Make the most celebrated family meal of the year more memorable with tips from celebrated chefs Jacques Pepin, Annabel Langbein, Duff Goldman, Brian Alberg, Susan Volland and Alana Chernilla.  They share tips with Fox News Radio's Lilian Huang Woo on everything from turning out the most succulent turkey to a pie they would be fools not to make room for.

 

Take a LISTEN:

 

Chef Brian Alberg Bacon, chestnuts and Brussels sprouts stuffing (with rice) Photo credit: Angela Cardinali
Chef Brian Alberg Bacon, chestnuts and Brussels sprouts stuffing (with rice)
Photo credit: Angela Cardinali

Bacon, Chestnut and Brussels Sprouts Stuffing

SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS 8 oz. bacon, cut into ¼″ cubes 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, quartered 2 cups minced celery 1 large yellow onion, minced 1 lb. cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped 4 ½ oz. country white bread, cut into ½″ cubes (about 4 cups) 4 cups cooked wild rice 1 cup chicken stock 16 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering casserole dish ½ cup finely chopped parsley 2 Tbs. finely chopped thyme 2 Tbs. finely chopped sage 2 tart apples, chopped Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Render bacon in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add sprouts, celery, and onion; cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chestnuts, bread, rice, stock, butter, parsley, thyme, sage, and apples; season with salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing poultry accompaniment. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Holiday Gravy

I've heard rumors that gravy is just another weekday sauce in some households. For me, gravy means it's a holiday. Dinners that included both roasts and potatoes were few and far between when I was growing up. Gravy was a celebratory indulgence that usually meant that grandparents were in the vicinity. Real gravy, holiday gravy, requires a big chunk of roasted meat and that's something I rarely serve, so I still enjoy it only a few times a year. Mashed potatoes and gravy remain my favorite part of traditional holiday meals.

Holiday gravy should always be made from scratch and served by the boatload. It should carry the primal flavors of slowly cooked meat and fire. When there is plenty of good gravy, it's easier to overlook dry turkey, pasty stuffing, or potatoes with an "interesting" consistency.

This is a traditional roux-thickened gravy made with pan drippings. Nothing flavors gravy like the savory roasted bits and concentrated residue left in the pan after the entrée has cooked. Gravy liquefies those flavors and puts them back in play. Roasted vegetables and a really good vegetable stock can also work if meat is out of the question. Double or even triple this recipe if you are serving a crowd.

Yield: 2 cups

2 tablespoons drippings and residue left in the pan used to roast chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, or even root vegetables

Butter or vegetable oil if needed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups flavorful stock, such as Really Good Turkey or Chicken Stock (page 114) or Brown Bone Stock (page 117), heated

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Additional seasonings such as lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs, a few dashes of Tabasco and/or a dash of Worcestershire or fish sauce (optional)

>  Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the roasting pan. If there aren't 2 tablespoons of drippings left, add butter or oil as necessary. Sprinkle the flour into the roasting pan and stir until it combines with the drippings into a thin, lump-free paste. There will be brown bits mixed into the roux, but they can be strained out later.

>  Put the roasting pan on a burner set at medium heat; if the pan is very large pan, use two burners. Cook the roux, stirring, until it is bubbly and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, doing your best to gently soften and dissolve the brown bits into the fat and flour mixture to capture the flavors. Move the roasting pan around as the roux cooks so it doesn't cook only in one spot.

>  Remove the pan from the heat, pour in half of the stock, and whisk it into the roux until smooth. Add the remaining stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper, return the pan to the heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and the raw taste of flour is completely gone, at least 5 minutes. If you want the sauce to simmer longer for a smoother, slightly richer texture and flavor, transfer the gravy to a saucepan, half-cover it, and simmer, stirring often, until it reaches the desired consistency.

>  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Strain if necessary. If desired, add a touch of lemon juice, herbs, Tabasco, and/or an umami-rich sauce for freshness or savory depth. Serve warm.

>  If storing, cover and refrigerate for 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

(Recipe from Susan Volland's Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook's Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors, W. W. Norton & Co.)

