Beef Tenderloin with Veggies

Sorry, no review of restaurant cuisine or fabulous nightlife from New Year’s Eve here. Instead, we stayed home and made this great dish for a cold, cold night. Thanks to Joy Bauer on the Today show for giving us a warm and tasty New Year’s Eve dinner. The link is here. We substituted some other root vegetables for the Delicata squash she recommended, and there was no fall off in flavor! Joy was right to use plenty of thyme leaves on the vegetables. Likewise, we did not spray oil onto the pan or vegetables. We used a good quality extra-virgin olive oil to brush both pan and vegetables. For those who can’t find the link, we include the instructions here. The recipe also refers to a White Wine Mushroom Sauce which can be found at the link, but which we did not try. Finally, any kind of mushroom you like will be great in this dish.


• One (4 to 5 lb) whole beef tenderloin, tied with string from butcher

• 2 tablespoons dijon mustard

• 3 tablespoons peppercorns crushed, or fresh black pepper

• 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided

• 16 ounces cremini mushrooms halved

• 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, melted (optional)

• 1 medium Delicata squash, seeded cut into ¾” rings

• 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

• 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

• 1 to 2 red onions, cut into 6 small wedges

• 3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs


Preheat oven to 425°F. Liberally coat a large skillet with olive oil spray and warm over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and season with ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until just tender. Transfer to bottom of roasting pan.

Add the beef on top of the mushrooms in roasting pan, and rub with mustard and season generously with crushed peppercorns and 2 teaspoons salt. Drizzle the optional butter over the top of the beef.

Toss the cut veggies into the pan evenly around the beef, mist them generously with olive oil spray, season with a sprinkling salt and pepper and nestle in thyme sprigs.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes at 425°F. Then lower the oven to 375°F, give the veggies a good stir, and cook for about 30-45 minutes (or until the beef reaches an internal temperature of 145°F). If you like your steak rare, while its not recommended for safety reasons, remove when the thickest part hits 125°F. It’s always best to use a meat thermometer.

Remove the beef and veggies from the pan to a serving plate and cover with foil for at least 10 minutes before slicing to lock in the juices. Top with White Wine Mushroom Sauce.

Makes 12 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

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Shrimp Cocktail with Cilantro-Lime Cocktail Sauce

We wanted an appetizer for the long wait for the turkey. This recipe fit the bill. We thought the cocktail sauce was decidedly better than store-bought, and even better than most of the homemade variations we have prepared. The broth added a delicate flavor to the shrimp. Overall, we again commend the winter 2018 issue of Real Food from Lunds and Byerlys for this treat.


For the sauce:

¾ cup ketchup

¾ cup chili sauce

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 to 3 Tbsp prepared horseradish, to taste

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp Asian fish sauce

2 to 3 dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste

⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the shrimp:

3/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 small carrot, thinly sliced

1 or 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

½ tsp salt, any kind

¼ tsp whole allspice

16 to 20 extra-large shrimp in the shell


Make the sauce: Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Add more horseradish or hot sauce, to taste. Chill before serving.

Cook the shrimp: Combine 2 quarts water, wine, vinegar, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, salt and the allspice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, partially cover, and then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

Add the shrimp to the simmering broth, cover the pot and return to a simmer for 1 minutes. Immediately turn off heat, and let sit, covered, for 8 minutes. Drain in a strainer, and quickly rinse with cool water before plunging into ice bath to cool. Let chill thoroughly, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain again, picking out and discarding any vegetables. Peel and arrange the shrimp on a platter for dipping or refrigerate until serving.

Note: The cocktail sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. Cooked shrimp can be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Serves: 8 to 10

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Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette

Nothing says “Thanksgiving” less than a tossed salad, right? But not everything for the big Thursday dinner has to lean hard on the starch and sugar. We wanted something with a lighter flavor and heavier crunch to offset the turkey and mashed potatoes. Thank goodness we found this delightful recipe, because everyone thought this dish was a winner. (You can tell by how little was left over when the meal ended!)

This alternative to a tossed salad will likely find its way to the table at many times beyond the holidays. We found the recipe in the winter 2018 issue of Real Food from our local Lunds and Byerlys grocery store. Kudos to the featured chef Carla Hall for this dish from her book Carla Hall’s Soul Food. We hope you enjoy the salad as much as we did.


