Spinach and Mushroom Stuffing

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We made this for our Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations, but maybe the next time you cook up a turkey (say, for American Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or various other turkey-related feast days), you could try this stuff(ing) out.  You can make it all the day before and chuck it together at the last minute, which is awesome for big dinners.  It’s also the kind of stuffing that doesn’t actually go into the bird, so you can feed it to vegetarians, too!

Start with your bread.  You can buy bags of pre-cut, pre-toasted bread chunks specifically for making stuffing, but I kind of like to make them myself, because I can decide what kind of bread I’m going to use in my stuffing.  Here I used a loaf of Italian sourdough.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 1

I ripped each slice up into bite-sized chunks and spread them out across two baking sheets.  Shove them in your oven and bake them at 350°F until they’re dried out and lightly toasted, about 12 minutes.  Make sure to stir them occasionally.

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Dice up about a pound of fresh mushrooms.  The wilder the better.  Unfortunately all we had around were some oyster and regular white mushrooms, but feel free to experiment.  You should have about 9 cups diced mushrooms when you’re done.

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Chop up as well 2 large onions, so you’re left with about 3 cups chopped onions in total.

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And while you’re at it, go to town on 4-5 stalks celery, ending up with about 2 cups chopped celery in total.

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Find yourself some herbs.  These were all growing in our fall garden: sage, parsley, and thyme.  I thought about adding some rosemary to add to the “Scarborough Fair”-ness of the whole thing but managed to restrain myself.

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Chop up a couple bunches of each.  You can never have too many fresh herbs in your stuffing, so just go with what feels right.

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Dump 1/4 cup of butter and a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet and melt over medium heat.

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Plop in your mushrooms and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.  Sauté those suckers until they’re all squishy and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.  Dump them in a large bowl for now.

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Slide another 1/2 cup butter into that skillet and let that melt.

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Add in your onions and celery and cook, stirring, until the veggies are tender, probably 12 minutes or so.

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Sprinkle in your herbs and cook for another minute.

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Then plop in a whole package (5oz) fresh baby spinach.  Toss in the skillet (maybe use a lid) until the leaves are just wilted.

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Chuck all that stuff into the bowl with the mushrooms.  If you’re making this ahead of time, this is where you stop.  Let the stuff cool, cover it, and bung it in the fridge overnight.

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When you’re ready to get this on the go, preheat your oven to 350ºF and butter a large casserole dish or 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  Whisk 2 eggs and some salt and pepper in a bowl.

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Pour in 1 cup low sodium chicken broth (you may need more if you find it dry) and stir that around.

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Toss your bread bits with your vegetable mix and pour your broth/egg stuff over top, stirring to make sure it makes it all the way through.

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Jam that into your baking dish and bake without covering until it’s brown and crusty on top, about an hour.  Let it stand a few minutes before serving (like, take it out when you start to carve up your bird and you’re set).

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy turkey day!  In Ottawa today it is absolutely beautiful, so I hope your day is going as well as mine is.

Centrepiece

And guess who arrived yesterday morning?

Izod's Birthday 35

This is Izod, only a week behind schedule.  Everyone is well and happy, which is another thing to be thankful for.  Enjoy your weekend!

Turkey Casserole with Broccoli and Cheese

Today is an auspicious day: my paternal grandmother turns ONE HUNDRED AND ONE.

I know, right?  She was born in 1909Happy Birthday Grandma!

Because she’s a hundred and one she’s not really up-to-date on the how-tos of internet surfing, but I figured it’s the thought that counts.  I’ll probably bake her a cake too.

Today’s post is about leftovers, which are rather inauspicious, but it’s in the spirit of the sort of thing my dad remembers his mother making for him when he was younger.

Casserole.  I’m not a huge fan of casseroles.  Believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of turkey, either.  I know, it’s shocking.  It’s always a struggle for me to figure out what to do with my leftovers once I’ve finished a major turkey holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter.  Sure, there’s soup, but aside from the Pie’s favourite Hot Turkey Sandwiches (*shudder*), what else are you going to do?  Turkey salad, turkey sandwiches, cold turkey … and turkey casserole.  But this one I actually like.  I pulled it off the internet a few years ago and the ubiquitous casserole dish finds its way into my refrigerator like clockwork when there’s turkey around.  The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I use broccoli because asparagus is out of season.

Get your mise en place ready, because all the steps kind of follow each other really quickly so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.First, chop up and gently steam about 2 cups broccoli.

