Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Sweet Potato and Country Ham Gratin

Sometimes, the side dishes are the best part of the meal. That’s where this comes from. I had a meal restaurant meal that was generally unremarkable, but for a dish ordered for the table as something of an afterthought. It inspired me. That dish was a slightly overwrought, oddly-shaped plate with a small swipe of béchamel sauce topped with roasted sweet potatoes and a sprinkling of country ham and some gruyere, run under a broiler. But it got the wheels turning in my head though. A creamy sauce with rich roasted potatoes and salty country ham and nutty gruyere works together beautifully. I knew it would make a fantastic gratin, with plenty of each ingredient perfectly balanced.

Give this a try for Thanksgiving, it’s a switch from the cinnamon and brown sugar versions we are used to in the best possible way. And it can be made a day ahead to cut down on turkey day chaos. Every time I have served this, it’s gotten absolute raves. It’s also great beside a roasted chicken or pork loin, and frankly would make a great main dish. I like to use center cut biscuit sliced of country ham which are easy to find.

Sweet Potato and Country Ham Gratin

4 medium sweet potatoes

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

About 6 ounces country ham, to make 1 cup finely diced ham

1 leek, white and light green part

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

1 ½ cups grated gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks about ½ inch square as evenly sized as can be. Place the potato chunks in a ziptop bag and pour over the olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, then toss around to coat all the potato pieces with oil. Spread in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Finely dice the country ham. Remove the pan from the oven and gently turn the potato pieces over with a spatula. Sprinkle the diced ham over the top of the potatoes and return the pan to the oven for a further 15 – 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the edges are brown and crispy. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

While the potatoes are roasting, cut the white and lightest green part of the leek in half, then into quarters and thinly slice. Place in a colander, rinse well and shake to remove as much water as possible. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a deep skillet and sauté the leeks until they are soft and glassy. Try not to let them brown. Add the remaining two tablespoons butter, and when it is melted, sprinkle over the flour. Stir to coat the leeks in the flour and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the milk and bring to a nice bubble. Stir frequently until the sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool for 10 minutes, then gently stir in the roasted potatoes, making sure they are well coated in sauce

Spread the potatoes in a baking dish, then sprinkle over the gruyere. At this point, the dish can be covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the gratin for 20 – 30 minutes, until heated through and bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Serves 8

Herbed Farro Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

It’s still summer, but the hope of fall is in the air. We are still in the cold salad territory, but moving into something heartier. I love this robust grain salad – it’s a change up from a standard pasta salad, but the addition of fresh herbs and cucumbers freshens things up and it makes the most of the end of tomato season with bright baby tomatoes and a tangy fresh tomato vinaigrette. If you haven’t experimented with farro yet, you should give it a try. It’s a healthy whole grain wheat with a slightly nutty, toasty flavor and a substantial texture and bite. I love it in soup, but is so fabulous in this tabbouleh-inspired salad because it beautifully absorbs the dressing. It’s the perfect picnic or grilling side, but is substantial enough to be the main course.

I say here to use a cup of cherry tomatoes, but it can be a little tough to judge. When I find little bitty tomatoes at the farmers market I love their cuteness and usually just cut them in half. Large tomatoes I quarter, but if all you can find in season is large tomatoes, seed them and chop them well. Reserve some of the dressing to stir through right through right before serving – the grain will absorb a lot of it while refrigerated. I also like to chop the cucumber into quite small pieces so every bite of salad has a bite.

Herbed Farro Salad with Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette

1 ½ cups farro

3 cups vegetable stock

1 lemon, zested and juiced, divided

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

½ cup mint leaves

½ cup Italian parsley leaves

¼ cup cilantro leaves

3 green onions

½ seedless cucumber

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tomato, about 8 ounces

¼ cup white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

Generous grinds of black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

Place the farro in a strainer and rinse well with cool water. Place it in a pot with the vegetable stock, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the grains are tender, but still have a little chew. Drain the farro through the strainer and rinse with cool water. Leave to drain, then transfer to a large bowl. Pour over 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and add the zest and stir to coat. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine.

