thanksgiving

red rice with coriander, apricot and herbs

Image/styling: Olaiya Land

Once upon a time, before Beau and I got married, I had a boyfriend who was a vegetarian. Please know that I love and cherish the vegetarians in my life. But this boyfriend was the worst sort of non-meateater. The sort of judgy vegetarian who, when we were in the early stages of our relationship, had no problem with me cooking and eating meat, then would randomly get angry about my “disgusting meat addiction”. The sort of vegetarian who, when we were out, would finish my hamburgers and slices of pepperoni pizza because it was “better than wasting”. A vegetarian who was actually more of a carb-atarian and who occasionally cooked horrible hippie food with whatever strange dregs were rolling around in the fridge (sauerkraut burritos, anyone?).

I’m embarrassed to admit that my relationship with this particular ex contaminated my feelings about vegetarians in general. For several years after we broke up, I projected his condescending sense of superiority onto all the vegetarians and vegans I met. (After we broke up, I started dating a meat-eating, Southern, ex-republican who’s job in the Special Forces saw him jumping out of helicopters on a regular basis. Needless to say, he did not complain about my “meat addiction”. Oh, what a painfully obvious rebound.)

I’m happy to report that my anti-vegetarian sentiment disappeared along with the presence of this ex in my life. Unexpectedly, my time with him left me with a deeper empathy for people who don’t eat meat. In our five years together, I saw first-hand how thoroughly vegans and vegetarians are treated as a fussy nuisance or an afterthought at holiday gatherings.

Image/styling: Olaiya Land

Turkey! Ham! Rack of lamb! Gravy and stuffing--made with pan juices, of course! These are the traditional stars of the holiday table. Vegetarians and vegans are left to cobble together a meal of cranberry sauce, gloppy green bean casserole, dinner rolls and perhaps a Brussels sprout or two. (Let’s not even discuss the inedible Field Roast, which is an approximation of no roast I’ve ever tasted.)

If you’re not a vegan or vegetarian yourself, you’re likely to have one or more at your holiday table. Which is why we need more holiday dishes that can accompany meat (if you go that route) and are sexy enough to keep our non-meateating friends and fam from feeling shafted.

Enter this Red Rice with Coriander, Apricot and Herbs.

Image/styling: Olaiya Land
Image/styling: Olaiya Land

I found this amazing red rice on my last trip to Paris. It’s hearty, nutty and subtly sweet, with a beautifully firm texture. (Wild rice is a great substitute if you don’t feel like tracking this down.) Whole coriander seeds and fresh lemon zest add zing. The jewel-toned dried apricots lend sweet-tart balance and keep this rice dish from looking blah. And fresh herbs because, fresh herbs on everything. Always and forever.

Because we all have shit to do at the holidays, this is super easy to make. You cook the rice using the pasta method (boil and drain) and prep everything else while it cooks. The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes. I’m going to go ahead and say this vegan, gluten-free dish will please pretty much everyone at your holiday feast.

Which is what the holidays are all about--making everyone who gathers around your table feel welcome.


Red Rice with Coriander, Apricot and Herbs

Red Rice with Coriander, Apricot and Herbs

  • 1 ¼ cup Camargue Red Rice (or wild rice)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds (the smaller, the better)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro

*Notes: I used red rice grown in the wetlands of southern France. You can buy the same sort of Camargue red rice here. Wild rice would also be great in this dish.

- My very favorite dried apricots are the Blenheim variety. They are more tart than Turkish Apricots. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but you can also get them here.

- If you want to kick the heartiness up a notch, a handful of chopped pistachios or toasted walnuts would be a great addition.

- This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. It’s good on the first day, but maybe even better the day after. (I just ate some cold, straight out of the fridge and it was pretty delicious.) If you make it in advance, I recommend reheating it, covered, in a low oven before serving.

