Recipe: Sausage and Zucchini Soup

My mantra for weeknight meals is keep it simple. This may seem obvious, but if you’re a Kitchn reader, you probably share the love of food that can easily send you down a culinary rabbit hole. What we often need — at the end of a work day, and as the countdown to the kids’ bedtime has begun — is nourishment that is straightforward but really good.

This end-of-summer soup fits that bill: zucchini, bratwursts, a homemade slow-cooker stock with some brown rice to fill it out, and hunks of buttered bread alongside.

This soup is another way I stretch our weeknight roasted chicken into a few more meals. We’ve eaten most of the meat itself (I’ll save the last scraps for our Friday “use-it-up” meal!), so it’s time to turn the bones into a stock. To keep things really simple, I do this in the slow cooker and let the stock bubble all day — it’s totally hands-off. When it’s time to make dinner, I strain the stock and use what I need for this night’s meal.

→ Read More: How To Make Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker

I’m especially eager to keep our dinners simple these days. With a three-year-old and one-year-old by my side, our evenings flow far differently than they did just a few years ago. I’m often wearing the baby on my back, while my toddler helps me in a Learning Tower next to our butcher block. I almost typed that as “helps,” in air quotes, but at this point, he’s actually had so much practice that he does truly help! For this meal, he was my sous chef, chopping onions, zucchini, and sausage.

The baby is growing up, too. A few months ago, I may have set aside some of the soup to puree for her, but now she can chew cooked meat, vegetables, and grains like a champ — I’m so impressed by what bare gums are capable of. I plate up the stock and remaining ingredients separately for her, so she can feed herself from one plate, while we occasionally spoon her some stock throughout the meal.

Before I know it, I won’t be modifying her meals at all and they’ll both be helping me at the butcher block.

Sausage and Zucchini Soup

Serves 4

3/4 to 1 pound uncooked bratwursts (or any sausage you’d like)

1 medium onion, diced


1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), cut into 1-inch pieces


1 cup cooked brown rice


5 cups chicken stock, store-bought or
homemade
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook five minutes on each side, until browned. Move to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Meanwhile, add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook until just tender, another 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, return the now-sliced sausage to the pot, and sauté until the sausage is cooked through. Stir in the rice and, once warmed through, add the stock and raise the heat to high. Stir occasionally until the soup is steaming. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • If using fully cooked sausages, skip the initial cooking step.

This Short Rib Pizza Needs to Be Stopped by the Cops

Can you really consider this recipe “pizza” if it’s bread topped with pork ribs, bacon fat, mozzarella, and the creamiest lookin’ smoked gouda sauce there ever was? Beware! It’s a beautiful alien masking as a pizza on earth! This recipe needs to be arrested and locked in jail before it does some harm — and you simply have to make the thing and eat it all in one sitting.

Are you seeing all those strands of mozzarella on the pizza? That perfectly colored crust? Those thick slabs of pork? That thick drizzle of gouda cream sauce? Turn away before it’s too late.

Get the Recipe: Short Rib Pizza with Smoked Gouda Cream Sauce from Perpetually Hungry

How To Wrap a Burrito (So It Doesn’t Fall Apart When You Eat It!)

My husband Mike brought many valuable qualities to our partnership: He’s kind, charming, smart, and has good taste in books. He loves good food, and makes me coffee every single morning. And somewhere among the upper pantheon of his stellar attributes is also this: He can wrap a burrito so that you can eat it all the way down to the very nub, without it falling apart in your hands. Want to see how he does it?

Mike learned this extremely valuable skill while working in a student co-op at UCLA, where he did his graduate degree (he’s a scientist). This co-op was essentially a very cheap dorm where students chipped in by working in various duties around the facility. He chose the dining hall, where he spent hours rolling breakfast burritos for his fellow residents, learning the tricks of a well-tucked roll from the head chef, who was Mexican and had distinct opinions on the topic.

When he first made me a burrito, while we were dating, I was deeply impressed by this skill. My wraps and burritos always fell apart in the first bite or two! But this one could be held and eaten, safely, even while walking or in the car.

I was reminded of this special skill during Reader Request Week last week, when reader danielleintheev said: “I love making wraps for lunch but I am terrible at actually wrapping the wrap! Would love to see a tutorial on this.”

It’s a tricky skill to learn (I still haven’t mastered it) and it comes after a lot of practice. But there are a few particular elements of his technique that I think are helpful, so I’ve tried to show you those here, in Mike’s starring guest role!