Finely chop all the herbs and add to the farro. Chop the cucumber into very small pieces, add to the bowl, then chop the green onions finely and add. Half or quarter the cherry tomatoes and stir to combine everything well.

Cut the tomato in half and remove the core and seeds. Place in the carafe of a blender, add the vinegar, honey, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, honey salt and pepper and blend until completely pureed. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until blended and smooth. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over the salad and stir to coat. Reserve the rest of the dressing in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate the salad and remaining dressing for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, you can add some extra dressing if you feel it is needed and season with a little salt if you like.

Serves 6

Roasted Summer Succotash

Recipe ideas come to me everywhere, this one came to me after I saw roasted lima beans on a menu, I think something I saw online, because it’s not something I ate. The description made me wonder exactly what the result would be – raosting bean? Then I remembered a Greek-style roasted dish using gigante beans and tomatoes, and my mind immediately went to butter beans, which lead to succotash. Corn and butter beans are one of the great pleasures of summer. They pair beautifully together and look like a lovely dose of bright summer. And succotash is just too fun to say. I’ve visited the idea before with my Succotash Salad, which is sort of the opposite of a this dish – the cold version as opposed to this richly roasted iteration. I’ve even changed the idea up with Sunshine Succotash, a yellow-toned dish bursting with sunshine.

Roasting any vegetable really concentrates the flavors and brings out the sweetness and that is absolutely true with this dish. The butter beans are juicy and tender, the corn sweet and crisp and the tomatoes bring the whole together. A bonus with the recipe is that it makes a big dish of summer goodness that can sit happily in the oven while you get on with any other preparations. And it’s pretty – the pale jade of the beans, the bright yellows and whites of the corn with a pop of tomato red. I love thyme for a nice herbal note, but any sturdy, woodsy herb like oregano, marjoram or even rosemary (very finely chopped) would hold up to the long cooking time. I can also see preparing this dish in winter with the frozen beans and corn I am putting up now, as the roasting will refresh the summer sweetness.

Roasted Summer Succotash

1 pound fresh butter beans

4 ears of corn

6 green onions, white and light green parts

2 bell pepper, red and orange are pretty, green is fine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup water

10 cherry tomatoes

½ cup olive oil

Generous amounts of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the butter beans in a small pot and cover by water by about an inch. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that rises, then lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the butter beans are just tender but with a little bite. Drain thoroughly.

Cut the kernels from the corn cobs into a large bowl. Finely dice the green onions, then finely dice the bell peppers and add to the bowl. Add the butter beans and the thyme and gently stir to combine and distribute everything evenly. Mix the tomato paste and water together and add to the bowl with generous amounts of salt and pepper and stir again to coat. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish, then half the tomatoes and nestle them into the beans. Pour over the olive oil.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for one hour. Serve warm.

Serves 8

Taleggio Risotto Cake

I did not grow up eating risotto. It was not a dish on the menus of the many fine Italian-American restaurants in Memphis we ate at during my childhood. When it started to become a common and trendy dish, for many years, I assumed it was some sort of chef-secret dish that couldn’t be created at home (a silly thought now I know). Once I realized that at its heart, risotto is simple fare that takes only a little patience, it became a comfort favorite for me. I love a creamy, homey bowl of risotto, and I find the stirring meditative and relaxing. One of the joys of cooking is watching plain ingredients transform into something altogether luxurious, and no dish is more an example of that than witnessing grains of rice release their starch into a luscious, creamy creation layered with flavors and sophistication.