Image/styling: Olaiya Land

Place the rice in a large saucepan along with a generous pinch of salt. Cover with water by 3 inches and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the rice is done but still firm. Mine took about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the rice is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the diced onion, black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onion is very tender. If it browns a bit, that’s ok, but the goal is not to get it brown and crispy. You want meltingly soft onions, so keep the heat low and stir often. When the onions are soft, add the coriander seed and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped apricot and lemon zest and cook for a minute or two more. If the rice is still cooking, turn off the heat on the onion mixture and set aside.

When the rice has been cooked and drained, add it to the pan with the onion mixture and cook over medium heat until everything is warm and the flavors have come together, 2-3 minutes. Season with the lemon juice and stir in the parsley and cilantro. Taste and add more salt, pepper, lemon or olive oil as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4-6 side-dish servings

Image/styling: Olaiya Land

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto, pears and celery root

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

Hello from Paris!

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. I was a bit under the weather/jet-lagged, so Beau and I had a pretty mellow holiday: a walk over to Notre Dame to hear the Christmas bells toll, a leisurely stroll through the Luxembourg gardens with a stop for coffee at the Café de Flore. A seafood extravaganza for two and early to bed. We didn’t even pop the bottle of champagne we bought!

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com
Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

But I’m planning to make up for our rather subdued Christmas celebration in a few days. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better place to ring in the new year than the city of light. Beau and I have a table booked at one of our favorite restaurants. There will be oysters. There will be champagne. There will be all manner of other deliciousness and then there will be heading out into the chill to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle over the city. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com
salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

But before all that, let’s talk about your New Year’s Eve dinner. 

If I were home, I’d be fixing this Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root. My friend Kyle and I served this at the pop-up dinner we hosted earlier this month. This beauty is Kyle’s invention. How he comes up with such creative dishes, I have no idea. Also, it takes him about two seconds to whip up an entire menu. Without cracking a cookbook. While I am jealous, I am also thrilled to be the beneficiary of his chef-brain. And even more thrilled that I got to eat this dish three times in one month: once while we were testing it, once at the dinner and again when I shot it for the blog with my friend Carrie

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

This roast sits at the intersection of easy and impressive. Exactly what you want on a holiday where you should be sipping champagne with your guests instead of sweating away in the kitchen. The salt crust seasons the meat while sealing in all the delicious juices. The roasted pears and celery root are a meltingly soft, subtly sweet base for the beef--far sexier than mashed potatoes. And the bright, herby pesto makes it all sing. Plus, how often do you get to smash open your meal with a hammer? Very exciting stuff.

However you decide to ring in 2017, I hope it brings you joy. Thank you for following along here and for all your kind comments and emails over the past year. You make this adventure I’m on so much more fun! 

With much love,

Olaiya


Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

  • 2-3 lb boneless cross-rib roast (also known as a flat iron roast)
  • 6 cups kosher salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Freshly-grated black pepper
  • 1 recipe Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto (below)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Pears and Celery Root (below)

Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto

  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup mint, gently packed
  • ¼ cup parsley, gently packed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, gently packed
  • 2 tablespoons dill
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • ¼ cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup hazelnut or olive oil

 

Pears and Celery Root

  • 2 slightly underripe pears
  • 1 large celery root
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

 

*Notes: My wonderful neighborhood butcher turned me onto the boneless cross-rib (or flat iron) roast called for in this recipe. I love this cut because it’s flavorful and a great value when you’re feeding a crowd. It does have more connective tissue and marbling in it than some other cuts (sort of like a prime rib roast). If that’s not your thing, you might want to consider a different cut of beef. They’re considerably more expensive, but a tenderloin roast or strip roast never disappoint. 

