Caramelized Onion Dip

Root 5 onions

Caramelized Onion Dip

courtesy of Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or veggies.

The onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

Squash Dip

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

by Alexandra Kazimir, RAFFL

Often prepared mashed with maple syrup or brown sugar, winter squash is delectable. I love transforming this sweet, nutty squash into a savory dip, that also boasts of the versatility of butternut.  By utilizing savory spices, such as a curry, and the subtle sweet earthiness of nutmeg, the natural sweetness of the butternut is intensified. This dip makes a lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta sauce alternative, or a simple appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette (top with chopped walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds to dress it up for the holidays).

Ingredients:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 c roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 c soft, tangy cheese (quark, goat cheese, yogurt)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (add more for a punchier dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp water to thin

Cooked squash

Directions:

  • Cut, peel, and de-seed squash. Chop into 1-2″ cubes.
  • Drizzle squash with olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes at 400-425 degrees F on a lined baking sheet.
  • Add cooled squash, cheese, oil, nutmeg, and curry powder to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or vinegar. Add water to thin mixture until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. This dip is delicious served simply with crackers; use it as a sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce!

The flavors continue to develop and intensify as the dip sits, so it will be even tastier the next day. If possible, make it ahead of time, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to a week).

045

Planning Your Thanksgiving Feast

I learned something important about cooking Thanksgiving dinner the first time I did so for a large crowd five years ago: be realistic and plan ahead. Deciding on a whim to make homemade eggnog the day of may not be the best idea, for instance. Want to brine your turkey? First make sure you have an appropriate container in which to do so. But with more than a week to go there is plenty of time to get on track for a delicious, stress free meal.

If you haven’t already, finalize your menu and recipes this week. Keep in mind what you can find at the farmers market or co-op over the weekend. There is an impressive, beautiful selection of produce, desserts, wines, breads and more available right here in our county. Take advantage of these foods and producers; I’ve learned while traveling and cooking at the holidays that you can’t find such quality and freshness everywhere.

Once you have your menu, recipe and ingredients set, you’re halfway there. Now, just do a little prep each day leading up to the big dinner to avoid a mad scramble on turkey day.

Sunday

Make a list of the tasks and recipes you might be able to prepare over the course of the next few days. Post the list in a visible spot in the kitchen so you can cross each item off as you go and see what still needs to get done.

 

Monday

Today, chop veggies. Look at your recipes and see what you’re going to need. Divide them into resealable plastic bags based on each dish. While you chop, cook your cranberry sauce, which will do fine in the fridge for the next few days.

Cranberry Orange Sauce 

Makes 2 cups

1 pound cranberries
½ cup sugar or maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of cloves, salt and pepper

Combine everything in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the cranberries start to pop, lower the heat, cook another 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool.

 

Tuesday

Focus on the stuffing – which if you ask me, is the next best dish after pumpkin pie. I don’t stuff my bird, but rather divide it up into muffin tins for easy to serve, realistic portions. Check your favorite bakery for day old or even pre-cubed bread.

Apple and Onion Stuffing

Makes 10-12 servings

1 stick unsalted butter
4 ribs celery, chopped or 1 large celery root
1 large onion, chopped
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage or poultry seasoning
About 12 cups stale bread, cubed
3 cups broth
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the celery, onion, apple, a pinch of salt and herbs or poultry seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes, until veggies have softened. Pour in broth and toss in the bread and cranberries. Cook another 5 minutes then stir in the egg and parsley. Divide among lightly oiled muffin tins. If preparing ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready, bake covered with foil, for 20 minutes in a 375F preheated oven then another 20 minutes uncovered. They’re done when browned and crispy.

 

Wednesday

If you’re planning to serve turkey tomorrow, get that set now. Clean the bird, season and stuff with aromatics as you like, season the skin, tie it up and set in the roasting pan in the fridge. You want it ready to go in the oven without worrying about details tomorrow.

Then, if you have any sides you could prepare now, do so.

Turnip and Potato Purée

Makes 4-6 servings

1 ½ lbs turnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup milk
Kosher salt
Thyme
Butter (optional)

Cover the turnips, garlic and potatoes in a medium pot over high heat with the milk and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until veggies are tender. Drain and with an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. Alternatively, you could mash. Mix in thyme leaves to your liking and melted butter, if you choose. This reheats well in the oven.