I make risotto with all sorts of flavors – like my Carrot and Dill version, or the seasonal Squash Blossom iteration. Sometimes I go plain with just a dose of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, sometimes I stir in fresh tomato sauce from my summer stash. But the point is, I usually make it only for myself. When you have guests to serve, standing over the stove stirring a pot of rice isn’t always feasible or friendly. I’ve tried baked versions, restaurant tricks for preparing it partially ahead, even a slow cooker method. But none have ever been completely satisfying. Until this springform version. Eggs hold the whole thing together and ricotta keeps the final result creamy. I tend to let the edges get slightly crispy, which adds an extra touch of texture, and I love the gooey layer of cheese oozing from the center. The presentation is pretty impressive too. Unmold the dish onto a pretty platter and add a sprinkle of fresh herbs for color.

My favorite risotto indulgence that I make for myself on special occasions uses salty pancetta, woodsy marjoram and aromatic taleggio. These flavors meld together beautifully to make a very pungent and unique whole. I have used the combination to top pizza and focaccia as well. But once you get the hang of this risotto cake, you can use any flavors you like.

Taleggio Risotto Cake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ounces diced pancetta
  2. 1 large shallot, finely diced
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  4. 1 ¾ cups Arborio rice
  5. 1 cup white wine
  6. 4 - 5 cups chicken broth
  7. 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram
  8. ¾ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
  11. 7 ounces taleggio cheese
  12. Olive oil
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the pancetta in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat, until it is browned and crispy and has released its fat. Remove the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. You need about 2 Tablespoon of fat in the pan, so add some olive oil if the pancetta hasn't produced enough. Drop in the shallots and cook until glassy and soft, then add the garlic and cook for just about a minute - do not let it brown. Stir in the rice, coating it well with the fat, and cook for a few minutes until the edges of the grains begin to turn translucent. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is completely absorbed. Add the broth a cup at a time, stirring frequently, letting the rice absorb each cup before stirring in the next. After you've added two cups, stir in half of the marjoram and about a quarter of the pancetta. After adding four cups test to see that the rice is soft, but still with a little bite, then add liquid just until it reaches that point. Season well with salt and pepper. When the risotto is cooked, transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment and spread it out to cool.
  2. While the risotto cools, cut the rind off the taleggio. It is easier to do this while the cheese is cold. Slice the taleggio into thin slices and set aside. Brush the inside and bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with olive oil.
  3. In a large bowl (or the pan you cooked the risotto in), whisk together the ricotta, eggs and parmesan cheese until smooth and combined. Add the risotto, remaining marjoram and pancetta and stir until everything is combined and well distributed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Spread half of the risotto in the prepared pan and spread it out in an even layer. Drape half of the sliced taleggio over the top of the rice, distributing it evenly. Spread the rest of the risotto in the pan and press it down into an even layer. Place the rest of the taleggio over the top of the rice cake.
  4. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for several hours. When ready to bake, take the pan out of the fridge to take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees then bake the risotto for 30 - 35 minutes, until the edges are golden, the cheese is melted and the center is heated through. Let the cake sit for about 10 minutes before removing the side of the pan, cutting into wedges and serving.
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Slow Cooker Sorghum Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an absolutely essential part of Thanksgiving. I love a good sweet potato casserole, both the mashed version and a sliced version. I’m fortunate, particularly at the holidays, that I have plenty of oven space to prepare the full Thanksgiving menu, but I know that is not the case for everyone, so here as my space solution, which I think as a brilliant idea. This recipe didn’t start as a Thanksgiving dish for me, but as a hands-off way to cook a big batch of sweet potatoes for a dinner party. And I have made it many times for weeknight dinners because it really is unbelievably easy.

I love the flavor of grassy sorghum with earthy sweet potatoes. The smoked paprika adds a lovely depth and hint of smokiness. The result of slow cooking is similar to roasting on a sheet pan – the edges aren’t as crisp, but there are lovely browned rims with fluffy centers and a lovely seasoned exterior. Make these for Thanksgiving, but I promise you’ll pull the recipe out throughout the year.

