The holiday season is officially here and it can be easy to forget about the items in your kitchen that are doing all the work!
From your wooden salad bowl to the cheese and charcuterie boards to your all-purpose cutting boards - they need your love too. Follow these simple rules year round to ensure you get the best look and life from your favorite wooden pieces.
First things first. Invest in a good quality mineral oil. I love Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co.'s Cutting Board Oil. It is made from a blend of white mineral oil, cold pressed essential oil, and bee propolis. It is perfect for all things wood as well as stone surfaces like slate, marble, and soapstone. You can find this oil at Williams-Sonoma or West Elm or by clicking the link above.
Once you have the oil you must commit to using it once a month to season each wood item. Massage the oil into the wood surface with a lint-free cloth in the direction of the wood grain until the wood will not absorb anymore. Wipe away any excess oil and let air dry.
For day-to-day care wash with soap and warm water and always let air dry in an open area where the wood can completely dry out (otherwise it will become a breeding ground for bacteria that love moist surfaces).
Looking to invest or gift some wood this year? Here are some of my favorite pieces:
Edith Heath (1911-2005) founded Heath Ceramics in 1948 with a goal of making simple, good things for people. In 2003, industrial designer Catherine Bailey and engineer husband, Robin Petravic, bought Heath from Edith who was in her nineties at the time. They have forged onward continuing to nurture Edith's legacy. With over 60 years under it's belt, Heath Ceramics stands as an iconic American company still known for making simple, functional, and thoughtful things. The original factory is located in Saulsalito, California and stores can be found in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Last week I attended a super fun workshop at the LA Heath Shop with gal pal, Lydia, of Apples and Onions LA, where studio director, Adam Silverman (and his fabulous assistant Alex) taught us how to make their signature bud vases and then sent us home with copies of his recently published book.
We can't wait to see the finished product!! I will post an update as soon as we receive them!
Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlap this week creating the very rare "Thanksgivukkah" which will not occur again until 2070 and then again in 2165 and then it will be a solid 70,000 years until the next overlap. Crazy. My bet is there will be a whole lot of Thanksgiving dinners with latkes on the menu!
I love latkes - they are fabulous as bite-sized appetizers for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. This smoked trout and egg dish, inspired by my pal, Chef KC James, would be great served on latkes. Here you will see it on toasty baguette slices but feel free to play around with different types of bread or potatoes as the base.
Smoked fish is a big part of Jewish cuisine and most people go straight for the salmon but don't forget about all the other types of smoked fish - trout, sturgeon, and sable fish are all really delicious too. If you don't have a favorite local spot to buy it - I highly recommend Russ and Daughters - they've been in business for almost a 100 years and they ship everywhere!
Smoked Trout & Eggs
1. Make Dill Creme Fraiche - mix freshly chopped dill with creme fraiche and lemon zest.
2. Flake your smoked trout. Slice Baguette and spread with butter. Toast.
3. Soft Scramble Eggs. Place on top of Toast and top with Flaked Trout and then Dill Creme Fraiche. Finish with Tabasco, Chopped Chives, and Cracked Pepper.
OK so this is one of those tricky dishes where people have a very specific way that they like it or a way that their mom or grandma "used to make it" so please know that this may be slightly nontraditional but completely delicious and quite possibly a new tradition for you once you make it.
The two ingredients that make my soup stand out are the sherry wine and the soy sauce. The sherry adds back-bone and depth while the soy sauce gives it that umami flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This soup is a big hit in our house all winter long and every time someone is feeling under the weather.
Matzo Ball Soup
Chicken Soup Ingredients
3 Quarts Homemade Chicken Stock (or best quality store bought)
1 Rotisserie Chicken (or leftover roast chicken), pulled or diced
6 Heirloom Carrots, peeled and cut (of course you can use regular carrots too)
4 Celery Stalked, chopped
1 Yellow Onion, small diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
Handful Fresh Parsley, chopped
3 Sprigs Fresh Dill, chopped
2 oz Sherry Wine
1/8 cup Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste
Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
1. Heat oil in soup pot, add onion and celery and cook 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 min) and then deglaze pan with sherry wine. Cook until sherry is almost entirely gone.
2. Add Stock, soy sauce, and carrots. Check for seasoning (salt and pepper). Adjust accordingly.
3. I like to cook my Matzo Balls in my soup - SO much more flavorful. Bring soup to a soft boil and add matzo balls - reduce to simmer and let cook for 20 minutes covered. (matzo ball recipe below)
4. Once Matzo Balls are cooked, Add fresh herbs and cooked chicken and serve immediately.
makes about 12
1 cup Matzo Meal
4 large eggs
4 Tbsp Club Soda
4 Tbsp Chicken Fat or Grapeseed Oil
1/2 tsp salt (don't add if you are using pre-seasoned matzo)
1. Whisk eggs, fat or oil, and club soda together.
2. Add matzo meal and mix to combine. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
3. Form into balls - I like to use an ice cream scooper to ensure consistent ball size.
(oh stop it. get your mind out of the gutter. this is serious business. sort of.)
Thanksgiving is one week away and some of you might still be working on your menus. Here is a fabulous side dish idea that is super festive and can be made in advance.
For those of you that are not familiar with farro - it is an ancient grain and there are three types - farro piccolo (einkorn) , farro media (emmer), and farro grande (spelt). Emmer is the most common one found in the United States. I used farro piccolo (it has been cultivated for over 10,000 years) sourced from Anson Mills which is the only US grower of this specific type. But have no fear, you can find farro easily at your neighborhood Whole Foods or Trader Joes as well. It is a lovely grain - super hearty, nutty, and slightly chewy.
Pecan & Date Farro Stuffed Delicata Squash
3 Delicata Squash, halved and seeded
1 cup uncooked farro piccolo (or other farro), makes about 4 cups cooked
3/4 cup Pecans, chopped
1/2 cup Medjool Dates, chopped
1/4 cup Dried Currants
1/3 cup Scallions, chopped
1/8 cup Parsley, chopped fine
1/2 cup Maple Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1. Heat oven to 400. Place halved squash on parchment lined sheet tray and rub with oil (coconut, grapeseed or olive) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast open face down for about 30 minutes until inside is softened and slightly caramelized.
2. Cook the farro according to its packaging, drain, and place in a large bowl to cool.
3. Mix in the dates, nuts, scallions, currants, parsley, and vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Once the squash is cooked, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Fill each hollowed out squash half with the farro mixture. This dish is fabulous served warm or at room temperature.
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
1/4 cup Maple Vinegar*
1/2 cup Grapeseed oil
1. Whisk together mustards and vinegar.
2. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
*You can find maple vinegar at some whole foods or specialty stores, also on Amazon. In a pinch, you can cheat it by mixing a smidge of grade A maple syrup into some good sherry vinegar.