Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chestnut Stuffing

This is my version of my paternal grandfather's Chestnut Stuffing. It's meant for stuffing the turkey for Thanksgiving (18 pounds of turkey, in fact, which is why I halved the recipe and why you'll see the smaller recipe here), but I love it on its own. I've updated the ingredients a bit and wrote out in more detail the sequence in which I think things should happen. The original recipe is written on a small index card and is very short-hand. For example, the original recipe called for two pounds of chestnuts, to be shelled and prepared, page 780. The other day, on a whim, I looked in the oldest published cookbook I have, which happens to be the cookbook that my father recieved from his parents when he went off to college, and the page did correspond to preparing chestnuts. Check out the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, original copyright in 1948. Fortunately, the book has been recently republished, so we can all see what Americans used to eat in the 1950's and what techniques were recommended for the housewife. Anyway, I guarantee you that once you try this stuffing based on rice instead of bread and with the earthy flavors of chestnuts and mushrooms, you'll never want to eat another stuffing again!

This is the picture from our Thanksgiving dinner this year when my father made the recipe his way:

Chestnut Stuffing

Chestnut Stuffing
Inspired by my grandfather
Makes 8 servings, or stuffing for a small to medium turkey

1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
5 stalks celery, finely chopped
Same quantity chopped onion as the celery (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice
1 pound chestnuts with shell or 8 ounces pre-peeled chestnuts (Trader Joe's is currently selling vacuum-sealed, peeled and steamed chestnuts)
2 tablespoons Bell's Seasoning (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

If you bought chestnuts with the shells, peel and cook the chestnuts until they are chewy. I followed the advice in the Joy of Cooking for peeling the chestnuts, which involved scoring the chestnuts on the flat side with an X, bringing water to a boil in a pot and boiling the chestnuts for 5 minutes. Then, you turn off the heat, and leave the chestnuts in the hot water. Take only a few chestnuts at a time and peel away the top layer, as well as the finer, papery layers. If the peels resist, toss the chestnuts back in the water. Reboil the water if it cools before you are done. This takes patience. After peeling the chestnuts, be sure to boil them again in salted water or broth until they are chewy. If you bought the prepared chestnuts, making this stuffing is much simpler!

Fry out the sausage in a large pot or pan and pour off most of the grease. Add the celery, onions, and Bell's Seasoning and cook until they are clear. Add the rice and heat through. Add the mushrooms and chestnuts. Bring to a boil and simmer, adding water if the mixture starts to dry out. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked. Allow to cool if it will be used as a stuffing for turkey. Otherwise, dig in! I find that the stuffing tastes better the next day after it has time to sit and meld flavors. Hope you like it!

Bell's Seasoning

If you live in the Northeast, you probably have easy access to this seasoning, but back in the Wild West, it isn't stocked often. In fact, I've never seen it. My grandfather once wrote down a recipe for chestnut stuffing, and the seasoning he lists is Bell's Seasoning. Having grown up in South America and the Midwest, and having been born after my grandfather died, I think my family assumed it was just a brand of some old seasoning that no longer exists. My dad rightly assumed that this was a poultry seasoning, so he would always just make up his own combination of spices to do the chestnut stuffing. Well, as a librarian, I am a researcher by nature, and I had to at least check to see if I could find any information about it. To my surprise, the company still exists, and you can still buy the seasoning! Bell's Seasoning. In addition to the corporate site, I found mention of this seasoning on many forums, and it seems that folks consistently agree that Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without this seasoning. I had to give it a try! Unfortunately, we can't buy it here (as far as I know), and I needed it soon for a company potluck. So, I found a simple recipe on a forum that seems accurate according to the corporate site (although, I'm not sure how the original tastes). All amounts call for dried herbs rather than fresh. Someday, I'll try out chestnut stuffing with a fresh version of this with similar proportions.

Homemade Bell's Seasoning

Bell's Seasoning
Makes 1/2 cup

4 1/2 tsp rosemary
4 tsp oregano
3 3/4 tsp sage
3 1/2 tsp ginger
3 tsp marjoram
2 3/4 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp black pepper

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pomegranate Ginger Muffins

It's now pomegranate season at my parents' house in Santa Barbara. My mother made a couple of batches while we were visiting for Thanksgiving, and I took a few pieces of fruit home with me to try this recipe for myself. I was surprised to find that I had already printed out the recipe about two years ago from RecipeZaar, and my mother found the same recipe on, published by Sunset magazine. See the recipe here. The bits of pomegranate surprise you with a sweet tartness in every bite, and the lemon peel adds to a very fragrant muffin batter. This is definitely going to be an annual affair as pomegranates come back into season. I like to eat these warm for breakfast with some plain yogurt.

