Spicy Red Pepper Cranberry Relish

1 cup sugar
2 large jalapeños, preferably red, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon grated ginger
12 ounces cranberries

Put sugar, jalapeños, lemon juice, salt and cayenne in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup water, then stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar, and simmer 2 minutes.
Add ginger and cranberries, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have softened and no liquid remains in pan, about 15 minutes.
Let cool and taste. Add more cayenne or jalapeños if desired. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Creamed Corn

6 ears fresh corn
2 tablespoons butter
Sliver of garlic
Sea salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Fresh sage leaves or chopped parsley, for garnish

Scrape corn kernels from cobs, running knife edge along cobs to squeeze out juices. (If the corn is not very fresh, then blanch in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes before scraping kernels from cobs.)
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Drop in butter and melt until foamy. Add corn, garlic and juices. Season with salt and cook until kernels become tender. Pour in milk and simmer until milk is almost gone. Pour in cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve.

Notes: Fresh corn is best for this, but frozen corn would work as well. If using the latter, add a bit of water when cooking before you add the milk.

Roasted Poblano Mashed Potatoes

2 poblano chiles
3 pounds (about 4) Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
black pepper
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup buttermilk

First, roast the poblanos under the broiler until blackened on both sides, about 10-12 minutes, turning once. Once blackened, place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight, and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag, and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and finely dice.

Meanwhile, to make the mashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with 1 inch of water, add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and bring to a boil on medium heat. After the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the potatoes are fork-tender (be sure not to overcook), about 10-12 minutes. Drain and rinse, then lightly salt and pepper the potatoes.

Wipe out the pot, then add the butter and melt it over low heat. Add the garlic, and while stirring, cook until fragrant and softened about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat. Return the potatoes to the pot, and with a masher, mash the potatoes until smooth.

Pour in the half and half and buttermilk, and stir until well blended and creamy. (I leave off the heat to prevent the potatoes from burning on the bottom, but if you find they’re not hot enough, use low heat but keep stirring to prevent them from sticking.) Stir in the chiles, then taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

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.

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.

Turkey for Two with Pickled Cranberries and Onions

1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, preferably lemon thyme
1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs (2 medium thighs)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, basil or parsley leaves, for serving

Finely grate 1/2 teaspoon zest from the lemon and put it in a small bowl with the garlic and thyme. Halve the lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon of the juice into the bowl. Mix everything into a paste.

Pat the turkey thighs dry and season with salt and pepper. Smear turkey with the paste and place thighs on a plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, so the skin can dry out, for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon halves into a medium bowl. Add the onion, cranberries, lime juice, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, tossing well. Let the mixture sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until the onions wilt and turn pink, 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (These can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put turkey thighs on a baking pan and dot with butter. Roast the thighs for 40 to 50 minutes, until the skin is crisp, the meat is cooked through and the juices run clear. (No need to rest here.)

Serve turkey with a little of the cranberries and pickles on top, with herbs scattered over everything.

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

Korean Corn Cheese

1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (see Tip)
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Heat your broiler. In a medium bowl, combine corn, bell pepper, mayonnaise, sugar, salt and pepper.
In an 8-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, melt the butter over high. Add the corn mixture and sauté just until warmed, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spread the mixture evenly into a single layer, then cover with cheese.
Set the skillet on the rack nearest the broiler and cook until the cheese is golden brown in spots, about 3 to 4 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it, as oven temperatures may vary.)
Sprinkle with the scallions and enjoy while it’s hot and cheesy!

Tip: For extra flavor, blend mozzarella with another mild, melty cheese like Muenster. Readers also suggested a cheddar mix.

Readers also suggest adding shredded chicken.

Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower

For the Baked Crispy Cauliflower
5 tbsp corn starch or other starch
6 tbsp bread crumbs use gluten-free crumbs to make gf
5 tbsp or more water
1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) cayenne use a 1/3 tsp for less heat
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) salt
1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) roasted sesame oil
1 tsp oil
1 medium head of cauliflower chopped into florets

For the Kung Pao sauce:
1 tsp oil
8 to 10 (8 to 10 ) dried red chilies chinese red chilies, or arbol or cayenne, or use california red for less heat
1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) coarsely crushed sichuan peppercorns or use a mix of coarsely crushed black pepper and red pepper flakes
2 to 3 tbsp chopped cashews or peanuts
4 to 5 cloves of garlic minced
1 inch ginger minced
2 tbsp scallions chopped

Sauce mix
2.5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce/tamari use certified gluten-free sauce to make gf
1.5 to 2 tbsp (1.5 to 1 tbsp) rice vinegar
1 tsp chinese rice wine optional
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup (63 ml) + 2 tbsp water use 1/2 cup for more sauce
1 tsp cornstarch

Chop up the cauliflower and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220ºc. Mix the cornstarch breadcrumbs, and the rest of the ingredients to make a batter. Let the batter sit for 10 seconds to thicken if it isn’t thick. The cornstarch continues to thicken the batter, so as soon as it is a good not too watery consistency, start dipping the cauliflower in the batter, tap to drop excess and place on parchment lined baking sheet. If the batter thickens too much while working, add a tsp or more water and mix in and continue.

Bake for 30 minutes or longer until the florets are cooked through. Check with a toothpick/knife
Meanwhile make the sauce. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the red chilies and peppercorns and cook until the red chilies are fragrant, but not overly brown, or someone starts sneezing. (For more heat, break some of the chilies into half and add to the skillet.)

Add the nuts and mix for a few seconds. Add the ginger, garlic, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until the garlic is golden. 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add in the scallions, and 2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped green peppers or other veggies if using and mix in. Increase heat to medium. Cook for a minute.

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl and add to the skillet. Continue to cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens slightly. 2 mins. Carefully taste and adjust salt, sweet and spice. If the sauce is not hot enough, break a few of the chilies open or add in red pepper flakes to taste and mix in.
Arrange the baked cauliflower in a shallow bowl in one layer. When ready to serve, Drizzle the sauce over each floret. Serve.

To store, store the baked cauliflower and sauce separately. Heat the sauce, pour over the florets. To serve with rice/cooked grains, double the sauce mix and bring to a boil to thicken, toss in the cauliflower and serve immediately over rice.

Golden Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets
3 tsp oil
1 tsp lemon juice or lime juice
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala or use curry powder of choice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne or use 1 tsp sweet paprika + pinches of cayenne to taste
a good dash of black pepper
pinches of cinnamon and clove powder, optional
1.5 to 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
raita, chutney or lemon to serve

Slice the cauliflower into florets and add to a large bowl. Drizzle oil and lemon juice. Mix and rub the oil and lemon juice into the florets.

Mix the spices and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Sprinkle all over the cauliflower and toss well to coat.
Spread on parchment lined baking sheet or large dish and spray oil on the florets.

Bake at 425 degrees F (220 deg C) for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees F. Turn the sheet around or move the cauliflower around a bit and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve with raita.

Cajun Roasted Cauliflower with Chimichurri

Cajun Cauliflower:
1 small head of cauliflower, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices or chopped into medium size florets
2 tbsp cajun spice blend (2 tsp sweet paprika, 1/3 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp oregano, 1.5 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp onion powder, dash of pepper flakes
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (if using store bought cajun blend, it might already be salted, so you will need only 1/4 tsp)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp lemon juice

Chimichurri sauce:
1 cup (60 g) packed parsley or one bunch parsley leaves and tender stems, chopped
1/4 cup (0.25 g) basil packed or use cilantro
6 cloves (6 cloves ) of raw garlic more the merrier
2 tbsp (2 tbsp ) extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp (1 tsp ) vinegar apple cider or balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp ) salt
1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp ) black pepper
2 tbsp (2 tbsp ) or more avocado for creamyness optional

Slice the cauliflower or chop into florets. Blend the chimichurri sauce with a few tbsp of water and set aside. Line a baking dish with parchment. Preheat the oven to 425 deg F ( 220 C )
Rub oil and lemon juice all over the slices or florets.

Sprinkle the cajun spice + salt on both sides of the slices and rub lightly. Then sprinkle more on the open side. (If using florets, sprinkle spice + salt, then toss well to coat). For Crispyness, mix 2 tbsp breadcrumbs in the spice mix and salt and then sprinkle all over.

