You are currently browsing the Dinner category.
by Danica Waters / photo courtesy of www.cmroman.com
Here is a toast to replacing the everyday with the truly extraordinary – especially when the extraordinary is exceedingly simple to create. Take these hash browns, for example. Paired with Sunday morning omlettes (try them stuffed with spinach, scallions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and some spicy pepper jack), this preparation is a surprisingly simple, altogether incredible addition to the breakfast table.
Light some white candles and serve with a pot of hot tea. (Even if you’re still in your jammies.)
Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric
2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to ¼”dice
2 small russet potatoes, cut to ¼” dice
1 onion, cut to ½” dice
5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ C olive oil
3 tsp garam masala or to taste
1 tsp turmeric, or to taste
In large heavy pan with a good lid, heat pan over medium heat. Add oil until hot but not smoking. When oil is ready, add potatoes, onion, garlic, and spices. Combine and cover – cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When potatoes are golden brown and lightly caramelized on the base of the pan, remove lid and allow some of the moisture to dissipate. Keep warm until ready to serve.
by Danica Waters
“What is it? A red banana? “
Ummmm….No. This is the Crown Fold. If you need something regal or royal, this is one way to pull out all the stops and embellish your table setting (in a royal banana sort of way).
Just about the time you think it’s “stuffy”, think again! This is a terrific fold for a kids’ party; use reversible patterned napkins for fun results.
Don’t panic if you have to practice this one a few times. And note: an iron and some spray starch work wonders… if you’re going to the trouble, go all the way!
The Crown Fold
Lay the napkin face-down in front of you.
Fold the napkin in half diagonally, and orient it so that the open ends face away from you.
Fold the right corner up so that the point rests directly on top of the middle corner and the fold creates a center line.
Repeat Step 3 with the other side, and create a diamond shape with all points facing away from you.
Turn napkin over carefully so that the new open seam lies face down.
Fold the bottom corner closest to you up about 2/3rds of the way up and press down well.
Now take the top of the inner triangle and fold it down, bringing the point to rest on the near edge of the napkin, and exactly on the center line. Press well. (This is a good time for an iron!)
Curl the right and left sides of the napkin up and around, tucking one inside the other so that they securely meet and hold in the middle.
Now stand the napkin up and tug at the sides, molding and shaping where needed to make sure it’s even and well-rounded in appearance.
Posted November 28th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters / chipotle photo courtesy of www.motherearthnews.com
I love Thanksgiving. However, I must confess, once it’s over, my personal palate wants to be as far away from Thanksgiving flavors as is humanly possible.
Out of desperation and sheer will several Thanksgivings ago, I pulled everything out of my kitchen cabinets, chose a few ingredients that looked like they’d be light years from anything closely resembling potatoes or stuffing, and ended up what my family feels is a little masterpiece. They expect it to follow Thanksgiving at this point, it’s that good.
Now keep in mind that although chipotles play really well against the strong flavor of turkey meat (and the darker the meat, the better) they can be a bit on the naughty side; their heat will sneak up on you and set your tongue on fire if you’re not careful. Adding a whole 6-oz can to your soup will most certainly put hair on your chest and enliven your step, so judge your own tastes accordingly.
I, for one, don’t like to perpetuate that Thanksgiving-food-coma-feeling any longer than I have to, so I make it per my original recipe and serve it with a hearty piece of Corn Bread.
And Milk. Lots of cold milk.
Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder
1 – 18 lb turkey carcass
1 medium onion chopped coarsely
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
Several sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 tsp chicken or vegetable bullion, or to taste
1 – 6 oz can chipotle chile peppers, chopped fine (or use to taste!)
