Buttermilk Cornbread Dressing with Italian Sausage

I loved that this recipe used buttermilk to moisten the stuffing- in addition to the more typical stock and butter. The sausage was not overpowering in the finished dish but added great flavor. I used locally made sweet Italian sausage with fennel seeds- perfect.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. The sausage could be omitted for a vegetarian version. The original recipe notes that if store-bought or boxed mix cornbread is used, it should be crumbled and and spread out on a sheet pan to dry for 4 to 12 hours prior to assembling the dish. I made the accompanying cornbread recipe, which does not require drying time, two days prior to making the dish.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

For the Cornbread:

  • 8 T/115 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups/250 g medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup/114 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup/55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups/470 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Dressing:

  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 T neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound loose pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
  • 1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 celery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 T chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe cornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)

To Make the Cornbread:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. (I weighed the dry ingredients when possible.)
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and eggs. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the melted butter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth the top.
  7. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sides pull away cleanly from the skillet, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool completely and serve warm or room temperature, or reserve to make cornbread dressing.

To Assemble & Bake the Dressing:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium and pour in the oil.
  3. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, keeping any fat in the skillet. Add a few additional tablespoons oil if needed to evenly coat the bottom.
  5. Add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and sage, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cornbread pieces and toss to combine.
  9. Pour in the stock and buttermilk, and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Transfer the cornbread mixture to your prepared dish and spread evenly.
  11. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
  12. Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  13. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake until the surface is golden brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

When I recently received spaghetti squash in my CSA box, my farm newsletter included a link to this Food 52 recipe. I had to make it after reading the first line of the article- “When you think spaghetti squash do you think snoozefest?” Maybe? I definitely hadn’t cooked or eaten spaghetti squash in recent memory.

This recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Checker. I modified the proportions and method. The results were cheesy, buttery, and subtly sweet. Easy and simple to prepare and no longer a snoozefest! 😉

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 4 to 6 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch coarse salt, plus more to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F. I set my oven to convection roast.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. 
  3. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  4. Brush the inside of the squash liberally with the melted butter and sprinkle sugar all over the insides. 
  5. Place the squash cut side down on the lined baking sheet. Brush a little of the butter over the skin. (I used the residual butter that was left on the basting brush.)
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the skin of the squash is starting to show some brown blisters.
  7. Use a fork to scrape out the strings of squash, loosening it so that it’s a spaghetti-like consistency. 
  8. Toss with grated Parmesan, season with salt, and serve. 

Sautéed Greens with Corn, Bacon & Scallions

I have a couple dishes to share that are absolutely loaded with greens. This colorful dish could be served as a main but we ate it as a hearty side with grilled mustard chicken thighs and roasted potatoes. I drizzled the potatoes with residual bacon fat (from this dish) prior to roasting- great.

This recipe was adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman, via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I modified the method and incorporated my CSA beet greens, kale, and collard greens. The original recipe notes that carrots or summer squash can be substituted for the peppers and corn. Easy and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6 as a side

  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • shallot or small onion, minced
  • 3 cups corn kernels, from about 4 ears corn (or a combination of corn and diced summer squash)(thawed frozen corn okay)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper (or carrot)
  •  pinch red pepper flakes
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 8 cups de-stemmed greens, like chard or kale, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons (or whole baby spinach, or another tender green)(I used a combination of beet greens, kale, & collard greens)
  1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Transfer to paper towels to drain; pour off all but a teaspoon of fat from the skillet. (Reserve the bacon fat for another use- such as roasting potatoes!)
  2. Add butter and melt.
  3. Add shallot (and carrot, if using) and adjust heat; vegetables should sizzle, but not scorch. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add greens and cook for about 4 minutes, until beginning to wilt.
  5. Add corn (and/or squash), peppers, and pepper flakes and let sizzle, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Crumble bacon and add to skillet with scallions. Cook together 1 minute and serve hot.

Farro with Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto & Spinach

I love a dish involving warm dressing and wilted greens. I am also in love with farro- and pesto. This full-flavored vegetarian dish was made for me! Loved it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I used homemade pesto, Campari tomatoes, and several of the modifications and options that were suggested in the original recipe for ingredient substitutions.

