Sherry’s Holiday Dressing

stuffing-ck-1120272-lI had been using an Italian type stuffing for a few years but I grew tired of it.

So back to the drawing board. Certain things were staples to me in a dressing: celery, giblets, bread of course. And I looked at a ton of recipes, recalling my own basic one as well, and then came up with what turned out to be a truly good dressing.

We certainly loved it and I hope you will to. Give it a try for Christmas or any other holiday. It’s baked outside the bird, so it’s adaptable to recipes that don’t include a bird. You can substitute the giblets by simply buying a pint of gizzards and hearts at the grocery.

Bonus is that you can make a lot of this ahead of time and just throw it together and bake it on the actual holiday with little additional fuss.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced, cubed and dried. (slice and leave on cookie sheets for one day, then tear or slide into cubes and leave another day)
  • about half of the giblets from your turkey (use the other half for the gravy)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 lg carrot
  • 1 medium onion
  • about 1/2 c of fresh herbs (sage, thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary) minced
  • 1/3 lb of pork sausage
  • 2/3 of an 8 oz container of mushrooms (button is fine) sliced
  • 1/2 c of pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 1/2 c dried cherries, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • as much chicken stock as needed to dampen the bread, so that when pressed with a spoon, you can see the juice, about 3-4 cups
  • 3 tbsp cubed cold butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Making the giblets: Place everything but the liver into a saucepan. Add a bouquet of fresh herbs (the same as above, a couple of sprigs of each). Add 1/2 tsp of salt (if your chicken broth is unsalted, otherwise 1/4 tsp). Add 10 peppercorns, crushed. Add a chunk of onion and one clove of garlic crushed. Add broth just to cover. Simmer for about an hour, and then let cool as is. Remove the giblets, chop, dividing in half for the dressing and the rest for gravy. Place the dressing half into a larger plastic container and set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, place the pork sausage and begin browning, breaking it up into small pieces.
  3. As the meat is nearly cooked, add chopped onion, carrot and celery and mushrooms and saute until just softened.
  4. Add to the giblets container and refrigerate until ready to mix everything together and bake. (I don’t recommend you mix the entire recipe and refrigerate. It will make for a gluier dressing than I like)
  5. When you are nearly ready to bake: put the bread in a large 12 x 16 or so, baking dish. Add the fresh herbs to the container of giblets and veggies and stir, then spread contents on top of the bread. Mix gently.
  6. Add the butter and mix again, just to distribute.
  7. Add the pecans and cherries, scattering on the top.
  8. Pour over the entire casserole the stock, pressing down with a spoon periodically until you can see liquid. Then stop.
  9. Bake in a 375° oven for about 40 minutes, covered. Check at the 30 minute mark and if it is bubbly, or obviously hot, then take out or reduce just to keep it warm until ready to eat. (temperature can be varied depending on other sides you may be cooking at the same time–adjust your cooking time accordingly.)

SERVES: 12

NOTES: You can vary this as suits your own family and tastes. You can make it soggier if you like a stickier dressing. You can eliminate the butter if you like it drier. Vary the pork sausage to a spicier type, use Italian sausage, or frankly use a regular harder sausage chopped up. Add bacon (previously cooked and crumbled). You can substitute dried cranberries for the cherries, or use a variety of raisins instead. Substitute walnuts or almonds for the pecans.

SOURCE: Sherry Peyton

OVEN TEMP: 375°

OVEN TIME: 40 min.

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Horsy Ranch Dressing

ranchdressFrankly making your own dressing is very easy.

Better yet, it’s so much better to eat than that stuff from stores that has a list of chemical additives that are unpronounceable and mysterious. HINT: it seems to take decades sometimes before things we were told were safe turn out not to be so. So in my book, it’s just plain smart to make your own at least most of the time from real food.

This has a pleasant horseradish tang that is lovely with salads, especially those with some tart, and spicy lettuce notes like arugula and curly endive. Also very nice on tomatoes.

Enjoy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put all together in a bowl and whisk.
  2. Transfer to a lidded pint jar and store in the fridge for a good week.

