Thomas Keller’s Lemon-Brined Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is an essential part of my husband’s annual birthday feast. This may be the best version I’ve ever made. Not only was the meat incredibly tender from the lemony and garlicky brine, the seasoning in the crispy coating was super delicious as well. Fabulous.

The recipe was first published in Food and Wine in 2007 and then updated and re-published as a staff-favorite recipe in 2022. It was contributed by Thomas Keller who serves it every other Monday at his restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa Valley. The recipe was adapted from his book Ad Hoc at Home.

I adapted the recipe by modifying the method and proportions, and by substituting boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in chicken pieces. I brined the chicken the day that I fried it. I also used a countertop electric skillet to more easily maintain an even cooking temperature- absolutely life changing. (Thank you to my Mother-in-Law for giving it to me!)

I made 15 chicken thighs- enough to have leftovers for days. That’s how we like to extend birthday celebrations in my house. ­čÖé I included instructions on how to successfully re-heat the chicken below.

We ate the fried chicken with Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Spoon Bread, and green salad with Ice Box Buttermilk Salad Dressing. We completed the feast with Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. Perfect. ÔŁĄ

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

For the Brined Chicken:

  • 8 cups (2 quarts or 1/2 gallon) cold water
  • 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 2 T honey
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled, halved crosswise
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 10 to 15 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

For the Seasoned Flour & To Finish the Dish:

  • 3 cups (about 12.75 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 2 T onion powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk
  • about 2 quarts canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish
  • fine sea salt or ground fleur de sel, for garnish

To Brine the Chicken:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the water and salt; stir until dissolved.
  2. Pour the salt water into a 2 gallon zip-top bag inside a large pot. (I used a stainless pasta pot.) Add the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, parsley, and lemon halves; stir to combine.
  3. Add the trimmed boneless, skinless chicken thighs, being sure they’re completely submerged; seal the bag. Refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours. (Do not refrigerate for longer than 12 hours or the chicken may become too salty.)
  4. Remove chicken thighs from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the meat. Discard the brine.
  5. Let the chicken stand until it comes to room temperature, about 30 to 45 minutes.

To Coat and Cook the Chicken:

  1. Fill a 12-inch electric skillet with about 2 quarts of oil; heat to 320-325 degrees. (Alternatively, fill a large pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium to medium-high to 320 degrees.)
  2. Set a wire rack over a foil and paper towel-lined, rimmed, baking sheet. Reserve for cooked chicken.
  3. Line a second rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Reserve for raw chicken.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Divide the mixture between two glass pie dishes (about 1 1/2 cups each).
  5. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  6. Working with one chicken thigh at a time, dip the chicken in the first bowl of flour; turn to coat and pat off excess. Dip into buttermilk, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Dip into the second dish of the flour mixture.
  7. Transfer the coated chicken to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining pieces. (I continued to do this while simultaneously starting to cook some of the chicken thighs.)
  8. Carefully lower the chicken thighs into the hot oil, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 320 degrees. (I cooked 3 thighs at a time.)
  9. Cook for 2 minutes, and the carefully turn over using tongs, continuing to cook and turn as needed for even browning. (I had 1 set of tongs for transferring the raw chicken and 1 set of tongs to turn the chicken while cooking.)
  10. The chicken is cooked when it is a deep golden brown, very crisp, and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 165 degrees, about 9 minutes total.
  11. Transfer the cooked chicken to the prepared wire rack set over the lined baking sheet. Let it rest while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste, if desired.
  12. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs or chopped herbs. (Alternatively, the rosemary and thyme can be cooked in the hot oil for a few seconds before being used as a garnish.)
  13. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

  • The original recipe recommends cooking chicken breasts and wings at 340 degrees, if using instead of thighs or drumsticks.
  • If using bone-in skin-on chicken (the best meat-to-crust ratio is achieved using 2 1/2 to 3 pound whole chickens), let the pieces rest skin-side up. Modify the cooking time as needed to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees (about 12 minutes for thighs and drumsticks, 7 minutes for breasts, and 6 minutes for wings).
  • To reheat leftover fried chicken do not be tempted to use a microwave! Reheat uncovered, placed on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

One-Pot Turkey Chili with Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

We ate this wonderful one-pot dish during the Super Bowl this year. The chili and biscuit dough can be made in advance, even several hours in advance, so it was perfect for the occasion. It also complemented our mandatory game day guacamole.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the proportions to serve 8 people- so that we would have leftovers! ­čśë I reheated the chili, topped it with the biscuit dough and placed it in the oven just before serving. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Cornmeal Biscuits:

  • 1┬ácup/120 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2/3┬ácup/92 grams fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2┬átsp baking powder
  • 1┬átsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2┬átsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4┬átsp baking soda
  • 8┬áT/113 grams cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4┬ácup/177 ml buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1┬áscallion, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • milk, more buttermilk, or yogurt, for finishing
  • 3+┬átablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano, for finishing

