Renowned cookbook author Julia Turshen on why she loves leftovers

Chef Julia Turshen on her love of leftovers

Bestselling cookbook author Julia Turshen who knew her calling very early in life, thumbing through cookbooks before she was old enough to read them. At 13 she launched her own little restaurant inside her parents New York apartment and started writing professionally behind the scenes.

When she broke out on her own she hit it big. Her first two recipe books were critically acclaimed bestsellers and she's gone on to write for top newspapers and magazines. She also hosts the "Keep Calm and Cook On" podcast.

Last year she published her third cookbook, "Now and Again," with recipes for both entertaining and using leftovers along with personal essays.

Here are some of Turshen's signature recipes: 

Celebration chicken with sweet potatoes and dates 

Ingredients

¼ cup [60 ml] apple cider vinegar
¼ cup [60 ml] olive oil
¼ cup [60 ml] water
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Two 3- to 4-lb [1.4- to 1.8-kg] chickens, each cut into 10 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts cut in half across the bone), backbone discarded (or saved for another use, like stock), at room temperature
3 large sweet potatoes, about 2 lb [910 g] total, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
12 large dried dates (preferably Medjool), halved and pitted
A small handful of chopped fresh soft herbs (cilantro, parsley, dill, and/or chives all work well)

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Directions

• Preheat your oven to 425°F [220°C].
• In a large roasting pan, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, water, garlic, salt, and pepper (you want a pan that's big enough to hold all of the chicken pieces in a single layer; a disposable aluminum pan is good for this if your roasting pan isn't large enough). Add the chicken pieces, sweet potatoes, and dates. Use your hands to mix everything together and get the marinade on all of chicken, sweet potatoes, and dates. Warning: the following is a bit messy, but bear with me. Move everything around so the sweet potatoes and dates are in a single layer on the bottom of the pan and the chicken pieces, skin-side up, are in a single, even layer on top.
• Roast until the sweet potatoes are tender (test with a fork or a paring knife) and the chicken pieces are firm to the touch and their exposed skin is nicely browned, about 1 hour. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.
• To serve, transfer the chicken, sweet potatoes, and dates to a large serving platter and pour all of the cooking juices over the top (or serve directly from the roasting pan, giving everything a little mix first). Sprinkle with the herbs and serve warm.

USE LEFTOVERS FOR CORONATION CHICKEN SALAD: Shred whatever chicken you have left (discard the skin and bones) and roughly chop the leftover sweet potatoes and dates. Put all of that into a bowl, sprinkle with a generous amount of curry powder, and add a large spoonful of mango chutney (or apricot jam, or just leave it out if you've got enough sweet dates) and stir to mix. Add just enough mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt) to bind everything together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in some thinly sliced scallions and, if you'd like a bit of crunch, some chopped roasted almonds. Serve on toast or in lettuce cups.

Radicchio and roasted squash salad

Ingredients

3 lb [1.3 kg] butternut squash, halved lengthwise, tough skin peeled and ends trimmed and discarded, seeded, and cut into 1-in [2.5-cm] pieces
¾ cup [180 ml] olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
¼ cup [60 ml] apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 heads radicchio, each about ½ lb [230 g], cored and thinly sliced 

Directions

• Position one rack in the center of your oven and a second rack in the top third and preheat to 400°F [200°C]. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
• Divide the squash evenly between the prepared pans, then drizzle each pan with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss everything.
• Roast the squash, stirring once or twice along the way and switching the pans between the racks and rotating them back to front halfway through the roasting, until softened and browned, about 30 minutes. Set the squash aside to cool down a bit.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, vinegar, and garlic. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining ½ cup [120 ml] olive oil to make a dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the reserved squash and the radicchio to the bowl and use your hands to combine everything gently (messy, but fun).
• Transfer the salad to a serving platter and serve immediately (or within a few hours; it holds well at room temperature).

