Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Feast, Part III: Peruvian Stuffing

For Part III I'm going to share a wonderful family recipe from my husband's side of the family, specifically from his aunt, Savory and sweet Peruvian sausage stuffing!

To my husband and his family this rich, zesty, sweet stuffing is the very epitome of home cooked holiday meals. This recipe for Peruvian Stuffing is straight from my husband’s tia Lilita. Ground beef and pork sausage are marinated with fragrant spices and browned with garlic and onions. It is then simmered in wine and applesauce (I highly recommend Lin’s simple applesauce under sides) and studded with raisins and crushed walnuts. Lastly it is garnished with the exceptionally popular boiled eggs. It really represents the bold yet harmonious flavours that characterize much of Peruvian cuisine. It is really a great stuffing because if your main protein dries out a bit it is the perfect side to revive it and give it lots of flavorful interest. This can also be made with turkey sausage if your family doesn't eat pork.

Peruvian Stuffing

Makes 10 servings

Prep time: 4 hours
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 4 hours, 40 minutes

1 lb lean beef mince (5% or 10% fat)
1 lb pork sausage
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
2.5 cups plain apple sauce (Lin has a simple apple sauce in Sides)
half cup white wine
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
3 hardboiled eggs, sliced thinly


Remove sausages from casings.
In a large bowl, combine sausage meat, beef, cumin, garlic powder and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Cover tightly with cling film and marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Saute onions until they begin to soften (5 minutes).
Add garlic and cook for an additional minute, or until garlic becomes fragrant.
Add meat and brown. This will take 10 minutes
Add wine to deglaze, scraping all the lovely bits at the bottom of the pan. If you have rendered too much fat to deglaze the pan (i.e. there is visible liquid in the meat) add the wine at this juncture and allow to cook into the meat.

Add apple sauce, bring back to simmer and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

Add raisins and walnuts, and cook, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.

Scatter the egg slices all over and serve alongside your chosen roast.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Feast, Part II: Green Bean Casserole (from scratch)

Welcome to Part II of my Thanksgiving feast series: green bean casserole. Whether you've been assigned this one dish or you're cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast there's one thing we can all agree on: we eat to excess on Thanksgiving. If that weren't enough, we eat many dishes loaded with fat, salt and other unhealthy things. In other words: flavor.

Green Bean Casserole, which is a must have at any Thanksgiving dinner, is loaded with all of that tasty stuff and more. This is because it is almost always made entirely out of cans and boxes. While this saves on time it also saves on taste. And nutritional value. But most importantly, taste. If you want to bring the most delicious, most talked about version of this dish to your thanksgiving, cook along with me and make it from scratch.

The green beans and mushroom/onion/shallot mix can both be made up to one day ahead of time. You'll simply need to cook the casserole longer (say 10 minutes) to account for the cold ingredients.

If, like me, you're cooking the entire meal, you'll still have time to make this if you prep properly. Believe it or not, it's not that much harder than the out of a can version. The most labor intensive part was chopping the green beans into little pieces. If you have the luxury of a kitchen minion or two, I'd suggest putting them on green bean chopping duty.

If this is the only dish you've signed up to bring, why not make it the best possible version?

Green Bean Casserole

Makes one 9” x 13” baking dish

32 ounces green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1” pieces

6 ounces fried onions

16 ounces sliced mushrooms

1/2 yellow onion, minced

1 large shallot, roughly chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)

