Recipes for the Winter Season
The emotion and dedication you put into creating a great meal impacts not only your psychological response to the meal but also your physiological response. Said differently, if you put soul in, you get soul out -- and the food will taste better. There has always been a beautiful symbiosis between sport and food -- they both bring us together, and they both can deliver senses of happiness and healthfulness. If we've learned anything, it's that happiness and healthfulness are critical to driving athletic performance (and not the other way around).
Winter is one of our favorite times to really go for it with preparing a great meal. Whether it's for a meal for the household, or just a feel-good personal escape, here are some delicious winter-y recipes to fill your bellies and souls, courtesy of Dr. Allen Lim, our founder, and chef Biju Thomas, our favorite foodie.
1-2 T olive oil
1 lb. turkey, ground or chopped
½ medium onion, diced
¼ C jalapeño or Anaheim peppers, diced
1 large tomato, diced
½ C celery, diced small
½ C carrots, diced
2 T tomato paste
1 T taco or Mexican seasoning
1 T molasses or Brown Sugar
1 T soy sauce
1-2 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 C kidney or pinto beans, cooked / canned
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Coat a heavy pot with oil and bring to medium/high heat. Add all the veg and turkey, stir in taco seasoning. Stir frequently until turkey browns, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
Stir in tomato paste and molasses. Add chicken stock, bring to a low rolling boil and cook for 25-30 minutes. Lastly, add cooked beans, and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Top with fresh chopped tomato and cilantro.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup w/Celery + Hazelnuts
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 pound cauliflower (about 1 large head,) leaves trimmed
1 cup plain yogurt
6 stalks fresh celery, chopped thinly
roughly 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed and chopped coarsely
top with: fresh parsley, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Turn on the oven to 350F degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Slice the head of cauliflower in half, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower if fork tender and charred around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool briefly. (Alternatively, the cauliflower can be roasted one day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.)
In a medium stockpot over medium-high heat, bring the chicken stock to simmer. Chop the roasted cauliflower into small pieces and add them to the simmering stock then lower the heat. Allow the flavors to meld and the soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, chop the celery and parsley. (To quick pickle the celery: in a small bowl or glass jar, combine the chopped celery, 1/4 cup of hot water, 3-4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or rice vinegar, a pinch of salt, a pinch of fennel seeds and mustard seeds and 1-2 tablespoons honey. Warm the mixture in the microwave or in a small saucepan briefly, just to bring to steam. Then, seal the jar or cover the bowl and let steep for 15-20 minutes at a minimum. You can keep any leftover celery sealed in the jar for a week to add to other dishes for a tart/sweet and crunchy texture!)
Once the soup is fragrant, add 1 cup of yogurt and stir well. Remove the stock pot from the heat and prepare to blend it. Using an immersion blender, food processor or blender, blend the soup until smooth (an immersion blender is easiest for this because you can blend directly in the pot, whereas you'll need to puree the soup in batches with a blender or processor.)
Once the soup is smooth, ladle it into bowls and top with celery, parsley, toasted chopped hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds and feta cheese. Enjoy!
To make it easily on a weeknight, crank up the oven and roast the cauliflower while you're preparing the rest of dinner. Then toss it in a soup pot with the stock and other ingredients and VOILA! Serve it up with a fresh salad, roasted chicken and crusty bread. (You'll likely have enough to have leftovers for lunch!)
Not a fan of one of these add-ins? Switch out the toasted hazelnuts for walnuts or pumpkin seeds. Don't have time to quick pickle the celery? Freshly sliced pieces will be delicious as well. And, you can make this soup vegan by substituting the yogurt for hazelnut milk or your favorite nut milk. Enjoy with your hungriest family + friends!
Mac 'N' Cheese Bolognese
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni or curly noodles
1 cup minced bacon
1 pound ground beef
½ cup minced onion
½ cup finely diced carrots
½ cup minced celery
2 cloves minced garlic
½ cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, basil, or a mixture)
coarse salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta as directed on the package. Drain the pasta and
Brown the bacon in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Add the ground beef and continue to cook until
browned. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, and cook until the carrots are tender, about 5–6 minutes.