SERVES: makes a good pint

NOTES: you can easily half this recipe

SOURCE: Addapinch

 

Multiples of Marvelous Mayo

mayoAs more of us get more concerned about the quality of our food, simple things that we have taken for granted can become foods we worry about. One of them is mayonnaise.

A lot of folks are leery of genetically modified foods, and you can find lists of companies that use such things in their food products. I was distressed to find that my favorite mayonnaise is on the list as being one of those companies.

Now, I’m not here to pitch for how you should eat, but really homemade mayo is something special. At least for some things, might you consider using it instead of what can live on a shelf unrefrigerated until opened? (I’m always suspicious that the seal isn’t good).

Making mayonnaise is simple, and once you know how, you can abandon the standard recipe and do it by sight. And better yet, you can add so many things that will give your food a real kick. I’m cutting and pasting from a NYTimes article that lists some possible alternatives.

As I said, the basic recipe is pretty much the same everywhere.

The only difference is whether you use a full egg or only the yolk. I use the latter.

So indulge yourself and your family and make some of the real stuff.  Either a food processor or a blender will do the job. You can do it by hand, but it’s a lot of very hard whisking and unless you are a professional, your arm probably can’t last.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lg egg yolk at room temperature
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (real please from an actual lemon–this works out to about half of a large lemon, give or take.)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (again, like the lemon juice, you are looking to approximate. You want this to be easy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 3/4 c oil (canola or safflower–you want something that is basic without flavors)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the egg, lemon, mustard, salt and water into your blender or processor and whir up until well mixed and a bit frothy.
  2. With the motor running, pour in a slow steady stream, the oil. Watch the magic happen as it emulsifies into a thick gorgeous smooth creation.

SERVES: 1 cup

NOTES: Once you have the basic recipe down, you can vary it with the following:

OLIVE OIL MAYO: Substitute extra virgin olive oil for all, or at least 1/2 cup, of the neutral oil.

GARLIC AIOLI: Finely chop 2 garlic cloves and mash with a pinch of salt until it forms a paste; mix with egg yolk before adding oil. Substitute extra virgin olive oil for at least half of the neutral oil.

ROUILLE: Combine a large pinch of crumbled saffron threads with 2 teaspoons boiling water. Let mixture cool completely. Whisk saffron water with 1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of cayenne. Whisking constantly, dribble in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup neutral oil until mayonnaise is thick and oil is incorporated.

LIME PICKLE MAYO: Whisk in 2 tablespoons finely chopped lime pickle at the end. (Lime pickle can be found in Middle Eastern and Asian markets.)

SRIRACHA MAYO: Whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha, or more to taste, at the end.

ANCHOVY MAYO: Whisk in 4 minced anchovies at the end.

WALNUT MAYO: Substitute 1/3 cup walnut oil for an equal amount of the neutral oil.

OLIVE OR CAPER MAYO: Whisk in 2 tablespoons chopped olives or capers at the end.

SPICY CHIPOTLE MAYO: Whisk in 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce at the end.

ROSEMARY BLACK PEPPER MAYO: Whisk in 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary leaves and 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper at the end. If you like you can add 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest and a minced garlic clove, too.

SMOKY CHILE BACON MAYO: Fry 3 strips of bacon until crisp; chop and set aside. Pour the fat from the pan into a heatproof liquid measuring cup and add enough oil to make 3/4 cup total. Make mayonnaise, omitting mustard and using bacon fat-oil mixture. Stir in chopped bacon and 1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika at the end.

Real Buttermilk Dressing

I was at the super market the other day, and needed to buy some buttermilk for a recipe. I over estimated how much I needed, and was happy to realize that the overage was about perfect to make some nice Buttermilk Ranch dressing.

Now I have another Ranch dressing, which is wonderful, but I thought this one was more like the Hidden Valley type, without all that crap they put in their powdery mix.

And it whips up in a second. Just pick up a 1/2 pint of buttermilk next time you are shopping. I should explain that you can make buttermilk (tip page), but it’s still quite thin I find, and so I prefer to use regular buttermilk for this dressing.