 

Thursday

The big day. Your bird should be the priority at this point. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before getting in the oven – this will reduce roasting time and help ensure even cooking. Plan to take it out of the oven at least an hour before guests arrive – giving it time to rest and you time to make gravy, heat up prepared dishes in the oven, and carve the bird. Finish off any quick cooking dishes today as well.

Sautéed Brussels sprouts

Serves 4

2 cups Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped herbs

Over medium high heat, sauté the Brussels sprouts in the olive oil. Cook until just starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add ½ cup water to the pan with the lemon zest. Cook until the water has evaporated. Toss in the cheese and herbs.

Originally published in our Harvest Watch column in The Rutland Herald on November 19, 2013.

0091

Kale and Coconut Salad

Happy December, folks. With cookie fests and holiday parties in full blast it’s all too easy to indulge a bit too much. I believe we should enjoy these times without feeling overly guilty and yet, without waiting until next month to eat smarter. And yes, that is actually possible. Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone – your grandmother’s pecan pie, perhaps – but there are other times we can eat a little wiser while keeping in mind the foods still available to us locally during the colder months..

Hence, the kale and coconut salad. As you might have heard, kale and coconut are two powerful health foods of late we should all consider incorporating more of into our diets.

Kale, an excellent winter green, makes a great salad base while the more fragile greens are out of commission. With just 33 calories per cup and high amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium, it’s no wonder it has it’s own marketing campaign.

Coconut, on the other hand, is equally as impressive. Coconut products – water, oil, milk, flour and even sugar – are beloved by food the health conscious in recent times, despite the high amount of saturated fat. Turns out, saturated fat, in moderation, may actually be good for us – helping do to things like lower bad cholesterol levels while improving the good. Coconut also contains a ton of fiber and a fair amount of minerals and b vitamins. The form in which you eat coconut regulates the degree of nutrition, however, so keep that in mind. For the salad, look for it unsweetened, dried and shredded or flaked.

It takes no time to put this together, making it great to work onto your dinner plate or bring to a holiday party in place of an out of season, less fresh, and nutritious garden salad. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks – Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson – I highly recommend checking it and her blog out.

Use any kind of kale, but I like the curly variety – which adds a good amount of crunchy texture after baking. Just rinse, then tear the leaves off the stems and into small to medium sized pieces. You’ll be left with the stalks, which you can save in the freezer for your next pot of stock.

Toss in a bowl with the coconut and some olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce or tamari.

Then spread it out over two baking sheets.

And put it in an oven preheated to 350F for 15-20 minutes, checking about halfway through. You want to bake it until the kale is crunchy and the coconut golden brown.

You can toss together with some more dressing at this point and serve. If you like kale chips, you’ll really enjoy this salad – great as a side or topped with your favorite protein.

Kale and Coconut Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups kale, torn and removed from the stem
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small jar, shake together the oils and tamari/soy sauce.
  3. Toss the dressing with kale and coconut in a large bowl.
  4. Spread the salad out onto two large baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring about halfway through. Kale should be crispy and coconut golden brown. Toss with additional dressing if you’d like and serve warm or at room temp. Best enjoyed the day it’s made.
244

Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts

This is the recipe – and cooking technique – that will change minds about Brussels sprouts. At Thanksgiving dinner it won over my girlfriend’s mother, who previously insisted that the mini cabbage-like vegetable was gross. A short roast in the oven beautifully caramelizes the sprouts while locking in flavor and nutrition – unlike boiling, or even steaming. You don’t want to miss out on the multitude of vitamins here. I also find that with roasting they’re less likely to turn to mush and bring back unpleasant childhood vegetable memories.

Farmers sell Brussels sprouts either right on the stalk – which is kind of fun to take home – or already sliced off. Either way, you’ll want to give them a trim off the bottom and if they look like they need it, a peeling of the outer layers. A quick rinse isn’t a bad idea either. Personally, when I’m just making these at home, I don’t go too crazy with cleaning and trimming. Do what makes sense to you.

What really makes this dish work though is that it has all five of the basic tastes at work. Sourness from the vinegar, sweetness from the sugar, umami from the Worcestershire, saltiness from the soy sauce and bitterness from the sprouts themselves.