Photo Credit: Jason Austin/Fox News
Photo Credit: Jason Austin/Fox News

 

Holiday Gravy

I've heard rumors that gravy is just another weekday sauce in some households. For me, gravy means it's a holiday. Dinners that included both roasts and potatoes were few and far between when I was growing up. Gravy was a celebratory indulgence that usually meant that grandparents were in the vicinity. Real gravy, holiday gravy, requires a big chunk of roasted meat and that's something I rarely serve, so I still enjoy it only a few times a year. Mashed potatoes and gravy remain my favorite part of traditional holiday meals.

Holiday gravy should always be made from scratch and served by the boatload. It should carry the primal flavors of slowly cooked meat and fire. When there is plenty of good gravy, it's easier to overlook dry turkey, pasty stuffing, or potatoes with an "interesting" consistency.

This is a traditional roux-thickened gravy made with pan drippings. Nothing flavors gravy like the savory roasted bits and concentrated residue left in the pan after the entrée has cooked. Gravy liquefies those flavors and puts them back in play. Roasted vegetables and a really good vegetable stock can also work if meat is out of the question. Double or even triple this recipe if you are serving a crowd.

Yield: 2 cups

2 tablespoons drippings and residue left in the pan used to roast chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, or even root vegetables

Butter or vegetable oil if needed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups flavorful stock, such as Really Good Turkey or Chicken Stock or Brown Bone Stock, heated

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Additional seasonings such as lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs, a few dashes of Tabasco and/or a dash of Worcestershire or fish sauce (optional)

>  Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the roasting pan. If there aren't 2 tablespoons of drippings left, add butter or oil as necessary. Sprinkle the flour into the roasting pan and stir until it combines with the drippings into a thin, lump-free paste. There will be brown bits mixed into the roux, but they can be strained out later.

>  Put the roasting pan on a burner set at medium heat; if the pan is very large pan, use two burners. Cook the roux, stirring, until it is bubbly and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, doing your best to gently soften and dissolve the brown bits into the fat and flour mixture to capture the flavors. Move the roasting pan around as the roux cooks so it doesn't cook only in one spot.

>  Remove the pan from the heat, pour in half of the stock, and whisk it into the roux until smooth. Add the remaining stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper, return the pan to the heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and the raw taste of flour is completely gone, at least 5 minutes. If you want the sauce to simmer longer for a smoother, slightly richer texture and flavor, transfer the gravy to a saucepan, half-cover it, and simmer, stirring often, until it reaches the desired consistency.

>  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Strain if necessary. If desired, add a touch of lemon juice, herbs, Tabasco, and/or an umami-rich sauce for freshness or savory depth. Serve warm.

>  If storing, cover and refrigerate for 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

 

 

(Recipe from Susan Volland's Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook's Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors, W. W. Norton & Co.)

Chef Brian Alberg Roasted root vegetables with fresh spinach Photo Credit: Angela Cardinali
Chef Brian Alberg
Roasted root vegetables with fresh spinach
Photo Credit: Angela Cardinali

 

Brown Bone Stock

Bones are used to make stock because connective tissues and cartilage are rich in collagen. Collagen makes gelatin, which adds body. Concentrated stocks that have lots of natural gelatin will reduce into the syrupy, gravy-like consistency so prized in meat sauces. Traditionally veal knuckle bones are used, but they often need to be special-ordered from a butcher. I usually use beef bones. For a browner, more highly flavored stock, I add a few meaty, connective tissue-rich bones like neck bones, oxtails, shanks, or ribs. It is best to have bones that are in about 2-inch/5 cm pieces, but some butchers are reluctant to cut them. Adjust the initial roasting time as needed depending on the bones you get. If you have bones of varied sizes, pull out the smaller pieces as they become dark brown. You can roast the vegetables too, but I think that makes the final stock a bit too sweet.

Yield: 6 to 8 cups

5 lbs/2.3 kg beef bones or veal knuckles, with a few meaty pieces of neck bones, beef shanks, oxtails, or ribs thrown in for flavor

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine (or substitute Tamarind Water or a dried fruit infusion)

1 large yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges or thickly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and quartered or thickly sliced

2 stalks celery (optional), quartered

Pinch of kosher salt

8 black peppercorns

1 bouquet garni (1 large sprig fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, and 3 or 4 sprigs bruised parsley, tied in a bundle; see page 103)

About 1 gallon cold water

>  Preheat the oven to 425°F/215°C

>  For a clear, clean-tasting stock, blanch the bones before you roast them: Put the bones in a stockpot, cover them with plenty of cold water, and bring just to a boil over high heat. Drain; discard the blanching water. Cool the bones slightly.

