Pommes de Terre Gratin avec Chèvre et Emmental

Ingredients:
6 lg Russet Potatoes, clean, skin-on
4 oz Chèvre Goat Cheese, room temperature
6 oz Mozzarella or other mild semi-soft cheese
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 Tbsp Butter
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 oz Emmental or Swiss Cheese, sliced thin

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Slice the Potatoes in 1/4″ disks slices, discarding the ends.
  • In a sauce pot, bring the Heavy Cream and Milk to a simmer on medium heat–stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not bring it to a boil, and do not let it scald.
  • Break the Goat Cheese up and slowly add it to the Milk/Cream mixture, stirring constantly and allowing it to melt.
  • Do the same with the Sour Cream, Butter, and Mozzarella–not all at once, just in small portions, stirring as it mixes.
  • After all is melted and mixed well, remove from heat.
  • Line the Potato Slices in a 9×13 casserole dish. The slices should overlap like fallen dominoes. You can either put all the potatoes in one layer or divide into two layers–up too you. I prefer one Layer.
  • Sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence, Salt, and Pepper.
  • Cover with the Cheese/Cream/Milk Mixture.
  • Layer the Emmental cheese slices on top, covering the entire surface.
  • Bake covered for 45min to 1 hour, or until the top begins to brown and it is bubbly on the sides.

Makes 6-8 servings

NOTES: So this is really a Cheesy version of Scalloped Potatoes–scalloped referring to the shape of the potatoes and how they are placed in the dish. “Gratin” on it means there is a cheese covering–which is the only way to do potatoes like this, if you ask me. I incorporated two specific mountain cheeses–Emmental from Swizerland and Chèvre from France. In most parts of the US, one will just find them listed as “Swiss Cheese” and “Goat Cheese”. So don’t worry if you don’t find those specific names.

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Roasted Winter Root Soup

Ingredients:
1 med Yellow Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Carrot, skinned, chopped
1 Parsnip, skinned, chopped
1 Turnip, skinned, chopped
1 Sweet Potato, skinned, chopped
2 Potatoes, chopped
2 Kielbasa Sausages, sliced in 1 cm thick rounds
6 cups Vegetable Stock/Broth
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
2 Tbsp Dill
2 Bay Leaves
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Add all Root Vegetables and Kielbasa to a Dutch Oven, coat with the Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper.
  • Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and then another 10 minutes.
  • Remove and scrap into a large Soup Pot.
  • Add the Vegetable Stock and heat on high heat until it boils.
  • Add the remaining Herbs and Spices, reduce heat to low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTES: This is a family recipe from my Slovakian side of the family, originating from Medzev, Slovakia (formerly Metzenseifen).

When chopping the vegetables, think of bite-size/spoon size pieces. You can substitute Mushroom Broth or Chicken Stock for the Vegetable Stock. You can also utilize any other cooked Sausage instead of Kielbasa if you like.

This simple, healthy dish will keep you warm on a blustery winter night.

Garlic-Roasted Asparagus with Chestnuts

Ingredients:
2 bunches of Asparagus, trimmed
12 Chestnuts
4 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Water for boiling

Directions:

  • Trim the Asparagus by removing the lower 1 to 2 inches of hard stem.
  • Cut an X in the side of each Chestnut.
  • Bring the water to a boil in a small pot, and then add the Chestnuts and boil for 7 minutes.
  • Strain, and run under cool water.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Peel the hulls from the Chestnuts. Then coarsely chop the Chestnuts.
  • Place aluminum foil on a baking sheet.
  • Place the Asparagus on the baking sheet, spreading out as best possible to make an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the Chestnuts, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper over the Asparagus.
  • Drizzle with Olive Oil.
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: So this was another whim that had a good payback. The pre-cooked Chestnuts, when chopped and roasted exhibit an outer crispness that gives way to a sweet creamy meat that complements the Asparagus. The Garlic adds a nice bite, but also a contrast to the sweetness of the Chestnuts and Asparagus–not to mention roasted Garlic smells AMAZING.

I also want to comment on boiling vs. roasting the Chestnuts. Boiling allows for a more even cooking, and it is easier to remove the meat from the shells. Whenever making Chestnuts, always make more than needed, in case one is bad, or ends up falling into your mouth. Additionally, if you’re just making Chestnuts for eating, after boiling, and shelling, you can still roast with a little salt. Believe it or not, most street vendors boil their chestnuts before roasting them in their cart…gives them a reliable easy to preserve and serve product.