How to wrap a burrito so you can eat it all the way down to the end!
How To Wrap a Burrito
What You Need

Ingredients
Large flour tortillas
Filling, such as scrambled eggs, potatoes, sautéed vegetables, or meat
Toppings, such as cilantro and chopped avocado

Equipment
Large skillet
Your hands!

Instructions

  1. Start with a big tortilla: The bigger the tortilla, the easier making a tight wrap will be.
  2. Warm the tortilla: A warm tortilla makes for a nicer-tasting burrito, but it also makes the tortilla more pliable and easier to wrap. Warm the tortilla for about 10 seconds on each side in a hot skillet. Don’t let it get crispy.
  3. Spread a small amount of filling slightly off-center. One of the biggest keys here is to not overfill the burrito. Put in enough filling to fill perhaps a quarter of the tortilla at most. Place it horizontally in front of you, slightly below the center of the tortilla.
  4. Add any additional sauce or toppings. Again, don’t overfill.
  5. Fold the sides in so they nearly touch (but not quite).

  6. With the sides folded in, use your thumbs to bring up the bottom of the tortilla. This is almost like wrapping a present; tuck in the ends while bringing up the bottom flap.
  7. Bring up the bottom of the tortilla and pull it tightly.

  8. Roll the bottom of the tortilla tightly. From here on out you’ll be rolling up the tortilla as tightly as you can, squeezing the roll back towards you as you go.
  9. Roll…

  10. Keep rolling…

  11. Press and crease the end of the tortilla as you finish rolling it up. Try to curve the rest of the tortilla around the wrap so it stays in place.
  12. Ta-da! A burrito so well-wrapped you can eat it all the way to the end. Cut it in half if you want (it should stay together just fine).

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(Images: Faith Durand)

Chef Yigit Pura’s Tiny Colorful Kitchen

Yigit Pura is best known for winning the first season of Top Chef Just Desserts. Most recently he is in the midst of opening his first ever patisserie, Tout Sweet, in San Francisco. His home kitchen is tiny yet colorful, cheerful, and completely efficient. Come take a peek!

See Full Slideshow

Yigit spends so much time in executive-sized kitchens, thinking, eating, and practically sleeping food. At home his humble little kitchen is bright green, brand new and sleek with shiny appliances. He enjoys all brand new appliances as he is the first owner of his apartment, which just adds a fresh charm to the whole place.

I loved the cabinets that open up vertically (sort of like storage compartments in airplanes.) He noted that he hates the green, but I found the color super rad and different than anything I’d ever seen. Most of all, this is well loved and well used personal space.

See Full Slideshow

1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?

As a pastry chef, all I cook all day is sugar…what inspires me in my home kitchen is functionality, comfort, good dinners.

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?

Lately, I am obsessed with Nespresso Coffee Machine. I don’t know how I ever lived without it!

3. What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever cooked in this kitchen?

Being Turkish and a Buddhist this past Christmas I gathered all my stray friends and I cooked a huge Turkish Festivus dinner. It was filled with love.

4. The biggest challenge for cooking in your kitchen:

Being used to being in an enormous kitchen with dishwashers and all my fancy equipment… I forget how difficult being a one man army is.

5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Every time I stare at the color green in the fixtures, I wish they were red.

6. What was your biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen?

If a way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, is there such a thing as splurging? Or is it just right?

7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?

Get rid of the green, I hate the color green.

8. How would you describe your cooking style?

Tout Sweet. ☺

9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received?
Being a professional chef every time I cook by myself in my kitchen I always have compassion and sympathy for everyone who does it on a daily basis.

10. What are you cooking this week?
We would normally let the homeowner answer this, however, as a guest in Yigit’s home, he just cooked me Bhutanese red rice, sautéed butternut squash with dino kale, with Vega omega 3 oil blend. And popcorn with nutritional yeast for dessert. Very Northern California!

See Full Slideshow

Resources of Note:
; Dishware – Pier 1
; Cutlery – Crate & Barrel
; Nespresso Machine – Bloomingdales
; Small appliances – Bed, Bath and Beyond
; Modern knife block – Bodum
; Pots and Pans – All-Clad ( “or Nothing!”)
; Rice cooker– Bed Bath and Beyond
; Modern knife block – Bodum
; Pots and Pans – All-Clad ( “or Nothing!”)
; Rice cooker – Bed Bath and Beyond
; Glassware- Japan town SF
; Colored Tupperware – Daison in Japan Town SF
; Maui’s little kitchenette – Food container Bed Bath and Beyond, bowls from Jonathan Adler
; Artwork – local SF artist

See Full Slideshow

Thanks, Yigit!