>  Combine the oil and tomato paste in a small bowl. Put the bones in a large roasting pan and brush the tomato paste and olive oil mix evenly all over the bones, then spread them out in the pan.

>  Roast the bones for 30 minutes. Turn the pieces over and continue roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the meat, bones, and cooking juices at the bottom of the pan are dark brown but not at all burnt.

>Scoop the bones into a large stockpot. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan, pour the wine into the hot pan, and use a wooden spoon to gently loosen and dissolve the sticky brown juices into the wine.

 

Pour the deglazing liquid into the stockpot. Add the remaining ingredients and add just enough cold water to cover the ingredients completely.

>  Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then partially cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat, and cook at a trembling simmer for 6 to 8 hours. You can poke the bones or ingredients down into the pot now and then, but do not stir, or the stock will become cloudy.

>  Set a large sieve or colander over a container. For clearer stock, line it with a few layers of dampened cheesecloth to catch smaller particulates. Carefully pour the stock into the strainer, without agitating the pieces much. Stop pouring when the sediment runs. Strain, without pressing on the solids. Discard the solids.

>  Putting pots of piping-hot stock in the refrigerator can raise the internal temperature to unsafe levels, so cool the stock before refrigerating.

>  Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

>  Note: After you make the stock, there will still be plenty of collagen and gelatin left in the bones. If you like, return the bones to the clean stockpot and add fresh vegetables and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 12 hours. Strain as above. This clearer, lighter stock is called a remouillage. It has plenty of gelatin, but not a lot of flavor.

(Recipe from Susan Volland's Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook's Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors, W. W. Norton & Co.)

 

Chef Brian Alberg Turkey with Fixins Photo Credit: Angela Cardinali
Chef Brian Alberg
Turkey with Fixins
Photo Credit: Angela Cardinali

 

Apple and Onion Redeye Gravy

As I understand it, true redeye gravy is just a splash of coffee poured into a hot skillet that has been used to fry up some country ham, bacon, or sausage. It's more of a deglazing liquid than an actual gravy. I should probably try that someday, but as a native Seattleite, I have an unnatural compulsion to take any perfectly good, simple coffee preparation and make it all fancy. Real coffee aficionados may gasp at the idea of boiling coffee, but in this case, it's all about the sauce, not the beverage. The thin finished sauce should be salty and a little bitter, with a taste that is rounded out by the sweetness of the onion and apple cider. Pour it generously over fried ham, eggs, and/or creamy grits.

Yield: about 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon drippings and residue left in a skillet used to fry bacon or ham

2 tablespoons minced yellow onion

1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee

1/2 cup fresh apple cider or apple juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

>  Heat the pan of drippings and frying residue over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and tender, about 2 minutes. Add the coffee and apple cider and use the back of the spoon to dissolve any flavorful brown bits in the bottom of the pan, then bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid has reduced to a light syrup, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with the salt and plenty of black pepper.

>  Serve hot, with whatever you cooked in the skillet.

Vegetarian Apple and Onion Redeye Gravy

>  Omit the drippings and meat residue and start with a clean skillet heated over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter or light olive or vegetable oil, then add 3/4 cup thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring often, until tender and caramelized to an even brown, about 10 minutes. Add the coffee and apple cider and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and season generously with salt and black pepper. Serve with grits or savory French toast.

Donna Hay's Roasted Turkey with pear and sage stuffing and roasted garlic butter Image copyright Chris Court 2013
Donna Hay's Roasted Turkey with pear and sage stuffing and roasted garlic butter
Image copyright Chris Court 2013

DONNA HAY'S  ROASTED TURKEY WITH PEAR AND SAGE STUFFING AND ROASTED GARLIC BUTTER
DONNA HAY'S ROASTED TURKEY WITH PEAR AND SAGE STUFFING AND ROASTED GARLIC BUTTER

ROSEMARY-GARLIC POTATO BREAD

I learned the joys of putting potatoes in bread during my time in the Napa Valley, so the flavors here are resonant of that magical place, but don't be afraid to change up the herbs or play with nuts and olives. You can't mess it up. Well, you can--I certainly have more than once--but you know what I mean. You can do this by hand, but it's messy, so I wrote this recipe with directions for using a stand mixer. --Duff