Pan-Seared Duck in a Gingered Cherry Glaze with Fried Sage

Pan-Seared Duck in a Gingered Cherry Glaze with Fried Sage

Ingredients:
2 1lb Duck Breasts, with Fat
Salt and Pepper to taste
8-12 fresh Sage Leaves
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Cherry Juice
3 oz Kirschwasser
1 tsp Ginger Powder
1 Tbsp Butter

Directions:

  • Score the fat of each Duck Breast, crisscross.
  • Sprinkle liberally with Salt and Pepper
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat, and place the Breasts fat-side down in the Skillet.
  • Cook for 7-8 minutes, rendering the fat.
  • Flip the Breasts, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until Medium Rare.
  • Remove from the pan.
  • In the hot duck fat, place the Sage leaves, and fry for 1-2 minutes, until crisp. Remove to papertowel.
  • Remove the excess fat. You can save it for use in other dishes.
  • On medium heat, deglaze the Skillet with the Kirschwasser and Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Add the Honey, Cherry Juice, and Ginger.
  • Cook for 2 minutes until bubbly, then melt the Butter into the Sauce.
  • Take the Duck Breasts and return them to the Skillet, turning them over in the Sauce to coat.
  • Plate the Duck.
  • Slice the Duck then drizzle some Sauce over the Duck.
  • Garnish with the fried Sage.

Makes 2-4 Servings…each breast is 16 oz, and would make each a very hearty portion. Depending on serving sizes, you could feed up to four people.

NOTES: Duck is a lost poultry to most people. This is probably one of the simplest meals for Duck and it packs an amazing flavorful taste. The Gingered Cherry Sauce compliments the bold flavor of the Duck Breast. The Sage gives an aromatic crispy edible garnish. I would recommend this dish during Christmas, especially a romantic Christmas dinner for two.

Mushrooms in a Balsamic Cream Sauce

Mushrooms in a Balsamic Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
1 lb Table Mushrooms, cleaned
4 cloves Garlic, cut in slivers
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  • Add the Mushrooms, Garlic, Olive Oil, and liberal Salt to a medium sized skillet on medium heat.
  • Slowly heat the Mushrooms stirring constantly and flipping every few minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, drizzle in the Balsamic Vinegar. Keep stirring.
  • After 2 minutes, add the remaining ingredients.
  • Cook for an additional 5 minutes, being sure to scrape the sides.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES:

This is a very simple side dish with tons of flavor. The Heavy Cream and Balsamic Vinegar add an almost caramel quality sauce. I am sure there is some sort French name for this type of sauce, but I have no clue what it is.  If you want, you can half or quarter the mushrooms.

Brussels Sprouts in Pomegranate Butter Sauce

Ingredients
2 cups Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and quartered vertically.
1 Shallot, minced
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 tsp Corn Starch
1/2 cup Pomegranate Seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Melt the Butter in a medium skillet on a medium flame.
  • Saute the Shallots in the Butter, until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Toss in the Brussels Sprouts, and coat with the Butter and Shallots.
  • Drizzle in the Honey, and mix well.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the Chicken Stock and Corn Starch.
  • Add to the skillet, and bring to a simmer, stirring well.
  • Remove to a bowl, and toss in the Pomegranate seeds.
  • Season to taste.

Makes about 4 servings.

NOTES: So this was an experiment that went over well. The tender buttery Brussels Sprouts are a great contrast to the crisp sweet Pomegranate. The colors also are very pleasing–and Christmasy for those who want a little extra festive bunch of Sprouts! Though, I certainly will not be waiting till the Yuletide to eat mine. They’d be great as a side at any Valentine’s day dinner.

Butternut Squash Roasted with Apples, Pears, & Sausage

Ingredients:
2 Butternut Squash, skinned, and cut in bite-size chunks
4 Apples, cut in bite-size chunks
2 Pears, cut in bite-size chunks
5 links Sweet Italian Sausage
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Yellow Onions, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Sage, chopped fine
2-4 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Allspice

Directions:

  • Remove the casing from the Sausage, crumble and brown it in a Skillet on medium-low heat with the Olive Oil. Drain excess grease.
  • In a baking dish, combine all Ingredients (including the Sausage), and mix well.
  • Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until the Squash is tender.

