recipes

Sausage Stuffing

Turkey day is fast approaching – I am actually hosting a friendsgiving (for 16!) this weekend so I needed to get my act together in way in advance but I know some of you are still working out your menus.  The best thing about my friendsgiving is that lots of people are bringing their family’s must have Thanksgiving dish so we will have a really fun mix of friends and memories around the table.  My family has several traditions, one being my grandmother’s stuffing with sausage.  My Aunt Carol gave me the recipe years ago and you can see its pretty simple but oh so good.  I have to say I had to tweak it a little as I think a nice hearty bakery loaf is better than Wonder bread and I used homemade chicken stock instead of the boullion but I would NEVER consider not using Jimmy Dean sausage like she did!

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This year I am going to change it up again and mix in some cornbread to reflect our southern home but making it will still make me smile and think of my Nana and that is what Thanksgiving is all about.

Sausage Stuffing 

  • 1 loaf of bread, preferably a rustic farmhouse style
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped sage
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 pound Jimmy Dean sausage roll
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Calvados (apple brandy) or another 1/2 cup stock

Cut the bread into bite size pieces and leave out on a cookie sheet overnight to dry out.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a large skillet heat the butter over medium high heat.  Add the onions, fennel, and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until softened.  Add the sage, thyme, fennel seeds and salt and pepper.  Cook for another minute then add to a large bowl.  Add the sausage to the pan breaking it up as you add it to the pan.

Cook over medium high heat until no pink remains, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Add to the bowl with the veggies.  Add the bread cubes to the bowl and toss all together.  Pour over the broth and brandy (if using) and stir to combine again.

Pile the stuffing into a 9 by 13 baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is crusty.

Clementine Margarita

It is #nationaltacoday so I figured it would be fitting to post a nice margarita to wash down those tacos.  My friend Naz came over this summer with a bag full of her own cocktail kit and shook up a bunch of terrific margaritas for us.  Who doesn’t want a friend like that??  She used tangerine juice but that can be hard to find so I used clementine – they are both delicious.  The sweet tang of the clementine juice is the perfect base for the tequila and she introduced me to Patron Lime Liquor which has a more limey taste then triple sec.  Happy National Taco Day!

Clementine Margarita

  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Patron Lime Liqour
  • 4 ounces clementine juice
  • ice, salt and lime wedge

Shake the tequila, lime liquor and clementine juice in a cocktail shaker with ice until cold.  Pour over ice, in a salt rimmed glass if you prefer (I like to use spicy salt).

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad

This week is a big one for my family because we get to celebrate my Aunt Janice’s birthday and nuptials!  In honor of Auntie Jan I am posting her famous Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad.  I have so many memories of having this dish at her house.  I used to spend at least a week at her house in Upstate New York every summer growing up and I would LIVE on this salad.  Its a great summer dish because its served cold/room temp and the leftover are just as good as when its fresh.  Perfect for a summer BBQ, picnic or easy weeknight dinners.  I finally managed to finagle the recipe out of her and I have been making it like a fiend all summer.  I tweaked the original (of course) just a little to make things a bit easier on myself and also because I like roasting rather than poaching chicken.  This is also a great salad to use up extra ingredients you have in your fridge so feel free to throw in snap peas or green beans etc if you have them on hand.  I am so happy for Auntie Jan and I am SO happy to have this recipe.

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad 

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons black (or rice wine) vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 minced or grated garlic clove
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 2 pounds bone in skin on chicken breasts
  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch lengths
  • 1 bell pepper (I used red) cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 a head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

In a medium sized bowl wish together the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and peanut oil.  The sauce can be made several days in advance, just store in the fridge.  Heat your oven to 350 degrees and roast the chicken breasts on a baking sheet for 45 minutes, until cooked through.  Let cool and shred.  Chicken can also be made one or two days in advance.  Cook the pasta according to directions and drain.  In a large bowl toss the pasta with the sesame oil and set aside.  In a small dry skillet toast the sesame seeds over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes (be careful not to burn).

When ready to serve toss the chicken with the pasta and spread on a large platter.  Top with the napa cabbage, pepper slices, scallions and sesame seeds.  Drizzle on the sauce and toss – my aunt likes to set out the whole salad composed on a buffet and then toss with the sauce right before serving.  It makes for a great presentation.

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Palak Chaat

We here in DC are lucky enough to have one of the most critically acclaimed Indian restaurants in the country, right here in our city.  Rasika, is an elegant and delicious journey through various Indian regional dishes.  Their most famous and addictive menu item is Palak Chaat – a pile of fried spinach covered in yogurt, tamarind and date sauces.  The dish is equally crispy, creamy, cool, hot, tangy and sweet.  It is not unusual for a single table to get multiple orders because sharing is near impossible.

