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Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 17

I was so excited to prepare our Thanksgiving feast with my dad this year. It’s rare that we have the chance to be together in the kitchen and we’ve never cooked the Thanksgiving meal together. This was the first year that Thanksgiving was at my parent’s house instead of my grandmother’s house and while Brandon was in law school we stayed in Birmingham for Thanksgiving due to finals. My mom pitched in with two killer desserts – Sweet Potato Pecan Pie and Apple Cranberry Pie.

We emailed back and forth about the menu for several weeks. We had the main dishes set but wanted to mix things up with the side dishes. I spotted these Creamed Leeks on the Epicurious Thanksgiving Guide and thought they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to our meal. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never worked with leeks before and I was oh so thankful that my dad had taken to the time to watch a video of the test kitchen director cleaning and preparing the leeks for this recipe.

I wasn’t sure how these would go over with the dinner crowd but I was happy to find that they were extremely well-received. I did get several comments on what a different side dish it was (which was what I was going for!) but everyone enjoyed them – some even went back for seconds.

These Creamed Leeks would be a fabulous side dish to any holiday meal!

Creamed Leeks
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 2006)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 lb leeks, root ends trimmed
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from a country loaf, crusts discarded)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/8 teaspoon black pepper, divided
6 tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (we had other things going on in the oven and couldn’t have the temperature that high so we cooked them a little longer at a lower temperature).

Cut each leek into an 8-inch length, measuring from root end, and halve lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces, you should have about 8 cups). Wash leek pieces in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and transfer to another bowl. Repeat with clean water, then drain leeks well. Watch this video if you have never worked with leeks before.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium sized heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and pale golden. This should take around 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover the skillet but leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Cook for about 12 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer leeks to a gratin dish. Slowly pour cream over leeks and scatter bread crumbs on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until cream is bubbling and thickened and crumbs are golden brown.

*Notes:
– Bread crumbs can be cooked 1 day ahead, cooled completely uncovered and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Scatter bread crumbs over leeks just before baking.
– Leeks can be cooked and assembled in dish with cream (but not sprinkled with crumbs) 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered.


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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 9

I don’t even know where to start. I don’t want to gush so much that you think I’m crazy but this macaroni and cheese recipe is pretty life changing as far as mac and cheese recipes go. If you think you’ve already found the perfect recipe you still have to try this one. I found it in The Gourmet Cookbook. They had me at, “this is arguably the best macaroni and cheese on the planet.”

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort food dinners. I just serve it with a green salad and call it a meal. (Who needs meat anyway when you can just eat more mac and cheese!?) The method in this recipe is pretty basic for mac and cheese: make a roux, stir in milk, cream and cheese, mix in macaroni, sprinkle on topping and bake. The results are a creamy, cheesy mac and cheese with a crunchy topping – heaven!

I’m already planning the next time that I’ll make this…and that will be this weekend. My sister-in-law just brought home a new baby and I know they will love this mac and cheese. This recipe makes a full 11 x 17 pan so it’s perfect for leftovers or entertaining.

Please try this and let me know how it compares to other mac and cheese recipes! This has definitely been one of the highlight recipes of 68 Days of Gourmet so far and I know I’ll be making this for years to come.

Macaroni and Cheese
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

FOR TOPPING
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups panko or coarse dry breadcrumbs
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

FOR CHEESE SAUCE AND MACARONI
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound elbow macaroni

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 3-4 quart baking dish or 13 x 9 pan with butter or cooking spray.

FOR THE TOPPING
Mix together panko, butter and cheese in a medium bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE SAUCE
Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Whisk in flour and red pepper flakes and cook, whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in milk in a slow steady stream. Increase heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is thickened a bit. Stir in cream, cheese, mustard, salt and pepper until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

COOK THE MACARONI AND ASSEMBLE THE DISH
Cook macaroni according to package directions, making sure to add plenty of the salt to the cooking water. (At least 1 tablespoon for every 4 quarts.) Undercook macaroni about 3-4 minutes so that it still has quite a bite to it. This ensures the pasta won’t get mushy when cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and then drain noodles.

Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water and sauce in a large bowl or in your sauce pot if it’s big enough. Transfer to prepared baking dish, mixture will be loose.

Sprinkle topping evenly over mixture and bake for about 25-35 minutes. Top should be golden and bubbling.

Yield: 8 main course servings or 12-14 side dish servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 5

jeweledrice

I was tasked with bringing a starch side dish to a family dinner last weekend. Brandon was cooking a turkey breast on the Big Green Egg as our meat. I decided not to make anything potato based since Thanksgiving is coming up so soon. I found this rice recipe when I was researching recipes for 68 Days of Gourmet and thought it sounded different. Brandon isn’t the biggest fan of rice but I love it. He also isn’t the biggest fan of dried fruit but I love that too. I thought our family dinner was the perfect time to try this since I would have a larger audience who would appreciate my rice and dried fruit side dish!

The method for preparing this rice is really different. Read the recipe directions below and you’ll see what I mean. I was pretty nervous about the final product turning out but I trusted the recipe and it turned out exactly right. I was scared the crust would be a burned mess but it was perfectly golden. The butter drenched toasted almonds on top were the perfect finish.

This rice is a great side dish for richly spiced pork and chicken and complemented our turkey breast well too. The leftovers were great with the Spiced Chicken I made for dinner on Tuesday night. A note, this recipe makes a ton of rice so you may want to half it if you’re feeding a smaller crowd.

Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2004)

Ingredients:

3 cups basmati rice
4 quarts water
3 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup dried apricots (3 1/2 oz), quartered (I omitted these)
1/2 cup golden raisins (3 oz)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (2 oz)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup slivered unsalted roasted almonds

Directions:

Rinse rice in several changes of cold water in a large bowl until water runs clear. Drain in a large sieve.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a 6-quart heavy pot. Add rice and boil, uncovered for about 5 minutes – starting from the time the rice starts to boil. Stir occasionally. Drain in sieve.