Drain any excess fat from the pan.
Add the tomato paste and use a wooden spoon to fully incorporate it, scraping the bottom of the pan. Turn the
heat down to medium and add the white wine, cooking about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid and let the flavors
meld. Turn the heat off and quickly stir in the milk until well combined.
Finish with the diced tomato and fresh herbs, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with pasta and
garnish with Parmesan.
Professional cycling teams are served plenty of boiled chicken and overcooked spaghetti when they are traveling from race
to race and eating hotel fare. At the 2015 Tour of California, Mark Cavendish requested that we make him some Bolognese.
Our team made him a special batch, and he went on to win that day’s stage . . . just saying.
How to Brine Your Turkey
There are more than a million ways to make a fantastic turkey. So many, in fact, that the possibilities are overwhelming!
Among the many ways to impart more flavor into your bird: roasting, barbecuing, frying, paper-bagging....and of course brining. We've all *heard* about brining the turkey, but what is a brine? How does it work? Why do it? And, how on earth do we do it once we're convinced to try?
What is brining?
Brining meat is a process similar to marinating, but is focused on moistening the meat as opposed to imparting flavor. Brining your holiday bird by soaking it in liquid prior to cooking will help ensure you have a deliciously moist and flavorful turkey.
How does brining work? Brining improves your turkey's ability to retain moisture. This happens for two reasons, the first being osmosis. Osmosis is the tendency for water to move across a membrane from an area of low solute concentration to an area of high solute concentration. (Basically, the salty liquid in the brine solution will migrate into the less hydrated meat molecules, plumping them up.) Secondly, brine helps makes meat moist because the salt in the brine dissolves certain muscle fibers in the turkey, which makes the fibers less capable of contracting when they cook. Less contracting of the muscle fibers means less moisture is lost during cooking, which leads to a juicier bird.
Well, banishing dry, tough meat that requires an entire boat of gravy from your holiday feast is one reason. Welcoming juicy, delicious and more flavorful turkey to the party is the other.
So, how to brine? There are two ways to brine a turkey these days; either with a dry brine or a traditional wet brine. Dry brining (which is a process basically consisting of coating your dry turkey with salt and allowing the salted bird to sit for 12-24 hours) is convenient because it doesn't require your turkey to sit in brine taking up valuable refrigerator space in the days before the holiday. We had plenty of fun playing with different brine solutions this year (see Allen's brine experiment video below, or on our youtube channel) and learned some interesting things about constructing your own brine. Here are our top suggestions:
MAKE SPACE: Clear a space in your refrigerator large enough to hold a container that will fit your turkey. It's important that you keep that bird cold!
PLAN AHEAD: Your turkey will need to sit in the brine for 12-18 hours for maximum moisture absorption so start early!
STICK TO SALT: Salt molecules are smaller, and more magnetic than the molecules of other compounds or flavors you might add to your brine and thus, it's very likely that even if you make an elaborate, flavorful and fragrant brine, much of the flavor of the brine won't be absorbed by the meat (Think of this similar to a lot of small people trying to shove their way through a small door, and a larger person trying to fit through the same door). So, we suggest saving yourself some time on the brine, using a straight salt solution, and putting more attention into delicious side dishes and make your own herb butter, or to-die-for-gravy instead.
MAGIC SOLUTION: The weight of your turkey will dictate how much salt to use in your brine. These proportions seem to be:
8 to 12 pounds: use 2 gallons water and 2 1/2 cups salt
13 to 17 pounds: use 2 1/2 gallons water and 3 1/4 cups salt
18 to 22 pounds: use 3 gallons water and 3 3/4 cups salt
PATIENCE, PATIENCE: Mix up your solution, put your bird in it's container, put the container in the fridge and let it sit. Then, roast or cook your bird as you do and enjoy!
Check out Allen's brining experiment in the video below!