Posts Tagged ‘bread’

It’s super cold and snowy here and I’ve really been wanting to get a blog post done. I honestly wrote some of this post a few weeks ago, but then I had some health issues that prevented me from finishing it at the time. I won’t go into detail, but 2021 has not been my favorite year. Here’s hoping that 2022 is much better!

We recently had the opportunity to see Alton’s live show, which was super fun. We had previously seen him two other times and both times we were pleasantly surprised by the hilarity of the live shows; that’s not to say that Alton hasn’t been funny on Good Eats, but just that the humor in his live shows has been kicked up a couple notches. I was curious to see how this show would compare to his others, especially since he has publicly stated that this will be his last touring show; I would highly recommend that you catch his show if you so happen to have the chance.

After completing the recipes from this episode, I think it was safe to say that we met our dietary fiber recommendations for that week, as I cranked out all five recipes from Alton’s barley episode in the same week. I enjoy the episodes, such as this one, in which Alton truly demonstrates a multitude of uses for a particular ingredient. And, to make it more fun, barley is an ingredient that I do not regularly utilize.

Baked Barley

This recipe is sort of the stepping stone of the episode, as it is a basic recipe for baked barley that could then be used in myriad ways. Ideally, you will want to use hulled barley for this recipe, but I had to settle for pearled barley. What is the difference? Well, pearled barley has been polished to remove both its husk and bran layers, while hulled barley has only had the outermost husk removed. Hulled barley is more nutritious and takes longer to cook. Still, this recipe seemed to work just fine for the pearled barley I used.

To make baked barley, put 1 C barley in a 1.5 quart lidded casserole dish, along with 1 t Kosher salt, 1 T butter, and 2 C of boiling water. Stir, cover the dish tightly with foil, and place the lid on top of the foil. Bake the barley at 375 for an hour.

Immediately upon removing the barley from the oven, remove the lid/foil and gently fluff the barley with chopsticks or a large fork.

Barley before and after fluffing.

You can serve the barley immediately or you can refrigerate it for later use. Or, you can use it to make a…

Barley Salad

For this salad, you’ll need to prepare a batch of Alton’s baked barley, as written above. To make the dressing, whisk 2 T extra virgin olive oil with 3 T fresh orange juice.

Add a batch of Alton’s baked barley (cooked and cooled), a julienned head of fennel, 1/4 C of toasted pine nuts, 1/2 C grated Parmesan, 1/2 C cooked/crumbled bacon, 2 T chopped parsley, and Kosher salt/black pepper (to taste).

Alton’s barley salad.

We enjoyed this salad, though the orange juice was almost unidentifiable. I found that adding additional orange juice really jazzed this salad up a few notches. I also found it necessary to add quite a lot of Kosher salt. I would certainly make this again, especially as a dinner side or a lunch salad.

Barley and Lamb Stew

Where we live, at least, it is certainly stew weather. I view lamb as a very polarizing ingredient, as people seem to either love or despise lamb, with very little in between. I happen to greatly enjoy lamb, so this stew was enticing from the get-go. This recipe begins with trimming/cubing 2 pounds of lamb shoulder. Add pinches of Kosher salt and pepper to the lamb cubes, along with 1 T flour. Toss the lamb to thoroughly coat in the flour.

Cubed lamb shoulder tossed with Kosher salt, pepper, and flour.

Heat a 4-5 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, adding 1/2 T olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add ~ a third of the meat, browning on all sides. Remove the meat as it browns, and brown the remaining meat in two batches.

When all of the meat has browned and been removed from the pan, add more oil (if needed), 3 sliced carrots, and a pinch of Kosher salt. Cook the carrots until they have some color.

Carrots and Kosher salt added to pot to cook until golden.

Add the lamb back to the pan, along with 1 C of barley grits (we ground barley to a grit-like consistency), and a quart of chicken broth or stock. Bring the stew to a boil, add a cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the lamb falls apart.

Serve the stew with fresh oregano.

Alton’s barley and lamb stew.

This lamb stew was good, but not Earth-shattering. I would call this stew simple but tasty. I would recommend serving this stew the day it is made, as it becomes overly thick/congealed when refrigerated and reheated. We ate this stew with a side of…

Barley Bread

When making Alton’s barley bread, you will need 10 ounces of barley flour; you can either purchase this ingredient or you can mill the flour yourself from 10.5 oz of barley. Either way, place the flour in a bowl with 2.5 T baking powder and 1 t Kosher salt, whisking to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 2 T honey. Add 1/4 C canola/vegetable oil and 1 C milk.

Once the wet ingredients are combined, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine; since barley is low in gluten, you can thoroughly stir this dough without making it tough.

Pour the dough into a lubed Dutch oven and cook it for 35-40 minutes, uncovered, over a gas grill that has been preheated on low for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake the bread in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, which is what I did. Regardless of cooking method, seek an internal temperature of 190 degrees.

Cutting the barley bread.
A slice of barley bread, served here alongside Oktoberfest soup.

