September 25th, 2015

New Ideas, New Techniques


The Plus Element

That’s what my friend Maggie calls it. On any path to mastery, there’s always one more step.

I think that’s why I both enjoy and feel challenged by my kitchen calling.

Thirty plus years on this culinary path, and I am still learning.
Thirty plus years, and I am still excited about food.

Today’s post shares two of my most recent discoveries, and they couldn’t be more disparate.

The first took its inspiration from a meal at a new vegan-raw food eatery AVO.
The second was the product of a little pre-Thanksgiving research and experimentation.

I served both at our last potluck, to raves.


AVO (as in avocado) is Nashville’s first full service vegan raw food restaurant. (Nothing heated above 118 degrees, can you imagine?) I was beyond surprised by how delectable–and creative—it’s offerings are. No-bake sea salt chocolate “cheesecake” made from soaked cashews pureed with coconut milk, maple syrup, and bitter chocolate. Pad Thai noodles made from threads of zucchini, daikon, and kelp in a spicy almond-based sauce.


And a remarkable tabbouleh, made from pulverized cauliflower curds.

And while I’m less likely to attempt the mock cheesecake (despite its incredible, creamy mouthfeel, and rich, deep chocolate taste) the tabbouleh-style salad using cauliflower as its grain is nothing short of genius.

Finely chopped by hand, or pulsed in a food processor, the curds have the right appearance. The texture is a ready receptor for the lemony vinaigrette. The taste is convincing–bright, fresh, healthful and delicious. To the ever-growing repertoire of dishes where this species of Brassica oleracea mimics something else (like mashed potatoes, or piccata, or pizza crust…) add this recipe.

Isn’t cauliflower the versatile one?


My recipe takes the Middle Eastern mainstay, and flips it further. Instead of flat leaf parsley, I chopped a mound of tangy peppery arugula to fold in with the cauliflower. I “quick-pickled” thinly sliced red onions, for spark and color contrast. I added finely chopped broccoli. I even cooked up a batch of pearled couscous, to extend the salad for our group. (It didn’t need it.)


The second trial is the “Dry Brine.”

We are all familiar with brining–immersing a hunk of meat or poultry in a highly seasoned-salted bath for an extended, which acts as both marinade and tenderizer. I’ve brined pork roasts to my satisfaction, but my efforts with turkey have not entirely pleased me.

The flavor was there. The juiciness too. But the skin never got that same compelling crackle.

And the gravy–not that rich brown.

I attempted dry brining a turkey breast. So easy and less cumbersome. It was always a challenge to find a receptacle Large enough to hold the brine-and-bird, much less fit it into the fridge without making a sloshing mess.


Create your dry brine blend of salt, pepper, and herbs. Sprinkle all over the bird. Place into the refrigerator UNCOVERED for 24 hours. Remove the next day, thirty-minutes before roasting–let it lose some of the chill while you preheat the oven. Drain off any collected liquid at the bottom of the pan. Slip some pats of butter underneath the skin.

Roast, uncovered.

The result?


It’s a WOW.

Crisp browned skin, tender, juicy meat, wonderful infusion of seasonings. And this was for the breast—which can get dry. I’m looking forward to using this technique on a whole turkey for our grand Thanksgiving feast. Another step on the path.


3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small red onion, sliced very thinly
1 head cauliflower, washed and cored
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 head broccoli, washed and stemmed
2 cups arugula, stemmed and coarsely chopped

Quick-Pickle the Red Onions: In a separate bowl, mix the red wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, and sugar together. Add the red onions. Cover and allow the mixture to soften and pickle the onions—about 15 minutes.


Break the head of cauliflower into manageable sized pieces. Finely chop the curds and stems.
If you prefer, you may use the food processor and pulse them into fine pieces. Place into a large bowl.

Add lemon and juice. Season liberally with salt and black pepper. Pour in the olive oil and stir to coat the pieces.

Fold in the arugula.
Finely chop the broccoli. Add it to the salad.
Drain the pickled red onions and fold them into the salad as well.
Taste for seasonings and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings



8-10 pound turkey breast
poultry rub
4 tablespoons butter

Poultry Dry Rub:
3 tablespoons Salt
1 tablespoon Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Rosemary
1 tablespoon Thyme
1 tablespoon Ground Sage
1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

The Day Before Roasting:
Rinse the turkey breast under cold water. Pat dry. Sprinkle the rub over the entire breast, pushing some underneath the skin. Place onto a baking pan and refrigerate uncovered, overnight.

Roasting Day:
Remove the turkey breast from the refrigerator. Drain off any liquid which may have collected on the bottom of the pan. Cut the butter into small pats and slip them underneath the skin.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the turkey breast onto the middle rack and let it roast undisturbed (and uncovered) for 1 1/2–2 hours. Check the turkey after an hour and rotate the pan.


