Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Guys, I’m seriously worried that I might actually be living in a Portlandia sketch. Sometimes I watch it, and I laugh and laugh and then look around nervously to see if anyone is giving me the “um, that’s you” side-eye. I think it was the Battlestar Galactica episode that hit a little too close to home.

Nerd aside: some of you may remember my little black cat, Special Ed. Oh how I loved that boy. So Special Ed, being much adored, had about a hundred nicknames (mostly having to do with the fact that he was a skinny, scrawny, wee little gentleman). So during the height of my BSG obsession,  his name became “Edward James ALMOST” (another fave was “Roger PALTRY”). Still makes me laugh.

If you haven’t seen Portlandia, you’re probably wondering what the bleedin’ hell I’m on about, but one of their sketches is about people who pickle everything (a dropped ice cream cone, a used band-aid, a broken high-heel). Well, stop laughing immediately because pickles are delicious!

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

(Yes, it’s true that I’ve mentioned Portlandia before in the Spiced Pickled Grapes post).

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Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

These pickled radishes are my go-to if I’m making tacos, quesadillas, or really any kind of  sandwich. They are so quick and easy and are just the perfect thing to perk up anything slow-roasted or long-simmered. Best of all, they’re ready in under an hour and last for weeks.

We aren’t ardent picklers, but we do have two favorites: quick-pickled red onions, and these tangy babies. You can also add herbs (I like thyme, bay leaf and tarragon best), chili flakes or whole dried chilies for spice.  I had a big tin of pink peppercorns that I picked up from Sahadi’s last time I was there so I added them as well.

Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds
Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds

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Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

Chinese broccoli is a tasty variation of the standard green, and we show you one delicious way to cook it with a sesame citrus dressing.

After what has felt like a gabillion months of (bone-chilling, face-freezing, fun-zapping) winter, this past weekend the sun peeked out from the behind the clouds and warmed our little corner of New York to a downright balmy 42 degrees.

So we did the only sane thing and grabbed our sunglasses, slathered ourselves with SPF8000 and went swimming in a crystal clear lake and let the fish nibble our vitamin-D deficient toes.

Just kidding! It was 42 friggin’ degrees so we braved the mud that is quickly replacing the permafrost in our driveway and drove to the little asian market we’d been itching to check out for ages.

Sure, by NYC chinatown standards the place is tiny but it packs plenty of great products into its two crowded aisles. Among many other fun things, we bought a bottle of ponzu, some chili-garlic sauce, a big jar of sesame seeds and, best of all, a huge bag of incredibly fresh chinese broccoli.  Aw yeah! Party at the Cliftons.

Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

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White Bean, Roasted Garlic and Feta Dip

White Bean, Roasted Garlic and Feta DipIt’s party season which, yay!!! So much fun. But also, boo!!! So much work. That’s why it’s great to have a few easy, fast and inexpensive recipes to fall back on when the hungry hordes arrive (auto-correct keeps changing hordes to whores. So if your house is full of hungry holiday whores, all the power to you!). Ahem, *adjusts glasses*.

Dips! Dips are great. Everyone loves dips. They can sometimes be a little boring though, right? I love a good onion or spinach dip, but sometimes I want to shake it up a little bit. This White Bean, Roasted Garlic and Feta Dip is basically like a Hummus but, to me, a whole lot tastier. It’s creamy from the yogurt, tart from the lemon and feta and plain old delicious from the roasted garlic. Awww yeah.

Best part? I bet most of the ingredients are in your pantry and fridge right now. Maybe not the feta cheese, but everything else is probably there. I’m right, aren’t I? Go look!

White Bean, Roasted Garlic and Feta Dip

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Cranberry Sauce with Cointreau

A cranberry sauce holds the Thanksgiving dishes together but you don’t want to spend too much time on it. Our recipe is quick and delicious.

Cranberry Sauce with CointreauHappy Thanksgivukkah everyone!

This is going to be a quick post because we’re in the midst of Thanksgiving cooking madness and if I’m gone too long, Matt will glaze the dog and confit the chickens.

If you haven’t made your cranberry sauce yet (don’t panic, there’s still time!), this is a very simple, tasty recipe that is ready in minutes. You’ll want to cool it before serving and next year, you can make it up to 4 days ahead.

This is a great place to use Cointreau (orange liquor) if you have it, but Triple Sec is a fine, much more affordable alternative.

You’re aiming for a balance of tartness (more berries) and sweetness (more sugar) – it’s not a bad idea to have extra of both on hand in case you decide you want to shift the taste either way.

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Make Ahead Turkey Gravy with Calvados (Apple Brandy)

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy with Calvados (Apple Brandy)

For the last few years, my Thanksgiving philosophy has been “Everything that CAN be made ahead SHALL be made ahead”. I developed this philosophy (religion?) several years ago when Matt and I decided to make Thanksgiving for 13 people in our teeny, tiny Brooklyn kitchen. Our oven could barely fit a normal-sized turkey, let alone anything else at the same time.  We made just about everything we could possibly make days ahead and heated things up while the turkey was resting.

Now we have a normal (ginormous, for us) kitchen, but the make-ahead strategy is still as useful as ever. That is what I love about this gravy (besides its heavenly flavor). I don’t know about you, but for me, the 10 minutes before serving Thanksgiving dinner are the most chaotic and I really don’t want to be measuring flour and reducing stock right at the last minute.

That’s why I really like this method. A few days ahead (or even a week or two), I make stock and from that stock, I make the gravy “base”. Then on Thanksgiving day, I reheat it (the longer it simmers, the better) and when the turkey’s done, I deglaze the roasting pan with some wine and add it to the already simmering gravy. Done! So much easier, seriously.

This gravy has a delicious touch of apple-y sweetness from the Calvados and apple cider. You could substitute Apple Jack, which is a really nice American equivalent and is a lot more affordable. I adapted a Barefoot Contessa recipe which has finely chopped onions in the base. Obviously this will give the gravy some texture so if you like it perfectly smooth, just use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to puree it.

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