Christmas Gifts: 6 Ideas for Giving and Getting

by Anne Maxfield on December 1, 2014

In the quest for seasonal search-engine optimization, the Accidental Locavore is offering up a list of food-related items you might want to consider giving or getting. No particular order here, but all worth your attention.

Books: yeah, original thought — right? These are a couple of cookbooks that I’ve actually used and enjoyed and one that I wouldn’t usually consider, but might have to have just for the cover.

  1. David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen: This is the cookbook I’ve actually cooked from the most this year. There’s a lot of great recipes in the book, a lot I’ve tried and a lot more waiting to be used. He writes well, which is a plus, and there are enough photos of Paris and the food there to make you want to book a ticket.Accidental Locavore Chicken Lady Chicken
  2. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More: My friend Bob was kind enough to send me a signed copy of this and I quickly broke it in with the spicy turnips. Cauliflower cake and a tomato salad were other great dishes and, again, there are lots more to play with!Accidental Locavore Cauliflower Cake
  3. Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi: This is the one I normally wouldn’t be terribly interested in as baking doesn’t happen very often chez moi, but I just made the golden caramel tart which was amazing and the cake on the cover just makes me drool, so if Santa wants to encourage my baking side, I could make room on the shelf for Dorie.Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

Gear: This is stuff I wouldn’t have rushed out to buy myself, but you’d have a big fight on your hands if you tried to take it away!

  1. My Sansaire sous-vide machine: A very generous gift from my friend Zhu Zhu, I never thought this would be as essential as it is, but just consider it to be the newer, cooler version of a crock pot. The other advantage to it is that you can essentially pre-cook food when you have time (say a weekend) and finish it off quickly when you come home after a long day.Accidental Locavore Sansaire
  2. GIR silicone lids: If you didn’t get in on their Kickstarter campaign, you can pre-order these lids, and if you do it soon, they’ll be under this year’s tree. Not to worry too much, whenever you get them will be a good day. The lids come in seven colors and easily go from fridge to microwave. Sayonara saran wrap.Accidental Locavore Lids
  3. The Thermapen digital instant-read thermometer: This was another extravagant gift from Zhu Zhu, but this time it was for my husband. Funny how it fell into the wrong hands…and speaking of the wrong hands, the only downside of it is that it’s decidedly for right-handed users. However, it’s so cool and hugely useful that my much more basic (but ambidextrous) model hasn’t seen the light of day in months.Accidental Locavore Thermapen

I’m sure there’s lots more, but this would be a good start for anyone. What’s on your list?

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Turkey Leftovers? 4-Chile Turkey Chili!

by Anne Maxfield on November 27, 2014

Accidental Locavore Turkey ChiliAfter the first round of sandwiches, the Accidental Locavore is always looking for interesting uses for turkey leftovers. Since there was an early influx of leftovers from making gravy with a bunch of wings, I shredded the meat and used it for a (not-very-authentic) version of chili. This was pretty free-form, so use it as a starting point (and don’t let all the ingredients scare you, I just used what was in the house). Made about 3 big bowls.

 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 poblano chile, diced
  • 1 serrano chile, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ancho chile
  • 1 chipotle chile
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup dark beer (Guinness)
  • 1 small can tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded turkey
  • 1 small can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder or 1 tablespoon grated unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (Mexican if you have it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro and grated cheddar for garnish

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, poblano, serrano chile and garlic and stir to coat with the oil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Remove the cover and sauté until they are well caramelized and reduced by about ½.

While the onions are cooking, briefly toast the ancho and chipotle chiles in a small fry pan over medium heat, about a minute on each side. Remove from heat and rehydrate in a small bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes. Slice into 1/8” strips.

Add the chile powder, cumin and coriander to the onion mix and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. Cook for about 5 minutes until the alcohol has cooked out.

Add the tomatoes (breaking them up if you use whole tomatoes), turkey, beans, brown sugar, chocolate and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Bring to a boil, then to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro and grated cheddar and enjoy!

My verdict: Not at all authentic, but tasted great and satisfied my craving for chili! As I said in the introduction, this looks like a lot of ingredients, but it was all stuff I had in the house, so I just tossed it in. I think it was a little sweet with the brown sugar, so I added about a tablespoon of cider vinegar to cut some of the sweetness. The chocolate and beer add a nice depth of flavor, but, again, you can leave them out—although I’d probably add a little chicken broth to replace the beer.