Posted in Gluten Free, Meats/Poultry, Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Vegetarian Dishes

24 Responses to “New Ideas, New Techniques”
  1. ernestine Says:

    Oh my
    trying both of these
    and think the salad will be today
    and soon the turkey breast
    Thank you..

  2. Maureen May Says:

    Wow Nancy, I love the contrast in these two recipes and they both sound fabulous. Thanks also for the new restaurant idea.


  3. Maggie Says:

    Hey Nance! So glad we’re on this path together! I love the dry brining idea; I can do that, and it sounds delish.

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Ernestine, You are so welcome. Hope you are enjoying the first tastes of fall at your lovely cabin in the woods.

    Hi Maureen, Thanks so much–I think that you and Bill might like the food at AVO. Hope to see you soon.

    Hey Mag, The dry-brine really worked so well on the turkey breast and was ultimately better and Waaaaaay easier than traditional wet-brine. And yes, I am more than glad that we are on this path together.

  5. Kath Says:

    That cauliflower dish looks very tempting and I am glad that this particular vegetable is being recognised for its versatility. The turkey looks amazing. I am going to try this dry brining. I like very much that you are still learning after 30 plus years. Always learning and moving forward is the best state to be in.

  6. Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Oh mercy Nance that dry brined turkey was amazing! Lucky us at Third Thursday Potluck to get to partake of this delectable bird! You have found a winner. And the tabouleh was just the best ever for this cauliflower lover.
    Isn’t it continuing fun and interesting to still enjoy cooking and coming up with new things and trying out new ideas? If not for those things I am sure we would both have gotten bored with it all years ago! Here is a toast to curiosity!

  7. Wendy Zerface Says:

    Last Pot Luck was a great success —owing a lot to your two fabu dishes.I am all about that turkey for my Thanksgiving table.

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Indeed, here’s to the ever-endless possibilities with food, and a curious creative spirit to suss them out!

  9. Gerlinde Says:

    Nancy, you are doing a great job keeping your cooking creative, healthy and tasty. I like dry brining turkeys myself and have done so for several years.

  10. Barbara Says:

    I love cauliflower…roasted for one thing, mashed to take the place of potatoes for another. But this salad look marvelous. It’s a must try. As is the dry brined turkey breast. It turned out beautifully browned and moist, Nancy. Am anxious to try it.

  11. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, I am “stealing” both of your recipes…I love the sound of the cauliflower salad…and yes, it all makes sense, especially that I am trying to add more vegetables in my diet…with that said I cannot resist a piece of well seasoned turkey…and yours sure look great…perfect browning!
    Have a wonderful week :)

  12. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you Gerlinde!

    Cauliflower continues to astound me, Barbara. The salad is quite good. And I just saw “cauliflower muffins” posted on my cousin’s facebook page that looked incredible.

    “Steal” away, Juliana! and enjoy—

  13. Denise Says:

    I wish AVO were in my neighborhood… :)

  14. heather Says:

    That looks amazing! Cool idea with the cauliflower, thank you for posting. Perfect for the holidays.

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Denise–I was surprised by how much I enjoyed their raw plant-based dishes. I am curious what their fall/winter offerings will be—and if they will suit me when it’s brrrr cold outside.

    Hi Heather–Try making that cauliflower tabouleh! We should go to AVO together sometime.

  16. Beth Says:

    Both recipes sound terrific! I think I’ll try the turkey for Thanksgiving!

  17. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipes Nancy…they both sound great!

  18. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Beth—I am anxious to dry-brine the whole turkey for this Thanksgiving too.

    Hi Karen–You are welcome. Hope you are enjoying your new life in Florida.

  19. Adri Says:

    Nancy, this all sounds great – well, except for the mock cheesecake. I am afraid I am too timid for that. I really am anxious to try the turkey. I bet it is fab. Isn’t it something that there is alwsys soemthing new to learn? I think learning keeps us young and promotes openmindedness – something we could all use more of these days. I hope all is well with you!

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Adri–so good to hear from you. And about learning—yes, I couldn’t agree with you more!

  21. Tammy Says:

    I know where we are going for dinner the next time I get to Nashville!

  22. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Tammy—AVO is right up your alley.

  23. Patrica Mugler Says:

    I made this Turkey Breast recipe today for a family Christmas gathering.

    It was fabulous. Very tasty and moist. The only thing I did differently was to start the turkey at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then reduced it to 325 for rest of time. I also put whole carrots and celery sticks under the turkey as a rack in the pan.
    I took turkey out when reached a reading of 165 on thermometer. Everyone commented on how moist it was.
    This will be my Turkey Breast recipe from now on.
    Thanks for a great recipe.

  24. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Pat, Thanks so much for sharing your tips. I’m so glad my recipe worked so well for you! Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday season. Nancy

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