Spray oil lightly on the spiced cauliflower to seal the spices in, Bake at 425 deg F for 20 to 25 mins. Broil for a minute to sear if needed.

Cauliflower tends to soften depending on the moisture content after cooking. So serve immediately. Sprinkle some more spice if needed. Cajun can be hot, so add another cooling dressing of choice if needed.

Serve with a side salad of cherry tomatoes/tomatoes, onion, chickpeas/beans, salt, pepper and chimichurri/lemon with these.

Carrot Rice

1 tsp vegetable oil
2-inch piece cinnamon
5 pods green cardamom
5 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp raw cashew pieces (optional)
2 cups carrots (grated. Approx 2 carrots)
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water (or vegetable stock)
Salt to taste

Heat the oil. Add the whole spices–cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf–and stir for a minute until fragrant.

Add the onions and cashews, if using, and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent but not brown.

Stir in the carrots and saute for another couple of minutes until they start to cook. Stir in the rice along with salt to taste and mix well. As soon as the rice starts to turn opaque, add the water and salt. Give everything a good stir and let it come to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook the rice 10 minutes. At the 10-minute point, open, give the rice a good stir, and cover and cook another 10 minutes.

Let the rice stand another 10 minutes before opening. Serve hot with any basic coconut curry.

TIPS FOR MAKING CARROT RICE:

Use the largest holes on your hand grater or food processor to grate the carrots. You want the carrots and the rice to be approximately the same size when they cook. Keep in mind the carrots will shrink as they express their juices, and the rice will expand as it absorbs them.
For the same reasons, slice the onions really thin. If the onion you use is big, cut the slices in half.

You don’t need to soak the rice for this recipe, which makes it come together even more quickly, since there’s no prep ahead of time.

Usually, when I share a rice recipe with you, I ask you not to stir the rice as it cooks. I will make an exception in this case. About halfway through the 20-minute mark when the rice is covered and cooked, give the rice a stir. This will help the carrots and rice mix better and cook more evenly.
I like adding a few cashew pieces to this recipe, but they are completely optional if you want it to be nut-free.

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemons, Shallots, and Herbs

1–2 shallots ( or 1/4 of an onion) – very thinly sliced – see notes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed, drained ( rinsing removes bitterness)
2 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or use 1–2 minced garlic cloves with the shallot)
1 teaspoon dried oregano ( or italian seasoning, or herbs de Provence, or similar)

Garnish:

lemon zest from one small lemon,
sprinkling of fresh herbs ( italian parsley, dill, basil, cilantro)
2 tablespoons slivered almonds ( optional- other nuts & seeds are ok, or just leave off)
sautéed shallot ( see notes) or crispy shallots
drizzle of good olive oil– optional but good.

In a medium pot, over medium heat, sauté the shallot in the oil, until golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. If you want, set half aside for the garnish. Add rinsed/drained quinoa, water, salt, cumin, granulated garlic and dried herbs, and give a good stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover well, and cook for 15 minutes. Check to see that quinoa has soaked up all the water. If not, continue cooking 2-5 more minutes. If it has, turn heat off and let it sit covered 5-10 more minutes.

Fluff with a fork, place in a serving bowl and toss gently with lemon zest, sprinkle with fresh herbs and, sauted shallots and optional nuts. Don’t over mix.

For extra richness a drizzle of good quality olive oil is really nice touch.

notes

When serving this as a side dish all on its own, I like to use two sautéed shallots, half for cooking with the quinoa, and the other half for sprinkling over the top as a garnish. If batch cooking for the week, you may not need the garnish.
Rinsing the quinoa is imperative. It really does help remove the bitterness.
If making a smaller batch or bigger batch, my general ratio of water to quinoa = 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water.

Play around with this and embellish it as you please.

A easy way to turn this quinoa into a meal….is to serve it with simple roasted veggies and tahini sauce. Or these roasted parsnips! Add this make-ahead kale salad if you like. It really doesn’t have to be complicated! Simple real food -the best kinds of meals!

Perfect for meal prepping and batch cooking!

