By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times
Luxury comes in many forms, especially over the holidays. In the realm of food, luxury can be something small and precious, like a jar of jewel-toned jam; or something meticulously handmade over many hours, like tamales or stuffed grape leaves; or something dramatic, like baked Alaska, or sumptuous and long-cooking, like pernil, or rich and creamy, like coquito. Maybe it’s a splashy splurge, like prime rib or beef tenderloin, heaven with a dollop of horseradish sauce. The pairing of caviar and potato chips is just about perfect.
But for busy people, free time is one of the ultimate luxuries. Maybe you don’t want to spend it all in the kitchen over the holidays, no matter how much you love to cook. So I’ve picked five recipes for you that are relatively fast to make and fancy enough to serve to guests or loved ones.
We have so many more holiday recipes on New York Times Cooking, including root beer ham for Christmas, sweet potato buttermilk rolls for Kwanzaa and classic latkes for Hanukkah. And then there’s Santa, who requires an offering of cookies. My kid insists that Santa prefers chocolate chip cookies. I think Santa may be more of a brownie person?
If you’re still in need of present ideas, then please consider a gift subscription to New York Times Cooking. Happy holidays and joy to all! I hope you eat something delicious.
1. Roasted Salmon With Miso Cream
A whole fillet of salmon cut from one side of a fish looks spectacular but takes only a little longer to cook than smaller portions. Crème fraîche spread all over the fish keeps it moist as it roasts and adds a savory richness when a dollop of miso is stirred into the mix. That same pair is gently warmed into a sauce that’s finished with tart citrus juice so that it tastes both creamy and light. This can be served simply with salad and bread or be offered with other vegetables, like potatoes, asparagus or Brussels sprouts.
By Genevieve Ko
Yield: 8 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
- 1 (2 3/4-pound) whole salmon fillet (skin on or off), patted dry if needed
- Coarse sea or kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ichimi togarashi or ground cayenne
- 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons shiro (white) miso (see Tip)
- 2 teaspoons turbinado or other coarse raw sugar (optional)
- 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon yuzu or lime juice
- Toasted white sesame seeds, for sprinkling
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
2. Place the salmon on the prepared pan skin (or flat) side down at an angle, if needed, to fit. Sprinkle with salt (about 1 teaspoon) and the togarashi.
3. In a small saucepan, stir 1/4 cup crème fraîche with 1 tablespoon miso until well blended. Scrape onto the fish (save the pan without washing it), then spread the sauce in an even layer. If you like a little sweetness with your salmon, sprinkle it with the sugar.
4. Roast the salmon until a thin-bladed paring knife slides through the thickest part with only a little resistance, 15 to 20 minutes. When you remove the blade from the fish and touch it, it should feel warm.
5. While the fish roasts, stir the remaining 3/4 cup crème fraîche and 1 tablespoon miso until smooth in the same saucepan. Set over low heat and warm, stirring occasionally, until steaming and tiny bubbles form around the edges, about 5 minutes. Don’t let the mixture boil. Turn the heat to the lowest setting to keep warm.
6. Using the parchment or foil, lift the roasted salmon onto a serving platter, then slide the parchment or foil out from under the fish. Zest the limes all over the fish, then squeeze 1 tablespoon juice, if using lime juice. Stir the yuzu or lime juice into the miso cream, then transfer to a serving bowl to serve alongside the salmon. (Or, if your salmon is skinless, pour the sauce around the salmon.)
7. Sprinkle the salmon with sesame seeds. Cut the zested limes into wedges and serve with the fish.
TIP: You also can use red or brown miso, but they’re both saltier. If using, you’ll want to sprinkle the salmon more lightly with salt.
2. Roast Chicken With Maple Butter and Rosemary
This simple roast chicken combines the classic fall flavors of maple and rosemary with melted butter, which is basted over the bird as it cooks to keep it juicy. The butter browns slightly and helps caramelize the outside thanks to the sugars in the maple syrup. The result is a fragrant, sweet-and-salty chicken that makes the house smell great. There will be plenty of buttery pan juices left over, which you should most certainly pass around the table, but they would also be delicious spooned over rice pilaf.
By Colu Henry
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 1 hour
- 1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 to 3 rosemary sprigs, plus 2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat the chicken dry and season it well with salt and pepper, both inside and out. Place the chicken breast-side up in a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet and stuff the rosemary sprigs into the bird’s cavity.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the chopped rosemary and the maple syrup, and cook together until the rosemary is fragrant and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon all of the mixture over the chicken, making sure it is evenly covered. A decent amount will end up on the bottom of the pan, and that’s OK.
3. Roast the chicken, basting with the pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes or so, until the chicken is glossy and golden brown and registers 165 degrees with an instant thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste an additional time, if desired. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Whisk remaining juice and pass at the table.
