Turkey Day Recipes: Cornbread

Although I originally planned to just have corn, I was lured in by a wonderful photo at 101 Cookbooks. As a result, I ended up making Cornbread muffins for Thanksgiving.

My plan was to make this up the night before but I didn’t have time. I did take 10 minutes and measured all the dry ingredients in to a ziploc bag though. So, after we got home from the Turkey Trot (much less slippery this year except for the last 1/2 mile of black ice) on Thursday, I started pulling the eggs and corn from the fridge. I let them warm up to room temperature while Chris made spritz cookies.

Yes, we had to make more spritz cookies because the 3 dozen we made 2 weekends ago to “save for Thanksgiving” disappeared. Its a mystery, Interpol has been called in to investigate.

Rather than repeat the recipe here, I will just direct you on over to 101 Cookbooks for the Yeast Raised cornbread recipe.

A few notes:

  • Its pretty sticky but don’t go overboard with the flour when you turn it out of the mixing bowl; the muffins will end up dry.
  • I made 12 muffins and used the other 1/3 section to make a small loaf which I then froze. I’m thinking I’ll pull it out for chili in a few weeks.
  • I added the chives and I’m betting you could add some cayenne or even diced jalapenos to jazz it up.
  • Using white sweet corn (organic, Meijer) will require everyone at the table to ask if you really put whole corn in the bread. I did! Really!!
  • Best served hot hot hot with the honey butter. Trust me. They sit, they can get dry. And pull them out of the oven about 90 seconds before you think you should.

Turkey Day Recipes: Stuffing (aka Dressing)

I have always called it stuffing. Probably because we ate a lot of Stovetop Stuffing when I was younger. During my college years, I’d buy it in cannisters and make 1-2 servings at time. Or, I admit, eat the dry product right from the can. I still eat it on occasion but I’m more likely to buy plain breadcrumbs and season them up so I can control the salt levels. Ditto for Rice-a-Roni and other packaged starches.

Sidenote:

During college, I ate a lot of things like ramen noodles. It was super cheap, right? After being trapped in my apartment with no power for 3 days following an ice storm, I couldn’t look at ramen for a long time. Fortunately, during the outage, I was able to use my old-fashioned (i.e. non-electric start) gas stove to eat. And ramen plus assorted sauces, spices and frozen vegetables were my sustenance for those 3 days.

Stuffing is one of the requirements at Thanksgiving. As I mentioned previously, I call it stuffing whether its in the bird or out. I visualize dressing as this mushy bread-like mash that we would have at Grandma-in-Iowa’s house over the holidays. Ironically, that stuff usually was cooked inside the turkey and should have been called stuffing.

Sidenote 2:

I’m making dinner on Thursday. It will be served about 6pm. That’s dinner time. In Iowa, dinner was the big meal eaten at about 1pm. And then supper came later and was not so heavy (usually). While I do occasionally refer to dinner as supper and we used to jokingly call a late lunch “lupper” or “linner”, I just don’t think of the post-work meal as anything but dinner. The regional nomenclatures fascinate me.

Although I make stuffing periodically, I don’t really have a recipe for it. Bread crumbs, onions and celery, maybe some nuts and/or dried fruit plus seasonings like thyme and sage. Moisten with broth and butter, bake and voila.

Fortunately for all of you, my good friend Gwyneth* has come up with a mighty tasty-sounding stuffing/dressing recipe. For more Thanksgiving recipe suggestions, check out the menus HERE


Classic Bread Stuffing

Ingredients

15 cups of 1/2˝ bread cubes (I usually have challah, wholegrain and ciabatta in my bread bin)
1/4 cup butter + 1 tablespoon cut into small pieces
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 very large onion, very finely diced (roughly 2 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, very finely diced (roughly 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
2 generous tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 cups high-quality vegetable stock, divided