1 – 8 oz can green chiles, chopped fine
1 – 16 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
1 ear corn, kernels stripped
3 Tbsp minced cilantro
3 Tbsp minced parsley
2 C basmati rice
Sour Cream, Lime Sections, Minced Cilantro for garnish
Place turkey carcass (all of it) into a large stockpot. Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 2 stalks celery, bay leaf, and several sprigs of parsley. Cover all with water, and boil until meat loosens from bone and stock becomes fragrant. For richer stock, allow liquid to reduce a bit. Allow to cool thoroughly; strain off stock and reserve in stock pot.
Discard vegetables. Remove meat from bone, being ultra-careful to separate any bone and cartilage from the meat. (Sorry, but NOTHING will ruin a great homemade soup faster than finding a bit of bone or cartilage in it. That’s just… ick.) Chop or shred turkey meat and set aside.
In separate pan, saute onion and garlic until soft, add celery. Saute about 1 minute, add carrots and allow to sauté for approximately 2 minutes more.
Season reserved stock in stockpot with chicken bullion or stock concentrate – preferably MSG-free! Add vegetable mixture to reserved stock; add chopped de-boned turkey, green chiles, black beans, cilantro & parsley.
Add finely chopped chipotle peppers to taste – be careful – add a bit at a time, as the smoky heat can sneak up quickly!
Add raw rice to soup, simmer until rice is tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add fresh corn just prior to serving – the crisp tender texture makes the soup wonderful!
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and a generous squeeze of lime juice.
Posted November 25th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters
Tomorrow brings the United States of America’s cherished annual Thanksgiving celebration. A kickoff to our winter holiday season, Thanksgiving is a special day hopefully spent with family and close friends in shared celebration of each other and with a grateful spirit for all that we have. In an ideal world, Thanksgiving inspires warm and beautiful visions of bounty and togetherness, laughter and shared memories, hopes and dreams for the future, and lots and lots of “Kodak Moments”. And food. Lots of food.
Indeed, across Facebook, American friends of the Allspice Chronicles are conversing about how their kettles are steaming, their pie crusts are filled with lovely, tempting deliciousness, their tables are set and ready for wonderful celebrations nationwide. As most cooks will confess: on this holiday, there is no place we’d rather be than creating art in the kitchen by stirring spices, magic and love into a feast for those we love the most, for new friends and old.
But Thanksgiving can quickly turn into a daunting and disheartening experience for those who have fallen on hard times, and in our great country and around the world, that number is rising. I am reminded of a young mother of two whose husband had lost his job last year when his company closed its doors. She was one of the best employees at this place of work- always on time, always one to give 110 percent. Although she never complained about her situation, just before Thanksgiving she became rather withdrawn. We all vaguely knew she must have been under some serious financial stress, given that there were medical problems within the family and she had no medical benefits, but no one knew the extent of it, and everyone felt uncomfortable about inquiring into the particulars.
In a moment of work stress and desperation, she finally confided in one of her peers about her financial situation, about how she didn’t know how she was even going to afford groceries, let alone a celebratory dinner for her husband and her precious little girls.
(Now here, folks, is where the human spirit shines.)
The news went around the workplace like wildfire, and within 24 hours a plan was developed to provide her family all the ingredients for a generous Thanksgiving dinner. Employees who really didn’t have the extra cash to give found a way to pitch in, and what started as a Thanksgiving rescue plan morphed into an offering of food and enough cash and grocery gift cards to take care of the distressed employee and her family for a good while.
This Thanksgiving, the Allspice Chronicles would like to offer its first toast to the human spirit. May we always remain aware of and sensitive to the plight of others, and may we diligently work together to alleviate suffering in our own backyard, if not worldwide.
It is, after all, a very small world.
To that point, after posting Camille Glenn’s recipe for Alabama Yams with Oranges, one of our readers from Africa submitted a request for the Allspice Chronicles to expand on the traditional American preparation for Sweet Potatoes/Yams with Toasted Marshmallows. Given that the sweet potato is a staple of the African diet, and given the horrible state of drought and famine that certain portions of Africa are experiencing, it was humbling, endearing and enlightening to receive such a request.