We enjoyed this bread, which was slightly sweet and nutty. The crumb is very crumbly, so don’t expect a bread that holds together tightly when sliced. I also found that this loaf stuck to my Dutch oven, so I used a dinner knife multiple times to free the edges of the loaf from the pan. I then used Alton’s tip of placing a paper plate on top of the loaf before inverting the loaf onto the plate. Eventually, this worked, though I did have some cracking and breaking at the edges of the loaf. I find this to be a good weekday bread to pair with soup; we ate it alongside an Oktoberfest-style soup.

Barley Water

The final recipe of this episode is one I immediately recognized as being included in Alton’s “EveryDayCook” cookbook. I figured then that this must be an Alton favorite. Barley water, by the way, is a beverage that is traditionally served at Wimbledon. To make it, heat 1 C hulled barley in 2 quarts water over high heat until boiling. Decrease the heat and simmer the barley for 30 minutes.

While the barley simmers, use a vegetable peeler to zest two lemons into a pitcher, also adding their juice. Stir in 1/4 C honey.

Strain the liquid from the cooked barley into the pitcher, stirring to combine. Refrigerate the barley water until it is sufficiently chilled before serving.

Barley water after straining liquid into the pitcher.
A glass of chilled barley water.

Although we were not enjoying this beverage in the midst of warm weather, I can still say that it is very refreshing. The predominant flavor in this drink is lemon, and particularly the slightly bitter flavor of lemon zest. I would maybe consider decreasing the amount of lemon zest here with hopes of less bitterness. Since I have never consumed any other barley water I cannot say whether this level of bitterness is typical; perhaps it also depends somewhat on the actual lemons you use? That said, I legitimately liked Alton’s barley water and I plan to make it again when the season again turns to warmth.

It may seem as though I have given up on this blog, but I truly have not. The days just seem to fly by with me having the best intentions of taking time to write, but not actually finding the time to do so. Or, maybe I just need to prioritize differently. I believe this episode will close out the recipes for season nine, as there is only one more episode from this season, and it is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Good Eats. The recipes from this episode feature olives, which I adore, so I knew this one would be fun for me.

According to Alton, olive quality is mostly dependent upon the method of their production. Raw (green) olives are very bitter, so require a soak in lye prior to brining. Ripe (black) olives do not require a lye soak and can go straight to an oil cure or a salt brine. When you have a jar of olives at home, be sure to always keep the olives submerged in their brine; if you need to top off the brine, you can always add a mixture of 1 T salt dissolved in a pint of water.

Citrus Marinated Olives

Marinated olives are first in this episode. To make these, you’ll first need a pound of green olives with pits. Rinse your olives in water and then submerge them in water for at least five minutes, and up to five hours; five hours is best.

When your olives are done soaking, combine the following ingredients in a lidded plastic tub: 1 minced clove of garlic, 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil, 1 T red wine vinegar, the zest and juice of a medium lemon, 1/2 t red pepper flakes, 1/2 t dried tarragon, and 1/4 t curry powder.

Marinade ingredients: garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, dried tarragon, and curry powder.

Drain the soaked olives and add them to the container, giving them a good shake to coat them in the marinade. Let the olives sit at room temperature for a day, and then refrigerate for a couple more days before serving.

We snacked on Alton’s olives as an appetizer before dinner. I found that I needed to remove them from the refrigerator a bit in advance because the marinade is quite oil-heavy and would sort of congeal when chilled. I recommend serving these olives with napkins handy since they are quite oily. These olives pack a citrus punch and have just a little heat from the red pepper flakes. My problem with these olives was that I felt they lacked some salt. Obviously, the purpose of soaking the olives in water was to remove their salt before marinating, so I’m guessing they would retain some salinity if soaked for a shorter period; I soaked mine for the full five hours. I think I personally would prefer a little more salt to these guys, so I would like to try them again with a shorter water soak. I also found that my olives were a little less firm than I would prefer, but I’m going to blame that on the olives I used. Many of the grocery stores near me typically have olive bars, where you can mix and match a variety of olives to purchase, but all of these olive bars disappeared with Covid. The selection of olives I could find that were not already marinated was extremely limited, so I had to settle for some green olives without pits, while Alton’s recipe specifically calls for olives with pits. I’m guessing olives with pits would have a firmer texture.


An olive tapenade is the second recipe of this episode. To make Alton’s tapenade, place the following ingredients in the bowl of a food processor: 1/2 pound mixed/pitted/rinsed olives, 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, 1 T lemon juice, 1 small minced clove of garlic, 2 T capers, 2-3 fresh basil leaves, and 2 anchovy fillets (rinsed if salt-soaked).

Process the olive mixture for about a minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Tapenade after processing for a minute.

Transfer the tapenade to a bowl and serve with bread or crackers. We ate Alton’s tapenade as an appetizer with crackers, cheese, and meat.

Alton’s olive tapenade.

