Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Purée of Vegetable Soup

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Oh baby it’s cold outside and nothing warms up a numb body better than a steaming hot bowl of soup. Purée of vegetable soup is an easy recipe made with ingredients typically found in a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. Canned tomatoes, canned or fresh cannellini beans, onions, carrots and celery make up the foundation for this hearty soup. The additional ingredients, like herbs, spices and other vegetables, add extra body and flavor for a bright tasting vegetable soup with great depth of flavor.

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Puree of Vegetable Soup recipe.

My original intention was to create a hearty tomato soup recipe. I love tomato soup, especially when paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. Essentially, I did develop a tomato soup, but one with a blended flavor of tomatoes, aromatics and legumes. As a result, compared to a traditional tomato soup, the tomato flavor is less pronounced. I found the generous amount of mixed vegetables softens the tomato flavor, creating a hearty and fresh tasting blend of garden delights.

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

I love living where there are four distinct seasons, but during this dark and chilly winter, I sometimes need a reminder of the sunny and warm days to come. These short days with harsh and biting temperatures can make a person feel sad and extra hungry. Do you find your appetite increases during the winter? Mine does. I believe the body needs extra calories to maintain a normal body temperature. That is my theory but some scientists disagree.

If you find you are always craving something extra during the winter, instead of reaching for a bunch of crackers, or cookies, make a bowl of vegetable soup. Not only will it provide sustenance and warm you up, the bright color and taste will lighten your winter mood and give hope for the spring days to come.

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Warming winter foods:

Swedish meatballs

Beef stew with Horseradish Sauce

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Purée of Vegetable Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Soup

Cuisine: Italian American

7 cups

Serving Size: 1.5 cups

Purée of Vegetable Soup

This is a fresh tasting and hearty soup perfect for cold fall and winter days. It is an easy and delicious soup made with canned tomatoes, canned white beans, onion, celery, and carrots. I also added fennel bulb for a brighter flavor. If you prefer, substitute it with roasted red pepper or any leafy green vegetable you wish. Also, any canned or fresh white bean works with this recipe. If you are using canned beans, make sure they are the low or no salt variety. Homemade stock is preferred, but low-salt store bought stock will work just fine. You can also use chicken stock if you are not making this a vegetarian meal.

Fresh herbs like thyme, basil or tarragon are nice additions as well. Add the thyme instead of the Herbs of Provence, and the fresh basil or tarragon after the soup is puréed.

Ingredients

  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, (about 9 oz / 254 g), minced
  • 3 celery stalks (about 8 oz /223 g), minced
  • 2 carrots (about 6 oz/ 165 g), minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (about 7 oz / 219 g), minced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
  • 1- 28 oz can (800 g) whole peeled tomatoes in purée
  • 1- 15 oz can (425 g) cannellini beans
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
    Garnish
  • 2 TB raisins
  • 2 TB chopped walnuts
  • 2 TB chopped celery leaves
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • Small pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the minced onion, celery, carrots and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables until they begin to get soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. While cooking occasionally stir the vegetables so they don't brown or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the fennel and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about one minute.
  4. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated.
  5. Cut up the tomatoes into 3-4 irregular size pieces and add them and their juices to the vegetables. Add the vegetable stock and cannellini beans. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Taste the soup after 7 minutes and correct the seasoning with more Kosher salt and or fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  7. Purée the soup with a blender or an immersion blender, until smooth or to your desired consistency.
  8. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  9. Garnish with croutons, your favorite garnish, or the celery raisin walnut garnish.
    Garnish
  1. Put all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix together. Taste and correct the seasoning. Let the garnish sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serve room temperature with the soup.

Notes

You can make this soup any consistency you like. If you do not own a blender or food processor, keep it chunky. Add more stock to thin it out if you think it needs it. To make it smooth with chunks of vegetables, strain out about 2 cups (500 ml) of the cooked vegetables from the soup before you purée it. Once the soup is puréed to your desired consistency, add the mixed vegetables back in.

For more pronounced tomato flavor, add a tablespoon of tomato paste to the pot of cooked vegetables before you add the tomatoes and other liquid ingredients. You may need more stock to thin out the consistency.