We at the Allspice Chronicles hope more than anything to see the eradication of world hunger, poverty, suffering. It is the least we can do to provide a recipe, extracted from the sentimental foundation of our cherished common American experiences, and we look forward to the day when our little blog will feature personal stories and heirloom recipes from around the world. Diversity makes us rich, stories show us how much we are the same.
After all, food, like music, is an international language. We all may express it differently, but in the end it contains the same basic ingredients which serve to nourish and inspire, comfort and console our weary spirits. And for this, may we all be thankful.
Here’s the recipe for Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows.
Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows
4-5 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 C butter
1/4 C milk
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Bake sweet potatoes until soft. Scoop out the soft flesh from the skins into a large bowl; discard the skins. Add butter, milk, salt, and brown sugar; mix with hand mixer or potato masher until light and fluffy. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to suit your preference; mix thoroughly.
Spoon sweet potato mixture into buttered 9 x 9″ baking dish.
Top with miniature marshmallows, or with whole marshmallows cut in half.
Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes; switch heat to “Broil – High Heat” and allow to cook until marshmallows bubble and turn dark brown on top. (This will give it the perfect flavor)
Allow to rest 5 minutes prior to serving.
Serves 4 – 6
Posted November 23rd, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters
The Standing Fan fold is an elegant, show-stopping way to dress up your formal holiday table. Although it looks a bit intimidating, it’s actually very simple to achieve.
For a softer presentation, hand-pressing the folds is sufficient; however, for crisp folds, an iron and a bit of spray starch will work wonders.
Here’s the how-to:
Lay the napkin face down in front of you.
Fold the napkin in half, bringing the corners towards you. (Yours won’t have the accordion creases yet… we’ve worked the fold backwards so you can see what it is supposed to look like!)
Fold the napkin accordion-style from either side, leaving approximately 2-1/2 – 3 inches on the opposite side un-folded to support the fan.
Fold the napkin in half with the accordion folds on the outside.
Holding the accordion folds in one hand, grab the unfolded corners with your other hand and tuck them under the accordion folds.
Open up the fan and stand it upright. Voila!
Posted November 21st, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters / butternut squash image courtesy of www.cookinglight.com
This, dear readers, is a recipe for Butternut Squash soup excellence. Clipped from an issue of the Rocky Mountain News years ago, this recipe qualifies as one of my personal all-time favorites for the following reasons:
It is definitely “comforting”, which makes it a great bet for weekend soup-and-sandwich fare (think grilled Havarti cheese with caramelized onions on French – or better yet, homemade – bread);
It is also extremely sophisticated, which makes it an outstanding choice for a formal, multiple-course meal;
But the best part of all is that this is not your ordinary comforting cream soup. It is far more exciting; the addition of cayenne pepper creates a sensory surprise and leaves a delicious tingle on your tongue; go sparingly at first and add to suit your preference.
Creamy Squash Soup
(as seen in the Rocky Mountain News)
1/3 C diced white onion (don’t substitute – the white onion is more delicate than its yellow cousins!)
3 Tbsp dry white wine
1/8 tsp marjoram
2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks*
4 C rich chicken stock
1-1/2 C heavy cream or half and half
4 Tbsp butter, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
Garnish: sour cream, freshly snipped chives or fresh rosemary sprig; toasted pumpkin seeds or toasted chopped walnuts
Saute the onion in one tablespoon of the butter until soft and transparent. Add the wine, marjoram, squash and stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes or so, or until the squash is very tender.
Carefully puree the mixture in a blender, a little at a time. Pour it back into the pan over medium heat and add cream and butter. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Heat the soup, stirring constantly, until heated through (do not allow to boil). Taste and add more seasonings, if desired. If the soup is too thick, thin it with more stock or cream.
Keep the soup warm over low heat or over a double-boiler. Be careful not to scorch it. Serve the soup in mugs or wide, flat bowls with your choice of garnishes.
