Dinner for Two

Final_Mousse

I just had a wonderful opportunity to write (and eat!) a few recipes for dinner for two on Valentine’s Day for the Bay Weekly Newspaper! If you are looking for a romantic dinner for two, or two servings for one, check out my recipes for Lobster Bisque, Lamb over Pomegranate Couscous, Braised Artichokes, and Chocolate Mousse here!  You won’t be disappointed.

Final_Lamb

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Thanksgiving Bacon and Apple Stuffing

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Hello all! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, especially because it often overlaps with my birthday! Anyway, I am always excited to start thinking about Thanksgiving foods, like bread stuffing. This stuffing recipe is intended as a side dish all its own, as it uses added liquid and it’s baked separately. However, you could use this to stuff your turkey, omitting the liquid and baking time and simply adding the dry ingredients to your bird instead. Either way, this stuffing is packed full of fall flavors. Use this recipe as a guide – adapt the stuffing for flavors you have or want to include.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of bread
  • 3 – 4 pieces of bacon (optional)
  • 1 small onion (about 1/3 cup, diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 oz mushrooms (about 6 button mushrooms)
  • 1/2 tsp each fennel seed and coriander seed
  • 3 dried red chilis (optional)
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs, a mixture of rosemary, sage, and / or parsley
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the bacon pieces to a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until it is starting to get very crispy. If you are omitting the bacon, use 1 tbsp. olive oil for the following cooking steps that use bacon fat.

Meanwhile, dice the onion and celery. Dice the mushrooms separately. Cut all of these into the size pieces you prefer – I like a large dice, where the vegetables are about 1/2″ square. Remove the bacon when it is crispy, and crumble it into a large mixing bowl. Add the onions and celery to the pan where you were cooking the bacon, and cook in the bacon fat until the onions are starting to get translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the onions and celery and add them to the mixing bowl.

Add the mushrooms to the pan with the leftover bacon fat, and cook them until they are just beginning to shed their water and wilt – about another five minutes. Then, remove from heat and add the mushrooms to the bowl.

While you wait, cube the bread into about 1/2″ inch cubes (or smaller if you like) and add these to the mixing bowl. Cube the apple and add along with the cranberries, apple cider vinegar, stock, pepper, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Stir to mix.

In a dry skillet, toast the fennel seed, coriander seed, and dry chilis for about 30 seconds over high heat, or until they are fragrant. Remove from heat and grind these in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Turn out into the mixing bowl.

Mix everything together and spread into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, then remove and check that the bread has absorbed a lot of the liquid and is crispy enough to your liking. I like my stuffing a little moist, so I stopped here – if you’d like it drier, bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve, or keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Hot Beef Borscht

beefborscht

I am in love with beets as they are is easy to prepare and pair well with sweet and savory dishes. I have worked hard to create a borscht recipe that is perfectly balanced. Borscht is really a term for an array of eastern European dishes that are made differently in many countries. I like to think of borscht as a way for both Jake and I to connect with our heritage – it is considered both a Jewish dish and a Catholic holiday dish – as well as a way to feel a human connection with other parts of the world, namely Ukraine, that deserve my thoughts. While borscht can also be a vegetarian dish, in this particular recipe I chose to include beef for an added level of flavor. Don’t be tempted to omit the pickled beets or sauerkraut either – you can find these canned at the grocery store, and they add a layer of complexity that takes this soup from a simple dish to a fantastic meal!

Serves 4 – 5 as a main course.

Ingredients 

  • 3 large beets
  • 1 1/2 pound beef with shin bone in
  • 1/2 cup beet greens (if attached)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup rutabaga (substitute potato)
  • 1/2 cup pickled beet
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 bay leaf and 1/2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or substitute 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Garnish with croutons, fresh dill and sour cream

Instructions 

Cut the beef into 2 inch wide strips. In a 5 quart Dutch oven or pot, combine the beef with the stock and water and bring to a boil. Peel and dice the onion (I like a medium dice) and saute the onions with the butter and a pinch of salt until slightly browned. Wash, peel, and chop the carrots and add the onions and the carrots to the broth. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients.

On a baking sheet, wrap the beets in foil and roast beets for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove, unwrap using oven mitts, and cut the beets in half. Let them cool for about ten minutes, then peel and grate on a box grater. Set aside. Peel and finely dice rutabaga. Drain and dice pickled beets. Add beets and rutabaga with the pickled beet, bay leaf, sage leaves, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Quickly toast the coriander and fennel in a dry skillet for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then add to the soup. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook for an additonal 1 1/2 hours (for a total of 3 hours).

Remove the bones of the beef, then take the beef out, roughly chop, and add back into the soup, stirring to mix. Serve into bowls and garnish with rye croutons, sour cream or yogurt, and roughly chopped fresh dill.