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Puree of Vegetable Soup, an easy recipe with bright fresh vegetable flavor.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Hot Toddy Time

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

Cocktails, Fall, Thanksgiving, Winter | December 12, 2017 | By

You know that feeling you get after spending hours outside in freezing weather? When you are so cold you forget what it’s like to feel warm. The freezing temperatures makes your muscles tense as if your shoulders are welded together and attached to your ears. Nothing feels right when a winter chill seeps into your bones. When I get that cold, the thought of sitting by a fire or taking a hot bath becomes a fantasy vacation. There is another solution for getting warm and that is sipping a Hot Toddy.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

I’d almost forgotten Hot Toddies and its’ warming powers. Thanks to an outdoor fundraiser in February and an Irish Pub on 10th Ave, a distant memory defrosted from my archives. On a frigid February day, the westerly winds blowing off the Hudson River nearly defeated us. Our walk took us down a path from 42nd street to Battery Park, then back up to 23rd Street. Me and my co-conspirators were desperate to warm up. Our scheduled reward of a free pancake breakfast lost its’ appeal for something stronger, so we headed over to 10th Avenue and right into an Irish pub. Upon entering, our waiter accurately read our frozen expressions and sat us down at a table by the fire and suggested a Hot Toddy for our beverage.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

A Hot Toddy. I immediately fell in love with this pub. Just the mention of this soothing cocktail made me relax. It also brought back memories of winter sailing with Dad on the San Francisco Bay. Winter in the Bay Area is nowhere near as cold as New York, but it is damp and that makes the air feel like it’s below freezing. Sometimes after a particularly cold day of sailing, Dad made Hot Toddies for “the crew”. His recipe was a simple one with boiling water, bourbon, honey, a drop of lemon, and a cinnamon stick. It wasn’t fancy, but it was the perfect remedy after a day of sailing through the fog. Even though my Hot Toddy only contained a drop of bourbon, I still felt its’ warming powers.

I associate Hot Toddies with outdoor winter activities, but don’t limit yourself to just one type of occasion. Any time you want to relax or warm up is perfect for Toddy time. It is a cocktail to sip and relax with, not a let’s go drinking drink. For centuries a Hot Toddy was prescribed to cure many ailments like a sore throat, a cold or anxiety. It is a soothing drink, not a strong one. However, as history has shown, this cocktail is open to interpretation and variation.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

What I learned is, throughout history Hot Toddies were made with local ingredients like Irish Whiskey in Ireland, Rum or Brandy in the US, and Scotch in Scotland. It also originated in India, not Scotland as I thought. Now, there are many variations made with apple cider, tea, ginger ale, tequila, vodka, gin, or served with whipped cream on top. Personally, I am partial to the traditional recipe for a Hot Toddy because I believe the warming notes of caramel found in whiskey is integral to the flavor profile of the drink. You won’t find whipped cream topping my Hot Toddy either.

How to Make a Hot Toddy

It is a good idea to temper your glass, so the Hot Toddy stays hot for as long as possible. Use an 6-8 oz (185-250 ml) Irish Coffee mug or a glass suitable for hot beverages. Or, add a metal spoon into a glass and pour the boiling water over the spoon to prevent the glass from cracking.

My Hot Toddy ratio is 2 parts water, or other hot non-alcoholic beverage, to one part spirit: 4 oz (125 ml) hot water to 2 oz (60 ml) whiskey. I am partial to Irish Whiskey, like Jameson or Tullamore Dew, but a bourbon like Makers Mark with its’ smooth and sweet honey notes would taste nice in a Hot Toddy. In my opinion a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup taste best. Lemon juice and orange or lemon slices are a nice touch with woody spices. Add 1-2 spices so they do not compete with each other, or no spices at all. I enjoy the different spices because each sip carries a unique flavor from the steeping spices.

Hungry? Try Crispy Potato Skins with Smoked Salmon or Cheese and Chive Herb Bread with your Hot Toddy.

However you choose to make your Hot Toddy, try this traditional recipe, at least once. You will soon feel its mellow effects and warm to any occasion.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe

Hot Toddy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

1

Hot Toddy

There is nothing like a Hot Toddy to feel warm on a cold winter day. The honey, spice and caramel notes warm up the winter blues. The whiskey is soft, but you can still taste it. Adjust the proportions to suit your tastes.

Hot Toddy's are also delicious made with Earl Grey Tea, instead of hot water. Just steep the tea for a brief minute, then continue as directed.