It was incredible as a summer dish but could easily be served in any season with all of the possible variations. It can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. The dish could also be topped with a protein such as grilled chicken, scallops, or shrimp, if desired. We ate it for dinner with roasted CSA vegetables and a green salad. It would also be lovely for a special lunch or brunch. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4

  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed (I used Trader Joe’s “10 minute” Farro)
  • 2 pints (4 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes or 2 pounds of Campari tomatoes (12-14 tomatoes)
  • 1 red onion, peeled, quartered and cut into 1-inch wedges keeping the root intact (I cut a large red onion into 8ths)(can substitute shallots)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the farro
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) store-bought or homemade pesto, plus more to taste (recipe below)
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 1 tablespoon) and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach, arugula, Swiss chard (stemmed & chopped), or baby kale
  • 1 (4 oz) ball fresh mozzarella or burrata, torn into chunks, or 1/2 cup ricotta salata or feta, crumbled, optional (I used 4 oz crumbled feta)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves and tender stems, chiffonade or roughly chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the farro and adjust the heat to maintain a medium boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, until tender and not too chewy, about 10 to 30 minutes. (I used Trader Joe’s “10-minute” Farro which cooked in 10 minutes)
  3. Meanwhile, on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan, combine the tomatoes and onion wedges with the oil, making sure everything is well coated and glistening, then season with salt, pepper and the red-pepper flakes. Roast until the tomatoes blister and slightly deflate, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. When the farro is done, drain, then pour into a serving bowl or back into the pot. Toss with some olive oil, then mix in the pesto.
  5. Add the lemon zest and juice, then stir in the spinach (or other greens). Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Scrape the onions, tomatoes and their juices into the farro; season with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Add the cheese, if using, then garnish with herbs and serve.

For the Pesto: (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • coarse salt
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 T toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
  1. Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half of the oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.
  3. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. (Sometimes I add a little bit of stock instead to achieve the same result.)
  4. Stir in the cheese.

The pesto recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The amounts can be modified to reduce the volume; only 1/4 cup of pesto is used in the farro dish.

Garlic Aioli Potato & Egg Salad

Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂

The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
  • 2 T finely chopped red onion
  • 1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
  1. Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
  2. Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
  4. With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
  5. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
  6. Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
  7. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
  8. Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  9. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
  10. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
  12. Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.

Beer-Battered Cod with Crispy Potato Chips

I served this heaping platter of fried deliciousness for our celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. It was extremely well received. 🙂

I used Irish Harp beer in the fish batter, of course. As I was cooking the fish and chips, my husband realized that we hadn’t included the essential tartar sauce in our menu. He was thankfully able to make sauce with a few adaptations.

The beer-battered fish recipe was adapted from Donal Skehan via today.com; I modified the cooking method. The potato chip recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit. I used gold potatoes, olive oil, and seasoned the chips with sea salt. The tartar sauce recipe was loosely adapted from inspiredtaste.net. It was a treat. We’re planning to eat the leftover fish in tacos!

For the Crispy Potato Chips:

  • 2 pounds gold, russet, or purple potatoes
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • vegetable oil, for frying (I used 10 cups of canola oil with 3-4 cups olive oil)
  • sea salt

For the Beer-Battered Fish:

  • 4 skinless and boneless white fish fillets, patted dry and cut into thick strips (I used Alaskan Cod)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more to coat the fish
  • 1 cup cold beer (I used Harp)
  • coarse salt, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • canola oil and olive oil, to fry (see above)
  • lemon wedges, to serve

For the Tartar Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small dill pickle, chopped very small (3 tablespoons)(I substituted 1 tsp white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste (I used the juice of 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill (I substituted fresh basil)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Crispy Potato Chips:

