Two Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

At our house there would be a revolt if I didn’t roast our Thanksgiving turkey slathered in herb butter and serve it with shallot pan gravy prepared from the drippings. And, our clan definitely expects me to make Southern cornbread and leek dressing to accompany the bird. Where I get some leeway, though, is with the sides for my family leaves those choices up to the chef (moi!). This year I’m turning to two favorites–Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Bacon as well as Roasted Butternut Squash and Pears with Blue Cheese.

Striking with their vibrant autumnal hues and robust flavors, either or both of these dishes would make a delectable accompaniment to your bird. Each recipe serves six, but can be doubled if needed.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

 

A Great Pizza—Inspired by Leftovers!

Wild Mushroom Butternut Squash Pizza 1 3648x2736Recently I read an article about zero-waste in commercial kitchens. The gist of the story was that many chefs have adopted a philosophy of using not just some, but all the food scraps and leftovers in their kitchen. One chef confessed that a dish he made with leftover broccoli stems was better than the original he had prepared with the crowns, and was now a staple on his menu. When I looked in my fridge later that day, and found a sizeable collection of partially used ingredients, I realized that a little zero-waste attitude could be applied at my house.

I spotted a half full container of mascarpone, a chunk of white cheddar, and some smoked kielbasa, as well as a package of mixed mushrooms and some butternut squash (remainders from some recipe testing). In a “eureka” moment I realized these could be the makings of a delectable winter pizza.

The only ingredient I purchased was an extra thin pizza crust. It was spread with mascarpone, sprinkled with grated cheddar, and topped with a mélange of sautéed mushrooms, onions, and kielbasa. Garnishes included roasted cubes of butternut squash and a final dusting of cheddar. Continue reading

Cooking Indian and Vegetarian–Delicious!

Red Lentil Stew with Vegetables 1I’ve often told my students that I could easily become a vegetarian if I lived in India. I love the way that country’s cooks turn humble ingredients like okra, potatoes, eggplant, spinach, and much more into irresistible temptations. They season vegetables with fragrant spices, combine them with cheeses like paneer, or enrich them with cream, to ensure that they are packed with flavor.

So, I was intrigued while in Paris this January by an article that I spotted in a popular French magazine on Indian dishes made with dahl. The story included basic directions for using red lentils in soups, stews, and side dishes. I tucked the article into my suitcase, and once home, tried some of the recipes. Over the past month I’ve made the red lentil stew with winter squash and cauliflower at least a half dozen times, tweaking it at each try. Continue reading

A Great Make-Ahead Side Dish for Thanksgiving

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pears 1There would be a rebellion in our family if our Thanksgiving menu did not include certain dishes. Everyone expects herb-roasted turkey with shallot pan gravy and cornbread dressing prepared with leeks, onions, and sweet peppers. My spouse adores the glistening cranberry chutney I’ve made for close to two decades, and our grandkids look forward to decadent pies and other sweets to end our feast.

When it comes to side dishes, though, I can vary the offerings without a major protest. This year there will be tender green beans sprinkled with crispy bacon, green onions, and parsley along with buttermilk mashed potatoes with grainy mustard. I’m also adding roasted butternut squash and pears with blue cheese and walnuts, a glorious fall dish that bursts with vibrant fall colors and tastes. Continue reading

Pan-Braised Pork, Butternut Squash, and Greens-A Recipe Serves More Than One Purpose!

Pork Chops, Butternut Squash, Farfalle 2When a local supermarket chain in our town recently ran a “buy one, get one free” special on pork chops, I couldn’t resist the bargain, tucking two packages into my cart. I knew immediately that the thick, boneless chops could be used to make a double recipe of pan-braised pork and butternut squash, a delicious all-in-one fall dish. One batch would be for our family, and the other a gift to a dear friend who was having out-patient cataract surgery the next day. Since this main course could be cooked ahead and was easy to transport, it was perfect to take across town. Continue reading

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream

This beautiful orange-hued soup with its sweet and slightly tart accents would be great to serve for Thanksgiving. Offer it as a starter served in shallow bowls at the table or in mugs for sipping standing up. It’s also a perfect potage to have on hand for post-Thanksgiving meals. Try it with a turkey sandwich or with a green salad garnished with nuts and dried cranberries.
Continue reading