*Note from author: Figuring out how to cut and peel a butternut squash safely and efficiently is a bit of a challenge due to their hard, thick skins. Here’s some tips:
1) Use a large, very sharp Chef’s knife or Santoku.
2) Use a thick cutting board with a non-skid bottom. Wood is great!
3) Turn the squash on its side, and, cutting from the widest end first, cut the squash into rings approximately 1-1/2” thick.
4) Remove the seeds and fibers from the inside of the rings and discard.
5) Cut the rings into quarters.
6) Using a paring knife, peel the hard skins off the squash and discard.
7) Cut the squash into smaller pieces if desired.
Voila! You have conquered a butternut squash! (And you get to keep your fingers!)
Posted November 17th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters
It is cold and wet today, just like the weathermen promised. The rain is coming down in big, splashy drops and I must confess: .I absolutely love days like today. Ella Fitzgerald is simmering on my speakers, a pot of dee-lish Lentil Soup simmering on the stove, and this spicy little number will be the perfect accompaniment to all of it.
You can make this cornbread with any type of salsa; it’s milder and more innocent with a good green chile salsa or even a basic tomato-jalapeno salsa. But there’s something wicked and deliberate about the smoky nature of chipotles. Be careful – the heat will sneak up on you, so if you’re serving kids or a crowd, either use the salsa sparingly or only marble half the batch.
1 cup Yellow Corn Meal (I use Alber’s)
1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 C milk
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 – 3 Tbsp chipotle salsa, or to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl; mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.
Spoon chipotle salsa in small mounds onto the cornbread surface; using a knife, swirl salsa through batter to create marbled effect.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.
NOTE Recipe may be doubled. Use greased 13×9-inch baking pan; bake as above.
SPOON batter into 10 to 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes.
Posted November 11th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters / photo credits at bottom of post
This is one of my all-time favorite winter soups, the recipe for which hailed from the old Chateau Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is going to sound weird, but this soup tastes glamorous. And powerful, too, in a Sinatra sort of way. Try it – you’ll see what I mean. It is hearty, with a delicious tang and terrific texture. It’s also incredibly easy to make, which comes in very handy when you have a million holiday-related things to do on top of the million other normal everyday things you have to do.
While the original recipe calls for the addition of bacon and frankfurters. I’ve found that substituting a bit of diced turkey ham and a few drops of liquid smoke flavoring substitutes for the bacon just fine. With respect to the frankfurters, I use Foster Farms turkey franks. Rated #1 in taste tests for best flavor and best overall texture (no tough skins – could easily double as a regular hot dog), Foster Farms guarantees no added hormones or steroids. (source: http://www.seattlepi.com)
Serve it with a thick slice of Chipotle Cornbread (recipe to follow tomorrow!) and a crisp salad. It’ll warm you up…
(Chateau Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada; as seen in Bon Appetit’s Favorite Restaurant Recipes)
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
¼ medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 quarts water (8 cups)
1 pound lentils (brown lentils preferred for texture)
¼ C diced canned tomatoes
1 bay leaf
6 frankfurters, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp steak sauce
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
Fry bacon (or diced turkey ham) in Dutch oven until almost crisp, adding oil if necessary. Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in water, lentils, tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.
Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking until frankfurter slices are heated, about 10 minutes.
Bowl of lentil soup courtesy of www. chicgalleria.com
Raw lentils image courtesy of www.slowcarbfoodie.com
Foster Farms Turkey Franks image courtesy of www.fosterfarms.com
Posted November 10th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.unwinnable.com
Traditionally, any yam served in my childhood home during the month of November was baked, mashed with butter, cream, a wee bit of salt and brown sugar, and covered with mounds of fluffy marshmallows that were subsequently broiled until nearly black and gooey on top. Come to think of it, the only time we actually ate yams back then was during the month of November.