Makes 8 Servings.

NOTES: This is a great way to introduce folks to Squash at a holiday meal. The Sausage, Fruit, and Maple Syrup add a festive flare that feed off the savory-sweet nature of Butternut Squash. You can substitute other varieties of winter squash for the Butternut Squash–just don’t use canned or frozen pureed squash! It won’t work!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients
2 cups Brussels Sprouts, halved
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Steak Spice Rub
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
Water for Steaming

Directions

  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Place the Sprouts in a steamer, and bring to a boil.
  • Cook until the Sprouts start to turn bright green, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Toss the Sprouts in a bowl with the Olive oil, Steak Spice Rub, and Salt.
  • Place on a baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes.
  • Turn on the Broiler.
  • Move the baking sheet under the Broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until a desired brown is on the top.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables–looking at the various recipes on this blog can show you that. I loved them from a young age…probably due to the Jolly Green Giant’s buttery version. This, so far, has been Michael’s favorite version of Brussels Sprouts, as they are extremely healthy, but also very flavorful.

Though in general, I use Kosher Salt or Sea Salt, I have to really push the Sea Salt for this, because of its coarse nature–roasts amazingly.

Brussels Sprouts in a Maple Butter Sauce

Brussels Sprouts in a Maple Butter Sauce

Ingredients:
2 cups Brussels Sprouts, cleaned, quartered
2 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a sauce pan on high heat, melt the Butter into the Chicken Broth with the Maple Syrup.
  • Add all other Ingredients, and coat the sprouts well.
  • Cook for 5-7 minutes on high heat, stirring constantly, or until the sprouts are tender.

Makes 4 servings

NOTES: This is a super simple way of doing Sprouts with a nice Autumn flavor. The Butter and Maple Syrup cut the bitterness of the Sprouts amazingly. I love Brussels Sprouts and finding new ways to eat them is a treat.

Applesauce

Ingredients:
8 Apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup Apple Juice
2 Tbsp Honey
5 strips Lemon peel (just the zest)
1-2 Tbsp Cinnamon, ground (depending on taste)
1 tsp Cloves, ground

Directions:

  • Add all Ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the Lemon Peel.
  • Use a Potato Masher to mash the Apple mixture to your desired chunkiness.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Makes about 6-8 servings (less if you’re like me and want a big serving!)

NOTES: Who doesn’t like applesauce? This is like the best thing Eve could have made Adam–and it is so simple, yet folks still insist on buying it in the store with preservative and HFCs in it. Stop the insanity and make your own!

When picking your apples, think of sweeter varieties, rather than tangier ones like Granny Smith. You can mix up the varieties as well, and get a fuller flavor of apples. I often substitute a natural Apple Cider for the Apple Juice to make it even richer. If you taste the prepared Applesauce and it is too bitter, just add a little more honey or a tsp of Brown Sugar.

Apple Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1 tsp Cloves, ground
1 tsp Ginger, ground
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
4 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups Zucchini, shredded
1 cup Apples (Red Delicious), skinned, seeded, diced or shreaded
1 1/2 cups Pecans, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, sift together all Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices. Set to the side
  • Combine the Eggs, all Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Vanilla, and Apple Sauce in another bowl, and mix well.
  • Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well. You may use a mixer for this, as the batter will be fairly thick.
  • Fold in the Apples, Zucchini, and Pecans.
  • Divide the batter into greased loaf pans (9×5).
  • Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Please let them cool for 10 minutes before removing them to wire racks to cool further.

NOTES: The first time I had zucchini bread, I was very skeptical. I mean the majority of my zucchini was sauteed with garlic, so the idea of it serving as a sweet stumped me. Still after trying it, this then 8 year old was pleasantly surprised. Zucchini bread can be used as a side item at an Autumn or Winter dinner, or with brunch or tea. I still think it is a great side for Thanksgiving, served warm with dinner, with fresh butter.

Zucchini bread apparently had its hay-day in the 1960s in the US when the idea of using Butter was on the decline, with folks instead wanting to use Oil. I, however think the use of Apple Sauce (something that seemed to happen in the 90s to replace the oil) instead of Vegetable Oil is a better fix. Apple Zucchini Bread is a quick bread, and can easily be modified into muffins, as a result.