  1. Using a mandoline, slice potatoes about 1/8-inch thick.
  2. Place slices in a large bowl, add cold water to cover, and stir to release starch; drain. Repeat until water runs clear.
  3. Return potatoes to bowl; cover with 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and about 6 cups water. Let sit at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. (the vinegar helps make the chips more crispy)
  4. Drain potatoes and pat dry prior to cooking.
  5. Fit a large heavy pot with a deep-fry thermometer; pour in oil to measure 3 to 4”. (I used a very deep “pasta pot” to reduce splattering.)
  6. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 300°. (frying the potatoes at a lower temperature helps to remove moisture)
  7. Working in 4 to 6 batches and returning oil to 300° between batches, fry potatoes, turning occasionally to cook evenly, until golden brown and crisp (oil will have quit bubbling), about 5 to 7 minutes per batch.
  8. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined rimmed sheet pan fitted with a wire rack. While hot, season with salt.
  9. Reserve the cooking oil to fry the fish.

Note: Potatoes can be fried 6 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature. (I kept the chips in a warming drawer while I cooked the fish.)

To Make the Beer-Battered Fish:

  1. Top the pot with more oil, if needed, and bring it back to temperature, 300° to 340°, over a medium-high heat.
  2. Coat the fish strips with flour, shake off the excess and set aside in a single layer on a plate.
  3. Place 1 cup of flour in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the middle of it and pour in a little beer and whisk. Keep adding the beer and mixing until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Season generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Working beside the pan, dip the fish strips in the batter one at a time and then into the hot oil. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. (I used tongs and cooked the fish in 3 batches.)
  6. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until golden-brown, turning halfway through the cooking time.
  7. Remove the fish from the pot using a spider or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined rimmed sheet pan fitted with a wire rack. While hot, season with salt.
  8. Serve with some lemon wedges, crispy chips, and tartar sauce, as desired.

To Make the Tartar Sauce:

  1. Combine the mayonnaise, pickles (or vinegar), lemon juice, capers, dill, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a small bowl and stir until well blended and creamy.
  2. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste then adjust with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Note: For the best flavor, cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Crispy Thick-Cut Oven Fries

I am not sure that I would have tried this recipe if I hadn’t seen these fries made on an episode of America’s Test Kitchen. The method is unusual- the cut potatoes are coated in a cornstarch slurry prior to being baked. This coating allows a crust to form on the outside of the fries just like a deep-fried fry. They were crispy and delicious. I’ve made them twice already! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, via Brit.co. I doubled the recipe with the exception of the oil, used Maine gold potatoes, and cut the slices smaller than suggested.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • vegetable oil spray
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes or Maine gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, or more, to taste
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425°F, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Generously spray rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Pour oil into prepared sheet and tilt until surface is evenly coated with oil. (The oil spray contains a surfactant called lecithin, which prevents the oil from pooling and, in turn, prevents the potatoes from sticking. Using the oil spray also decreases the total amount of oil to 3 tablespoons, just enough to evenly coat the fries.) Note: If halving the recipe, do not modify the amount of oil used to coat the pan.
  3. Halve potatoes lengthwise and turn halves cut sides down on cutting board. Trim a thin slice from both long sides of each potato half; discard trimmings.
  4. Slice potatoes lengthwise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick planks. (each potato slice should have 2 flat sides)
  5. Combine 2/3 cup water and cornstarch in large bowl, making sure no lumps of cornstarch remain on bottom of bowl.
  6. Microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until mixture begins to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and continue to stir until mixture thickens to pudding-like consistency. (If necessary, add up to 1 tablespoon water to achieve correct consistency.)
  7. Transfer potatoes to bowl with cornstarch mixture and toss until each plank is evenly coated.
  8. Arrange planks on prepared sheet, leaving small gaps between planks. (Some cornstarch mixture will remain in bowl.)
  9. Cover sheet tightly with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 12 minutes. (Covering the fries with foil ensures that they are fully tender by the end of the baking time.)
  10. Remove foil from sheet and bake until bottom of each fry is golden brown, 7 to 15 minutes.
  11. Remove sheet from oven and, using thin metal spatula, carefully flip each fry.
  12. Return sheet to oven and continue to bake until second sides are golden brown, 7 to 15 minutes longer.
  13. Sprinkle fries with 1 teaspoon salt. Using spatula, carefully toss fries to distribute salt.
  14. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and season with salt, to taste. Serve.

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