Pomegranate Ginger Muffins

This Week's Menu

This is going to be a busy week for me! We're nearing the holidays, and we have a new director at work in my department starting this week, and I have a concert on Thursday, in which I will be a soloist. We're having a gathering for our director that will involve cookies and cider, and I'm supposed to bring a treat to the concert. My parents are also coming into town to watch me play, and Friday is my mother's birthday, so I'm taking her out for some high tea. Here's my plan for the week:

Treats for the director and the concert
(makes a very large batch of cookies, so it should last for both): Docinhos de goiabada (or goiaba cookies. Sorry, I can't share the recipe here since this is a family recipe that has been sworn to secrecy)

Lunch for the lunch group:

Burritos made with "refried beans with cinnamon and clove" from "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper" (the recipe was given to me from a coworker whose partner is a chef and loves this recipe) and with roasted sweet potato, guacamole, micro greens, green onions, olives, and sour cream (inspired by Fran's Spicy Sweet Potato Burritos)

Sunday: Burritos (see above)
Monday: Fresh pasta from the farmer's market
Tuesday: Baked polenta with mushrooms, and marinated beans and spinach salad on the side
Wednesday: Coconut mung bean soup
Thursday: Another fresh pasta from the market
Friday: out for dinner with my parents

You'll notice that a couple of recipes either come from or are inspired by a blog I just found today that I think will become my new favorite blog, Fran's House of Ayurveda. This is the kind of blog I would have loved to create if I knew enough about Ayurvedic cooking, so I know I'm going to learn a lot! I've been looking for good Vata recipes (my dosha, or constitution, is Vata-Pitta), and I've also been looking for some good breakfast recipes. I'm always amazed at how difficult it is to find healthy and satisfying breakfast recipes since we all know that this is the first meal of the day and is quite important. I'm looking forward to it. Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Planning

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, and if you haven't planned what you're making yet, check out our Thanksgiving menu from last year.

We aren't hosting Thanksgiving this year and are instead driving to my parents' house in Santa Barbara. Here's our menu this year, as far as I know it. We're bringing the pecan pie and apple crisp, as well as a red and a white wine.

Turkey marinated in brine
Chestnut stuffing (Dad's family recipe)
Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
Baked brussel sprouts
Cranberry sauce
Apple Crisp
Bourbon pecan pie
Double ginger pumpkin flans

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



Here are some of the pictures of our Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving Turkey

Chestnut Stuffing

Thanksgiving Sides

Pumpkin Flan

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pinto Bean, Southern Greens, and Campanelle Pasta Soup with Paprika Bean Puree

"Cold weather" has arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, meaning that I actually need to wear a sweater or light jacket outside and that we're running our heat in our apartment. I must be a wimp because this weather chills my bones, like there's no getting away from feeling cold all the time, even though I spent my childhood on Michigan. I adjusted to the subtle weather changes here way too easily!

For my lunch group at work this week, I made a warming and comforting soup that is a modification of a recipe from The Wednesday Chef, Amy Scattergood's Cranberry Bean, Lacinato Kale and Pasta Soup. Unfortunately, I can never find the ingredients I need when I choose to make our meals from a recipe, and this time was no exception. I couldn't find cranberry beans or Mother Stallards, but I do know that pinto beans are cousins to cranberry beans, so I used those commonly found beans instead. I couldn't find lacinato kale, but I did find a bag of already washed and cleaned southern greens (collard, mustard, and turnip greens) at Trader Joe's. I couldn't find orrechiette (!), so I used the bell-shaped pasta, which I find more interesting anyway, campanelle. The soup turned out just as fabulous as I hoped, and it made enough servings for four people at lunch at work, lunch for my husband for two days, and dinner for the two of us! You might want to look at the quantity of the ingredients before making this -- it calls for 3 cups of dried beans and 12 cups of water, so it's certain to make a metric ton. Make sure you have a very large pot before you begin!

What I found interesting about this recipe is that you cook the pasta separately, and I actually stored and transported it separate from the soup, which kept the pasta from bloating too much before consuming the soup. The bean puree with two kinds of paprika, sweet and smoked, and fresh herbs, added a freshness to the soup and had a beautiful color. I might just need to try making other flavors of bean purees to add to soups -- it has the effect of adding creaminess, fresh herbs, and color to a soup that you might be storing for a few hours or days.

