Beer and Vegetables One-Pot Dish

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Roasting vegetables is a go-to winter move in our house. Adding a splash of beer never hurts, either. And by splash, I mean a bottle or two. That’s why we’ve taken to a one-pot vegetable dish that lets us combine our love of vegetables, beer, LeCreuset and fancy things that did not require as much effort as they would appear.

 

 

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off: Winner of the salad round

vs.

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Raw. Healthy. Pretty. These salads have it all. But only one can win the Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off.

Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish, Thanksgiving side dishes should strive for two things: being fairly easy to make amid a dozen other things going on in the kitchen, and convincing everyone at the table that you are a genius. That’s what everyone goes for, right? The ability to say, “Oh, that? It was easy to make!” and sort of mean it while also presenting something that looks quite complex.

Both of these dishes win in that regard. They’re not hard to make. They’re essentially fun takes on slicing — one through a mandolin and the other through a shredder — that result in unexpected salads.

So let’s stack these dishes up according to some common Thanksgiving conundrums:

Easier to make: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad. If you have a mandolin, anyhow.
Will impress people at the table: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad. It’s just so pretty. Seeing paper-thin radishes hanging out with beets — it’s hard to beat (see what I did there?) that. The Kale and Brussels Sprout salad was just green on green, though it pepped up once I turned it into Kale Slaw.
Can be prepped ahead of time: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. In fact, massaging the kale with salad dressing and letting it sit for a day helped bring the flavors together. Yeah, I got sensual with my salad. So?
Will satisfy fussy eaters: Both lose here. But they’ll satisfy smart eaters. Focus on them.

All that said, the ultimate winner is … the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad.

As gorgeous as the Shaved Root Vegetable Salad is, you’re still eating a plate of raw root vegetables. Healthy and beautiful, yes, but so is the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. Using a familiar ingredient in a new way, where the taste still comes through but it’s transformed into a new texture, worked really well. And one batch lasted for several days. I do recommend the Kale Slaw trick with your leftovers — it added a nice sweetness, and brought more color to the dish. I was really happy with how it turned out.

The Shaved Root Vegetable Salad looks so great, but each bite is just a raw root vegetable with some dressing. It has a great wow factor if you plate each serving individually … but who does that on Thanksgiving? We’re looking for stuff that’s OK getting trampled by mashed potatoes and drowned in cranberry sauce and gravy. The Shaved Root Vegetable Salad is too dignified for such things.

Throw the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad on your Thanksgiving menu for an easy-to-make, filling, unique crowd pleaser.

Next Up: Some traditional dishes take on some modern dishes. We’re talking green bean casserole and Israeli couscous with butternut squash.

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off 2: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad: So pretty. So thin. We should all try to be more like Shaved Root Vegetable Salad. I mean, not you. You're already so pretty and so thin. But those other people. They should try.

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off continues today with a Shaved Root Vegetable Salad facing off against the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad, which then morphed into Kale Slaw.

Shaving things, as it applies to food, is more appealing than it first appears. I will now provide examples: chocolate shavings, shaving a paper-thin slice of apple and placing it in vodka, shaving potatoes and baking them instead of sitting in your pantry eating potato chips and crying. I am now out of examples, but you see the possibilities here.

Or perhaps it’s just my love of mandolins, a device that provides magical slicing options and the ability to accidentally commit suicide while cooking. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Behold: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. So good that you ignore the fact that "brussels sprout" is a weird thing to say. They should have called it "Baby Cabbage on a Stick." Imagine the state fair tie-ins and trickery. Damn, sometimes I wonder why no one checks with me on these things.

We’re kicking off the Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off today, as I am the type of person* who documents hosting his first Thanksgiving and then creates a fake movie trailer about it. First up, Salad No. 1: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. Next, Salad No. 2: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad.

If you hated brussels sprouts as a kid, I hope you’ve apologized to your parents for being wrong. Because you were wrong. They are delicious. They are what would happen if cabbage were miniature and grew on stalks. You cannot deny that that is nature at its finest. Think of something you like, and then imagine it miniature and on a stalk. Better, right? Yeah. Better. Continue reading

Happy Halloween: Black vodka, apple brie panini and our party’s mascot

Happy Halloween! We hosted our Boo! Boo! Booze party two nights ago and the house is still in recovery mode. It was well worth it, though, to get a chance to  throw in some creepy twists to our kitchen skills.

The Zombie Attack! game, with everyone hunting the house and yard for zombie versions of the guests, was a nice distraction as we kept food and drinks going in the kitchen.

The other highlights:

Boo! Boo! Booze!

Mummy Apples: white chocolate, then layers of peanut butter, caramel and pecans.

We’re hosting our Boo! Boo! Booze! Halloween party tonight. Among the treats: Mummy Apples, which are covered in white chocolate, peanut butter, caramel and pecans.

I’m turning the black vodka screwdrivers into shots, served in layered shot glasses, alongside a Witch’s Brew of orange juice, sherbet and other mysterious things like dry ice and probably a soy version of eye of newt or some such thing. That’s what witches drink, right? Continue reading

Bachelor Weekend, and why you need Bacon Salt

Bachelor Chow! Totino's Party Pizza, Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese, Bacon Salt.

