Take it easy this holiday with these simple, delicious, no-recipe recipes
The holidays don't have to feel like a marathon
With big family holidays marked on your calendar like scary warning signs, remember that Halloween is over and you don't have to be afraid anymore. We'll have some holiday cooking ideas for you to make it all easier ... and one of the best tips we can give you is: Give yourself a break.
A good friend of mine tells me the story of how his father ran a 5K charity race by stopping every one thousand meters so a waiter could set up a folding table, place a white table cloth on it, and serve a short, delicious bite to eat. Needless to say, my friend's father didn't win the race, but he crossed the finish line happy that he had helped bring attention to the charity with a little style.
It was a stunt, but it's the way I think of the holidays. They don't have to feel like a marathon if you can give yourself some time to relax and just enjoy yourself and your family. Too much stress never makes for good meals and good times.
So, herewith, some delicious, beautiful dishes you can make for family -- or just for yourself when you want to slow everything down.
Contrasting ingredients, fixed simply
Sometimes I think of menus like I think of good art. If you look at a painting up close, you'll find so much to like. The brush strokes, the little bits of color. When you step back, those details blend into something different, and better, and start to make even more sense with what's happening elsewhere in the painting. (One of my favorite artists that proves this point: Chuck Close. His name accidentally gives you a road map to really enjoying his work: Get up close.)
So it is with this salad. Get a high-quality bag of mixed salad greens, a few apples (choose ripe ones with the flavor you like most, whether sweet or crisp), and some edible flowers. Toss in a simple vinaigrette (I like a lemon vinaigrette with apples, because it keeps apples from browning), and don't forget the seasoning. I'm in love with fresh ground pepper on a sweet apple, and a little bit of salt always raises flavor.
It's beautiful, with leafy textures, the surprise bites of apple and it's so lovely to look at because of all those little, contrasting choices.
Salad plus sausages create balance
Now, step back. Observe the sausage.
Garlic cloves, loosely chopped shallots, and some of your favorite links in the EuroCAST sauté pan of choice. Look closely and you see color contrast and, when everything cooks through, a bit of bite from the shallot, some aromatics with the garlic and sausages, and maybe some spice or sweetness depending on which sausages you picked.
But step back and you'll see that the salad and the sausage dishes -- both really easy to pull together -- have suddenly started to talk to each other. Warm vs cold, savory vs sweet. Both beautiful to look at up close, but even more gorgeous standing back a bit.
Rooting for the vegetables
I love root vegetables. You don't need much to fill a plate, they're economical, but -- most of all -- they are gorgeous and take on flavor so beautifully. Some squashes have a ton of flavor, just grill them and add some seasoning and a hint of butter. Plus, they come in all sorts of colors and textures. (In the picture, I have Japanese, or Okinawan, purple yams.)
To ramp up the delight without much work, take the long, beautiful Japanese yams, roast them with some great olive oil and S&P.
Let them cool to the touch, then slice them, stuff them with your favorite soft cheese (maybe compounded with a favorite herb like a chiffonade of basil). Sauté in a EuroCAST pan until just warmed through, with the cheese soft but not too runny. Drop in some cold pomegranate pips towards the end. And serve.
The results captures the spirit of what we're aiming for: Crazy simple, lots of contrast in color and texture ... and if the pips are added cold towards the end, you get a cool pomegranate sweet surprise as you pleasure in the soft, warm cheese.
Even I'm getting hungry now.
The nice thing about the sausages and the root vegetables is that they taste terrific warm on the plate, but also can be stored in the fridge for snacking later.
On that point of cooking now for snacking later: you cannot beat jars of high-quality spreads. A great mustard (sweet with heat, for example) makes a cold sausage from the refrigerator instantly ready to pop in your mouth. A hummus or aioli (a garlicky mayonnaise you can easily make from scratch) transform cold sliced potatoes, yams, or squash bites into a zero-prep delight.
And, lastly, what to start with
A nice place to start eating in the evening starts with bar snacks and a beverage of your choice. Appetizers at restaurants too often are huge, missing the point that they are supposed to awaken your hunger and alert your other senses, not demolish them.
So a simple bar snack you make yourself, or a mix you like from the store, is a fantastic way to get things going. And I find that such simple starters set a tone of fun and relaxation from the very first bite.
Put it out in a bowl. Pour a glass of something that says: "Time to slow this train down."
And remember: The holidays are for moments like these.
Pause. Get perspective.
Oh, meet James, by Chuck Close.
Pick your special price here
For a limited time, you can choose one (or both!) of our most coveted pieces at a special price. Free shipping is included as well. Just set up your account to let us know where to ship them and to activate your ability to use EuroCAST special coupons.
If you want both, just order them separately and apply the coupon code for each pan. This way, you can take advantage of both coupons!
Offer expires December 1, 2017.