Oh, this recipe comes from Joy of Cooking, one of my couple of food bibles!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 c of buttermilk (I used a whole cup, cuz that’s what 1/2 a pint is)
  • 1 lg clove of garlic, micro-planed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice (please use real limes!)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, or minced green parts of scallions
  • Up to 1/2 c mayonnaise if you want to thicken it up.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix it all together.
  2. Let sit in fridge for a few hours for the dressing to thicken a bit, and flavors to meld.

Serves: 1 cup 

Thousand and One Island Dressing

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Thousand Island dressings. Too sweet for my taste as a salad topper.

But when you are talking about a Reuben sandwich, well, there is no substitute.

So I looked at about ten different recipes, and figured out the general ingredients, adding and subtracting here and there, and then I put it all together.

And I scored a pretty big hit, at least if you believe my husband, who just ate his sandwich and declared it the “best ever” even though he absolutely adores fried tenderloins that some hole-in-the-wall establishment used to provide in his biker days.

So, I’m posting the sandwich as well, since it truly was the best Reuben I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten them straight from the deli. And I may, just may develop a fondness for this dressing on lettuce. Perhaps on a chicken salad? I am getting some ideas I tell ya.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c very finely diced red sweet pepper
  • 2 Tbsp very finely minced shallot
  • 1 heaping tsp drained sweet pickle relish
  • 1 heaping tsp finely minced pimento olives
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix everything together, and place in fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors mix.

Golden Honey Mustard Dressing

I am a salad lover, so it stands to reason that the dressing is important to me. I’m not a fan of bottled stuff, mostly because it doesn’t taste good, and I can’t figure out what half of the ingredients are.

So when I add meat to my salad, well it’s even more imperative that the dressing be great. This is simple and goes together so fast, that I could almost make it faster than you can unscrew the cap on some bottled junk.

When we have left over steak, or when I plan it out with a newly roasted chicken breast, I get all my favorite lettuces and cukes, and sweet peppers and on and on, spread out my luscious meat across the top, and ladle on this wonderful sweet yet tangy topping.

And then we binge! Oh, and if you want some real spice to this, especially with chicken, add a chopped up jalapeño and get down and dirty!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp standard mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp milk (if needed to thin it down)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put everything save the milk in a bowl and whisk it until everything is incorporated. Add milk as needed to thin.

Serves: 2 large salads, maybe 3.

The Basic Perfect Vinaigrette

Ah, the vinaigrette.

I fairly screams summer and freshness.

It should. It is.

Take the time to look on the back of any store-bought salad dressing. It will not be a happy thing. Full of stuff you have never heard of and which is in there to stabilize and preserve.

Making a vinaigrette is simple. It’s a math thing. It’s 4:1 except when it’s 3:1. And after a while, you dispense with measuring cups and spoons altogether, because you can feel when it’s right.

A vinaigrette is the most versatile of dressings. You can add and subtract a few dozen things and get a great new taste.

Better yet, a vinaigrette goes over regular salads, roasted veggies, potatoes, meat salads of every kind, and pastas hot and cold. Top a mild fish or a chicken breast. So, listen up to the basics, and note the choices, and become the queen or king of the salad buffet with your wonderful creations.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 c good quality EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Use a whisk, or place all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake it up. You are done.

See? Wasn’t that easy?

Now here are some choices:

For OIL:

  • olive oil
  • canola
  • corn oil
  • walnut oil
  • safflower
  • basically anything but peanut oil which I don’t think would work

For VINEGAR:

  • white vinegar, or cider
  • rice wine, white wine or red wine
  • balsamic
  • lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice

With the more delicate of vinegars such as lemon and rice wine, increase to a 3:1 ratio

OTHER ADDITIONS:

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • chives, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, green onions, minced, lemon balm
  • dried tomatoes minced, fresh ginger root, hot peppers, minced
  • smokey paprika, cumin, chili powder, or cayenne
  • add a tbsp of mayo for a creamy texture, or honey for sweetness

It’s that simple. Just look at what you want to add it to and think of what would taste good.

Make for a single salad by using 3 tsp oil to 1 tsp vinegar, and then cut down on all the rest. After a few times, you will not even think about it, just do it. Obviously make for a crowd by multiplying up.

Note: if you want an herbal” vinaigrette, you might want to put everything in a blender to puree the herbs.