Scott was on a business trip this weekend. As is tradition, he left me a care package filled with the makings for Bachelor Chow.

You may recall that Bachelor Chow, a delightful mix of Totino’s Party Pizza and Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese, is my comfort food. And what better reason to seek out comfort than being without your loved one for a few days?

I added Bacon Salt this time. Have you had Bacon Salt? It’s three things: 1) vegetarian, 2) delicious, 3) not on enough things you eat. Let’s review things that are better with Bacon Salt: Continue reading

Let us celebrate our independence by adhering to a strict dinner-party menu

While the desserts are patriotic colors, I couldn't commit to a true all-American theme. But there will be many coolers of beer. That's a national pastime I can get behind.

My name is Cavan and I’m a planaholic. So it’s no surprise that part of my routine for getting ready for parties now includes creating a menu on my iPad. Mind you, these menus don’t always make it to the actual party. They’re just for me. I mean, the iPad is busy during the party serving as a cookbook and stereo. It can’t just sit around on the table telling people what the food is.

… That’s why you also create labels for each dish.

Other people do these things, right?

Well. Anyway. Here’s what we have in the works for tomorrow’s Fourth of July party at our house.

I will never get tired of grilling pizzas. It seems hard, but is really so simple. Make a dough that’s somewhat thin and easy to handle, brush some olive oil on it, grill it for a few minutes to let it firm up, then hand it over to a party guest to top it. A few more minutes on the grill, and you’re in Pizza Heaven. Or as close as you can get without owning a wood-fire oven. This is yet another cooking trick I picked up from Sweets by Natalie Kay, proving her expertise even beyond sweets.

Another new trick is watermelon granita. Just like the vodka sodas, these started as a fancy desesert from bon appetit that I quickly transformed into a cocktail. It’s easy and magical. Fill your blender about 3/4 full with watermelon cubes (go small to help your blender out), two heavy splashes of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of sugar. Blend. Top with ice. Blend. Taste and add sugar to get to your own sweetness preference. Throw in some glub-glubs* of vodka.

*I stand by my belief that the best cocktails adjust themselves accordingly as the evening goes on, whether this means increasing or decreasing glub-glubs of vodka as the night goes on. The point is, add however much vodka you can handle. And then add a splash more. You can do it. I believe in you.

Comfort me, Bachelor Chow.

 

You're In My Vacation Home Kitchen

You're in My Vacation Home Kitchen. Yeah, I'm wearing a driver's cap with Mickey Mouse ears. Jealous?

As if fate needed to remind me that there is balance in life, I was lucky enough to spend a week in sunny Florida … followed by a week with a cold once I was back home. This added up to two weeks without much time in the kitchen.

While in Florida, we rented a vacation home, complete with a hot tub, pool, and, of course, a large kitchen. Funny how your favorite room in the house is no longer where you want to spend your time once you can see a hot tub out the window, though. So we instead relied on easy meals and my favorite pizza place in Orlando, Giordano’s, for Chicago-style stuffed pizzas with spinach, broccoli, garlic and olives. Yum. Let’s go back right now.

The week following paradise was spent in the middle of a snowstorm back in Minneapolis, fighting off colds. When I’m ill, I immediately want lots of fresh fruit. And I drink an unreasonable amount of mint tea. After that, though, all signs of my normal eating habits are dead to me, as I can barely muster the energy to make it to the grocery store, much less cook. Continue reading

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

I’ve had a craving lately that I couldn’t quite pin down. Then I realized: I want to eat spring.

Months of climbing through snow and missing quality time with the sun made me want to cook dishes that would trick me into believing it was springtime. If not all of me, then at least my tongue, and that’s a part of my body I try never to anger.

So I ran to the store without much of a plan and wound up with a new recipe: my Fresh Herb and Grain Salad. The fresh flavors come through in each bite, along with a great nutty texture, thanks to the mix of quinoa, farro and bulgur wheat. To add an extra bit of happiness and sunshine to the mix, I suggest eating this while riding a unicorn across a rainbow. Should unicorns have gone extinct by the time you read this, substitute a chariot led by puppy dogs and leprechauns.

As this was an eat-as-you-go kind of recipe, I just kept throwing in more dill and parsley until I was happy. Try the three grains out as a base for your own salad, then experiment with it and let me know if you like other herb combinations as well. The herbs are where almost all of your flavor is coming from, so be generous. I also tried this salad as a warm side dish, and it worked well. Just don’t cool the grains after you’ve cooked them if you’re going for that, then serve the leftovers as a cold salad later on.

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

1 C quinoa
1 C bulgur wheat
1 C farro
4 oz. clover sprouts (or alfalfa sprouts)
2 lemons
3 T olive oil
1/2 bulb of fennel
handful of fresh dill
4 oz. fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the quinoa, bulgur wheat and farro. I use a rice cooker for my quinoa, then rinse the farro and cook it in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes, throwing in the bulgur wheat about halfway through.

Meanwhile, juice both of the lemons and whisk with the olive oil. Mince the fennel bulb and finely chop the herbs and sprouts. Combine herbs and sprouts with lemon dressing.

Drain and cool the grains, then mix all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.