(Images: Bethany Nauert)

A Book Club Brunch: 4 Tips for Setting a Stylish Table on a Budget

This week we’re sharing the second party in our Gatherings from The Kitchn series, an elegant, make-ahead spring brunch I hosted for my book club. I often admire the intricately-styled table settings on design and wedding blogs, but they rarely seem realistic for my budget or styling capabilities. My goal for this party was to create a table that was inspirational, not just aspirational; in other words, a table that could move from Pinterest to reality without requiring a degree in design or hundreds of dollars. Here are four concrete tips for putting together a special, stylish table on a small budget.

Budget Tip 1: Recruit a talented friend

I can set a nice table and I have a decent collection of fun decorative details, but I didn’t think twice about recruiting help from my friend Beth Liebetrau, who is a master of styling. Not only did having her help save a lot of time and pressure on the day of the party, it also doubled the tableware and decorations we had to choose from. She came over a couple weeks before the party with a box of books, vases, glassware, and little decorative elements, and we spent some time arranging the perfect table. Beth snapped a few photos on her phone for reference and we were all ready for the brunch, with all the tableware, decorations and serving pieces we would need accounted for and in one place. (You could also do this the morning of the party, but I wanted the prep on that day to be as low-key as possible.)

Budget Tip 2: Start with what you have

Instead of struggling to make our tableware and decorations fit with the design scheme, we worked backwards, shaping our ideas around what we already owned. Planning out the table, I knew I wanted to use hardcover books in the centerpiece and take advantage of my small collection of pretty, mismatched thrift store plates. Since most of the plates are blue, that set the general color scheme. Beth brought over a deep blue tablecloth and we pulled all the blue and neutral-color hardcover books from our shelves to create the centerpiece. 

My best (read: only) cake stand, a cut-glass plate that once belonged to my grandmother, inspired the repurpose of some cut-glass punch bowl cups into coffee mugs. And when a few old postcards fell out of one of the hardcover books as we were setting up, we added those to the table too.

Budget Tip 3: Borrow instead of buy

Last week I wrote about the collection of party supplies my friends and I share with each other, which I was already taking advantage of by pillaging Beth’s belongings, but I took it even further by borrowing a few Heath bud vases from another friend. I’m pretty well-stocked with general tableware now, but in my post-college entertaining days, I used to borrow basics like plates, flatware and glasses from friends when hosting more than six people, and I would still rather borrow items like drink tubs, extra chairs and big serving dishes than try to buy and store all of those on my own. “Lack of stuff” should never be a reason to not have a fun party.

Budget Tip 4: Think blooms and branches, not bouquets

Speaking of bud vases, we saved a lot on flower costs by decorating with a few huge chrysanthemum flowers and a rose clipped from my front yard instead of one big bouquet. Big single blooms like dahlias and peonies bring a little bit of spring to the table without costing a lot. Branches or bouquet filler are also inexpensive and generally last awhile; we used a vase full of dry eucalyptus branches I had on a table in my living room, which added height and a little more texture to the table.

In the end, I only ended up spending about $25 — the cost of six fabric napkins from Target and a handful of chrysanthemum blooms from a flower shop — for a special, thoughtfully-styled table that you’d think required a lot of careful shopping and expensive vendors. It didn’t. All it took was a couple generous friends, a little planning, and the creativity and commitment to making the most of what I already owned.

Do you have any tips for setting a stylish table on a budget? Any favorite blogs or magazines with decorating ideas that are inspiring and realistic?

Photography: Bethany Nauert
Styling: Beth Liebetrau

No More Soggy Salads: A Guide to the Perfect Salad In a Jar

Salads-in-jars really hit their stride last year. Have you ever tried one? If you were afraid of soggy salad, fear no more. This diagram shows you exactly how to layer your ingredients for killer lunchtime salad. (Important: the dressing goes on the bottom!)

What are your salad-in-a-jar layering tips? Have any tried-and-true tips or favorite ingredient combinations?

Related: Salad In a Jar: Make a Week of Healthy, Delicious Lunches

(Image: Via Jessie’s Juice Bar)

How To Spatchcock a Turkey

While some might believe that the whole Thanksgiving meal centers around the picture-perfect carving of a whole roasted turkey at the table, we’ve found that it can be tricky to cook a bird with such out-of-proportion dimensions and a very thick breast evenly. There’s an easy technique of preparing the turkey, however, that gives you more control over the cooking process and cooks the turkey a lot faster too: spatchcocking.

