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Recipes and food musings for the global home cook.

This bright and beautiful salad is best served at room temperature. Bring it along to your next potluck, or serve it at home as a side dish with pork chops or chicken. (In Praise of Leftovers)

Kale and brown rice salad with cranberries and pecans

By In Praise of Leftovers / 11.26.12

I feel two ways about potlucks. On one hand, they're the only sensible way for a big group to gather and eat together. In all my magazine-reading (have I mentioned how much I love magazines? The paper kind?), I often come across "Easy do-ahead party menus!" that look atrocious. More work than I have ever put into having anyone over in my life. Maybe each step is technically easy, but you'd still have to be unemployed (or have a kitchen staff), hyper organized, and love cooking to pull it off. So potlucks solve this problem.

However, sometimes too many potlucks stack up in one week, and I find they are just as much work (or more) than what I would have made for my family that night. And I have occasionally cursed potlucks, though please don't tell anyone. Puget Sounders are supposed to love them. Always.

I adore people that bring a hot, main dish to potlucks. People with crockpots (I gave mine away as it was suffering from disuse), people with those handy Rubbermaid sets with thermal jackets. If you're one of those, thank you! Keep doing your thing!

As for me and my house, we will supply the salad. It's usually something like this one – brown rice and kale salad with cranberries and pecans. Here's my reasoning:

1. It's vegan and gluten free. And I label it as such. 

2. It's filling. Though I'm not a main dish super hero (God bless you!) it's conceivable that someone could eat a load of this and feel fairly satisfied.

3. It's delicious. Have I ever let you down? (Don't chime in if I have. I know readers have slaved over some recipes and been ruinously disappointed. I'm sorry!)

4. It is best served room temperature. (Potluck royalty!)

5. It can sit in its vinaigrette forever and just get better. You don't have to worry about it getting soggy.

6. Crazily, I usually have everything I need for a version of this salad -- grains, greens, homemade vinagrette. If you wash and dry kale and put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge, it lasts a really long time. (Though it gets gobbled up around here. Along with a latte and Triscuits, it's the food I eat almost every day.)

7. It looks bright and beautiful with the macerated cranberries and the green kale. There's never any left.

The very first recipe I posted was something similar – Barley and kale salad with dried cherries and blue cheese. I had taken it to my Mom's birthday party and been accosted with requests for the recipe.

I prided myself on always delivering recipes (handwritten and cobbled together from memory) to people who asked for them, but had the idea of putting it online to save my fingers from so much work. I made up the name on-the-spot, and I've always been glad I didn't think it about it much. Otherwise it wouldn't have happened. (I have a couple dear friends who are contemplating – and contemplating some more! –the idea starting a blog. Just get out there. We'll all be better for it.)

Kale and brown rice salad with cranberries and pecans

You could use white rice, barley, quinoa ... so many other grains here. The important thing is that it's had a chance to cool down a little bit so the grains can separate. If you can't cook it ahead of time and chill it, just spread it out in a very shallow layer, drizzle a little bit of olive oil over it, and stir it occasionally to release the steam.

4 cups cooked grain (I made brown rice in my rice cooker the day before)

1 large bunch curly green kale, de-stemmed, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons honey

salt and pepper

2 garlic gloves

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil 

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 

1/2 cup dried cranberries

For dressing

Combine honey, salt and pepper, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil with an immersion blender. (Or with a whisk if you use a garlic press.) Add more of anything to taste. Drop the sliced onions and dried cranberries into the dressing to marinate.

To assemble salad

In a large bowl, combine rice, kale, and dressing. I use my hands. Make sure everything is covered with the vinaigrette. That's what makes this salad. Scatter the toasted pecans over the top and maybe a little more coarse salt and pepper. 

Related post on In Praise of Leftovers: Farfalle with kale, bacon, and mint

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Forget potatoes! Try cauliflower mash. Add butter, salt, and nutmeg to steamed cauliflower, and blend. (Beyond the Peel)

Scallops with almond butter and creamy cauliflower

By Beyond the Peel / 11.23.12

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you'll know how important date night is to my husband and me. If we didn’t set a time aside for just the two of us, I know a month would go by and we’d be asking ourselves, “When was the last time we really did something together?”

I admire those couples that seem to find time for each other every single day or even several times a week. We’ll get there some day. We strive for it. Some weeks are better then others, and then there are weeks like this one, where we get to Friday in a whirlwind and wonder where the week went.

