Cratchit’s Homemade Stuffing

christmas-carol-stuffing“At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose around the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!” —A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Cratchit’s Homemade Stuffing

  • 1 Loaf of White Bread
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 4 Cups Celery (including leaves), chopped
  • 2 lrg. Onions, Chopped
  • 1 Stick Butter, cut up
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh, chopped Sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh, chopped Rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fresh, chopped Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Cups Dried Cranberries
  • 1 – 2 Cups Chopped Pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken or Turkey Broth (if not stuffing into bird)

Toast the bread slices on large trays in the oven until just beginning to golden (if you’re putting this in a fowl, reserve the end pieces). Remove & cut into 1/2″ cubes. Put the cubes into a huge bowl & toss with the beaten eggs to coat (it’s easiest to use your hands).

In a large frying pan on medium high, melt the butter, & then add in the celery& cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the onion & cook until tender. Add in the spices & toss to coat (you can adjust the measurements to taste). Lastly, add in the cranberries & optional nuts & cook for a couple minutes more. Toss the celery/cranberry mixture with the bread cubes.

If you’re putting the mixture into a turkey, goose, or chicken, do so now & then close up the openings with the reserved end slices. Bake the fowl as directed. If you’re baking this dressing separately, heat your oven to 350ºF & grease a large baking dish. Put the dressing in & pour the broth over it. Cover with foil & bake for about 30 minutes, & then remove the foil & bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top pieces are crispy & brown.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 51: A Christmas Carol

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Midwestern-style Cornbread

midwestern-cornbread

We’re not in Oz anymore – we’re in Kansas! This is classic Midwestern-style cornbread, golden as the yellow brick road. It’s sweet (some people argue that this is cake but whatever, I like sweet cornbread), moist, easy-to-make, and has become my go-to cornbread – I’ve made it twice since the podcast to accompany soup and chili!

If you have a skillet, that would be ideal, but I just did in a 9 inch cake pan and melted my butter beforehand in the oven.

Midwestern-style Cornbread

Adapted from Skillet Cornbread in Midwest Living

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 375° Grease a 9 inch cake pan with the butter.

In a large bowl, whisk together cormeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another, whisk together egg, oil, sugar, and buttermilk. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and pour evenly into pan.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly, serve warm.

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Jakku Ration Bread

sw green bread h
There was really only one food scene in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (I mean, people were drinking and assumedly eating at Moz’ place, but we didn’t see anything closely) and it was of dear Rey rehydrating her measly rations, obtained by trading the few items she was able to salvage in the heat and sands of Jakku. We see her tear open the ration packet and empty the powder into a wooden bowl of water, and then it instantly bubbles up and forms into a round loaf of green bread. She tears into it along with something else that in one shot looks like seaweed (whenever the blu ray come out, I’m totally going to freeze frame it). It probably didn’t taste very good, or maybe it didn’t even taste like anything. Poor Rey. This breaks my heart because food is more than for survival, but that’s all she knew it for, and had no pleasure in it. I shake my fist at you ( ≖᷆︵︣≖)ᕗ, mysterious parents (or parent), who abandoned her to a life without good (enjoyable) food and at least the occasional home-cooked meal.

To make this bread I thought first of green, and then what would be nutritional (I did not want to use food coloring). Spinach came to mind, but also seaweed (because of whatever other food she was eating) and kale too. Really you just need to make a green puree and you can use various leafy greens for that; veggie and/or herb alike (like, basil would be delicious). Use what suits you! In my version I did include a few sheets of seaweed, but I omitted it from the recipe below just to keep it more straightforward.

sw bread pieces

Jakku Ration Bread

  • 5 oz. Fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 Cup Warm Water
  • 2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. Sugar
  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter, Melted

Bring enough water to cover the spinach to a rapid boil & then put the spinach in. When the water comes back to a boil remove the pot from the heat & drain the spinach & rinse it under cold water. Put the leaves in a food processor & puree it. You should have about 3/4 Cup or so of spinach.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup warm water, sugar, & yeast & let it sit for about 10 minutes to get foamy. Add the butter, salt, spinach puree, & 1 cup of the flour & mix on low, & then medium. Add the rest of the flour a little at a time until incorporated & then switch to the dough hook & knead it for about 5 minutes, until dough balls up around the hook. Remove the dough & form it into a ball. Lightly coat the dough with oil & then put it back in the mixing bowl & cover with a damp towel to rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Grease your baking dishes (you can use a bread loaf pan, or if you have round baking dishes like large ramekins, that’d be great as the bread in the film was round). Punch the dough down & separate it evenly if you’re using more than one dish. Cover the dishes with the damp towel & let rise for another 45 minutes. If you’d like, brush the tops with melted butter & sprinkle with salt.

Heat your oven to 400ºF. Place a casserole dish of water on the bottom rack & then place the bread pans/dishes on the middle rack. Bake for about 40-45 minutes & then remove to cool slightly. Best served fresh & warm!

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 29: Star Wars

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Pretzel Bread

Photo pending! I didn’t have a chance to snap one as I was whisking these out the door…

In Season 2 of Fargo, the Gerhardt’s kitchen is fascinating to me. It’s colored in icy, impersonal tones (I very much enjoy Tom and Lorenzo’s color theories) yet the racks of freshly baked bread are generally warm and inviting. The way they are used in the story is two-sided two, the offering of bread is at once maternal and threatening.

These loaves are drama-fraught, but pretty tasty, so if you’re feeling both violent and cozy this is a good recipe for you.

Pretzel Bread

Adapted from With Salt and Wit

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat milk until comfortably warm to touch (not hot, will kill yeast). Stir in butter, sugar, and yeast and let it proof for 10 minutes or so.

In a large bowl, measure out 2 1/2 cups flour and add salt. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl and mix until it starts to form a dough. Add more flour little by little until it comes together in a ball, then pour out onto a floured counter and knead for about 10 minutes, adding a little flour as necessary if it gets too sticky to handle. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, punch down the dough, knead slightly and form into two equal sized balls.

Preheat oven to 400° Bring water and baking soda to a boil. One at a time, boil each of the balls for two minutes each side, and remove to an oiled baking sheet.

Brush with egg and slice crossways on the top of each loaf. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° to continue baking for another 10-12 minutes until loaves are evenly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 27: Fargo

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