10 Easy Thanksgiving Sides and Starters

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings

Okay, there are so many “lists” out there of yummy-sounding Thanksgiving recipes that it’s difficult to pick which are best for your holiday table.

Below are 10 easy yet delicious, tested recipes that are sure to enhance your traditional turkey day table.

  1. Cheesy and Garlicky Pull Apart Bread
  2. Corn and Lima Bean Succotash
  3. Duck Fat and Bacon Fingerling Potatoes
  4. Easy Pimento Cheese Dip
  5. Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  6. Fail-Proof Yorkshire Puddings
  7. Green Goddess Dip
  8. Hasselback Potatoes
  9. Pork Belly Deviled Eggs
  10. Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter

Cheers,

Veronique

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Cumin Yogurt Dressing

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Cumin Yogurt Dressing

Scored Eggplants

Scored Eggplants

Last week, my Bracco Farms CSA was beautifully filled with various eggplants. I love eggplants but don’t cook many meals with them besides the old eggplant parmesan favorite.

While looking at delicious-looking photos of eggplants on Pinterest (are we connected there?), I found this uber simple yet delicious recipe that will now become part of my repertoire.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil for brushing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Eggplants with Yogurt DipDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice the eggplant lengthways. Using a sharp paring knife, score the cut side of the eggplant in a diagonal crisscross pattern – don’t cut though skin.
  3. Place the eggplant halves, skin side down, on a baking sheet and brush the scored sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 35 minutes or until nicely browned.
  4. While the eggplant is roasting, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting the seasonings to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Plate the roasted eggplant halves and spoon dipping sauce on them. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil can also be added, but is optional.

Makes 2 starters or 1 entrée.

(Inspired by this recipe).

World’s Best Fried Mac and Cheese

World’s Best Fried Mac and Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

One of the dishes I made for this year’s FryFest is a new recipe – fried mac & cheese. I used my Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese recipe as the base for this decadent dish. I know these treats are tyically served in a ball shape, but since I was also doing Arancini, rice balls, I opted for squares and really liked the look of them.

Was it the healthiest food option? Clearly not. Is it okay to sample a piece or two once a year? I believe so – all in moderation. The crunchy, deep golden exterior is a perfect match to the creamy, cheesy interior. I served this dish with a simple marinara sauce for dipping, but it’s delish on its own.

Ingredients:

  • Cut Mac & Cheese

    Cut Mac & Cheese

    ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) butter

  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. each, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk or light cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups freshly grated Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 pound tubular pasta (I use Delverde Tortiglioni) boiled 2 minutes less than directed on the packaging, drained
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
Mac & Cheese Components

Mac & Cheese Components

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a large, heavy saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  2. Stir the milk (or light cream) and the heavy cream into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
  3. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  5. Add cheesy pasta to a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish, cool, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight (what I did).
  6. Using a wide spatula, unmold the cold mac and cheese from the pan and place the rectangle on a cutting board. Cut the mac and cheese into 2-inch squares, place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs.
  8. In a shallow dish, combine both bread crumbs.
  9. Dip squares into the egg mixture then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
  10. Fry mac and cheese squares for 3-4 minutes in 350 degree oil in either a large Dutch oven or in an electric fryer in batches. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Makes about 24 squares.

2nd Annual FryFest

2nd Annual FryFest

Fried Mac & Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

The second installment of FryFest is behind us. Much like the 2013 FryFest, this year’s all-fried event was held on a beautiful late summer day.

This year, we fried a few of last year’s favorites along with new items. Here’s what my brother-in-food, Danny Chin of Eat with Dan, and me served our 13 guests:

Finger Food

Corn Dogs – Veronique

Arancini (Rice Balls) – Veronique

Spring rolls -Danny

Fried Ravioli – Veronique

Poutine – Veronique & Danny

Fried Onion Rings – Veronique & Danny

Danny Chin Making Spring Rolls

Danny Chin Making Spring Rolls

Entrée

Fried Chicken – Danny

Fried Mac & Cheese – Veronique

Dessert

Fried Oreos – Veronique & Danny

Fried Candy Bars – Veronique & Danny

Zeppolis – Veronique

The corn dogs were super with a light batter of flour and corn meal giving the dogs a slight crunch with a hint of sweetness.

