Crunchy, Cruciferous, Winter Salad Doubles as a Holiday Table Side or Christmas Brunch Centerpiece
Probably like many of you, I woke up this morning in a snowstorm kind of blur and realized Christmas is really just two nights and a day away. My favorite time a year, without a doubt. Church bells toll throughout a beautifully decorated downtown Charleston and my heart starts warming with memories of Christmas’s past and those yet to come.
I’d intended to get this recipe to you sooner, but here it is, hopefully in time to flesh out your holiday table with glorious cruciferous crunch, the red, green and white colors of the season, and cheerful, tangy creaminess. I’ve been making a conscious effort to get more of these foods into my diet, and this is a truly delicious way to enjoy them. I’m guessing most children will enjoy this, too. I know my cat Mr. Purrfect and dog Rocky were especially interested in their cauliflower offerings.
This salad would be perfectly wonderful alongside a standing beef roast or turkey and also paired with a Christmas morning or brunch frittata, omelet, or turkey sandwich. Make it a few hours ahead and up to the night before serving so the flavors can develop to their holiday best. To make the florets, cut away nearly all of the hard stems from the broccoli and cauliflower and either crumble or cut into the smaller pieces pictured here.
Holiday Cauliflower-Broccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
(Serves 6 to 8)
For the salad:
2 large stalks broccoli, stalks removed and cut into florets – about 3 cups
1/2 large head cauliflower, core and stems removed, and cut into florets – about 2 cups
1/2 small onion, very finely chopped – about 1/4 cup
1/2 cup coarsely chopped sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
For the dressing:
1/2 cup whole sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Toss the broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cranberries and walnuts together in a large bowl. Separately, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish cream, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and chives in a small bowl until smooth. Toss the salad with the dressing to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours before serving, chilled.
Wishing you and yours the best and most wonderful, happy, delicious, blessed and beautiful holiday and gateway into 2019. I have some exciting news to be sharing with you soon. Until we get there, I’ll be taking time with you to slow down and savor the joyful season.
Unwrap a Charleston Food Tradition at Your Christmas Table
Shrimp and grits has become the epitome of elegance; the heart of Charleston cuisine in the minds of many. Originally a simple, quick stew served over long-simmered and stirred grits to feed fishermen after a day at sea, it’s now a principal player at many of Charleston’s best restaurants and locals’ holiday tables.
Donald Barickman, founding chef at Magnolias, often gets credit for putting grits on the elegance map with the addition of cream to his version dating back 30 years ago. But, I contend its rise to prominence has just as much to do with the excellence of its two main ingredients. The shrimp that inhabits through Charleston’s waters is uniquely delicious. The tidal flows and the grassy marshes both nurture and protect the shrimp, a prince of a shrimp habitat, that yields a sweet, buttery brine unlike any other, white and brown varieties alike. And, the grits. There are quick and mass-produced varieties available, but served over organic, stone-ground grits available from Anson Mills , you’re in for a toothsome, incomparable, and authentic treat.
This version from Old Village Post House Inn‘s former chef de cuisine, Jim Walker, and featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table, uses both. I love this recipe because it’s not very complicated, it’s beautiful, delicious, and relatively easy to prep ahead and finish at the last minute. It’s one of the dishes most requested by my cooking class students and it’s especially enjoyable to prepare, the sweet and piquant fragrance filling the air as it cooks -shrimp, country ham, Cajun seasonings, and andouille sausage. A celebration not just of the season, but of Charleston, it would be a fabulous choice to head your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day table. Do try and get your hands on fresh, wild caught shrimp if you cannot find fresh, local Charleston shrimp and serve it over stone-ground grits. It really makes a difference. I use the shells from the shrimp to cook down with some water into a quick glaze to add to the final sauce or “gravy,” which can be strained and whisked in with the butter (see directions) at the last second.
Old Village Post House Inn Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits
(Serves 4 to 6)
For the grits:
8 cups water
3 cups stone-ground grits
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
1 – 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the shrimp sauce:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3/4 pounds Thibodeaux’s andouille sausage (or substitute another brand), but into approximately 28 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup cubed country ham (cut into a 1/4-inch thick dice)
1 1/4 pounds large (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup peel and seeded tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup scallions, finely sliced
4 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 teaspoons Cajun-style fish blackening seasoning (suggest R.L. Schreiber brand)
1 cup salt-free chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To prepare the grits, bring the water to a boil over high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the grits, stir, and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk or flat-tipped wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring, until thickened (the grits should plop like thick cornbread batter), 30-40 minutes. Turn off the burner and let stand covered, so the grits can continue to slowly absorb the water, for 1 – 2 hours.
