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On Family

Last week, my Aunt Wendy passed away.  It was unexpected, yet not surprising, as she had spent most of her life battling lupus.  Wendy was a wonderful, loving, incredibly strong woman.  She used to say that she and I were kindred spirits because of our mutual love of photography, I think of her every time I pick up a camera.  My family gathered in New Jersey to say goodbye, to be together, and to celebrate Wendy’s life.  So often family gatherings can devolve into criticisms, arguments, and frustration, but this trip we all came together, grateful to be with family.  I wanted to share some photos of this gathering, it was one of the most special family trips I can remember.


Thanks for letting me share something a little more personal. I’ll be back later this week with more Thanksgiving.

On Family from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

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Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffing

This weekend, we had our annual fake Thanksgiving.  Each year, around the end of October or the beginning of November, we have a large meal full of all the Thanksgiving dishes I’m planning on sharing here on Biscuits and Such.  Usually we invite friends over and make a day of it.  This year was no exception.  I have an awesome array of Thanksgiving (and other holiday appropriate) dishes for you, starting with the chipotle cranberry sauce I posted last week.  This might have been our best fake Thanksgiving yet, I cannot wait to share the spread with you!

Today’s recipe was one of the favorites of the meal.  To begin, I’ve never made stuffing before.  I am not usually a big stuffing fan, as I would rather spend my Thanksgiving stomach space on mashed potatoes and crescent rolls.  And pie.  Stuffing, for me, was always something I could skip over without regret.  But, when planning the meal this year, I felt like there needed to be a filling, delicious, carb.  And since I wasn’t making a potato dish I went with stuffing.  I’m happy to announce that it was an excellent choice.

When I first started thinking about the menu, I decided I would do a bourbon brine on the turkey.  And then I was all hell, let’s also do a bourbon glaze.  After that my friend Sara convinced me to make a bourbon pecan pie instead of the apple I had been planning, and before you know it there was bourbon in every inch of this meal.  Delicious, delicious bourbon.  I’ll clarify that when it comes to drinking bourbon straight, or even in a mixed drink, it kind of makes me want to die.  But in food, hot damn! I want to put bourbon in everything I eat from here on out.

So anyway, while I was sautéing the squash, onions, garlic, and shallots for this stuffing I thought, what the hell, a splash of bourbon can’t hurt.  And it didn’t.  It helped, a lot.  Overall, this stuffing is everything I would like from a side dish.  It’s a little sweet (because of the squash and bourbon), a little spicy (because I don’t make anything without red pepper flakes), and finishes with a burst of rosemary.  This recipe makes enough to fill a squash boat (if you so desire), plus a 9 x 9 pan’s worth of stuffing.  It was exactly the right amount for 6 adults plus leftovers for everyone.  In fact, I’m about to go fry and egg to eat over the last little bit.

Happy Fake Thanksgiving, friends!

Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffing

1 large butternut squash

1 white or yellow onion

5 cloves garlic

1 large or 2 small shallots

3 large hot italian sausage (I went with turkey)

1 whole wheat or demi wheat baguette

1 cup turkey stock (or drippings)

1/4 cup bourbon

2 tbsp fresh rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 pat butter

Parmesan cheese to grate

I opted to make a boat with my squash because it’s fancy.  You really don’t have to, it would probably save you a lot of tedious time.  But doesn’t it look pretty?  If you want to make a boat, start by finding the side of your squash that sits flat.  Then, cut a wedge about 3-4 inches across out of the top.  Using a knife and a spoon, core the squash (leaving at least 3/4″ on each side so the boat is stable).  Dispose of the pulp and set the flesh aside.

Chop your onions, squash, and garlic.  Heat oil in a pan and sauté everything.  Add salt, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and bourbon. Cook until the onions are semi-translucent.  This way, the squash is tender but not mushy.  While that is on the stove, cube your bread.

In a large bowl, combine bread, stock, and everything you just cooked.  Stir together.

Using a paring knife, cut a long slit down the side of each sausage.  Remove the casing.  Throw your sausage into the pan, using a spatula to break it up as it cooks.  Cook until almost done.  Add them to the bowl.

Slice your shallots into rings. Throw them into the pan, letting them caramelize in the sausage juices.

When everything is cooked, mix together well in the bowl.  Cube your pat of butter and place it in the bottom of the sausage boat.  Fill the boat with stuffing, and then fill your 9×9 pan with the remainder.  Top with grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

 

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Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

It’s that time of year  (my favorite time of year), where we start to prepare for Thanksgiving.  The best holiday that ever was.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that Thanksgiving is a big deal for me, and that over the course of November I post recipes once or twice a week, helping you put together your Thanksgiving menu from appetizers to dessert.  It’s also when we roll out our very long, very comprehensive Guide to Holiday Eating (look for the snowflakes in the sidebar). I may hate everything about winter but holy cow do I love the holiday season.

First up this year we have a chipotle cranberry sauce.  Now, if the idea of a cranberry sauce that is spicy and not sweet and citrusy completely turns you off, try this one.  But, for you more adventurous folks, let me tell you about this sauce.  It’s tart, it’s a little bit sweet, it’s smokey and spicy, and the perfect spread for funky cheese and crackers, turkey, cornbread, muffins, or mashed potatoes.  I’m loving it on everything.

Also, here’s what I don’t understand.  Why would anyone buy canned or jarred cranberry sauce that’s bland and full of chemicals when you could make this at home in half an hour with the smallest amount of effort.  Seriously, this stuff is easier to make than pecan pie.  You mix all the ingredients together and then let them simmer.  Exactly.  Not to mention that the sound of cranberries popping is one of my favorites. Hear it for yourself:

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

For me, the best part of that video is the middleish when it’s been silent for a while and you were getting bored and then POP! Remember when I promised to do monthly videos and then didn’t follow through at all? I bet you’re glad that happened.

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp chipotle spice

1 tsp cumin

2 cups fresh cranberries

Juice from one lemon

Bring water, spices, and sugar to a boil.  Add cranberries, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes or so, stirring every once in a while, until the cranberries burst.  Squeeze in lemon juice. Remove from heat, cover, and cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

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