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 300º F. Spread the bread cubes out on two cookie sheets and bake for about ten minutes or until a bit dried out, not browned.
  • Meanwhile, heat the 1/4 cup of butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, celery, fennel and celery seeds, rosemary, salt and pepper and sweat the mixture for 20 minutes, keeping the heat low enough so that the vegetables don’t color – you just want them to get soft and sweet. Turn off the heat, add the parsley and let the mixture cool for about ten minutes in the pan. Add the bread cubes and 2 cups of stock; stir to evenly distribute. Let the mixture sit for about an hour to let the flavors really get into everything (now’s a good time to work on your other Thanksgiving dishes!).
  • Reserve two cups of the stuffing for the turkey if desired.
  • Set the oven to 350º F. Put the stuffing into an ovenproof baking dish (you could even leave it in your sauté pan if it doesn’t have plastic handles – one less thing to wash!). Pour over the remaining stock and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

    Serves 12


    *Okay okay, Gwyneth isn’t actually my friend although I’m sure we’d have fun together in the kitchen. She’s actually Gwyneth Paltrow, the actor and writer of a weekly newsletter called Goop.

Turkey Day Recipes: Spiced Spanish Almonds

I’ve made this snack dish before. Its quick prep and you can store the almonds in an airtight container for up to a week.

Fair warning: these things are addictive!!

From Eating Well Magazine

Spiced Spanish Almonds

Ingredients
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot paprika*
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 pound (about 3 cups) Marcona or raw whole almonds

Directions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • 2. Whisk brown sugar, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt and cayenne in a large bowl. Whisk egg white and water in a medium bowl until foamy. Add almonds and stir to coat; pour through a sieve to drain off excess egg white. Transfer the almonds to the bowl of spices; stir well to coat. Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet.
  • 3. Bake the almonds for 30 minutes. Stir, reduce the oven temperature to 200° and bake until the almonds are dry and golden, about 30 minutes more. Let cool before serving, about 20 minutes.

Notes: **I used smoked paprika as that’s what I have (or regular paprika). The differences aren’t real clear to me but we love the taste of smoky pepper.

I’ve had Marcona almonds once before but have not found them in Michigan. I think this recipe is just fine with regular almonds. From the website: Spanish Marcona almonds have recently become more popular and more available. They’re a little flatter than ordinary almonds, with a richer flavor. Always skinned, most Marcona almonds have already been sautéed in oil and lightly salted when you get them. For this recipe, select unsalted and oil-free nuts if you can, though either will work well. Find them in specialty stores or online at tienda.com.

In the past, I’ve found that it takes longer than an hour for these to dry out in the oven. The more you drain the egg whites, the shorter the time in the oven.

Makes 12 servings but who’s counting?

Turkey Day Prep: Smashed Potatoes

I believe in my previous post, I referred to these as mashed potatoes. Its a slight difference to me but technically, the recipe is titled Smashed Potatoes.


From Cook’s Illustrated Magazine Issue no. 71, December 2004:

Garlic-Rosemary Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients
2 pounds Red Bliss, unpeeled and scrubbed
1 bay leaf
3 medium garlic cloves, 1 minced, 2 whole
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz) at room temperature
salt and pepper

Directions

  • In large saucepan, cover potatoes with 1 inch cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 whole garlic cloves and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low and simmer gently about 35-45 minutes. They are ready when you can slip a knife tip all the way in with no resistance.
  • Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Add rosemary and 1 minced garlic clove. Cook about 30 seconds, just until fragrant then set aside.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and garlic cloves then drain potatoes. Discard bay leaf. Return potatoes to pot and allow to dry, about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk butter/garlic mixture, whole garlic cloves and soft cream cheese in a medium bowl until fully incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • With a spatula or wooden spoon, smash potatoes just enough to break up skins.
  • Fold in butter/cream cheese until most of liquid has been absorbed and chunks of potatoes remain.
  • Add more cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time until potatoes are slightly looser than desired.

Potatoes will thicken slightly as they stand. Serve immediately.

Notes:
Serves 4-6, doubles easily. When doubling recipes, only multiply salt by 1.5. You can always add more at the table. More potatoes will require more cooking time, 4 pounds will probably take 45-50 minutes.

Try to get potatoes of all the same size, around 2 inches in diameter. Bigger potatoes take longer to cook.