- If you roast or grill a larger cut of meat even once a year, I recommend you purchase a corded meat thermometer like this one. You stick the probe in the middle of your roast, while the display sits on the countertop by your oven. Set the desired temperature and it will beep when your meat is ready. No opening the oven door and letting out the precious heat. No guessing as to when your roast will be the exact doneness you like. A corded thermometer will take your roast game to a whole new level. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

Remove the beef from the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it so it can warm up slightly.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. When cool, roughly chop the nuts or crush them with the side of a chef’s knife or with a mortar and pestle (no need to peel). Place the nuts in a medium bowl. Roughly chop the herbs and add them to the bowl. Cut the preserved lemon into quarters and scoop out the flesh and toss or reserve for another use. Finely dice the peel and add it to the bowl. Add the minced shallot, lemon zest and juice, salt and olive oil and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside to let the flavors come together.

To prepare the beef, mix the salt, egg whites and water in a large bowl until the salt is evenly moistened. Place a thin layer of the salt mixture just wider than your beef roast on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the beef on top of this layer and generously sprinkle with black pepper. Use the rest of the salt mixture to cover the roast, pressing to seal the beef in. Place in the oven and roast to desired doneness: 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, 130°F for medium. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest, without breaking open the salt crust. (Don't worry if the crust has a few cracks in it when it comes out of the oven; that's fine.) Rest the beef for at least 15 minutes before you crack open the crust and slice it. 

While the beef is roasting, prepare the pears and celery root. Remove the skin and any roots from the celery root and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Core the pears and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Place the pears and celery root on a parchment-lined rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and  toss with olive oil to coat. When the roast is about 10 degrees under the desired doneness, place the pears and celery root in the oven. When you remove the beef, increase the oven temperature to 475°F and roast until the pears and celery root are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, 30-35 minutes. 

When the pears and celery root are done, crack open the salt crust on the beef using a rolling pin, meat mallet or hammer. Brush the salt off the beef and slice. Transfer the roasted pears and celery root and the beef to a serving platter. Spoon some of the pesto over the beef and serve immediately, passing the rest of the pesto alongside. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe by Kyle Wisner

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

For those of you in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Ours was much better than I expected. As I wrote in my last post, I had been having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit after the election. A few days before Thanksgiving (with no menu whatsoever in place) I happened upon this article, which gave me the idea to draw on Middle Eastern flavors for our holiday meal. The bright flavors of Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Israel felt like just what I needed to lift me out of my funk.

So I decided to scrap the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in favor of lemony leek meatballs; a basmati pilaf with chickpeas, currants and dill; homemade flatbread with za’atar; cucumber yogurt and a beautiful pink beet hummus. The star of the dinner, though, was this roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts. 

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com
roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com
roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

The recipe comes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi--one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. This salad is earthy, nutty, sweet and tart all at once. The silky texture of the roasted cauliflower is balanced by the crunch of raw celery and toasty hazelnuts. The fact that this salad sits at the unlikely intersection of so many contrasting flavors and textures is a large part of it’s appeal. The fact that it’s beautiful and healthy doesn’t hurt either.

After I made this for Thanksgiving, I realized how festive those jewel-toned colors are--perfect for adding a bright splash to your holiday table. Or a quick weeknight supper. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 

cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

And in case you’re wondering, my post-election blues seem to be fading. I’ve been talking to friends about meaningful ways to take action and stand up for what I believe in. And gathering around the table with loved ones as often as possible. Which, in my opinion, is the best ways to cure any sort of blues.


roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad

  • 5 tablespoons hazelnuts, raw or toasted
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 large stalks celery, cut on the bias into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves

*Note: I recommend toasting your own hazelnuts for this recipe so their dark, nutty flavor really comes through. But pre-roasted nuts will do in a pinch.

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

If you are using raw hazelnuts: preheat your oven to 325° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and roast until the skins start to loosen and the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes  Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a clean tea towel. Gather the four corners of the towel and twist them together to form a parcel around the hazelnuts. Rub vigorously to remove as many skins as possible. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Increase the oven temperature to 475° F. Place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts and place them in a large bowl along with the cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, celery, celery leaves, parsley and the vinaigrette. Stir to coat, taste, and adjust seasonings.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes 3-4 side-dish servings.
Adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com