This is a really flavorful tapenade that comes together in mere minutes. If you are leery of the anchovies, I can say that you would not know they are in the tapenade unless someone told you, but I think you would sure miss them if they weren’t there. That being said, if you’re a vegetarian, you could always omit them. This would be a super easy appetizer to make to serve to guests, and you could even make it in advance, which is always a bonus! Now, if you want to go on to make Alton’s final olive recipe from this episode, you can reserve 1/3 C of your tapenade to make his…

Olive Loaf

Yep, in the episode, Alton uses some of his homemade tapenade to make his olive bread. Or, you could always just use a purchased tapenade, though it probably wouldn’t taste as good. To make the bread, place 17 ounces of flour in the bowl of a food processor with 1 T baking powder and pulse to combine.

Flour and baking powder in food processor.

Add 1/3 C of olive tapenade and pulse four times.

Using a whisk, combine 1 1/4 t Kosher salt, 1/2 C olive oil, 1 C milk, 2 beaten eggs, and 1 T honey in a large bowl. Stir in 12 ounces of rinsed/pitted/chopped olives.

12 ounces of rinsed/pitted olives.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until wet.

Dry ingredients added to wet ingredients.

Spray a loaf pan with oil and line it with a parchment “sling.”

Loaf pan lined with parchment sling.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 375 degrees for 75 to 80 minutes, or until the bread has an internal temperature of 210 degrees.

Bread dough placed in prepared pan.

Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool before slicing.

Alton’s olive loaf after baking.
Sliced olive loaf.

We thoroughly enjoyed this bread. It came out moist and loaded with olives. Some reviewers claimed this bread was too salty, but we did not find that to be the case at all. I would definitely make this bread again, especially if you are an olive lover like I am.

I have to share that I am super excited because I discovered a few days ago that Alton will be touring later this year, and I was able to purchase tickets. If you have not seen his live show, it is a lot of fun!

I think baking, and particularly bread making, can be intimidating for those who have little experience with it. However, I also find that baking can be one of the most rewarding culinary escapades. I began making bread at home many years ago, sort of just thrusting myself into the process, and I found that a hands-on approach was the fastest, and best, way to learn. I’ve had some flops over the years, but I’ve also made some really delicious bread and pastries. The 123rd episode of Good Eats takes the viewer through the two-day process of making a homemade loaf of white bread, and I think it is a great introduction to home bread making.

Very Basic Bread

Alton’s basic bread starts in the evening with a pre-fermentation step, which is also called a sponge. To make the sponge, place the following ingredients in a lidded, straight-sided container:  10 ounces of water (bottled is best), 5 ounces of bread flour, 1/4 t instant dry yeast, and 2 t honey.

Note that instant dry yeast is different from active dry yeast, as active dry yeast must first be activated in warm water, while instant dry yeast can be added without the hydration step. Whisk the sponge ingredients together until they are combined, place the lid on the container, and refrigerate the sponge for eight to 12 hours, or overnight.


Sponge after refrigerating overnight.

The following day, put the following ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer:  11 ounces of bread flour, 3/4 t instant dry yeast, 2 t Kosher salt, and the refrigerated sponge from the night before.

Using the dough hook attachment on the mixer, let the machine knead the dough until it forms a ball in the bottom of the bowl, which should take a few minutes. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

After the dough has rested, let the machine knead the dough (again, with the dough hook) for 5-10 minutes on medium speed or until the dough appears to be smooth and elastic. Oh, and if your dough starts climbing the dough hook, increase the mixing speed briefly and it should dislodge the climbing dough. You will know your kneading is complete when a small marble of dough can be flattened and stretched between your fingers, such that the dough is thin enough for light to shine through the dough without the dough tearing; this is called the windowpane test.


Dough after kneading for 5-10 minutes and able to pass windowpane test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, place the dough ball in a tall, clear, oiled container. Place a rubber band around the container to mark the top surface of the dough, as this will allow you to monitor how much your dough rises. Next, place the container in a cold oven, leaving the container uncovered. Place a 9 x 13″ baking dish beneath the dough and pour in some hot water. The hot water will provide a warm, moist environment in which the bread can rise. Shut the oven door and allow the dough to rise for one to two hours, or until it has doubled in size.

After rising, dump the dough onto a smooth surface and use your knuckles to dimple/flatten the dough into a rectangle.

Fold the left third of the dough in to the center of the rectangle, and then fold the right third of the dough over the top (as if making a tri-fold wallet).

Repeat the procedure again, first using your knuckles to flatten the dough, and then folding the dough like a wallet again.

After folding the dough a second time, cover the dough with a towel and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.


Dough after resting for 10 minutes.

Next, flatten the dough and form it into a smooth, tight ball by pulling the ends under the dough, as if forming a jellyfish. Smooth the ball by lightly rolling it on the counter in a circular motion between your hands, as if almost tossing it laterally from hand to hand.

When your dough has formed a smooth ball, place the dough on a cornmeal-sprinkled pizza peel, cover the dough with a towel, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for an hour. Toward the end of the rise, place the base of a large, unglazed terra cotta planter upside down in a cold oven (if the oven is hot, the planter base will crack). Preheat the oven to 400. If you do not have a planter base, you can use a pizza stone.


Inverted terra cotta planter base in cold oven.

After rising, brush the bread with a shaken mixture of 1/3 C water and 1 T cornstarch, and use a sharp knife to cut four slits in the top of the dough, forming a square shape.

