November 2011 Archives

Beet Salad with Crispy Leeks and Bacon


Beets are kind of a polarizing vegetable. When I was little, something about them didn’t agree with me. Perhaps it was because the color, in my eyes, made them resemble the fruits of my nightmares, rather than the veg of my dreams. But in the last few years I’ve really come around. And in fall and winter, when sometimes they seem like the only thing besides potatoes and squash at the farmers’ market, they are all the more comforting as part of a warm, healthful salad.

A month or so back, I had a mind-blowing beet salad at Mile End in Brooklyn. It was served with crispy leeks and little pieces of fried chicken skin. Okay, so maybe “healthful” is not my primary concern when ordering a salad. But the combination was worth the 27-ish grams of fat.

Frying is a special-occasion technique in my kitchen, implemented only when a particularly naggy friend wants Manchurian Cauliflower on her birthday (cough cough, Jordana) or I’m jonesing for gluten-free Fried Calamari. So I decided to take a different route when recreating this dish at home. Instead of chicken skin, I used bacon, and instead of frying it stovetop, I used it to help make the leeks extra crispy in the oven. After a few minutes roasting together, the leeks begin to caramelize in the bacon fat, and the result is a rather rich smoky dressing for your beets.

It may not be the healthiest salad around, but it sure does hit the spot.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,



Roasted Beet Salad with Frizzled Leeks and Bacon
Makes 4 appetizer servings

You can roast the beets in advance or at the same time (at the median temp, 425 degrees). When you combine golden beets and regular beets in this way, the result is an awesome looking tie-dye. Check it out above!

2 pounds roasted beets, (mix golden and regular) skins removed
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces bacon (about 8 strips), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Combine leeks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss to combine. Arrange the bacon in an even layer on top of the leeks. Bake for 30 minutes, redistributing halfway through, until the leeks are cooked through and caramelized and the bacon is browned.

Toss the roasted beets with the remaining olive oil and the vinegar. Arrange on a serving plate or bowl, and top with the crispy leeks and bacon.

**Fall Fest**

This post is part of Food Network’s Fall Fest! Check out the other great turnip dishes below.

Fall Fest is a season long, bi-weekly event where Food Network editors team up with bloggers to share tips and recipes about what’s available at the market. Here’s what else is cooking with apples today!

And Love It Too: Raw, Vegan and Sugar-Free Red Velvet Fudge

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Beet Salad With Crispy Leeks and Bacon

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Beet Salad With Bacon Vinaigrette

Bay Area Foodie: Baked Beet Ravioli

Thursday Night Dinner: Roasted Beets and Walnut Encrusted Goat Cheese

What’s Gaby Cooking: Farro Beet and Herb Salad

My Angel’s Allergies: Roasted Beet and Potato Vinaigrette Salad

Cooking Channel: Garlicky Beet Salad With Walnuts and Dates

The Sensitive Epicure: Simply Sauteed Beets

FN Dish: Top 3 Beet Salad Recipes

Martha’s Vineyard Times: Gift Guide

In the Small Kitchen was included among a great group of vineyard books as part of The Martha’s Vineyard Times gift guide. Check out the full list here!

Pork and String Bean Stir Fry

OTHER ANTI-THANKSGIVING MAIN COURSES: Asian Baked Tofu; Chard & Chickpea Toasts; Vegetarian Tortilla Soup; Southeast Asian Shrimp Paella; Chicken Tikka Masala

I once wrote a post here where I compared leftovers to clothes on the sale rack. Of course I then went on to explain how to turn the bits and pieces in assorted tupperware from lame-o mark-downs to haute couture.

All that may apply 363 days of the year. But on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving’s big giant American feast, leftovers take center stage. I think they sometimes are even better than what’s served on Thursday itself–some food, like turkey stored in its gravy, only gets better with time. Other stuff, like sweet potatoes, just tastes better on a (relatively) empty stomach, not one that’s been stuffed with biscuits, mashed potatoes, and of course turkey.

But by today, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that we may have all just had enough. Enough rich food. Enough sage, thyme, and rosemary. Enough squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes.

Out with the old! And in with…what? I sometimes get so overwhelmed by the leftovers in my fridge (or in my tummy), that it’s hard to think outside the box.

What usually refreshes my palate during the holiday season is food with a bit of spice. Extra garlic starts to do the trick, but what I’m really talking about is ginger, red pepper flakes, cumin, cayenne, garam masala. Last year, my mom and I went out for Indian food right after Thanksgiving. If you’re Jewish, and a New Yorker, like us, you probably are used to Chinese food on Christmas.