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin

ingredients

2 medium cauliflower heads (about 10 cups, 20 ounces florets)
2 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
——–
2 Tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced or sub 2 fat shallots)
6–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage (or 2 teaspoons dry sage, or sub rosemary or thyme)
Bechamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gf flour)
2 cups milk, hot
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated is nice)
¼ cup grated gruyere cheese- (or mozzarella -plus 3 Tablespoons for the top)
¼ cup grated Parmesan or pecorino
Optional Additions:

¼ cup crispy bacon bits, or crispy pancetta
¼ cup vegan “bacon bits”
bread crumb topping (see notes)
instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Roast the Cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil (just enough to lightly coat) salt and pepper and place on one (or two) parchment-lined sheet pans ( in a single layer) and bake until tender and golden, about 20-25 minutes.
Saute the onions: In an extra large skillet saute the onion over med- high heat in olive oil until tender and fragrant, stirring often, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sage and lower heat to medium and sauté 3-4 minutes, until fragrant, season with salt and pepper. Take your time here and make sure onion and garlic are golden and tender. Set aside.
Make the Bechamel Sauce: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir until butter just begins to become golden and becomes nutty and fragrant. Add flour. Stir and cook flour for at least 1 minute. Whisk in ½ C hot milk making sure to whisk all the flour from the corners and sides of the pot. Add another ½ C milk, whisking well. Add the final cup of milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and just comes to a simmer. Turn heat to low and whisk in cheese and set aside.
Assemble: Use a greased, oven-proof 10 inch cast iron skillet, 8×11 inch baking dish or greased individual ramekins. Toss the roasted cauliflower with the Bechamel sauce and onions/garlic/ sage mixture. Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting to your liking.
Top with optional bread crumbs (see notes), optional crispy bacon or pancetta (or vegan bacon bits) a few sage leaves or a little more cheese. You could refrigerate this overnight at this point if making ahead (perhaps not in the cast iron). If refrigerating, be sure to bring to room temp before baking.
Lower heat to 375 F and bake uncovered in the oven, until golden and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

Mexican Pinto Beans

1 lb dry pinto beans (2 1/2 cups dry), soaked 6-12 hours, then drained
1 teaspoon salt
——-
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 dry Mexican Guajillo Chile (optional, see notes), seeds removed, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves (optional)
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)

Place pinto beans in a med bowl, and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and let soak overnight – or for a minimum of 6 hours. Drain.

After soaking: In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the dried chili, cinnamon stick and all the spices. Saute one minute to toast the spices. Add the water, tomato paste and DRAINED beans. Stir in the 1/2 salt and bring to a rapid boil.

Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer (on low or medium low) and simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes, until beans are tender.

Stir in the tablespoon of Chipotle Adobo Sauce and the vinegar.

Taste, adjusting salt if needed.

Notes:
Feel free to substite 1-2 canned chipotle peppers (chopped) instead of the dried Mexican chili. Or leave out both for a milder version. Or experiment with other dried Mexican chilies taking not of heat level. One Guajillo chili makes this MEDIUM SPICY.

Using the The Adobo sauce from the Canned Chipotle Peppers really elevates and adds a lovely smokiness to the whole dish. Freeze the leftover chipotle chilies (individually) for later use!
You could also use a little smoked paprika for the smoky flavor without the spiciness.

INSTANT POT: Cook according to above, using the saute function for sauteeing. Reduce water to 4 cups. Pressure cook the soaked pinto beans on high for 25 minutes, naturally release. If you’d like to reduce liquid further, cook on saute function for a few minutes until it thickens up.

HAM HOCK: Feel free to add a smoked ham hock to the top of the simmering beans. After it’s tender, shred the meat and stir into the beans.

Basic Roasted Vegetables

2 large carrots, peeled, sliced into ½ in rounds, halved into half-moons
2 parsnips, peeled, sliced into ½ in rounds, halved
1/2 – 1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks, or wedges
1 sweet potato cut into ¾ inch cubes
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
generous, 5 finger pinch of salt and pepper
optional additions: other veggies of course, fresh herbs -thyme, rosemary, sage

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Cut veggies and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. If your sheet pans are small, use 2 pans.
Cut veggies and place them in rows.

drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and using tongs give a light toss.
Place in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, rotate, toss again, and continue cooking until fork tender, another 10-15 minutes.