2 garlic cloves, grated on Microplane

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp yellow mustard

1 Tbsp hot sauce

1 tsp honey

¾ tsp kosher salt, divided

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 15-oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

2 mini-cucumbers, cut into ½-inch dice

½ sweet onion, finely chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved

¼ cup fresh dill


Whisk the garlic, vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, honey, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until smooth. While whisking, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Whisk until emulsified.

Add the peas, cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, dill and ½ teaspoon salt. Toss until well mixed. You can serve this right away or let it sit at room temperature for up to 1 hour. The salad can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Serves: 4

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Sweet (and Hot) Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

A recent dinner at a local restaurant (Redstone Grill in Maple Grove) led one of us to lobby for a Brussels sprouts dish on the Thanksgiving menu. That recipe had a honey glaze, smoked bacon and a sriracha aioli. We were unable to find that exact recipe, but we found what we thought was a good foundation for our run at that recipe.

The recipe comes from and is called Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. We followed all the steps, but at the end we put several dashes of sriracha on the glazed sprouts. The results spoke for themselves; we have no leftover Brussel sprouts! Please give it a try.


• 1 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

• 3 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved through the stem

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 cup unfiltered apple cider

• 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

• 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar


Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds. Divide the bacon between 2 rimmed baking sheets and spread into an even layer. Place the baking sheets in the oven and heat to 400°F.

Place the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl or pot (something large enough to easily toss them), drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Remove the hot baking sheets from the oven. Stir the bacon. Divide the sprouts between the 2 sheets, and arrange them cut-side down into an even layer.

Roast for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and stir the Brussels sprouts and bacon. Return the baking sheets to the oven, switching them between racks and rotating them from front to back. Roast until browned and tender, 12 to 15 minutes more, depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts. Meanwhile, make the glaze.

Heat the apple cider, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cook until it’s reduced by about half and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

When the Brussels sprouts are ready, remove the baking sheets from the oven. Turn the oven off. Combine the Brussels sprouts onto one baking sheet, drizzle the glaze over the sprouts, and stir to combine. Return the baking sheet to the turned-off oven and let sit until the Brussels sprouts absorb some of the glaze, about 2 minutes more.

Serves: 8 to 10

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Dry-Brined Turkey

This year we decided to try a dry brine approach to preparing the Thanksgiving turkey. We have had great success over several years with a wet brine recipe from Emeril Lagasse. That recipe is also on this blog.

This dry brine recipe comes from the New York Times on its website under the title Dry-Brined Turkey. It is attributed to Kim Severson in her article “After the Bird, Everything Else Is Secondary.” In turn, Ms. Severson credits the technique involved to Judy Rodgers at the Zuni Cafè in San Francisco. That long line of attribution suggested the technique had been tried long enough to give us confidence in the method. Turns out the dry brine not only yields great results but is simpler than the wet brine process. We hope you have an opportunity to try it for yourself.

We used a Pinot Grigio for the white wine.


• 1 12- to 16-pound turkey, preferably a heritage or pasture raised bird

Kosher salt

• 1 tablespoon black pepper

• 10 sprigs fresh thyme

• ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley

• 2 small onions, halved

• 2 small apples, cored and halved

• ½ cup unsalted butter, softened

• 2 cups white wine (see tip)


Step 1

Two days before serving, rinse turkey and pat dry. Rub all over with kosher salt, slipping salt under skin where possible and rubbing some into cavities. Use about 1 tablespoon per 4 pounds of bird.

Step 2

Wrap bird in a large plastic bag and place in refrigerator. On second night, turn turkey over. A couple of hours before cooking, remove turkey from bag and pat dry. (There is no need to rinse it first.) Place in roasting pan and allow to come to room temperature.

Step 3

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle half the pepper into main cavity of turkey; add thyme, parsley, half the onions and half the apples. Truss legs with kitchen twine. Put remaining apples and onions in neck opening and tuck neck skin under bird.

Step 4

Rub butter under breast skin and onto thigh meat. Sprinkle bird with remaining pepper.