32 ounces low sodium chicken stock

3 cups whole milk

4 Tablespoons butter, separated

2 Tablespoons mirin

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1 small pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot combine green beans and stock. Add pepper if desired. Bring to a full boil, then reduce to an active simmer. Simmer until green beans are very soft (about 20 minutes). Drain beans and set aside.
2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan melt 1 tablespoon of the butter along with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Saute the minced onion and chopped shallots with a pinch of salt over medium heat until caramelized ( about 10 minutes). Stir infrequently. In the last minute add thyme. When onions and shallots are browned deglaze the pan with 1 tablespoon Mirin or Sherry.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add mushrooms another pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute until mushrooms are cooked through. Deglaze with remaining Mirin/Sherry.
4. Set mushrooms onions and shallot mix aside. Spray or grease a large baking dish. Lay green beans in a single layer. mix in 2/3 cup by volume fried onions.
5. Melt remaining butter in the same large saucepan over low-medium heat. Add flour & cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until the mix has turned golden. Whisk in milk, roughly 1/3 cup at a time.
6. Allow to thicken, stirring frequently. Reintroduce mushroom, onion and shallot mix. Pour milk mixture (gravy) over beans in baking dish. Bake until bubbling (about 15 minutes). Cover entire casserole with fried onions and bake for 5 additional minutes.

Serve at Thanksgiving as a side dish.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Feast Part I

Life has been hectic lately. I am planning a Thanksgiving for five and even though I know it will be far too much food there are certain dishes I simply have to bring to the table. It just won’t be Thanksgiving without them.

Even though my life has been a bit busy I still can’t seem to keep myself away from blogging. From sharing my fun in the kitchen with all of you. I think of you as my friends. And what kind of friend would I be if I left you hanging during the biggest cooking holiday in the country? You don’t have to answer that.

So, hopefully this three part series will help you up your Turkey Day game. I’ve got a lot planned for mine. Wish me luck!

If I get time for it I will be publishing a basics guide with substitutions and a glossary as part IV.

Part I: tips for the perfect mashed potatoes & how to homemake your cranberry sauce (so worth it and easy!)

As it turns out I’ve already posted about Part I. Here’s my post from two years ago.

Part II is going to consist of from-scratch green bean casserole, so stay tuned!

Bonus pic of my mashed potatoes:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Perfect Poached Salmon (Slow Cooker)

I love salmon. Bake with a spice rub or pan fried with a glaze or marinade. For some reason I had not considered poaching it. I’ve recently tried it with some lovely aromatics and it has definitely made me a convert! I use the poached salmon to make a stunning salmon mayonnaise salad, but you can easily consume it by itself, or with rice. It really does make for a delightful salmon salad and because of this I’ll include the proportions below.

What makes this salmon so amazing? Well, for one it is fork tender. And the aromatics I used (lime, ginger, cumin and cardamon) lend a delightfully subtle something that utterly infuses the salmon in a much more complete way than a glaze or spice rub can manage.

What’s more is it is made easily in your slow cooker.

Poached Salmon

2 (5 -6 ounce salmon fillets)
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1 lime
2 tablespoons mirin
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. To a crock pot add 1 1/4 cups water & the mirin. Set slow cooker on high for 30 minutes.
2. Add lime, cumin, cardamom, salt, pepper and salmon. Set on high for another 30 minutes.
Remove from water, rub the excess fat off and serve.

To make into salmon salad: approx 2 Tbsp mayonnaise and 1 tsp stone ground mustard per fillet. Chopped celery optional.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ham and Cheese Frittata

I originally wanted to call this Denver Frittata. Partly to amuse myself and partly because, finding myself with extra of the ingredients needed to make a classic denver omelet, I instead planned a frittata. A denver omelet is popular with restaurant goers (and therefore a common menu item at diners) because its simple, straightforward combination of ham, green peppers and cheese (often cheddar) plays very well together. Sauteed peppers offer a sweet and vaguely sour counterpoint to the fatty, salty and sweet crisped ham while cheddar offers a slight tangy, rich sharpness in the background.

Why a frittata? Well, to be honest I thought I knew what a frittata was for many years and as I learned from my friend Lisa, the blogger at Italian Kiwi, I was wrong. I’d been applying that term to any crustless egg pie, baked or fried. The problem is that frittata literally means “fried”. Not only is it fried, it is also composed of an aerated egg batter which has been vigorously whipped. The resulting fluffy egg pie seems so simple, yet is difficult to master. So I decided to make a frittata partly to practice my technique. As to the other part of my motivation? Fried fluffy savory egg pies are delicious.

