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Ultimate Thanksgiving mashed potatoes (plus). November 23, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. For our friend Ben and me, whatever else we serve, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. But they seem pretty plain Jane compared to the rest of the holiday fare, and if we had guests, the poor mashed potatoes tended to sit neglected (except by the two of us). Not any more!

I was thrilled to find a special recipe that combined potatoes and winter squash in a way I was convinced would be healthy, hearty, and perfect for that all-American holiday, Thanksgiving. (Squash and potatoes are both native to the Americas, after all.) In this recipe, you’re combining the vitamin A and high-fiber content of winter squash with the inherent yumminess of potatoes and the protein of cheese. And the gorgeous color combo of golden Yukon Gold potatoes and orange Butternut squash is ideal for a winter feast.

I discovered the dish originally on the Tennessee Locavore’s blog (http://tnlocavore.typepad.com/). She makes it as a casserole. But I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving dinner, and between my dressing, summer squash casserole, roasted veggies, rolls, and corn pudding, the oven was pretty much taken. So I simplified the recipe and made it stovetop, in the heavy Dutch oven I use to cook the potatoes. Check out her blog to see her recipe, which I’m sure is luscious. But oh my, the version I made was simply fabulous. Our friend Ben, no slouch when it comes to eating mashed potatoes or praising my recipes, announced that he ranked this in the top five of everything I’ve ever made for him. Check it out:

      Mashed Potatoes and Winter Squash

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, chunked

1 Butternut squash, peeled and chunked 

9 ounces (one block) Gruyere cheese, grated

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan

4 tablespoons butter

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon Trocomare or salt (we like RealSalt)

1 teaspoon lemon pepper or cracked black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes and squash until tender; drain, mash, and stir well to blend. Return to very low heat. Add butter, cheese, eggs, and spices, stirring well to blend. Heat and taste, adjusting seasonings, and serve.

This really is delicious, and pretty easy, too, though peeling and seeding the Butternut squash isn’t much fun. But our local grocery sells pre-peeled and chunked winter squash, so I’ll use that this time. I’m notoriously texture-sensitive, so the slippery-slimy texture of winter squash would normally cause me to pass up any dish containing it, but the potatoes in this dish cover for the squash, and I thought it was incredibly good. Trust me, your guests won’t ever think of mashed potatoes as boring again. Don’t be surprised if it’s the first dish to vanish from the table!

         ‘Til next time,

                   Silence

Delicious Thanksgiving dressing. November 22, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. I’ll admit it: My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the dressing. I’m a vegetarian, so we don’t call it stuffing, since we’re not stuffing anything. And I’ve always loved mine crunchy anyway, so even as a child, I didn’t eat the stuffing inside the turkey, but rather the dressing my beloved mama baked separately just for me. Same recipe, different cooking style.

As an adult, I’ve strayed from Mama’s traditional recipe for dressing. I wanted something so luscious that it could stand on its own, something that could be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, not just an also-ran side dish. I think my Amazing Cranberry Dressing fits the bill. Plus, it keeps well and reheats beautifully, so you can make it ahead and reheat it on Thanksgiving—if there’s any left by then! See what you think:

               Silence’s Amazing Cranberry Dressing

1 bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing

1 to 1 1/2 sticks butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup dried cranberries (aka craisins)

1 cup pecan pieces

1 to 2 cups diced sweet onion, to taste

1 to 2 cups minced button mushrooms, to taste

1 teaspoon each dried thyme, marjoram, rosemary and sage

1 tablespoon each dried basil, oregano, garam masala, Trocomare or salt (we like RealSalt) and cracked black pepper

2 1/2 cups veggie stock (any boxed brand is fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. (Use 1 1/2 sticks if you don’t plan on pouring turkey drippings over the dressing, 1 stick if you do.) Add olive oil, diced onion, herbs, and spices. When onion has clarified, add mushrooms. When mushrooms have cooked down, add cranberries and pecan pieces. Add veggie stock. Turn off heat and gently fold in Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing.

Spoon mixture into a large (9 x 13″) rectangular oven-proof dish or two 8 x 8″ square oven-proof dishes. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour, until the top is crunchy but not burned and the interior is succulent. Cover with aluminum foil until served. Serves 8-10. Leftovers reheat well in a toaster oven or oven set at 250 to 300 degrees F until warmed through. (Don’t reheat in a microwave or the dressing will get mushy.) 

That’s all there is to making the best dressing this side of Heaven! Try it and see if you don’t agree. And if you have a favorite recipe for dressing/stuffing, please share it with us!

           ‘Til next time,

                       Silence

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