Friday, November 13, 2020

Some Festive Side Dishes-Big List of Holiday Cooking

 Who doesn't enjoy piling an assortment of interesting food on a plate? If like me, you grew up regularly dining at smorgasbord establishments, you know the excitement of potato dishes and creamy salads. Think of it like the church picnic without the hallelujahs first. Our local smorgasbord always had an enormous wheel of good cheese, and a knife to hack away at the dairy mountain. Excavating a hunk of cheese (probably not Bond Ost, but something similar) was the high point of the meal, washed down with a Shirley Temple.  God, those were the days! I haven't had real cheese in the house in close to a year. I'm sure my health is better for it, but there's really no better snack. Anyway, what follows are some side dishes I've made and enjoyed over the years. 

1) Homemade Potato Chips/Crisps

They look a bit dark, but frying at home is less an exact science than the commercially prepared sort. Served warm, they're a real treat. 

These were simple enough to do provided you plan ahead, and feel comfortable deep frying. I used my large enamel Dutch oven, but a small batch could be managed in a cast iron frying pan. The main thing is to really watch the heat, making sure that it comes back up in temperature before doing the next batch. If the oil isn't hot enough, it will penetrate the potatoes and make them soggy.

Use good oil, and be sure to drain them on a rack over a baking sheet rather than on paper towels. Toss generously with coarse salt while still warm.

You Will Need:


Peel and slice your potatoes as thin as possible. I have a very sharp, thin knife that I'm comfortable working with, but you could also use a slicer. I mean, slice them paper-thin. Place then in a bowl of water to cover and set in the fridge for several hours before cooking. Drain them, rinse off any excess potato starch and then (here's the part where you can really see I'm my mother's daughter) dry each chip completely with a towel. Yeah, I know, but do it anyway.

Heat your oil, and in small batches, cook the potatoes, turning a few times during the cooking. Before they are dark brown, remove them with a slotted spoon to a rack. When all potatoes are cooked, send them through the fat a second time until deeply browned. Remove with slotted spoon to rack. Toss with salt, and serve warm.

2) Puffed Baked Potatoes-Gourmet Magazine December 1972
These were fun. A bit more work than twice baked potatoes, but really not too difficult. These were featured at the back of the magazine in the "Last Touch" section. Some of the other potato recipes sound interesting as well, though I think I'm going to pass on the chipped beef filled potatoes. I have quite a few potatoes at the moment, maybe I'll give some others a try this week.

You Will Need:

6 baked potatoes, halved and scooped out, skins reserved
1/2 cup light cream. scalded
salt/pepper/nutmeg to taste
6 egg yolks
4 egg whites (I used large)
1/3 cup chopped parsley

Pass the potatoes through a food mill to puree. Add the scalded cream, seasonings and egg yolks. Beat well. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the potato mixture. Fold in the rest carefully and spoon into the reserved shells. Arrange on a dish or baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned.

3) Sweet Potato Bouchons
I served these along with individual cod pot pies. That was a fun meal. 

For The Sweet Potato Bouchons:

3 large baking potatoes

3 large sweet potatoes

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste

flour for rolling

1 egg, beaten for coating

dry bread crumbs for coating

oil for frying

In a 400 degree oven, bake the potatoes (start the sweets a good 15 minutes ahead of the baking potatoes as they take longer). In a large bowl, cut the butter into small chunks and place in bottom. Using a food-mill over the bowl, put the flesh of the potatoes through.Mix well with the butter. Add the egg and mix again. Add the seasonings and give a good final mash by hand.

Butter a shallow baking dish, and spread the potato mixture in it. Cover with a piece of buttered waxed paper and press down onto potatoes. Cool, or if making ahead, chill at this point.

Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep frying pan, heavy pot, or deep fryer.

Form the potatoes into cork-shaped pieces, roll in flour. Dip in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate until all are done.

Fry, a few at a time until deeply browned on both sides. You need to watch the temperature of your oil and at the first sign of smoking or excessive bubbling (likely from the breadcrumbs) lower the heat, lifting off burner if needed. In other words, keep an eye on it and don't try doing anything else while you fry. Keep the lid to the pot nearby as a precaution.