As for the first rise, pour hot water into the 9 x 13″ pan beneath the planter. Using the pizza peel, slide the dough onto the terra cotta base (the dough will stick a little), and set the oven timer for 50 minutes.


Dough placed on hot terra cotta planter base. Tray of water beneath.

After 50 minutes of baking, use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your bread – it should be between 205 and 210 degrees.


Bread at 207 degrees.

Once your bread is in the desired temperature range, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.


Finished bread.


Finished bread, sliced.

This is a really good recipe because it isn’t over complicated and it works. This recipe produces a great, all-purpose loaf of bread with a crispy crust and chewy crumb. This is a great everyday go-to bread recipe.


This episode of Good Eats sees Alton in the kitchen with his “nephew,” striving to whip up some kid-friendly sandwiches. Alton has four rules for making sandwiches:

  1. Soft fillings and spreads pair best with soft breads.
  2. A barrier (mayo, butter, oil, etc.) should be used to keep bread from getting water-logged from wet ingredients.
  3. The order of sandwich ingredients matters – slippery ingredients are not to be placed next to each other.
  4. Quality of bread is crucial, and you should only utilize bread that you would happily consume plain. Pre-sliced bread tends to be loaded with preservatives, so should be avoided.

Pan Bagnat

The first sandwich Alton makes is a pan bagnat, which translates to “wet bread.” What is a pan bagnat? Basically, it is a French version of a sub sandwich, consisting of several layers of ingredients. This sandwich is designed to be made a couple hours before consumption, as it is best to let the flavors mingle. This sandwich starts with a vinaigrette made by placing 1/2 t Dijon mustard in a bowl, and whisking in 1 T red wine vinegar, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and several grinds of pepper. While continuing to whisk, drizzle in 3 T olive oil to form an emulsion. Set the dressing aside while you build the sandwich.

This sandwich serves four people, and I only needed enough for two, so I cut the recipe in half. Bread-wise, for four servings, you want to get a 16-inch baguette. Slice the loaf in half horizontally and use your fingers to dig out trenches in the center of each half of bread, as if you are creating bread canoes. You can discard the removed bread, or use it to make bread crumbs.

Fill the trench in the bottom half of bread with 12 ounces of drained tuna fish (you can use either oil or water-packed tuna).


Bottom bread trench filled with tuna fish.

Next, add a layer of 1/3-inch thick green bell pepper slices, followed by a layer of 1/3-inch thick red onion slices.

Next, add two hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced.


Tuna topped with green bell pepper, red onions, and hard boiled eggs.

On top of the eggs, sprinkle on 1 C of pitted/chopped Kalamata olives.


Tuna topped with green bell pepper, red onions, hard boiled egg, and Kalamata olives.

Top the olives with 4-5 slices of very ripe tomato and drizzle on the red wine vinaigrette, letting the dressing drizzle down between the ingredient layers.

Place the top bread on top of the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich very tightly in plastic wrap; you will need to overlap sheets of plastic to have a sheet wide enough for the length of the sandwich. Once wrapped, let the sandwich sit at room temperature for two hours before slicing and eating.

I made this sandwich last Friday, as we were taking a short road trip out of town. The sandwich sat in the car for the duration of our drive, and was then ready to eat for dinner when we arrived at our vacation rental.


Alton’s pan bagnat. Excuse the poor lighting in this photo, as our vacation rental had horrible lighting.

Personally, I really liked this sandwich, but Ted doesn’t like canned tuna, so he was not a huge fan. He did, however, say that he would really like this sandwich if it were made with a different protein. Basically, if you’ve ever had a niçoise salad, this sandwich is that salad in sandwich form. Alton did not follow his second sandwich rule of using a moisture barrier with this recipe, so I wondered if the sandwich would end up soggy from the tuna, tomato, olives, and dressing, but it really was not soggy at all. What I liked most about this sandwich were its contrasting flavors, colors, and textures. The veggies gave the sandwich a crunch, the tomato and dressing kept the sandwich from being dry, and the eggs gave a slight creamy texture. Flavor-wise, the vinaigrette and olives were tangy, bright and salty, while the red onions gave a bit of spice/heat. The tomato added fruitiness and the tuna contributed a slight fishy flavor. It was also convenient to be able to make this sandwich ahead. I will definitely make a version of this sandwich again, though I likely will substitute something else (chicken salad?) for the tuna unless I am the only one eating it.

Cuban Sandwich

The second sandwich recipe in this episode is for Alton’s take on the classic Cuban sandwich. To make Cuban sandwiches, slice hoagie rolls in half horizontally and liberally spread yellow mustard on both halves of the rolls.

Top the mustard with a thin layer of baked ham, followed by a thin layer of roast pork (I made a small pork roast for these sandwiches).

Top the pork with two slices of provolone or Swiss cheese (I used Swiss) and two long, thin slices of Kosher dill pickle.

You can wrap the sandwiches in plastic and save them for later, or you can cook them right away. To cook the sandwiches, brush/spread them with butter and press them in a panini press for about 10 minutes.