Serve hot.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (125 ml) boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Irish Whiskey or Bourbon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 1 -2 cloves (optional)
  • thin slice of lemon
  • a quarter slice of an orange (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a drinking glass like an Irish Coffee glass, or a large snifter, or 6 oz glass mug, with hot water to warm up your glass. If your glass is not made for hot beverages, temper it by putting a metal kitchen spoon in the glass before you add the water. Keep your water hot in the tea kettle while you wait for your glass to warm up about 5 minutes.
  2. Empty your glass and add 4 oz (125 ml) of boiling water to your warmed mug. Use the spoon method again so your glass won't crack. Add the honey and lemon juice and stir until the honey is dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick, whisky and the lemon and orange slices, studded with a clove or two for garnish. Add a star anise if using. Drink while it is hot.
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The perfect antidote to a cold winter day. A Hot Toddy recipe made with hot water, Irish Whisky, honey, lemon and winter spices.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

I love curries and I love vegetables, but when I cook them together, the vegetables just fall apart. Despite my best efforts, the cauliflower and sweet potatoes always break apart in the sauce. Vegetable curry is one of my favorite meals, but I was ready to give up on it. Fortunately, a few years ago I mentioned my frustration to one of my brother’s in law, and he suggested roasting the vegetables instead of boiling them in the sauce. His suggestion was so simple, but was the perfect solution to improve the curry’s texture.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

The original recipe is from Fine Cooking, “South Indian Style Vegetable Curry” by Ellie Krieger, which I’ve made several times. Unfortunately, the vegetables went from perfect to overcooked in a matter of seconds. Roasting the cauliflower flowerettes and sweet potato chunks made a huge difference in appearance and taste. This technique developed vegetables with a firmer texture and a sweeter flavor. As a result, the curry sauce did not overwhelm the vegetables, but created more body to stand up against the complexity of the spices. My beloved vegetable curry recipe was reborn.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

Not that the sauce needed more flavor, but I couldn’t stop myself and added an additional curry spice blend to the roasted vegetables. To compliment the existing spices in the vegetable curry recipe, I sprinkled Massale curry, over the cauliflower and sweet potatoes. It is a sweet curry spice blend, like spices used in the vegetable curry.

The downside to roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes is, that the curry is no longer a one pot meal. Now, it is a one pot and one sheet-pan meal. Despite the additional cleanup, this recipe is worth the extra step because the cauliflower and sweet potatoes taste so much better this way. Besides, cleaning the sheet pan is easy if you deglaze it with extra vegetable stock then add the stock to the curry. This extra step is up to you if you want it. The good news is, that the vegetables roast while the onions, carrots, tomatoes and Swiss chard cook in the curry sauce on the stove. If timed right, both sets of vegetables will finish cooking around the same time.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry recipe.

If you want more vegan meals check out these links: Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille  and Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Apricots and Pistachios. 

Fine Cooking and Ellie Krieger wrote a solid recipe, but I made several changes for extra depth of flavor. Roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes is key for creating a substantial body with the curry. Everything else I changed to enhance the flavor. First, I added wine to brighten the flavors. Then I swapped Swiss chard for the spinach to make it more substantial and added raisins because curries need some fruit to counter the heat. My last change is adding salted cashews for a garnish with some cilantro. The cashews add a crunchy bite against the tender vegetables while also adding more protein.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and instruction scare you away. Making this curry is not as complicated as the lengthy lists implies. Like any vegetarian meal, the biggest hurdle is chopping all the vegetables. Once the chopping is done, the cooking is very straightforward.

Vegetable curry is a great meal for a vegetarian/vegan dinner. I love how the coconut milk compliments this signature blend of sweet and savory spices, especially the cinnamon. During these colder months, vegetable curry is a big soothing bowl full of comfort and joy.

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

Indian Style Vegetable Curry

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Entrée

Cuisine: Vegan / Vegetarian

6 servings

Indian Style Vegetable Curry

The warm spices of coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne meld together with coconut milk and an array of vegetables making and Indian style curry with just the right amount of heat. Roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes helps them to retain their shape in the curry and not break down.

A mixture of broccoli and cauliflower also works nicely in the curry, but add more cauliflower than broccoli. Spinach can be substituted for the Swiss Chard, however add the spinach towards the end of cooking when you add the roasted vegetables. The spinach does not need as much time to cook as Swiss chard does.