On days like those, I am thankful for easy date night meals. This is one of those. It comes together in 20 minutes. The rest of the night, we can fall into each others arms and just be together. No expectations. No schedule. No big kitchen clean up. Just simply the lightness of being … being together.

Serve with a large green salad to start!

Scallops with golden almonds

 6 large scallops or enough for 2 people

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

smoked paprika

salt and pepper

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh

In a frying pan melt butter with olive oil. Pat the scallops dry using a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with paprika. I use a sweet paprika, but use what you like best. A good-quality Spanish or Hungarian paprika is a world apart from the stuff in the bulk bins!

Once the butter mixture is very hot, add the scallops. Cook for 2 minutes per side (if scallops are 1 inch across, less if they are smaller, more if they are larger) until browned on both sides but not quite cooked through.

Place the scallops on a bed of creamed cauliflower (see below). Add the almonds to the pan and cook until the almonds are brown. Add the lemon juice and stir until combined. Top the scallops with the almond butter sauce.

Creamy cauliflower

 6 cups cauliflower florets or 1 large head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

Salt and pepper, to taste

Steam the cauliflower for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Strain and return to the pot. Add butter, salt and nutmeg. Using an emulsion blender, purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. A food processor or blender will also work.

Place 1-1/2 cups of cauliflower puree into a wide low rimmed bowl or plate. Top with scallops and browned almonds.

 

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Add this salad to your plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. If you're already peeling potatoes it's easy to get this ready and stash it in the back of the fridge. (The Runaway Spoon)

Autumn sweet potato salad

By The Runaway Spoon / 11.21.12

Part of the joy of Thanksgiving for me is the leftovers. I cook a turkey bigger than my family could ever eat on the day, I make huge amounts of dressing, I even cram some in a loaf pan to bake so it can be sliced to fit on a sandwich. My shopping lists include good bread, cheese and condiments for next day sandwiches. I’ve made fig, bourbon and vanilla bean jam and rosemary pear butter months ahead to spread on those sandwiches.

After the fun of a formal meal, it’s nice to gather the next day (usually at someone else’s house, lucky me) very casually, in jeans and comfy sweaters, to enjoy our own sandwich creations.

If the leftovers are a big part of your tradition, or if you have guests around the house through the weekend, add this salad to your plans. As long as you are buying (and peeling) all those sweet potatoes for the big meal, it’s worth the little extra effort to have this stashed in the fridge.

It is an absolute dream next to a turkey sandwich, better than a bag of chips, and looks like you really went that extra mile. Earthy sweet potatoes, crunchy pecans, tart cranberries and rich maple syrup create a symphony of fall flavor. If your fridge is full to bursting, you can store this in a ziptop bag in a crisper drawer to take up less room.

A word about process. Don’t be tempted to do that TV chef-y thing and put the potato cubes directly on the baking sheet, casually drizzle over oil and roast.  When you do that, there is inevitably too much oil, and the potatoes steam rather than roast, so they don’t get those nice, crisp edges, but are mushy and soft. 

Lightly toss the potatoes with a small amount of oil in a bowl, rubbing around with your hands to get a little coating on each cube, then lift the potatoes out of the bowl onto a baking sheet (I line mine with non-stick foil for easy cleaning), leaving any extra oil behind. I do this with all my roasted vegetables.

Autumn sweet potato salad
Serves 6 

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B amber)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

3–4 fresh sage leaves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Ground black pepper

4 green onions, white and some dark green parts, finely chopped

2/3 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

2/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. You want them to be bite-sized and roughly the same size so they roast evenly. Toss the potato cubes with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Use your hands to make sure every potato cube has just a slick of oil on it. Lift the potatoes out of the bowl onto a rimmed baking sheet. 

Roast them for 25–30 minutes, until a knife easily slides into a potato piece. You want them to be cooked through but not mushy. They should still hold their shape and have a little bite. Cool the potatoes to room temperature.

Put the mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, sage, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil until you have a creamy, emulsified dressing.

When the potatoes are cool, gently toss them with the chopped green onions, pecans and cranberries. Pour over the dressing and toss until all the potatoes are coated. It’s fine if you prefer not to use all the dressing, but reserve the remainder in case you want to add some later.

Refrigerate the potato salad, tightly covered, for several hours or up to a few days.