Palak Chaat 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney thinned with water)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees with two cookie sheets inside the oven (i.e. heat the pans along with the oven.  In a large bowl combine the kale pieces with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

Massage the olive oil into the kale then spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheets when the oven is at temperature (be careful those cookie sheets are hot!).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once in the middle of baking.  Meanwhile combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper.  Then seed and chop the tomato (using a spoon is the easiest way to get rid of the seeds).

When ready to serve place the kale chips on a plater and scatter over the chopped tomato and red onion.  Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and the tamarind sauce.

Southern Fried Chicken Dinner

As I may have mentioned before, my mom’s desert island food is fried chicken (as is mine which would be really convenient if we ended up stranded on the same island) so in honor of her birthday today I thought I would post a menu all centered around my Fried Chicken Perfected – this has your weekend plans written all over it.

For this comforting, Southern themed meal I was inspired to use my vintage oyster cans as decoration.  I have been collecting these for several years – they are a symbol of the oyster industry that used to dominate the Chesapeake bay region.  I have them all over my house year round but they act as great vases for hydrangeas that I gathered from my front yard.  Since they were the center piece, and its almost summer, I figured just pull out all of my nautical gear and run with it.  How adorable is this row boat salt cellar??

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Paper placemats are my jam and great for a casual dinner party like this – I have several nautical themed ones (#ihaveaproblem) like this or these rope ones.  I used these rope napkin rings we got on Nantucket and the rattan chargers remind me of their famous baskets.  Seersucker napkins top off the preppy vibe.

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Food and Wine Curried Cashews

To start with I just wanted a couple of things to nibble on since the dinner is pretty heavy.  These curried cashews are easy to throw together and great with a beer or glass of rose.

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Broccoli Slaw 

I make this broccoli slaw from Smitten Kitchen ALL THE TIME.  It is so healthy and so addictive.  People will think you are nuts, shaving down whole heads of broccoli but they will be converts once they have tried it.  The dried cranberries give a little nod to my New England upbringing at this Southern meal and the slaw is a nice crunchy foil to the fried chicken’s tenderness.

Fried Chicken Perfected

I can’t say better things about this fried chicken that hasn’t already been said by my friends.  Years of research and lots of mediocre fried chicken (which lets admit is still pretty good) led me to the perfect recipe that I share with you.  Eat it and be happy.

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Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

Probably the second most requested thing I make right after the fried chicken so why not pair them together?  The Southern tradition of mac and cheese with fried chicken has been around forever and for good reason.  The velvety cheese sauce some times picks up crunchy bits of the chicken skin on your plate and then you are in heaven.

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Bourbon Peaches with Ice Cream and Candied Pecans

You need a sweet treat at the end of this meal and a nice simple fruit dessert is just the ticket.  I make these bourbon peaches just like I do in my pancake bar post – sauté them with a little bit of butter, sugar and bourbon.  You can use frozen peaches or fresh ones if they are ripe enough.  Either way paired with vanilla ice cream and candied nuts (I had Southern appropriate pecans on hand) they are delicious.

So happy birthday mommy and I hope you all celebrate this weekend with fried chicken!

Hummus

Hummus definitely falls into that category of foods where you ask yourself, “Is it worth making this or should I just buy some?”  There are plenty of good brands of hummus to purchase, especially if you doctor it up with a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkling of zatar spice.  The thing is you can never quite buy yourself the super smooth, fresh tasting, garlicy punch of your own homemade hummus.  There are a zillion of hummus recipes out there and once again I have practically tried them all to try and find the right combination of teqniques.  Most purists will tell you to start with dried chickpeas, soak them over night, cook them with baking soda etc etc but at that point, for me at least, the scales of why can’t I just buy this and dispense with the hassle starts to tilt into convince’s favor.  So canned chickpeas it is.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be some work involved.  I found the somewhat tedious task of taking the skins off of the canned chickpeas makes for a substantially smoother and better tasting hummus.  It’s not as easy as just dumping the can into the food processor but at least it’s not a multi day effort.  To peel them, drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.  Then take the chickpea between your fingers and gently squeeze – you will find the weird white casing comes right off.  For a can of chickpeas it took me about 15 minutes – just turn on your favorite cooking show and get lost in the mindless task.

From my research I learned that the other benefit of cooking your own chickpeas was that when they are warm they take on the other ingredients better.  Well here we can easily cheat that by quickly nuking the skinned chickpeas in the microwave for a couple of seconds before adding them to the food processor.  After that its just a matter of taste with the amount of tahini, lemon juice and garlic.  The recipe below is how I like it but play around and see what you like best – some people really want more of that sesame tahini flavor, others really hate lemon juice and replace it with water.  The method is the key and once you have that down the sky’s the limit.  Hummus away!

