We absolutely love Vietnamese food, so it’s no surprise that we are loving our Vietnamese Home Cooking book by Charles Phan. Lots of stuff looks pretty complicated but so far the effort has been well worth it. This was a tasty new way to eat sweet potatoes. Many steps, and it certainly would have been easier (and tastier) with a real grill instead of a grill pan, but the end result was delicious. (And the sizzling scallion oil was super cool.) Not that I have any business saying this, but perhaps an easier variation could be roasting the sweet potatoes and then tossing with the scallion oil, cilantro, and lime?


Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro, Scallions, and Lime (Charles Phan)


  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced on the bias into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup scallion oil (see below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Zest from 3 limes


1. Fill a large wok or stockpot with water. Place a three-layer bamboo steamer in the wok or over the top of the pot, taking care that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil.

2. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on each layer of the bamboo steamer. Cover and steam 5 to 6 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are just tender. Transfer to a sheet pan, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Prepare a medium-hot fire for direct-heat grilling in a charcoal grill (you should be able to hold your hand 1 inch above the grate only 3 to 4 seconds). Put the sweet potatoes on the grate and grill, turning once, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, until they are a deep golden brown.

4. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add the scallion oil, cilantro, and lime zest. Toss well to coat and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.



Scallion Oil


  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions, green part only
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil


In a heatproof bowl, combine the scallions, sugar, and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Pour the oil over the scallions; it will sizzle vigorously. Stir gently, then let cool. If not using right away, cover and refrigerate. The oil will keep for up to 1 day.



We’re big fans of brassicas here. (It’s cool, I’ve only recently learned that word myself.) As you can tell, we cook a lot of cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. Hey, the attractive nuisance loves him some cabbage-based veg, so who am I to deny him such pleasure?!

Here’s a great new way to prepare cauliflower from one of our new favorite cookbooks, Mesa Mexicana, by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. I recommend cutting the florets relatively small (bite-sized) so they’ll brown quicker and more thoroughly.


Braised Cauliflower with Parsley and Lime (Mesa Mexicana)

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice


Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Briefly saute the cauliflower with the salt and pepper just to coat with oil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking, tossing frequently and adding a few tablespoons of water at a time as necessary to avoid burning, until the cauliflower starts to soften and brown evenly, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and lime juice and serve.


Leftover turkey? Meet mole! This was a good recipe but not an all-time fave. I’ve realized I’m not a chili fanatic, but if you are, you might give this a try.


Turkey Mole Chili (Food & Wine)


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons pure ancho or New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or turkey stock
  • Two 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup finely ground tortilla chips
  • 1 1/4 pounds roast turkey, diced (4 cups)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Rice, warm tortillas, cilantro, chopped onion and sour cream, for serving


  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chile powder, cumin and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder and sugar in 1/4 cup of the broth and add it to the casserole, along with the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.
  2. Stir the beans and ground tortilla chips into the sauce and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add the turkey, season with salt and pepper and simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Serve the chili with rice, tortillas, cilantro, onion and sour cream.
Make Ahead: The chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing: Ripe, black berry-inflected Malbec.


And I decided to follow an actual recipe for the white rice, rather than just the bag. Butter is good. From our new favorite Mexican cookbook by the Border Grill chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.


White Rice (Mesa Mexicana)


  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Place the rice in a large bowl (not a colander) and rinse under cold running water for 5 minutes. (If you use a colander, the starch remains on the rice, leaving it sticky.) Drain

Pour the water into a medium saucepan, add the butter and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, salt and pepper and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.


And for the veg, we tried this super simple, very delicious chard recipe from the Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Yes, there’s butter. And yes, we’ll be making this one again. And again. And again…


Seared Greens (Mesa Mexicana)


  • 2 bunches red or green chard or mustard greens
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


Trim and discard the stems of the greens and wash and dry the leaves. Stack the leaves, roll into cylinders and cut across the rolls into 1-inch strips.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbly. Saute one-quarter of the greens with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and a pinch of pepper until the greens are limp, 30 seconds to 1 minute. If the greens begin to brown before they wilt, sprinkle in a few drops of water for steam. Transfer to a covered platter and repeat the procedure with the remaining 3 batches of greens. Serve immediately.


