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.

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Toasted Chickpea Salad

Chickpeasalad

Many thanks to the ever impressive Jerusalem cookbook as the inspiration for this recipe. I have changed a few ingredients here, but this salad remains true to the intention of Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful recipe. Create this salad for a summer evening- the mix of warm chickpeas and fresh vegetables is filling and refreshing!

Serves 3 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer. 

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas*
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 cucumber, about 10 oz
  • 2 large tomatoes, about 11 oz
  • 1 cup radishes or about 8-9 oz
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped and loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped and loosely packed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil plus extra for toasting
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) 
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sumac for garnish (optional)

*Alternatively, you can substitute in one small can of precooked chickpeas, although dried beans that are soaked and cooked certainly have a better, stronger flavor. If you use precooked chickpeas, omit the baking soda and sugar. Often when I am cooking dried beans, I cook a double serving or even a whole bag, freezing the extra cooked beans in smaller portions for future dishes. In this case, you could cook extra beans to make falafel or hummus another day! 

Instructions 

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with plenty of cold water and the baking soda. The next day, drain, place in a large saucepan, and cover with water twice the volume of the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour until completely tender. Drain. 

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into a 1/2 inch dice and mix together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley. Cut the red onion into a 1/4 inch dice, and place it in a small bowl of ice water for about 3 minutes (this will take out some of the sharpness of the onion). Drain the onion and add to the bowl with everything else. 

In a small jar or bowl, mix 3 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and zest, vinegar and sugar and mix well to form a dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly. 

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and salt in a large bowl and add the chickpeas. Alternatively, if you have these spices whole, you can toast them separately in a dry skillet, grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then combine. Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the chickpea mixture to the skillet and toast for about 3 minutes. Give them a few shakes or stirs so that they cook evenly and don’t stick.  

Divide the salad on plates and spoon the warm chickpeas on top. Garnish with Greek yogurt for a creamier salad. Top with sumac and freshly ground black pepper. 

Sweet Corn Chowder

summercornchowder

I created this chowder as a satisfying warm soup that is also light enough for a summer night. As fall approaches I am finding more and more reasons to appreciate fresh summer produce, and this dish highlights sweet summer corn, bright peppers, and yellow tomatoes that I will miss in the winter! 

Serves 2 as a main course.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 white or yellow onion, large dice
  • 2 tsp jalepeno, seeds removed and diced (or more if you like it really spicy!)
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, cored, and diced (about 1- 1 1/2 cups worth)
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning plus more to taste
  • 1 cup russet potato, scrubbed and diced (peeled is optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh oregano 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup 2% milk*
  • 2 cups sweet corn, fresh from a cob (substitute frozen, defrosted)
  • ground black pepper to top
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (substitute parsley)

*A word on the milk choice- I wanted this chowder to be light and allow the flavors of the fresh vegetables to shine through! Many cream-based chowders use exactly that–cream–but this recipe is healthier and less overbearing. That being said, you do need some fat in the milk to make it substantial and tasty! If you only have skim or 1% in the fridge, add in an additional 2 tbsp of cream or half-and-half to create a balanced texture. 

Instructions 

Heat the butter in a large pot until just melted, then add the onions and cook them until they are translucent, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and garlic and give them a quick stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of the diced tomatoes and stir frequently until they have broken their water, another 5-10 minutes. (p.s. while you are stirring and waiting, chop the ingredients that follow!)

After the tomatoes have mostly broken down, you have created the flavorful base of your soup! Add in an initial 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning and 1/2 tsp salt, you may want to add more later. Add in the bay leaf, fresh oregano, potatoes, stock, and remaining tomatoes and stir to mix everything together evenly. 

Bring the stock to a simmer, then add the milk and return the pot to a simmer. You don’t want to truly boil the milk as it will curdle. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add in the corn and continue to simmer. For fresh corn kernels, simmer for five minutes. Frozen corn may take a little less time, about 3-4 minutes. 

Remove the soup from heat, remove the bay leaf, and serve in bowls, topped with the black pepper and cilantro. Serve with a warm crusty bread and a summer beer! 

Cantaloupe and Bacon Pasta

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A perfect dish for using some sweet summer melon, this meal is sweet, savory, and delicious. The flavors may sound a little strange, but they balance each other wonderfully. I researched this recipe after having a vegetarian version at an Italian restaurant (simply omit the bacon), and have referred to Emeril Lagasse’s similar recipe for proportioning guidance. However, I prefer slightly bolder flavors that come out in this version. 

Serves 2-3. 

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bacon, diced
  • 2 minced shallots
  • 3 cups diced ripe cantaloupe (from 1 medium cantaloupe)
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced fresh marjoram leaves (1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano leaves (1 tsp dried)
  • fresh basil leaves and parsley (about 1/4 cup) for garnish (alternatively, divide 1 1/2 tbsp pesto)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves (1/4 tsp dried)
  • pinch of dried thyme 
  • 8 ounces spaghetti rigati, linguine, or fettucine
  • about 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until it is crisp and has rendered most of its fat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add in melon and white wine. Stir frequently until the melon completely breaks down and forms a smooth, thick sauce, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the pepper, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, stir in for about 1 minute. Add the cream, and remove the sauce from the heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add the hot pasta to the warm sauce. Return the pan to medium heat, and toss until the pasta is nicely coated with sauce and heated through. Should the sauce seem too thick, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to help toss the pasta and thin the sauce.

Serve the pasta immediately, garnished with the Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil or pesto, and with freshly ground black pepper!

Thai Cucumber Relish

cucrelish

This is a cool fresh summer relish that is delicious with Satay Pork (that recipe later!) or slow-cooked pork with tomato-based barbecue sauce. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and a tasty complement to meats or soy marinated, baked tofu. We are indebted to David Thompson’s Thai Street Food for this recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • about 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 long red chili or 1 thai bird’s eye chili or 1 habenero, seeds removed diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup red shallots
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro coarsely chopped 

Instructions 

Simmer the sugar with the vinegar, salt and 1/4 cup of water. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool. 

Just before serving, stir in the cucumber, chili, shallots and cilantro. 

Salsa Fresca

Salsa Fresca

Today we harvested yellow and red tomatoes, cilantro, and serrano chiles from our garden. We decided to make a simple and delicious salsa fresca, which is the perfect snack for a summer afternoon. Serve with corn tortilla chips as soon as you are finished chopping the ingredients!

Serves 4 as a snack. 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup ripe tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes) cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup red or green serrano, jalepeno, or habenero chiles, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly sqeezed lime juice
  • salt to taste (approximately 1/2 tsp)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients together. Serve at room temperature.