Sumptuous Sides

sweet

Holiday Side: Candied Sweet Potatoes a la Emeril

Joke: What’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? About ten cents a pound. Let’s Get Something Straight      First of all, it’s time to get something cleared up. Contrary to what many people think, a sweet potato and a yam are not the same. It’s true, they are both root vegetables but they belong to different plant families: the sweet potato belongs to the morning glory family and the yam the lily family. In a nutshell yams are sweeter, are larger, but they don’t supply as much nutrition.      …

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cranberry

Holiday Side: Cranberry Sauce Par Excellence

The Obligatory Side      In our family, at holiday meals (especially Thanksgiving) cranberry sauce has always been considered an obligatory side. When all of us are seated at the table, and the bowls start being passed, there is a frenzy as food is piled high on each plate. When the dish of cranberry sauce arrives, most will politely take a dap (so as not to offend the person who brought the dish). And after everything on each plate is consumed (being from the Midwest we do “clean” our plates), usually the only…

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Souffle

A Delectable Cheese Soufflé. Sheer Ecstasy.

     A cheese souffle’ can be to any chef what the Sistine Chapel was to Michelangelo; it can be either agony or ecstasy, or both.      Any time I attempt to make a souffle’, I am well aware of the possibilities. It might end up being a total flop (agony). But there’s a greater likelihood that it will end up a spectacular dish. It will appear all puffed-up high, a light and fluffy concoction, browned on top and flavorful on the inside (ecstasy).      It’s helpful to understand the magic that…

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Succotash

Succotash a la Thoreau

     I know this is a sneaky way to introduce a great recipe for succotash, but it’s a given – almost every succotash recipe contains beans. And when beans are mentioned, two personalities usually come to mind: Duke (the dog in the Bush’s Baked Beans commercial) and Henry David Thoreau.      Duke is not important here, but Thoreau is. He was born on July 12, 1817 and died at the age of 44. If his life hadn’t been cut short by tuberculosis, he would have celebrated his 200th birthday this year. As the longest living…

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Zucchini souffle

The Elegant Zucchini Soufflé

     I’d like to start off with a zucchini quote of my own:      “A noticeable odor during the late summer months is the stink of zucchinis rotting in the landfills.” The Rodney Dangerfield of Vegetables     A zucchini gets no respect. It isn’t as cool as a cucumber, as colorful as a carrot, or as sexy a tomato. It’s not as versatile as a potato. It’s also not as useful as an ochre, nor does it have a rich history like that of the noble leek. As a matter of…

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late corn grits

Fresh Corn Grits. A Sacrilege, But Surprisingly Delicious.

Simply Perfect      The chef, Jacques Pepin, was asked what dishes he would request for his last meal. He said one of his choices would be hand-picked freshly-shelled peas straight from the garden with butter and sea salt. This shows a great culinary experience doesn’t have to involve exotic ingredients, dozens of spices, and complicated techniques. It can be a simple dish. As a matter of fact, in the case of Pepin’s peas, any further additions would detract from this basic but perfect concoction. Another Great but Simple Dish      I recently…

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Mushroom-potato Bake

Irish Ayes Potato Bake (An Ahead-Of-Time Side)

      We have found hosting a dinner party without auxiliary help to be a bit tricky. If we are assuming the roles of both host and cook, we have to divide our time. We must work in the kitchen and have a socializing presence where we can engage in pre-dinner conversation. Prepare the Dishes Ahead of Time      We can’t be in two places at once. I have found it’s ideal to have the food cooking and much of the preparation done before the guests arrive. As an example, if the entrée is beef bourguignon, we would assemble and…

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Fresh peas

Creamed Peas – An Ahead-Of-Time Side

      We have found hosting a dinner party without auxiliary help to be a bit tricky. If we are assuming the roles of both host and cook ,we have to divide our time between work in the kitchen and having a socializing presence where we can engage in pre-dinner conversation.      We can’t be in two places at once, so I have found it’s ideal to have the food cooking and much of the preparation done before the guests arrive. As an example, if the entrée is beef bourguignon, we would assemble and begin cooking the dish about five…

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Creamed corn

Creamed Corn – An Ahead-Of-Time Side

      We have found hosting a dinner party without auxiliary help to be a bit tricky. If we are assuming the roles of both host and cook ,we have to divide our time between work in the kitchen and having a socializing presence where we can engage in pre-dinner conversation.      We can’t be in two places at once, so I have found it’s ideal to have the food cooking and much of the preparation done before the guests arrive. As an example, if the entrée is beef bourguignon, we would assemble and begin cooking the dish about five…

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Rustic sauteed mushrooms

Mushrooms (Julia’s ‘Shrooms)

     While searching for a side dish that contains sautéed mushrooms, I decided the place to start was  to see what Julia had to offer. Known and recognized everywhere, Julia Child was a culinary legend and a household name. Her persona was larger than life, and she had an infectious enthusiasm for both cooking and for having a good time. Few people have had as much influence in elevating fine dining in this country as she, and cooks worldwide owe Julia a large debt of gratitude for the work she had…

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