Side Dish Archive

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

sweet corn spoonbread

sweet corn spoonbread

What an awkward time for me to admit this, as no doubt these will grace some tables this week I’ve been gracefully invited to, but I’m not really into, well, mashed things: potatoes, yams, parsnips, root vegetables and other purees that serve as the piles to sop up everything awesome that runs off our main courses before our forks can catch it. I mean, I won’t pushed mashed potatoes away; it’s not that they actually taste bad. It’s just that I’ve never been convinced that they taste better than the sum of their copious amounts of various combinations of butter, cream, buttermilk, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream and goat cheeses. No, really, I mean copious. Jeffrey Steingarten, a man whose essay collections you should read if you have not already, found that the magic formula that elevated mashed potatoes to, well, the kind you’ll probably gush about on Thursday night fell somewhere between one and four sticks (a pound) of butter for every two pounds (two to three) of potatoes. I know, I know: “Deb, you are such a party pooper.”

some stuff you need

But I delight in cornbread. And this, corn bread meets pudding meets soufflé under the alias of spoonbread, is something that I would happily heap on my plate and eat it without fear that my heart might give out before I can get to the pie. A Thanksgiving without pie would be unacceptable, afterall. I’m not saying this is health food — guys, I hope you know I would never do that to you so close to the eatingest holiday of the year — it is, afterall, whole milk, eggs and butter, but it has a richness that suggests so much more.

splashy but worthwhile

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

creamed onions with bacon and chives

creamed pearl onions

Could anything be simpler than creamed onions? I mean, it’s cream, and then it is onions. And you cook them together. The end. Or perhaps the beginning of another piece of evidence that I can take the simplest thing and make it, er, long-winded. First, I involved Thomas Keller, or rather, he beckoned me. I was getting a pedicure a couple weekends ago (figuring I’d put my family and also those other moms at the gym class I took the baby to out of their misery) and on the armrest was that week’s New York Magazine, boasting Thanksgiving recipes from some great New York chefs within. Obviously, I turned there first and though, again, creamed onions are really just cream and onions therefore not inherently interesting, the recipe was from Thomas Keller and he is a master of taking the seemingly simple and making it amazing. I was in.

tiny onions

Next up, finding pearl onions. Look, I did not go to every stand in Union Square on every day that the Greenmarket was open, but I looked once or twice and didn’t find them. I finally ordered them from Fresh Direct, cringing anticipating that they’d be shipped from Timbuktu or someplace halfway around the globe, only to learn that they’d been grown in New Jersey. Just like me! Win.

browning up the bacon

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Monday, November 15, 2010

sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese

this fall thing I made

This is the kind of thing you come up with when you have a one year-old who, like many one year-olds, wishes to eat sweet potatoes with every meal. Sure, the goal is for the kid to eat exactly what the rest of the family is eating for dinner, but there are only so many days in a row we can feign excitement over a side of sweet potatoes and I have only so much heart to deny the kid something he delights in. And so I spent a good part of September and October roasting sweet potatoes, repeating the task enough times that I made two great discoveries.

roasted and downright marshmallow-y
goat cheese

The first discovery came about through laziness. Tired of slicing thin pieces and laying them out over two trays, one day I cut very thick rounds that would fit on one tray and discovered that like steak, if you want three layers of texture (two satisfyingly firm exteriors and a soft center), you want a thick piece, high temperatures and to flip your “steaks” halfway through for even cooking.

terrible photo of a good salad

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Friday, April 30, 2010

leek bread pudding

leek bread pudding

I feel like I have been sitting on this leek bread pudding recipe forever, though it has technically only been six months — the New York Times ran this recipe from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home last October, when [updated: ahem, I had thought] leeks were decidedly out of season and apparently, I’m really becoming someone who really digs her heels in about these sorts of things. I imagine how much better something will taste in season, how much better it will look, how much more excited I’ll be when I “score” the thing I’ve been longing six months for and say “aargh, fine! I’ll wait.” And wait I did. (Jacob, too, was patient but mostly because he was just a little lump back then.)

leeeeeks
leeks in one-inch segments
leek coins

Nevertheless, despite my initial grumbling that I was bereft of my favorite spring delights, I’ve been hauling back armloads from the Greenmarket since, literally as much as I can carry and leeks were finally among last week’s haul. (It has also helped that I’ve discovered the glories of Wednesday — glorious uncluttered, overflowing-stands Wednesdays! — shopping. Wednesday, I’m in love.) For this savory take on bread pudding, the leeks are sliced in pretty, pretty coins then cooked slowly in butter until soft and caramelized enough to bring tears to your eyes. I really get carried away with leeks, I know.

toasted brioche cubes

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

creamed chard and spring onions

creamed chard and spring onions

My fridge is a mess. I like to fancy myself a focused shopper; I know what I want to cook, I carefully make lists of the ingredients I don’t have yet and I don’t come home until every item is crossed off.

spring onions, rainy day

Eh, hold on a moment because somewhere on the other side of a computer screen, my husband just snorted coffee through his nose. Look, I aim to be a focused, efficient shopper, I really do! It’s just that often the gap between my aspirations (look at my to-do list, and all of those little check marks!) and my reality (oh, we’re out of milk, eggs and flour? I thought I’d checked!) is big. And filled with a husband, who often gets relayed to a store because I’d forgotten one little thing.

ribbons of chard

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