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

Thanksgiving Tried and True Side Dishes

November 16th, 2015

Sugar-Spiced-Nuts-2

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share a few dishes that have been on my table and on my blog in the past years.  These are recipes that have worked well for me and I am sure they will add a special punch to your usual menu.  Notice that I am not including a recipe for turkey.  I would not presume to tell you how to cook your turkey.  Everyone has their personal idea of the best way to do that.  Let’s start with appetizers.  Because there is a huge meal waiting in the kitchen, appetizers should be light.  These Candied Spiced Almonds require a little attention upfront, but can be made way in advance.

Chipoltle-Cheddar-Wafers-1

I always love homemade savory shortbread crackers and the addition of dried cranberries to these appetizer rounds make them perfect for the holidays.  The recipe for these Chipotle Cheddar Cranberry Nut Wafers can be found here.

Sweet-Potato-Soup-1

If you prefer your sweet potatoes as a first course, this Creamy Sweet Potato Soup is sure to be a hit. It is easy too.  The sweet potatoes are cooked in the microwave and the mixture comes together smoothly with an immersion blender, although you could puree it in a blender or food processor.

Leek-Bread-Pudding-1

Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding makes a great dressing if you do not stuff your bird.  It is an Ina Garten recipe and you can make it ahead of time.  Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta or you can leave it out all together if you have vegetarians at the table.

Cranberry-Lime ChutneyThis Cranberry-Lime Chutney is definitely a new take on cranberry sauce.  It is a combination of fresh cranberries, lime, apples, onion, raisins, pecans, and lots of spices.  It is best made ahead of time.

Green-Beans-Gremolata-3

Instead of a green bean casserole, try these Green Beans Gremolata.  This dish is best made with the thin French Haricot Vert.  They have been readily available in several supermarkets that I visit.  They are usually found in a cellophane bag. The beans are cooked quickly and then tossed in a mixture of garlic, parsley, parmesan and pine nuts.

Acorn-Squash-4

This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage could almost be a meal on its own.  But it would certainly look pretty on the Thanksgiving table.

Apple-Bundt-Cake-11

Instead of an apple pie you could make an Apple Bundt Cake.  This spice cake with a caramel frosting is a snap to make and there is a good tip on how to turn your cake out of the bundt pan easily.

Pumpkin-Dump-Cake-1

If you are in a hurry you could make this Pumpkin Dump Cake.  For a while this cake was on my DIL’s family Thanksgiving table every year.  I first made it for Kristen for her birthday and she loved it so much that she shared it with her family.  They adopted it for Thanksgiving.

Apple Crostada 2

Instead of that apple pie you could make this free form Apple Crostata.  This is one of my favorite desserts.

Enjoy the preparations and fun of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Turkey With Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding for Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2014

Leek Bread Pudding 1

It is the start of the holiday season.  With the approach of Thanksgiving our kitchens will become steamy, aromatic and warm until we sprawl exhausted on our sofas on New Years Day vowing never to eat again.  But for foodies it is the best of times.  The Thanksgiving feast is just the warm up.  We have done something a little different this year.  We have already had our Thanksgiving dinner.  We will not be with family and friends this year so we decided to travel on the Thanksgiving weekend.  We are going to Savannah to take in the historic downtown area.  So David and I cooked a simple Thanksgiving meal for the two of us this weekend.  David was in charge of the turkey.  He smoked it on the grill and I will let him tell you about it at the end of this post.  I did all of the side dishes.  A new one for me this year was this Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Make it Ahead.  How perfect is that?

Leek Bread Pudding 2V

 

Instead of my standard dressing, this savory bread pudding hit all of the marks in my book.  I have an affinity for leeks and artichokes and the fact that it can be made ahead of time is a real timesaver at Thanksgiving.  You will love the combination of flavors with the salty pancetta on the top and the creamy base.  We found it to be a great alternative.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 1

Here is our intimate Thanksgiving table.  David laughed at me for the care that I took dressing the table.  It is a bit over the top, but I enjoyed having the leisure to make it special.  I have to say that everything was delicious.  The meal included David’s moist smoked turkey, his special gravy, mashed potatoes, my Mother’s cheesy green beans with bacon,  Ina’s leek and artichoke bread pudding and Sam’s (My Carolina Kitchen) French cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 2

I am turning it over to David so that he can tell you about his turkey and gravy.

I (David) have been wanting to smoke a turkey for a long time, but Penny would never let me do it for Thanksgiving when we would normally have guests for dinner, fearing that I might muck it up and she would not have a decent bird to serve to company.  (Penny here, plus no gravy).  I told her about a week ago that I planned to smoke a turkey for myself for the fun of it and she could eat some if she liked it….or not.  My plan was simple, to have smoked turkey and a couple of appropriate sides for a normal Saturday night supper, but my simple plan somehow morphed into the table that you see above.  That’s what being married to a food blogger will do for you.  I did get a good chuckle out of the elaborate table setting for a two-person, not-quite-Thanksgiving meal. Anyway, I got to smoke my turkey.

As some of you know, I have a Kamado ceramic egg style grill back in Lake Lure, but not down here in Florida, so I was faced with cooking it on the gas grill that I have here.  After Googling “smoked turkey recipe” and reading about several candidate techniques, I zeroed in on Meathead Goldwyn’s  method as spelled out in excruciating detail on his most excellent website Amazing Ribs.  He’s the go-to guy for all things barbecue.  You can take a look at his website for the gory details, all 42 printed pages of it, but suffice it to say that his techniques are based on the science of cooking meat, including the underlying thermodynamic and heat transfer principles, which greatly appeals to me, this retired thermodynamics professor.