Hummus 

  • 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained with the skins removed (see above)
  • 5 -6 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 tablespoons tahini sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil and zatar for serving (optional)

Once all the chickpeas are peeled (see above on how to remove the skins) place them in a  microwave safe bowl and microwave them on high for 20 seconds.  Add the warmed chickpeas to the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients.  Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.

If its not as smooth as you would like add more warm water.  Chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld – serve room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of zatar (optional).

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ACC Parties: A Spring Menu for Easter

Easter in my family is a big deal and definitely my 2nd favorite holiday (sorry nothing beats Christmas!).  There is something about the little chickies, the pastel candy and all those spring ingredients that make me so happy.  Even if you don’t celebrate Easter the beginning of spring is a great time to gather your family and sit down to a nice meal that celebrates the best parts of the season.  Here is a suggested menu that has a lot of moving parts but actually very little needs to be done the day of, leaving you free to hunt Easter eggs and binge on candy with the fam.  I wanted the table setting to be whimsical, especially with kids in attendance.  I found these super cute carrot utensil holders at the dollar section of Target and paired it with our Vera Wang wedding china, set on chargers that sort of mimic an Easter basket.  Glitter eggs scattered over my homemade seersucker tablecloth and bam, spring is alive.

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I don’t like to have giant flowers getting in the way of conversation so instead I opted for some thyme from my garden staggered down the center of the table in white pots.  How cute is that cabbage serving dish?  I found it for $4 at Home Goods the week before Easter so I knew it had to make it to the table.  I set up our kitchen island as a appetizer and drinks station with a floral Cynthia Rowley tablecloth (also Home Goods!) and some baby’s breath mixed with bells of Ireland for flowers.

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Cheese and Chartucherie Board

No party is complete without one!  Since both of the aps I was actually making were veggie based I knew I had to get some cheese in here somehow.  Just pick a nice selection and throw some dried apricots or grapes on the plate to jazz it up.

Cooking Light Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with Mint and Cream

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Nothing is more springy that sweet peas (no one needs you know you get em out of a bag!).  This soup is simple and can be made up to two days in advance.  I served it in cute little glasses for sipping but discovered that the texture really wasn’t ideal for that so I would suggest providing spoons for people to eat the soup with instead.  It’s a super light appetizer that adds a nice green punch to the mix.

 Za’atar Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

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I had been dying to make this dip since the first time I spotted it in Food and Wine Magazine all the way back in 2012 – goes to show how many recipes I have socked away!.  It’s totally beautiful but I knew it would also be delicious, being the brain child of Yotam Ottolenghi, of Jersuleam (and this post) fame.  Everyone loved the earthy complex flavor and of course the color!

Lamb Kebobs with Minted Yogurt Sauce

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Lamb is the quintessential Easter dish but with grilled lamb kebobs you can make life much easier.  Marinate the lamb up to two days before and then just throw on the grill as you are having appetizers.  I love that it doesn’t hog the oven like a big lamb roast and it also encourages your guests to go outside and enjoy the spring, keeping the grill master company.  This version by Ina is so good though I skipped her sauce and went for my standard mint and yogurt sauce found here.

Make Ahead Polenta

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As described in this post, make ahead polenta can be really done with any kind of polenta recipe you have by just increasing the liquid content.  This was a great side for the lamb and didn’t require me standing over a hot pot frantically stirring the polenta – it was even a hit with the kiddos!

Roasted Asparagus

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Just toss spears with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on a baking sheet.  During the last 15 minutes of the polenta put the baking sheet in the oven, toss once and voila!  A nice crunchy veggie side with almost zero effort.

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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Ok so here is where most of the effort for the meal came in.  I realized when I was planning the menu that I had so many make ahead items that I didn’t really have much to do “day of.”  That can sometimes spell disaster because then I set and reset the table, putter around driving my husband crazy (and myself) before our guests arrive.  So I made an easy layer cake and decided to try my hand at the basket weave frosting on top.  I followed this tutorial from Wilton – it was actually pretty easy once I got the hang of it.  It does take a while and my hand was sort of cramped into a claw for a bit but you can do this first thing in the AM and just keep the cake at room temp (or in the fridge if it’s really warm in your house).  I also got  beautiful edible dried flowers from Terrian and scattered them on top.  I have to say I was really proud of this one but if you don’t have the time or energy a store-bought dessert or even this cake without the fancy pants frosting would be delicious.  Happy Spring to everyone!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Yes 40 cloves!  This beautiful French dish was one of my favorites as a kid – partly because of the novelty of how much garlic is in it and partly because its 100% delicious.  This is a great spring dish because its hearty but not heavy so no matter what the temps are outside its appropriate.  Please don’t be scared off by the garlic – this could even be a date night dish!  Once you have cooked the garlic it becomes totally sweet and not stinky at all.  Make sure to pick up some crusty bread to serve alongside so you can spread the melting garlic cloves on the bread and sop up all the sauce.  There are a lot of different versions out there so once again I went through and tried all of the recipes I could find and then combines the best of all of them to achieve this recipe.