Slow Cooker Sorghum Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  2. 3 Tablespoons sorghum syrup
  3. 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  4. 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into evenly sized cubes, about 1 inches. Spray the crock of a slow cooker with cooking spray then spread the potatoes in the crock.
  2. Whisk the sorghum, vinegar, mustard, paprika salt and pepper together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined, then pour over the sweet potatoes. Stir to coat the sweet potatoes, cover the crock and cook on low for eight hours, which I prefer, or high for 4 hours.
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Cold Pickled Potatoes with Rosemary

I love a good, chilled potato salad in summer, whether it’s with burgers from the grill, a fried chicken picnic, or just a spread of cold salads. And I generally lean toward the chunky potatoes with a creamy dressing and interesting add ins variety, like my Mom’s Dilled Potato Salad, or Mustard Bacon Potato Salad. But I ran across a recipe in a book or a magazine for potatoes lightly pickled then served with a rather fancy warm sauce. I have long lost the original recipe, but the idea of pickled potatoes with an herbal hint, chilled in the fridge stuck with me, so I cobbled together this simple version.

I think this is a really interesting change up to a potato salad – it isn’t really a salad at all, just potatoes served cold. It works in all the ways you serve a standard potato salad, but light and fresh with a sweet-tart-tangy finish that makes a perfect accompaniment to rich burgers or sausages from the grill, or even a roast. I think you could try other herbs as well, like thyme or sage, and maybe through a bay leaf in the mix. I find these lovely little pebble sized yellow potatoes readily at the grocery, just buy the smallest potatoes you can find. If yours are not quite so small, add a few minutes to the boiling time and the sitting in hot water time.

Cold Pickled Potatoes with Rosemary
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds very small potatoes
  2. 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 cup granulated sugar
  4. 6 – 7 stalks of rosemary
  5. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes in one layer (or as close as you can get) in a large deep skillet and cover with water by about 1/2 inch. Add several generous pinches kosher salt and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes, then remove from the heat and cover the pan. Leave the potatoes to sit in the water for 15 – 20 minutes while you make the brine.
  2. Combine the vinegar, 2 cups water and the sugar in a large saucepan that will fit the potatoes and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then drop in the rosemary. Cover the pan and set aside.
  3. Test the potatoes by inserting a sharp knife into one of the larger ones. It should slide about half way with no resistance. Quickly cover the pan and leave for a few more minutes if necessary. Drain the potatoes and rinse with cool water until cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes in half, and drop them into the still warm brine. Stir to cover the potatoes and leave to sit at room temperature for at least two hours. You can then refrigerate the potatoes overnight. Drain completely and pick out the rosemary stalks and any stray needles. The drained potatoes will hold in the fridge for several more hours.
  4. Serve chilled.
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Cherry Tomato and Sweet Onion Bake

I am always enticed by cherry tomatoes at the farmers market. All the pretty colors and shapes and sizes. They are all just so pretty, though the perfect orbs of a classic Sweet 100 or Tumbling Toms always catch my eye. And, as with much of the bounty of summer produce, I have a tendency to over buy, with no fixed plan for how to use them. And though popping the little tomatoes straight in my mouth, or serving them simply drizzled with a vinaigrette are good options, sometimes I want to try something a little different with a little more intrigue. And adding heat brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes beautifully. And to complement that sweet tang of the melting tomatoes, I love a bed of candied caramelized onions. The bread crumbs add a crispy finish, but also soak up the lovely juices that ooze from the onions and the tomatoes.

I prefer evenly round, classic cherry tomatoes for this dish rather than the multicolored and unevenly sized versions. Oregano is a great complement to summer tomatoes, but thyme or marjoram would work just as well. I have eaten this dish on its own as a meal, but it makes a wonderful side dish to grilled meat or a roasted chicken. And though I adore this with fresh summer cherry tomatoes, it can boost the flavor of hothouse cherry tomatoes throughout the year.

