Buh-bye Fried Onion Topper

Unfortunately for my family (but fortunately for me!), there are few food traditions we have surrounding the holidays. I have always used this mass gathering of people as my little culinary laboratory audience, testing new recipes and getting feedback from a nice sized crowd all at one time. With that being said I am confident that we have never, ever had green bean casserole (THANK GOD) or sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top (DITTO THE PREVIOUS COMMENT). Now, I don’t mean to be offensive to those of you who do enjoy those items. However, I will offer up a few suggested side dishes to expand your holiday culinary horizons. There are so many incredible ways to prepare vegetables with amazing flavors why limit yourself to fried, canned “onions” as a (frozen/canned) green bean topper, high fructose corn syrup (marshmallow) topped sweet potatoes and canned crescent rolls? So here are some suggestions for some variety in your holiday side dishes, all of which are just as easy as poppin’ the top on some canned goods.

Peas with Prosciutto (and a touch of cream!), serves 4-6

  • 3-4 oz. diced prosciutto
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. frozen peas
  • 2 T. cream
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Place diced prosciutto and butter in large (not nonstick) fry pan and turn heat on medium-low. Render some of the fat out of the prosciutto and cook until lightly golden. Add the peas, sauté until warmed through. Finally, add the cream cook another 30 seconds to minute and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Maple Glazed Root Vegetables, serves 4-6

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (look for those rather than yams), cut into 2” chunks
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2” chunks
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2” chunks
  • 1 celery root head, peeled and cleaned and cut into 2” chunks
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (real stuff here people, none of that Mrs. Butterworths business)
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all vegetables in a large bowl, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all the vegetables with oil. Pour onto sheet tray and spread out evenly. Roast at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350, roast another 15 minutes. Mix together the maple syrup and Dijon mustard in small bowl. Remove vegetables from oven, drizzle with maple-mustard mixture and stir to coat. Roast for another 10-15 minutes until nicely caramelized.

Ok, this next recipe is delicious. Many people are not familiar with gougeres. Please let me help you become intimately familiar with these delicious little french morsels of love. A gougere is a sort of cheese puff, made from a dough called Pate a Choux. It is the same dough used to make cream puffs and éclairs. It’s a wonderful dough that can be used for sweet or savory things simply by adding either sweet components (orange zest, a bit of sugar) or savory components (gruyere cheese, fresh herbs). In a classic gougeres recipe gruyere cheese and fresh thyme are added. PS-you can make these little nuggets weeks ahead of time, prepare them the entire way except do not bake them. Scoop them onto your sheet tray, freeze them individually for about 1 hour then remove them from the tray, put them in a freezer baggie and freeze until ready to use! Simply bake them a few minutes longer….fabulous!

Gougeres, makes about 32 pieces

Based on Pastry Guru David Lebovitz’s recipe

· 1 cup water

· 6 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

· ½ t. fine grain sea salt

· 1 cup white whole wheat flour

· 4 large eggs

· 2 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped finely

· 1 c. grated gruyere cheese

Line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper or silpats. Preheat oven to 400. Simmer water, butter and salt in large, heavy bottomed saucepan. With heat on medium-low, add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 2-3 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. You will end up with a ball of beautiful, yellow dough. Remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, add the eggs one at a time, beating heartily after each addition. Eventually you will end up a smooth shiny ball of dough. After all the eggs have been added, mix in the thyme and gruyere. You may now use a piping bag set with a large round tip to form your puff circles, you may use a large storage bag that has the corner snipped off or you may simply spoon these out (about 2 T. per puff). Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 375 and continue baking another 20-30 minutes until uniformly golden brown.

Bon Apetit Turkey Tom!