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This old-timey recipe for pumpkin pie calls for little sugar, molasses, and (suprise!) no cinnamon. (Kitchen Report)

Victorian pumpkin pie

By Kitchen Report / 11.21.12

On most American Thanksgiving tables, pumpkin pie is as much a presence as the turkey centerpiece. In modern forms it may appear as a flan, a cheesecake, or a frozen whipped delight.

In a Victorian-era cookbook, “The Art of Cookery: A Manual for Home and Schools” by Emma P Ewing, I found a recipe for a pumpkin pie that surprised me for two reasons: the heavy use of molasses and no cinnamon.

The cookbook belonged to Minnie P. Weygandt, the cook for Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor. Minnie had inscribed her name, the date (Aug. 24, 1899), and the place, “Pleasant View,” Concord, N.H., in the flyleaf. Pleasant View was the home of Eddy at the turn of the 19th century and one can assume that Minnie used this cooking guide quite a bit as she prepared meals for at least a dozen people.

Being a cook for a large household in the late 1800s was no easy task.

“When I was cooking for Mrs. Eddy then we did not have the convenience of a gas stove,” writes Minnie in her reminiscences that can be found in the archives of The Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston. “All the cooking was done on a very small coal range, which was later supplemented by a two burner gas plate kept on the end of the stove. Many times we worked over that inadequate stove until eleven and twelve at night during the canning and preserving season.” (p. 40)

That sounds like a nightmare.

As it was close to Thanksgiving when I asked the Mary Baker Eddy Library staff to bring me Minnie’s copy of “The Art of Cookery” from the archives, I naturally looked up the recipe for pumpkin pie.

I have pointed out before, molasses was a common ingredient in early New England cooking. And the use of molasses in pumpkin pie gives it a much richer, browner color.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, or even pumpin pie spice is not present at all in this simple version of pumpkin pie. I was a little skeptical that I had copied the recipe down wrong when I saw “1 tablespoon ginger” in my notes, but I followed through. As most early recipes do not provide oven temperatures, considering the wide range of stoves in use, the recipe simply instructed, “Bake until pie is brown in the center.”

I consulted a couple of other cookbooks to come up with a satisfactory oven temperature, and used a knife test just to be sure the pie was finished after it had cooked for nearly an hour.

If you are not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, you may prefer this version. The molasses cloaks the pumpkin flavor and the absence of cinnamon may trick your taste memories away from declaring,”Oh, I’m eating pumpkin pie. It must be Thanksgiving.” The ginger is not overpowering at all, and a smooth finish of whipped cream pairs very nicely with the molasses flavor.

With the arrival of Libby’s canned pumpkin in 1929, came the annual tradition of baking a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Molasses got the boot.

This earlier version calls for stewed pumpkin. I ended up roasting my pumpkin before puréeing it. You’ll also want to let it sit in a sieve for a few minutes to let the extra juices run out.

Victorian pumpkin pie may not be as fashionable as mini pumpkin flans swimming in caramel sauce, but if you show up at Thanksgiving dinner offering one of these, you’ll be so retro you’ll be hip.

Victorian pumpkin pie

2 cups stewed pumpkin purée

 1 cup rich sweet milk (I used sweet condensed milk)

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 tablespoon ginger

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten lightly

Sift flour over bottom of pie shell. Bake until pie is brown in center. (I started the oven at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes, then reduced the heat to 325 degrees F. and baked for 45 minutes. When a knife inserted near the center came out clean, it was done. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately with whipped cream or refrigerate.)

This post is part of the First Saturday program at The Mary Baker Eddy Library, which is sponsoring a month-long look at 19th-century foodways.

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Thanksgiving is all about the desserts. This year make something perfect for the buffet table, three-bite mini pumpkin pies... topped with whipped cream of course! (Eat. Run. Read)

Mini pumpkin pies with gingerbread graham cracker crust

By Eat. Run. Read / 11.21.12

On Sunday I celebrated pre-Thanksgiving. And what’s Thanksgiving without desserts? I am all about Thanksgiving desserts (of course). At home, we usually take a break between dinner and dessert, maybe go for a walk to let the turkey and stuffing settle and make room for pies and fudge and cheesecake. (Oh my!)

I wanted to make a play on pumpkin pie… something good for a buffet table… thus, mini pumpkin pies!

