stuffing

Stuff It: Matzo Stuffing

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

Almost everyone I know makes brisket for the first Seder.

But my grandma, and then my mother — for all the years that I remember — served turkey. So, so do I.

I may also make a brisket, depending on how many people are coming to celebrate with us. Or, I may make brisket for the second night. Depends.

But there’s always a turkey. And that means stuffing.

And so, the chosen stuffing for this year: crushed matzo with apples and portobello mushrooms. It’s easy and can be prepared in advance; just pop it in the oven to cook about 40 minutes before serving time. Sometimes I add thyme to this dish, sometimes I don’t, depending on the crowd. It’s delicious either way, although of course, the fresh herb gives it a bit more flavor.

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

  • 6 pieces of matzo, broken up into little pieces

  • 1-1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock (or vegetable stock)

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped

  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps, chopped

  • 2 tart apples, peeled and chopped

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, optional

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the matzot in a bowl and pour the stock over them. Let soak for 5-6 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Set aside. While the matzot are soaking, heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the apples, raisins, parsley and thyme, if used, and cook for another minute. Spoon the contents of the pan into the bowl with the matzot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the eggs, mix the ingredients thoroughly. Spoon the ingredients into a baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Spelt Stuffing

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Everyone makes jokes about getting along at the Thanksgiving dinner table. You know, like dealing with the political rants from your crazy Uncle Joe.

But in my family we are all pretty much on the same page politically and otherwise so that's not an issue for us.

Our issues, depending on the year and who's coming, have to do with food.

Like making sure there's at least one entree for the vegetarian(s). At least one nut-free stuffing. Extra turkey wings and necks because so many of us like those best. 

Many families deal with food issues, and those become more important when someone's health is involved rather than if, say, someone prefers pumpkin pie to pecan pie or one particular turkey part or other.

Gluten problems have been front and center for a while now. Fortunately there are ways to handle this particular issue. There are loads of gluten free products on the market these days.

If your menu must consider foods for people who have gluten sensitivities/intolerance, have a look at this recipe for Spelt Stuffing.

Spelt is an ancient grain and it is related to wheat but is vastly different than the wheat varieties used for most breads. People with diagnosed celiac disease should not eat spelt, but apparently, most people with gluten intolerance don't have celiac disease and many find that they can tolerate spelt and spelt products.

In fact, that's how Spelt Right, a company that produces spelt breads, bagels, pizza dough and chips, came into existence. Beth George, its owner, discovered that her son has a wheat sensitivity but was ok with spelt. She then set about to create delicious breads including the artisan rosemary bread that I used to develop this recipe.

If you can't find Spelt Right breads and other items locally, but use spelt products regularly, you might want to alert your local market about them. I've tried several varieties including the cinnamon raisin bread, whole grain, etc., as well as a variety of the chips and bagels. All terrific products. Or go to the website and call to ask where you can find some.

If not, I've given alternate instructions on how to substitute. This recipe also works using classic wheat based bread. 

 

Rosemary-Spelt Bread Stuffing with Hazelnuts, Apples and Dried Cranberries

 

  • 12 slices Spelt Right Rosemary Spelt Bread (or 6 cups toasted spelt bread cubes plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large, tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds or hazelnuts
  • 1-1/3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the spelt bread slices lightly and cut them into cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the apple and cranberries and cook for another 2 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the bowl with the bread cubes. Add the nuts and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the stock, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place the ingredients in a lightly oiled casserole. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy.

 Makes 6-8 servings

 

Cornbread Stuffing

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There will be more of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year. 

That means: more stuffing.

So, I can always make my Mom's barley-shape noodle "filling" or a sorghum-based version of that.

Maybe my Bread Stuffing with Figs and Hazelnuts or my well-loved chestnut-sausage stuffing?

But this year I'm thinking maybe I'll add a cornbread stuffing to the mix.

This one:

Cornbread Stuffing

 

  • 6 cups cornbread cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2 large eggs (or use chicken or vegetable stock)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a casserole dish (about 2-quart). Cut the cornbread into 1/2-inch cubes and place them in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the parsley, thyme and salt to taste. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the vegetables to the cornbread and toss the ingredients. Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl. Mix and spoon the stuffing into the prepared pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Makes 8 servings

Sorghum “Filling” for Thanksgiving

My mother never made Thanksgiving stuffing. She called her version “filling,” which had more or less the same ingredients as basic bread stuffing, but substituted barley shaped egg noodle pasta for the bread.

