Christmas Favorites

December 6th, 2016

Braised Short Ribs for Christmas

It has been rainy days and clouds for the last week.  We are happy for it because it has stopped the raging fires that have endangered our lives for weeks.  We feel for the people affected by the fires in Gatlinburg, as they were impacted much more than our community.  Our community sent much needed resources to the firefighters in their area.  These few weeks have been a time of reflection, thankfulness and love of neighbors.

I haven’t had much time to cook. Photography ops show only grey skies and low light.  So, for at least for the moment, I will rely on previous posts to convey my love of the season.  The food in December is a labor of love.  A beautiful entree is required.  It shows your guests that they and the holidays are special. This first dish, above, is one that David made for Christmas a few years ago.  It is now our Christmas Beef Short Rib Recipe.  It looks like the season with the red tomatoes and green beans and is absolutely delicious.

Maple Glazed Stuffed Pork Tenderoind

One of my triumphs in recipe development is this Maple-Glazed Stuffed Pork Tenderloin that I entered in a Food52 recipe contest.  It was a finalist for the top spot.  This is a beautiful entree wrapped in bacon and drizzled with honey.  Your guests will love it.

Ham Loaf

The final entree is somewhat humble, but one of my favorites because it was what my Mother served to guests when she was entertaining.  It is a Ham Loaf with a thick sweet glaze that will have you licking your fingers.  It is simple but festive with the cross hatching and a glistening cloak.

I hope this brings you inspiration for the holidays.

Christmas Brownie Mix in a Jar

November 27th, 2016

Brownie Mix Instructions

It may be too soon for holiday baking, but it is not to soon to think about special gifts for friends and neighbors.  The idea of homemade mixes has always appealed to me.  During the busy holiday season I know I would love to get a simple mix like this.  With just a few additions you can sit down to a pan of brownies warm from the oven.

Brownie Mix Label

The labels for the small mouth quart size mason jars came from Evermine.  I ordered  custom large oval labels with instructions on how to use the mix,  small custom round labels for the lid and tags with our names on them to let people know who they were from. Tied with red and white twine you will have a festive jar for giving.

Brownie Mix

You will find all of the information you will need at this Evermine page.  It is just a matter of dumping layers of the ingredients into the jars; flour mix, cocoa powder, brown sugar, white sugar, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and pecans.  I am having fun with this.

Cousins 2

These are a few of the recipients for the brownie mixes; our Grandkids and their cousins.  I am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2016

Christmas Tablescape

It is the beginning of the holiday season and we are thankful to be able to share this time with family and friends.  We are especially thankful for our home after the scare of forest fires.  I set a holiday table that combines both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It has a woodland theme in celebration of our beautiful North Carolina mountains.

Cheddar, Bacon and Chive Biscuits

We will be having an unusual Thanksgiving dinner with family this year.  Everyone loves Jeff’s Ribs so there will be no turkey on our table.  I was asked to bring the bread component to the meal.  Biscuits go well with ribs so I did a riff on the basic biscuit.  I made these Cheddar, Bacon and Chive Biscuits that I found on Epicurious.  I made them small because there will be lots of dishes on the table and huge biscuits may be more than everyone can handle.

Cheddar, Bacon and Chive Biscuits

I wish all of you a bountiful Thanksgiving and hope the holiday season brings you joy and fellowship.

CHEDDAR, BACON AND CHIVE BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS

    • 6 thick-cut bacon slices
    • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus melted butter for brushing
    • 2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
    • 1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
    • Honey (optional)

PREPARATION

    1. Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.
    2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).
    3. Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.
    4. Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole and Fire on the Mountain

November 17th, 2016

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole 1

It all started innocently.  Hikers climbed to Party Rock on the mountain behind our home on November 5th.  Neighbors heard young people hooting upon arriving at the pinnacle.  Shortly thereafter smoke started billowing down the mountain. It was just a small fire.  The next day helicopters starting buzzing our house.  The fire had spread and they were scooping water from the lake and transporting it to the top of the mountain and dumping it on the blaze.

Fire 1

Notice the helicopter in this photo.

Fire 2

We were out on the lake when all of this was happening.  The helicopter is coming in for another scoop of water in this picture.  We thought it would be under control in no time.

Fire

It was not to be.  The fire went from a few acres to over 4000 acres over the next week.  Winds had picked up and the fire spread both east and west along the ridge line.  Evacuations were ordered. We were told to leave.  What do you take when told to evacuate?  It was a harrowing experience.  We gathered clothes, medications, files, paintings, family photos and David’s favorite wine collection in our two cars and left with our dog Daisy.