We ate this soup so fast that I didn't get a picture, but you'll get the idea from the post at The Wednesday Chef. I suggest trying different beans and greens and herbs in the puree for a yummy, transportable creation!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cooking for Friends

One of my best friends recently had a baby, and I finally had a chance to visit this past weekend to meet the little peanut for the very first time. We had a great time (and I'm not a baby person)!

I knew that I wanted to help out in whatever way I could during my visit, and I also knew that during our college years together as roommates, I would often cook us a nice dinner to make us feel at home. As a new mommy, my friend definitely hasn't had time to cook some nutritious home-style meals, so I brought a few recipes and had her choose what she wanted most. The recipes needed to make a large quantity of food that could be eaten that night and frozen for later or that could teach her how to make a good meal within her schedule as a mother and private music teacher. We chose two recipes, a Slow-cooked Red Curry Chicken with Butternut Squash from Cara's Cravings that was fabulous and utilized her slow-cooker, and a Spicy Turkey Sausage Lasagne from Epicurious that could be frozen. Both were very successful in case you want to use them as a similar treat for your friends!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Apricot and Fig Crunchy Muesli

Here's a hearty cereal that you can make yourself which includes grains, protein, and fiber. Be sure to serve this with plenty of milk, as the cereal is quite crunchy and can use the soak. I purchase the nuts and dried fruit from Trader Joe's where they tend to be cheaper.

Apricot and Fig Crunchy Muesli

Apricot and Fig Crunchy Muesli

Makes 2 pounds

1 pound rolled oats
4 ounces bran ceral (the twiggy type)
1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachio halves
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup slivered almonds
4 ounces chopped, dried figs
4 ounces chopped, dried apricots
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Pour the maple syrup and vanilla over the mixture and toss to coat. Divide the mixture between two, large, non-stick baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes, stirring often. Allow the cereal to cool and store in an airtight container.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This Week's Menu

We have a very bad habit (or should I say that I have a very bad habit) of buying too much food every week because it looks so good! Well, we all know that food is getting more expensive, and it really is a shame to throw any of it into the compost bin. So, I decided to plan a half a week of food for now to see how things go. We recently discovered a fresh produce shop within walking distance of our apartment, Dan's Fresh Produce. In addition to their store, it looks like they offer a weekly box of produce from local growers, similar to the Community Sustained Agriculture I discussed before. Because we're only two people, sometimes our meals can last more than one dinner, and it's hard to gauge when this is going to happen. I'll see how it goes with a plan until Wednesday to see if we need to buy more or just extend our current recipes. With Dan's Produce down the street, I can easily take a walk after work and get my workout and dinner, too!

Breakfast: Oatmeal and figs
Lunch: White bean and basil hummus with pita, carrots, dolmas, sliced feta, and arugula salad
Dinner: Chicken marinaded in yogurt vindaloo curry, butternut squash curry, sauteed chard

Breakfast: Banana bread
Lunch (lunch group): Lavash sandwiches and pasta salad
Dinner: Goat cheese ravioli with summer pitta sauce

Breakfast: Banana bread
Dinner: Tilapia marinaded in citrus-herb marinade with harvest blend couscous and veggie and arugula salad

Breakfast: Pugliese toast with jam and nut butter
Dinner: Adzuki "black" beans and rice

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This Week's Menu: An Anniversary Trip to Wine Country

We're heading to Napa and Sonoma mid-week for our 3 year wedding anniversary and have planned a special breakfast before our drive out on Wednesday morning and a picnic lunch to bring with us that first day to the Nichelini Winery that might last us more than one day if we have a fridge in our hotel room. I hope the menu pairs well with a nice summer wine. Nichelini describes themselves as:
"The Nichelini Winery is the oldest family owned and continuously operated winery in Napa County. Nichelini Winery is listed on the Registered Historic Places in Saint Helena, California, Napa County. Each winemaking process is conducted and managed by a descendant of Anton Nichelini, our founding father."