Upon having children of my own and deciding early on there was no way I was going to feed my babies processed baby nasty-food, I did some research into the nutritional merits of these terrific tubers. It seems they have a far lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. They also happen to be packed with potassium, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B3 while registering low on the sodium counter. Best of all, kids actually like to eat them with little or no negotiation, marshmallows or no marshmallows. I started serving them regularly to the whole family as a tasty side that could double as homemade baby food. Two birds with one stone? That’s how I roll! Baked in their skins with a dash of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, or cut up and oven-roasted, yams are delicious and appear on my household menus at least once a week.
However tasty the good old fashioned yam might happen to be all by itself, the holidays call for something a bit more elegant, more celebratory. This is it. From the Heritage of Southern Cooking, author (and southern cooking guru) Camille Glenn has this to say:
” This is the Deep South way with yams or sweet potatoes. It seems to always show up with the Thanksgiving turkey, but it is just as compatible with a good ham or chicken. Do not peel either the potatoes or the orange. If you don’t have a luscious rich sauce, you have been too cautious with the butter.”
Amen. Be sure to slice the oranges as thin as possible – if you have a mandoline slicer, use it, but if not, just be sure to cut the slices super-thin. Use real butter, and for heaven’s sake, listen to Ms. Glenn! Don’t be shy! It’s the holidays, after all. This dish is excellent served with Green Beans Sauteed With Olive Oil; the citrus overtones keep the palate fresh and thoroughly entertained.
Alabama Yams With Oranges
(Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn)
6 yams or sweet potatoes, fully cooked and cooled (I bake mine for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees – the yam shouldn’t be too mushy, but it should be cooked to the point that it can be easily sliced)
3 navel oranges, thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 C (1 to –1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 C sugar
1 C fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and slice the cooked sweet potatoes very thin and place one layer in a shallow buttered baking dish. Top with a layer of orange slices. Dot generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Continue layering. You should have 3 layers, ending with a layer of potatoes, butter, and topping it off with sugar.
Mix the orange juice with the lemon juice and pour it over the potatoes.
Bake until a pleasant syrup has formed and the top is tinged with brown.
Serves 6 – 8
Posted November 9th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.moosecrossinggardencenter.com
There are lots of recipes for sautéed green beans out there in the wild blue yonder. Most of those recipes invite a whole lot of other ingredients to the party: tomatoes, wine, garlic, cream of mushroom soup, etc. – the list goes on and on. It seems that somewhere along the way, we forgot that the good ol’ green bean can hold its own on the dinner table; its simple, spectacularly fresh flavor doesn’t need a lot of help as long as it’s treated properly. Allowed to simply be itself, the green bean has all sorts of great things to offer: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, and a full range of beneficial B Vitamins, carotenoids, and antioxidans are but a few of its virtues.
This recipe is simple. It features fresh green beans sautéed in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until crisp tender, and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh lemon juice. Exquisite! .
An excellent accompaniment to Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce, these green beans go well with French and Italian cuisines, in addition to fish, poultry, and vegetarian dishes. This preparation is so delicious, it might have you looking at that grayish green been casserole on the Thanksgiving menu in a whole new light.
Green Beans Sauteed in Olive Oil
1 lb fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and patted dry
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
Kosher Salt to taste
Prepare beans, be sure they are thoroughly dry to avoid splatter when they are added to the oil.
In a wide, shallow sauté pan or frying pan, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add green beans and cover; allow to cook for about a minute. Beans should be lightly browned, but not charred – keep your eye on them. Remove cover and allow condensation to run back into the pan; turn beans and cook another minute. Once beans are browned a bit on all sides, add 2 -3 Tbsp water to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and allow to steam until beans are bright green and crisp tender, approximately an additional 3 -5 minutes, depending on your preference.
Remove to a serving dish; squeeze fresh lemon juice over beans and season with Kosher Salt to taste. Toss well and serve.
Posted October 20th, 2011. Add a comment