The problem with pie is the crust (dun dun dunnn) – it’s kind of a throwaway component. When we were little, my sisters and I always left the pie crust on our plates. But graham cracker crust is something else entirely. Is there a single person out there who doesn’t love graham cracker crust? No, no there is not. Because it is fantastic and easy to make! And this graham cracker crust takes its graham crackery-ness to a whole new level.

That’s because Safeway, for once, had what I needed and more. Next to the regular graham crackers there sat a box of gingerbread graham crackers. Done and done. Best graham cracker crust ever.

And of course you must have whipped cream. A pumpkin pie without whipped cream is like a day without sunshine. And there is no such thing as too much whipped cream. (My super mind powers tell me that Sister2 is dying over this picture – the kid used to get hot chocolate without the hot chocolate, aka a cup of whipped cream and a spoon.)

Mini pumpkin pies with graham cracker crust

The crust:

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (put your crackers in a bag and crush them, or you can be all high-tech and use a food processor)

1/4 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix all the ingredients together and press them into the bottoms of greased muffin tins (or you can do them in cupcake wrappers). I had enough for about 30 mini pies.

The filling:

3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 can pure pumpkin

1 can evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Spoon filling into muffin tins.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F, and cook for 20 minutes more.

Remove from the oven. To test for done-ness, shake the pan a bit, pies should not be jiggly in the center.

Cool completely, then run a knife around the edges and remove from the pan.

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Herbed chestnut stuffing with cranberries can also be made as a vegetarian stuffing if you use vegetable stock. (The Garden of Eating)

Stuffing recipe: Herbed chestnut stuffing with cranberries

By The Garden of Eating / 11.20.12

 One year for Thanksgiving, I added chestnuts to my Aunt Katy's classic stuffing recipe because I love their uncommon taste and texture – slightly sweet, nutty, and chewy. I also threw in some dried organic cranberries to spice things up a little bit. 

A few notes: Peeling fresh chestnuts is a huge chore! At first I thought it was odd that all the chestnut stuffing recipes called for canned chestnuts but after wrestling with the hairy little buggers for over an hour, I now understand why. I have not done a taste test comparison of the fresh vs. canned but my guess is that it is probably worth the extra effort required for fresh chestnuts. They sure are pretty, though.

Any white bread will do. Some people like the lighter sandwich type bread and others go for slightly crustier loaves. I used two sweet loaves, as opposed to sourdough. Don't skimp on the herbs! I threw a ton of fresh parsley, sage and thyme in and it lent a lovely herby flavor. The thyme is particularly wonderful.

I used a combination of chicken stock and egg to achieve the desired moistness level. I also did a vegetarian version for my brother-in-law who does not eat dairy and my sister-in-law who does not eat meat! The only changes were that I sautéed the celery and onions in olive oil, wet the stuffing with vegetable stock, instead of chicken, and did not dot the top with butter before baking. The veggie version is very good and a little healthier for you, too.

Herbed chestnut stuffing with cranberries

1 lb. white bread cut into one inch cubes

1 cup coarsely chopped roasted or boiled chestnuts

Half a stick of butter (4 tablespoons)

1 - 1-1/2 cups of chicken stock

2 small to medium sized onions, chopped

4 ribs of celery, finely chopped

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 cup dried cranberries or other fruit, dried currants, etc.

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

Salt

Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a large X on the flat side of each chestnut (be sure to go all the way through the protective shell) then place the nuts on a thick baking sheet and pour a cup or two of water on the tray. Bake the chestnuts, flipping them over once, for 15-20 minutes. Leave them in the oven and shell and peel a handful at a time (they will be hot and a bit hard to handle). Chop the chestnut meats coarsely.

2. If you don't have time to let the bread cubes get stale by sitting out, place them in a single layer on a thick cookie sheet or two and bake at 300 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes, until golden.

3. Melt the butter in a frying pan or saucepan and add the onions and celery. Cook on medium heat until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and fold in the herbs, mixing well to combine.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the chestnuts and dried cranberries.

5. Pour this mixture into the cubed dry bread and stir to combine.

6. Add the stock to the stuffing mixture and stir well until it is moist all over but not soggy.

7. Add the egg if you want to give the cooked stuffing a bit more substance.

8. Pour the stuffing into a buttered casserole pan or baking dish and dot the top with butter.

9. Bake until the top gets crusty, 30 to 45 minutes.

Related post on The Garden of Eating: Baked Stuffed Squash, Three Ways

RELATED: Menu ideas for Thanksgiving dinner

RELATED: Are you a real foodie? Take our quiz!

