Posts Tagged 'Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes'

Broccoli and Gruyère Gratin

I most certainly love my green veggies, but doesn’t a healthy helping of cheese (almost) always sweeten the deal?

I made today’s recipe – Broccoli and Gruyère Gratin from the November 2009 issue of Real Simple – for the first time over Thanksgiving.  Since it serves a crowd, can be made up to a day ahead, and is absolutely delicious, though, it’s perfect for entertaining in any situation.

To make a full recipe, I started by roughly chopping 12 cups of broccoli.  (The recipe suggests this is two large bunches, but I ended up getting just over 2 cups from each smallish bunch I was able to buy at my grocery store.  I chose to use just the tops since I didn’t feel like peeling the stems, but feel free to use the stems if you like.)  I have a pasta pot with a steamer basket, so I put an inch of water in the pot, brought it to a simmer, put the steamer basket of broccoli in the pot, and then covered the pot with its lid.  (A regular steamer basket that sits inside a pot will do just fine, too; if you use this method, go with 1/2 inch of water instead of a full inch.)  I steamed the broccoli until it was just tender (4 minutes) and then transferred it to a large bowl.

Next, I made the cheese sauce.  In a medium saucepan, I melted 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter over medium heat.  I added 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and cooked it, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Switching from a spoon to a whisk, I whisked in 2 cups of whole milk and simmered the mixture until it was slightly thickened (4 minutes for a full recipe; about 2 minutes and 30 seconds for a half recipe).  Although the recipe didn’t specifically say to do this, I whisked my sauce constantly to prevent the bottom from burning and a skin from forming on the top.  Once the sauce had thickened, I removed it from the heat and stirred in 1 cup of grated Gruyère cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper.

I tossed the cheese sauce with the broccoli and transferred the mixture to a shallow 3-quart baking dish.  I sprinkled the broccoli with another cup of grated Gruyère and baked it at 375F until it was bubbling and golden brown (40 minutes).  I let the dish stand 10 minutes before serving.

Broccoli and Gruyere Gratin

As a child who loved broccoli drizzled with Cheez Whiz (the things my parents would do to get us to eat vegetables!), I’m seriously digging this grown-up, sophisticated version of broccoli with cheese.  The broccoli becomes tender but not the least bit mushy, and I love the cheesy crust on top.  The dish is fairly saucy if you eat it after the 10 minutes of standing time; I think it sat for almost 30 minutes before we ate it on Thanksgiving and the sauce thickened considerably.  I liked it both ways.

This time, I served the gratin with panko-crusted chicken cutlets and Chardonnay (perfect winter meal!) for just the two of us, but I’ll definitely use this recipe for Christmas entertaining or fall/winter dinner parties.  Anything that can be made ahead with results this delicious gets filed as a “keeper.”

TIPS:  I would strongly suggest having all the cheese sauce ingredients measured and ready to go before you start cooking.  That way, you can just toss and pour them in without having to stop stirring or whisking.

Also, if you haven’t worked with Gruyère yet, you may be interested to know (1) it’s a bit pricey, and (2) it’s pungent.  In other words, you’ll pay a bit more than you’re used to in order to bring home a pretty stinky cheese.  It mellows considerably when baked, though, and it really is delicious.  If you don’t like Gruyère, try substituting Swiss or cheddar cheese.

Recipe link: Broccoli and Gruyère Gratin

Twice-Baked Potato Bites

I’ve been a bit of a blog slacker this past week, but I’m hoping to pick things up a bit after tomorrow’s dinner party.  Today’s recipe – Twice-Baked Potato Bites from the June 2008 issue of Everyday Food – is actually a side dish that I’m making for the party.  For the main course, I’m making a stuffed pork loin that cooks at 450F, and I wanted to find something that could cook at the same temperature during the pork’s resting time.  Just to make sure they actually came out of the oven hot after 15 minutes (even after a day in the refrigerator), I made them as a side dish with dinner on Thursday night.

The original recipe serves eight people, and I actually did make the full recipe just to make sure everything would go as planned for the party.  Just cut it in half if you’re cooking for four.