This simple stir fry follows a formula I make frequently, especially during these holiday weeks when Alex and I want to dine on food that’s warming but not necessarily decadent. I like to do all the prep work before Alex gets home; it’s meditative, and I listen to the radio. Then I can throw it together whenever we are ready to eat. Though I normally don’t mind washing dishes (it’s putting them away in the cabinets that I abhor for some reason), when I make stir fry, I usually take Alex up on his offer to help–all that prep work unfortunately dirties a lot of bowls.

Start by sautéing your favorite cut of meat or tofu, using much less poundage than if you were just grilling a serving of it plain. Add as many vegetable and tablespoons of ginger as you can stand to cut. Then sauce it all in something salty, pungent, and spicy. Serve over rice. Repeat weekly from now til Christmas.

From my kitchen, giving up on my leftovers, to yours,



Pork and String Bean Stir Fry
Serves 2

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (or white wine)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3/4 pound pork loin cutlets, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
about 3 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
1 red or yellow pepper, trimmed and cut thinly
2 large handfuls green or wax beans, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
Scallions, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, mirin (or white wine), sugar, a pinch of salt, the sesame oil, cornstarch cornstarch, and 1/4 cup water. Set aside.

Combine the sliced pork with the flour and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat all the slices, then set aside.

In a large saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over very high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pork and cook, stirring constantly, until the pork is slightly golden and nearly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate with a rim to catch all the juices.

Immediately add another 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the onions. Cook, stirring constantly; when the onions are soft, add the ginger and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook about 1 minute, stirring the whole time, then add the pepper and green beans. Toss to mix everything together, then add about 1/4 cup water, bring to a boil, and cover the pot. Cook 5-7 minutes, checking and tossing often, until the veggies are cooked but not too soft.

Add the pork back in with its juices and toss to combine. Add the sauce and cook, stirring constantly until the pork is cooked through and hot, and the sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped scallion greens, on top of white rice.

Gifts That Give Back Giveaway!

Last year, we started our own little BGSK Thanksgiving tradition by giving back to you, and the community, with some tasty treats from Baking For Good. This year, we’re taking our philanthropic sweet tooth to the next level and giving away a whole host of charitable prizes (most of them chocolate-y).

Thanksgiving is also our site’s anniversary, so we also want to thank you, our readers, for sticking with us for the last 3 years (!!). The 2010-2011 year has been a very eventful one for us: since last T-Day, we’ve introduced our book to the world, launched a little sibling site, forsaken gluten, and gotten engaged.

To celebrate, read on for a chance to win some of our favorite gifts that give back of the season:

Chan Luu, Indian Aventurine Single Wrap Bracelet on Olive Leather and Pink Cord
Fabulous jewelry designer Chan Luu introduced her bracelet for breast cancer earlier this fall as art of a Think Pink, Live Green campaign–with the idea that there are many easy and practical steps women can take to reduce their risk of breast cancer, and that eating greener, healthier, and better is one major way. $140,000 has already been raised at Environmental advocate and cookbook author Laurie David has been helping Chan campaign for the cause, and we have her to thank for this generous donation!

Baking For Good, Fall Sampler

In September 2009, our friend Emily Dubner started Baking For Good, a gifting site for sweet treats that donates 15% of every purchase to a cause of the customer’s choosing.Today, we are giving away a gift box, her Fall Sampler, which comes filled with gingerbread cookies and chai sandwiches! The winner will not only get the treats, though. Whoever wins will also get to pick the charity that Baking For Good will donate the 15% to.

sweetriot, riotBar bundle
Sweetriot is a fair trade, socially responsible chocolate company focusing its efforts in Latin America. These newly introduced riotBars are their first organic, Fair Trade certified collection.In addition to winning a bunch of bars, the rioters have offered you guys a discount code: bgskriot.

Rescue Chocolate, $25 gift certificate
Rescue Chocolate is “the sweetest way to save a life!” From each vegan chocolate bar purchased, 100% of the net profits are donated to animal rescue organizations around the country.There are 7 different kinds of chocolates available (each with adorable names such as Bow Wow Bon Bons), as well as shirts and leashes. You’ll have your pick!