Just before serving, reheat the grits over medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and heavy cream, stirring to incorporate. Heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before serving, prepare the shrimp sauce. Heat the oil over high heat in a large, deep saute pan. When hot and sizzling, add the sausage and country ham. Saute, tossing until the sausage and ham begin to turn golden and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the shrimp, tomato, scallions, minced garlic, and Cajun-style fish blackening seasoning. Saute for another 3 minutes, being sure to combine well and coat the ingredients evenly with the seasoning. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the butter and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, another 1 – 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle the grits into shallow bowls and top with the sauce. Serve immediately.
With best wishes to you and yours for a beautiful holiday and Christmas season. I promise you, your guests will love this. Not only is it delicious, it is beautiful. For all of these reasons and more, it is featured on the cover of The New Charleston Chef’s Table – which, by the way, makes a beautiful gift for the food and Charleston-lover in your life.
Bon appetit! You can always visit me here with any questions, comments or to book a cooking class or culinary tour. Look for details soon on Cracking the Cookbook Code, a cookbook writing, marketing, and photography retreat I’ll be hosting early next spring with my wonderfully talented friend, culinary professional, blogger, and photographer, Beckie Carrico Hemmerling. Until next time, stay safe, warm, happy, and well fed.
Buttery Parsley Rutabaga Mash
It may be considered a humble root vegetable, but the knobby rutabaga is transformed into nutty, buttery elegance in this sunset-yellow mash, lightened by a bit of Yukon Gold potato and made silky with butter, sour cream, and colorful flavor flecks of fresh parsley. The potatoes add fluff while the rutabaga adds girth and the kind of flavor that stands up perfectly to beef rib roast, pork, turkey or duck at the holiday table. It’s so delicious, I eat it straight out of the bowl. It could easily play a starring role at a vegetarian holiday table, as well. It is super easy to prepare and can be made a day or two ahead and reheated just before serving.
Ingredients and Method
(Yields 4 to 6 servings)
1 medium rutabaga
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
Water to cover
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Using a sharp paring knife or small chef’s knife, remove the outer skin as well as the tough 1/4-inch thick inner skin of the rutabaga. Cut into 2-inch cubes and place in a medium pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the rutabaga starts to soften, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to summer another 20 minutes, until both the potatoes and rutabaga are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
Strain in a colander and return to the pan with the sour cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash with a manual masher or immersion blender until chunky smooth. (If preparing ahead, stop at this point and refrigerate 1 – 2 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator). Just before serving, heat through over medium heat, stir in parsley, and adjust seasonings or add a few tablespoons vegetable stock, chicken stock or water, as needed. Serve warm.
Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate. May it be joyful, blessed, full of cheer, and especially delicious. Remember you can always check in here with any questions about my recipes, cooking classes, and of course, beautiful Charleston.
The holidays are moving at warp speed. I hope we all will take time to sit back and enjoy the ride and the reason. Cooking is a big part of my Christmas joy, and this recipe from my new cookbook (working title Mashed, fall 2016 release), is pure pleasure to make and eat. I call it “Christmas” Guacamole because two of its main ingredients (pomegranate and citrus) are in season this time of year, and the colors are red, green and simply luscious. Even better, this recipe is made in minutes, gone in less, and ridiculously healthy at a time when most of us need more of that. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I’m wishing you all that it be beautiful and bright and full of love and delicious food.
Christmas Guacamole with Pomegranate and Orange
(Yields about 2 cups or 16 appetizer servings)
The shimmering, ruby red and jewel-like arils of winter’s pomegranate shine against the backdrop of mellow green of creamy avocado in this so-good-you-cannot-stop-eating it holiday treat. Packed with three “super” foods and magnificent, fruity flavors, it’s also nothing to feel guilty about going back for more. Make up to an hour before serving (to prevent discoloration) and serve room temperature with best quality pita chips or toast points.
2 ripe avocadoes, halved and seeded
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 cloves garlic, smashed and very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon, best quality, fruity extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried (Valencia) orange peel
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Scoop out the flesh from the avocado with a soup spoon and mash, with a fork or manual masher in a medium bowl with the orange juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Fold in the orange peel, pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley. Serve immediately or tightly wrap (to the surface of the guacamole) with plastic wrap and serve within the hour. Garnish with a few more pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley.