That recipe is still one of my go-tos, except that I have made one important change recently. Instead of using the pasta, I make it with sorghum.

I discovered sorghum grain last summer at the Fancy Food Show. Although I was familiar with sorghum syrup, I hadn’t realized the grain itself was available and so was intrigued when I saw the Wondergrain booth where there were pots of cooked sorghum for tasting.

Of course I tasted.

I loved it and ever since have been working with sorghum grain to make all sorts of comforting cold-weather casseroles (and also some refreshing summer salads).

I will be serving Sorghum Filling for Thanksgiving because the grain has so many benefits. I will never go back to the pasta version.

Wondergrain sorghum is:

gluten free

cholesterol free

Non GMO

kosher

a good source of fiber and iron

It’s also pleasurably chewy and tasty. A fabulous pasta substitute.

Wondergrain — who did NOT pay me to write this post — sells both whole grain and pearled sorghum. Their website offers some good looking recipes plus a video on how to cook the grain. The product does not have wide distribution yet, but I hope it soon will. Meantime, if you don’t live near one of the retail shops listed in their store locator, you can order online at http://www.wondergrain.com/shop/. 

Sorghum “Filling”

  • 1 cup sorghum grain, whole grain or pearled
  • vegetable stock and/or water
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 10-12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the sorghum with stock or water according to the instructions on the package (pearled sorghum will take 35-40 minutes, whole grain sorghum will take 45-55 minutes). Set the cooked sorghum aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Spoon the vegetables and any cooking fluids into the pan with the sorghum. Stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. Stir in the eggs, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and salt and pepper. Spoon the ingredients into a baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Makes 6-8 servings

Bread Stuffing with Figs and Hazelnuts

I always make three stuffings at our Thanksgiving dinner: my Mom’s famous “filling” which is basically mushrooms, onions and celery mixed with barley shaped egg noodles and eggs PLUS the old, beloved Chestnut-Sausage recipe that, if I didn’t make, Ed and my kids would march out in protest, PLUS a new one which I change every year, just because, why not?   This year the new version will be this one with hazelnuts. My decision was based partly on Hurricane Sandy. I lost power for 6 days and had to discard a lot of food. But as I was cleaning out the freezer I discovered a perfectly good a container full of hazelnuts, so why not use them up?   When I make a stuffing with nuts in it I like the idea of adding fruit too. The sweet taste is a good balance for the savory, salty ingredients. Fruit also adds texture, which I think is very important in a good stuffing. This version has two kinds: chewy dried figs and crisp, tender fresh apple, both play against the crunch of the hazelnuts.  I make my stuffings a day or two ahead and cook them in a casserole dish, but you can actually use this one as a stuffing, right inside the bird (cut down on the stock in the recipe). I try to use a shallow dish, because we like stuffing crunchy and a shallow dish gives you more surface area to brown. For moister stuffing outside the bird, use a deep casserole.     BREAD STUFFING WITH FIGS AND HAZELNUTS     3 tablespoons vegetable oil  1 medium onion, chopped  2 stalks celery, chopped  1 large, tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped  1 cup cut up dried figs  1/2 cup raisins  1 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts  8 cups 1/2-inch diced bread cubes  1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley  1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary  2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves  1 cup chicken or vegetable stock*  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the apple, figs and raisins and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl. Add the nuts, bread cubes, parsley, rosemary and thyme and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the stock (*1 cup if you cook the stuffing inside the bird; 2 cups if you bake the stuffing separately or prefer a moister stuffing). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the bird OR place the ingredients in a casserole. To cook outside of the bird: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy.  Makes about 12 cups

I always make three stuffings at our Thanksgiving dinner: my Mom’s famous “filling” which is basically mushrooms, onions and celery mixed with barley shaped egg noodles and eggs PLUS the old, beloved Chestnut-Sausage recipe that, if I didn’t make, Ed and my kids would march out in protest, PLUS a new one which I change every year, just because, why not? 

This year the new version will be this one with hazelnuts. My decision was based partly on Hurricane Sandy. I lost power for 6 days and had to discard a lot of food. But as I was cleaning out the freezer I discovered a perfectly good a container full of hazelnuts, so why not use them up? 

When I make a stuffing with nuts in it I like the idea of adding fruit too. The sweet taste is a good balance for the savory, salty ingredients. Fruit also adds texture, which I think is very important in a good stuffing. This version has two kinds: chewy dried figs and crisp, tender fresh apple, both play against the crunch of the hazelnuts.

