Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Shallots and Labneh

FOR THE PICKLED SHALLOTS:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced into rings

FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS:
1 pound brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
Fine sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

FOR THE LABNEH:
1 cup labneh
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons date syrup or pekmez (or even maple syrup or honey), for serving

Make the pickled shallots: In a small jar or bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, black pepper and salt. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add the shallots and cover the jar with a lid or plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Prepare the brussels sprouts: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the brussels sprouts, discarding any stalks or damaged leaves. Halve the sprouts lengthwise, and toss with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt to taste and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Roast for 22 to 30 minutes, until golden brown, slightly charred in some spots and a little crispy.

As brussels sprouts cook, prepare the labneh: In a medium bowl, mix the labneh with the garlic and black pepper, then taste and season with salt.

Spread the labneh on a serving dish or plate, and spoon the sprouts over. Drain and discard the liquid from the pickled shallots, and place them on top of the sprouts. Drizzle with the date syrup and 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Puddings for Two

FOR THE PUDDINGS:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup/55 grams pitted, chopped dates
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup/55 grams dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup/65 grams all-purpose flour
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Crème fraîche, sour cream or plain yogurt, for serving

FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cups/55 grams dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Large pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 cup/55 grams unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cubed
1 tablespoon bourbon or brandy (Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 (8-ounce) ramekins or a small, shallow gratin dish with a 2- to 3-cup capacity (see Note).

Prepare the puddings: In a large, heatproof bowl, combine the dates, butter, lemon zest and baking soda. Stir in the boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes or until cool.

Whisk in pumpkin purée, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and fine sea salt until well combined, then whisk in the flour.

Scrape batter into the prepared ramekins and bake until just firm when pressed in the center, 28 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack until ready to serve. (Pudding can be baked up to 8 hours ahead.)
Prepare the sauce: In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, heavy cream and salt. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter, and bourbon (if using). If the sauce separates, use an immersion or regular blender to blend it together.

Just before serving, heat the broiler. Pour a little of the sauce over each pudding. Broil until the puddings bubble, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle tops with flaky sea salt, and serve at once, with more sauce and crème fraîche dolloped on top.

Tip:
If your ramekins hold less than 1 cup (8 ounces) each, you can divide the batter among 3 or 4 of them and reduce the baking time. This recipe makes two very substantial servings, with leftovers. You can also double or triple the recipe. If doubling, bake in an 8-inch pan; if tripling, use a 9-inch pan. If you make any of these adjustments, start checking for doneness after 20 minutes.

Maple Roasted Squash with Sage and Lime

3 tablespoons maple syrup
Large pinch of ground cayenne or chile powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Large pinch of coriander seeds
1 pound winter squash, such as dumpling, delicata or butternut, halved, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch thick (you don’t have to peel it)
Fresh lime juice, for serving
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves, for serving

Heat oven to 425 degrees. If you like, line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper or foil. (It’s not necessary but will prove helpful when cleaning up.)

In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine maple syrup and cayenne in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and let cook until it reduces by a third, 1 to 3 minutes. Add butter and let it melt. Turn off heat and mix in salt, pepper and coriander.

Spread the squash out on the pan and spoon maple mixture over the pieces, turning them to coat. Roast until the pieces begin to soften, 15 minutes. Turn the squash pieces over and roast until glazed and tender, 10 to 20 minutes more. Drizzle lime juice and scatter sage leaves over the top for serving.

Herbed Bread-and-Butter Stuffing for Two

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large or 2 small shallots, diced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a large pinch
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or thyme leaves (or use a large pinch of dried)
1/2 to 3/4 cup turkey, chicken or vegetable broth
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh soft herbs (use 2 or 3 of the following: parsley, tarragon, chives, mint, basil, cilantro, dill or celery leaves)
About 2 1/2 cups torn-up stale white or whole-wheat bread, not too crusty (3 ounces)
Black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a small, shallow gratin dish, casserole dish or loaf pan with a 3- to 4-cup capacity.

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in shallots and a large pinch of salt. Cook until soft and just starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in marjoram and cook for 1 minute longer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup broth, egg, chopped herbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Fold in bread and shallots, letting the bread absorb the liquid. It should be very moist. (If the mixture seems dry, add more stock a little at a time, using up to another 1/4 cup.)

Spoon stuffing into the prepared baking dish and grind some black pepper onto the top. Cut the remaining tablespoon butter into small pieces and scatter over the top. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Hot and Numbing Stir-Fried Potatoes (with Variations)

FOR THE POTATOES:
2 pounds small yellow new potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
Kosher salt

FOR THE SPICE BLEND:
2 teaspoons red Sichuan peppercorns
1 star anise pod
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns or 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 whole dried hot chiles (such as chile de arból or Japonais) or 1 tablespoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon powdered chicken bouillon (or replace with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon MSG to make the dish vegan)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

FOR STIR-FRYING:
1/4 cup peanut, rice bran or soybean oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cool water by 2 inches. Season heavily with salt. (The water should taste like very salty seawater once the salt has dissolved.) Place over high heat, bring to a boil and cook until there’s no resistance when a knife or cake tester is poked through the largest potato, about 10 minutes after they come to a boil. Drain potatoes and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet to air-dry.

While the potatoes cook, make the spice blend: In a small bowl, shake the Sichuan peppercorns and discard any shiny black seeds, twigs or leaf fragments. Add the husks to a dry wok, along with the star anise, fennel seeds, white peppercorns and half the cumin seeds. Toast over medium heat, tossing frequently, until very aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl to cool slightly. Return wok to heat and add remaining cumin seeds and the chiles. Toss and stir until very aromatic, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a second small bowl.

When cool, transfer the spice mixture in the first bowl, along with the 2 chiles from the second bowl to an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Add salt, sugar and chicken bouillon. Grind to a fine powder and return to the empty bowl.

Add the cumin seeds that toasted with the chiles to the spice grinder or the mortar (no need to clean it out) and pound or pulse until very coarsely ground. (There should be large, distinct pieces of cumin seeds.) Add half-ground cumin and the sesame seeds to the rest of the spice mixture and stir to incorporate.

Stir-fry the potatoes: When potatoes are dry, heat 3 tablespoons oil in the wok over high heat until shimmering. Add potatoes and cook, stirring and tossing frequently, until browned in spots, about 4 minutes.

Clear a small space in the center of the wok and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to it. Immediately add the garlic, scallions and spice mixture to the oil and stir until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Toss everything until the potatoes are thoroughly coated in spices, about 15 seconds. Season to taste with more salt as desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Tips:
To stick with more traditional Thanksgiving flavors, flavor the potatoes with garlic and rosemary:

Follow recipe steps above, omitting the spice blend and skipping Steps 2 through 4. As the potatoes boil, finely mince 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves. Add the minced rosemary leaves to the wok in Step 6, along with the garlic and scallions, plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

For another flavor profile, try the potatoes with blistered cumin and mustard seeds:

Follow recipe steps above, omitting the spice blend and skipping Steps 2 through 4. As the potatoes boil, heat 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil in a wok over high heat until shimmering. Add 2 teaspoons each cumin seeds and black (or brown) mustard seeds and stir-fry until they sizzle and pop then popping starts to subside. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a small heatproof bowl. Transfer the blistered mustard and cumin seeds to a separate bowl and add 2 teaspoons curry powder and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. This is your spice mixture to be added to the potatoes as directed in Step 6. Use the strained oil to stir-fry in Steps 5 and 6. This version is especially good with a handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves tossed with the potatoes just before serving.
Thanks