A good flavor profile and a smart cooking technique will help make just about anything taste great. Try these sprouts as a side at your next holiday dinner.

 

Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings, as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved lengthwise, if you’d like
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Roast, 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until softened, browned and caramelized.
  4. Whisk vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and remaining oil in a large bowl.
  5. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter, top with rosemary, the pumpkin seeds and crushed red pepper. Serve warm or at room temp.
1631

Baked Stuffed Apples

This is entirely un-American of me, I apologize, but apple pie does nothing for me. I’ve just never really cared for it. Maybe it’s all that crust or the mushy texture of the apples after they’re baked. I must have had a bad experience at some point that I don’t recall. Though I’ll admit that some melted cheddar cheese on top (a practice I only became aware of after moving to VT, of course) certainly makes it more appealing.

Baked and stuffed apples, however, are another story. The apples actually have some texture and a little crunch left to them. And since you eat the skins (at least you should) you get added benefits, like fiber. But they’re also quicker to make. No crust. No hassle. It’s a simple weeknight dessert, or even better – breakfast the next morning. Also, in this recipe I stuff them with oats, making this quite similar to an apple crisp – a dish I always looked forward to as a kid. Your pick of dried fruit and nuts only make things better and better for you.

Find yourself some good baking apples. There are many unique, Vermont grown varieties available well into the winter. This time I used Northern Spies and Granny Smiths. Here is New England Apple Association for identifying and learning more about apple varieties.

Preheat the oven to 350F. After you wash your apples, use a paring knife to cut out the stem and top.

And then a spoon to scoop out the seeds a just a little of the flesh. We just need some room for stuffing – no need to hollow the apples out.

This is a good sized cavity. Keep in mind that the apples will start browning quickly. If this bothers you then just coast them with some lemon juice, though it won’t really be noticeable after filling and baking.

Set the apples aside and mix together the oats and brown sugar. Alter the amount of sugar based on how sweet you like things. I think as little as 1/4 cup would be fine.

Then add in the dried fruit. I used currants. I’m a big currant enthusiast and was thrilled to find red ones fresh at the farmers market in Rutland this summer. Raisins and cranberries work well too.

Chop some nuts to add to the stuffing mix. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts – you choose.

Lastly, get your spices together – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. I like my food to have flavor, so I tend to go strong on recipe recommendations. With the amounts I suggest below, you will certainly taste these flavors. Scale back if you need. The ginger can be powdered. I just happened to have fresh. It does make a big difference, however, as does grating whole nutmeg and grinding whole cloves, if you have those.

Mix everything together then getting stuffing. Really pack it in well.

Now pour some water into the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and to help speed up the cooking.

Top each with a teaspoon of butter before getting in the oven. They look good already, don’t they? Bake for 30 minutes – you should be able to easily pierce the apples – and enjoy. You might not want to give up your apple pie traditions, but I don’t think anyone would refuse one of these whether at the holiday table or hot out of the oven on a cold night – or morning.

Baked Stuffed Apples

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 baked apples, depending on size of apples

Ingredients

  • 4-6 good baking apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Core your apples, making a good sized hole in the center. A paring knife and spoon work fine.
  3. Combine the sugar, oats, nuts, raisins and spices in a bowl.
  4. Stuff the apples with the filling, packing it in as much as possible.
  5. Place the apples in a baking dish with the water in the bottom.
  6. Top each with a teaspoon of butter.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife, being careful not to overbake.
  8. Cool slightly and serve, topped with yogurt or ice cream.
218

Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding

How often do you buy bread and not get a chance to use it before it goes stale? I don’t know about you, but this happens to me all the time. That doesn’t mean I toss the bread out though. Stale bread has all kinds of good uses – like bread crumbs, croutons, and my favorite – bread pudding.

At the restaurant I worked back in Connecticut, bread pudding was on the dessert menu every day and the variety was always changing. It’s an economical dish using household staples of bread, milk and eggs. And its flavored with almost anything. Chocolate, raisins, nuts, dried or fresh fruit are all options. Really, anything goes with bread pudding. Even the type of bread doesn’t particularly matter. Chances are you could make this right now with what you already have.

When done right, bread pudding should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread is key, but not absolutely vital. If your bread is not stale you could leave it out on the counter for a good 24 hours. But if you don’t feel like waiting, a slight toasting in the oven will do the job. The bread needs this degree of crunch otherwise you’ll be serving mush pudding.