For the Turkey Chili:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4┬ápounds ground turkey
  • 1┬ávery large or 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1-2┬ájalape├▒os, seeded (if desired) and diced (I used 1 1/2 jalape├▒os)
  • 6┬ágarlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 1┬á1/2 T chili powder
  • 2 1/4┬áteaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste, divided
  • 1 1/2┬áteaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2┬áteaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2┬áteaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1┬á(28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices (I used San Marzano)
  • 3┬á(15-ounce) cans pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2┬ácup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
  • sliced or pickled jalape├▒os, for serving, optional

To Prepare the Biscuit Dough:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.
  2. Using a pastry cutter (or your hands), cut (or rub) in the butter until mixture resembles rolled oats.
  3. Fold in the buttermilk and scallion slices.
  4. Gently stir mixture until it comes together in a moist, sticky mass. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be done a day in advance.)
  5. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.

To Prepare the Turkey Chili:

  1. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it thins. (I used an enameled cast iron pan. A cast iron skillet would also be great.)
  2. Stir in turkey and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until itÔÇÖs no longer pink with some browned bits, about 7 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, and add onion and jalape├▒o, and cook until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic, chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, oregano, cumin, and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
  5. Using kitchen shears (or your hands), break up tomatoes and add them, along with the juices, to the pan. (I cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can.)
  6. Add beans and remaining 3/4 teaspoons salt, and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture seems very dry, add a few tablespoons water. It should be juicy-looking but not wet.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Divide biscuit dough into 8 equal balls. Use your palm to flatten each ball into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Arrange on top of turkey chili.
  2. Brush biscuits lightly with buttermilk, and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until biscuits are golden at the edges, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked mine for 22 minutes on convection.)
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro and scallions, if desired. Serve with sour cream and sliced or pickled jalape├▒os.

Mini Vanilla & Red Velvet Layer Cake

My daughter and I are obsessed with mini cakes. My mom gave me 6-inch cake pans for Christmas and we have been waiting for the perfect occasion to use them. Yay for Valentine’s Day! ­čÖé ÔŁĄ I will admit that I’m not sure if a 3-layer cake is truly “mini”…. but it was really cute.

Some math is involved in order to adapt a recipe to make a mini cake. In this case, the vanilla cake recipe, originally for an 8-inch layer cake, was reduced to 57%. I made the red velvet cake, originally for 12 cupcakes, in its entirety in order to make additional cupcakes. The icing recipe makes enough to generously frost the layer cake as well as the cupcakes.

The vanilla cake recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. The red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting recipes were adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

For the Vanilla Cake Layers:

Yield: Two 6-inch cakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 1/2 T sour cream
  • scant 2 T buttermilk
  • 162 g all-purpose flour
  • 169 g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 9 T (129 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Red Velvet Cake Layer:

Yield: One 6-inch cake and 5 standard cupcakes (Alternatively, 57% of the recipe can be made to just make a single cake layer, if desired.)

  • 148 g (1 1/4 cups) cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (can put in a bowl of warm water to quickly change the temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

To Make the Vanilla Cake Layers:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 6-inch cake pans and then line them with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and then flour the pans. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Divide the batter between the cake pans. Each well should be about halfway full. (I weigh them to make sure that the batter is evenly distributed. Each pan had about 360 g of batter.)
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Then, remove from pan, remove the parchment paper, and let cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Red Velvet Cake Layer & Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Place 5 cupcake liners in a standard muffin pan. Butter one 6-inch cake pan and then line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and then flour the pan. Set aside.
  2. Sift together cake flour, and cocoa; add salt and whisk to combine.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.
  4. Add the egg, beating until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  5. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each.
  7. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter; mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  8. Place 350 g to 360 g batter in the prepared cake pan, about halfway full. Divide the remaining batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full.
  9. Bake the cake pan, rotating halfway through, about 23 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.
  10. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 17 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Yield: 4 cups, enough to frost 1 6-inch cake and 5 cupcakes

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • gel food coloring, if desired
  • decorative sprinkles, if desired
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
  2. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth. (I sifted 1 cup of sugar at a time prior to adding it to the butter-cream cheese mixture.)
  3. Tint the frosting with food coloring, if desired.
  4. Fill between the cake layers and the frost the top and sides of the cake. Using a pastry bag with a large fluted tip, pipe onto cupcakes in a circular motion, starting on the outer rim.
  5. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
  6. Refrigerate the cake (and cupcakes) prior to serving.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream

Sarah Kieffer is an absolute GENIUS. Incorporating brown butter in buttercream!?!? I’m upset that I have never thought of trying it.