If you do not have a panini press, you can still press the sandwiches by wrapping three fireplace bricks in foil. Place the bricks on a sheet pan. Place three more bricks (they do not need to be wrapped in foil) on a second sheet pan. Place the two sheet pans of bricks in a 500-degree oven for an hour. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and brush the foil-covered bricks with butter. Place the sandwiches on the foil-covered bricks and brush the sandwich tops with butter. Place the sheet pan of unwrapped bricks on top of the sandwiches and let the sandwiches press between the bricks for about 10 minutes.


Alton’s Cuban sandwich.

I really enjoy Cuban sandwiches because I love their zesty flavor, and I thought this was a great, fast version to make at home. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of roasting pork for this recipe, you could always substitute sliced turkey, or at least that is what Alton says. I’m sure some Cuban sandwich classicists would pooh-pooh Alton’s version with provolone and turkey, but if it tastes good (and it does), who cares?

Roasted Vegetable Spread

The last recipe in this episode is for a vegetarian spread that you could use on any sandwich, or just on crackers or bread. Preheat your oven to 400. While the oven heats, toss the following vegetables with 1-2 T olive oil:  1 sliced zucchini, 1 sliced (into rings) red bell pepper, 1 sliced (into rings) onion, and 4-5 crushed cloves of garlic.

Spread the veggies on a foil-lined sheet pan and sprinkle them with Kosher salt. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring them occasionally.


Zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic tossed with olive oil, spread on a sheet pan, and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.


Vegetables after roasting for 45 minutes.

Place the veggies in a food processor, along with eight ounces of cream cheese, and pulse to combine.


Roasted vegetables in the food processor with cream cheese.


Alton’s vegetable spread, served with bread slices.

Alton recommends serving his spread on soft bread (see sandwich rule number 1 above). This spread has a sweet veggie flavor from the caramelized vegetables. While I would not be able to identify zucchini in this spread, the flavors of red bell pepper, onion, and garlic are easily identifiable. I did feel that the spread could use a bit more Kosher salt, though. We enjoyed this as an appetizer on sliced bread, though I can attest it is also good on crackers. This is a recipe that would be great to keep in mind for when you are cleaning out your produce drawer, as you could roast a variety of leftover vegetables and have a different spread each time. I plan to make this again the next time we have leftover veggies.

Unintentionally, I’ve gotten a bit behind on this blog lately. It’s time to get back in the swing of things, and get back to making more of Alton’s good eats. Summer heat has hit us lately, so I have been making lots of light dishes (like gazpacho and summer rolls) that do not require turning on the oven. After episode 104, I will officially have finished cooking my way through seven seasons of Good Eats, which will put me at the half-way point of this project; I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there!

French Toast

Alton’s version of French toast begins the night before you plan to have it for breakfast. Prior to bed, set out eight slices of bread, sliced 1/2″ thick; this will allow the bread to dry out overnight.


Eight slices of bread, set out overnight.

Before bed you will also make the custard by combining 1 C half-and-half, 2 T warm honey, 1/4 t Kosher salt, and 3 eggs. Set the custard in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 375 and pour the custard into a pie or cake pan.


Chilled custard poured into pie plate.

Place two slices of the air-dried bread into the custard, soaking them for 30 seconds on each side.

Transfer the soaked slices of bread to a rack over a sheet pan, letting them sit for at least two minutes; Alton says this step is key, as it allows the custard to fully penetrate the bread, and any excess custard can drip away.


Soaked bread draining on a rack over a sheet pan.

Next, preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Ideally, you want your skillet to be at 350 degrees for cooking, which I was able to check with an infrared thermometer. If you do not have an infrared thermometer, you can test your skillet with some butter; if it foams when you add it to the skillet, it is ready.


Skillet preheated to ~350.

Once your skillet is hot, butter the skillet and add your two soaked bread slices, allowing them to cook until golden brown on both sides.

While your toast cooks, repeat the soaking/draining steps with two more slices of bread. Transfer the cooked toast to your rack over a sheet pan. Continue soaking, draining, and cooking until all of your toast has been cooked. Finally, place your rack of toast in the oven for five minutes before serving with butter, fruit, syrup, or whatever floats your boat.


Toast in the oven for 5 minutes.


French toast with butter and maple syrup.

In the episode, Alton said that the dual cooking method (skillet and oven) results in French toast that is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, and he was right. His French toast is very lightly sweetened and has a richness without being dense. Prepping the custard and bread the night before makes morning prep pretty easy, and finishing the toast in the oven means you can have everyone’s toast ready at the same time – no eating in shifts! Great French toast recipe!


According to Alton, bruschetta should really only consist of five ingredients:  bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Alton’s recipe begins with slicing a narrow loaf of Italian or French bread on the bias, and about 3/4″ thick. Toast the bread under a broiler for about two minutes per side, or until golden.

While the toast is hot, rub it with a head of garlic that has been cut in half to expose the cloves.

Brush the toast with some good olive oil, and sprinkle on some pepper and coarse salt.


Bruschetta with soup.