Drain on a rack over a baking sheet, and serve warm.

4) Chelo
This is a James Beard recipe that appeared in Gourmet magazine in December of 1972. This would have been a rather fancy, exotic dish to most people as 1/2 a cup of olive oil would have cost a small fortune (assuming you could find it at all). Our pharmacy sold olive oil in tiny bottles for medicinal use, but no one I knew cooked with it.
You will need to rig up a special pan to cook the rice. It worked, though I must admit I had my doubts. Mine did however need to cook longer, and at a higher temperature than the recipe suggested, so be prepared to adjust accordingly. And watch it, so the towel does not catch fire.
I served the chelo with a tofu dish of onions, garlic, raisins, and saffron cooked with white wine and peas. Somewhat elegant for a Monday evening, but the stack of magazines were calling to me.

Wash two cups basmati rice in boiling water and soak it for 4-5 hours. Drain the rice, rinse it well with cold water, and let it stand 1-2 hours (I did this in a strainer over a pan to catch excess liquid).
In a kettle (I used my enamel Dutch oven) bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. Season it with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt (I used 1 tablespoon coarse salt). Add the rice and boil vigourously for about 10 minutes. Drain the rice, rinse again with boiling water, and drain thoroughly.
In a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid (I used the Dutch oven again) melt 1/2 cup butter or heat 1/2 cup olive oil (I used the oil). Add the rice, then pour over it 5-6 tablespoons more butter or oil (I know, I know, it was 1972). Wrap a tea towel around the edge of the kettle, cover with another towel, folded, and put on the lid( this is to absorb the steam from the rice so it will crisp). Cook over low heat (I used medium as mine just wouldn't crisp on low) and heat 15-20 minutes (mine was more like 30 minutes). The butter or oil will have seeped through the rice so that it is nicely coated and there will be a crisp, golden layer of rice on the bottom of the pan. The crusty layer should be carefully removed, and either arranged around the rice as a garnish, or served separately as it sometimes is in Iran.

5) Tomato Rice Timbales
The technique for preparing the rice sounds insane, and I nearly skipped it, but I'm glad I didn't. What I ended up with was the best steamed rice I've ever made. I can't imagine making rice any other way, now that I've seen the results from this.

You Will Need:

For the steamed rice:

3 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups rice
More hot water for steaming (about 1 quart)

Bring the water and salt to a boil and sprinkle in the rice. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain rice in a sieve. Prepare a pan of simmering water. Place sieve over it, with a tea towel draped over the sieve. Steam 15-20 minutes, or until dry. proceed with recipe.

For the timbales:

preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Have ready a pan, 6 buttered ramekins (6 ounce size) and enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins in the pan.

The rice from above
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry white wine

Combine the cooked rice with 2 tablespoons butter and cheese. Mix well. In a small saucepan, cook the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat, with the lid on for two minutes. Remove lid, add wine and tomato paste and cook over high heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 5 minutes). Add to rice mixture. Mix well.

Pack mixture into moulds and place in water bath. Bake 20 minutes, or until hot and the tops are golden. Run a knife around the edge, and unmould onto a serving platter.

6) Vegetarian Baked Beans
Six hours sounds like a long time, but there is very little hands-on cooking here. Once an hour, I gave it a stir, and checked to see if they needed water. It will tie-up your oven, so plan accordingly if you need to cook anything that can't go in a 300 degree F. oven. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the fragrance of beans cooking in molasses and mustard.

This recipe freezes well, but you may need to add a bit of water when re-heating.

