Gail Simmons’ Pastrami-Style Roast Turkey

Turkey perfect for a small holiday gathering.

Turkey perfect for a small holiday gathering.

 

Tea for two?

How about Thanksgiving turkey for four?

It can be done — beautifully, and without a lot of hassle, too.

Thanks to Gail Simmons’ recipe for “Pastrami-Style Roast Turkey.”

It’s from her new cookbook, “Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from A Life of Adventurous Eating” (Grand Central Life & Style), of which I received a review copy.

“Top Chef” fans, of course, will recognize Simmons as a regular judge on that popular Emmy-winning TV show. She’s also the special projects director at Food & Wine magazine, as well as a wife and mother.

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Cooking chops runs in her family, as her mom was a freelance food writer and a part-time cooking teacher. Simmons followed in her footsteps, graduating from culinary school and apprenticing at some of New York’s top restaurants.

Which means, in short, that she knows her stuff. These are recipes that she cooks at home for family and friends, so nothing is overly fussy.

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Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart For the Holidays

Jazz up the Thanksgiving table with this beautiful cranberry-pear frangipane tart.

Jazz up the Thanksgiving table with this beautiful cranberry-pear frangipane tart.

 

You may never spy a partridge in a pear tree.

But in Darina Allen’s newest cookbook, “Grow Cook Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes” (Kyle), you’ll learn not only how to grow pear trees and how to keep alert to pests and diseases, but how the fruit is a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. What’s more, you’ll find a selection of delectable recipes to make the most of your harvest.

Allen, who runs the renowned cooking school at Ballymaloe in County Cork, Ireland that has its own 100-acre farm, offers up similar wisdom for a roster of other fruits, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and foraged finds in this 640-page book.

It makes a great resource for anyone who enjoys cooking, gardening or both. You’ll learn about oca, a tender green originally from South America that stars in “Oca, Chorizo, Scallion & Radish Salad.” Everyday potatoes turn special in “Burmese Pork & Potato Curry.” And easy-to-grow thyme gets a sweet turn in “Buttermilk Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Thyme Leaves.”

Add a dollop of whipped cream and you are good to go.

Add a dollop of whipped cream and you are good to go.

With the holidays upon us, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at the “Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart” from the book, of which I received a review copy.

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State Bird Provisions II: Introducing State Bird Seed

Almond Rosemary State Bird Seed.

Almond Rosemary State Bird Seed.

 

After evening dinner service, chefs Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza would often find themselves with leftover quinoa at their award-winning State Bird Provisions in San Francisco.

They ended up frying it and mixing it with nuts, seeds and spices to transform it into a crunchy topping for other dishes. In the process, they created something so delicious that they and their staff could not resist snacking on it whenever possible.

Now, you can try it for yourself. Their whimsically named State Bird Seed just launched last month. It’s now available in resealable 3.5-ounce bags for $4.99 each through Good Eggs, and at stores such as Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, SHED in Healdsburg, and Bi-Rite in San Francisco.

It comes in three flavors.

It comes in three flavors.

The organic puffed red quinoa blends come in three flavors: Sea Salt, Furikake, and Almond Rosemary. I had a chance to sample them recently.

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State Bird Provisions Part I: Persimmons with Kinako Dressing and Black Sesame Seed Salt

Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.

Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.

 

It’s a given that “State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press) is one of the most anticipated cookbooks to arrive this year.

After all, Chef-Owners and husband-and-wife Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (who wrote the cookbook with J.J. Goode) own one of the hottest restaurants in the country. When State Bird Provisions opened in San Francisco in 2012, it wasn’t long before Bon Appetit magazine named it “Restaurant of the Year.” That was followed by a James Beard Award in 2013 for “Best New Restaurant,” as well as a Michelin star.

The restaurant’s inventive dim sum-like service, where diners choose dishes from cart or trays ferried to their table, proved irresistible, especially because of their array of eclectic, globally-inspired small plates. The place got so mobbed that hackers even broke into the restaurant’s reservations system to try to snag a hard-to-get table.

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Even after opening a second restaurant next door, The Progress, State Bird Provisions remains a tough ticket today, with folks still lining up on the sidewalk long before the doors open to try to get a walk-in spot.

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Reveling In Modern Cal-Indian Cuisine at Campton Place

Campton Place restaurant's famed Spice Pot dish.

Campton Place restaurant’s famed Spice Pot dish.

 

Naan formed into rolls as fluffy as classic Parker House ones and hiding a center of ricotta. Cauliflower florets garnished with ethereal turmeric foam. And familiar-tasting cumin-scented potatoes and peas, but uncannily presented in a flower pot spewing wisps of dry ice.

That’s the unique, incredibly elegant cuisine served at Michelin-starred Campton Place in San Francisco by Chef Srijith Gopinathan. French techniques are applied to traditional Indian flavors with inspired Bay Area flourishes to create food that evokes time and place.

That’s what I found when I was invited in as a guest a few weeks ago. It had been a few years since I last dined at the restaurant. The food has grown more personal with Gopinathan really showcasing his native India and adopted city of San Francisco in memorable ways.

The dining room.

The dining room.

Just a few steps from Union Square.

Just a few steps from Union Square.

My husband and I checked into our complimentary room at the Taj Campton Place Hotel. 

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