The first thing I want to report in this entry is that I love—LOVE!!!—the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY. For years I have used and featured recipes from the various Moosewood cookbooks; one of my all-time favorites is Moosewood Celebrates. It is chock full of holiday-specific recipes for just about as many holidays that you can imagine.
And this being the coldest part of the coldest winter in my memory, I thought I’d cook my go-to meal for a winter Sunday evening.
You all know of my affinity for soups. I love making soups—creamy soups, hearty soups, beefy soups, chickeny soups, veggie soups—there isn’t a soup I won’t try.
But this week, I’m turning back to what I know and love best: Moosewood.
This recipe comes from the original book, The Moosewood Cookbook. Compiled and written by Molly Katzen and published in 1977, The Moosewood Cookbook is a beautiful-to-look-at-and-read cookbook, with lovely pen-and-ink drawings instead of photographs, a typeface reminiscent of hand-written recipes, and one of the best collections of down-home vegetarian recipes that don’t scream VEGETARIAN!!!, but rather present tasty entries that a whole family can enjoy without feeling like they are eating nuts and twigs. This is a soup I made a variation of at the gourmet store in Miami, and was one of our favorites. Herewith, I present to you the Moosewood Restaurant version of one of our all-time faves:
THE MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT MUSHROOM-BARLEY SOUP
½ cup raw pearled barley
1 ½ cups water
5 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons tamari
4 tablespoons dry sherry
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 small-to-medium onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced white mushrooms
Cook the barley in 1 ½ cups water for 45 minutes at very low heat. Do it right in the soup pot. Add the stock, tamari and sherry and continue to simmer.
Saute the onions and garlic in the butter slowly, until they begin to brown lightly and start to caramelize. When they begin to soften, add the mushrooms and salt. When the mushrooms are tender, add to the simmering soup. Make sure to get all the liquid that is rendered by the onions and mushrooms.
Give the soup a generous grind of fresh black pepper and simmer 20 minutes over the lowest possible heat. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with fresh, warm, crusty bread.
I can’t begin to tell you just how wonderful this soup is; it’s reminiscent of the best French onion soup you’ve had, and so much more. It’s fragrant and hearty; it’s thick enough to stick to your ribs in winter, and at the same time tasty enough to serve to company. Try this one. It’s an oldie but goodie, and not much has come across my table that is much better.
And what, pray tell, do you think Cheffzilla might be doing on Christmas this year? Really adventurous, I might say, but mighty tasty, too. Allow me to elaborate:
I adapted the recipe from one featured on his “Good Eats” show a couple of years ago by Alton Brown, that wacky TV chef at the Food Network. It looks really good to me, so I thought I might try it. I’m a big fan of panzanella, and this recipe demonstrated to me that it’s not just a summer salad. Beautiful root (and winter squash–Alton used shredded Brussels sprouts in his recipe instead, but no one here likes them!) vegetables, a fine sourdough bread, and some fresh herbs from my garden (yes, it is still producing!) make for a really fine-looking and grand Christmas dinner, a wide stray from the usual rib roast and Yorkshire pudding from years past. Here’s what’s for dinner tonight.
Great any night.
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 13 to 14 pound whole turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for Giblet Stock
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound red onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces butternut squash, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 quart container fresh Brussels sprouts
8 ounces hearty sourdough or multi-grain bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and staled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper
For the turkey: Four days before service, place the salt, sage, thyme, black peppercorns, and allspice into a spice grinder and pulse until the peppercorns and allspice are coarsely ground, 5 to 6 pulses. Set aside.
Set the turkey, breast-side down, on a large cutting board with the tail closest to you. Use an electric knife or heavy-duty kitchen shears to cut up one side of the backbone. Turn the bird around and cut back down the other side of the spine. Reserve the backbone for Giblet Stock. Discard any fat pockets or excess skin found inside the turkey. Turn the turkey breast-side up and use the heel of your hands to press down on both breasts, until you hear a cracking sound and the bird has flattened slightly.
Rub the seasoned salt on both sides of the turkey. Place the turkey on a parchment paper lined half sheet pan, breast-side up with legs running with the long side of the pan. Store, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 4 days.
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
For the panzanella: Place the parsnips and rutabaga in a large bowl, toss lightly to coat with the oil, and set aside.
Place one rack in the middle of the oven and a second one far enough below so the roasting pan will fit. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the turkey directly on the middle rack of the oven with the legs perpendicular to the metal bars of the rack. Place the roasting pan with the parsnips and rutabaga on the rack below the turkey and roast both for 30 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Add the red onion to the roasting vegetables and stir to combine. Continue to roast both the vegetables and the turkey until a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155 degrees F, an additional 40 to 50 minutes.
Remove the turkey from the oven onto a cooling rack set inside a half sheet pan and rest for 30 minutes.
Add the butternut squash, bread cubes and garlic to the roasting vegetables, stir to combine and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and immediately transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the apple cider vinegar in the warm roasting pan, stir and scrape off any browned bits from the pan. Pour the vinegar mixture over the salad, add the thyme and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Carve the turkey and serve with the panzanella.
Barley and Portabella Pilaf
1/2 cup fresh sliced Portabella mushrooms
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cup pearled barley
2-1/2 cups turkey (or vegetable) stock
2 tablespoons green onions (scallions)
1/4 tsp crushed dried rosemary
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a saucepan; add mushrooms and saute’ until limp. Add barley, stock, green onion, and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender and the liquid is completely absorbed. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pilaf and toss to mix well. Garnish with a little more Parmesan and some fresh-chopped green onions.
We’re serving this with fresh green beans sauteed in butter with sesame seeds and cranberry-orange relish.