Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Alternative Dressing

I'm getting a complex...no one comments on my posts.
They must be:
a) so boring no one cares or no one is reading them;
b) so fascinating that heads explode from contemplating them;
c) so crystal clear that there is just nothing to say in response;
d) a and b but not c
e) all of the above
f) none of the above
Can you tell I used to write test questions?
So...here I go again and will bare my soul for you to tread upon...I kid, I kid!
I wanted to share my favorite dressing recipe before you start shopping for your Thanksgiving feast. We call it dressing in Oklahoma because it is baked in the oven not stuffed in a bird where you can get all kinds of nasty illness...my mom was just not one to risk salmonella (she always called it tomaine...did I spell that right? does anyone know what it is?)
So anyway...this recipe was inspired by a recipe from the Nantucket Open House Cookbook from Sarah Leah Chase. I love her approach to cooking and her original recipe was very good and I made it just as she wrote it for years but it has evolved over the years and, sorry, Sarah, but I like my version better. It is known in our family as "The Alternative Dressing" because the cornbread dressing is the authentic dressing handed down through the years.
So here it is...there are a number of ingredients but hang in there...it's worth it.

Savory Apricot Dressing

Makes one 9 x 13 casserole

2 cups dried apricots, diced
½ cup amaretto liqueur
1 cup brandy
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 very large yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ bunch celery, chopped
Croutons from one herb foccacia loaf

1 pkg, slightly more than 1 lb., ground turkey (93/7)
2 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tart apple (Granny Smith), cored and diced, do not peel
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (I do not recommend substituting dried)
3½ cups chicken stock or broth
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Place apricots in a small saucepan and cover with amaretto and ½ cup of the brandy. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and allow to steep (infuse) while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients. In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock and one stick of butter over medium low heat until the butter melts. Reduce the heat to low and hold the butter/stock until later.

Melt one stick of butter in a very large sauté pan. Add onion, green onions, and celery and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add the ground turkey, Herbes de Provence and dried pepper flakes to the pan and sauté until no longer pink. Transfer to the mixing bowl.

Add the apple, rosemary, and apricot mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.

Add the foccacia croutons over the top.

Pour ½ the butter/chicken stock over all and the remaining ½ cup of brandy. Toss lightly to combine all ingredients. Add additional butter/stock as needed to moisten dressing. DO NOT OVERMIX!
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place in a buttered or oiled 9 x 13 casserole dish. Do not compact the dressing; it should be fluffy. Dot the top of the dressing with butter.

Bake in the 375 oven for 45 minutes or until browned on top

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recipes, included....

The last cooking class, "Holiday Appetizer Party", was just that...a party!

Lots of great appetizers, wine pairings and people...here's what you missed:

Bleu Cheese Torte, Sweet and Hot Asian Wings and Cocktail Nuts - Three Ways. We had something for any kind of party from fancy to casual. So...you will find the recipes below and yes, they are as simple as they sound and you can make all of them ahead of time so you can spend the party with your guests and not your kitchen!

FYI...our wine pairings were: Las Rocas Garnacha 2007 with the torte, Pacific Rim Riesling 2007 with the wings and Prosecco with the nuts.

Next month's class is Puff Pastry: Sweet and Savory on December 10. We'll also do more appetizers!

Bleu Cheese Torte

1 cup bread crumbs (I use Japanese Panko)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

1 lb bleu cheese, at room temperature
1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor, combine bread crumbs, walnuts and melted butter and process until well combined. Press mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cheeses and mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one and a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and combine well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the cake is golden brown and not loose in the center.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Slice thinly with a sharp knife, arrange on a platter and serve.

Accompaniments, if desired: dried fruit, caramelized onions, baguette slices

Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken Wings
Serves 10 – 12

3 – 4 lb. chicken wings, wing tips removed, split in half
¼ cup Lovera’s Italian Grill Rub (or your favorite spice mixture)
2 – 3 tbsp canola oil

½ cup sweet chili sauce
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp ketchup

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place prepared chicken wings in a large bowl. Toss with oil and spices. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes until crisped and golden.

In a large sauté pan, mix the sauce ingredients and allow to warm until bubbling over medium to medium low heat. When wings are cooked through, add to the sauce ingredients, increase heat to medium and cook wings in the sauce until glazed, approximately 15 minutes. Turn wings onto large platter and serve.

Accompaniments, if desired: sliced cucumber spears and celery sticks

Cocktail Mixed Nuts - Sweet and Savory Three Ways
For all recipes, preheat oven to 350°F.

Recipe 1 – Sweet and Savory Spiced Nuts
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 large egg white
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups walnut halves

Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frothy, then stir in nuts. Add spice mixture and toss to coat.

Spread in one layer on the baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice until dry and toasted, about 20 minutes. Pour nuts onto foil and allow to cool completely.

Recipe 2 – Sweet and Salty Nuts
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cups walnut and pecan halves

Generously butter a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and corn syrup with salt and pepper and stir well. Add nuts and stir until well combined. If it is very sticky and hard to stir, microwave on high for 30 second intervals until it loosens and will pour easily onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring twice or more until golden and bubbly. Pours nut mixture onto foil and allow to cool completely. Break apart and serve.

Recipe 3 – Spiced Herbed Nuts
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups pecan or walnut halves

Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a medium sauté pan over medium low heat, combine all ingredients except nuts, Cook stirring frequently until butter and sugar melt completely about 2 -3 minutes. Add nuts and toss well to combine.
Spread nuts on the baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes stirring once or twice until golden and fragrant. Turn out onto foil and cool completely.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gotta Love 'Em...Brussels Sprouts

Never thought I would see the day (when I was a kid) that I would say that I love brussels sprouts...but I do! That said, I now seek out new ways or just a twist on cooking up the little darlings. Got one and had to share...I'm going to be making it as one of the Thanksgiving sides (and as many times as possible before that!).

So...the story begins with a Mark Bittman article from the Wednesday, October 28, NYT Dining section. Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs. Well, first of all, bacon! and then figs! And, as if it couldn't get any better...it's finished with balsamic...just a little slice of Heaven! I think to myself...self, gotta make this recipe at the first opportunity.

Then, wandering through Whole Foods last night, passed the brussels sprouts on their own stalk...I love that! Then, there were fresh figs available as well...those really nice big Brown Turkey Figs. See where this is going?

I get to my boyfriend's house with the recipe, the sprouts, bacon, figs and balsamic. Truth be told, the recipe calls for dried figs, not fresh, but trust me, the fresh ones were terrific with this combination. I highly recommend this simple, straightforward treatment of these autumnal jewels but next time, I will add some shallots into the bacon before adding the brussels sprouts and figs. I also will have to try it when I can't find fresh figs. (I hope this link works...if not, it's on Mark Bittman's blog at NYT.)