I enjoyed Alton’s bruschetta as a side to a cauliflower soup. Although Alton’s recipe is incredibly simple, it is quite delicious in its simplicity and makes a great side dish. The key with a recipe like this is to use high-quality ingredients. I will caution that this bruschetta packs a big punch of garlic, but I love garlic, so that’s not a problem for me. When I was 15, my mom and I traveled to Atlanta to spectate at the 1996 Olympics. While there, we stayed with a family who shared with us a version of bruschetta they had eaten while in Italy, and that version is still my favorite. For their recipe, you rubbed toasted bread with a raw garlic clove and dipped the bread into good olive oil, followed by grated Parmesan. After that, you topped the bread with a few leaves of fresh basil, a couple thin slices of campari tomato, salt, and pepper. I just like the added freshness from the basil and tomato.

Welsh Rarebit

Although I had heard of Welsh rarebit, I had never eaten it before making it for this episode. Alton made his rarebit in a camp stove by his fireplace, but I made mine on the stove over low heat. Maybe if I were making this recipe in December… Anyway, regardless of your vessel, begin by melting 2 T butter.


Melting 2 T butter.

Once the butter has melted, whisk in 2 T flour.

Next, add 1 t Dijon mustard, 1 t Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Whisk in 1/2 C good dark beer and 3/4 C heavy cream.


Dark beer for rarebit.


Dark beer and cream added to pan.

Once combined, gradually add 6 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, a handful at a time.

When the cheese is incorporated and the mixture is smooth, season the mixture with a few drops of hot sauce, to your taste.

Spoon the sauce over four slices of toasted bread and enjoy (Alton prefers rye bread, but my bakery did not have any).


Welsh rarebit.

Since I have no other Welsh rarebits to compare this recipe to, I can only say that we liked it, though it isn’t a “pretty” meal. The type and quality of beer you use does matter, as the beer flavor is quite prominent in this dish, and I would like to experiment with some other beers to see which works best. To me, this really is a cold weather meal, as it is heavier comfort-like food. It seems like it would be a great dinner after a day of skiing or sledding. On that note, this would also be an easy camping meal. This recipe makes enough sauce for at least eight slices of toast, so I refrigerated the leftover sauce and reheated it gently on the stove a couple days later. This is another easy, tasty recipe, and it was fun to try a dish that I had only previously heard of.

It’s been a while since I last posted. While I actually prepared the recipes from this episode of Good Eats weeks ago, I am only just now having time to sit down and actually write them up. Since I last made a post, we have left town a couple times, Ted finished up chemo and had scans (clear – yay!), we hosted a clear scan party, and my mom ended up in the hospital/had surgery. Hopefully things will slow down here at some point!

Anyway, the subject of the 64th episode of Good Eats was squash, and particularly winter squash. Needless to say, this episode would have been more ideal if it had popped up during cooler months of the year. Thankfully, you can purchase winter squash at any time of the year.

Squash Soup

First up in this episode was Alton’s squash soup. Alton used two Kabocha squash to make his soup, though he stated you could use any hard winter squash; I could not find Kabocha squash at my store, so I used acorn squash.


The hounds, checking out my acorn squash.

You first need to quarter your squash and remove the seeds. Alton quartered his squash by hitting a vegetable cleaver with a wooden mallet.


Quartered acorn squash.

Brush the squash quarters with melted butter, sprinkle them with Kosher salt and pepper, and stick them in a 400-degree oven.


Quartered acorn squash, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with pepper and Kosher salt.

According to Alton, your squash should be tender and roasted within 25 minutes, but my squash took nearly an hour to become tender.


Squash, after roasting for almost an hour.

When your squash are cool enough to handle, use an ice cream scoop to remove their flesh. You will need six cups of cooked squash, and the easiest way to measure this is using displacement. You can do this by putting the squash in a large measuring vessel with 1 1/2 C chicken stock; when the liquid line hits 7 1/2 C, you know you have 6 C of squash. Dump the squash/stock in a pot and add 1 1/2 C additional chicken stock, 4 T honey, and 1 t grated ginger.


Squash in soup pot, along with chicken stock, honey, and grated ginger.

Heat the soup over medium-high heat until bubbles begin to form on the surface, and process the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Finally, finish the soup by stirring in 1/2 C heavy cream, 3 big pinches of Kosher salt, 2 small pinches of white pepper, and 6 grates of nutmeg on a microplane grater.

Simmer the soup over medium heat until it is heated through. Serve in bowls with sour cream. We ate this soup with goat cheese toasts on the side.


Finished squash soup with sour cream.

Ted is not particularly fond of squash, but he thought this soup was “pretty good.” Honestly, I found this soup to be a little too sweet, so I would consider cutting down on the honey. The sour cream does help to cut the sweetness also. This would be a perfect soup for a chilly night, so it did not seem apropos when we were eating it in the heat of summer. This is a good, easy, traditional squash soup, and it would come together in minutes if you prepped the squash ahead of time.

Butternut Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage

Of the recipes in this episode, I was most excited to make Alton’s squash dumplings. For this recipe, you will need a one-pound butternut squash.


