Mad Times

“To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” – Wendell Berry

November 26th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Mashed sweet potato brûlée

Based on Mark Bittman’s recipe in How to Cook Everything, this was a big hit in this year’s thanksgiving feast.

1-1/2 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar

Cook the sweet potatoes however you like. I prick them with a knife and bake them in a 400F oven for an hour or so. Scoop the potatoes out of their skins into a bowl and mash them up. Add the spices and butter. Quantities are all to taste. I didn’t measure them. Mash some more. Spread the mash in a gratin pan. Whatever that is. I used a casserole dish. You want them to have a fair amount of surface area, so whatever you’ve got that will result in an inch or two of potatoes when they’re spread out. Sprinkle the nuts across the surface of the potatoes and bake back in that 400F oven until it’s hot and thinking about being golden. Don’t obsess. 15-20 minutes should do it. Finally, sprinkle enough brown sugar to lightly cover the whole dish, then put that about 4 inches under your broiler until it bubbles up and melts. If a few patches singe, that’s okay. Keep an eye on it, it doesn’t take more than a minute to get there. Take it out of the oven, let it cool off a little, and serve it up to accolades.

December 6th, 2006 at 7:52 pm


I got an outrageous number of compliments on this year’s stuffing, so Becky browbeat me into writing down what I did.

“Stuffing” is kind of a misnomer cause I didn’t cook any of it inside of our turkey this time. I have done with similar recipes in the past, so don’t be afraid to pack it in there if you want. But this recipe results in nice moist stuffing even without a bird cooked around it, so don’t feel like you have to.

This recipe is loosely based on the one in the big orange Betty Crocker cookbook, so it’s not rocket science. All quantities are pretty approximate. Don’t obsess.

jeffy’s Turkey Stuffing

  • Most of two loaves of bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of celery, thinly sliced, little leafy bits included
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (I actually just scooped a couple teaspoons out of a jar of minced garlic. Horrors.)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper (Betty calls for 1/2 tsp. Betty’s boring.)
  • 2-3 cups stock (This year I made mine by simmering the giblets from the bird in a pot of water for a couple hours (do not put the giblets in the stuffing. Yuck!) I’ve used chicken broth in the past to good effect. You could probably use a veggie broth if you wanted to.)

Melt butter in a large pan. Add celery, onions, garlic and spices. Let it bubble away gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery are soft and translucent.

Drizzle that stuff over bread cubes in the biggest container you’ve got. Toss until all bread is coated.

Stuff some in a bird if desired. Pack the rest in a big casserole dish.

Pour the stock over it.

Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour or so. If you cook it too long, the outside fringes get crispy which is just an added bonus if you ask me.

This makes enough to feed eight people, plus enough to send leftovers home with them and still have enough left to put on sandwiches and leftover turkey plates until most of the turkey’s gone. We like stuffing around here.


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