Makes 2 round loaves

2 large russet potatoes, well baked and still warm

1 garlic head, roasted and still warm

2 (¼-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing

2 teapoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

4 cups bread flour

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

  1. Peel and coarsely chop the potatoes. Squeeze the garlic from the garlic head into a medium bowl and add the potatoes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, 2 cups warm water, and the sugar and let the yeast bloom for about 7 minutes, or until bubbly. Add the olive oil, potatoes, garlic, salt, and flours. Mix on medium speed for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
  4. Punch it down and let it rise again for 1 hour. Punch it down again and cut the dough in half. Shape each loaf into a ball, place them on a baking sheet, and let them rise for 45 minutes, or until nice and poofy.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
  6. Brush the loaves with olive oil and sprinkle them with a wee bit of salt and some rosemary. Cut a big slash across the top of each and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaves are a nice rich brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool on a wire rack. Never refrigerate!

 

From Duff Bakes by Duff Goldman and Sara Gonzales. Copyright © 2015 by Duff Goldman. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

 

 

Ginger Pumpkin Pie from The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. Photo: Jennifer May
Ginger Pumpkin Pie from The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. Photo: Jennifer May

 

Ginger Pumpkin Pie

MAKES ONE 9- OR 10-INCH PIE

 

This recipe makes enough filling for a 10-inch pie, a bit larger than the standard. If you're working with a smaller pan and have too much filling for your crust, pour the extra into a few buttered ramekins and bake them alongside the pie for the first twenty minutes. Then you get pumpkin custard while you wait for your pie. This makes a super-gingery pie, and the crème fraîche adds a texture and tang to the custard that makes one of my favorite kinds of pie even more delicious. To up the ginger factor (and I always want to), add 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger to your crust when you add the butter.

Unsalted butter, for greasing the dish

All-purpose flour, for rolling the dough

1 recipe for a single whole-grain Piecrust (recipe follows)

2 cups (490 g) drained fresh Pumpkin Puree (recipe follows) or 1 15-ounce can store-bought pumpkin

2 large eggs

1 cup (240 g) crème fraîche (for homemade, see page 34)

½ cup (120 ml) maple syrup

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

1 Grease a pie dish that can easily survive the direct journey from the freezer to the oven (not glass). Lightly flour the counter and roll your crust to between ... and ¼ inch thick. Fold it in half, then in half again; center it over the pan and gently unfold the crust. Trim the crust so it hangs about 1 inch over the side of the pan, fold the extra crust in on itself and crimp to create a decorative edge. Put the crust in the freezer while you make the filling. (The crust can be stored indefinitely in the freezer at this point--just put it in a freezer bag if you plan to freeze it for longer than a day.)

 

2 Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, crème fraîche, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is fairly uniform. Remove the crust from the freezer and place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake until the pie just barely jiggles in the center, 50 minutes to an hour. Let your pie cool for at least 1 hour at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.

 

Storage notes · This pie does well tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

How to Make Piecrust

MAKES TWO 9-INCH CRUSTS

 

Whenever I make piecrust, I always make double what I need. It's just as easy to make four or even six piecrusts as it is to make two, and if I have a spare crust in the fridge, there are vast possibilities when it comes to dinner or dessert. Quiche! Pie! Tarts! This is the basic method from my first book, The Homemade Pantry, along with a few variations. The recipe was originally inspired by one from Shirley Corriher's Bakewise. Her stand-mixer method transformed me into a confident pie maker, and I've heard from countless others that it's done the same for them. If it's hot in your kitchen, keep the mixtures cold by putting them in the refrigerator or freezer whenever you take a pause.

 

2 sticks (230 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch squares, plus additional for greasing the dish

2¼ cups (270 g)

all-purpose flour

¹⁄³ cup (75 ml) cold water

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

1 Combine the butter and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, using your hands to coat the butter in the flour. Put the bowl in the refrigerator.

 

2 Combine the water, vinegar, and the salt in a measuring cup, stirring to dissolve the salt. Put the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes.

 

3 Remove the mixtures from the refrigerator and freezer. Using the paddle attachment, blend the flour mixture on low speed until it has the texture of crumbly meal. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the water mixture into the bowl. The dough will be crumbly at first, then after 10 or 20 seconds, it will come together in a ball. Stop the mixer.