Step 5

Roast for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and cover breast of bird and wing tips with foil. Add 1 1/2 cups white wine (or use water) to bottom of roasting pan and roast bird for another two hours, depending on size; figure 12 minutes a pound for an unstuffed bird. Remove foil in last half-hour so breast browns.

Step 6

When turkey has roasted for 2 hours, begin to test for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer (digital is best) into two places in thigh, making sure not to touch bone. It should be at about 160 degrees.

Step 7

When roasting is done, tip turkey so interior juices run back into pan. Remove turkey to a separate baking sheet or serving platter, cover with foil and then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Step 8

Pour fat and drippings from pan into a measuring cup. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup white wine (or use broth) and pour that into same measuring cup. Fat and drippings can then be used to make gravy.


If you’d prefer not to use wine, you may substitute water in Step 5 (in the roasting pan), and broth in Step 8 (to deglaze the pan).

Serves: 12 to 14 servings

Total Time: 3 1/2 hours cooking plus 2 days for dry brine preparation

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Roasted Squash with Ginger and Five-Spice

It’s the season of squash of all shapes and sizes. We tried this dish recently as a way to change up the usual “cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, roast with butter and brown sugar.” This recipe still roasts the squash, but the flavor profile is a great departure from Sugartown.

This alternative comes from Phoebe Maglathlin of Milk Street in the November/December 2018 issue. We found it both easy and delicious, and we hope you like it, too.

The author suggests you can cut the entire peeled and seeded squash into chunks which can be kept for up to two days in the refrigerator in zip-close bags. This would speed up preparation time when you bake the dish. She does not recommend buying pre-cut squash chunks from the grocery store.

Here’s the recipe if you can’t find the original. (By the way, we left out the crystallized ginger, and we thought the dish still had ample zing.)


4 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks

3 Tbsp salted butter, melted

2 Tbsp finely grated ginger

1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

2 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)


Heat the oven to 500º F with racks in the upper and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.

In a large bowl, toss the squash with the butter, ginger, five-spice, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Divide evenly between the prepared baking sheets and spread out in a single layer on each. Roast, switching and rotating the pans halfway through, until well browned, 25 to 35 minutes,

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the chives and crystallized ginger, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves: 8.

Total Time: 40 minutes


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Chard and Sausage with Crispy Spiced Chickpeas

This recipe calls for rainbow chard, likely for the variety of color, but there is a flavor component to this choice as well. Rainbow chard is not an actual varietal of chard, but a mix of  chard varietals including white-stemmed Swiss chard, red chard, and golden chard. When those three chard varietals are combined, they provide different nuances to taste. Of course, there is the mineral flavor of Swiss chard, but it is offset by the sweetness of red chard and the nutty flavor of golden chard. We are certain the recipe would be great with Swiss chard alone, if you cannot find the rainbow chard mixture.

The other wrinkle involves crisping the chickpeas by frying them in oil. Take it from us, if you use canned chickpeas, they need to be completely dry after rinsing before going into the oil. Again, we are sure this step could be omitted without compromising a great dish.

The recipe comes from the November/December 2018 issue of Milk Street. The recipe was supposedly inspired by Rolando Beramendi. If, like us, you were not familiar with Mr. Beramendi, he is a chef,  the founder of the Italian fine food importer Manicaretti, and author of the cookbook, Autentico. As the name suggests, the recipes try to emulate authentic Italian cooking, largely omitting pasta dishes.

Here is the gist of the recipe, if you can’t find Milk Street magazine (Which we highly recommend.).


2 bunches rainbow chard

15.5-oz can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, patted dry

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

2 1/2 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

12 oz sweet Italian sausage (casings removed)

6 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tsp brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 cup peperoncini, stemmed, seeded, sliced

1 tsp brine from the peperoncini jar


Separate the stems and leaves of the chard. Slice the stems and tear the leaves; reserve separately. 

Toss the chickpeas with the cornstarch. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, het the olive oil until shimmering, then add the chickpea mixture. Cook stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; toss with coriander, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

return the pot to medium high. Heat 1/4 cup oil, then add Italian sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chard stems, garlic, brown sugar and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, 3 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cover, reduce to medium and cook until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in peperoncini and brine. Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Top with the fried chickpeas.

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