A one-pound butternut squash.

Halve the squash, remove the seeds, brush the flesh with olive oil, and sprinkle them with Kosher salt and pepper.


Halved squash, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt and pepper.

Roast the squash in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until tender. When you put the squash into the oven, also add 4 medium russet potatoes to the oven, taking care to prick their flesh with a fork first.


4 medium russets, skin pricked with a fork.

While your vegetables are roasting, you can gather your other ingredients:  Kosher salt, 1 1/2+ C flour, and an egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of nutmeg.


One egg, to be beaten with a pinch of nutmeg.

Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, mash the flesh of the squash together with the flesh of the potatoes, mashing only until combined.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg and 1/2 C flour into the squash/potato mixture. You want to add flour gradually until you have a dough that is slightly wet, but not sticky.

While Alton only needed a small amount of flour to get his dough to the proper consistency, I ended up needing over 5 C of flour to get my dough to the point where I could handle it; several online reviewers had this same problem. Once your dough is ready, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. On a floured surface, turn out your dough and divide it into eight equal balls.

One at a time, roll each ball into a 1/2-inch thick snake, and cut each snake into 1/2-inch pieces.

At this point, you can cook the dumplings or place them on a floured baking sheet and freeze for later use. To cook the dumplings, add them to the boiling water in batches, removing them from the water as they float to the surface. To cease cooking, place the boiled dumplings immediately in ice water before drying them on a tea towel.

Next, heat a skillet over high heat, adding 1 T softened butter. Once the butter is melted, add 2 chopped sage leaves and 1 C of the boiled/cooled/dried dumplings. Cook the dumplings until they are golden brown and crispy on all sides.

Serve the dumplings with lots of Parmesan cheese and pepper.


A bowl of dumplings with Parmesan and pepper.

We really liked these dumplings, though they definitely needed a healthy sprinkle of Kosher salt in addition to the Parmesan and pepper. The dumplings are fairly dense, but delicious with their crispy exteriors and softer interiors. The dumplings are slightly sweet and pair greatly with the savory browned butter, sage, and Parmesan. I will say that the process of making the dough was much more tedious than Alton demonstrated in the show, but we ended up with enough dumplings for at least three meals. I foresee making these again, especially in the Fall.

Pumpkin Bread

Last up in this episode was Alton’s pumpkin bread recipe. Ideally, for this recipe you will want to use fresh pumpkin, but I had to settle for canned pumpkin since it was the middle of July. Either way, you will need 3 C of pumpkin; if using fresh pumpkin, grate the flesh. You will also want to toast 1 C of pumpkin seeds for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. I purchased pumpkin seeds that were already toasted. In a bowl, sift together 2 C flour, 2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1 t baking soda, and 1/4 t baking powder.

In a separate large bowl, beat 3 eggs and gradually add 1 1/2 C sugar.


3 eggs, beaten with 1 1/2 C sugar.

Once the sugar is incorporated, slowly whisk in 3/4 C vegetable oil. Finally, add 1 t vanilla extract.

Fold the pumpkin mixture into the egg mixture, along with the cup of toasted pumpkin seeds.


Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds added to egg mixture.

Finally, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and fold everything together. Pour the batter into a nonstick loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 75 minutes, or until the tip of a paring knife comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes before turning the bread onto a rack to cool completely. If you prefer to make muffins instead of bread, divide the batter among muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.


Alton’s pumpkin bread.

This is a very delicious pumpkin bread, but I really did not care for the texture of the pumpkin seeds. I found the pumpkin seeds to be very chewy from absorbing the moisture of the bread. I definitely plan to make this bread again, but I will be omitting the seeds. The bread itself has just the perfect amount of sweetness, is very moist, and has loads of pumpkin flavor.

Mojo Moulies

It was amidst the moving boxes and clutter that I made my first Good Eats recipe in our new home. Continuing with the third season of the show, I prepped Alton’s version of mussels. As with several of the recipes I have made in my Good Eats project, I was again dealing with an ingredient that I had never prepared myself. I fondly recall a delicious dish of moules et frites that I got at a restaurant in Walla Walla, Washington, so I was hopeful that Alton’s mussels would prove to be likewise as delicious.

The online version of this recipe is a little goofy, in that it calls for a total of only 20 mussels, while 10 mussels will be used as part of the sauce. If you watch the episode of the show, however, Alton specifies that you should count on 15-20 mussels per person for an entree portion, while 7-8 mussels make for a great appetizer. Oh, and he recommends that you purchase enough for an extra serving, just in case some mussels need to be thrown away. My store happened to only have about 25 mussels. Rather than waiting for another day, I bought all of the mussels they had, figuring we could always eat more bread if we were still hungry. To store mussels at home, Alton tells you to put them in an open bucket or bowl, covered with a damp paper towel and a bag of ice, and to change the ice daily. I used my mussels within a few hours of buying them, but I still stored them this way.

Mussels ready for storage.

Mussels ready for storage.

Mussels topped with a damp paper towel...

Mussels topped with a damp paper towel…

...and a bag of ice.

…and a bag of ice.

