November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Make-Overs

Beyond the Casserole!

Make the feast last all weekend with a range of dishes that lift "left-overs" beyond the casserole (though who doesn't love a good old turkey hot dish? 

Turkey Tetrazzini:  Toss together about a cup of shredded cooked turkey with any cooked vegetables you have on hand, green beans, carrots, squash, Brussels sprouts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss in enough leftover gravy, wine and a little stock to lightly coat. Turn into a casserole dish and top with bread crumbs or stuffing and bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly hot.

Create a Curry Turkey dinner by warming a simple mix of stock, coconut milk and your favorite curry seasoning in a saucepan. Add the cooked, chopped turkey and leftover vegetables. Serve this over steamed rice. If you may have fancy nuts left from the cocktail hour, chop them up and use to garnish this.

-Turn the a side dish of wild rice into an entrée — Wild Rice, Turkey, Apple and Pecan Salad — by tossing into it freshly chopped apples, cubed turkey, and toasted pecans and little sweet-rough dressing (like a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette) or your favorite oil and vinegar mix.

-Soups are a main-stay after the holidays. For an Asian Turkey Noodle Soup, cook Asian noodles (soba or rice) in stock, add freshly grated ginger, a chopped chile, and soy to taste. Stir in the chopped, cooked turkey and leftover vegetables and garnish with cilantro.

-If you're long on roasted squash, create a Ginger Squash and Apple Soup by stewing together several peeled chopped apples and freshly grated ginger in stock to generously cover. Mash and stir in the leftover squash. Sweeten with a splash of cider if you wish.

-I’m a big fan of cranberry jelly. Use it in this simple, but wonderfulCranberry Mustard Glaze to brush on roast chicken, game, and pork. Simply melt cranberry jelly in a saucepan with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to taste. Store this in a jar in the refrigerator. I’ve also used freshly cooked cranberry relish to stir into mayonnaise for turkey salad and to spread on sandwiches.

-No doubt, you may have leftover muffins, Parker House rolls or bread to deal with. Toss them into an old fashioned Bread Pudding. Use about 2 cups milk, 4 eggs and ¼ cup sugar spiked with vanilla for a 4 cup mixture of different breads. This is great for a lazy breakfast the Sunday following Turkey Day.

Much as I’d love the chance to “make over” desserts, leftovers have never provided the opportunity, though that would be a good problem to have.

Perhaps I’ll triple the pies this year.



Filling ingredients:
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 cups sliced mushrooms
-Salt and freshly ground pepper
-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
-1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
-2 carrots, sliced
-1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
-1 celery rib, sliced
-2 boneless chicken thighs or equivalent sized leftover cooked turkey or ham

Cobbler crust ingredients:
-2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup chopped chives

To make the Cheddar chive dough: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Blend in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small peas. Add Cheddar cheese and chopped chives, then gently stir in the buttermilk until the ingredients are just combined.

To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or a flame-proof casserole set over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion and mushrooms until they release their juices and are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes, then season them with salt and pepper to taste. Add the stock and thyme, and boil until the liquid is reduced by about a third. Add the carrots, potato, celery, and turkey, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, turkey, or ham, add it after the vegetables are cooked.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls on top of the vegetables and chicken in the Dutch oven or casserole, covering most of the surface area as you would a cobbler. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.


November 22, 2011

Cranberry Fields - FOREVER!


MPR - Cathy Worzer 
Pretty Good & Easy - Local thanksgiving!
Listen up!

How Sweet!

Thanksgiving - It's the Berries 
Cranberries Rock the Feast

Cranberries are the last fruit of the season; the earth's bonny farewell until spring. Our local growers in Wisconsin have hauled in a heap of these tart-sweet gems. They were once called bounce berries, for their springy character and snappy taste. When you get them this fresh -- at farmers markets and natural food co-ops -- they practically sing as they pop in the saucepan, cooking in to the traditional relish we favor with our national bird.

Cranberries this fresh don't HAVE to be cooked. Try this fresh salsa that comes together in seconds. It's great alongside cheese, swirled into mayonnaise for sandwiches of leftovers, and terrific on the harvest table itself.

Fresh Cranberry Ginger Salsa
Makes 1 cup

2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Put the cranberries, gingerroot, orange zest and juice into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the cranberries are chopped fine. Pulse in 1/4 cup sugar. Taste and then add more sugar as desired. This will keep about 1 week, covered, in the refrigerator.

November 15, 2011

Holidays on Spice

this holiday season

Raghavan Iyer, the curator of curries, whose books and classes brighten our plates, is packaging his magic in a line of amazing spices called Turmeric Trail. Each blend represents the different regions of India. Each blend warms and enlivens a variety of dishes from traditional curries to a simple squash soup. There are plenty of recipes on Turmeric Trail's website, but the real fun comes when they're use to zip up a familiar dish. Here, the Garam Masala sparks a simple squash and apple soup. 