Cherry Tomato and Sweet Onion Bake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  3. one bunch of fresh oregano
  4. kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  5. 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  6. ½ cup dried bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a medium sized oven-safe skillet. Add the onions and cooke over medium heat until they are soft and just beginning to brown. Pour in a ½ cup of water and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the onions area nice soft and glassy and a nice caramelized brown. This should take about 20 minutes. Finely mince about ¼ cup of oregano leaves and add 2 Tablespoons to the onions with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and stir to evenly distribute the herbs. Remove the pan from the heat and spread the onions out in an even layer. Spread the cherry tomatoes over the onions in as even a layer as possible (some make stick up into a second layer). Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining oregano and sprinkle evenly over the top of the tomatoes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and collapsing and slightly charred in some places and the bread crumbs are browned. I like to turn the broiler on for a few minutes, watching carefully, just to create a nice, browned top.
  3. Let the dish cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
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Caramelized Corn Pudding

I talk often here about how I come about recipes, and this one has a story with it too. A friend and I were eating at a popular local restaurant and I told her about the amazing creamed corn dish they sometimes make (sadly not on the menu that day). This led to a larger discussion of corn preparations, and she told me her husband couldn’t stop raving about a corn pudding he had at a restaurant on a business trip that had “some kind of sugary topping.” She asked if I had ever heard about this and I told her I hadn’t but it sure did sound good. Low and behold, a few days later I was flipping through my collection of community cookbooks and came across a recipe for “The Best Corn Pudding Ever” that involved sprinkling the top with brown sugar. Well, I just couldn’t wait to give it a try and am I ever glad I did. I served it to my family as part of a full dinner of summer produce and they absolutely raved. They did indeed think it was the best corn pudding ever.

The second time I made this, I admit I accidently let the butter brown a little, but it was a serendipitous mistake, because it added even more depth to the final result. Adding a hint of sugar to the mix brings out the sweetness of good summer corn, and the lightly caramelized top is a revelation, providing a perfect sweet-salty balance.

Caramelized Corn Pudding
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ears fresh corn
  2. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided
  3. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 Tablespoons flour
  5. ½ cup heavy cream
  6. 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Cut the kernels from the corn into a large bowl.
  2. Melt 6 Tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat in a deep skillet. When the butter starts to foam and little flecks of brown appear, about 3 minutes, stir in the granulated sugar and stir until smooth and the butter has browned a little more, about 3 minutes, then stir in the flour until smooth. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream until well combined. The mixture may look a little odd or curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come right in the end. Stir in the corn kernels to combine, then add the beaten eggs, baking powder and salt and stir until everything is mixed together. You may see some lumps of the cream mixture, but that’s okay.
  3. Spread the corn in the prepared baking dish, evening out the top. (You can make the dish to this point up to a few hours ahead, keep it loosely covered with a towel on the counter). Bake the corn pudding for 45 minutes, until firm and golden around the edges. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a measuring jug with a spout (I use the microwave), then stir in the brown sugar until smooth. Drizzle the butter and brown sugar mix over the top of the corn pudding, gently spreading it out with a heat proof spatula or the back of a spoon. Cook for a further 5 minutes and serve immediately.
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Wild Rice Pilaf

Wild Rice PilafThanksgiving is all about tradition. I would be ejected from my family if I didn’t serve certain things on the holiday table (sweet potatoes, corn pudding, cranberries). I think most families have that feeling – a special dish you may eat only on Thanksgiving, but the holiday simply wouldn’t be the same without it. And I know it can sometimes be the source of some tension (the mashed regular versus candied sweet potato divide). So I make sure those dishes are on the table, because I love them too, and I want to make everyone happy. But every once in a while, I like to throw in a little twist, something new and different to us. That’s where this dish comes in.

Wild rice is not something we grew up eating very often, and never included it in the Thanksgiving spread, but it has such a lovely, autumnal dish when paired with apples, cranberries and pecans, I thought it would suit us very nicely. Not only is it delicious, it’s very pretty, with the jeweled tones of fall. And it is quite forgiving – it can sit warm on the buffet for some time, and is equally tasty at room temperature. And any leftovers, warmed with a little broth, is a great side for a turkey sandwich. And of course, it is not only for Thanksgiving; it makes a wonderful side to a roasted chicken or pork roast on any autumn night. I ordered some wonderful hand-harvested rice for my table.