Lots to be thankful for this year… including these delicious Thanksgiving recipes! Here’s what I made this year.


Cape Cod Chopped Salad (Barefoot Contessa)


Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Salt Pork (Bon Appétit)



Cornbread, Sausage, and Pecan Dressing (Bon Appétit)


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 pound day-old cornbread, broken into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch pieces (9 cups)
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch slices celery
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped toasted pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs


  • Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 250°. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish; set aside. Scatter cornbread in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake, stirring often and rotating sheets halfway through, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.
  • Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into 1/2-inch–1-inch pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with cornbread but do not stir.
  • Heat 3/4 cup butter in same skillet; add onions and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to cornbread in bowl.
  • Return skillet to heat. Add vinegar; cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, for 1 minute. Pour into bowl with cornbread. Gently fold in 1 1/2 cups broth, pecans, if using, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Add salt and pepper. Let cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk 1 1/2 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Fold gently into cornbread until thoroughly combined, taking care not to mash cornbread (mixture will look wet). Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover and chill.
  • Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).


Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp (Barefoot Contessa Parties!)


  • 5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 14 by 2-inch oval baking dish.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.


And, of course, the Attractive Nuisance’s family recipe: Chocolate Pecan Pie

Dry run

Since we bought way too many brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, I figured I’d do a dry run of this new recipe. Good news! We loved it last night and are excited to eat it again tomorrow. Plus, there’s a secret ingredient! Intrigue! Suspense! Bottom line: if you need a last minute non-vegetarian vegetable recipe for the holiday, try this. It’s prett-ay, prett-ay good…

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Salt Pork (Bon Appétit)


  • 1 cup 1/4-inch cubes salt pork or pancetta (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 large shallots, peeled, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, trimmed, halved
  • 1-2 tablespoons juice from jarred dill pickles


  • Blanch salt pork in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salt pork to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside. DO AHEAD Salt pork can be blanched 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Cook salt pork in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until about 3/4 cup fat is rendered, 10-12 minutes. Carefully strain drippings into a small bowl; return 2 tablespoons drippings and pork to pan.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until salt pork is browned and crisp, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons drippings to skillet; add shallots, cut sides down. Cook, turning once or twice, until tender and browned, 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer shallots to a serving platter.
  • Increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons more salt pork drippings to skillet. Working in 2 batches and adding 2 more tablespoons drippings between batches, cook brussels sprouts, turning occasionally, until tender and browned. Transfer brussels sprouts to platter with shallots. DO AHEAD Shallots and brussels sprouts can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm shallots and brussels sprouts together in same skillet over medium heat before continuing.
  • Drizzle shallots and brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon pickle juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon more pickle juice, if desired. Scatter salt pork over.

Three bowl night


Three bowls. One night.

1. Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame

Encore performance. From Smitten Kitchen.

2. Jerusalem Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Soup

On a recent visit to Berkeley, I joined the niece and sister-in-law in their garden and dug up some sunchokes. Not some, actually, a freakin’ ton. So we volunteered to take some of this bounty off their hands.

If I’ve eaten sunchokes before, it wasn’t on purpose, so figuring out what to do with them was a bit of a challenge. I hit the Foodily and decided to make a soup. I picked this one because it also used roasted garlic, which sounded awesome. And it’s British, so that makes it cool. (PS: Sunchokes are also called Jerusalem artichokes if you want to impress your friends. Or not be confused by the below.)

Jerusalem Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Soup (British Larder)

Roasted Garlic

  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1tbs light brown sugar
  • 1tbs water
  • Maldon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut the garlic bulb in half, place the salt and sugar in a small bowl and then dip the cut side of the garlic in the sugar salt mixture.