You can use white-skinned potatoes but they won’t be as pretty. I’d avoid russets as they have a distinctly different texture and don’t hold up the same under smashing conditions.

These potatoes were meant to hold their own when gravy wasn’t available. We will have gravy on Thanksgiving but that just makes them even better.

FYI, Cook’s Illustrated has a very nice site, but its not free.

Turkey Day Prep

I’m hosting Thanksgiving Day at our place this year. With Chris & I, my parents, brother and his wife, I’ll be feeding six with plans for some leftovers.  I have a few requests plus things I’m absolutely going to make because its not Thanksgiving without them.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love fall, I love turkey and oh yeah, it also happens to be my birthday.  I was actually born on Thanksgiving Day.  Jen, one of my oldest friends was born 3 days before me (at one point we had it figured out to the second), my grandpa and I shared the same birthdate and Jen’s son was born the day before my day. His birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving that year so although I was disappointed she couldn’t hold out one more day, we still have the turkey in common (I think she had him a day early on purpose- I told her if we shared a birthday she had to name him after me!).

So, the menu:


One turkey or other bird of a size to feed 5.  My mom is a vegetarian.  My brother offered to bring me a chicken or rather a couple of chickens but once I figured out he meant still alive, I politely declined. I can’t imagine the apartment neighbors would appreciate that too much.  Plus, I’m definitely sure the cats would be less than thrilled.   So if I can find a smaller turkey, I’ll do that otherwise I’m going to look for a big chicken.

In the past, I have brined my bird and I believe I’ll do that again this year.  It was fabulous and juicy with crispy skin.  Brining is just soaking the meat in a salt-water solution mixed with some other seasonings.  Tips on brining can be found HERE, HERE or HERE.  Most importantly, do not brine a turkey that has been treated with a saltwater solution or a kosher turkey – it will be very salty.  I usually  brine overnight then take the bird out, rinse it and let it airdry in the refridgerator.  You get better skin that way.

Gravy – made with drippings from the turkey, not from a jar.

Mashed potatoes – Red skin potatoes made with cream cheese.  A little different but rich and creamy while still having home-made lumps

Stuffing – I’m very particular about my stuffing. I do not want something that looks like it could be used to spackle walls.  The cubes of bread will be distinct.  Although I call it stuffing, technically, I’m cooking it outside the bird.  Usually I add nuts, cranberries and celery & onions to my stuffing.  I might do water chestnuts this year.

Corn – Really basic but I like corn with my stuffing and gravy. I’ll just use frozen.

Baked beans – per request of my brother. Baked beans with bacon.  I figure this is ideal for the slow cooker.

Green Bean Casserole – Oddly, I’ve never made this before.  Its not one of my favorites but it was Chris’s only real request.  He gave me his mom’s recipe and I guess I’ll just follow that.

Baked Butternut Squash – I’m using this recipe here from Simply Recipes.  Chris wanted (still wants) me to make the squash risotto from the other day but I think that’s too much starch with the stuffing and potatoes so I’m going this route instead.

Rutabaga – ha ha, not really.  I cannot stand this stuff but my parents like it so they can bring it, if they want but it better be pre-cooked since I don’t even like the smell of it cooking.  Ugh.

Biscuits – Simple drop style I think

Pre-Dinner nosh:

Peel & eat shrimp – When Chris’s mom sent us 3 lbs of shrimp for his birthday, we froze about 1/2 to save for Thanksgiving.  Now we just need to find some decent cocktail sauce.

Cheese, glorious cheese – Gotta have a cheese plate!  And crackers w/ veggies too.

Desserts

I don’t really have any thing here yet.  We’ll probably make spritz cookies with our giant cookie press from Williams-Sonomoa.  And I saw this ginger-oatmeal cookie with dried cranberries in a magazine.

In the morning, my parents are coming up early and we three are walking the Lansing Turkey Trot 5k. As Chris did not want to participate, he is assigned the job of making breakfast for us when we get done.  We won’t have dinner until late afternoon as my brother and his wife are driving in from Iowa.