The Piglet

Julia Turshen’s Cheesy Roast-Chicken Enchiladas Are the Dinner We’re Making on Repeat

Our community cooks through her newest book, a love letter to leftovers.

January 18, 2019

Welcome to this year's Piglet Community Picks! Until the Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks kicks off in March, we'll be posting weekly reviews of the best new books you cooked from in 2018—written by you. To see other reviews, head here. And to catch up on the books that made it into the main tournament, look no further.


I’m not quite sure how to put into words my love for Julia Turshen’s newest cookbook, Now & Again—but I'll try. Julia exudes a love for food and people and a passion for feeding those people. Her warm presence is apparent in every word of the book's writing and recipes.

The premise of Now & Again is this: You get a menu for several full meals, and then you learn how to repurpose leftovers from those menus. This way, you get a feel for the recipe staples and "base layers" you like, as well as ideas for what you can do with the leftovers. The ultimate combinations you arrive at are all you and your intuition.

Let's start with the recipes, specifically from the "Just My Type of Dinner" menu. I’ve made the Confetti Meatloaf no fewer than four times since I bought this book. No ketchup glaze here! It’s loaded with bell peppers, onions, fresh herbs, and punches of umami from sundried tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. But as Julia says in the introduction, "There are no rules here." The menus and even recipes themselves are easily adaptable. For example, this meatloaf recipe calls for ground turkey, but I prefer ground beef. The recipe uses ricotta in lieu of eggs and breadcrumbs, but I actually like to stick with the traditional eggs and breadcrumbs. I've also added various additional mix-ins at different points—everything from mushrooms to the random green onions at the back of my fridge. Once, I even baked it in muffin cups. No matter how I've made it, it's always turned out great.

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Top Comment:
“I love the menu for black eyed pea and chicken chili. I’ve made the whole thing several times. My son, who is not much of a lettuce eater, went looking for more lettuce in the fridge to finish up the salad dressing in the bowl. The chili makes a lot but it gets better in the fridge and is good to have around for busy weeks.”
— Dot L.
Comment

Julia suggests pairing the meatloaf with Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower. Mashed cauliflower has burned me in the past, but I gave it a go—I mean, you cook this cauliflower with four whole cloves of garlic, so why wouldn't it be good? In the end, the dish was a total hit! I even made it as a side for Thanksgiving.

Some ideas from the book on how to repurpose the leftovers from this menu: meatloaf sandwiches and cauliflower soup. I couldn't tell you how those recipes are, because this meatloaf never lasts long enough to make them.

Next, I tried some individual dishes, separate from their respective full menus (hey, Julia said I could!). The Crushed Potatoes + Peas, which I made from "Easy All-Green Lunch," is kind of like the adult version of getting your kids to eat veggies. Or, the adult version of getting your adults to eat veggies. It’s an easy, one-pot side dish where the potatoes are cooked first, then you toss in some peas at the end. Drain it all, add butter, scallions, heavy cream, salt and pepper, and mash everything up until it takes on a thicker, chunkier consistency than mashed potatoes. All in the same pot! The ingredients are combined in a way so you don’t get any one bite of just pea or potato, and the crunchy scallions give the dish an interesting texture and flavor.

Again, "There are no rules here," and in kind the recipes are very forgiving—proven by the Hikers' Cookies (in "Simple Backpack Picnic Lunch") I made for a post-run snack. They’re described as being like a granola bar but in cookie form (because "cookies > granola bars," per Julia). I mixed the batter according to the recipe instructions, which state that the butter may not get fully incorporated, and may look suspended in the batter. So when this happened, I wasn't too worried, but then the butter melted all out of my cookies while they baked! Nonetheless, everyone devoured them after our training run. If you happen to have any leftovers, you can crush them up and use them as a topping for a fruit crumble. Genius!

Last, the Chicken + Roasted Tomato Enchiladas in the "Card Night Enchiladas" menu are so easy. Plus, the cooking method taught me a great lesson that I can use moving forward: You can prepare both the chicken filling and the sauce all at one time, simply roasting all the ingredients together on a sheet pan (including canned whole tomatoes—am I the only one who didn’t know you could roast those for more flavor?!), setting aside the chicken and throwing the rest in a blender, and calling it a day. So fast, and with minimal clean-up. The next time I make these enchiladas, I’m going to try blending the sauce with a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or a spoonful of adobo sauce by itself), and maybe seasoning it with some cumin, Mexican oregano, and/or chili powder.

As I'm still cooking my way through the book, my still-must-make list includes (but is not limited to): Crispy Scallion + Sesame Pancakes, the Insta-famous Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese + Honey Frosting, the Simplest + Best Nachos, and the Grilled Beef + Zucchini Meatball with Tahini Dressing.