Peeling the garlic can be a pain but I sort of find it therapeutic.  If you want to do it in advance and store in the fridge for a couple of days you can do that.  I use the palm of my hand to push down on the clove ever so slightly so that the skin separates from the garlic but not so much that it crushes the clove (also I won’t tell anyone if you buy already peeled garlic, just make sure its whole cloves not chopped).  I would say it takes about 7 minutes to peel so factor that into your cooking time.  This is such great comfort food – serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta (and don’t forget that bread!) along with a nice clean green salad.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 bone in skin on chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 40 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 3 teaspoons chopped tarragon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the chicken pieces then cook in batches just so the chicken is nicely browned, about 5 minutes per batch.

When the chicken is browned reserve it on a plate.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic.  Sauté the garlic for 5 minutes, turning down the heat if you need to so it doesn’t burn.  Add the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan getting up all the good brown bits.

Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up, and add the chicken stock.  Cover and place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken and garlic to your serving platter and cover with foil.  Put the dutch oven back on the stovetop and cook down the juices over medium high for about 5 minutes until reduced a bit.  Stir in the cream and tarragon, taste for salt and pepper, then pour over the chicken and garlic.

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Individual Tiramisu

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In keeping with last week’s “mini” theme I thought I would post a great individual dessert you can serve to a crowd.  These were the perfect sweet ending to an engagement party I threw that I will post about next week.  The best part is that they have to be made in advance, so while there are a lot of layers, they are easy to do and can all be made a day before.  I used 8 ounce glasses from Ikea but any small vessel will do, even plastic.  Grab a bunch of these mini spoons and you are good to go.  If you don’t want to do individual tiramisus then just follow the instructions without breaking up the lady fingers and layer in one large pan.  The special couple had a sentimental attachment to this dish but it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser – almost like coffee and dessert in one!

Individual Tiramisu

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 24 ounces room temperature mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of espresso (or 2 cups hot water with 6 tablespoons of espresso powder)
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur (like Kahula)
  • 36 lady fingers (found in the Italian section of your grocery store or in the cookie aisle)
  • cocoa for disting

Place the egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  In a saucepan add several inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl over the water (make sure its not touching) – this is called a double boiler.  Using a handheld mixer beat the egg mixture for 5 to 8 minutes, until the eggs have tripled in volume.  The mixture will be light in color and thickened.

Take the bowl off the heat (carefully) and fold in the mascarpone cheese, trying not to deflate the mixture (room temp is very important here so it incorporates easily).

Set aside.  In a shallow baking dish combine the espresso and the coffee liqueur.  Break the ladyfingers into a couple of pieces (I broke them into quarters).  Spoon a small amount of the mascarpone mixture into the bottom of the glass.  Dunk two ladyfinger pieces into the espresso mixture, quickly so they don’t fall apart, and pile them into the glass.

Repeat for 2 more layers and then dust with cocoa powder.  Repeat with the rest of the glasses (I did it in assembly line style which worked well).  Chill overnight and serve.

Chicken Salad Canapes

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I often have a hard timing figuring out what sort of canapés I can serve at parties that are filling.  Most meat based appetizers require them to be warm or are really expensive (think lamb lollipops) but if you are going to be drinking all night I want my guests to have more in them than just cheese!  Here little mini phyllo cups really come into handy.  You buy them in the frozen section of your grocery store and they are already cooked so all you have to do is fill them.  I decided for a recent party to go with chicken salad, most specifically chicken salad veronique, which is a French version with grapes.  It is really delicious as a regular chicken salad served alone or in a sandwich but for this application I cut the chicken and the grapes really small so they would fit neatly in the cups and be easy to eat.  These things went like hot cakes and I am sure your friends will appreciate the “heavy ap” at your next party.

Chicken Salad Canapes

  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts (or roast your own)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 20 green grapes, quartered
  • 60 phyllo cups – I used the Athens brand

Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl wish together the mayo, sour cream, white wine, tarragon and salt and pepper.

Add 3/4 of the mixture to the chicken along with the grapes.  Stir to combine and then add as much of the remaining dressing as necessary.  The salad can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge.  When you are ready to serve, use a teaspoon to fill the cups with the salad.

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