Lake Lure Inn

We went a few miles across the lake to The Lake Lure Inn and Spa.  They were accepting refugees from our side of the lake and had reduced the rate to well below half of what they would normally charge.  We spent three days here with our neighbors and eventual friends.  The only silver lining in this story is how wonderful it was to meet and spend time with our neighbors.

moose-and-goose

We had communal meals in the Moose and Goose Lounge every night while we were there.  Everyone was displaced and worried, but we managed to make the best of it.

Cabin

On the fourth day of the evacuation David and I moved to a cabin owned by good friends Tom and Diana. They live out of the state so the cabin was available. It was just the respite that we needed.  I was able to cook a few meals; spaghetti and this soup.  We relaxed with good books and the stillness of the isolated woods surrounding us.  The evacuation notice was lifted the next day and we returned home.  With over 700 firefighters battling the blazes, our small area was declared safe.  Our air quality is not great but our home is safe.  We are thankful.  The fire may burn for another few weeks, but with the dedicated fire crews we feel that we will get through this.

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole

So . . . I am back in my kitchen.  As part of the blog posts that I promised on Thanksgiving side dishes, I made this Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole.  The recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman who can be relied upon to offer great recipes.  There are several steps involved in making this, but it all comes together easily and can be prepared ahead of time.  Just slip it into the oven an hour before your meal.  It has lots of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, celery and wild rice with a thickened sauce of chicken broth and cream.

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole 3

Thanksgiving this year brings much more to be thankful for than I have ever expected.

BROCCOLI WILD RICE CASSEROLE (Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond)
I halved this recipe for just the two of us, except for the carrots and celery. Recipe as written is for the full amount.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups uncooked wild rice
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock, plus more if needed for thinning
3 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 pound white button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Add the wild rice to a medium saucepan with 5 cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook until the rice has just started to break open and is slightly tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath. Blanch the broccoli by throwing the florets into the boiling water until bright green and still slightly crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Immediately drain the broccoli and plunge it into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove it from the ice water and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, then melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid begins to evaporate, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft and the mixture begins to turn darker in color, 3 to 4 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour on the vegetables, stir to incorporate it and cook for about a minute. Pour in the remaining 3 cups of broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and allow it to thicken, about 3 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream, stirring to combine. Let the mixture cook until it thickens. Add the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix together the cooked rice and broccoli and tip into a 2-quart baking dish. Using a ladle, scoop out the vegetable/broth mixture and spoon it evenly all over the top, totally covering the surface with the vegetables.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then pour it into a separate bowl with the panko breadcrumbs. Toss the mixture together to coat the breadcrumbs in butter, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole.
Cover with foil and bake the casserole for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until golden brown on top, another 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the parsley after you remove it from the oven.

Printable Recipe

Two Potato Gratin

November 10th, 2016

Two Potato Gratin 2

There are many things to love about Thanksgiving.  One of my favorite things is the delicious side dishes.  No matter what you do to the turkey, it is still boring in my book.  But the sides can shine and make your table sparkle with vivid colors of orange in the sweet potatoes, red in the cranberry relish, and glistening green in beans or salads.

Two Potato Gratin 1V

I love the idea of combining white and sweet potatoes.  This layered gratin can be partially made ahead which makes it a good side dish for Thanksgiving.  It also travels well if you are bringing a side dish to a hostess’s table.

Two Potato Gratin 3

This gratin is rich with shallots, Gruyere cheese, and cream.  Over the next few weeks I hope to post some more ideas for Thanksgiving side dishes.  We will be traveling for Thanksgiving, so hopefully a few of them may show up on our host’s table.

TWO POTATO GRATIN (Southern Living Magazine)

Ingredients

2 shallots, diced
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Sauté shallots in 3 Tbsp. melted butter in a saucepan over medium heat 2 minutes. Stir in cream and next 5 ingredients; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice all potatoes. Combine sliced potatoes and milk in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes. Uncover and gently stir mixture. Re-cover and microwave 5 more minutes. Drain mixture, discarding milk.

3. Layer one-third of Yukon gold potatoes in a well-greased (with butter) 9- x 13-inch baking dish; top with one-third of sweet potatoes. Spoon one-third of cream mixture over potatoes, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese. Repeat layers twice, and top with Parmesan cheese. Cut remaining 1 Tbsp. butter into small pieces, and dot over top. Cover with foil.

4. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 20 minutes or until browned. Let stand 10 minutes.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.