Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

I recently bought a 5 pound bag of carrots and let me tell you – those suckers are resilient! I used some carrots in my chicken soup. I brought carrot sticks to work to munch on. I made my favorite carrot soup. Despite my efforts to incorporate more carrots into my diet, there was still a hefty number of carrots left in the fridge.

I decided to go big with my carrot swan song.  I chose a dish that really elevates the humble carrot.  A spice rub, comprised of smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, mustard powder and sugar, adds a delightful smokey and sweet flavor to the carrots when they caramelize and the harissa yogurt is the perfect creamy accompaniment. If you find yourself flush with carrots, make this recipe. It’s super flavorful and way more interesting than your run of the mill carrot dish.

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Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

From Bon Appetit

  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pepper
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add carrots and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Remove carrots with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Using a paper towel gently remove the carrot skin and pat the carrots dry.

In a medium bowl, combine the spices and add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss everything together and add salt and pepper to the carrots. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots in batches and cook turning occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the carrots are golden brown. Salt and pepper the carrots when they are done cooking.

In a small bowl, gently fold the harissa, lemon zest, salt and pepper into the yogurt, stopping just before the yogurt turns pink. Spoon the yogurt onto a plate and top with carrots and additional lemon zest.

 

Cranberry Gin Fizz

Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of all time for the obvious reason, i.e. stuffing) can be tough for many people under the best of circumstances. Hectic travel. Black Friday fatigue. Bumping into old frenemies from high school. Trying to explain your millennial job to your great aunt. And my personal favorite, responding to the question “OMG, did you lose a ton of weight?” Yes, I have indeed shed a few pounds since my Bat Mitzvah, Mrs. Goldberger. I have also groomed my caterpillar eyebrows, thank you very much.

But this year, after, shall we say, a divisive election, things have the potential to get downright ugly. Especially if you’re leaving your East Coast Liberal haven for the heartland. To avoid igniting a live Facebook comments war at your Thanksgiving table, you’re going to need alcohol.

How does a seasonal cocktail to unite the whole family sound? We’re stronger together with a Cranberry Gin Fizz in hand. Made with a tart, fresh cranberry simple syrup with notes of rosemary, the Cranberry Gin Fizz will get you through Thanksgiving. It’s festive and colorful. And after all, Booze Trumps No Booze.

Bite your tongue, take down a few Make America Great Again lawn signs and sip your Cranberry Gin Fizz this Thanksgiving. And remember, when they go low, we reach for a seasonal fall cocktail and start drinking to dull the pain. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

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Cranberry Gin Fizz

Makes 1 cocktail

1 ounce fresh lime juice

2 ounces gin

1 ounce cranberry simple syrup

1 sprig of rosemary for garnish

a few cranberries for garnish

splash of club soda

ice

Cranberry Simple Syrup:

6 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

sprig of rosemary

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from heat and add in rosemary. Allow mixture to cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Combine lime juice, cranberry simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of club soda, a few fresh cranberries, and a rosemary sprig for garnish.

 

Locked & Loaded Nachos

I like to think of myself as a nacho artisan. I’ve come a long way from my microwave nacho days where I would take a humble bag of tortilla chips, some taco sauce from a jar, shredded cheese and zap it in the microwave. Years later I took my nacho game to the next level by topping my nachos with fresh tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream, sliced green onions and black olives. Today, I am proud to say I have reached new heights in my nacho career. Game-winning, crowd-roaring heights – just in time for the Super Bowl! I present to you my Locked & Loaded Nachos. Tortilla chips (from Whole Foods…I told you I was not messing around) are topped with the finest and freshest ingredients on this earth. Black beans pureed with sauteed fresh garlic and red onion and then hit with little bit of lime juice. Fresh tomatoes diced to perfection and mixed with jalapenos, red onions, vinegar and cilantro. Guac. And the finishing touch – sliced jalapenos and radishes. Oh and artfully piped sour cream. Does anyone know a skilled nacho conservator by the way?

 

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Locked & Loaded Nachos

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Black beans

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper

Guac

  • 1 avocado
  • half a lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Chips and assembly

  • sturdy tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • sour cream

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add in red onion and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes until the onion is soft. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and add black beans, lime juice, and ¼ cup water. Season with salt and pepper and process until smooth.

Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine avocado, lime juice, salt, pepper and red onion. Mix until smooth.

Preheat oven to 425. On a sheet pan, lay out your tortilla chips and top with dollops of the bean mixture and shredded cheese. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and top with guac, pico de gallo, sliced jalapenos, radishes, and a drizzle of sour cream. Devour. They’re insane.

Spiced Flatbread Burgers

Sometimes you just need red meat.  I eat a lot of vegetarian dishes during the week, because it’s easy, convenient and doesn’t require planning ahead (aka defrosting or purchasing meat). Stanbys include pasta, veggie chili, shakshuka and soup.  But, sometimes I just want a burger. You get that, right? This recipe is not only easy, but effing delicious.  The recipe calls for ground lamb, but I used ground beef. Cumin, coriander and cinnamon flavor the meat which sits between two flatbreads and is then grilled to juicy perfection. The beef cooks inside the flatbread creating a crunchy juicy burger scenario unlike anything you’ve ever tried.   Please make these. They’re effing delicious.

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Spiced Flatbread Burgers

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 tbs coriander

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

olive oil

3 flatbreads or pitas

Mix the beef, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper in a large bowl. Heat grill or grill pan to medium heat brush with olive oil.  Cut the flatbread into four triangles and place filling onto flatbread wedges and top with another wedge. I put about an inch of meat. Grill flatbread sandwiches until filling is cooked through and bread is crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Serve with Israeli salad.

 

Salted Caramel Bourbon Cheesecake Bites

This decadent dessert is the perfect treat for a New Year’s Eve party. It’s rich, luxurious, and a fabulous last hurrah bite before you kick off your diet. Unlike New Year’s Eve, this cheesecake bite won’t disappoint and leave you barefoot and full of regret. Perfect for a party, these bites can be topped with whatever you like – fruit, chocolate, or even plain they’re great. Happy 2015!

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Salted Bourbon Caramel Cheesecake Bites

Adapted from this recipe

For the crust:

  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 pounds cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

For the shortbread:

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in middle. Line an 8-by 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side.

Combine the pecans, butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is looks like a coarse meal. Press the mixture evenly into your baking dish and bake until golden brown on the edges, about 25 minutes.

For the cheesecake:

Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a standing mixer until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the processor then add the eggs and the yolk one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until blended.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean and the center of the cheesecake is just set (it will look like custard), about 40 minutes (mine took closer to an hour) Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the cheesecake cool for 15 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Let the cheesecake cool completely, about 1 hour then stick it in the fridge.

For the caramel:

Stir together the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely moistened. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Without stirring but swirling the pan occasionally, let the sugar boil for a bit then add the butter. It will turn a nice caramel color, about 5 minutes. Give the pan a few good swirls to make sure it’s evenly cooking, remove from heat, and carefully add the whiskey.  Immediately add the cream, and whisk until the caramel is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, at least out 15 minutes.

Assembly:

Pour the lukewarm caramel over the cooled cheesecake, then place in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours. When ready to serve, cut into slabs or squares using a sharp knife dipped in hot water. Garnish with sea salt and serve. It can be difficult to cut, but try and stay patient and dip your knife in hot water, it really helps.