The Arancini might have been my favorite with a creamy risotto interior and golden brown crunchy exterior. Perfect way to use up leftover risotto.

Danny’s spring rolls are always a hit and I loved watching him roll over 60 rolls in less than 30 minutes.

Fried raviolis, or as my St Louis friends call them, toasted ravs, were a nice munchies, especially with homemade tomato sauce.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

For my poutine, I know this will be sacrilegious to my folks in Quebec, I ordered cheddar cheese curds from Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in Wisconsin. More on those folks in a future post. My handcut fries were double-fried for a perfect balance of creamy inside and crispy outside – yum.

Fried onion rings were a bust this year, bad revision to last year’s yummy rings.

THE fried chicken – absolutely delicious. My pal Danny smartly chose drumsticks, thighs and some tenderloins. For me, it’s all about dark meat and the overnight buttermilk bath combined with the seasoned flour coating made for a juicy, flavorful and crispy delicacy – well done my friend!

Fried mac & cheese – yes, it’s slightly irresponsible, health-wise, but so darn tasty. I made my extra cheesy macaroni and cheese recipe for this and will do full instructions in a future post. Guest at the dinner who works with local restaurants told me I should help out some restaurants with their version after tasting mine!

Fried Oreos and bite size candy bars went into a simple, slightly sweet batter. Super tasty and a recipe will come soon – I promise.

Fried Oreos

Fried Oreos

I’d made my super easy Zeppolis last year and made them again as they were a hit. For a fun touch, I used brown paper sandwich bags, added powdered sugar to them and place 2-3 hot Zeppolis inside for each guest to shake and eat without sharing.

It was a fun night which is now followed by tons of dieting and exercise, of course. I couldn’t have done it without Danny and my friend Lisa who was a huge help with the a la minute frying.       

Have you liked Eat with Dan on Facebook? Have you followed him on Twitter? Do it now for drop-dead gorgeous food photos.

Cheers,

Veronique

Corn and Lima Bean Succotash

Corn and Lima Bean Succotash

SuccotashIn New Jersey, we have some of the best corn to be found anywhere. Farm stands and various stores offer sweet Jersey corn from late summer into the fall and I enjoy finding new ways to savor it.

One new way used farm-fresh corn this weekend was by making an easy succotash with lima beans, basil and bacon (can omit bacon if going meatless). The dish can be made the day before serving and simply reheated.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound slab bacon, roughly chopped
  • ½ medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 (10-oz) package of frozen baby lima beans, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Keeping the fat in the frying pan, drain the bacon on paper towels and reserve for later use.
  2. To the bacon fat in the frying pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the corn, jalapeno and lima beans and cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar, basil, and salt and pepper. At this point, the succotash can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a day.
  3. Serve succotash with crispy bacon.

Makes about 3 cups.

Note: To make this dish meatless, simply omit the bacon and sauté the vegetables in 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

5th Annual Food & Wine Chickie LobsterFest

LobsterThis past weekend, I hosted my annual Lobsterfest on one of the nicest evenings of the season. I must be living well as I got cloudless skies and 75 degree weather.

This year, I started our meal with one of my favorite summer shareable dishes, simply-grilled bread with a spread of sheep’s milk ricotta drizzled with good Greek olive oil, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and salt and pepper. It could also be made with farm-fresh cow’s milk ricotta. It’s light and flavorful – a winning combination.

Ricotta Spread

Ricotta Spread

My starter was a crisp, ice-cold wedge with blue cheese dressing then topped with yellow chopped tomatoes and crispy bacon. While not very original, my guests commented on how great the super cold salad was on a warm evening.

The main course, of course, was Maine lobsters. My guy sets up a giant pot over a propane-fueled burner and we cook the crustaceans outdoor preventing my home from smelling like a seafood market for days – I highly recommend this technique if you can swing it.

Wedge

Wedge

I’ve shared the perfect way to boil lobsters in the past (Lobster Boiling 101), it’s an oldie but a goodie. I served my 2 1/2 pound lobsters simply with Basmati rice right out of the steamer and my family’s prized Lemon Butter Sauce.

For dessert, and to continue with the Maine theme, I made a Crumb Top Blueberry Pie – what a gorgeous and delicious pie!!! I’ll be fixing this again over the summer as it was simply outstanding.