In short, you coat the bird with his “Simon and Garfunkel” rub (I bet you can guess the main ingredients) both under and over the skin.  Then you set up your grill for indirect cooking with the bird on one side over an aluminum roasting pan filled with chopped-up onions, carrots, and celery, along with the turkey neck, heart, gizzards, wing tips, and “Pope’s Nose”, some herbs and spices, and about three quarts of liquid.  I used two quarts of water, a bottle of white wine, and a cup of apple juice.  The liquid left in this pan at the end of cooking, and after straining out all the solids, is the “gravy” you can serve with the meat without the bother of thickening it with flour.  Use the burners on the other side of the gas grill for supplying the heat to produce smoke from a couple of chunks of foil-wrapped wood (I used cherry) and to keep the turkey side of the grill at around 325F as measured with a digital thermometer at rack height. Our ten-pound bird took about 2 hours to reach the target temperature of 160F in the thickest part of the breast, at which time the temperature of the thighs was 170F….perfect.  During a 15 minute rest period the temperature at both locations will increase about 5 degrees.  The result is a juicy bird with crisp skin and a nice mellow smokey flavor and some delicious broth to go with it.  If you decide to try this, you should definitely take a look at the Amazing Ribs website for details.

That is all from the two of us.  We wish everyone a bountiful Thanksgiving.  We are thankful for all of you.

LEEK AND ARTICHOKE BREAD PUDDING ( Make it Ahead by Ina Garten )

8 cups ( 1-inch-diced ) day-old bakery white bread, crusts removed
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
6 cups ( 1/2-inch-diced ) leeks, white and light green parts ( 5 Leeks )
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
4 extra-large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups grated Emmentaler Swiss cheese (8 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, tossing once, until lightly browned.  Place the pancetta in on layer on another sheet pan and bake in the same oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.  Place the pancetta on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Meanwhile, soak the leeks in water until they’re clean, and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Heat the butter in an 11-inch pot over medium heat, add the leeks, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine almost evaporates and the leeks are tender.  Of the heat, mix in the artichokes, toasted bread cubs, chives, and tarragon.

Whisk the eggs, cream chicken stock, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.  Spoon half of the bread mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with half the Emmentaler and add the remaining bread mixture.  Pour on the cream mixture, sprinkle with the remaining Emmentaler, and press lightly to help the bread absorb the liquid.  Dice or crumble the pancetta, scatter on top, and sprinkle lightly with pepper.  Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the cream mixture.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. until the pudding is puffed and golden.

Make it Ahead:  Assemble the bread pudding and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  Bake before serving.

Printable Recipe

Three Dressing Casseroles for Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2011

I now have three dressing casseroles in my repertoire for Thanksgiving.  They are all my favorites because I love dressing so much that I would not be able to choose.  Take your pick.  This newest dressing is one that I saw in Bon Appetit last year.  It is Rosemary Bread Stuffing with Prosciutto, Fennel and Lemon.  One of my favorite breads is La Brea’s rosemary olive oil bread and this recipe is built around that kind of bread.  How could you go wrong?  Fennel is used liberally in the recipe and I love the subtle flavor that it imparts.  Add prosciutto or speck to the mix and there is no doubt that it will be good.  I made this last week and even David, who is not a stuffing or dressing aficionado, loved it.

ROSEMARY BREAD STUFFING WITH PROSCIUTTO, FENNEL AND LEMON (Bon Appetit)

1 14 1/2-to 16-ounce purchased rosemary-olive oil bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 cups chopped fresh fennel bulb (from 1 large) plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel fronds
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounced thinly sliced Speck or prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Toss bread cubes, 3 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons melted butter in large bowl.  Spread mixture on large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until bread cubes are golden, stirring occasionally, 20 to 22 minutes.  Cool.

Mix wine and raisins in small saucepan; let soak 10 minutes.  Boil 2 minutes Cool.

Stir fennel seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darker, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer fennel seeds to plate to cool.  Finely grind seeds in mortar with pestle or in spice mill.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add fennel bulb, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; saute until fennel is tender and shallots are pale golden, about 7 minutes.  Stir in ground fennel seeds, prosciutto, lemon peel, and fennel fronds.  Stir raisins into fennel mixture; cool.

Do Ahead;  Bread cubes and fennel mixture can be made 1 day ahead.  Store bread airtight at room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate fennel mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil.  Toss bread cubes and fennel mixture in large bowl.  Add 1 cup broth and eggs; toss until moistened, adding up to 1/4 cup more broth if dry.  Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish.  Cover with foil coated lightly with oil. oiled side down.  Bake until stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes.  Remove foil; bake uncovered until top is crisp and golden, about 30 minutes.

Printable recipe

CORNBREAD SAUSAGE STUFFING WITH APPLES.  This dressing has been a favorite for many years.  It is adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook.  Cornbread, whole wheat, and sourdough bread are combined with sausage and apples.  It is very flavorful.  Here is the link to the recipe.

MOM’S THANKSGIVING DRESSING.  This is the dressing that I grew up with.  It is very basic but it is the favorite of the whole family.  Every bite of it is loaded with memories.  My Mother knew what she was doing.  Here is the link to the recipe.

I wish all of you a very happy and memorable Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for all of you.

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