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Stuffing/dressing: la pièce de resistance!

stuffing

The picture of our Thanksgiving meal says it all: stuffing is a priority at chez A & A. Technically speaking, it ought to be called dressing since it is baked outside the bird – and in this case, there wasn’t even a bird. One of my favourite recipes is an adaptation of a recipe by Pamela Anderson originally published at Fine Cooking magazine. I didn’t have prunes or chestnuts so I adapted. Here’s the result:

Ingredients:
1 loaf of bread (I usually use a dense multigrain bread), cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 lb. thick-sliced bacon, cut into medium dice
2 medium yellow onions, cut into medium dice (about 3 cups)
2 large ribs celery, cut into medium dice (1 cup)
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries or another dried fruit of your preference
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
1 Tbs. lightly chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth
2 large eggs

1. Cut the bread and let it sit in a bowl or tray to dry out a bit. I usually chop the bread in the morning to make the stuffing in the afternoon.

2. Fry the bacon until crisp, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, and fry the onions and celery in the bacon fat until soft.

3. Combine the bread cubes, bacon, onions, celery, walnuts, cranberries, herbs, eggs and chicken broth, and mix in until the bread has absorbed all the liquid.

Spread the mixture evenly in a 9×13-inch baking dish, cover with foil, and bake in a 375 F oven until completely heated through, about 30 min. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the dressing is lightly golden brown and crisp on top, about another 20 min.

3.

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Orange Cranberry Sauce

Orange Cranberry Sauce with Sherry, Cardamon and Rosemary

Thanksgiving began with making cranberry sauce. I browsed a few recipes online and decided to take what I liked from them and make my own with what I had available:

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries (I had about 215g of cranberries)
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup of sherry
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • spring of rosemary
  • 3 cardamon

Combine the cranberries, juice and zest of the two oranges, sherry, sugar, rosemary, and cardamon in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the cranberries are soft and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

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Thanksgiving (aka my favourite holiday!)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and all I can think about is food, which is precisely why Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. A roast, squash, root vegetables of all kinds, dark leafy greens, gravy, and all in season, is too irresistible. The plan for this year is to skip the Turkey and replace it with a Pork pot roast. So this is what I’m making this year:

Guests are bringing dessert and so far I’ve been told there will be angel food cake with seasonal fruits, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon buns. I’ll post pictures and recipes here later as a record for next year.

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Fresh spring meal

We have been eating out a lot lately, either invited by friends or because I have been very busy at work. This week is time to reset and recharge with some fresh seasonal vegetables and some pantry staples.

On sunday I made Mark Bittman’s simplest dal with some added rhubarb. A touch of genius! The rhubarb added the right amount of acidity to the dal – a perfect savoury use for all the rhubarb in the market these days. I served it with some brown rice and a fresh green salad with radish.

On monday (today), I made grated the radish with some carrots, orange sweet bell peppers, celery, green onions, and parsley to make a nice crunchy salad to top the green leafs I had left from yesterday. As a main, I roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus, and red peppers seasoned with olive oil, salt, herbs, and harissa and served it with quinoa and topped with tahini dressing.

 

A good start for the week!

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Carreteiro al forn (Brazilian-style baked rice)

I’ve been making a lot of arroz al forn lately. Mostly because I found a good supply of bomb rice and fell in love with my cazuela. I made several versions of arroz al forn – usually with the required combination or pork, chorizo, and blood sausages with chickpeas and potato. Crazy combination of starches, I know, but so delicious. Cooking rice with meat often reminds me of one of my favourite Brazilian dishes – arroz carreteiro, a rice dish cooked with salted beef that is often made with leftover meats from a bbq. The base of the dish is similar – both involve cooking some onions, green pepper, and tomato. Mixing in some broth, meats, and rice. Carreteiro is not made in the oven or with bomba rice but I decided to use the carreteiro inspiration and make it Spanish style. So it’s sort of a Spanish-style Brazilian dish if you will.

Continue reading Carreteiro al forn (Brazilian-style baked rice)

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Meatloaf and maple-glazed carrots

It’s been crazy busy chez nous these days and what better way to feel a bit more in control than to cook a meal that can serve as basis for future meals? Sunday I cooked a big pot of beans in the slow cooker, roasted some beets and made a quinoa beet salad. We had the beans with rice for dinner on Sunday and lunch on Monday and the quinoa salad for dinner on monday night. The past few days have been very cold once again and the body begged for something more comforting that rice and beans. Something more decadent. How about some meatloaf? I turn to Mark Bittman for some suggestions and he does not disappoint: he pairs his meatloaf with maple-glazed carrots.  My only change to the original recipe published in his How to Cook Everything was to add a bit of steak spice. I cannot describe how tasty this meatloaf was. Alan did not put ketchup on it. That’s how good it was. And the carrots? Genius. I’ll be definitely be making it for thanksgiving and Christmas meals for now on.