To enter the Thanksgiving Gifts that Give Back Giveaway, you must:

  • Leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite Thanksgiving dish.
  • Be a subscriber to our newsletter
  • Become a fan of our Facebook Page
  • (Extra Entry) Tell your facebook fans about the contest – post the link and @Big Girls Small Kitchen
  • (Extra Entry) Tweet about this contest @BGSK
  • (Two Extra Entries!) Buy our book online and forward the purchase email confirmation to

We’ll announce the four randomly selected winners (one for each prize) next week on the blog. Good luck!

From our kitchen, albeit small, to yours,


Turkey Reuben

Q: What’s the most obvious thing to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers come Friday?

You might say, “make a Gobbler.”

Gobblers, if you don’t know, are Thanksgiving dinner on a sandwich. You take bread, and you load it up with turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, praying that this version of yesterday’s meal, physically different but metaphysically the same, somehow takes you on a transcendent eating adventure. Now Gobblers are charming and delicious, but  they’re not going to get you there. They are the wrong approach.

So what’s good?

A: Make a Turkey Reuben.

The key to enjoying your leftovers to the utmost is to turn them (at least by Saturday) into something that doesn’t remind you of the chaotic, overlarge Thanksgiving meal. Rather than recreate Thursday, repurpose what’s in your fridge to improvise new dishes that are better suited for Saturday.

Normally made with corned beef, a Reuben combines silky Russian dressing, nutty Swiss cheese, and pungent sauerkraut for an awesome sandwich experience. I first had a turkey Reuben at Artie’s Deli on the Upper West Side with my mom and Kate. I had just returned from a semester abroad in Paris, and for the first few days I was back in New York, I could barely eat a thing. It was as though allllll the pain au chocolats, coqs au vin, and steak frites were sitting, like cement, in my belly. Don’t ask my why the turkey Reuben, not exactly a low-calorie lunch, stuck out to me as the right way to regain my appetite, but this simple New York pleasure totally worked.

If it could redeem me after six months of feasting à la français, a turkey Reuben seems just the thing to snap you out of indulgent holiday eating and back into everyday goodness, without leaving those awesome leftovers to fester in the fridge.

What will you do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? Tell us in the comments!

From my kitchen, getting through the turkey one slice at a time, to yours,



Turkey Reuben
Serves 1

Depending on the size of your bread (and your stomach), vary the amount of turkey, cheese, and sauerkraut in your sandwich. You don’t, however, want your Reuben to be totally overstuffed–it’ll get dry then.

If you happened to have served slaw at your Thanksgiving, you can substitute that for the kraut.

1 rounded tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon mustard, preferably whole grain
Worcestershire sauce
2 slices rye bread
4 teaspoons butter
3 ounces leftover turkey, sliced thin (you’ll about 5 thin-ish slices)
1 1/2 ouncess Swiss cheese, sliced thin
1/4 cup fresh sauerkraut, drained

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, ketchup, mustard, a few drops of Worcestershire, and a pinch of salt. Mix with a fork to distribute all the ingredients–this is your Russian dressing.

Spread about half of the Russian dressing on the inside of each slice of rye bread. Layer 3/4 of the cheese on the bottom, then the turkey. Spread the sauerkraut over it all, then top with the remaining 1/4 of the cheese. Place the second piece of bread, dressing side down, on top of the sandwich.

In a small nonstick or castiron pan, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter oven medium-low heat. Carefully transfer the sandwich to the pan. Cook slowly, turning down the heat if the sandwich is sizzling too much. The cheese should be well on its way to melting within 10 minutes. When the bottom side is golden, use a spatula to transfer the sandwich to a plate.

Melt the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter, and then carefully flip the sandwich and put it back in the pan. Find something heavy to weight it down–I have a Lodge brand sandwich press, but a 28-ounce can of tomatoes works too–and balance that on top of the sandwich as it cooks on the second side for 5-10 minutes, until golden on the outside and melty on the inside. Transfer back to a plate, cut in half, and eat immediately.

How To: Make Pie Crust

We’re entering pie territory here. It’s fall heading into winter, and we can’t be alone in having our thoughts turn to pumpkin, pecan, or pumpkin-pecan pie.

But for some (or so we’ve heard), making pie crust is one of the most daunting of kitchen tasks. The butter at the right temperature! Some liquid–but not too much! Rolling out the dough!

Rather than run for the hills, watch our funny, totally informative video. We give you two ways to make pie crust–the easy way, and the super easy way–so that apple pie, chocolate pecan tart, and this amazingly easy rich lemon tart are all at your fingertips by Thursday, aka the Day of Pie.

From our kitchens, albeit small, to yours,