Place the remaining salt and sugar mix in two heaps on a lined baking tray and divide the water between the two heaps, place the garlic cut side down onto the tray, cover with foil and roast for 25 minutes, if the sugar caramel looks like burning add a drop of water and continue the cooking until the garlic is tender.

Let the roasted garlic cool.

Jerusalem Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Soup

  • 500g Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled and sliced (Americans: this is like a pound)
  • 1/2 of roasted garlic bulb, soft pulp only
  • 1 banana shallot, sliced
  • 1tbs unsalted butter
  • 50ml Brandy, Madeira or white wine (Americans: this is like 3 tablespoons)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1L vegetable stock

Pop the soft cooled roasted garlic cloves out of the skins, discard the skins. Prepare the Jerusalem artichokes by peeling and slicing them, slice the peeled banana shallot.

Heat a large saucepan with the butter, once the butter starts to foam add the sliced banana shallot, garlic pulp and the sliced Jerusalem artichokes with a little bit of seasoning. Saute until golden brown, the darker the artichokes and onions the deeper and more intense the flavour will be. Season the soup a little at a time to prevent over seasoning.

Once the artichokes and onions are golden to dark brown deglaze the pan with the brandy, cook until the caramelised parts dissolve and the brandy is reduced to a syrup, coating the chokes.

Add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a gentle simmer with a lid covering the pan. Gently simmer the soup for 25 – 30 minutes.

Blend the soup until very smooth, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. I used my thermomix and blended the soup for two minutes at speed 10, the powerful machine made my soup velvety and creamy, the finer the soup is blended the better the flavour, any blender will be equally as good.

Serve piping hot garnished with thyme leaves, olive oil and crispy Jerusalem artichoke crisps.

Serves 4/6

Food Fanatics Tip

Even though this soup is silky and creamy it does not contain any cream and therefore is the perfect low fat recipe, however if you would like to tame the garlic slightly add a little bit of single cream or creme fraiche.

3. Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale

We had an awesome meal at Suzanne Goin’s AOC this week. So when I saw that this recipe in the new Bon Appetit was hers, well, I had to try it right away. A new way to make kale, and it’s a winner.

Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale (Bon Appetit)


  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 pound Tuscan kale (about 2 bunches), center ribs and stems removed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 sprig rosemary
  • 1 dried chile de árbol, broken into 4 pieces
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Ingredient Info

    Tuscan kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, has long, narrow, dark green bumpy leaves; find it at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets. Dried chiles de árbol are available at Latin markets, specialty foods stores, and some supermarkets.


  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil over high heat. Working in 2 batches, blanch kale for 2 minutes. Drain, let cool, and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Coarsely chop; set aside.
  • Heat a large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup oil, rosemary sprig, and chile. Let sizzle, shaking pan often, for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onion. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often; stir in garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes.
  • Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and kale; stir to coat. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until kale turns almost black and is slightly crisp at edges, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Discard rosemary and chile.

Swing State Chili

We had the best time making GOTV calls to swing states for President Obama’s reelection campaign. And as we anxiously awaited the results, we figured we had to celebrate our faith in those swing states (it worked!) by making and eating a beloved recipe from the most pivotal state: Ohio. Knowing about this unusual way of eating chili (on spaghetti?!) is one thing. Eating it another. Eating it is better. Recommend! (Especially with our favorite hot sauce, Crystal.)


Cincinnati Chili (Saveur)


Redolent of warm spices, deeply flavored Cincinnati-style chili, whether prepared two-way (chili over spaghetti), three-way (with cheese), four-way (with onions), or five-way (with a finishing flourish of kidney beans), is an enduring American classic.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,to taste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsedunder hot water and drained
  • 4 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
  • Oyster crackers

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and half of the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5–6 minutes. Add beef, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, oregano, nutmeg, celery seed, bay leaf, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes. Tilt skillet and spoon out and discard any accumulated fat. Add tomato sauce, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until somewhat thick, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes; drain. Put beans into a small pot and cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. Divide spaghetti between 4 large bowls. Top with chili, cheese, remaining onions, and beans. Serve hot, with oyster crackers on the side.