For the other days of the week, I tried to plan meals based on leftovers in our fridge so we don't come home to spoilage. Leftovers include smoked applewood bacon, smoked ham, and pears from a coworker's tree. I take part in a vegetarian lunch group at work (usually 4-5 people), and we each bring lunch for the others one day per week. At the moment, my days are Mondays. Because I'll be busy this week with travel plans, I'm going to make some simple pizzas. Here's the breakdown:

Breakfast: Blueberry muffins and peaches with chai
Lunch: Something at the farmer's market
Dinner: Smoked ham and asparagus risotto - I might make this with broccoli or a different vegetable if the asparagus doesn't seem to be in season (I doubt it is)

Breakfast: Cinnamon raisin break with cream cheese and fruit
Lunch: Pear and gorgonzola pizza with carmelized onions over whole wheat crust; Greek pizza with olives, red onions, and summer squash over herbed crust; salad with a light vinaigrette
Dinner: Fresh pasta from the farmer's market

Breakfast: Triple berry danish
Lunch: provided by lunch group
Dinner: BLT sandwiches with applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes, and sourdough bread and veggie chips

Wednesday: Wine Country Day 1

Breakfast: Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes with seasonal fruit and fruit sauce
Lunch: Picnic at Nichelini (recipes from The Vegetarian Bible - Onion braid with mustard seeds (bread) topped with brie, kuku with spinach, potato and squash turnovers, blueberry summer pudding
Dinner: A restaurant in Napa - adventures will lead us somewhere

The rest of the week will consist of trying some wine country restaurants and some yummy wines. And of course, there will be a spa day.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


It's been quite a while since I posted here because I've been in transition. I decided to make a whole new template for this blog and to rename it to "Rosy Epicurean" rather than "Rosy Pescetarian" because we're no longer pescetarians. The banner contains a photograph of the only painting I ever finished of a granny smith apple with some real fruit in front. I like how it turned out!

I also hope to turn this blog more into a meal planning tool for me and my readers and to only focus on recipes when I've discovered something new. My goal is not to republish existing recipes that others have created, and minus a few tweaks here and there that I always make to recipes, I feel that I was falling into that trap. In addition to the meal planning aspect, I hope to label the recipes/meals more thoroughly to include food restrictions and allergies.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Slow-cooked Eggplant and Pea Curry

This was a recipe worthy of me making more than once, and even for my lunch group. I have to say that I'm sometimes weary of making eggplant because it can just be done WRONG, and can end up watery or bitter or grey. This dish, on the other hand, makes the eggplant melt, and it has color, and it melds perfectly with rice. I've been on an eggplant kick lately, ever since making this recipe. It comes from a book called, "The Gourmet Slow Cooker," and it must be one of the simplest and tastiest recipes in the book. Serve it with rice or naan, yogurt, chutney, and a salad. Check out the book to get the recipe.

Eggplant and Pea Curry

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ricotta and Spinach Crepe Lasagna

Yes, I am guilty of neglecting everyone. So Sorry! The truth is that I've lost a bit of inspiration lately and even dropped out of my lunch group at work for a while! I also recently discovered Facebook, which is definitely procrastination-central.

But another reason I haven't posted in a while is because of the holidays and because I'm actually starting to repeat recipes, believe it or not! This blog is doing what I hoped it would do by grouping my favorite recipes in one place so I wouldn't forget them and would try them again.

I recently compiled my favorite recipes from this blog, from Cooking Light, and from Epicurious and created a cookbook on Tastebook. I then sent this homemade cookbook to several relatives for Christmas. It was a hit! Let me know if you'd like to share your own recipes with me on Tastebook or on this blog!

Today, I am posting a recipe I made a few weeks ago. I had intended to make canneloni, but the crepes I made were falling apart, so it turned out to be easier to make a lasagna. The crepes are different than my previous posts because they're made with chickpea flour (completely wheat-free) and no eggs. The chickpea flour gives them a smoky flavor, which goes well with marinara.


Ricotta and Spinach Crepe Lasagna
For the crepes:
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
olive oil

For the filling:
15 ounces container fresh ricotta (or 1 pound)
1 egg, lightly beaten
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
4 cups Homemade Marinara

Parmesan cheese, grated

To make the crepes, whisk together 3 1/2 cups cold water, flours, oil, and salt in a bowl to form a thin batter. Strain through a sieve, cover, and set aside for at least an hour. Heat a non-stick crepe skillet on medium-high heat. Brush with olive oil and pour 1/3 cup batter. Heat until the bottom is browned, about 1 minute, and flip and heat for 30 seconds more. Pile on a plate and set aside.

For the filling, mix ricotta and egg in a medium bowl. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add garlic. Heat the garlic until fragrant. Add the spinach, and cook until wilted and liquid is absorbed. Drain and cool spinach and chop. Add spinach to the ricotta mixture and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

To build the lasagna, spread a 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Spread crepes on top until the pan is covered in 1 layer. Top with half of ricotta cheese mixture and then with 1 cup of marinara sauce. Then add another layer of crepes, ricotta, and sauce. Top with a final layer of crepes and the rest of the marinara and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Heat in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until heated through.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...