Squash & Apple Soup
with Garam Masala

Serves 6

1 medium red kuri or butternut squash, about 2 pounds, cut in half and seeded
Sunflower or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Garam Masala, or more to taste
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup fresh apple cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or more to taste
1/2 cup strained Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle the cut side of the squash with oil and turn it cut-side down on a baking sheet, and bake until it's soft, about 30 to 45 minutes.

While the squash in baking, film a heavy soup pot with a little oil and set over medium low heat. Add the onions, garlic, apples and spice mix, and toss to coat. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and cider and simmer until the ingredients are very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven, scoop the meat from the skin, add it to the pot.

For a smooth soup, puree the mixture using an immersion blender or process it in a blender in batches. For a chunky soup, mash all the ingredients together with a potato masher. Season the soup with salt and if you'd like, a little more spice mix. Whisk in the cilantro and serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

November 7, 2011


Sweeten Monday's dinner with caramelized Brussels Sprouts. Those shown here, still on the stalk, are from Saturday's farmers market. You'll also find these pretty little local cabbages, stripped off and ready for prime time in co-ops all around town. Forget steaming or blanching or simmering Brussels sprouts. Doing so leaves the kitchen with a dank, swampy smell. The best way to cook these little darlings is to coat them lightly with oil and a dusting of salt, then blast them in a hot oven until they turn nutty, finger picking, sweet caramel brown. Here's how:

Oven Roasted Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Serves 2 to 4

1 pound Brussels sprouts, dead leaves removed
1 to 2 tablespoons sun flower or olive oil
Coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the Brussels sprouts with just enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle with just a little salt. Turn the Brussels sprouts out onto a baking sheet, spreading them apart so that they do not touch, and roast in the oven until they are tender and a toasty deep golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and serve:

As a side dish
Tossed with a mild vinaigrette and serve on dark lettuce
Quartered and tossed with pasta and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese
Sliced and spread on pizza

November 1, 2011


Halloween may be over but the season for pumpkins and squash has just begun. These pretty, hearty vegetables double as table decorations and dinner. Unlike summer's fleeting harvest of tender peas, golden corn, blowsy tomatoes, these vegetables are patient, waiting until we're ready to cook. The world of squash is wide and varied with flavors sweet, earthy and nuanced. Try the different varieties in any of these recipes, all work beautifully.*

Coconut Squash-Apple Soup
Serves 4 to 6

My curry worry ended when Raghavan Iyer introduced his line of Turmeric Trail Spices. Turmeric Trail Spice Blend is a new line of spice blends that bring heat, smoke and intrigue to everyday fare. Here, the Mumbai Masala lifts my ordinary squash soup to another level. It's vegan (dairy and meat free) AND completely delicious.

3 to 4 pounds any winter squash (butternut, delicata, Hubbard, pie pumpkin), halved and seeded
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, seeded and cored 
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 to 2 teaspoons Turmeric Trail Spice Blend Mumbai Masala, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly oil the edges of the squash, turn cut side down on a baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove, allow to cool a little. In a large soup pot, saute the onions and apples until the onions become soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, cider and coconut milk. Scoop the roasted squash flesh into the pot and stir in the spice blend. Smash the squash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher and bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 15 to twenty minutes, adding more stock or cider to reach the desired consistency. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender, and return to the pot. Stir in the coconut. Taste and adjust the seasonings. This tastes best after it's had a chance to sit a while so that the seasonings marry. Serve the soup hot, garnished with more coconut.

Maple Roasted Squash
Serves 4 to 6

Butternut is the easiest squash to peel, cube and roast for this recipe, but Red Kuri, delicata, or Hubbard work nicely here, too. A little salty bacon balances the sweetness and gives it some heft. Make this a main dish by tossing it with pasta and grated Parmesan cheese. Or, for a vegetarian version, omit the bacon, and toss in toasted walnuts.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 head garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 strips good quality bacon (i.e. Neuske's or Lorentz), chopped
20 whole fresh sage leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss together the squash, garlic cloves and sunflower oil to lightly coat. Then drizzle in the maple syrup, tossing to coat, then toss in the bacon and sage leaves and season with salt and pepper. Spread this over a baking sheet so that none of the squash pieces touch. Roast, shaking the pan and turning the squash occasionally with a spatula, until the pieces become a deep caramel brown, about 25 to 35 minutes. For a side dish, serve right away. For a main dish, toss with pasta or serve over rice, sprinkled with the Parmesan cheese.

* I have to admit a keen prejudice against spaghetti squash. It doesn't taste like a squash or spaghetti and though I've made valiant efforts to fashion low-carb and low-cal recipes where it plays the part of pasta, I loath the stuff. It won't work in any of these recipes.