and curdle the sauce.

When our guests ask me for a recipe and find out that it calls for homemade crème fraîche, they’re often hesitant, imagining that making crème fraîche is a complicated process. The reality is that it’s very easy to make, but simply requires a few days of waiting to pull off. The plus side is that crème fraîche keeps well in the refrigerator and can be used to enrich pasta dishes, risotto, soups, vegetables — anything you want to bring a little richness to. Whip it gently to serve over desserts, slightly sweetened or not, in place of standard whipped cream.

Unlike the other toasts in the Gjelina cookbook, this is best served piping hot, before the crème fraîche starts to set. Small portions can be served as an appetizer, but a large slab of this toast alongside a glass of earthy red is the way I prefer to take it down.

GJELINA’S MUSHROOM TOAST
SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS:

For the mushroom toast:
one 6″ hunk ciabatta, halved horizontally and then crosswise to yield 4 pieces
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for toasting the bread
1 lb mushrooms, such as nameko,
hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, matsutake
6 cloves garlic confit, sliced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
1¼ cups buttermilk crème fraîche (instructions below)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

For the buttermilk crème fraîche (makes 4 cups):
4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

For the mushroom toast:

Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread, then grill or toast bread. (To grill, heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat, and grill the bread for about 3 minutes on each side.) After grilling or toasting, brush the tops lightly with olive oil again.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the mushrooms, in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan. It’s important that the mushrooms sear and not steam. Cook, without stirring, until the mushrooms are well browned, about 3 minutes. Give the mushrooms a good toss to turn them and then briefly sear on the other side.

Add the garlic confit to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the crème fraîche until well incorporated. Cook until slightly thickened, season with more salt and pepper if necessary, and stir in the parsley and thyme.

Place the toasted bread on individual plates. Spoon the mushrooms and pan sauce on top, dividing it evenly. Serve hot.

For the buttermilk crème fraîche:

In a 1-quart jar, combine the cream and buttermilk. Partially cover and let stand in a warm spot (about 78°F) until the cream tastes slightly sour and has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, 24 hours to 3 days.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


How To: Start Your Own Cookbook Club!

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GET COOKIN'

Share a meal with your #FoodieFriends

My friend Hannah is such a muse. A few weeks ago she suggested we start our own Cookbook Club amongst our pals that love to cook and eat. I immediately said YES without hesitation or understanding the details, and found myself a part of what is now my new favorite social event. I love the idea so much I've decided to get started on building a Cookbook Club #community - if you're curious, you can sign up here to stay notified on what's happening over there. It's still a work in progress but I'm thinking it would be really cool to share book suggestions, other club's dinner parties through photos and recipes, your original recipes, and more stuff I haven't thought of yet as the idea grows. Feel free to contribute your thoughts.

For the many of you who inquired on my personal Instagram as to what Cookbook Club is and how it works, here's the deal: 


1. Gather your friends that love to cook or are willing to learn. Also gather your friends who don't like to cook but know how to bring wine to dinner.

2. Select a cookbook that you all love. My friends and I picked the "Gjelina" cookbook first from the fab restaurant in Venice, CA.

3. Choose which recipe you want to make from said cookbook. It may be a good idea to divvy up categories to different folks but you can organize however you wish.

4. Bring that dish(es) to your Cookbook Club party, coming with an enormous appetite depending on how many people participate. Everyone eats all the foods, drinks all the drinks, and has so much fun.


- pretty easy, and so fun - right?!


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COOKBOOK CLUB "GJELINA" MENU

My friends and I chose a few selections of dishes across different categories from the "Gjelina"cookbook, and I made the Arugula and Raddichio Salad with Crispy Shallots and the Mushroom Toast y'all went bananas over on my Instagram Story. LDP went with the Braised Fava Beans and Rye Rags with Sausage, Mushroom and Fennel. Hannah chose Grilled Summer Squash, Za'tar & Cherry Tomato Confit along with Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette, and Lime Yogurt.

We gathered together during Game 7 of the World Series to watch my precious L.A. Dodgers play the Houston Astros. Though we didn't win the game, we did win DINNER. It was so incredibly delicious, and felt like a special gathering as we bonded over the creation of our recipes and the creative time spent together. Everyone I've spoken to about Cookbook Club wants to join or start one of their own. I'm also going to start a chapter in Los Angeles with my pals there.

 The fruits of our labor...

The fruits of our labor...

 Rye Rags with Sausage, Mushroom, and Fennel made by LDP.

