Flash Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion and Lemon Pepper

Flash Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts go from raw to crispy/tender in about 8 minutes in a hot oven.  So there is really no need to ever cook them any other way!  Here, I’ve given the onion a bit of a head start so that it could achieve a sweet silky flavor and texture.  The added benefit is that the sprouts get a chance to caramelize on the sizzling hot pan long before they make that unfortunate transition to mush, as they are apt to do when overcooked.  The lemon pepper brightens this vegetable dish up and the pine nuts add a rich little crunch.  Easy enough for everyday….special enough for your holiday feast.

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1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups trimmed, halved brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

salt and lemon pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Toss red onion and olive oil in a large roasting pan (or baking sheet with sides) spread it out, and roast until it is just starting to caramelize, 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the lemon pepper.  Rinse the cut sprouts in water then put them in a medium sized bowl and pour the butter mixture oven them.  Toss well to coat. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, add the brussels sprouts mixture, toss together with the onions then spread everything out into a single layer.  Return to oven for 8-10 minutes until sprouts are just tender and turning golden brown.  Do a taste test after 6-7 minutes to see where you are… sprouts come in different sizes and you do not want to overcook them. They should be tender on the outside with a bit of a crunch in the middle. (and they will continue to cook for a minute or two after they come out of the oven so err on the side of undercooking here) Remove from oven, add pine nuts and toss to warm through.  Season with salt and a generous sprinkle of Lemon Pepper to taste.  Serve 5-6

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Once-A-Year Sourdough Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving Dressing

Why “once a year”?  Well, sourdough bread and cornbread doused in butter, broth and cream just can’t be an everyday side dish.  And, there is something to be said for keeping a recipe special by only serving it once a year.  This dressing is moist on the inside from the cornbread, with crispy bits on the top from the sourdough bread.  The seasonings are subtle and the whole dish is melt-in-your-mouth rich; the perfect complement to your Thanksgiving Day turkey.  You can make this a day or two in advance, refrigerate it uncooked, and just pop it in the oven on the big day.  My recipe is adapted from one published in the New York Times a few years back.

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3/4 cup butter   (plus extra for buttering baking dish)

6 cups crumbled cornbread (see note below)

6 cups crusty sourdough bread, torn into bite sized pieces

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage (see note below)

2 teaspoons salt

black pepper

6 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups chicken broth

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter 9×13 inch baking dish.  Melt the 3/4 cup butter and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine corn bead, sourdough bread, onion, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss until well mixed.   Add melted butter, eggs, cream and 1 1/2 cups broth. Mix lightly but well.  Mixture should be moist.  Pour into prepared baking dish, do not pack it down…you want the top to have some texture.  If mixture seems dry around edges, drizzle with remaining broth.  Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm and golden brown on top.  Serves 12.

For cornbread:  You don’t want to use a sweet cornbread in this recipe.  Here is an easy, quick recipe.  

Preheat oven to 475.  Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small cast iron skillet and place in the hot oven to preheat.  In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix,  2 cups buttermilk , 1 beaten egg and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.  Just mix it quickly…ok if there are lumps.  Carefully pour batter into hot skillet and bake until golden brown.

Concerning dried sage:  Check the expiration date and smell for freshness.  Some of us find that our dried sage was left over from Thanksgivings past and is nothing more than a flavorless dust!

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Chocolate Fudge Pie with Salted Caramel Pecans

Chocolate Pecan Pie 1

When a friend showed me this pie on the cover of Southern Living recently, I knew that we had to try it and the results were quite spectacular.   We made a couple of minor changes (improvements, dare I say).

First of all, the name…this is actually a chocolate pie with pecans on top. The original name “Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie” leaves one expecting a more traditional pecan pie filling.

Secondly, we didn’t care for the lemon juice in the caramel of the original recipe .… gave  it a curious taste,  so we tossed it and made it again without.  (very quick process, don’t be afraid of the caramel!)

Thirdly, the recipe calls for a deep dish pie crust. But please don’t use the frozen ones in the disposable tins.  It is almost as easy to use the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts and set it in your own pie plate and crimp the edged for a more homemade look.

One more note…if you want to make sure to have gorgeous pecans for your pie, order these  Natural Extra Fancy Mammoth Pecan Halves from Sunnyland Farms.  They are amazing!  We ordered the large economical box and split it up so we will both have fresh pecans in the freezer year round.

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Chocolate Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust

Salted Caramel topping

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups toasted pecan halves

flakey salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll pie crust and set into a deep pie dish and crimp the edges decoratively.  In a large bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients of the filling.  Add the eggs and stir until well blended.  Fold in the chopped pecans and pour the filling mixture into the pie shell.