This technique is borrowed from a method often used for chickens, but we’ve taken it one step further by spatchcocking in a traditional Latin American way. Here’s how to spatchcock your bird for faster, better cooking this Thanksgiving.

Spatchcocking — In the Latin American Way!

In the traditional technique of spatchcocking, the backbone is cut out of the whole bird. The result is a wide butterflied bird where the breast is in the center with a leg on either side. This allows the bird to cook more evenly and more quickly.

A few years ago, however, I learned an alternative way of spatchcocking that I liked even better. In Argentina and other parts of Latin America, the backbone is kept intact. Instead, the cook pulls the legs away from the body, and uses scissors to cut through the thin ribcage on either side of the breast. The breast is pushed up and away from the legs.

The result here is a long butterflied bird with the breast and wings sitting away from the legs. It’s definitely odd-looking, a bit like a frog, but it also cooks more quickly (only about 1 1/12 hours for a 15-pound turkey on a grill) and evenly than a bird that is not butterflied.

In this tutorial we show you how to spatchcock a bird in this way, but we also go one extra step of completely removing the legs from the rest of the turkey’s body.

A spatchcocked turkey

Why Spatchcock This Way?

Here’s why I like the Latin American way of spatchcocking for turkey, as opposed to the more traditional “flattened butterfly” method.

  • A simpler method: Traditional spatchcocking means cutting out the backbone with scissors or a knife. It’s not too hard to do with a chicken, but a turkey is a whole different story. The bones of the turkey are much thicker and the whole thing can be a bit of a slippery mess, but the Latin American way uses scissors and just hands to do most of the hard work.
  • More control over cooking white and dark meats: In traditional spatchcocking, the white and dark meats still sit next to each other, so if one part is done before the other, you can’t pull it out. With Latin American spatchcocking and the fact that I cut the turkey into two pieces after spatchcocking, you can pull out whichever meat, white or dark, is done first so that it doesn’t overcook. You can also start cooking the thick breast first before adding the legs since the breast takes longer to cook with this technique.
  • Easier handling and carving: Let’s face it, it’s sometimes tough enough to maneuver a hot roasted chicken, and a whole turkey is much larger and many times more awkward to handle. A flattened turkey that is cut into two pieces is way easier to move around and some of the carving is already started for you.
  • Better presentation: With traditional spatchcocking, the flattened turkey can’t really be put back together to look un-butterflied. With the Latin American technique, you can actually position the breast back onto the legs to proudly present at the Thanksgiving table.
A spatchcocked turkey with the legs and breast separated.

Things to Know About Spatchcocking

If you plan to try this technique with your Thanksgiving turkey, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • It can be done with any size or variety of turkey.
  • Just make sure it is defrosted first. (This takes about one day in the refrigerator for every five pounds of bone-in turkey.)
  • If you plan to brine, dry brine, or season the turkey, do the spatchcocking first. You can season more evenly after the turkey is flattened. If the two pieces don’t fit in your roasting pan, they can overlap slightly with no issues.
  • A spatchcocked turkey can be cooked any way you like: grilled, roasted, or even fried if you’re feeling adventurous.

Keep in the mind that this style of spatchcocking means that the thick breast is not flattened out very much so in my testing, I found that the legs actually cooked faster than the breast. To deal with this, I start cooking the breast first and then add in the legs a bit later so that the white and dark meats were done at approximately the same time.

Remove the turkey from the packaging and remove any unnecessary parts: Take the turkey out of the packaging and place on a cutting board. Remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavity and discard or save for another use. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
How To Spatchcock a Turkey

Makes 1 turkey

What You Need

Ingredients

1 thawed whole turkey, any weight

Equipment
Cutting board or large rimmed baking sheet
Chef’s knife
Poultry shears or kitchen scissors

