Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Fried Sage Salsa Verde

The Thanksgiving table is always shy of acid and herbs, if you ask me, so salsa verde is a great way to reintroduce a bit of that into the meal.  Delicious on roast vegetables and turkey alike, this version works in that crucial fall flavor: sage.

photo souce: sarah at

the delicious life

Fried Sage Salsa Verde

Serves 8 

2 bunches sage, leaves picked

1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and chopped finely

1 shallot, diced finely


Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying

Red wine vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

First, macerate the shallot.  Cover with red wine vinegar and set aside.

Next, fry the sage.  In a deep saucepot, bring 2 cups of frying oil to 360°F.  Drop in a scant handful of the sage and fry for about 20 seconds, or until the bubbles slow down.  Remove from the oil and drain on a pan lined with paper towels.  Repeat with remaining sage leaves.

When the sage has cooled, it will be crisp.  You can either chop it with a knife or crumble it with your fingers.  In a large bowl, combine the parsley and sage and cover with olive oil.  Season with salt. 

When you are ready to serve the salsa, combine the shallots, but not the vinegar, with the herbs.  Taste the salsa and adjust for salt, and if needed, add some of the leftover vinegar to taste. 

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Working ahead

Planning and prepping ahead--and thinking like a professional cook--is the key to getting the entire Thanksgiving meal on the table at the same time without committing either seppuku or homicide.

photo source: the amazing andrea gentl of

hungry ghost food + travel

The trick is to spread out tasks that take lots of time, lots of oven space, lots of stove space, or make big messes so that you aren't out of space at the last minute.  So choosing dishes that reheat well, or that taste good served at room temperature, is crucial to making Thursday go smoothly.  

Here are a few ways you can work ahead for next week:

Before Tuesday:

  • Make pie dough and freeze
  • If using a frozen turkey, defrost so you can season or brine it on Tuesday
  • Make turkey or chicken stock and freeze for gravy


  • Season or brine turkey
  • Buy bread to use for stuffing, or make cornbread for stuffing


  • Make cranberry sauce
  • Wash herbs, greens and lettuces
  • Roast pumpkin for pie if using fresh squash
  • Measure out ingredients for pecan pie filling, pumpkin pie filling, etc.
  • Tear croutons for stuffing and dry out in oven
  • Clean green beans
  • Make soup, if planning to serve
  • Peel potatoes and keep whole in water
  • Peel onions and carrots that you might use in any dishes, such as creamed corn, creamed spinach, stuffing, etc.
  • Make any caramel sauces or things like that that you might need to garnish desserts
  • If you're insane enough to want to make homemade ice cream, get it in the freezer by tonight.
  • If you are using fresh chestnuts, get them boiled and peeled.


Early morning

  • Pull turkey out of fridge to come up to room temp
  • Blind bake pie doughs
  • Brown sausage or bacon for stuffing
  • Prep vegetables--trim and halve Brussels sprouts, peel squash, peel any root vegetables, clean and trim cauliflower or broccoli, etc.
  • Roast vegetables that might need roasting--these do well at room temperature!
  • Cook off onions or any mirepoix
  • Make creamed spinach--this reheats well.
  • Do anything like seeding pomegranates, peeling persimmons, toasting nuts, or making vinaigrette that might be necessary for the salad

Heading into the afternoon and dinner time

  • Roast the turkey
  • Make the gravy with turkey drippings
  • Bake off pies
  • Make mashed potatoes and keep warm in double boiler
  • Assemble and bake stuffing/dressing

Right before dinner

  • Reheat dishes that need to be reheated, like soups, creamed spinach, or gravy
  • Toss the salad greens
  • Carve the turkey

Before dessert

  • Whip cream
  • Portion pies

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Roasted Vegetables in Agrodolce

Though this recipe is for brussels sprouts and butternut squash, it'll work with any dense root or vegetable, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions or even green beans!

photo source

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts in Agrodolce

Serves 8-10

1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed

1 large butternut squash, cut into 1-inch slices, skin on , seeds discarded

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

½ medium red onion, sliced thinly

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

1 clove garlic, pounded

¼ cup fresh mint leaves


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

Season the squash lightly with salt, drizzle with olive oil and place in a single layer on 1 or 2 cookie sheets. 

Halve the Brussels sprouts and season lightly with salt.  Drizzle with olive oil and place in a single layer on 1 or 2 cookie sheets, cut side down. 

Place vegetables into the preheated oven and cook 20-24 minutes, until tender and caramelized. 

Meanwhile, stir together another ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, sugar, onion, chili flakes, and garlic and season with salt. 

Check on the vegetables to make sure that they are browning evenly, rotating pans to control the heat.  When you are satisfied that they are cooked, remove from the oven and mix in a big bowl.  Pour marinade over and allow to sit for 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with torn mint leaves before serving.  

Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Cranberry Sauce Two Ways

Cranberry sauce, with its color and its acid, is one of the most important dishes on the Thanksgiving table. It's also pretty much the simplest dish to make.

Here are two versions--one basic, and one a bit more complicated. Both are perfect on that leftover turkey sandwich.

photo source: 

cranberry squircle

, by 


Super Simple Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Serves 12

12 ounces (1 bag) fresh cranberries

1 cup water

6 tablespoons sugar

3 bay leaves

1 orange, juiced and zested finely

Pinch of salt

In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir and taste as it cooks, adding water, sugar and salt as needed. 

Once it cools, it will set up a lot.  Add water or fresh orange juice, if desired, to thin it out.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Cranberry Sauce with Quince and Bay 

Serves 12

5 quinces (2 to 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

3 bay leaves

8 ounces cranberries

3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium–low. Cover and simmer until quinces are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Pour mixture into large strainer set over bowl; reserve juices.

Return quince mixture to same saucepan; mash with the back of a wooden spoon. Add cranberries; cook over medium heat until most of berries burst, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste. Transfer sauce to bowl. Before serving, stir enough reserved juices into sauce to thin to desired consistency. Serve sauce cold or at room temperature.

Resource Guide for Home Ec: Understanding Salt

image source

A list of resources and links I find really informative:

Articles & Blogs
That's So Salty!  It's Not Salty Enough! by Jill Santopietro on Chow.com
In Salts, a Pinch of Bali or a Dash of Spain by Harold McGee in the New York Times
Salt of the Earth about Judy Rodgers by Russ Parsons in the LA Times
An Introduction to Gourmet Salt by Mark Bitterman (pdf version here)

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Salted by Mark Bitterman
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

San Francisco
Little Vine
Bi-Rite Market
Boulette's Larder
Rainbow Grocery

East Bay
The Country Cheese Shop
The Pasta Shop
Berkeley Bowl
Monterey Market
The Spanish Table

Purchase Online
The Meadow: the Mecca of Salt, a shop in Portland, Oregon
SaltWorks: pretty much sells every kind of salt, ever
Celtic Sea Salt, aka sel gris: buy the big bag and use it for everything
Bulk Maldon Salt

and finally:

home ec: bean resources

"Maxibelle" Heirloom Beans Dried

, a photo by 

Chiot's Run

 on Flickr.

in preparation for my pantry class at

18 reasons

in a couple of weeks, i've been spending a lot more time than usual (which is already more than some might consider normal) thinking about beans.

beans, my favorite vegetable.  ok, legume.  but still, you know what i mean.

i am most adamantly not a vegetarian, but inadvertently, i pretty much am one at home, other than the occasional roast chicken and resulting stock.  oh, and

fra'mani breakfast sausages

(why are they so good?).

since beans, eggs, yogurt and cheese are my go-to daily sources of protein, i'm okay with spending a bit more for the really good stuff.  out of context, $6 or $7 for a dozen pastured eggs or half-pound of heirloom beans might seem exorbitant, but looking at an dinner built around vegetables, an artisan bread or whole grain, and some good beans and eggs tells a different version of the same story, one where a delicious, local, organic and balanced meal for four people can cost under ten dollars.

the deal with heirloom beans

here's the thing: non-heirloom dried beans are really, really good, too.  for me, spending the extra money makes sense because it brings me joy to get to know (a.k.a. totally geek out on) all of the different types of  beans out there, to see how pretty they are in jars on my shelves, and to watch them transform as they cook.  i also try to know where my food comes from, and to support people doing good work, so a couple bucks on fancy heirloom beans is money i'm glad to spend.

you can find great non-fancy beans at the market, too.  but try to look for beans that aren't super old and withery, so if the bulk section at your local shop looks like it hasn't been perused in a couple of years, maybe skip the bean bin.  the thing is, the fresher your dried beans, the more quickly and evenly they will cook, the creamier they'll be, and the better they will taste.  i try to buy and use all of my dried beans within two years of harvest, and knowing the people who grew the beans in the first place helps me meet that goal.

cooking beans is super-simple:

  1. buy good beans.
  2. cover with water and soak overnight, or at least 4 hours.
  3. add an onion, some salt and any herbs you like.  a splash of olive oil won't hurt.
  4. bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until tender.  this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours.  skim any foam that appears.  add water, if needed, to make sure they are always immersed. 
  5. season and eat.  or refry.  or turn into soup, cassoulet, or any one of a million delicious things!
  6. though i don't have a crock pot, i think one might be ideal for bean cookery.  i just use my old, rusty le creuset pot.  aaron is obsessed with using clay pots for his beans, in an effort to bring a little bit of the old country to cedar street, i guess.  really, anything will work.  

bean resources

how to cook dried beans

a basic recipe

bean myths, dispelled

(i LOVE this page for so many reasons!)

heidi swanson's cover



delicious wood-oven baked

rancho gordo beans

(three favorites in one!)