These twice-baked potatoes are “bites” because they’re made with red new potatoes.  I started off by scrubbing and halving 2 pounds of potatoes (about 14 potatoes).  Next, I cut a thin slice off the bottom of each potato so the potatoes would sit flat.  I lined a rimmed baking sheet with foil, placed the potatoes on the baking sheet, and tossed them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  I seasoned with salt and pepper, rearranged the potatoes to sit bottom side down, and baked them at 450F until they were tender and lightly browned (35 minutes).

After the initial baking time, I let the potatoes cool on the baking sheet until I could safely handle them.  Using a measuring spoon, I scooped about 1 teaspoon of flesh from the center of each potato and transferred it to a large bowl.  I added 3/4 cup of reduced-fat sour cream and 1/4 cup of snipped fresh chives, mashed the mixture together, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I stuffed the filling back into the potatoes, arranged them on the baking sheet, covered them with plastic wrap, and stuck them in the refrigerator.

The real test of the recipe was to see if the potato bites would indeed come out hot using the original baking time of 15 minutes, despite spending the night in the refrigerator.  I removed the plastic wrap, baked them (uncovered) for 15 minutes at 450F, and – voila! – they came out piping hot and ready to go.

Twice-Baked Potato Bites

I forgot to add extra scallions as a garnish this time around (I’ll get it right tomorrow!), but I still think they looked and tasted great.  I loved the creaminess and tanginess the sour cream added to the potato mash, and I’m so excited about how easy these were to finish after I had done the initial preparation and stashed them in the refrigerator.  They’re going to be perfect for my party.

TIPS:  Chives can be a bit hard to come by in the grocery store, depending on where you shop.  If they’re available, they’re usually by the fresh herbs in the produce area.  Sunflower Market here in Denver seems to have them pretty consistently.  If you can’t find them, scallion (green onion) tops offer a similar flavor; they’re just much bigger in diameter.

Recipe link: Twice-Baked Potato Bites

Brussels Sprouts Vinaigrette

I never really ate Brussels sprouts as a child, not that I had many opportunities.  My parents didn’t serve them, which I suspect was because they didn’t enjoy Brussels sprouts themselves.  (We did enjoy a fair number of Cheetos and Nutty Bars, though.  Hmm.)  Anyway, I was looking for a green vegetable to go with some pasta and I desperately needed to break out of my green bean rut, so I decided to try the Brussels Sprouts Vinaigrette recipe from the November 2006 issue of Everyday Food.  My decision was partially influenced by the fact that one of my Texas friends loves Brussels sprouts, so I figured they might be something I would really enjoy as an adult.

This recipe is super simple; I just needed to steam the Brussels sprouts, mix up a vinaigrette, and toss everything together.  Plus, the vinaigrette can be made up to a day ahead of time, which is always a bonus.  Since I was just cooking for two, I made a half recipe; double the ingredients if you’re cooking for four.

First, I washed 1 pound of  Brussels sprouts in a colander and removed any discolored outer leaves.  I also cut a thin slice from the base of each sprout.  Next, I put a steamer basket in a large saucepan, brought 1 inch of water to a boil in the saucepan, and then put the Brussels sprouts in the steamer basket.  I covered the pan and cooked the sprouts until they were easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife (15 minutes at 5500 feet; it will probably be closer to 10 minutes if you’re at sea level.)  I transferred the sprouts to a large bowl of ice water and let them stand until they were cooled (5 minutes).

While the Brussels sprouts cooled, I mixed up the vinaigrette.  In a liquid measuring cup, I combined 1/2 tablespoon of whole-grain mustard, 1 tablespoon of white-wine vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  I seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper and whisked it to combine.

I drained the cooled sprouts, patted them dry, and cut them lengthwise through the core into quarters.  I drizzled the Brussels sprouts with the vinaigrette to serve.

Brussels Sprouts Vinaigrette

I SO wanted to like this dish.  I really, really did!  The texture was great – I had steamed them perfectly – but I realized that I just don’t like Brussels sprouts.  I would be willing to try them again, but I think the recipe would have to involve bacon or cheese or some other ingredient that would completely negate the healthfulness of eating the Brussels sprouts in the first place.  <sigh>  I would absolutely try the vinaigrette over steamed broccoli or cauliflower, though.

Funny side note:  Dr. O seriously asked me how these sprouts become the sprouts we see on sandwiches.  Poor guy thought Brussels sprouts and alfalfa sprouts were the same thing, teehee.  Can you tell he cooks often?