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

All in all, it was a great summer night spent with dear friends that reminded me a bit of summers spent in Maine during my youth. It’s making me look forward to going to the Maine shore in a couple weeks even more.

Cheers,

Veronique

Easy Pimento Cheese Dip

Easy Pimento Cheese Dip

Pimento Cheese DipThrough my travels, I’ve gotten addicted to southern foods and one dish I’d been wanting to make at home for a while is pimento cheese. The southern favorite couldn’t be simpler to make – throw all the ingredients in a bowl and stir!

The dip is great as a starter with crackers or veggies but also super as a burger topper or sandwich spread – pimento cheese BLT anyone?!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups extra sharp (of just sharp) cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4-ounce jar pimento peppers (in water), drained and chopped
  • ½ tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder, paprika
  • 4 dashes (about ½ tsp.) hot sauce
Pimento Cheese Stirring

Pimento Cheese Stirring

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredient in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until mostly smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve, letting the dip come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  3. Serve with crackers or cut vegetables.

Makes about 2 cups.

Inspired by this recipe.

Easy Shrimp Scampi

Easy Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp ScampiThe other night, the fridge was sort of bare but I had a pound of large shrimp so decided to use a few pantry ingredients to make a quick shrimp scampi.

I like to use elephant garlic as it’s milder than standard garlic and won’t completely overpower this dish. I’d say if you’re calorie-conscious and trying to not use all the butter listed in this recipe, don’t really bother with this one – it’s meant to be an indulgence!

Shrimps Sauteeing

Shrimps Sauteeing

I served the dish with a half of a pound of cooked linguini that I tossed in the sauce at the last minute. Would be good with rice or just steamed vegetables also.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 elephant garlic clove (or 8 regular garlic cloves), minced
  • 1 pound large-jumbo shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 2 lemons, about ¼ cup
  • ½ cup clam juice or vegetable/chicken broth
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Shrimps in Scampi Sauce

Shrimps in Scampi Sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Melt butter in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 3 – 4 minutes. Add shrimps and cook until well coated with butter and garlic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, clam juice (or broth) and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Uncover the skillet and sprinkle the shrimps with paprika. Transfer skillet to broiler and broil until shrimps are lightly browned and cooked through, 5 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from broiler, top with breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil. Return skillet to broiler and broil until breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

Serves 2 as entrees or 4 as starters.

Recipe adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.

Tangy Maple Dip

Tangy Maple Dip

Maple DipEvery year, I feature some maple recipes at the start of maple season in Quebec. I have fond memories of going to the sugar shack growing up and each year, I engage my family and friends in sharing maple recipes with me for the blog. This one is from my aunt, Francoise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tomato catsup
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. green relish
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped

Directions :

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process for 1 minute, or until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight – the dip will thicken as it sits in the fridge.

Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter

Gnocchi Dough

Gnocchi Dough

I find myself ordering gnocchi a lot when I go out to dinner. I love the pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth texture of gnocchi and last week, started wondering why I almost never make them at home. I had two sweet potatoes and decided to jump in one morning and make a batch for lunch – not a bad weekday treat, right?

Gnocchi Rope

Gnocchi Rope

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, pierced all over with fork
  • 8-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours
  • ½ cup plus ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. salt
  • ¼  tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 5 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Uncooked Gnocchi

Uncooked Gnocchi

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Cut in half and cool for 15 minutes. Remove the peel from the potatoes, place the flesh in a large bowl and mash. To the mashed potatoes, add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 1 teaspoons salt and nutmeg and stir until well incorporated. Mix in flour, about ½ cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
  2. Place dough onto a floured surface and divide in 6 equal portions. Create 20-inch long ropes by rolling each portion of dough between palms and floured work surface – sprinkle with flour as needed if sticky. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of fork to indent (optional). Transfer to baking sheet sprinkled lightly with flour.
  3. Bring large pot of water to boil then add 2 tablespoons salt. When the water is boiling again, add one or two portions of gnocchi and boil until tender, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the boiled gnocchi to clean cookie sheet and cool completely. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
  4. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook until butter is brown with a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Add chopped sage and turn off the heat. Season sage butter with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Add the gnocchi to the brown butter and sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 4 minutes.
  6. Divide gnocchi among small bowls and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan.

Makes 8 appetizer portions.                                                                                                                         

Inspired by this Bon Appetit recipe.