Rye Rags with Sausage, Mushroom, and Fennel made by LDP.

 Arugula and Raddicio Salad with Crispy Shallots

Arugula and Raddicio Salad with Crispy Shallots

  Grilled Summer Squash, Za'tar & Cherry Tomato Confit

Grilled Summer Squash, Za'tar & Cherry Tomato Confit

 Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette, and Lime Yogurt

Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette, and Lime Yogurt

A vid of my mushroom toast! So tasty.


Drooling yet? We were too, don't worry. I absolutely LOVED participating in Cookbook Club and I'm so excited to spread it around with more friends and family. Have any thoughts on which cookbook we should cook from next? Let me know in the comments below!


What's For Breakfast: Sprouted Egg Salad Fiber Bites

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Any good nutritionist will tell you that a breakfast full of fiber and protein is one that will keep hunger and cravings at bay until late in the day. If you’re into eating healthy, or you’re trying to lose weight – these Sprouted Egg Salad Fiber Bites are PERFECT for you. I’ve been crushing 2 or 3 of them each morning and simply put, it’s my favorite new breakfast – especially because you can make all of the ingredients ahead of time and eat throughout the week. The base of these bites – Scandinavian “GG” crackers. You can find them here on Amazon if your local store doesn’t carry them. They come in a couple of flavors (I prefer the Pumpkin Seed) and can be tragically boring and dry on their own, so I wanted to create a healthy but satisfying topping for them that wasn’t a dip or hummus. The light bulb went off one morning as I realized a fried egg wouldn’t exactly fit on top of one of these – but that eggs cooked in a different form would (so meta, I know). Enter healthy egg salad – made with just a few simple ingredients and delicious enough to please even the pickiest eater. Making a great egg salad is quite easy. It comes down to perfect egg prep (start in cool water, bring to a rolling boil, turn off heat, cover for 14 minutes, crack and peel) that results in a perfectly yellow, crumbly yolk. You can see how this is done in the vid below.

Add whatever vegetables you like to these Bites, and you have breakfast! My personal preference is to top them with sprouts and micro greens so they look tremendously dainty, and add a layer of sliced bell peppers underneath the egg.

[recipe id="12649"]

The Cure-All: Chicken Soup from Scratch

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Grandmammies around the world are absolutely right when they say that chicken soup is "Jewish Penicillin". Why? Because chicken soup is full of vitamins and minerals that come to the body's aid when it needs them the most. It's really all about the broth: full of collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline - in other words, excellent elements that can help seal a leaky gut, protect your joints, help you sleep better, give energy, and provide immune support. Plus, chicken soup is gluten-free and dairy-free so if you have diet restrictions this is the miracle golden liquid you've been waiting for. So next time you're sick, you should def gobble up as much chicken soup as your body can handle - because when it's made from scratch, damn it's good for (and good in general).

Here's my recipe for a Chicken Soup that is almost from scratch (I sometimes don't make the broth from scratch but under this scenario I use a salt-free stock from the store, and add chicken bones for the nutritional benefits and to create an insane flavor!


[recipe id="12336"]

Egg Flowers: The Healthiest 15 Minute Make-Ahead Breakfast Ever

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In the morning making breakfast is absolutely the last thing I want to do. I don't eat it often out of pure laziness. I know, right? Succumb to apathy, slow down your metabolism, and eat something nuts for lunch to make up for the lack of protein in the A.M.  Shame on me. Shame on you. Let's solve that dilemma, yes? Enter the make-ahead breakfast of true champions everywhere: egg muffins without the carb factor. Yes, just straight up baked eggs with a veggie or two thrown in along with good fats to start your day right. No reason to get bogged down with a gluten out the gate. Trust me - eating clean in the morning will have a remarkably kind effect on your cravings the rest of the day.

I'm going to call these "Egg Flowers" because of the nice way the zucchini cups the egg like the petals on a flower. Don't worry about your design skills however as these Egg Flowers are so easy to bake even a child with a supervising adult could make them, lols. You'll just need a mandolin to slice the zucchini into thin pieces to create the flower that will hold each egg inside of it. Add tons of fresh herbs and you'll have a flavor festival in your mouth you won't soon forget. If you make a batch of 12 or 24 you'll have enough Egg Flowers to keep your appetite in check for at least 5 days (I'd toss any leftovers after that period for food safety).

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[recipe id="12268"]

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What Kind of Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipe do you want to see next on TheLoDown? Let me know in the comments!