Considered a super food for its high nutrient content, pomegranate can be purchased in its whole form during the cooler months, and increasingly, already seeded or juiced. The seeds are called arils and they look like little rubies. Getting them out of their tightly-knitted pockets can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. An easy way to get to the fruit is to quarter the pomegranate each of the four “cores” will be revealed to peel back the bitter pith pockets and release the seeds. One pomegranate will yield one to two cups of seeds.
Bon appetit! Let me know what you think. I believe you’ll love this one. Merry, Merry, Holly.
Cooking at Christmas
Cooking is something I enjoy doing all year round. To me it’s a peaceful, meditative process that always brings me right into the moment of creating something delicious and transports me far away from any worries or strife. Perhaps that’s why I especially love cooking during the holidays, which can be a stressful time despite the import of the season’s messages of peace and joy. This year, I will be home (finally!) and cooking for a small group of friends. I’m particularly looking forward to a simple meal. My “core” menu item will be a standing rib roast of beef with a horseradish cream sauce and au jus for juicy dipping and my annual creamed spinach gratin.
I love gratins for many reasons – perhaps the biggest being their crunchy, buttery tops and tender, creamy centers. With those pre-requisites in mind, I created the recipe that follows. Even though I’m not a huge Brussels sprouts fan (except for using them as baby heads of lettuce in my childhood doll’s house kitchen), in keeping with the season and their rewarding versatility, I slipped them into this recipe. The bottom layer is a mixture of grated Russett potatoes blended with sour cream, Parmesan, chopped, hydrated porcini mushrooms that ends up tasting like a soft, glorious loaded baked potato. The Brussels sprouts are quartered and nestled into the top of the potatoes and the whole glorious dish is topped with buttered panko crumbs tossed with plenty of fresh thyme. The Brussels sprouts neatly roast themselves and their light cabbage flavor into the nutty, creamy dish and the end result is nothing short of smashing.
I’ll be serving this alongside the beef at my holiday table, but it would also pair very well with turkey, pork, chicken or game. It could double as a main course for vegetarians, or even makes a delicious Christmas morning breakfast. It’s especially nice that it can be completely assembled, tightly covered and refrigerated overnight before baking. One important note: You’ll want to get your mis en place put together ahead of time and grate the potatoes at the last minute or they may discolor just a bit.
Creamy Potato and Brussels Sprouts Holiday Gratin
(Recipe makes 8 to 10 heaping side portions)
Needed: Large, shallow oven-proof casserole or gratin dish, roughly 3″ deep X 9″ long X 5″ wide.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 ounce (about 1 cup) dried porcini or substitute another strongly flavored dried mushroom
Enough water to cover – about 1 cup
3 large Russett potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated (about 8 cups)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup whole cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups whole sour cream
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon greshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
For the topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted, melted butter
2 cups unseasoned panko bread crumbs (or another variety of plain, coarse bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 3250F. Butter the casserole/gratin dish with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Place the porcini in a non-reactive 2-cup measuring cup or small glass bowl and cover with water. Heat in the microwave on high for one minute. Set aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep and grate the potatoes. Place in a large, clean kitchen towel and twist firmly over the sink to extract any excess water. Set aside, reserving in the towel wrap.Return to the reserved mushrooms. Strain the mushrooms out of the liquid and squeeze any fluid back into the “mushroom water.” Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside. Pour the reserved mushroom water into a small saucepan, being careful to strain out any possible grit through a paper towel or cheese cloth. Add the garlic, bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced down to 1/4 cup. Remove and discard the garlic cloves. Whisk in the cream, milk, sour cream, Parmesan and salt and pepper, and reserved chopped mushrooms. Heat over low heat to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
Place the grated potatoes in the buttered dish. Pour the entire cream mixture over the potatoes and toss thoroughly to coat. Spread the top evenly with a spatula to flatten it evenly. Arrange the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, evenly over the top. Season lightly with salt and pepper. To prepare the topping, combine the melted butter, panko, seasonings and thyme in a small bowl. Drizzle evenly over the top of the entire gratin. Bake for one hour, or until golden brown, soft in the center and lightly bubbling. Serve warm with a garnish of fresh thyme sprigs.
Have a joyful, safe and delicious holiday and Christmas season!