You Will Need:

4 lbs. of dried white beans (I used Navy beans)
Water to cook beans
3 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt (you may prefer more, but I tend to go light on salt)
3 1/2 tablespoons strong prepared mustard (I had some British stuff that'll blow out your sinuses, but Dijon will work too)
2 cups ketchup
1 cup full-flavour molasses (the mild kind is OK too if you prefer it)
1 large onion, chopped

Soak the beans overnight. Cook them in the morning with the bay leaves and water until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Combine sugar, salt, mustard, ketchup, molasses and onion. Stir into beans. Place in a large heat-proof Dutch oven and cover with reserved bean water-about 2 inches of water above beans. Cover tightly and bake at 300 degrees for 5 1/2 hours, checking once per hour to stir and add additional water if drying out. In the last 1/2 hour, remove lid and cook until thick.

7) Steamed Brown Bread (to go with the beans above)
You can't have baked beans without brown bread, can you? Since there is nowhere to buy the type in a tin around here, I made my own following the recipe in Beard on Bread with a few modifications. I used Golden Syrup for half the molasses. I didn't plan on that, but after making the baked beans I did not have enough left. Golden Syrup is a good substitute for mild molasses, though heaven knows it isn't economical to purchase in these parts. Roughly double the price of molasses. Yikes.

I did not add raisins or currants because I was afraid the Golden Syrup would already be on the sweet side. You could add 1 cup of dried fruit to the batter at the end if you like. Some people cut up apricots and add them, but those people are heretics.

The recipe called for graham flour, which I do not keep on hand (I make my graham crackers with whole wheat). I substituted whole wheat flour. I used dried buttermilk solids instead of fresh buttermilk as well. Very handy stuff to keep in your fridge if you bake.

The only pudding mould I own was my mother's which I believe was her aunt's before her. It is ceramic and blue and very, very old. I no longer use it for fear of breakage. I'm also somewhat concerned it may be full of lead (which would explain quite a bit about our family, I'm afraid). Instead, I opened two 1 lb. tins of apricots I was planning to use anyway, and used them. I would not use tins that have been lined with anything, such as the sort tomatoes come in. You're going to be steaming for two hours and what with all the hysteria over the materials in plastic bottles which is made from similar material, I would err on the side of caution. I have successfully steamed puddings in small ceramic souffle dishes as well, though you do sacrifice height if you go that way. Coffee tins work as well.

I used my canner to steam the breads, with the tins nestled in the rack. I also used a jar-lifter to remove them which worked magnificently.

You Will Need:
(Makes Two)

1 cup rye meal (I used medium rye flour)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup graham flour (I used whole wheat)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup molasses (I used 1/2 Golden Syrup)
2 cups buttermilk (I used solids and water)

Butter two 1 lb. tins generously and butter two pieces of foil to go over the top. Set aside. Fit a large pot with either a rack, or a metal trivet to lift the tins off the bottom for steaming. Add some water (about 5 inc) and in another pan, have boiling water ready to fill-the water should go about half-way up the side of the tins. You may need to add more during the steaming if it boils off.

Combine dry ingredients and add the molasses and buttermilk. Stir until well mixed. I used a spatula to scrape it off the bottom where clumps of dry ingredients often lurk in these heavy batters.

Pour into prepared tins and cover with buttered foil. The dough will rise to the top, so don't worry if it looks like there is too much empty space. A second layer of foil wouldn't hurt because you want to keep out any water. With string, tightly secure the foil.

Set the tins into the pot and steam for around 2 hours (mine took 2 hours exactly) testing with a skewer for doneness. Check the pot now and then during steaming and add more boiling water if needed.

Beard suggests letting the unmoulded breads dry out for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven. I used a 300 degree F. oven for seven minutes (because I had beans baking away at 300) and it was perfect, Cool on racks. Serve warmed with baked beans, or butter, or what the hell-both!

Remove tins carefully, and unmould. I had no difficulty dislodging them by running a thin knife carefully around it and inverting onto a rack. If they get stuck, use a can opener and remove the bottom, then simply push them through.

8) Vegetable Mousse 
This is adapted from The Herald Tribune Home Institute Cook Book, 1947 ed.