I find that the amount of liquid needed can vary depending on the degree of staleness of the bread and the type of bread used. Some absorb a ton of liquid and others do not. That’s why I say to use a bit more half and half then you might actually need. If you have leftover, keep it cold and pour over the warm bread pudding when ready to eat. You could use all milk or all cream, or a nondairy option just as well.

Raisins, almonds and plenty of vanilla complement the chai flavor nicely here. And what’s great about it is that you could serve this for breakfast or dessert.

Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of your favorite bread (about 6-7 cups) stale is great, but not completely necessary
  • butter, for greasing
  • 5 cups half and half
  • 4 tablespoons quality chai tea
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice or tear up the bread into large chunks. If not already stale, spread the bread out on a baking sheet and place in the preheating oven for a few minutes until slightly toasted.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the half and half with the chai tea in a small pot. Bring to a gentle boil on the stove and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While the tea simmers, grease a 9x13x2″ baking dish with butter.
  4. When ready, strain out the tea leaves and stir in the honey, salt and vanilla. Cool for about 5 minutes then reserve one cup for now.
  5. In a bowl, beat the eggs until whites and yolks are well combined. Add to the half and half and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss the bread together with the almonds and raisins, being sure to coat the bread well in the egg-milk mixture. The bread should be well saturated. If not, add in some of the reserved cup of half and half. Top with a few of the almonds.
  6. Place the bread pudding in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Check on it about halfway through. If it looks like it is too dried out, add some of the remaining half and half and continue baking.
  7. When done, serve warm, with any of the cold half and half drizzled over top.
024

Rutabaga Potato Mash

Like you, I’m sure, there are certain members of my family that are set in their ways – refusing to eat certain foods because they either don’t know what they are or had them once, usually years ago, and didn’t like them.

Then comes Thanksgiving – an opportunity for progress, a time to introduce a new food here and there and make some change. No, it’s not always successful. The banana sweet potato combo just didn’t fly a few years back. Another year I was told I ruined the entire meal altogether. In hindsight, there may have been too many foreign foods that time around and I interfered with too many “traditions.”

rutabaga peel

Regardless, I continue on this tireless crusade anyway, reminding myself that these family dinners are only an occasional happening these days. And introducing new foods can actually be quite simple.

rutabaga cut

I’ve served this extraordinarily easy rutabaga and potato mash at several holiday dinners now and, though I hate to play the “gotcha” game, almost no one notices the rutabaga unless I tell them. They just think they’re eating really good potatoes.
The rutabaga, peeled, roughly chopped, boiled and mashed at the same ratio to potato, adds a depth and earthiness that most mashed potatoes alone lack. People love them. It’s usually at that point that I tell them the reason why they love them is the rutabaga. Surprise! You like this fairly unpopular root vegetable and you didn’t even know.
rutabaga mash

If health factors are a motivator to start incorporating rutabaga into your mashed potatoes, or any of your cooking, you’ll be happy to know that they’re full of antioxidants, fiber, zinc and more.

Rutabaga Potato Mash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rutabaga
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper
  • chopped parsley or chives for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. While waiting, peel the rutabaga and potato.
  2. Chop both vegetables into one inch pieces, keeping separate.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the rutabaga to the pot. Cook for 15 minutes then add the potato and cook another 10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Drain. Let sit for a couple of minutes then mash with the butter, salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Turkey and Stuffin’ Soup

Photo Courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com

Photo Courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com

Turkey and Stuffin’ Soup

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups leftover stuffing
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Leftover carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 2 quarts turkey stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds light and dark turkey meat, diced
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup leftover prepared peas, (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and transfer stuffing into a small baking dish. Place dish in oven and reheat 12-15 minutes, until warmed through.
  2. Heat a pot over moderate heat and add EVOO. Add carrots. Add celery and onion and lightly season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf and stock and bring liquid to a boil by raising heat. Add turkey and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, and peas, if using.
  3. Remove stuffing from oven. Using an ice cream scoop, place a healthy scoop of stuffing in the center of a soup bowl. Ladle soup around stuffing ball. Your soup will look like a chunky matzo ball soup. Pull spoonfuls of stuffing away as you eat through your bowl of soup.
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