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking South Indian Style Vegetable Curry.

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into flowerettes
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, (1 large or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide wedges
  • 1 tsp curry spice blend (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 TB (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 2-inch (5 cm) piece ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 2-3 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • 1-13.6 fl oz (403 ml) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup (375 ml) vegetable stock
  • 3 medium size carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
  • 4 oz (125 g) Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into bite size pieces, the leaves sliced across the width
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) raisins
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-15 oz (425 g) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Handful of salted cashews rough chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C / Gas Mark 6) and place the rack in the middle position.
  2. Arrange the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and onion slices on a large sheet pan in an even layer. Drizzle 2 TB (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, the Kosher salt, and ground curry (if using) over the vegetables and toss until the vegetables are evenly coated. Place the vegetables in the oven and roast until just tender, about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, check for doneness by piercing the cauliflower and sweet potatoes to see if they are tender. Continue to roast the vegetables, checking every 10 minutes as needed. You want the vegetables to be just cooked through and not too soft.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a 5 qt (4.75 L) Dutch oven over medium high heat then add the remaining 2 TB (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the minced onions and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. While cooking, stir every now and then so the onions don't stick to the pan.
  4. Add the minced garlic and minced ginger to the cooked onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard stem pieces and stir to coat and cook for a minute.
  5. Add the ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon stick to the pan and stir to mix. Gently toast the spices for one minute.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine mostly evaporates.
  7. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and stir until the coconut cream and water is mixed together.
  8. Add the carrots, Swiss chard, and tomatoes and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the pot every now and then to keep the coconut milk from separating. Control the heat and keep the sauce at a simmer and not a brisk boil. This will keep the coconut milk from curdling.
  9. Once the roasted vegetables and the vegetables in the curry sauce are done, add the roasted vegetables, chickpeas, and raisins to the pot with the carrots, tomatoes, and Swiss Chard. Stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes to warm up the chickpeas.
  10. Turn off heat, and add the lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro.
  11. Garnish with chopped cashews and chopped cilantro. Serve with white or brown rice.
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South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

Every Thanksgiving I cherish a vivid childhood memory of making stuffing with Mom. After all, this special occasion only happened once a year. Helping Mom with the dinner prep had two advantages. First, getting the turkey quickly in the oven meant the rest of our day was free for outdoor playtime. The rest of the day’s activities was on hold until the turkey was ready for roasting. My parents held Thanksgiving dinner in the early evening to allow for a full day of being outside. Traditionally, we either hiked along the Marin Headlands, or played touch football at Cronkite Beach. None of that was going to happen until the turkey was prepped, stuffed, and then popped in the oven. Not even breakfast.

Mom made a standard stuffing and it was delicious. Any little helpers got to “taste test” the mix, just to make sure the seasoning was perfect. Nowadays, the FDA discourages consuming food with raw eggs, but in the 60’s and 70’s no one thought about it. I loved her uncooked stuffing just like I love eating raw cookie dough. Together we mixed the stuffing, then tasted it a couple of times, “Just to be sure.” Slyly, I sneaked in as many nibbles as I could get away with. With the savory flavors from rich stock and aromatics cooked in gobs of butter, what’s not to like?

My favorite turkey stuffing reicpe.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

My Favorite Stuffiing for Turkey recipe

Fast forward to 2017, the spirit of my childhood Thanksgiving’s traditions is ever-present, especially when I make stuffing for our holiday turkey. Faithfully, I work to replicate the flavor memory of Mom’s stuffing. It is not as easy as it sounds because my stuffing is an entirely different beast. As a small seasonal side business, Joe bakes delicious sourdough bread. His bread is my staple ingredient, along with homemade stock and lots of add-ins.

I have nothing against the store-bought bread cubes. They make consistent and delicious stuffing. Yet, I have a freezer full of Joe’s Dough Artisan Bread, and I believe you use what you got. To be honest, it is more challenging using artisan bread for stuffing, and the results are less consistent. My theory is, the airier the bread the less stock you need. To get consistent results, it is more important to pay attention to how the bread soaks up the stock, then religiously follow a recipe. The first few times I made stuffing with Joe’s bread, the stuffing was either too wet or too dry. It took me several tries to figure it out. Fortunately, my mistakes and some extra research taught me a few tricks.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

Three tricks for successful stuffing

First, when toasting the bread cubes in the oven, don’t let them get too brown. They should be just starting to brown. You are not making croutons here, just drying out bread for stuffing. The browner the bread the less stock it absorbs. It seems counter intuitive, yet keep the bread cubes light in color, but completely dried out.