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Applesauce cake with cream cheese and honey frosting 

Cake ingredients

2 cups [240 g] all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup [100 g] sugar
½ cup [120 ml] buttermilk or [120 g] plain yogurt
1½ cups [400 g] unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup [80 ml] canola or other neutral oil 

Frosting ingredients 

6 oz [170 g] cream cheese,
at room temperature
2 Tbsp sour cream
¼ cup [85 g] honey
Pinch of kosher salt 

Directions

• To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-in [23-cm] round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, applesauce, and oil and whisk gently just until everything is combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan and then smooth the surface so it is even.
• Bake the cake until it is just barely firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Set the cake aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
• Use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan sides and then invert it onto your work surface. Peel off and discard the parchment. Invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter. To make the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt and whisk together aggressively until the cream cheese is slightly aerated (you can also do this with a handheld electric mixer or in a stand mixer).
• Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and don't worry too much about making this perfect. I think a not-too-perfect cake is so much better than a perfect cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
• To make the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt and whisk together aggressively until the cream cheese is slightly aerated (you can also do this with a handheld electric mixer or in a stand mixer).
• Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and don't worry too much about making this perfect. I think a not-too-perfect cake is so much better than a perfect cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Beet salad with poppy seed and chive dressing

Ingredients

• 6 pork cutlets (1 1/2 pounds), pounded 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
2½ lbs [1.2 kg] red beets, scrubbed
2 Tbsp plain yogurt or mayonnaise
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp freshly ground
black pepper
1½ Tbsp poppy seeds
3 Tbsp minced fresh chives (or a thinly sliced scallion minus the tough ends) 

Directions

• If you can't find poppy seeds, just leave them out. The beet salad will be just as good without them. I like adding them because I love how they look and I also love the little crunch they add, plus I think of them as a nod to poppy seed bagels, which were an integral part of my gastronomic-Jewish upbringing.
• Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the beets (the water should cover the beets; if it doesn't, add more). Cook the beets, turning them every so often, until they're tender (test with a paring knife), about 45 minutes (it may be a bit less or a bit longer depending on the size and age of the beets, so start testing at 30 minutes).
• Drain the beets, transfer to a paper towel-lined cutting board, and use the paper towels to rub off the skins. Trim off and discard the root ends.
• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, pepper, poppy seeds, 2 Tbsp of the chives, and ½ tsp salt.
• Slice the warm beets into thin bite-size wedges or thin rounds (whatever you prefer) and transfer them to a large serving bowl or platter. Season them lightly with salt and then drizzle the dressing evenly over them. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp chives. Serve immediately.

USE LEFTOVERS TO MAKE BEET DIP: As simple as can be, put leftover beet salad with its dressing into a food processor and pulse until puréed. You can make the dip as smooth or as rustic as you like. Season it to taste with salt and pepper and add a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice if you need a little extra edge. Serve with crackers, toasted bread, or carrots or on endive leaves or cucumber slices . . . anything!

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Skillet cornbread with cheddar scallions 

Ingredients

1 cup [120 g] all-purpose flour
1 cup [140 g] stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
1¼ cups [300 ml] buttermilk
7 Tbsp [100 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup [75 g] coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
6 scallions, roots and dark green tops trimmed off, white and light green parts thinly sliced 

Directions

• Preheat your oven to 425°F [220°C]. At the same time, place an 8-in [20-cm] cast-iron skillet in the oven to get it really hot.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and 6 Tbsp [85 g] of the butter until well blended. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir everything well to combine. Stir in the cheese and scallions.
• Carefully take the skillet out of the oven and add the remaining 1 Tbsp butter to it. Tilt the skillet to spread the butter evenly over the bottom and sides. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the skillet and smooth it into an even layer. Return the skillet to the oven and turn down the oven temperature to 400°F [200°C]. Bake the cornbread until it's beautifully golden brown, firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
• Let the cornbread cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges. It is best served straight from the skillet. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (toast before serving).

Maple syrup old fashioned

Ingredients

4 half-moon orange slices
2½ Tbsp maple syrup
12 dashes of Angostura bitters
½ cup [120 ml] club soda
¾ cup [180 ml] whiskey (or bourbon or rye, depending on your preference)
Ice, for serving
4 high-quality cocktail cherries (Luxardo cherries are the best, if a bit expensive) 

Directions

• Put the orange slices, maple syrup, and Angostura bitters in the bottom of a pitcher. Use the handle end of a wooden spoon (or a muddler if you have one) to mash everything together well. Stir in the club soda and whiskey. Fill four highball glasses with ice and divide the mixture between them (make sure each one gets a slice of orange). Top each drink with a cherry and serve immediately.

All recipes reprinted from "Now & Again" by Julia Turshen with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018