It’s been birthday season in my family-my Dad’s birthday was earlier this month; my Mom’s birthday was exactly a week prior to his(Halloween); and my brother’s was exactly a week prior to hers. It’s great being around family after these last couple of years abroad. Dinner is our household (about 12 adults and 6 grandchildren!) is a time to: catch up, reminisce, gossip, celebrate; it’s loud; chaotic…BUT I really wouldn’t have it ANY other way! And there’s no shortage of food or wine…ever!
I’m really looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner this month. I’ll be in charge of the main bird itself, as well as the stuffing, the gravy, and the pumpkin pie…but I also have two little recipes up my sleeve for the Day. Last Christmas I cooked the turkey and a few good sides, so I’m not feeling too nervous about cooking the turkey…it’s just deciding what flavors I want to include…
While I brainstorm new recipes, here’s a look at some of the cakes I’ve been making in the San Francisco/family home test kitchen: (Who needs/wants a cake in San Francisco??)
Growing up in a house of seven kids meant the holidays were bound to be chaotic, exciting, noisey, and gift wrapping everywhere! Looking back I appreciate those somewhat wild Thanksgiving Christmas mornings. This year I’ll be spending Christmas Eve working but hopefully I’ll make it down to Bere Island for a feast with my sister, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m missing my parents, siblings, and friends so much this season-homesickness pulled on my heart strings hugely last week on Thanksgiving-but I’ll be seeing everyone in SF soon enough!
Let’s get to the food now! Stuffing has to be on the top of my favorite sides. My Mom has always made the best stuffing, and it was always the side that was piled high and deep(I’m lookin’ at you Dave!). I decided to play around with a stuffing of my own, using a flavor that is sung about and roasted-CHESTNUTS. I picked up my appreciation for the flavor when I did my work experience last year in Italy. It was everywhere: sweet and savory. It’s such a seasonal treat, and your dinner guests will be wowed!
Here is my Chestnut, Italian sausage and sage stuffing: (Serves about 7-8)
1 and about a half cups butter
2 tablepoons seaweed oil (I LOVE this Wild Atlantic product)
1 large white onion roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
3 stalks of celery sliced about half an inch
1/4 cup sage chopped
2 large sourdough loaves (pulse these 2 into breadcrumbs, and it should make about 9 cups of breadcrumbs)
1 pound Italian sausage (remove casings) roughly sliced and chopped
1/2 cup chestnuts roasted
2 large eggs
3 cups hot stock
Salt and pepper
To roast the chestnuts: Preheat oven to 200C. Using a small knife cut an X into the skin of each chestnut. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil, and bake chestnuts for 30 minutes, or until skins open. You can then peel the skin off the chestnut.
While the chestnuts are roasting, prep all your other other ingredients, pulse your loaves of bread into crumbs, chop, dice etc. Preheat oven to 175C. Put bread crumbs in a big mixing bowl. Have a deep baking dish set to the side.
Heat 1 cup of the butter (set aside the other half) and a drop of oil in a sauce pan, and saute onions and garlic(season with salt and pepper) until soft and just golden brown, then add the chopped celery until just soft, remove and put in the mixing bowl with the bread. In that same saucepan, cook off sausages until brown. When they’re brown, should take about 8-9 minutes, add the sausage to the mixing bowl.
Melt that extra half cup of butter, add to breadcrumb mixture. Whisk the eggs, and pour over the breadcrumb mixture. Then add the stock. Season well with salt and pepper. Give the breadcrumb mixture a really good mix. Pour into a deep baking, cover with foil, and baking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover, and bake for another 20. Let the stuffing sit for 10 minutes before serving, and dig in!
Cold winter nights call for hot toddies and Irish coffees. My parents recently visited and a made this cake minus the booze, so when I made it a second time I decided to throw a little Irish whiskey in it-it is the season after all!
This cake is a plate of warmness. It’s really easy, festive, and it’s a show stopper when you pile of the caramelized apples. Plus, it’s also really quick and easy; a simple loaf cake with an adult party twist.
To caramelize apples: Melt butter in a sillet or frying pan, add about 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar. Stir until sugar has melted (this takes about a minute). Add sliced apples and saute until golden.
In a mixing bowl, soften the butter with your mixer until pale. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Then add the eggs ONE AT A TIME. Then add the vanilla extract and Greek yogurt. Now you’ll sift in the flour and baking powder. Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once cool, spread on the buttercream and pile on the caramelized apples. Yummmay!