These were quite possibly the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The cake portion was delicious- moist and tender, but the icing really put the cupcakes over the top. It was incredibly light and flavorful. I may have to make them again for Valentine’s Day. ÔŁĄ

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. I halved the recipe and made 12 cupcakes. (I now regret not making 24!) I also used fine sea salt. Amazing.

Yield: 12 frosted cupcakes (with about 2 cups buttercream)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 6 T sour cream
  • 2 T buttermilk
  • 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Note: If doubling the recipe for 24 cupcakes or 2 8-inch round cakes, use 3 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, 297g sugar, and 227g butter.

For the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter for browning
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 oz (27g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (226g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with 12 liners. Set aside. (If making a round cake, butter and flour the pans and then line them with parchment paper.)
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Using a large cookie scoop (mine is 3T), divide the batter between the cupcake wells. Each well should be a little more than halfway full.
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (I baked mine for 17 minutes on convection.) (If baking cake in an 8-inch pan, bake for 17 to 22 minutes.)
  13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. (If using a round cake pan, let cake cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, remove to let cool completely.)

To Make the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  1. Have a small, heatproof, freezer-safe bowl set next to the range.
  2. Melt one stick of butter in a light-colored, heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter around with a rubber spatula as it melts and starts to bubble.
  3. When it starts bubbling, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring the butter until it boils and begins to foam, about 3 minutes. It will smell nutty and you’ll start to see little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. *Keep stirring, making sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula as you do so. At this point, the butter will begin to quickly change from light brown to dark to burned, so keep a close eye on the pan.*
  4. Once the butter and browned bits are golden brown, remove from the heat, and immediately pour the brown butter and the toasted bits and flecks from the bottom of the pan into the reserved heatproof, freezer-safe bowl.
  5. Let the brown butter cool in the bowl for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. Then, place the bowl in the freezer and let chill until solid, about 30 minutes.
  6. When the butter is solid (but not frozen!), transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
  7. Add the remaining 1/4 pound (1 stick) of room temperature butter to the brown butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium until smooth.
  8. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium until smooth and creamy.
  9. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and mix on low to combine.
  10. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. (I turn the mixer off in between additions of sugar.)
  11. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 6 to 8 minutes.
  12. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 3 T scoop), place a heaping dollop of buttercream on top of each cupcake. (Alternatively, use an offset spatula to ration the icing.) Spread the buttercream over the top decoratively, as desired.

Note: Frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated if not serving right away. Bring to room temperature prior to serving.

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

For the Dressing:

  • 3┬áT unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1┬áT neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
  • 1┬ápound loose pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
  • 1┬álarge yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 4┬ácelery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 8┬ágarlic cloves, minced
  • 1┬átsp dried thyme
  • 1/2┬átsp dried oregano
  • 1/2┬átsp fennel seeds
  • 2┬áT chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1┬árecipe┬ácornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
  • 1 1/2┬ácups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1┬ácup 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.

Red Velvet Banana Pudding

My friend’s daughter is in love with Magnolia Bakery’s Famous Banana Pudding. She inspired me to peek at the recipe in their cookbook and to try this unique, upgraded version. The book declared that this is actually the “ultimate version.” ­čÖé

The recipe was adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Handbook- A Complete Guide for the Home Baker: Baking Made Easy with 150 Foolproof Recipes & Techniques by Bobbie Lloyd. I used red gel food coloring and modified the method. I also layered the dessert in various individual glass serving bowls. Fun. We love red velvet anything so this was very well received! I’m not sure that it even needed the bananas. ­čśë

This “ultimate version” requires advanced planning. I made the cake a day in advance. I would also recommend making the pudding base a day in advance! Next time. ­čśë Once the dessert has been layered, it is refrigerated another 4 hours to overnight prior to serving.

Yield: Serves up to 16 (4 to 5 quarts)

For the Red Velvet Cake:

  • 383g/13.5oz (3 1/3 cups) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup or 170g/6oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 450g/16oz (2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 scant tsp red gel food coloring (or 6 T liquid red food coloring)
  • 3 T (22.5g/0.75oz) unsweetened dark cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g/8.5oz) buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the Pudding & Assembly:

  • 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (360g/12.7oz) ice-cold water
  • 1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
  • 1 (8oz) package full-fat cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (720g/25.5oz) heavy cream
  • 4 to 5 ripe, firm bananas, sliced
  • 160g (1 cup plus 1 T or 5.6oz) mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Butter a 9×13-inch metal baking pan; line with parchment paper and butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  6. Add the red food coloring and sifted cocoa powder to the mixer bowl.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, carefully mix until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  8. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the vanilla and buttermilk.
  9. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. After each addition, be careful to mix just until the ingredients are incorporated. Do not ovemix. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda.
  11. With the mixer on low speed, carefully add the cider vinegar and baking soda mixture to the batter and combine well. Scrape down the bowl.
  12. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  13. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 47 minutes.)
  14. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. (The cake can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.)