Denver Frittata

Makes 1 (8 in) pie

4 jumbo eggs
1 ounce sharp cheddar, finely grated
1 ounce ham, diced
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup neutral oil (divided)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Whisk eggs together with the cheese and season with salt & pepper.
2. In a medium sized skillet or heavy bottomed saucepan (cast iron is best) , heat 3 Tablespoons oil. Over medium heat, saute the ham and peppers until peppers are soft and the ham has been seared all over (6 minutes).
3. While the peppers and ham saute, whip the eggs quickly and with great force. You will notice bubbles begin to form, then the egg batter will start to increase in volume.
4. Distribute the ham and peppers evenly across the bottom of the skillet and pour egg batter over them. Fry for five minutes and leave the frittata alone. No flipping or stirring necessary. If you’re worried it will burn, make sure you check for smoke or a burnt smell frequently and adjust heat as needed.
5. Slide a plate over your pan and carefully invert the pan onto the plate. Thump gently to loosen the frittata. It should come off mostly or all in one piece.
6. Return pan to the heat and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil. Slide the frittata back into the pan and allow it to finish cooking for 3 minutes.
Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and serve.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Roasted Spice and Vanilla Applesauce

A lot of the recipes I write these days are inspired by my son Henry. He’s almost a year old now and well into solids. Although it takes a bit of extra work there is nothing more satisfying than feeding your child homemade fruit sauce. And this version is by far the best applesauce I have ever had. Roasting helps to gently caramelize the apples and brings the spices satisfyingly to the fore. It is a lot of work, but you can easily make a double or triple batch as this applesauce can be canned, bottled or frozen. It will also keep in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 10 days.

Roasted Spice and Vanilla Applesauce

Makes approx 2 cups

4 gala apples, cored and quartered
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
A touch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Toss apples with vanilla, then lay them in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle apples with sugar and all of the spices, then just a touch of salt.
2. Bake for 35 minutes, or until apples are falling apart.
3. When they are cool enough to handle, peel skins away and discard. Pulse fruit in the blender with 2 ounces of water, until smooth.
Serve warm or store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Leftover Shakshuka with Potatoes

Shakshuka. Say it with me Shak (Shahk). Shuka (Shookah). What is it? A fabulously flavorful, spicy, easy egg dish from Israel that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch *or* dinner. Eggs are poached in a zesty tomato and vegetable sauce and it is usually served with warm, fresh pita or crusty bread. I’ve known I wanted to try it since I first heard of it on Cutthroat kitchen. The camera closeup was of a cast iron pan filled with a chunky red sauce and dotted with perfectly poached eggs; I was intrigued.
After cooking a friend’s excellent recipe for Croatian Chicken Paprikash I was left with a lot of the wonderful sauce (through no fault of the recipe; I just fudged the amount of chicken to use since I like to use a different cut in my stews than her recipe recommends). I couldn’t bear to throw out so much excellent, savory flavor so I decided to add just a few ingredients and turn it into Shakshuka. I added potatoes to my Paprikash and they were full of flavor; a great starch for the Shakshuka. If you make Chicken Paprikash on Friday you can plan on incorporating the leftover sauce into a Shakshuka on Saturday morning for an easy, delicious breakfast. If you like egg dishes and savory breakfast, I highly recommend trying Shakshuka.


Serves 3

1 quart leftover sauce from Chicken Paprikash*
2 (15 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
6 eggs
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Chopped Italian Parsley
Feta Cheese

1. In a broad saucepan combine Paprikash sauce, cumin and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a lazy boil over medium heat and cook for 10 - 15 minutes, to thicken sauce.
2. Crack eggs in one by one, up to five around the edges of the pan and one in the center. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 - 3 minutes for poached eggs and up to 10 minutes for hard boiled eggs.
Serve garnished with generous helpings of minced parsley and feta cheese.

*I like to add potatoes to my chicken paprikash. 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into roughly 1” pieces; they go into the stew when the liquid does.