Wild Rice Pilaf
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 onion, finely diced
  4. 1 carrot, finely diced
  5. 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  6. 1 apple, finely diced
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 2 cups wild rice, rinsed several times in cold water
  9. 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  10. juice and zest of one orange
  11. ½ cup dried cranberries
  12. 2 bay leaves
  13. a few stalks of fresh thyme
  14. ½ cup chopped pecans
  15. 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Melt the butter and oil together in a 2 -3 quart stove and oven proof pot with a lid. Stir in the onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften. Add the apple and stir. Add the salt. Cook until everything is soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. (Note: I chop the apple while the vegetables are starting, so it doesn’t brown while waiting.) Add the wild rice and stir to coat in the butter and oil and cook for three minutes longer. Stir in the chicken broth, orange juice and zest and the cranberries. Drop in the bay leaves and thyme (count how many stems so you can remove them all later). Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake the rice for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, give it a light stir and check to see that there is ample liquid left. About 10 minutes before the hour is up, remove the lid and check the liquid level, if it is all absorbed, remove the pot from the oven, or continue cooking until it is. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaves. Fluff the rice with a fork, the stir in the pecans and parsley. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
  3. Serve hot or warm.
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Scandi-Style Potatoes

Scandi-Style Potatoes

Potatoes are a real kitchen workhorse. They go with anything – fish, chicken, beef, pork, lamb – and it is easy to make them taste good. Tossed with a little olive oil and herbs and roasted, mashed with butter and milk, baked and topped with all manner of things, cold in a potato salad. I’m a believer that if you have a potato in the house, you always have a meal. But I also admit to falling into a rut. I spend a lot of time working on a main dish, figuring I’ll just cook some potatoes to go with it. The roasted version is my go to, and everyone seems to like them that way. I sometimes pull out the mandolin and slice up a pile for a cheese gratin or a simple pommes boulangere, but I am not always as creative as I could be.

Nowadays, I am also always intrigued by the variety and color range of the potatoes we find in the stores and farmers markets. I can barely resist the selection of jewel-toned orbs available now, and sometimes come home from a shop with way more than I intended. So I look for ways to push the boat out a little, try something new and different to expand my potato horizons. I found a version of this recipe in a community cookbook that involved way more packaged and processed ingredients than I am comfortable with, but I saw the potential and soldiered on. That recipe was called German Potatoes, but these have more of a Scandanavian feel to me – maybe it’s the dill, but really the glaze reminds me of the sweet-tangy sauce on Swedish meatballs. I love to use the bite-size multi-colored potatoes when I find them, but simple red or yellow ones will do. These spuds are perfect with a simple roast meal like a good chicken, a fatty pork roast or a simple beef tenderloin.

Scandi-Style Potatoes
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds small potatoes
  2. 6 strips of bacon
  3. 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  5. 2 Tablespoons flour
  6. ½ cup granulated sugar
  7. ½ cup cider vinegar
  8. ¾ cup water
  9. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Instructions
  1. Choose small potatoes about the size of a ping pong ball, but if they are larger cut them half. Cook the potatoes just until tender – I prefer to steam them over boiling water for about 20 minutes, which helps them hold their shape, but you can also boil them for about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and set aside, covered with a tea towel to keep warm. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook over in a saucepan large enough to hold the potatoes until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Let the bacon grease cool for about 5 minutes, then add the chopped onion and celery. (If you add the veg to the hot grease, they will burn). Cook over medium heat, until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes until the flour has disappeared and the mixture is thick. Add the sugar and stir well until dissolved. Pour over the vinegar and water and continue cooking until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped dill.
  3. Add the potatoes to the sauce and stir to coat completely. Add the chopped bacon to combine. Cook until everything is warmed through, and serve immediately.
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