The original called for Roquefort, but I didn't have any. I didn't think it was worth wasting good Stilton on, so I er...repurposed some dull goat cheese Mr. ETB picked up at Aldi. He can't help himself. He never buys anything there he likes, yet he keeps trying. This was the kind of salad you'd use goat cheese from Aldi for.
You Will Need:

1 tablespoon unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound goat cheese (or Roquefort if you have it)
1 green pepper, finely minced
2 carrots, shredded finely, and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 stalks celery with leaves, finely minced
1/4 cup sliced green olives with pimentos
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Soften the gelatin in the cold water. In a large bowl, dissolve it in the boiling water. Add salt, whisk until dissolved and chill until gelatin begins to set. Meanwhile, mash the cheese and mix with the vegetables. Fold in the whipped cream, then fold all into the gelatin mixture. Pour into a rinsed ring mould and let chill several hours. That's it.

9) Charred Carrot Soup
You Will Need:

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
5-6 medium carrots (about 3 cups) peeled and shredded
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 small Idaho potato (a floury-type potato) peeled and chopped
3 1/2 cups rich vegetable (or chicken) stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust according to the saltiness of your stock)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the oil, then the carrots. Stir to coat. Cook the carrots, stirring frequently until they are partially charred-about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate and add the shallots and garlic. Cook until the shallots are softened-about 2 minutes. Add the potato and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until carrots and potato are very soft-about 15 minutes.

In a food processor (or a food mill) puree until smooth, then force through a fine mesh sieve (yes, that will be time consuming, so plan accordingly). Return soup to a saucepan and add the cream. Add the red wine vinegar, extra salt, and pepper as desired. Stir in the butter, and serve the soup hot, garnished with parsley.

10) Escabeche-Gourmet Magazine November 1972
If you like this stuff, you know how frustrating it is to buy the tiny tins of it at the supermarket for $1.15, and you don't even get cauliflower. This recipe makes a whole buttload of it (that's an actual Imperial measurement-look it up) and if you were lucky enough to find cauliflower on sale-a bargain too!

In a Dutch oven, sauté 12 garlic cloves, peeled, and 1 medium onion sliced in wedges in 3/4 cup olive oil for 3 minutes. Add 4 carrots, thinly sliced, and 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns. Sauté 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups white vinegar and simmer mixture, covered for 3 minutes. Drain a 3 1/2 ounce tin of pickled jalapeño chilies and reserve the liquid. Add 2 cups water to the reserved liquid and add to the pot. Bring liquid to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons salt and 1 head of cauliflower cut into flowerets. Cook the mixture, covered over moderate heat for 12 minutes. Add 12 small bay leaves, 3 zucchini (I omitted this) thinly sliced, and 3/4 teaspoon each-thyme, marjoram, and oregano. Simmer the mixture, covered for 2 minutes. Let cool, covered, then store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes 8 cups.

We're coming close to the end. Next up- Christmas Cakes and Steamed Puddings. 


Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

To my UK eyes there are some weird and wonderful things here! You clearly love to cook and your enthusiasm comes across so well. How lucky are Mr.ETB and Danny to be able to sample all those recipes?

Polyester Princess said...

A church picnic without the the hallelujahs first, that just made me chuckle! Both cheese and potato crisps can be quite addictive. We used to make the latter when I was in my 20s and I'm very tempted by your recipe. Those puffed baked potatoes look quite yummy too. Better now show these to Jos, as he just loves baked potatoes!
I can only agree with Vronni that Mr. ETB and Danny are quite spoiled with your food offerings! xxx

Beth Waltz said...

Good gads! I recognize the Vegetable Mousse! It was something my mother served at her ladies' card parties in the 50s, on her Autumn Leaf luncheon set (which resides in sturdy boxes on the floor of my linen closet, awaiting the brunches I plan to celebrate theend of the plague). It was one of the few treats she could leave unguarded from husband and kids. * "The kind of salad you'd use goat cheese from Aldi for...", says it all about the slightly "off" taste of this. Bitter, sour, more Slavic than Scandinavian?

Emily said...

So you tested negative! Congratulations!