The second and third tricks are interconnected. Add the stock in stages and give the bread mixture time to absorb it. At first, add half the stock then let it rest 10 minutes. Then, gently toss it about and see how wet it looks. This wait period makes a huge difference in understanding how much stock you need. I remember the first time I made stuffing with Joe’s Dough Bread, I only used half the stock required in the recipe because the bread cubes appeared to be swimming in stock. Unfortunately, the stuffing baked very dry and I was disappointed. Had I waited a few minutes, I would see the bread soak up the stock. Artisan bread has its own temperament that varies from day-to-day and year to year, no matter how consistent the baker is.

If you like your stuffing on the wet side, add more stock. If you want your stuffing moist but not wet, add less stock. Keep in mind how dense your bread is as well. I am still testing this theory, but the denser the bread the more stock you need. It takes some time to figure everything out, but eventually you will get to know the look and feel of the bread and stock ratio to get consistent results.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

Do you need a gluten-free pie for Thanksgiving? Try Double Coconut Pie.

Great appetizer idea for Thanksgiving: Crispy Potato Skins 2 Ways

Stuffing variations

If you looked at stuffing recipes from around the country, you would see regional food trends and traditions. Each region uses ingredients that are abundant in their local area and lifestyle. I have a freezer full of bread, so it is my choice for stuffing. Additionally, in the Hudson Valley locally grown apples are easy to come by, and I love their sweet taste with savory herbs and aromatics. Other regions use local ingredients that are abundant in their area, like corn, oysters, sausage, wild rice, or cranberries.

Stuffing is so easy to adapt to suit your personal preference. If you want sausage, add about one pound of crumbled cooked sausage or bacon. Substitute fennel for the apples, or dried cranberries or raisins. You can also omit the apples altogether. If you do add dried fruit, soak it in some apple cider to soften it up. Also, leeks are a great substitute for onions, or use a combination of the two. Anything goes, just adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

In my opinion, Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without stuffing. I love it paired with gravy and cranberry sauce. The turkey may be the centerpiece of the meal, but I think it is the foundation for all the bright and savory flavors of the other side dishes.  It’s all good.

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Category: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

10-12 servings

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

This stuffing has great depth of flavor from good quality bread, rich homemade stock and lots of aromatics like mushrooms and apples with the traditional celery and onions. A compliment of fresh herbs like sage and rosemary, add another savory dimension. If you want to replicate the flavor of old fashioned stuffing, use turkey stock to develop a taste like stuffing cooked inside the turkey. Use the recipe as a guide and add the stock in increments. Also, allow time for the bread cubes to absorb the stock before adding more stock. Use your discretion to determine the amount of stock you need, based on how moist or wet you like your stuffing.

If you desire, there is a long list of substitutions to add to your stuffing. Add 1 lb of cooked and crumbled sausage, or 1/2 lb of cooked and chopped bacon, sliced fennel, leeks instead of onions, or dried fruits. Keep in mind the herbs in your stuffing should compliment the herbs used in the other side dishes in your meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb loaf (750 g) artisan quality bread*
  • 10 TB butter (141 g) - divided, plus more for greasing pan
  • 12 oz (350 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt, divided**
  • 1 large crisp apple like Granny Smith, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • 4 stems of parsley, roughly minced
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3-4 cups (up to 1 liter) vegetable, chicken or turkey stock**