Schnitz un Knepp

Ingredients:
2-3 lb Ham, pre-cooked
2 cups dried Apple Rings
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 Egg, beaten
3 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/2-2/3 cup Milk
Water for Ham and Apples

Directions:

  • Put the Ham in a large pot, and cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 2 1/2-3 hours until the ham is very tender.
  • Put the Apple slices in a bowl and cover with water, letting them soak the duration it takes to cook the Ham.
  • Add the Apples, the soaking Water, the Brown Sugar, and the Onions to the Ham, and bring to a boil.
  • In a large bowl combine all the dry Ingredients, Egg, and Butter. Slowly add the Milk to the batter–you may not need all 2/3 cup–you want it to be a sticky and gloppy batter, not runny.
  • Drop Tablespoon size-balls of dough into the Ham pot, and cover.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes, and then serve.

NOTES: Schnitz un Knepp is an Amish dish popular in Pennsylvania. Literally translated, it means “Slices and Buttons”. Schntiz comes from Schnitzen – slices and Knepp for button referring to the dumplings. I don’t know who the ham angered, that it didn’t make it into the name! The first time I had this was at YMCA camp in Ohio, when they took us to an Amish farm. The meal is very simple, and easy to serve to a large group of folks–and not what one gets every day in non-Amish circles. I recommend this with left-over ham after a holiday, or in the fall or winter. I’ve also seen this spelled Schnitz un Gnepp, as well as with the “un” spelled out “und”. The Amish German dialect pounces it “schnitz-un-nep”, alighting the ordinarily pronounced K/G sound right out.

Thumb Print Shortbread Cookies

Thumb Print Shortbread Cookies (variety of fillings)

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups Butter, room temperature
2 cups Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1 tsp Vanilla
2 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt

Fillings of choice:
Jam, Chocolate kisses, Candied Fruit

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl cream the Butter and Sugar.
  • Slowly incorporate the Vanilla and Egg Yolks.
  • Add the flour 1 cup at a time to the wet ingredients. As you near the final installment, the dough can be mixed with your hands.
  • Cover with Plastic and place in Fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Remove and roll into small balls (about 1″ in diameter).
  • Place on prepared cookie sheet and indent a pocket in the middle with your thumb (or finger if your thumb is too big).
  • Place your filling in the indentation. If you are filling with chocolate kisses, you can press the ball down with the kiss rather than your thumb. The dough may break a little as you press it down, this is ok.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the bottoms start to brown.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

NOTES: Traditionally, these treats have jam in them as a filling. If you use jam, please keep in mind it will be much hotter than the cookie when it comes out of the oven.

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls

Ingredients:
2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Butter, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Dry Nonfat Milk
1 lb bulk Hot Pork Sausage
3 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • In a food processor, combine dry ingredients.
  • Slowly add the Butter, pulsing as each piece enters to fully incorporate into the dry ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, break down the sausage with your hands.
  • Slowly add the Cheese and Flour mixture, alternating between the two. Dough should be slightly crumbly.
  • Grease a large cookie sheet.
  • Using your hands, make small balls (slightly smaller than golf balls) of the dough, rolling the dough in your palms; place on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen, depending on size.

NOTES: Any Southerner will recall this recipe. It is that simple brunch snack or holiday appetizer that everyone loves. I grew up in a trailer park in Georgia, and we had a holiday party at the local club house. I was the only child usually there, and there were many people in their sixties or so. There was always a bunch of these wonderful treats there.

Let’s talk sausage: Though pork sausage is easy to find, I really have to advocate for Jimmy Dean® hot sausage. This is the only traditional sausage I would use.

Now the above is a homemade version–a lot of people will just use Bisquick® baking mix, which is fine if you’re in a hurry, though the above recipe is all natural.

Fruitcake

Dedicated to my Mom and to Lucile F. Locher Mishler “Mum”, her maternal grandmother.

Traditional Fruitcake

Ingredients:
2 cups mixed Dried Fruits, minced
1 cup Rum
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Ginger
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
5 Eggs
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
1/4 cup Rum
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/2 cup Pecans, chopped
1 cup Pecans, whole
1 cup Candied Red Cherries
1 cup Candied Green Cherries
1 cup Candied Pineapple

Directions:

  • Soak the minced Dried Fruits in 1 cup of Rum overnight.
  • Preheat the Oven to 300°F.
  • Sift together the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices into a large bowl.
  • In a second bowl cream the Eggs with the Sugars.
  • Whisk in the Olive Oil and 1/4 cup Dark Rum.
  • Slowly incorporate into the Flour mixture.
  • Fold in the Dried Fruits, Zest, and 1/2 cup of crushed Pecans.
  • Grease a bunt pan well.
  • Pour mixture into the bunt pan, and lightly tap it against the counter.
  • Decorate with the Candied Fruits and whole Pecans.
  • Bake on the middle rack for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean.

