Ben Ford from Ford's Filling Station makes an easy and delicious salad for the holidays. It's frisee lettuce with goat cheese, sliced Fuyu persimmons and candied pecans which he makes himself. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette with shallots, lemon, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
DJ Olsen of Lou Wine Bar loves to make Sweet Potatoes Anna, a dish of thinly sliced yams, leeks and clarified butter. You can also use brown butter. (recipe to follow)
Sweet Potatoes Anna
4 lb garnet yams, or sweet potatoes, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled and split lengthwise
1/2 lb leeks, white part only, washed of any dirt, split lengthwise then cut crosswise into thin half moons
4 oz good quality, unsalted butter, subsequently clarified
1 small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems, stems discarded
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste (I use Tellicherry for its aromatic qualities)
Heavy oven-proof weight, like a small brick wrapped in foil
Preheat oven to 400F. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the yams into 1/8” rounds. Rub the the inside of a 9-12” au gratin baking dish (or fry pan) with garlic. Paint the inside of the dish with clarified butter; season lightly with salt and pepper
Place yam slices in slightly overlapping rows to cover the bottom of the dish
Paint yam slices with clarified butter; season with salt and pepper.
Lightly distribute some leeks slices over the yams, reserving enough leeks for subsequent layers. Sprinkle thyme over leeks and yams, reserving enough thyme for subsequent layers. Repeat steps 4-7 until all of the yams have been used, 6-8 layers in all, the last layer being without leeks. Cut parchment paper to completely cover the yams; cover parchment paper with aluminum foil.
Place another like-sized dish or pan atop the aluminum foil; add additional oven-proof weight to fully compact the yams and leeks. Bake for 30 minutes; remove from oven. Remove additional weight, dish, foil and paper. Paint top layer of yams with more clarified butter. Bake, uncovered, another 20 minutes, or until the yams pierce easily with a knife and the top layer of yams have begun to caramelize (if yam edges begin to burn, cover the dish loosely with foil).
Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into servings.
Clarifying butter (a matter of separating it into it’s three components: butter fat, milk solids and water), can be easily accomplished atop the stove (if there is a pilot light for the burners), or in a very slow oven (200° or lower). At the restaurant we put several pounds of butter in a small metal, heatproof container and place that container on the stovetop, directly above where the pilot burns. After about an hour, butter fat will have separated from the milk solids and water, and risen to the top whereupon it can be easily spooned or poured off. You can also use the inside of a warm oven to achieve the same result.
Clarified butter fires without burning at higher temperatures since the milk solids, which burn more quickly and at lower temperatures, have been removed. We use it to sauté potatoes and onions, when we want high heat caramelization, good color and crisp textures. Sautéing scallops in a little clarified butter turns the tops and edges golden brown and crispy. Delicious!. Clarified butter also freezes well.
Farmer Maryann Carpenter of Coastal Farms grows lots of greens. Her greens works great in a recipe from the Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman.
Braised Winter Greens with Chipotle Chiles and Market Bacon
2 bunches winter greens, such as kale or spigarello, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
2 chipotle chiles
6 oz bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Kosher or sea salt
1 cup homemade stock, any kind, or 1/2 cup canned diluted with 1/2 cup water
Cook the greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and drain. Bring the water to a boil in a small pot, drop in the chiles, and simmer for 10 minutes to soften (or combine in a bowl and microwave for 4 minutes). Drain, reserving the water. Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles (keep some seeds for a spicier dish), then use scissors to snip into 1/4-inch pieces.
In a large sauté pan, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until moderately crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan, and return the pan with the bacon to medium heat. Add the onion, stir to scrape up any browned bits, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and chiles and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the greens, season with salt, and sauté about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the stock and reserved soaking liquid, cover, and simmer gently until the greens are tender and the flavors are blended, 10 to 20 minutes.
From The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007).