 

 

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5 Ideas for an Easy Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 24, 2014

Accidental Locavore Quartered Brussels SproutsThe other day, the Accidental Locavore was talking with a friend about Thanksgiving and comparing notes on what we were planning. Since there’s still time to add or subtract dishes, here are a few that have, or will, grace my table:

  1. Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions: my mother has always insisted on having creamed onions at Thanksgiving. This dish combines them in a great way and the added touch of horseradish makes it a big winner in my book! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I have no problem buying frozen pearl onions. Life is too short to spend it peeling.
  2. Accidental Locavore Cranberry ConfitCranberry and Dried Apricot Confit: My go-to cranberry sauce. I’m a sucker for dried apricots—the slab ones from Trader Joe’s being my favorites, so if I can stop snacking on them long enough to cook with them, this is almost as good as eating them out of the package. If this is too tough, the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag works fine (add some orange or tangerine zest to make it special)
  3. Butternut Squash Soup: Not being a huge fan of winter squashes, I make an exception for this soup. It goes from pretty good to great with the addition of Gruyere-covered toasts. If you’re lazy or pressed for time, a slice of toasted baguette and some grated cheese will be just fine. If you’re super lazy pressed for time, forget the toasts and just sprinkle a little blue cheese on as a garnish. The saltiness of either cheese cuts the sweetness of the squash.
  4. Accidental Locavore Raclette PotatoesThe best mashed potatoes ever! This was billed as a recipe for potato salad, but take my word for it, they’re just amazing mashed potatoes. Cheese, butter and potatoes, what’s not to like? It does require use of the oven, but since it’s probably the same temp as your turkey, just sneak some ramekins in somewhere.
  5. Accidental Locavore Pumpkin PureeWhat, no desserts? Although my husband has asked for yet another batch of Nancy’s cookies, I think it’s time to turn traditional and was thinking either a pumpkin pie (which the paper of record says is better made with winter squash) for Frank, or an apple galette that caught my eye in Bon Appétit, but then I saw this recipe for a caramel and chocolate tart from Dorrie Greenspan’s new book…

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Smoked Trout Brandade

by Anne Maxfield on November 20, 2014

Accidental Locavore Smoked Trout BrandadeBrandade is one of those dishes that can be really good or totally awful. The Accidental Locavore has never been terribly fond of salty-fishy food, so foods like anchovies or caviar need to be carefully disguised. Same for salt cod, which is what brandade is usually made from. When I saw this recipe for a brandade made from smoked trout, it gave me the perfect excuse to toss a couple of trout on the smoker (and bring home another baguette from Maison Kayser). This filled two small gratin pans, so dinner for 2 or appetizers for 4 or more.

  • 1 large russet potato (about 10 oz.)
  • Olive oil- 1 teaspoon for the potato and ½ cup for the brandade
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 oz. smoked trout, skin and bones removed
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 baguette, sliced, toasted

Accidental Locaovre Smoked Trout and MilkHeat oven to 400°. Rub potato with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake directly on oven rack until tender, 50–60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel. Put in a small bowl and mash potato with a fork or potato masher, until nearly smooth.

While potato is baking, bring garlic, trout, and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat; let sit 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of trout to a plate; flake into small pieces.

Put the garlic, milk, remaining trout, lemon juice, paprika and remaining ½ cup of olive oil in a food processor; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and gently fold in the mashed potato and flaked trout. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Accidental Locavore Preparing BrandadeTransfer trout mixture to a 1-qt. shallow baking dish or four 6-oz. ramekins and top with Parmesan. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown and brandade is heated through, 15–20 minutes. Serve with toasted baguette slices and enjoy!

My verdict: Potatoes and smoked fish, what’s not to like? This makes a nice, simple supper with a side salad or veg. I did have it with the toasted baguette and would serve it that way as an hors d’oeuvre, but didn’t really need it as dinner. I had smoked two trout and this used one of the two. I did use a russet potato, but Yukon Gold or two would work well. If you wanted to save time, you could pop the potato in the microwave to bake them.

 

 

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