I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Basking In The Bisque

A tried and true companion to a grilled cheese sandwich has got to be a nice hot steamy bowl of tomato bisque soup. My mother would sometimes take the grilled cheese sandwich, cut it into cubes and scatter them upon the soup to be scooped up one comforting spoonful at a time. No need to do it this way, you may also just dunk your sandwich into the soup or go with the method of alternating bites of sandwich with spoonfuls of the soup. Whatever your individual plan of attack may be you will feel warm and content in the doing.

Tomato Bisque

4 tbsp. butter
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup of red wine or sherry, optional
3 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 c. half and half or to your preference
1 c. heavy cream or to your preference
(Using less of the half and half and heavy cream will give the soup a stronger tomato flavor and richer color).

Melt butter then add onion, sauté onions covered for about 10 minutes. Add tomato, salt and pepper.
Simmer for one hour then add the half and half and the cream, leave on heat for five more minutes then serve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stuffing My Face


For me the absolute best part of Thanksgiving dinner is hands down the stuffing. If that is all that is served for dinner I will be just fine....well, I will require just a little bit of gravy to pour over the top. We all have our holiday favorites, for me it just happens to be the stuffing and a close second would be the crispy skin of the turkey.
You can actually be quite creative with stuffing just by changing the types of bread that you use. I was watching Rachel Ray the other night and she made her stuffing using store bought pumpkin muffins and then just changed up the spices a bit.
If you think about it we have also been enjoying stuffing as a dessert for years; "Bread Pudding"! Bread pudding is really just the sweet rather than savory version of stuffing.
All I know is any way you slice it, cube it, season it, moisten it "Ima gonna stuffa my face with it"!

FYI- People often ask what the difference is between stuffing and dressing, they are technically both the same. The term stuffing came about because we use to actually stuff the stuffing into the cavity of the bird to bake (before it became so dangerous) and it was always referred to as dressing when it was being cooked in a separate pan outside of the bird. Just call it whatever it is you are accustomed to calling it you will not be breaking any culinary laws.

Apple Sausage Stuffing

1 lb. mild sausage (roll not links or patties)
1/2 lb. hot sausage roll
2 lg. onions, chopped
9 sm. stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2 pkg. cubes for stuffing
3 eggs, beaten
4 lg. red apples with skin, chopped
Apple cider

Mix everything together. Add enough apple cider to dampen the stuffing. Stuff as usual. This is enough for an 18-20 pound bird.

Old Fashioned Corn Bread Dressing

2 (8 in.) pans cornbread, already made
1 lg. pkgs. Pepperidge Farm bread stuffing
2 to 3 cans Swanson chicken broth
1 tbsp. sage
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 stick of butter, melted
2 eggs
Chopped celery
Chopped onions

Mix cornbread with bread stuffing. Add plenty of chopped celery and onions. Add eggs, butter and all seasonings. Add cans of soup. Add enough chicken broth to make mixture almost runny. Pour into large baking pan that has been greased. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with aluminum foil at first. Take off and brown for last 15 minutes.

Oyster Stuffing

3/4 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
2 tbsp. butter/butter
9 c. dry bread cubes or Pepperidge Farms
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. crushed sage leaves
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 (8 oz.) cans standard oysters, chopped
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. oyster liquid and milk

In large pan, melt butter. Cook and stir onion and celery until tender but not brown. Add bread cubes, seasonings and mix. Stir in chopped oysters. Beat eggs into oyster liquid and milk. Add liquid gradually and toss lightly to evenly coat.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Delicious Dilemma!

Even though its name implies dessert, this dish serves equally well as a side for your Thanksgiving fare. It is actually far less sweet than the traditional sweet potato casserole with marshmallows that we all are so familiar with. To a small degree it is slightly reminiscent texturally of a very moist stuffing due to the cake mix.

You just have to decide; dessert or side dish...I cannot think of a more delicious dilemma!

Sweet Potato Cobbler

1 box Betty Crocker yellow cake mix (any brand will do)
1 stick butter
1/2 c. sugar, brown sugar tastes best
1 lg. can sweet potatoes or yams or 3 small cans (you want about 27 to 29 ounces all together.
3/4 c. pecans, chopped or whole (opt.)

Place sweet potatoes, cut in large chunks on bottom of 10"x13"x2" pan. (Save juice in can.) Sprinkle most of sugar on top of potatoes. Sprinkle dry cake mix on top, cut stick of butter in chunks and place on top of cake mix. Sprinkle cinnamon to taste on top of cake mix. Sprinkle sugar to sweeten cinnamon. Add finely chopped pecans on top of cake mix.

Fill can potatoes came in with water and left over juice until can is 3/4 full (you want no more than 20 ounces of liquid roughly 2-1/4 cups. Pour over cake mix. Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until top is light brown.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Batter Up!

I often crave a good fish fry and I especially love mine done in a really good beer batter but I think I have found something that actually works better. While on one of my recipe hunts I came across a batter for fish that uses a can of 7-Up. The more I thought about it I realized this was a great idea even more so than using beer. The carbonation has always been a key component in getting that light puffiness that you look for in a good beer batter but what the beer does not give you is.....sugar and lots of it. That is where the 7-Up fits the bill brilliantly. It has enough carbonation to ensure that it puffs up but it also has a very high sugar content to create a caramelized crispiness that you don't quite achieve using the beer. Plus the lemon lime flavoring actually imparts an interesting flavor dimension to take your normal fish fry to a whole new level.

7-Up Fish Batter

1 egg
1 c. pancake mix
8 oz. 7-Up (approximately)
additional pancake mix
Fish filets of your choosing, also works well with shrimp, scallops or clams.

Mix egg, pancake mix and 7-Up together well. Dip thin fish fillets, which have been coated with pancake batter (shake both in plastic bag) and chilled about 20 minutes in mixture. Remove 1 at a time and deep fry for 4 to 6 minutes at about 400 degrees. Remove onto paper towels to drain.