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Southern candied sweet potato casserole topped with a crunch pecan streusel. (The Runaway Spoon)

Sweet potato casserole, Southern style

By The Runaway Spoon / 11.20.12

Sweet potatoes are a foregone conclusion on the Southern Thanksgiving table. I would never consider serving mashed white potatoes at the big meal. For most of my life, I only had sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, though a pie may have snuck in at some other time during the year. I have now discovered the joy of sweet potatoes, though, and eat them year-round in all sorts of ways, sweet and savory. But on Thanksgiving, there is just no question.

I grew up with the marshmallow topped version, which never really did much for me. I think that may be the reason I never explored sweet potatoes much further. When it came my turn to contribute to the Thanksgiving feast though, I worked out a dish of Sweet Potatoes with Cider, Maple and Orange that has been the standard on our table for many years.  But every once in a while, change is good.

There is however, a strange feeling that comes up. I’ve made that same sweet potato dish for a decade at least, and everyone always tells me how much they enjoy it. And when I presented this new version, it got raves. “Best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had.” I love it when the family enjoys what you cook and take great pleasure that I have done right by them. But then there is that niggling sense in the back of my mind, "What was so bad about the ones I’ve been cooking you for all these years?"

Southern Candied Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel
Serves 8 – 12, depending on how much food is on the table! 

Yes, these potatoes are rich. I don’t want to hear it.  It’s Thanksgiving, live a little!

For the Sweet Potatoes:

8 medium sweet potatoes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup bourbon [editor's note: if seeking a substitution, try 1 cup apple cider]

1/4 cup cane syrup or sorghum

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup cream

For the Streusel:

1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

2/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Sweet Potatoes:

Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/4-inch thick ( a mandoline or food processor makes quick work of this). Melt the butter with the brown sugar, bourbon, cane syrup and salt in a large skillet that will hold the potatoes, stirring frequently.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the potato slices and stir to coat.  Layer one half of the potato slices in a well-greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish.  Pour over half of the syrup from the skillet. Layer the remaining potatoes in the dish and pour over the rest of the syrup.

The potatoes can be cooled, covered tightly and refrigerated overnight at this point.  When ready to bake, remove form the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

For the Streusel:

In a food processor, process the sugars, the cinnamon, salt and flour for about 1 minute. Add butter; pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate the topping, covered, in a medium bowl until ready to use. It can be made up to a day ahead.

Assembly:

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour the 1/2 cup cream over the potatoes, drizzling it into all the nooks and crannies.  Spread the streusel evenly over the top of the potatoes.  Bake the casserole for one hour, until the potatoes are soft and you can slide a knife easily through the center, the sides are bubbling and the streusel is golden brown.  You can cover the dish loosely with foil if you feel the top is getting too brown too early.

Serve immediately.

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Sweet Potatoes with Cider, Maple, and Orange

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Fresh green beans, mushrooms, onions, Parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt and sour cream combine to create a healthy and satisfying green bean casserole. (Kitchen Report)

Healthy green bean casserole (+video)

By Kitchen Report / 11.20.12

Some American families insist on green bean casserole made with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup at their Thanksgiving families, calling it a once-a-year indulgence wrapped in fond memories.

Here is a healthier alternative: One made with fresh green beans (not canned), fresh mushrooms, and a mix of Greek yogurt and sour cream.

Paprika and cayenne pepper, along with Parmesan cheese, help to temper the tanginess of the Greek yogurt. If you really don’t like the flavor of Greek yogurt, trying using 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of mayonaise instead.

In place of fried onion rings, these caramelized breaded onions will bring a sweet note to the dish. No added salt is used. To speed things up, I used frozen green beans. I really don’t have a problem with frozen vegetables, they are picked and packed at their ripeness. Sometimes fresh beans can get tired looking if they are exposed to the open air too long in the market produce section.

This healthier version may not be the ooey-gooey decadence you crave, but you can satisfy that yearning with dessert.

Healthy green bean casserole

1 lb. frozen, cut green beans, thawed

1 tablespoon butter

 1 medium onion

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup nonfat sour cream

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

4 ounces (about 2 cups) sliced Shitake mushrooms

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Peel and slice onion in half across its thickest part. Set the onion flat and slice, creating C-shaped slivers. Cook the onions over medium heat about 8 minutes, until translucent and edges are just beginning to turn brown.

Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine green beans, sour cream, Greek yogurt, mushrooms and Parmesan.

When the onions are done, stir into bowl with bread crumbs. Combine until onions are fully coated.

Spread the green bean mixture into a casserole dish. Spread the breaded onion slices over the top in an even layer, including any loose bread crumbs.

Bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

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Between roasting and puréeing the squash, and rolling the pie dough and blind baking it, making this pie takes some time. But the end result, perfectly smooth, flavorful, and aromatic, is worth the investment. (The Runaway Spoon)

Butternut squash pie with sorghum whipped cream

By The Runaway Spoon / 11.20.12

Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall foods. I buy whole squashes at the last farmers markets, and when I see pre-cut pieces in the store, I buy those up too. I make pasta sauces and quick soups, I roast and mash. Get creative and go simple.

I generally find myself with a surfeit of squash as I tend to get a little over-excited when they are in season. As I write this, I see there are three large squashes on my counter, and I know there is some leftover soup in the refrigerator.

Though butternut has its own unique flavor, I frequently use it interchangeably with pumpkin and even sweet potato, so I wondered how it would work in a pie, would it just be the same as standard pumpkin or sweet potato, or would there be a difference? And a little bit to my surprise, there is a quite a difference. Butternut squash is earthier, sweet, but with a rougher edge. 

I worked with my basic recipe and added woodsy, warm spices that really highlight the unique flavor of the butternut, particularly aromatic clove. This pie turns out a beautiful dark umber color, rich from the spices and squash. A dollop of whipped cream, flavored but not overly sweetened with grassy sorghum is a perfect accompaniment. Serve this at Thanksgiving, or any autumn meal. I promise, your guests will be surprised and intrigued – and pleased.

For the pie
Serves 6

pastry for one 9-inch pie, homemade or store bought ready-to-roll

1 1/2-pound butternut squash

2 eggs

1 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon bourbon [editors note: may substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract]

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For the sorghum whipped cream
Makes 1/2 cup 

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon sorghum [editors note: may substitute molasses or honey]

For the pie

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a piece of foil on the rack of the oven (to catch drips) and place the butternut squash on top. Roast the squash for 45 minutes to an hour, until it is completely soft when you squeeze it (wearing an oven mitt of course). Remove the squash from the oven, and holding it with a folded tea towel, cut it in half. 

Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard, then scrape the flesh into a wire mesh strainer set over a bowl. Make sure there is no skin attached. Using a spatula, press the flesh through the strainer completely. There are no solids left behind. This will give you a smooth purée perfect for pie. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the edges as necessary. Line the crust with waxed paper and fill with beans or pie weights and blind bake the crust for 10 minutes until partially cooked. Remove the paper and weights and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs and sugar together with a whisk. Add the cooled squash purée, the heavy cream, the bourbon and the spices. Beat until everything is thoroughly combined and smooth. Scrape the filling into the pie shell and bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until the center is set with just a little wobble to it. 

Shield the edges of the pie crust to prevent overbrowning about halfway through the cooking. Cool the pie completely, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

Serve chilled with a dollop of sorghum whipped cream.

For the whipped cream

Pour the sorghum and the cream into a small bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream to stiff peaks form. Serve immediately.

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Butternut brioche

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Green bean casserole is a classic favorite on American Thanksgiving dinner tables. (The Gourmand Mom)

Green bean casserole, two variations

By Kendra Nordin / 11.19.12

Green bean casserole smothered in a can of mushroom soup and topped with crunchy fried onions makes its annual appearance every fourth Thursday in November when Americans bow their heads to give thanks over a sagging dinner table.

Here are two variations of green bean casserole recipes we've featured in the past that are popular with our readers:

Traditional green bean casserole: Americans have loved this dish since Campell's Soup introduced it in 1955. The green beans in this recipe swim in a can of mushroom soup, are splashed with Worcestershire sauce, and are topped with crispy fried onions before being baked in the oven.

Fresh green bean casserole: This recipe uses fresh mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and even invites you to make your own crispy onion straws.

Green bean casserole alternative: For those who dare to offer something besides green beans, you may like peas and pearl onions. Quick and easy to make on the stovetop, peas and pearl onions bring a nice splash of green to the Thanksgiving table.

Tomorrow, we'll share yet another recipe for green bean casserole that uses Greek yogurt.

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