3. One-Pot Vegetable Biryani
Vegetable biryani may be the underdog of biryanis since it’s often overshadowed by meatier varieties. But like other formidable yet unsung dishes, this one’s adaptability helps it hold its own. Recipes vary across South Asia: Hyderabadi versions are known for their fieriness, while milder, nuttier variations dominate northern regions. This one falls somewhere in the middle. Use any vegetables you have, such as nutty cauliflower, sweet peas and crunchy carrots. Nuts and fresh or dried fruits add a confetti of flavors and textures. This recipe skips the layering typically called for in favor of conveniently stirring everything together. Luckily, using fewer dishes doesn’t compromise flavor.
By Zainab Shah
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 1 hour
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1/4 cup ghee or any neutral oil
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 whole star anise (optional)
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 4 fresh Thai green chiles or green finger chiles, stems removed
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste or freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste or freshly grated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chile powder or other ground red chile
- 1 plum tomato, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 small potato, peeled and finely diced
- 1 cup small cauliflower florets
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups unsalted vegetable stock or water
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 3 lemon slices
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
- 1/4 cup toasted or fried cashews, halved (optional)
1. Rinse the rice, cover with cold water in a bowl and soak for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat ghee in a large pot over medium until it melts, 30 to 45 seconds. Add bay leaf, star anise, cloves, cardamom and green chiles and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion and fry, stirring often, until they start turning golden brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Add ginger and garlic and continue frying and stirring until the raw smell dissipates, about 1 minute. Add turmeric and red chile powder and stir for 30 seconds to toast (don’t let them burn). Add tomato and 2 tablespoons water. Add half of cilantro and mint. Continue stirring until the tomato starts to break down, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the carrot, potato, cauliflower, green peas, green beans, yogurt and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Drain the rice and add to the pot, along with the lemon juice and garam masala. Stir until everything is evenly mixed. Add the vegetable stock and stir. Cover and cook on medium for 5 minutes.
5. Uncover and stir. Add the rest of the cilantro and mint and the lemon slices. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Turn off the stove and let the pot stand for 15 minutes. Fluff the rice and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and cashews if you like.
4. Porchetta Pork Chops
Here’s a more manageable version of the traditional Italian recipe for whole roast pig seasoned with a garlic, rosemary and fennel. This one comes together so quickly, you can make it on a whim.
By Melissa Clark
Yield: 2 servings
Total time: 20 minutes
- 2 bone-in pork chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus a pinch
- 1 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- Large pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat pork chops dry and, using a very sharp paring knife, cut a large pocket into the fat-covered edge of each chop. Season chops all over with 1 teaspoon salt, including inside pockets.
2. Finely grate zest from lemon and put in a small bowl. Cut lemon lengthwise in quarters for serving.
3. Using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a knife, mash garlic with a pinch of salt until you get a paste. Add to the bowl with the lemon zest and stir in rosemary, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons fennel fronds and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
4. Divide filling between pork chops, stuffing some inside pockets and rubbing the rest on the outside.
5. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear pork chops on one side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Gently turn over chops and cook for another minute, then transfer skillet to oven. Cook until meat is just done, about 5 to 10 minutes longer (internal temperature should read 135 degrees on a meat thermometer). Transfer pork chops to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges.
5. Carrot Tart With Ricotta and Feta
Carrots work beautifully in this simple tart, but onions, parsnips, beets, zucchini or pumpkin work just as well. The key is to cook the vegetables before putting them on the tart, since the moisture released by baking raw vegetables would make the puff pastry soggy and prevent it from rising. Once you remove the tart from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to firm up slightly. The tart can be served warm, or cooled to room temperature, and would make a great addition to a picnic.
By Sue Li
Yield: 8 servings
Total time: 1 hour
- Flour, for rolling out dough
- 1 (14-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 pound multicolored carrots, scrubbed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
- 8 ounces ricotta
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- Chopped fresh parsley, chervil or chives, for garnish
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Using a paring knife, lightly score a border around the perimeter of the puff pastry about a 1/4 inch away from the edges. Place puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick the pastry inside the border using a fork to prevent puffing in the center. Bake on top rack until puff pastry is lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, toss carrots with 1 tablespoon oil, season generously with salt and pepper and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast carrots on the bottom rack (underneath the puff pastry) until the edges are golden brown and carrots are still crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. While puff pastry and carrots are in the oven, blend ricotta, feta and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Spread the cheese mixture onto the puff pastry up to the border and arrange the carrots in a single layer on top. Bake until the carrots are tender and the edges of the cheese mixture are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs before serving.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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