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C and place the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
  2. Slice the bread in even one-inch slices, then tear each slice into pieces smaller than an inch. Divide and lay the torn bread evenly across two rimmed sheet pans. Place in the oven and bake until dry, but not browned, for about 25 - 30 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom half way through the baking time and turn the bread pieces over. It is ok if it the bread cubes turn very slightly brown. When done, remove the toasted bread cubes from the oven and cool. Once cool, slide the bread into a large mixing bowl. If making ahead of time, store in an air tight container for a couple of days, or freeze up to one month.
  3. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F / 175°C and move the rack to the middle position. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish. (More surface area gives you more crispy pieces on top.)
  4. Melt 2 TB (28 g) butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until the liquid is released and evaporated. Remove to a small bowl or plate and reserve for later.
  5. Add the remaining 8 TB of butter (1/2 cup / 113 g) to the skillet. Once melted add the chopped onion and celery. Stir to coat. Season with up to 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper. Cook the onions and celery until they are very soft, about 12 minutes. Add the reserved mushrooms and chopped apples and cook until the apples are starting to get tender and no liquid is in the skillet, about 5 minutes. The vegetables should be very tender, but the apples still have some bite left in them.
  6. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine has evaporated.
  7. Turn off the heat then add the prepared herbs to the cooked vegetables. Add the vegetable mixture to the toasted bread cubes and gently toss together. Let the mixture sit and cool for 10 minutes.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and 2 cups (500 ml) of the stock.
  9. Add the stock mixture to the bread. Add 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, (if your stock is salty add less), and 1 tsp fresh ground pepper. Stir until everything is evenly combined. Let the stuffing mixture sit and absorb all the stock for 10 - 15 minutes. Give the stuffing a good toss to help the stock get absorbed in the bread.
  10. Slowly add the remaining stock, as needed, to the stuffing mixture a cup (250 ml) at a time. Stir to get evenly mixed. Let the stuffing rest for a few minutes and stir again. Add more stock as needed. This rest time allows the bread to soak up the stock. Let it rest a few minutes more if more stock needs to get absorbed.
  11. Pour the stuffing into a prepared baking dish. Cut off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the baking dish and smear butter over the dull side. Cover the stuffing with foil, butter side down, and bake in the oven until the stuffing is hot all the way through. Instant read thermometer should read 160°F (71 °C), 30-40 minutes.
  12. When the stuffing is cooked all the way through, remove the foil and turn the oven temp up to 425°F (220°C). Bake the stuffing until golden brown, and crispy on top, about 30 minutes more.
  13. Stuffing can be made one day ahead up to the first half of baking. Toast the top of the stuffing after you reheated the stuffing, before serving. Keep in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to two days or freeze up to one month.

Notes

* The amount of stock you need will vary depending on the type of bread you use. Use your discretion to determine the total amount of stock.

**If you use store bought stock, look for low salt or no salt stock.

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My favorite recipe for turkey stuffing .

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Holiday Greeen Beans with Roasted Onions

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Everyone has their favorite food during the holidays. They are so important, if for some reason this special food was not on the menu, their holiday is not complete. I think it is obvious, Turkey is high on the list. It is however an unspoken agreement. Have you ever heard anyone speaking longingly for the roast Turkey when they reminisce about the holidays? No. Yet, the turkey sandwiches made with the leftover turkey is high on the to die for list.  For me, I have more than one holiday food favorite, stuffing, cranberry sauce and green beans. Not the green beans smothered in cream of mushroom soup and topped with canned fried onions, but fresh quickly blanched green beans and layered with caramelized oven roasted onions.

Holiday GreenBeans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions recipe.

With all the rich food piled high on your plate, something fresh and green helps balance everything out. It may even lighten the food load enough to believe you have room for seconds. Or, is that just wishful thinking? A crisp salad will provide a fresh alternative, but it is not high on the priority list. People want room on their plate and stomach for all the Thanksgiving side dishes, and salad usually does not make the cut. By the end of the meal, I always have half of the salad leftover.

On the other hand, there is always room for bright and crisp green beans with roasted onions. It satisfies people’s appetite in two ways. The roasted onions satiate any rich and indulgent cravings because of caramelized onions. Plus, the green beans provide a bright taste to counter all the oven roasted foods. The other bonus, by the end of the meal there are none leftover.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Traditional green bean casserole is not high on my ‘Must Have” list. I did not grow up with green bean casserole as part of my childhood Thanksgiving meal and therefore don’t crave it. I also have a slight aversion to anything made with cream of mushroom soup. During my childhood, canned soup was an ingredient in half of mom’s dinners. At that time, during the 50’s and 60’s, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup was the secret ingredient in most foods. It was the quick and easy answer to making a béchamel sauce. In my opinion, Thanksgiving dinner requires green beans, and blanched green beans with roasted onions is the perfect substitute for this traditional casserole.