Chop up a bunch of green onions (I used three green onions and a shallot) and a red pepper and set all your vegetables aside.

Cook one cup penne or similar pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grate one cup cheddar cheese.

Have your garlic-in-a-jar at the ready.

Have also ready the following:

6 tablespoons flour.

1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

3 cups cooked diced turkey.

1 cup soft bread crumbs.

1 tbsp melted butter, cooled.

Also you will need 2 cups milk, but I don’t have a photo of that because the chicken broth was in my only remaining measuring cup.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.

In a large saucepan on medium-low, melt 6 tablespoons butter (that’s slightly less than half a cup).

Add the red pepper and sauté until tender. 

Add 2 teaspoons garlic and the onions and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the flour until well blended.It should look all mushy.

Stir in chicken broth, cooking until thickened.

Stir in milk and cook, stirring, until thickened and hot.

Add in salt and pepper to taste, together with any herbs of your choosing, such as oregano or basil, then add the broccoli and the turkey.  Heat through.

Stir in the cheese and cook until it’s all melted in. 

Stir in the cooked drained pasta.

Pour it all into a baking dish.

Mix your melted butter with your bread crumbs.

Sprinkle that over top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. 

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

You can keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a couple days, too.

 

 

Sausage Stuffed Turkey with Gravy

For years, my health-food nazi, roughage-eating parents bought only free-range organic turkeys.  And I hated them: so dry, tasteless, and without any juices with which to make gravy.  Turkey without gravy is a travesty in my family, so my parents gave up about three years ago and started buying the unstuffed Butterball turkeys.  Shocking, I know.  But the difference has been night and day.  I actually kind of like turkey now.  Which is good, seeing as I always seem to be the one who stuffs it, roasts it, and then makes the gravy.

So let’s do that today, shall we?

First we’re going to do some gravy pre-preparation.  Take the neck and giblets from your turkey and plop them in a pot with some garlic and enough chicken broth to mostly cover them.  Simmer that for an hour or so, then take out the giblets and neck (feed the giblets to your dog if you have one, or purée them and add them back to your broth), and set the broth aside.

Now for the stuffing.  Take three sausages of your choice (I prefer a spicy Italian), remove the casings, and squish the contents into a pan with some olive oil and garlic.

Add in a diced onion.

Pour in a generous amount of savoury.  I love my Newfoundland savoury.  The Pie brought this along specially for this stuffing when he came to Ottawa for his Thanksgiving visit.

Add in two chopped apples as well.

Sauté that stuff until the sausage is broken up and cooked through and all the other ingredients have had a chance to get to know each other.

Plop it in a bowl and allow it to cool a bit.  Add in some large dried bread crumbs.  

You can make these yourself by cubing bread slices and baking them at 200°F until stale, but we had enough to do so we bought them pre-made (I can’t do everything by myself, now, can I?).

Stir that mess up and shove as much of it as you can into the cavity of your turkey.  You can make removal easier later by lining the inside of the cavity with cheesecloth, but I didn’t have any on this day.

Close the opening with a slice of bread.  This will keep the stuffing near the opening from drying out and burning.  It’s a bread shield.

Put the remaining stuffing in a greased casserole dish and douse liberally with chicken stock.

Drape your turkey lovingly with a few strips of bacon.  This will keep the skin from drying out and it will save you from having to baste the darned thing while you’re entertaining, as the fat from the bacon will drip down gradually and keep everything moist.  You can truss your turkey if you wish, but with big poultry I prefer to leave it all hanging out there to ensure even cooking.  I don’t cover it with foil either.  Well, not until much later.  You’ll see.

Chuck your turkey into the oven at 325°F and roast the sucker.  Your cooking time will vary with the size of your bird, but for some reason I find no matter the size, mine always cooks in between three and four hours.  Keep a close eye on your thermometer.  The turkey is cooked when the thigh temperature is 180°F.  Check the stuffing inside the turkey, as well — it should be around 165°F for safety’s sake.

If you plan it right your turkey should probably be done about an hour or so before it’s ready to serve.  Clear a space on your counter and lay out two or three old towels.  In the centre overlap a couple of pieces of aluminum foil.  Once the turkey is done, remove it (with the aid of a poultry lifter) to your improvised platform.  Pull up the edges of aluminum foil and add more to cover it all around tightly.

Pull up the towels and add more on top, wrapping it with care and tucking under the edges.  Resting the turkey like this will keep it hot for a couple of hours, and will ensure that none of the juices get lost.