Instructions

  1. Remove the turkey from the packaging and remove any unnecessary parts: Take the turkey out of the packaging and place on a cutting board. Remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavity and discard or save for another use. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
  2. Pat the turkey dry: Pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels.
  3. Pull the legs away from the body: Pull one of the legs away from the body and use a knife to slice through the skin and membrane between the leg and body to expose the thigh. Repeat with the other leg.
  4. Expose the thigh joints: Push one of the thigh joints up toward you until it pops out of the socket. Repeat with the other thigh.
  5. Cut through the ribs to the wing joints: Using poultry shears or kitchen scissors, cut along the bottom side of the breast from the bottom cavity to the wing joint (you are not cutting all the way through the side of the turkey). Repeat on the other side.
  6. Open up the turkey: Pull the breast up and away from you, pushing it until the turkey is completely opened up.
  7. Cut the turkey into two parts: Using the kitchen or poultry shears, cut through the backbone right above the legs to separate the turkey into 2 parts. Pat the inside dry with paper towels.
  8. Flip the two parts over: Flip the two parts over, now you have a whole bone-in turkey breast and whole bone-in legs. Proceed with seasoning and cooking the turkey.

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Recipe: Hot Crab Puffs Appetizer Recipes from The Kitchn

During the holiday season, I look forward to the parties most of all — seeing my favorite people, the festive music and decor, and of course, the special holiday-only foods. Whether I’m the host or just bringing a dish to add to the buffet, I aim for something that impresses, but isn’t so labor-intensive that it adds more stress to an already busy season.

My newest appetizer to make the cut are these hot little crab puffs. I fill puff pastry cups with a creamy, lightly seasoned filling boasting a generous helping of sweet crab meat. With these flaky bites, the crab dip comes to you!

This appetizer is inspired by the warm crab dip I am often treated to when visiting my family in Virginia, and it is adapted from a recipe handed down to my mother-in-law from her mother-in-law.

I translated it into a finger food concept, so it’s easy to eat while enjoying a party. I also like that they’re served in miniature because, between the buttery pastry and crab, they’re quite rich. That said, piling several on your plate is highly encouraged — I never worry about leftovers!

Hot Crab Puffs

Serves 24 (Makes about 48 puffs)


1/2 cup mayonnaise


2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


1/2 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon celery seed


1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning


1 pound crab meat


26 ounces puff pastry (3 sheets), thawed in the refrigerator overnight

Finely chopped chives, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, butter, salt, celery seed, and Old Bay until smooth. Add the crab meat and stir to combine.

Cut the puff pastry sheets into 2-x2-inch squares. Gently press the squares into a mini muffin tin. Add a scant tablespoon of crab mixture to each square. Bake until the puff pastry just begins to brown at the edges, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

  • Make-ahead puffs: The puffs can be assembled the day before, covered in plastic wrap, refrigerated overnight, and then baked off the following day. They reheat well, in a warm oven, the same day they were cooked, but once cooked, the texture declines overnight.
  • I prefer backfin crab meat over lump in this recipe because it fits better in the mini tarts.
  • I have made these with two different brands of puff pastry and both required 3 sheets, with some scraps discarded. You can measure a sheet of puff pastry ahead of time to determine how many 2-x2-inch squares it will make.

Make Easy Yet Fancy Cocktails with These Liber & Co. Syrups

Liber & Co. Essential Cocktail Syrups

• Range in price from $7 to $9 for 8.5 ounces. Also comes in 17-ounce bottles.

Ariel, one of our editors, just tried these tasty cocktail syrups from Liber & Co. Here’s what she liked about them:

These cocktail syrups would make a great gift for anyone who likes to experiment with drinks but doesn’t know where to start. I especially loved the Pineapple Gum Syrup, because it’s not a normal flavor I have in my home bar. There were two great recipes on the back of the bottle; one included dark rum, Campari, and lime juice. It was so good!

Liber & Co. is based in Austin, Texas, but they source the raw ingredients for their syrups from a variety of places around the country. All of the products are alcohol-free and are also great in shrubs.

Have you tried these? How do you use them?

Modern Minimalist Bird Houses from Twig & Timber

The Camera Shutter Birdhouse from Twig & Timber

• $85

• Etsy

One of the nicest things to have in the kitchen is a window, ideally over a sink. It’s much more pleasant to wash your dishes with a view of your yard or the great outdoors. Even better? A view of a birdhouse.

The Flying Dutchman Birdhouse from Twig & Timber

• $90

• Etsy

I was recently staying at a vacation rental with several birdhouses on the property, and I was reminded of how interesting and cheerful it is when a green space is made a little more friendly to birds. I watched them zipping around all day, building nests and going about their business.

The Ebb and Flow Birdhouse from Twig & Timber

• $70

• Etsy

These three modern minimalist birdhouses from Twig & Timber are rather luxurious accommodations for the birds of your neighborhood — you know, the ones with really modern sensibilities.