Making green beans with roasted onions requires a two-step process. Both are easy to do, plus you can make the onions up to two days in advance. The most involved part is roasting the onions. The onions are cooked in two stages. First, I roast the onions in the oven. Then, I deglaze the pan and add the pan juices to the onions and cook down the liquid. This two-step process develops roasted onions with a deep caramel color and flavor. The other benefit is, in comparison to the traditional roast caramelized onion method, the roasting time is cut in half.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

More Thanksgiving vegetable sides: Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms

You can make the green beans at the last minute, then season with butter or olive oil, and herbs. I love tarragon with green beans, but it competes with the traditional Thanksgiving herbs of sage, rosemary and thyme. Fresh parsley is a good substitute because it brings a fresh taste and pairs well with the other foods. A light garnish of lemon zest is a nice touch, but not necessary because red wine vinegar is added in the roasted onions.

This is a throwback recipe I originally got from Bon Appétit Magazine in November of 1995. It was a recipe in a story about Thanksgiving Menu ideas from around the country. I believe green beans with roasted onions comes from a New England Thanksgiving based on the other food items on the menu. I slightly changed the recipe by omitting the sugar, deglazing the pan, and lowering the oven temperature for roasting the onions. It is a timeless recipe and I also appreciate the ease of preparation.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I hope over the course of the month I will post additional recipes for my two other “must have” Thanksgiving sides, cranberry sauce and stuffing.  If you were to ask my children what their Thanksgiving favorite food is, they would say “It’s not Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Easter, without Pineapple Stuffing.”

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Category: Vegetable Side Dish

Cuisine: American

12

Serving Size: 6 oz

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions

Quickly blanched fresh green beans, offer a bright and fresh taste to rich holiday foods. These green beans with roasted onions provide a welcome contrast between the bright green beans and the sweet caramelized onions. I think it is a healthy substitute for green bean casserole during Thanksgiving.

This recipe is easily scaled up or down.

For easy time management, the onions can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Warm up the onions in the microwave before adding them to the green beans.

Serve warm.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sized onions
  • 3 TB Extra Virgin olive oil plus more for the green beans
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (500 ml) of water or vegetable stock
  • 2 TB red wine vinegar
  • 3 lbs (1.5 k) fresh green beans
  • 3 TB of chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • If you prefer, substitute 2 TB of butter instead of the olive oil to coat the green beans.

Instructions

    Prepare the onions
  1. Arrange the oven rack to the upper and lower thirds of your oven
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  3. Lightly spray two large sheet pans with cooking spray
  4. Peel and slice each onion into 12 wedges
  5. Spread the onion slices evenly between the two sheet pans and drizzle with olive oil, Kosher salt and a couple of rounds of freshly ground black pepper. Toss the onions with your hands to get them evenly coated with olive oil. Place in the oven and roast until the onions are nicely browned, about 45 minutes or longer. While the onions are roasting check them every 15 minutes and turn them over with a spatula so they evenly brown. Half way through, rotate the pans top to bottom. Watch and make sure the onions do not burn.
  6. Remove the onions from the oven and slide them into a skillet or saucepan. Place one sheet pan over two burners set to medium-high heat and add 1 cup (250 ml) of water or vegetable stock. Deglaze the pan. Use a flat bottom wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the sheet pan and bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the liquid to half a cup (125 ml). Pour the liquid into the pan with the onions. Deglaze the second sheet pan.
  7. Add the deglazed liquid to the onions and turn the heat to medium. Simmer the onions until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Turn off the heat and add the red wine vinegar. Stir to mix. If you are making the onions in advance, don't add the vinegar yet. Cool the onions and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Just before serving, heat the onions in a microwave then add the vinegar.
    Prepare the green beans
  1. While the onions are roasting, clean and trim off the stems of the green beans. Set a large stock pot filled part way with water on a burner over high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of Kosher salt to the water, then add the green beans. Stir to submerge all the green beans. Cook the green beans for one to two minutes. Drain the green beans from the water and add them back into the pot. Drizzle olive oil, or 2 TB of butter, and a sprinkle of Kosher salt over the green beans. Toss to coat. Taste and correct for seasoning. Add chopped parsley and toss.
  2. Put the blanched green beans in a serving bowl or platter and arrange the warmed onions in the middle of the green beans. Serve immediately.
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Green Beans with Roasted Onions a healthy alternative for Green bean casserole

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