Mix together dried fruit in a bowl. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a cleaned and dried pot. Stir in cardamom and pepper and combine. Alternate layers of rice and dried fruit over the butter mixture, beginning and ending with rice. Mound loosely, don’t pack it in. Make 5 or 6 holes in rice to bottom of pot with round handle of a wooden spoon. Wrap lid of pot in a kitchen towel, folding edges of towel up and over the lid (keeping towel away from burner). Cook rice over low heat, undisturbed, until tender and a crust forms on bottom, about 30 to 35 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the rice is cooking. Remove from heat and let rice stand, tightly covered and undisturbed, at least 30 minutes.

While rice is resting, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat and cook almonds, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon loose rice onto a platter, then break crust into 1-inch pieces and scatter over rice. Sprinkle with almonds.

Yield: 10-12 side dish servings

Notes:
*Rice can stand off heat up to 1 hour. Just keep covered and undisturbed
* If you’re short on time, you can skip letting the rice stand after cooking. Spoon loose rice onto a platter and then dip bottom of pot into a large bowl of cold water for 30 seconds to loosen crust.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 3

acornsquash2

I love roasted winter squash. While it is time intensive to cook, the preparation is easy and pretty hands-off.  If you’ve never worked with winter squash it can look a little intimidating in the store. I will admit that it’s a bit of a challenge to cut into (I usually make Brandon supervise me when I’m using the really big knife!) but the end result is hearty and full of flavor.

I usually keep the squash simple and roast it with a bit of butter and brown sugar or maple syrup. But last Friday night we decided to stay in and grill steaks and I wanted to kick it up a bit. I found this recipe for Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Currants on Gourmet and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have currants but I did have dried cranberries and golden raisins so I substituted those.

This squash is a great side dish with winter meals and goes especially well with pork and poultry. It would even be a nice addition to a holiday meal.

acornsquash

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Dried Fruit
(Recipe source Gourmet, October 1992)

Ingredients:

3 acorn squash (each about 1 1/2 pounds), halved crosswise and the seeds and strings discarded
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, or to taste
3 tablespoons dried fruit
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread 1/2 teaspoon of butter over the cavity of each squash half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange cut side down in a large baking pan. Add enough water to reach about 1/4 inch up the sides of squash halves.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

While the squash is baking, combine remaining butter, maple syrup, allspice, dried fruit and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter is melted and dried fruit is plump, stirring often.

Remove squash from the oven and flip so cut sides face up. Brush generously with some of the maple mixture and return to the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes more, basting frequently with maple mixture and adding more water to the pan if necessary.  Squash should be very tender when done. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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fetapotatosalad

We went to visit our friends Cristen and Graham in Baxley, Georgia this weekend. We watched the Georgia/Florida football game on Saturday which sadly didn’t have a very happy ending for the Bulldogs. During the game the boys slow cooked a Boston Butt on the grill and Cristen and I whipped up this potato salad. This is one of her favorite potato recipes but I’d never tried it after years of hearing her talk about it.

It was simple to put together and packed with flavor. We served it chilled but I think it would be good served warm as well. The leftovers were tasty with lunch today – the flavors had really developed overnight in the fridge. I’m always looking for inspiration on new ways to use potatoes and will definitely be making this again.

And because I can’t resist…I must share a picture of their adorable daughter in her Halloween pumpking costume!

camillepumpkin

Feta Potato Salad
(Recipe adapted from Southern Living)

Ingredients:

3  pounds  small new potatoes, diced
2/3  cup  olive oil
1/2  cup  fresh lemon juice
1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
1  teaspoon  kosher or sea salt
3/4  teaspoon  pepper
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/4  cup  chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Whisk together oil and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over potatoes and add green onions, parsley and feta. Toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

Yield: 8-10 side dish servings

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bluecheesebacontomato

I was flipping through the July/August 2009 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen when I saw these Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes.  After I wiped the drool off the page, I promptly went to the grocery to get the ingredients for this recipe.  I knew Brandon would be all about these too given his love for tomatoes, blue cheese and bacon.

This is a perfect side dish to use those delicious tomatoes that are in season right now. These tomatoes totally lived up to my lofty expectations. I really like that you don’t scoop out the tomato goodness but simply top the tomatoes with the blue cheese and bacon mixture. It was just the right ratio of topping to tomato, still letting the flavor of the fresh tomatoes be the star.

Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes
(Recipe source Cooking with Paula Deen)

Ingredients:

1 sleeve round butter crackers, crushed (we used Ritz)
5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 large tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Combine cracker crumbs, blue cheese, bacon and green onion in a bowl. Add melted butter and stir to mix well. Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide blue cheese and bacon mixture evenly among tomato halves.

Broil, 5 inches away from heat for about 5-8 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings

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blackbeansrice250

Part two of last night’s delicious grilled shrimp taco dinner. This is pretty much my go-to black beans and rice recipe. I’m almost always guaranteed to have all the ingredients in my pantry and it’s simple, good and always a great side dish for Mexican night. And be warned…this recipe makes a ton!

Black Beans and Rice
(Recipe source Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 large onion, diced
1 fresh pepper, seeded and diced (like jalapeno or habanero, or substitute diced canned jalapenos or red pepper flakes – use what you have!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (or 1 can of diced tomatoes)
1 cup rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until mixture is softened.

Stir in tomatoes, water, rice and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and then stir in black beans. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, until water absorbed and rice is tender. Don’t peak until the 20 minutes are up!

Remove from heat and let stand about 5-10 minutes (still covered) before serving.

Yield: 6-8 side dish servings

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