Bake for 35 minutes.  The filling may still seem a bit loose just in the center but will continue to set as it cools.

For the caramel, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over hight heat.  Do not stir.  Boil until sugar begins to change color and then swirl the pot to “stir”.  Do not walk away from the pot at this point because the sugar can go from just right to burnt very quickly.  The whole process will take about 6-8 minutes.  When it is a dark amber color, remover from heat and immediately stir in the cream and butter and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

Arrange the toasted pecan halves on top of the cooled pie then drizzle all over with the caramel sauce.  Sprinkle with the flakey salt and let cool before serving. (serves 8)

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Mama’s All-Bran Cloverleaf Rolls

bran roll to post 2These rolls were a fixture of our holiday meals growing up in Mississippi.  The warm, sweet smell of this bread in the oven brings back lots of wonderful memories. I reconfigured them as cloverleaf rolls, which makes a simple recipe even easier.  And who doesn’t love pulling apart cloverleaf rolls and slathering the thirds with butter! This recipe will make 20-24 rolls, depending on the size of your muffin tins.

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2 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup Kellogg’s All-Bran cereal

1 package yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (for brushing tops)

flakey salt, such as Maldon Sea Salt (for sprinkling tops)

In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar and shortening to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Set aside to cool a bit.  When it is no longer hot, but still warm, sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit a few minutes until it begins to foam.  Stir in All-Bran and 2 cups of the flour. Cover with a clean towel and let sit in a warm spot until mixture has doubled in size.  This will take 45 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 cups of flour with the salt, baking soda and baking powder.  And get your pans ready by lightly greasing two 12-count muffin tins.

When yeast mixture has risen, use a large wooden spoon to stir in the remaining flour mixture.  To form the cloverleafs, roll the dough into balls, about the size of whole walnuts and place three in each muffin cup.  Cover the pans lightly with a clean towel, let rise until doubled in size (about an hour). Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly and gently brush the risen rolls with melted unsalted butter (a silicone brush is best for this because you don’t want to delate the rolls) and sprinkle very lightly with flakey salt.  Bake 10-12 minutes until rolls are golden.  Serve immediately.

Make ahead option:  After you have placed the dough balls into the muffin tins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to overnight.  Before baking, remove from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and cover lightly with a clean towel and let rise.  Brush with butter, sprinkle lightly with salt and bake as directed above.

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Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

One of my favorite ways to fancy-up Brussels Sprouts….This recipe is adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin.
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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound small Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
1/4 pound bacon, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup lower sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
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Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes.  Swirl in the olive oil and butter and wait another minute.  Add the Brussels sprouts, and season them with 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Shake the pan, rolling the Brussels sprouts around to help them brown evenly.  After a few minutes, turn the heat to medium and cook another 3-4 minutes until the sprouts soften slightly.
     Add the diced bacon to the pan and cook a minute or two, until it starts to crisp.  Stir in the shallots and garlic and cook another minute or so, until they are translucent.  Pour in the balsamic vinegar and reduce by half.  Add the chicken stock and reduce to about 1/4 cup, stirring and shaking the pan often to glaze the sprouts.  If you start to run low on liquid before the sprouts are cooked, add a little water to the pan.  You want the Brussels sprouts to be tender yet still have a bit of a crunch to them.  Overcooked Brussels sprouts are the reason that a lot of folks think that they don’t like the vegetable. Serve immediately or transfer to a baking sheet to cool.
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Pureed Sweet Potatoes with Sour Cream and Nutmeg

I love sweet potatoes but I don’t want them to taste like dessert,  which is why I love this recipe. (Adapted from Emeril Lagasse ) These are warmly spiced and the texture is pure velvet.

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1.  Bake 4 large sweet potatoes in a 350 degree oven until soft, about an hour.
2.  Carefully peel potatoes while hot and put them a large bowl with 4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
3. Beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
4.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and an extra sprinkle of nutmeg.
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Roasted and Caramelized Whole Shallots

I’ve served them with grilled chicken, tonight they are waiting for the Fennel Spiced Pork Loin to come out of the oven, and next week I’ll quadruple the recipe to serve alongside our turkey.  Roasted Shallots have more flavor and are sweeter than pearl onions…AND they are infinitely easier to prepare.  The recipe is from Ina Garten, published in Barefoot in Paris.  (note:  stick with medium to small sized shallots if you want the roasting time to be 15-20 minutes)

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6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons good red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan, add the shallots and sugar and toss to coat.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown.  Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Place the saute pan in the oven and roast for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender.  Season to taste, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

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