Recipe link: Brussels Sprouts Vinaigrette

Simple Stuffing

Let the Thanksgiving experiments begin!  I won’t be having Thanksgiving at my house this year, but fall foods are some of my very favorites.  Hopefully, my experiments can help some of you who are planning or contributing to upcoming holiday meals.

I love, love, love stuffing, but it really has been a “Thanksgiving only” treat for most of my life.  I had some bratwurst I needed to cook, though, and I thought stuffing might be a fun accompaniment.  Simple Stuffing from the November 2007 issue of Everyday Food proved to be an excellent choice.  It really is simple to put together, but it has classic, truly delicious flavor.

The recipe intends for half of the stuffing to go in the turkey and half of it to go in a baking dish.  Since I wasn’t cooking a turkey, I just made a half recipe.  You can find the full recipe by clicking on the recipe link at the end of the post, if you’re interested.

First, I worked with my bread.  I took 10 ounces of Italian bread, tore it into bite-size pieces, and arranged it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  I baked it at 400F until it was crisp but not browned (10 minutes).

Meanwhile, I thinly sliced 2 celery stalks, minced 2 shallots and 1 garlic clove, and chopped 1/4 cup of parsley leaves.  In a large saucepan, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and then added the celery, shallots, and garlic.  I seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables were softened (6 minutes).  I added 1/4 cup of dry white wine, cooked until it was evaporated (4 minutes), and transferred the mixture to a large bowl.

To the vegetables in the bowl, I added my toasted bread, the chopped parsley, and 1 1/2 large eggs.  (This was the awkward point in halving the recipe, since eggs don’t come in halves!  Just beat 2 eggs and add 75% of the liquid.  If you’re not comfortable eyeballing it, you should have just under 5 tablespoons of egg liquid to equal 1 1/2 large eggs.)  I seasoned the mixture with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and then stirred to combine.  Next, I mixed in 1 cup of chicken broth and then gradually added more broth until the stuffing was moistened but not wet.  (The key is that there shouldn’t be any liquid at the bottom of the bowl.  I ended up adding most of 1 can of chicken broth.)

I transferred the stuffing to a buttered 8-inch baking dish, covered it with buttered aluminum foil, and stashed it in the fridge for a few hours.  When I was ready to cook dinner, I baked the stuffing (still covered) at 350F until it was warmed through (30 minutes).  Then, I removed the foil and baked until it was golden (15 minutes more).

Simple Stuffing

Yuuuuum-my.  For such simple ingredients, this stuffing packed incredible flavor.  The shallots and garlic really shone through.  It was very moist, too, and the slight crunch from the celery added great texture.  This was a terrific basic recipe (I’d definitely make it again!), but I’m tempted to try some of the variations listed in the magazine – mushrooms and sage, apples and raisins, or sausage.  Which one sounds the best? 🙂

TIPS: If you plan to bake the stuffing right after you make it, it probably only needs 20 minutes in the oven to be warmed through.  I would still brown it for 15 minutes, though.

Recipe link: Simple Stuffing

Cranberry Grape Compote

Since Thanksgiving is getting so close, I had to throw another cranberry recipe in the mix. Cranberries aren’t for everyone, but if you like sweet-tart flavors, you should give Cranberry Grape Compote from the November 2006 issue of Everyday Food a try.

This may be the easiest recipe I’ve posted so far. I just combined a package (12 oz.) of fresh cranberries, 3 cups of seedless red grapes, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan.

cranberry_grape_compote1.jpg

I brought that to a boil over medium-high heat, reduced the heat to medium, and simmered the mixture for about 15 minutes. It’s finished when most of the cranberries have popped and the grapes are falling apart. I removed it from the heat and stirred in 1/8 teaspoon of salt. The compote thickens as it cools, and it’s supposed to be served at room temperature.

cranberry_grape_compote.jpg

The best part about this recipe may be that it keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Dr. O doesn’t really care for cranberries, but I know I can polish this off myself within that period of time. This is an ideal Thanksgiving side as well.

TIPS: It’s fine to use fresh *or* frozen cranberries with this recipe. Fresh cranberries are easy to find in the grocery store during November and December, but a summer cranberry craving may require frozen berries.

Recipe link: Cranberry Grape Compote




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