Duck dinner salad

salad 2*This article originally appeared in the January issue of VRAI magazine.

We all make ourselves promises of virtuous starts in January: exercise more, sleep better, be a kinder person, eat healthier.

All of these goals are admirable, even necessary, but some of them are more realistic – and actually achievable – than others.

In terms of eating better and healthier, the simplest way to keep to a plan is to be organized and make it as easy for yourself as possible. This means planning ahead, making smart substitutions, and being flexible with ingredients, but consistent with your flavor profiles.

And if you’re ever in doubt, follow my favorite ‘rule’ – eat colorfully, with at least three bright colors on your plate.

Green, orange, and red are fairly easy colors to incorporate this season. Sturdy winter greens will keep you going, the Vitamin B will give you energy, and the antioxidants will make sure you don’t get sick in funky weather.

Let me introduce you to the dinner salad. It is a satisfying, simple and delicious dinner.

You need your choice of protein – here, I used leftover roast duck – which is flexible depending on what you have. Then, you add the colors and textures (crunch!) to your plate, then a bit of tartness or spice with your dressing, depending on what you prefer.

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Duck dinner salad

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup duck, cooked and shredded (you can substitute chicken or beef etc.)
  • raspberry vinegar glaze
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  1. Wash and dry the greens thoroughly. In a large bowl, combine arugula, carrots, and pomegranate seeds.
  2. Shred the cooked duck into the salad and toss together using your hands or salad tongs.
  3. Season lightly, then dress with a few tablespoons of olive oil and tart raspberry vinegar glaze.

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New year, fresh starts – welcome 2016!

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Boy, do I have some blogging catching up to do post-holidays – happy New Year, everyone! I hope that you had a beautiful time celebrating with friends and family, making fun memories for the new year.

The weather in New York has finally cooled down to something resembling winter, though our Christmas was spent in a springlike thaw.

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The holidays were properly indulgent. Breakfasts of buttermilk pancakes and caviar, aperitifs accompanied by foie gras, so properly French.

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Still, we all make ourselves promises of virtuous starts in January: exercise more, sleep better, be a kinder person, eat healthier.

Look out for my upcoming story in VRAI Magazine on eating healthily and colorfully in the new year. Hint: three or more fresh, bright colors on a plate is an easy formula to keep in mind.

Christmas celebrations

IMG_2613So here it is, Christmas time! (maybe I could pretend the fog outside is really snow…)

Wishing you all a peaceful holiday season.

Get your holiday sparklers ready for a festive toast (bellinis!). Curl up with a favorite movie (Meet Me in St Louis, for me) or sing along loudly to carols, once more with feeling.

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Bake – and eat – some Christmas cookies and then some more cookies (maybe leave a few for Santa) as part of your Christmas celebrations.

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Duck (get the recipe here) and traditional fruitcake are on the menu for tonight.

Filling my IG feed with festive moments, so follow along!

Joyeux Noël!

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Foodie gift guide

foodie giftsIt’s about that time of year!

Spoil yourself or someone you love with one of these foodie gifts, collected from some of my favorite places around. I’d like one of each, please.

  1. sonoma salt, three garnishing salts and a large olive oil bottle (ILA; $135)
  2. wine essentials set – 12 glasses + decanter (Snowe; $275)
  3. obsessed with these marbled plates since Charleston (Felt & Fat; $38-$62)
  4. espresso mini mug – I have bought these for myself (The Commons; $28)
  5. crepe pan – perfect your flipping technique! (Sur La Table; $19.95/$24.95)
  6. raw honey flight from Bee Raw – four varietals (Terrain; $48)
  7. Coltellerie Berti four knife set + magnitized knife block (Quitokeeto; $1,375)

Sweet potato and parsnip gratin

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One of my favorite side dishes for your holiday table is this sweet potato and parsnip gratin. It is creamy, yet not too rich, and subtly infused with the seasonal flavors of sage and mustard.

Of course, you can always add more cheese – that never hurts – depending on what else you are serving alongside the gratin.

I am already starting to compile Christmas dinner ideas so as to not be caught unawares in this quite short and quite busy little stretch of time between the holidays!

Off to Europe tomorrow and, funnily enough, I usually do my best thinking and menu planning on the road… Right now I am stuck on duck and cherries, but I’ll keep you updated.


Sweet potato and parsnip gratin

You’ll need:

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 4 T whole grain mustard
  • 3 T fresh sage, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 T butter

1. Preheat oven to 370F. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes and parsnip into 1/5 inch round slices. Try to keep them all about the same size for even cooking.

2. Butter a rectangular baking dish. Layer the sweet potatoes and parsnip slices, alternating, and sprinkle with olive oil and chopped fresh sage.

3. Whisk together milk, sour creme or creme fraiche, mustard. Pour over the potatoes/parsnips. Dot with remaining butter.

4, Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese with about 15-20 minutes remaining. Serve hot, though this also reheats well.

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Happy December! It is also #GivingTuesday, so I hope you will consider donating to a cause close to your heart today – and any day. For me, that is No Kid Hungry. Any donation made today is matched by Kettle Brand and Hickory Farms.

On the subject of giving, Thanksgiving was such a loving and warm holiday.

I loved the cake we made for Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey was perfect and the leftovers made for delicious chutney sandwiches and salads.

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Gathering around the table, laughing, cooking together.. that is what makes the holidays the best time.