I make my stuffings a day or two ahead and cook them in a casserole dish, but you can actually use this one as a stuffing, right inside the bird (cut down on the stock in the recipe). I try to use a shallow dish, because we like stuffing crunchy and a shallow dish gives you more surface area to brown. For moister stuffing outside the bird, use a deep casserole.

 

BREAD STUFFING WITH FIGS AND HAZELNUTS

 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large, tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup cut up dried figs

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts

8 cups 1/2-inch diced bread cubes

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock*

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the apple, figs and raisins and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl. Add the nuts, bread cubes, parsley, rosemary and thyme and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the stock (*1 cup if you cook the stuffing inside the bird; 2 cups if you bake the stuffing separately or prefer a moister stuffing). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the bird OR place the ingredients in a casserole. To cook outside of the bird: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy.

Makes about 12 cups

Matzo Stuffing with Apricots and Raisins

In a roundabout sort of way, yesterday’s post about white bread made me realize that Passover is coming soon. Which means no white bread of course.

Passover is all about matzo.

I love matzo. Fresh, crisp, fragrant, new matzo. When I open that first boxful, I take out a piece, slather some butter on top and crunch, crunch crunch away quickly, stuffing it into my mouth with both hands like a kid sneaking candy.

Why is that? Matzo is available all year. I don’t have to wait until Passover.

But somehow I do.

I suppose because matzo seems more fitting at Passover. Like pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, even though pumpkin pie is available all year too.

Matzo with butter is a real treasure. Not to be underestimated. Like a summer tomato or a new crop autumn apple. It doesn’t need much but itself (except the butter and a few grains of salt).

On the other hand, you can do a lot with it all through the Passover holiday.

Like a sandwich. Matzo is crunchier and crisper than any artisinal bread. So soft fillings like egg salad and tuna salad go perfectly.

I also make grilled cheese-on-matzo (in the toaster oven). The matzo gets even crispier and toastier-tasting!

Matzo Brei, of course.

And stuffing for chicken or turkey.

Like this one:

Matzo Stuffing with Apricots and Raisins

  • 4 pieces of matzo, broken up into little pieces
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup cut up dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Place the matzos in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let soak for 4-5 minutes. Drain excess water. Set aside. While the matzos are soaking, heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the ginger, apricots and raisins and cook for another minute. Spoon the contents of the pan into the bowl with the matzos. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the eggs, mix the ingredients thoroughly. Place into a lightly greased casserole or inside a large roasting chicken to bake (if a casserole, about 35-45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven).

Enough for a 6-7 pound chicken; 6 servings

Bread Stuffing with Figs and Hazelnuts

Is it “stuffing,” “dressing” or “filling”?

Some people say it’s stuffing if it’s inside the bird, filling if it isn’t. But others say it’s a regional thing: “dressing” more of a Southern term, filling in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Or that “dressing” is British while “stuffing” is American.

My mother called it “filling” not stuffing. I always thought it was because her version was made with pasta, not the more traditional bread. It was filling, for sure (though no more than stuffing). And delicious too, made with egg-barley shaped noodles mixed with sauteed onions, mushrooms, celery and eggs.

I used to make “Nana’s Filling” every year until my kids told me they wanted something new.

I’ve been experimenting with recipes ever since and make new ones all the time (sometimes in addition to “Nana’s” or another old favorite). Sometimes I use bread, sometimes rice or whole grains like kasha or bulgur wheat. Maybe I’ll add fruit and nuts or a variety of mushrooms. Stuffing-dressing-filling is one of those versatile and forgiving recipes. You can more or less mix up a starchy ingredient, some texture foods (such as mushrooms, dried apricots, cashews, and so on), seasonings (chopped herbs and the like) and a binder of some sort (eggs, stock, cream, soy milk etc.), mix it all together and there you have it. Whatever you call it.

Here’s a recipe for a bread-based stuffing-dressing-filling with fresh and dried fruits and nuts too. We like it cooked separately from the turkey, but you can make it either way. This recipe makes about 12 cups — enough for a 14-15 pound turkey.

Bread Stuffing with Figs and Hazelnuts

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large Granny Smith or other crisp, tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup chopped dried figs

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

8 cups 1/2-inch diced bread

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)

1/2 to 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the apple, figs and raisins and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Spoon the contents of the pan into a large bowl. Add the nuts, bread cubes, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in 1/2 cup stock and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients. Add the remainder of the stock if you prefer a moister stuffing. Place inside the turkey. To bake separately, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spoon the stuffing into a casserole, cover the casserole and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 12-15 minutes. Makes about 12 cups.