 

4 Turn the dough out onto the counter and press it together into a large disk. Cut the dough in half; wrap each piece in plastic, waxed paper, or Bee's Wrap (see Resources, page 312) and press each into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

 

Variations

  • Single crust: Use 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter + 1¼ cups (150 g) flour + 1 teaspoon cider vinegar + ¼ teaspoon salt. Reduce the water to 3 tablespoons (45 ml).
  • Whole-grain crust: Replace half the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry or spelt flour.

 

Pumpkin Puree

 

I didn't expect to have a favorite pumpkin, but I should have known that there's nothing so simple as a basic pumpkin. I needed to make pie, and I asked my friends Jen and Pete if they had a spare pumpkin from their harvest. They gave me four pumpkins.

 

"Do a comparison! You like that sort of thing."

It turns out there is a pumpkin variety called Winter Luxury. It's as round as a nineteenth-century French bosom, and just as luminous. The skin is frosted with white speckles, and the flesh, when baked, is soft and velvety. This is my favorite pumpkin for pie, and when I can find it, it's the one I roast for puree. I'll also settle for the Long Pie or New England Pie varieties, or any common sugar or pie pumpkin I can get my hands on. The only pumpkins I don't eat are the large, tasteless pumpkins grown for jack-o'-lanterns--those, we save for carving.

 

You can roast small and larger pumpkins alike, and you'll get an average of 1 cup puree from every pound of pumpkin. Roast a few at once, and then fill the freezer with puree.

 

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the stem end off each pumpkin, creating a flat top. Cut smaller pumpkins in half and larger ones in quarters. Scoop out the strings and seeds, and throw them in a bowl to set aside for roasting separately (see page 118).

 

2 Place the pumpkins flesh side down on a greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the halves are soft when pricked with a fork and on the verge of collapse, 60 to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip over each half, venting the steam away from your face. Let the pumpkins cool.

 

3 Separate the flesh from the skin, either by peeling the skin with a knife or scooping the flesh out of the skin with a spoon. Transfer the pumpkin flesh to a food processor or high-speed blender and process until smooth, working in batches if necessary. This may require some tamping down, shifting of pumpkin pieces, and patience. If the pumpkin is dry and refuses to transform into a smooth puree, add water, a few tablespoons at a time, until you have a puree.

 

Storage notes · Freeze in 2-cup portions. Fill freezer bags, flatten them out, and store in the freezer for up to 1 year.

 

Note · Homemade pumpkin puree tends to have a higher water content than canned. If you're making soup or a similar forgiving recipe, there's no need to worry about the extra water. But if you're making pie, pumpkin bread, or some other baked good, drain your pumpkin puree through a cheesecloth-lined strainer in the refrigerator for a few hours before using.

 

Duff Goldman Chocolate Cake Photo Credit: Caren Alpert
Duff Goldman Chocolate Cake
Photo Credit: Caren Alpert

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Who doesn't love a good chocolate cake? A crazy person, that's who. --Sara

Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch round cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

½ cup brewed coffee

1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

3 extra-large eggs

½ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting of your choice (see page 282)

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a big bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the coffee, cocoa powder, and ½ cup water and heat it for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour the melted butter mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until well combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add it to the batter and mix until smooth.
  5. Divide the batter between the two cake pans, scraping all the batter from the bowl with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes in the pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Frost with the frosting of your choice (see more on frosting cakes starting on page 302).

Variation: The water/coffee combo in this recipe can be switched up, but remember, coffee is to chocolate like salt is to beef. Coffee brings out the flavor of chocolate without making it taste like coffee, just as salt brings out the flavor of meat without making it taste salty. The liquid you use can be all water, or it can be a full cup of coffee for more of a mocha-flavored cake. And if you're feeling really bold, go ahead and use a cup of a dark stout beer instead. Top it with an Irish Cream buttercream (see the recipe on page 286 but use butter, powdered sugar, and Baileys). Get creative and experiment a little--after all, it is a science project.

You'll know a cake is done if the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will slightly shrink away from the sides of the pans. To get your cake out of the pan, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around the outside of a layer to loosen it from the pan. Carefully flip the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack. Place the cake right-side up on the rack and let it cool completely before icing.