NOTES: Fruitcake has always been one of my favorite deserts.  My mom tells me about how when she grew up her grandmother “Mum” used to make Fruitcake in early fall, and stick it in cheesecloth a tin.  Every couple weeks she’d pour Port on top of it.  By Christmas it was amazing.  I’m still nervous about keeping a cake in a tin and pouring alcohol on it for over a month…so here’s my version with a less pungent Rum.

Mixed Dried Fruit can include Cranberries, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Apricots, Apples, Pears, Pruns, etc.

Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
4 cups Green Beans, stems removed, cut in half
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Table Mushrooms, minced
2 cups Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup Milk
2 cups French Fried Onions

Directions:

  • Blanch the Green Beans in a pot of water over high heat.
  • Preheat the Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Mushrooms, Garlic, Cream of Mushroom Soup, and 1 cup of the French Fried Onions together, mixing well.
  • Pour into a medium size casserole dish (about 1 1/2 quart or so).
  • Sprinkle the edges with the remaining cup of French Fried Onions like a border.
  • Bake in the Oven for 25 minutes, or until bubbly.

NOTES: So this is what I call a typical 1950s recipes… and you all know what I mean. If you can avoid using canned Cream of Mushroom soup, please do. You can always make some and store it in the freezer just for Thanksgiving. If you’re not sure what a French Fried Onion is…well you’re obviously an immigrant or non-American. A company called French’s makes a dehydrated french fry crunchy…onion thing…er…topping. If you do not have those available, try Funyuns. I’ve tried to make them on my own, but they just don’t turn out right. French’s has the monopoly.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples & Sausage

Dedicated to Brian H. and Lisa W.
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples & Sausage

Ingredients:
1 Acorn Squash
1 Red Delicious, skinned, pitted, diced
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
1/2 lb Sausage
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp Caraway Seed, crushed
2 tsp Sage, cut fine
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1 cup White Bread, crust removed, diced fine
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare the Squash: Cut the Acorn Squash in half Vertically. Scoop out the Seeds and stringy tissue using your hands and a spoon. The Squash is rounded, so you may slice a flat surface out of the skin side of the Squash to give it a base, but don’t take too much out.
  • In a skillet, brown the Sausage with the Onion.
  • Remove from the Skillet to a bowl.
  • Mix in the Spices, Maple Syrup, Bread, and Egg using your hands to fully incorporate.
  • Place the Squash in a baking dish, and fill with 1/4″ water, to assist with keeping the Squash moist while baking.
  • Spread the butter along the inside of each half of the Squash.
  • Divide the stuffing into the two halves of the Squash.
  • Cover the Dish with a lid or Aluminum Foil.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes.

Serves 2 people.

Maple Butternut Squash

Dedicated to Karen J.

Ingredients:Nut Alergy WarningVegan VariationVegetarian
6 cups Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, cut into cubes
1/2 cup Butter
1/4 cup Milk
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Salt
2-3 cup Pecans, crushed

Directions:

  • Steam or Boil the Squash until tender.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • In a large bowl, mash the Squash and add the Milk, Syrup, Spices, and Salt.
  • Pour the Squash into a baking dish (9″x9″).
  • Top with the crushed Pecans.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

Serves 6.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Substitute Soy Milk for the Milk, and Margarine for the Butter.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Maple Sage Sauce

Ingredients:VegetarianNut Alergy Warning
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Maple Sage Sauce
1/2 cup Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Sage, minced

Garnish:
1 cup Walnuts
Grated Parmesan

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • In a saucepan, start heating the stick of Butter on low heat. Use low heat to prevent smoking
  • As the Butter melts, it will start to caramelize along the edges.
  • Stir in the Maple Syrup and the Sage, cooking for an additional 30 seconds or so.
  • Pour on the Gnocchi, and garnish with Walnuts and Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi. This is a dish that is great for an Autumn night. I recommend it with a side of green beans.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:Vegetarian
3 large Eggs
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 cups Prepared Pumpkin
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp Ginger, ground
1/4 tsp Cloves, ground
1/4 tsp Allspice, ground
1/4 tsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 Pâte Brisée