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Shrimps with scallions

This is based on the recipe Shrimps with scallions and fenugreek leaves (jheenga methi) from the book Fifty Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. I couldn’t find fenugreek leaves so I replaced it with parsley (cilantro might be better but my husband hates it).

Ingredients

1 cup scallions, chopped (green and white parts)

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

3/4 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp lemon or lime juice

14 oz uncooked shelled shrimp

3 tbsp oil

1-2 green chiles, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves

1/2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped

3/4 cup parley or cilantro

1 tap lime juice (optional)

Directions

  1. mix 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 tsp turmeric, red chile powder, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt in a  bowl. Add the shrimp and let marinade in the fridge for at least 30 mins
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil, and add the white part of the scallions, chiles, garlic,  and ginger. Sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the scallions are translucent. Add the remaining turmeric powder and 1 tbsp water and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the parsley, scallions, and 1/4 tsp of salt and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add one cup of water, reduce the heat, and simmer until the shrimp is cooked through. Taste and add more salt and lime if desired.
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Kale, bacon, and walnut cornbread dressing

People fret about the turkey. Dry brine or wet brine? Frozen or fresh? Pumpkin pie is the highlight for others. What spice mix to use? Whipped cream or ice cream? For me the Thanksgiving meal is all about stuffing or better yet, dressing. Chunks of dried bread soaked in eggs and broth, mixed in with aromatic vegetables and herbs, baked until golden. Pour some gravy over it and it’s the highlight of my Thanksgiving meal. I like it so much I cannot be bothered to stuff the turkey with it since no bird would be big enough to fit all the stuffing I want to make. This year I gave up on the turkey altogether and made a pot roast (more on that later). But the dressing? Oh the dressing had to be there! This year I decided to make a cornbread stuffing. I made a package of Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Cornbread Mix since the cornbread had to be gluten free. I used Martha Stewart’s cornbread dressing recipe as a base with a few alterations as below. At first I thought there was too much liquid in the original recipe but after adding 2 eggs and 1 cup of broth, the mix seemed very dry and I added the other cup of broth and 2 eggs as called for in the original.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb thick cut bacon
2 handfulls of walnuts
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, and shredded
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
Gluten-Free Cornbread
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1tsp dried oregano
4 large eggs
2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large pan with the olive oil. Dice the bacon and fry until cooked. Remove all but 1 tbsp of the bacon fat. Add onions, garlic, and celery; cook over medium heat until just tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in kale until wilted
  2. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl, and add the onion and kale mixture, parsley, thyme, oregano, chopped walnuts, eggs, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to a buttered large casserole or lasagna dish, and bake until golden on top and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve hot.
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Vinegar drinks (aka shrub)

I can’t really explain what I found attractive about it. I’m not even one that is particularly crazy for acidic food. Either way, when I heard Fernanda, from Chucrute com Salsicha, mention shrubs (the drink, not the small trees), I had to try it. It seemed simple enough – you mix some fruit, sugar, and vinegar and let it sit in the fridge for a week. You strain the fruit and use it as a base to make spritzer type drinks. I could not resist and looked around for what I could use to make my own batch. I had some ripe peaches sitting around and googled “peach shrub” which took me to this incredibly simple recipe from Chow.com. It’s now sitting in my fridge. I’ll give the verdict next week. Stay tuned!

 

 

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Homemade ricotta

UntitledI’m not a baker. You will find few recipes for cakes or pastries on this blog, much to the chagrin of my husband. My desserts tend to be of the fresh kind: some cheese, yogurt, or ricotta with fresh seasonal fruits and some maple syrup or honey. I knew making ricotta* was easy so when I saw a recipe at Chucrute com Salsicha, one of my favourite food blogs, I knew I had to try. All you need is a litre of milk (I used whole milk), half a litre of cream, 1 tsp salt, and 3 tbsp of white wine vinegar. Mix the milk cream, and salt in a stainless-steel pot and bring it near the boiling point over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes until the milk mixture curds. Cover a colander or strainer with a couple layers of cheesecloth or a cotton dish cloth. Pour the curdled milk and let it strain for at least half an hour. The longer you strain, the thicker the ricotta. Once it has reached the desired thickness, scoop the ricotta into a container. It will last a few days in the fridge but it’s best eaten fresh. I had it tonight with strawberries and maple syrup but I think tomorrow I’ll make it on toast with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh tomatoes.

* Technically speaking, ricotta is made with whey, a by-product of making cheese. What I’m talking about here is a fresh curd cheese similar to ricotta in texture and taste.

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