From Duff Bakes by Duff Goldman and Sara Gonzales. Copyright © 2015 by Duff Goldman. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

 

 

Stuffed Winter Squash

SERVES 4

 

Every fall, the squash calls begin again. They start just here and there. But in October, the pace quickens, and the calls become more panicked. "Help. Need squash recipes."

 

Who can resist those winter squash? The varieties are as plentiful as the stone fruits were a few weeks ago, and it's hard to remember that you might actually have to eat them when you bring them home. So cheap per pound! And they store so well! And in they go, into your basket, and before you know it . . . help!

 

My favorite thing to do with a winter squash is to stuff it. Not only will you use that winter squash taunting you from the counter, you will also use last night's grain, sad apples that came back in the lunch box one too many times, even old corn bread--they all find their home here. The recipe below is a guideline, but most combinations of grain, green, apple, and meat work perfectly.

 

2 acorn, delicata, dumpling, or carnival squash, cut in half through the stem and seeded

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for rubbing the squash and oiling the dish

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

6 ounces chorizo or sweet sausage, crumbled or cut into small pieces

1 cup chopped leeks (1 small leek)

1 cup chopped apple (1 to 2 apples)

Freshly ground pepper

2 cups sliced tender greens (spinach, tatsoi, kale, Swiss chard), cut into ribbons

4 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped

2 cups cooked millet, rice, or quinoa

½ cup grated Cheddar cheese

 

1 Preheat the oven to 375° F. Rub the flesh of each squash half with olive oil, and oil an ovenproof dish or baking sheet. Sprinkle the whole baking dish with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Lay the squash flesh side down in the dish and bake until it is very tender when pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425°F.

 

2 Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the leeks to the hot oil and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the apple, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute. Add the greens, sage, cooked grains, and reserved chorizo. Cook for another minute, stirring to combine, and remove from heat. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

 

3 Turn the cooked squash over in the baking dish so it is flesh side up. (Be careful, as steam will escape when you turn it.) Scoop the filling into the cavity of each squash half, piling it into a mountain so that it holds as much as possible. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

 

Variations

  • Chopped fried bacon is a great substitute for the chorizo.
  • Crumbled corn bread is a delicious substitute for the grain. When you make corn bread and have a few pieces left over, just crumble them into a container and freeze them for your next batch of stuffed winter squash.
  • If you don't have leeks, substitute a medium red onion.
  • If you don't have Cheddar, substitute Parmesan or other sharp cheese.

Minestrone from The Homemade Kitchen Photo: Jennifer May
Minestrone from The Homemade Kitchen
Photo: Jennifer May

Minestrone

 

Minestrone is a soup of scraps, and because the recipe is infinitely changeable depending on what you have, it's a soup of the moment. Start with the aromatics. Dice a large onion and, if you have them, a few carrots and ribs of celery. Cook in a mix of butter and olive oil, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Add a few finely chopped garlic cloves along with a handful of fresh herbs. If you don't have fresh, use dried, but just a teaspoon or so of each. Thyme, rosemary, sage, and marjoram are great here. If you have basil, save it for the finished bowl. Throw in a teaspoon of salt and a bay leaf and continue to cook for a few minutes.

 

Now add the liquid--about a quart of water, stock, or whey. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer. If you have a Parmesan rind or prosciutto end, add it now.

 

From here, you have a great base. Add any combination of diced leeks, hearty greens sliced into ribbons, peeled and cubed winter squash, diced zucchini, and green or yellow beans cut into 1-inch lengths.

 

Add the tomatoes. This can be 2 cups of roasted tomatoes (see page 23), 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes, or 2 medium fresh tomatoes, cored and diced. Include any liquid from the can, jar, or bag.

 

Finally, add the extras. Add any or some combination of cooked beans (cannellini and chickpeas are my favorites here), cooked pasta, or cooked grain.

 

Scoop into big bowls and finish with your toppings. A drizzle of olive oil, grated parmesan, Pesto (page 44), or coarsely chopped basil are all wonderful here.

 

Storage notes: This freezes well, as long as it doesn't have pasta. Freeze in airtight containers for up to 6 months.

Recipes adapted and excerpted from The Homemade Kitchen. Copyright ©2015 by Alana Chernila. Photographs by Jennifer May. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

 

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