Roast chicken, tomatoes, and lots of cheeeeese. Photo by osucristina

Aside from the amazing recipes, Now & Again is great because you really understand how much Julia loves food, people, and connecting people with food. In the intro, she says that her "forever goal" for what she cooks, eats, and writes is "to to feel connected." Each recipe is accompanied by a little story on where it came from or why it was created, so as you read you really feel as if you're making a new friend.

At the end of the book, there is a section titled "Give Back + Do Good," which lists resources to support women and people of color in food, and gives ways to share food with your community—like starting a monthly potluck-style dinner club in your area to meet new and diverse people. Or exploring foods from cultures outside of your own and asking questions about it. Or getting involved in a food bank. Or having a bake sale that benefits a local organization supporting minority causes. The way she uses food to impact those around her is something I never would have thought to do. To put it simply, Julia is full of gentle kindness, and that gentle kindness radiates throughout the cookbook.


What Other Community Members Had to Say

"I immediately sat down and read through Now & Again as if it were a chapter book. I didn't get the whole way through in one sitting, and that was fine by me so I could savor it. We've only cooked through one full meal so far—the one Julia says she's cooked most often since her partner, Grace, was diagnosed with diabetes—but I loved it. I even made the dessert, Raspberries with Cocoa Whipped Cream. We ate it over the course of two days because there was plenty of food to go around, and everything was delicious. I want to support Julia in all she does, and I look forward to revisiting Now & Again and using it often in 2019. —Susan Sperry

"I've loved everything about the book, but the leftovers ideas are really special. I'm always stuck with leftovers, but I get tired of making the same chicken soup, salad, etc. over and over. Having an exciting riff to look forward to the next day makes my cooking feel verrrry productive. The main recipes are so simple and straightforward, but they're so delicious that I have to make an effort to leave some behind! The Vietnamese Flank Steak is an easy favorite. Also, Julia is an amazing human being who is genuinely making the world a better place! Supporting her by buying this book is a step in the right direction." —Jane T

"Julia Turshen has a personality—and a cookbook—that is impossible not to love. I especially enjoy the way the book is split up into seasons and menus, and each of her menus tells a story and connects you to her life in a different way. Many of us strive not to waste, so the ideas for repurposing the leftovers are great. Julia makes really attainable recipes so that all skill levels of cooks can find success in the kitchen. I plan to give this book as a housewarming gift—I feel like it’s perfect for those just starting out." —Nicole Kriedeman

"I love the way she arranges the recipes into menus and then tells a story about how she would share it with friends and family. It makes cooking feel like a full experience, not just making a recipe. I made the Chicken + Roasted Tomato Enchiladas and the Kale Salad with Pepita Dressing from the "Game Night Enchiladas" menu, and even though it wasn’t game night, it felt fun and festive." —Caley Landau

Have you cooked from Julia Turshen's Now & Again? Let us know what you made in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Annie Craft
    Annie Craft
  • Traveler
    Traveler
  • vjbortolot
    vjbortolot
  • Dot L.
    Dot L.
  • Brinda Ayer
    Brinda Ayer
Comment
osucristina

Written by: osucristina

Appetizers deserve to be their own food group.

11 Comments

Annie C. February 5, 2019
The link for the chicken enchilada receipe is not linked. Will you please resend it? Thank you.
 
Brinda A. February 5, 2019
Hi Annie C., there's a recipe block for it at the end of this article, and the recipe is linked in the paragraph that talks about the chicken enchiladas. Hope this helps, thanks!
 
Traveler February 5, 2019
Where is the recipe for the enchiladas?
 
Brinda A. February 5, 2019
Hi Traveler, it's now linked in the article here. Thanks for reading!
 
Traveler February 5, 2019
Sorry, I'm still not seeing the link. Thanks
 
Brinda A. February 5, 2019
Hi Traveler, there's a recipe block for it at the end of this article, and the recipe is linked in the paragraph that talks about the chicken enchiladas. Hope this helps, thanks!
 
Traveler February 5, 2019
Got it - thank you!
 
vjbortolot February 5, 2019
It looks terrific, but I am not seeing any actual recipe as an example for buying the book
 
Brinda A. February 5, 2019
Hi vjbortolot, the recipe is now linked in the article here. Thanks for reading!
 
Dot L. January 19, 2019
I love the menu for black eyed pea and chicken chili. I’ve made the whole thing several times. My son, who is not much of a lettuce eater, went looking for more lettuce in the fridge to finish up the salad dressing in the bowl. The chili makes a lot but it gets better in the fridge and is good to have around for busy weeks.
 
Brinda A. January 21, 2019
Dot, this sounds so good! Thanks for the tip! Need to check out that salad dressing...