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream the Eggs with the Sugar.
  • Slowly incorporate the Pumpkin pulp.
  • In a second bowl, add the Spices, Salt, and Cornstarch, and whisk together so there are no clumps.
  • Slowly whisk in the Heavy Cream.
  • Whisk the Cream mixture into the Pumpkin Mixture.
  • Preheat the Oven to 425°F
  • Roll out the Pie Crust and place into a pie pan. Crimp edges as desired.
  • Place the Pie pan on a cookie sheet.
  • Pour the Pie filling into the crust.
  • Place the Pie in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 350°F, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. The traditional way of testing is to use a knife inserted into the center. If it comes out mostly clean, it is done.

NOTES: Pumpkin Pie is a very American dish, pumpkins naturally growing in North America. I’ve read that pumpkins were first exported to France and England, where the pie was actually developed by chefs, but that it never became popular there. For many pumpkin pie is all about the Holiday time, and for me it is especially. It connects me with the romanticized idea of family eating desert by a warm hearth.

I have no problem using canned pumpkin, so long as it is PURE pumpkin. Some cans will use other squash types. If you want to do real pumpkin on your own, the best option is to get a small pumpkin and slice it, de seed it, and steam it. Then scoop out the pulp and puree it in a food processor.

Tom & Jerry

Ingredients:Undercooked WarningAlcoholicVegetarian
8 Eggs, separated
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup Brandy
1 cup Rum
2 Tbsp Nutmeg
2 tsp Cinnamon
12 cups Milk

Directions:

  • In a large bowl beat together the Egg Yolks and 1/2 the Sugar until thick and buttery.
  • Slowly add the Rum and Brandy, beating so it remains frothy.
  • In a separate bowl beat the Egg Whites and the remaining Sugar until stiff peeks form.
  • Slowly fold the Egg Whites mixture into the Egg Yolk mixture. This constitutes the Base, and can be refrigerated until before your plan on serving it.
  • About 30 mins before you serve the Tom & Jerrys, remove the Base from the fridge.
  • Mix in the Milk, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg, and heat in a Saucepan on low-medium heat until mixture is desired temperature. Do not boil, or milk may scald.
  • Serving Style:
    • In cups:
      • Put 1 Tablespoon of Base into each cup.
      • Pour in Milk mixture leaving room for a topping of a second Tablespoon of the Base.
    • As a Punch:
      • Pour half of the Base into a punch bowl.
      • Add the Milk mixture, and top with the remaining Base mixture.

NOTES: Tom & Jerry is a variation of Eggnog, served warm, and usually alcoholic. The name predates both “Tom & Jerry” the cartoon cat and mouse duo, as well as the renowned bartender and mixologist Jerry Thomas.  Rather it is believed to have been a promotional drink for Pierce Egan’s book Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom (1821) which was turned into the play Tom and Jerry, or Life in London published the same year. This reminds me of Green Goddess Salad Dressing, which also was developed as a promotional tool for a play.

It should also be noted that the eggs in this recipe have not been cooked, and although there is a large presence of alcohol, there is a small chance of bacteria like salmonella.

Variations
Modern Eggnog
Traditional Eggnog

Published in: on November 7, 2009 at 2:45 pm  Comments (2)  
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Christmas Coffee

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
Ground Coffee (for regular pot of coffee)
Water (for regular pot of coffee)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract

Ingredient amounts above are for 4 cups coffee. If your coffee machine makes more or less, adjust the amounts accordingly

Directions:

  • Prepare your Coffee Grounds and Water as usual for coffee.
  • Add the Spices to the Coffee Grounds, and mix.
  • Start brewing your Coffee.
  • In a bowl, start whipping the Heavy Cream with the Powdered Sugar and Vanilla until stiff peeks form.
  • Serve Coffee in individual cups, topped with a dollop of the Whipped Cream.

NOTES: You can adjust the spices as you see fit. If you use a darker roast, consider a little more Nutmeg and Cocoa Powder. This is not an exact science, but completely based on your taste.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Do not make your own Whipped Cream. Use a Non-Dairy Whipped Topping instead…or omit altogether and just use a flavored Non-Dairy Creamer.