Now that you have your turkey pan free, carefully scrape all the juices and bits of stuff into a fat separator.  Let the liquid settle and drain off as much fat as you can.

Pour whatever juices and solid pieces you get into the pot with your reserved chicken broth from the giblet boiling.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Scoop out a little bit of broth and make a slurry with some flour, then whisk it back into the gravy and keep stirring until the mixture thickens.  You can remove it from the heat, cover it, and let it cool while you do other things.  You can always heat it up again later.

Your extra stuffing can be roasted, covered with aluminum foil, at 350°F (or higher, depending on whatever else you are cooking at the time) for about half an hour, until the bread crumbs are crusty and brown.  Everything in it is pre-cooked so you needn’t worry about temperature in your casserole dish.  Just cook it until it looks good.

You can unwrap and carve your turkey at any point that’s convenient to you.

Reheat your gravy, pour it into gravy boats and serve over your hot stuffing and turkey!

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans


The Pie doesn’t particularly like Brussels sprouts, but the rest of us adore them.  To find a compromise this past Thanksgiving I pulled inspiration from a number of different recipes, and also from a salad I’d eaten at The Black Tomato two nights before, and came up with something that we all loved.

I’m not going to give you measurements for this recipe, because to be honest I didn’t measure anything, just kind of threw it in when the inspiration struck me.  Besides, everyone has their own preferences as to amounts and proportions in a salad.  Just estimate and you’ll be fine.  This version served ten people with tons of leftovers.

First, you cut up your Brussels sprouts.  We tried them first with a mandolin, but then found it was easier just to slice them thinly with a stupid sharp knife.  Cut off the tough stem part at the bottom and discard any bruised or torn outer leaves, then carefully shave those suckers down.We ended up with a medium-sized bowl full of bits of mini-cabbage.Because this was sort of a do-at-the-last-second kind of salad, and because Thanksgiving at the last second gets a little hectic as things come out of the oven and the turkey needs to be carved, I wanted to set up a mise en place for this so everything would be ready to go when I needed it.  Accordingly, I prepared the rest of my ingredients ahead of time.

Three finely chopped green onions.

Two finely sliced shallots.

Two handfuls dried, sweetened cranberries.

A handful each finely chopped radicchio and Boston lettuce.

Goat cheese, or chèvre.

Pecans, ground in my food processor.

Pecan pieces, for garnish.

Mix together the goat cheese, cranberries, and ground pecans.

Set that aside for now.

In a large frying pan or skillet melt about a third of a cup of butter at medium heat.  Toss in your green onions and shallots and sauté for a few minutes until softened.

Chuck in your massive amounts of Brussels sprouts and stir them around until they’re thoroughly coated in butter and start to wilt.

Add in the raddichio and the Boston lettuce and stir to mix.  Drizzle gently with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a healthy dash of real maple syrup.  Toss to coat and remove from heat.

Add in your goat cheese mixture and toss it well.

Sprinkle with pecan pieces and serve warm.

Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots

Dinner parties like the feast at Thanksgiving are all about timing and having all your different dishes be ready at exactly the same time.  It’s nice to be able to make things ahead of time, or at least to be able to chuck some of those things into a slow cooker or crock pot and ignore them while you do other things.

This recipe is adapted from Phyllis Pellman Good’s post at Fabulous Foods and is really easy.

Turn your slow cooker to high and chuck in 2 pounds chopped carrots, 5 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cover and cook for about three or four hours until the carrots are tender.

Put the carrots in a serving dish and keep them warm.  Take the cooking juices and bung them in a pot.  Bring it to a boil.Dissolve 2 tablespoons corn starch in 1/4 cup water and add that to the juices, boiling for another full minute until the glaze is thick.

Pour over top your carrots and serve.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

This is pretty much the same recipe as the Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary and Sea Salt, but with lemon rind and herbes de provence instead of rosemary.  Easy peasy.

So you take your potatoes.  We used baby white ones.  A couple pounds’ worth.

Parboil them. 

Remove the rind from two lemons.  I used a zester designed to take off long threads of peel, for visual stimulus.  Also if you’re going to roast it for a while it’s going to shrink and get all black, so you might as well make sure that you have lots of it to start with.

Toss your parboiled potatoes with olive oil, then add the lemon rind and herbes du provence.  Add in a bit of sea salt as well.

Roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes until wrinkled and crispy.  You can also roast them at the same time as other things at lower temperatures (such as a Thanksgiving turkey) — just roast them for longer.

They’re also wicked good cold the next day, or sliced up and tossed into scrambled eggs.