That's so interesting, I never knew that olive oil was once considered an exotic delicacy in mainstream American cuisine. I always took it for granted that you could get several varieties at the supermarket and not pay an exorbitant amount.

If a buttload is an official Imperial measurement, it begs the question of what would be the metric equivalent. Kilobutt? : )

Goody said...

They had to endure quite a lot of bad food too!

Potatoes are the best. I'm not sure I'd trust anyone that didn't like them ;)

I haven't tried making a non-dairy version, but maybe I should for Christmas? I'll bet you could get a sour taste from something like tamarind paste.

I did test negative. I still have to quarantine until Tuesday to be safe (and I'm wearing a mask at home) but so far so good. I hear you are having a proper lockdown now. I hope it goes well. I wish we could.

Vix said...

There's some very tempting looking dishes here!
I love reading American recipes, it's like a different language. I was intrigued by your baked beans,I'm going to have to Google navy beans as they're not a name I'm familiar with, I'm also unsure as to what molasses are, I'd assumed something to do with brown sugar but obviously not as there's already some in the dish...maybe like jaggery? xxx

Goody said...

Navy beans are a small white bean, but cannellini would do, as would any white bean, really. Molasses is basically dark treacle. It is a by-product of sugar refining.

bahnwärterin said...

this is interesting - never heard of all this! very exotic!
i live in dumpling country, with many kinds of it. and - of cause - potatoes: just boiled, fried in a pan, mashed, as dumplings, salad with mayo.....
and cabbage, cabbage, sauerkraut, red cabbage, kale......
the festivities are VERY heavy here foodwise.
glad your test was negative!!

Señora Allnut said...

Your recipes are really tempting me, even if I agree with previous comments that some ingredients look 'exotic' ;DD. I always enjoy this kind of cultural differences.
I've never dreamed on adding sugar/molasses to baked beans!. We usually cook beans in a pressure cooker to skip the long time baking/cooking, but pressure cookers are as usual here as italian coffee makers (essential homeware!).
Love particularly your potatoes recipes, best side-dishes ever!.

Emily said...

The cultural differences are fun for sure! Like when Vix said in a comment in one of your other blog posts that she'd never tasted pumpkin pie before, that blew my mind. I never knew that pumpkin pie was a distinctly American dessert, or that molasses is similar to treacle, which I'd heard of but had only the vaguest notion of. Any time I've heard of treacle in America, it was nearly always metaphorical, not an actual ingredient in a recipe the way molasses is.

You mentioned living in Massachusetts before moving to Nebraska, but may I ask if you've ever lived in Canada or Europe? I've noticed over the years that some of your diction and spelling seems to be cosmopolitan, not purely American, like when you consistently spell the word "ton" as "tonne," or say "tin" instead of "can." It's super-cool and alluring because nobody else I know does this. : )

Goody said...

Thank you.
I've never met a potato I didn't like! It makes sense to serve food at festive times as it keeps people's mouths busy with less time for arguing. At least that's how it works in the US :)

@Senora Allnut
I have a pressure cooker for canning/preserving but I never use it just for cooking. Part of that has to do with how inexpensive energy costs are in the US-leaving the oven on for 6 hours would be madness if I lived in Europe. I'm sure I should be finding less wasteful ways to cook.
The baked beans here are very sweet and salty-almost like barbeque. We serve them traditionally with things like frankfurters.

And there's
light treacle" which is like Golden syrup, and dark treacle which is closer to blackstrap molasses. Don't even get me started on Steen's Syrup (southern US) or King's Syrup (Pennsylvania Dutch country).

When I was young I knew it would be best to stay consistent so I went with the spellings most of the English speaking world use rather than the American version. So as the old joke goes, "I speak English but understand American."
My husband insists that I code switch when away from Nebraska, and Danny thinks my diction improves when I'm on the phone, but otherwise it isn't terribly obvious except in written form.

ThriftyParka said...

Yum! I had typed a more verbose comment earlier, but it got lost in the ether. Your food looks so delicious and carefully prepared!

Happy thrifting ;)

Goody said...

@Thrifty Parka
You're back!!!!