Mulled Wine

Ingredients:AlcoholicVegan
1 bottle of Port
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Brandy
1/2 – 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 medium sized Orange, sliced horizontally
2 Cinnamon Sticks
6-8 whole Cloves
1 Allspice Pod
1/2 tsp Mace

Directions:

  • In a large Saucepan, heat the Wine, Water, Brandy, and Sugar on low-medium heat until Sugar is dissolved. Never allow to boil.
  • Add the Orange, and Spices  and let steep on low heat for 1 hour.
  • Serve Warm, strained.

Serves 12

NOTES: This English Mulled Wine recipe is my interpretation of Mrs. Beeton’s, as listed on paragraph 1961 of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, a Victorian guide to everything in the house with etiquette, tips, and recipes. I prefer to add Brandy to any mulled wine, as well as Orange for some citrus overtones. You can use a different Red wine than Port, but you’ll probably need more sugar. Her recipe is as follows:

1961.-TO MULL WINE.

INGREDIENTS.- To every pint of wine allow 1 large cupful of water, sugar and spice to taste.

Mode.-In making preparations like the above, it is very difficult to give the exact proportions of ingredients like sugar and spice, as what quantity might suit one person would be to another quite distasteful. Boil the spice in the water until the flavour is extracted, then add the wine and sugar, and bring the whole to the boiling-point, when serve with strips of crisp dry toast, or with biscuits. The spices usually used for mulled wine are cloves, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon or mace. Any kind of wine may be mulled, but port and claret are those usually selected for the purpose; and the latter requires a very large proportion of sugar. The vessel that the wine is boiled in must be delicately cleaned, and should be kept exclusively for the purpose. Small tin warmers may be purchased for a trifle, which are more suitable than saucepans, as, if the latter are not scrupulously clean, they spoil the wine, by imparting to it a very disagreeable flavour. These warmers should be used for no other purpose.

Variations:
Glögg / Gløgg
Finnish Glögi
Glühwein

Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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Glögg – Gløgg

Ingredients:AlcoholicVeganNut Alergy Warning
1 bottle of Merlot
1 bottle of Port
2 cup Brandy
1/2 – 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar (inversely to wine quality)
2 medium sized Orange, sliced horizontally
4 Cinnamon Sticks
12 whole Cloves
3 Allspice Pods
2 Cardamom Pod
3/4 cup blanched Almonds
1/2 cup Raisins
5 dried Figs, quartered

Directions:

  • In a large Saucepan, heat the Wines, Brandy, and Sugar on low-medium heat until Sugar is dissolved. Never allow to boil.
  • Add the Orange, Spices, Almonds, and Fruits and let steep on low heat for 1 hour.
  • Serve Warm, strained.

Serves 12

NOTES: This is a Scandinavian Mulled Wine, originating in Sweden, and was a traditional drink of King Gustav I of Sweden and was called “glödgad vin”.  The distinct nature of this version of mulled wine is the use of Almonds and dried Fruits.

Variations:
English Mulled Wine
Finnish Glögi – Substitute Vodka for 1/2 or all of the Brandy.
Glühwein

Glühwein

Ingredients:AlcoholicVegan
1 bottle of Merlot (750mL)
1 cup Brandy
1/2 – 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar (inversely to wine quality)
1 medium sized Orange, sliced horizontally
2 Cinnamon Sticks
6-8 whole Cloves
2 Allspice Pods
1 Cardamom Pod

Use similar proportions for each additional bottle of wine.

Directions:

  • In a large Saucepan, heat the Wine, Brandy, and Sugar on low-medium heat until Sugar is disolved. Never allow to boil.
  • Add the Orange, and Spices, and let steep on low heat for 1 hour.
  • Serve Warm.

Serves 6

NOTES: Glühwein is a German Mulled Wine. If you do not have Merlot, you can use a Burgundy or Franconian red wine–what you’re looking for a is a wine that will hold up to the sugar and brandy and not loose flavor. With regards to the quality of wine, I would not use the expensive stuff because with all the flavors, you’re not just tasting wine–conversely do not use the cheapest wine either. If you have a crock pot, you can add all the ingredients and let it slow cook to perfection.

The big thing to think about is how sweet or spicy you want your wine to be–the amounts above are just suggestions.

Variations:
English Mulled Wine
Glögi
(Finnish Mulled Wine)
Glögg/Gløgg (Swedish/Danish Mulled Wine)

Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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