To Make the Pudding:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the condensed milk and water on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the pudding mix and beat until no lumps remain and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Put the room temperature cream cheese pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Beat until smooth.
  5. Add the chilled pudding to the to the cream cheese and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate while you prepare the whipped cream. Clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 1 minute; until cream starts to thicken, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form. (be careful not to over whip)
  7. With the mixer running on low speed, add the chilled pudding mixture a spoonful at a a time. Mix until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To Assemble:

  1. Cut the cake into a 4×2-inch grid. (8 rectangular pieces) If preparing the dessert in individual servings, divide the cake into 16 pieces. Set aside.
  2. Select 16 individual serving bowls (or a trifle bowl or wide glass bowl with 4-5 quart capacity). (I used a variety of glasses and glass dessert dishes.)
  3. Spread 1/3 of the pudding on the bottom and layer with enough slices of the red velvet cake to cover the layer. (I used about 1/2 (slightly less) of each rationed slice of the cake, reserving crumbs for the top.)
  4. Add 1/2 of the sliced bananas (enough to cover the cake pieces) and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips. (I used 1 tsp of chocolate chips per layer in each serving.)
  5. Repeat twice more. The second layer will be identical; the final layer will be pudding topped with a cake crumbs instead of pieces, and chocolate chips without (or with, if desired) banana slices.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Overnight Oatmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes

My husband absolutely loves the overnight buttermilk oat pancakes served at Main Road Biscuit Company on the North Fork of Long Island. We have tried a couple of versions to try to replicate them at home. Now I love them too! ­čÖé

This first version was adapted from Molly Wizenberg@Orangette.net, via Food52.com, contributed by Catherine Lamb. We used sea salt, butter instead of oil, and added vanilla extract as well as fresh strawberries and bananas. We ate them for breakfast on Mother’s Day as well as my husband’s birthday. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted and cooled (can substitute coconut oil or any oil of choice)
  • oil or non-stick spray for greasing the pan or griddle
  • fresh bananas and fresh or frozen strawberries, diced, optional
  • nuts or chocolate chips, optional
  • pure maple syrup, yogurt, berries, or bananas, for serving
  1. The night before, mix the oats and buttermilk together in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. If you’re feeling especially efficient, mix the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl and set aside on the counter. (a great plan!)
  3. The next morning, take the oat mixture out of the fridge. If you haven’t already, mix the dry ingredients together with a whisk until incorporated.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter (or oil) to the oat mixture, stir together, then add the dry ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated, but be careful not to overmix. Batter will be very thick.
  5. Grease a griddle or large pan with and set it over medium-high heat. When you flick water at the skillet and it sizzles, it’s ready.
  6. Ladle the batter onto the hot pan (I used a 1/3 cup measure, but feel free to adjust if you want larger or smaller pancakes). If desired, sprinkle on sliced bananas, berries (fresh or frozen), nuts, or chocolate chips. (I mixed both diced bananas and strawberries into the batter prior to placing on the griddle.)
  7. When the top of the batter bubbles, the edges begin to set, and the bottom is bronzed, flip pancakes. They’re done when the underside is done and they don’t squish when pressed lightly with your finger.┬á
  8. Serve with maple syrup or a dollop of yogurt and additional berries and/or banana slices, as desired. 

This second version was also wonderful. It is Swedish in origin. The original recipe suggests serving them with lingonberry jam instead of maple syrup.

The recipe was adapted from the former Tres Joli Bakery Caf├ę in Oakton, Virginia, via Bon App├ętit and epicurious.com. I added frozen blueberries to the batter and served them drizzled with maple syrup.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cooking oil spray or melted butter, for skillet or griddle
  • pure maple syrup or lingonberry preserves, for serving
  • fresh or frozen blueberries, optional
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  1. Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl.
  3. Add to dry ingredients; whisk until blended but some small lumps still remain.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let batter stand to thicken, about 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Preheat oven to 250┬░F. (or set a warming drawer to medium)
  6. Heat heavy large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush skillet with melted butter or coat with cooking oil spray.
  7. Fold fresh or frozen blueberries into the prepared batter, if desired. (I added 1 cup of frozen blueberries.)
  8. Working in batches, ladle batter by 1/4 to 1/3 cupfuls onto the pan. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Turn pancakes over; cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  9. Transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet or serving platter. Keep warm in oven or warming drawer.
  10. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with more butter or cooking spray, as necessary.
  11. Serve with lingonberry preserves or syrup, topped with fresh blueberries and/or whipped cream, as desired.

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