laurence jossel's black bean burger

(perhaps i should be embarrassed, but i am a little obsessed with homemade bean and veggie burgers)

lori de mori's great article on mangia-fagioli

, or bean-eaters, the derogatory nickname for tuscans.

where to buy great heirloom beans


rancho gordo

phipps country store

zürsun heirloom beans

in the bay area

bi-rite market

berkeley bowl


the pasta shop


dirty girl produce

phipps country store

rancho gordo

toby's feed barn

rainbow grocery

has bulk rancho gordo beans!  wahoo!

grow your own heirloom beans

seeds savers

baker creek heirloom seeds

native seeds

Home Ec: A Four-Part Series of Cooking Fundamentals at Soul Food Farm


I’m thrilled to introduce a series of classes on what I consider to be the four most important elements of cooking. 

I learned how to cook by watching the cooks in the Chez Panisse kitchen, by carefully tasting and training my palate, and eventually by apprenticing and working in that kitchen. That experience blew my mind open, and after several months in the kitchen I started to recognize patterns and rules common to every dish, no matter what the ingredients or particular methods of preparation. 

I eventually came to realize that with a careful understanding of how to apply four basic elements, I could make anything taste delicious. Over the past eleven years, everything I’ve continued to learn in the kitchen has essentially been a refinement of my understanding of the application of salt, acid, fat and heat. 

As a teacher of both professional and home cooks, it’s my ultimate goal to give people the tools to become intuitive cooks and free them from the reigns of cookbooks, recipes, and measuring implements by helping them refine their palates, sensitivity in the kitchen, and understanding of basic kitchen science. The most important lessons I share with my students are those that impart a fundamental understanding of universal tenets. 

I’d like to invite you into the beautiful Soul Food Farm kitchen with me for this unique, empowering series of classes. You’re welcome to take as many or few as you like, but the series is designed as an immersion and elements of each class will interplay with the other three to help give students a comprehensive understanding of cooking. In each class, I will describe and demonstrate for each element its roles and functions, basic science, and effects on taste in a dish. We’ll taste and discuss thoughtfully in an effort to give our palates a bit of contextual understanding. And of course, because I believe so strongly in the power of experience (and muscle memory) you’ll get a chance to put your new skills to use as we all cook a lovely lunch together with the concepts of the day in mind. 

lovely photos courtesy of Bart Nagel
In the afternoon, we’ll retire to a table set in the shade of the farm, eat our lunch, drink some wine, and I’ll answer any further questions that may have arisen while we cooked. You’ll leave empowered and inspired to return to the kitchen, ready to practice your skills, refine your knowledge, and looking at food with a whole new perspective.

Class size will be limited to 15 people in order to ensure that all students have a hands-on experience.  To reserve a spot, please use the following links:

Home Ec: How to Pull Fresh Mozzarella

Have you been wondering what that hand-pulled mozzarella on every restaurant menu is all about? Have you noticed that it's impossibly tender, better than even the most expensive imported Italian mozzarella?

Come spend an afternoon with chef Samin Nosrat for a delicious and demystifying hands-on cheese-pulling class. Put your mozzarella-making skills to the test!

Samin will talk and walk you through the intricacies of pulling the perfect ball of fresh mozzarella, and then it'll be your turn! Everyone will then get to pull several balls of mozzarella (it takes a while to get a hang of it!) under her guidance. You'll even get to try your hand at making a creamy burrata mozzarella!

After we gather around the table to enjoy some of the mozzarella we pull together, each student will take home his/her mozzarella, as well as a recipe book with ideas for cooking with your fresh mozzarella, step-by-step instructions for pulling mozzarella, and a list of trusted cheese purveyors and resources.

You'll leave empowered and informed, knowing how to make delicate, tender fresh mozzarella for the perfect salad, pizza or antipasto plate.

How to Pull Mozzarella with Samin Nosrat

Saturday, March 12

4629 Martin Luther King Junior Way
(At the corner of 47th and MLK)
Oakland, CA 94609

To enroll visit the event page at Brown Paper Tickets

There are a limited number of scholarship spots available to students willing to commit to set up and clean up.  Please email Samin directly at saminnosrat@yahoo.com for more information.

20 students max.
Each student will pull and take home several balls of his/her own fresh mozzarella and a recipe guide.

A professional cook and freelance writer, Samin Nosrat looks to tradition, culture and history for inspiration. Trained in the Chez Panisse kitchen, she cooked there for several years before moving to Italy, where she worked closely with the Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini and chef Benedetta Vitali for nearly two years. She spent five years as the sous chef and "farmwife" at Eccolo restaurant, butchering, brining, and preserving nearly everything in an effort to make the restaurant as self-sustaining as possible. Featured in the New York Times Moment blog as a mozzarella expert, her own writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Meatpaper, and Edible San Francisco, as well as on her blog, Ciao Samin.