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The recipe for the sweet potato and parsnip gratin is coming up on the blog soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

There is so much to be thankful for this year. Life is not perfect, but that makes me extra grateful for everything that we have, the food we are about to enjoy, and the people I get to share it with today.

It’s important to be able to take a break from the everyday hustle and bustle, quiet your brain, get your hands busy baking, brining, and braising.

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We have already had our festive brunch, took a long walk along the lake, and are congregating in the kitchen waiting for the start of the parade.

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Tonight’s menu includes:

– a light spinach, pomegranate and parmesan salad
– maple glazed roasted carrots with cumin yogurt and pumpkin seeds
– a parsnip and sweet potato gratin with sage and wholegrain mustard
– honey-mustard glazed heritage turkey
– cranberry and orange sauce
– triple apple cake and upside down cranberry cake

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Thanksgiving menu prep

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Good god, I am not feeling at all ready for Thanksgiving this year. It sort of snuck up on me in this crazy whirlpool of everything else to do (mainly work and moving/packing) that does not include making Thanksgiving menu lists as efficiently as I normally would.. The warm weather has not helped things either – it certainly does not feel like late November outside.

However, the triple apple cake is ready to be made! The Russ & Daughters treats and the heritage turkey have been ordered. And there is a plethora of tried and tested exciting options to choose from for all your other Thanksgiving appetizing needs.

I hope that these seasonal favorites provide some holiday table inspiration for all of you too. Now let’s get to planning that Thanksgiving menu!

To Start

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Acorn squash with chili-tarragon butter (serve with a little labneh or rich yogurt)

Carrot risotto

Butternut squash hummus (serve with homemade pita or vegetable chips)

Market salad

In the middle

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Parsnip & sage puree

Whole roasted duck

Multicultural turkey meatballs

IMG_0736Roasted brussels sprouts (with pear and tarragon mustard)

Dad’s mashed potatoes

Finish

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Triple apple cake

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Almond-coconut peach crumble

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Pumpkin quatre quarts cake

Thanksgiving triple apple cake

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{this recipe originally appeared in the November issue of VRAI magazine}

Yes, I have more apple recipes – ‘tis the season, after all – but this one is really special. It’s a Thanksgiving triple apple cake with double the apples inside and whole lady apples on top!

Can you believe that it’s time to start making plans for your Thanksgiving table already? So far, all I’ve done is order the turkey and make this cake a few times.

It is not too sweet, which lets the fruit really shine, but you can also dress it up and sweeten it more with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar or maple sugar on top.

This apple cake makes a perfect Thanksgiving table centerpiece, but the recipe is actually a variation on an apple charlotte cake my mom used to make all the time when I was younger. Because, although it is lovely to start new traditions and add “dishes with a twist” to your holiday repertoire, this time of year is still all about family.

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Triple apple cake

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup applesauce (homemade or storebought)
  • 1/2 cup stewed lady apples
  • 4 lady apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 5 whole lady apples
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar + 1 tablespoon for topping
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Optional: maple sugar or confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling on top
  1. Make the applesauce first, if you are making your own. The recipe is basically the same as for the stewed apples below, except you would not use lady apples for the applesauce, as their flesh doesn’t fall apart as easily as that of regular apples, and omit the water.
  2. On low-medium heat, cook the chopped apples in water with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon until the apples are fragrant and there is little to no liquid in the pot.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F and butter a 12 inch cake pan (preferably, with a removable bottom). In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar.
  4. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add vanilla, baking soda, salt and spices. Fold in the flour, apple sauce, and the stewed apples. Stir together gently.
  5. Pour batter into the pan and shake a little to even out the edges. Place the whole lady apples on top and let them sink into the batter. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar before placing into the oven.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake is baked through and firm in the middle. Let cool before removing from pan.

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Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or maple sugar (I get mine from Crown Maple here in New York) before serving.

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Simple suppers: multicultural turkey meatballs

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Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of cuisines vaguely classified as “fusion,” but a melding of cultures in food can be a beautiful thing, if it happens organically.

These turkey meatballs – already a standby of some favorite suppers – are made extra special by a subtle nod to my Russian culture. Buckwheat, or kasha, makes the meatballs tender and ever so delicate, as this recipe doesn’t use any other binder.

Add a little tomato sauce, warmed up with sage, to scoop up with each spoonful, and you have one of my favorite simple weeknight meals, ready in just about half an hour.

Comfort food makes for the best simple supper.

{p.s} For more in the Simple Suppers series, search under the tag, or click here, here, or here.

Tip: Serve warm, with extra arugula salad and a scattering of grated cheddar.

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Multicultural turkey meatballs

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 2/3 cups kasha (cooked according to package instructions and cooled)
  • 1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 T fresh sage, chopped
  • cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Chop 1/2 cup of arugula and reserve the other 1/2 cup.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, chopped arugula, and kasha. Season lightly.
  3. Empty a can of diced or crushed tomatoes into a warmed baking dish (use something about 4 x 10 inches), add a pinch of salt, pepper, and sage. Add in remaining arugula.
  4. Use your hands to form golf ball sized meatballs out of the turkey mixture. Drop them right on top of the sauce in the baking dish. They will be nestled fairly closely together and that is completely okay.
  5. Cook the meatballs in the oven until sauce is bubbling hot and meatballs are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

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Serve with grated cheddar cheese and extra arugula, if desired.

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