Place in a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Tips:

Choose veggies that take roughly the same amount of time to roast. Root veggies (vegetables that grow underground) like carrots, parsnips, beets, and potatoes, are relatively dense compared to other veggies and take the longest to roast, 30-50 minutes, depending on what size you cut them. Winter squash are medium-dense so take less time, when peeled and diced.

If someone were to ask me which veggies are best to roast? I would say, hands-down, root vegetables! Their natural sweetness and earthiness both get enhanced and elevated through roasting.
Cut veggies so they are the same thickness. This ensures they roast quickly and uniformly. I try to keep root veggies at ½ inch thick.

Roast vegetables on a parchment-lined sheet pan – and use an extra-large one! Or use two! They like space.

Group different veggies separately on the sheet pan (instead of mixing them all together) just in case you need to remove some and not others.

Keep it simple, with a light drizzle of olive oil, sprinkling of salt and pepper. This allows the flavors of the veggies to really shine.

Use a hot, 425 F oven, middle rack.

Check at 15 minutes, rotate pan and give a quick toss, continue cooking 5-15 minutes or until fork tender.

I always like to include an onion and bell pepper for flavor. (Just a personal preference)
Of course you can add a herb – thyme, rosemary, sage- all work well.

Basic Cauliflower Rice Pilaf with Variations

1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
2–3 garlic cloves ( optional, or sub 1–2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder)
1 shallot, finely chopped ( optional)
pinch salt and pepper
zest from one small lemon
1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley (or thyme, cilantro or basil, or sub other herbs, see below)

Trim the leaves and stem off the cauliflower and cut into smaller pieces. (If using a box grater, cut into quarters and see notes)

Working in 2 batches, place 1/2 the cauliflower pieces into a food processor and pulse until it is uniformly and coursely ground. Place in a large bowl, lined with paper towels. Repeat with the second half.

Pat the top with paper towels, squeezing out any excess water.

To cook, either roast or saute.

To roast, preheat oven to 425 F. Remove the paper towels and place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, chopped shallot, finely minced garlic and the zest of one lemon. Toss and spread out. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden, giving it good toss halfway though. Garnish with fresh parsley.

To saute on the stove top, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until golden and fragrant. Add cauliflower, garlic, salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes until you begin to smell the garlic. Turn heat down to low, cover and let this steam a bit until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Uncover, continue stirring, and add lemon zest. Cook until it starts to get golden. Sprinkle with herbs right before serving.

Feel free to make other variations to go with your meals:

Mexican – lime zest, cilantro, chili powder, cumin or coriander
Spanish – add smoked paprika
French – fresh thyme
Italian – garlic and basil
Indian – add curry powder
Asian – garlic and ginger, a small splash of soy and srircha at the end ( or Szechuan Sauce)

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata

1 large cauliflower-Sliced into ¾ inch slices
1 bunch Italian parsley- finely chopped- 1 Cup (or use part mint or cilantro)
2–3 garlic cloves- finely minced
1/3 C olive oil
Zest of one large lemon (1 ½ Tablespoon) finely chopped
1/8 C fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Remove cauliflower leaves and trim sides of the stem, leaving the length. Slice Cauliflower into ½ inch to 3/4 inch thick slices. ( See photo). Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and a little pepper. Roast in the oven, uncovered until golden and tender, about 30 minutes (check at 25 minutes). The thicker the slices the longer you will have to roast.

While cauliflower steaks are roasting, make the gremolata.

Chop Italian parsley ( some stems are ok) finely, to make roughly one cup, and place in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

When Cauliflower is tender, arrange on a platter, and drizzle gremolata over top.

Black Rice Pilaf

2 tablespoons olive oil ( or butter)
1 shallot – chopped
1 1/2 cups forbidden black rice
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme ( or 1 teaspoon dry)
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon broth or stock ( veggie or chicken)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 bay leaf
pinch salt and pepper
1/3 cup slivered almonds ( save 2 tablespoons for garnish)
Garnish: 1-2 tablespoons Italian parsley

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the shallots, stirring until golden and fragrant, about 4 -5 minutes.

Add rice and thyme and saute 3-4 minutes.

Add stock, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and 1/2 the almonds. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cover, turn heat to low and cook 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and rice is tender.
Garnish with remaining almonds and parsley.