Very few ingredients are needed for this recipe.

Other ingredients for the dish:  garlic, olive oil, leek, tomato, white wine, and Kosher salt.

Other ingredients for the dish: garlic, olive oil, leek, tomato, white wine, and Kosher salt.

Chopped leek.

Chopped leek.

Chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic.

Diced tomato.

Diced tomato.

To begin, you sweat leeks and garlic in olive oil, along with a pinch of Kosher salt. You will want to do this in a fairly large, lidded stockpot, in which you can nest a colander or steamer basket to hold the mussels.

Leeks and garlic sweating in olive oil.

Leeks and garlic sweating in olive oil.

While the vegetables sweat, you can clean your mussels with a brush. You will also need to remove any beards with needle-nose pliers. Many of my mussels still had their beards. Discard any mussels that are open.

Slightly blurry photo of cleaned mussels.

Slightly blurry photo of cleaned mussels.

Meanwhile, once the leeks have softened, add chopped tomato and white wine, increase the heat, and bring to a boil.

Tomato added to the pan.

Tomato added to the pan.

Wine added to the vegetables.

Wine added to the vegetables.

Once boiling, put the colander of mussels inside the pot, add the lid, and set a timer for three minutes. When the timer goes off, make sure all of the mussels are open; if any are unopened, move them around a bit and cook for another 30 seconds. If any mussels are still not open, throw them away, and divide the other mussels among individual serving bowls.

Steamed mussels.

Steamed mussels.

Add the meat of 10 mussels to the pot with the vegetable mixture and cooking liquid, and puree to a smooth consistency with an immersion blender.

Cooking liquid after steaming mussels.

Cooking liquid after steaming mussels.

Ten mussels added to cooking liquid for sauce.

Ten mussels added to cooking liquid for sauce.

Pureed sauce.

Pureed sauce.

Pour this sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley (I forgot to add the parsley), and serve with crusty bread.

Mussels in sauce, served with bread.

Mussels in sauce, served with bread.

We ate our mussels as an entree and had a large proportion of sauce to mussels. The mussels themselves had the fresh taste of the ocean; I always think they taste exactly like the ocean smells. The sauce was, to me, the best part of the dish. It had a great balance of sweetness and acidity, along with a hint of brininess from the mussels, and it was great to dip good bread in. The mussels were really good, but Ted and I agreed that we really think we would prefer a bowl of clams, if given our choice of shellfish.

When Alton Brown was filming Good Eats, he and his crew produced eight special episodes, in addition to the regular seasonal episodes. Seeing as Ted and I will be having our Thanksgiving dinner with his parents this year, we decided we would have my parents over to our house for an early Thanksgiving dinner, which we had yesterday. It just so happens that the first of the Good Eats special episodes has a Thanksgiving theme, so, of course, I used the recipes from this special episode to fill our (first – lucky us!) Thanksgiving table this year.

Ted and I have only hosted Thanksgiving once at our house. In 2010, we hosted both sets of our parents, along with Ted’s aunt and uncle. It was particularly cold and snowy that year, and Ted was in charge of cooking the turkey. My dad contributed our family’s favorite stuffing with blue cornbread and chorizo sausage, and everyone else brought a side dish or two to share. Ted chose to follow Alton’s turkey recipe from this episode of Good Eats. He’ll tell you it turned out dry, but the rest of us thought it was very good. The highlight of the day was when Ted and my dad were carving the turkey. As we did not have a carving board, they were carving the bird on a pull-out cutting board under the kitchen counter. The bird was quite hefty, causing the cutting board to slant toward the kitchen floor, and all of the turkey’s juices began running off the edge of the board. We all saw a huge mess about to form, but Hitcher, the hound, stepped in to save the day, positioning himself perfectly so the juices would run straight into his open, waiting mouth. Ellie, my now mother-in-law, was laughing so hard that I thought she was going to fall over.

Good Eats Roast Turkey

I was nervous yesterday, as I was cooking my first turkey. While I have always contributed something to Thanksgiving dinner, I have never before had the responsibility of cooking the almighty bird. I carefully watched Alton’s preparation of the recipe. For this recipe, he recommends a 14-16 pound turkey, but we purchased a 13 pound turkey since we would only have four people eating. To begin, you want to thaw your turkey for two-three days prior to Thanksgiving. I started thawing my turkey Monday evening. To thaw, Alton recommends putting your turkey (in a pan) inside a Styrofoam cooler with ice packs. Since we have two hounds, my turkey thawed safely in the guest bathroom shower.To monitor the temperature, he suggests sticking a probe thermometer through the top of the cooler, with an alarm set to go off at 38 degrees. We did not have a probe thermometer, but after watching the episode, I realized it would really be a necessity to properly prepare a turkey the Alton way. I purchased this thermometer at Amazon, which happens to be the same one Alton uses in the episode.

Turkey thawing in cooler.

Turkey thawing in cooler.

As an alternative, if you need to thaw your turkey very quickly, you can put your turkey in a five-gallon bucket of cool water, changing the water every three to four hours; it should take ~six to eight hours. Note:  Always thaw your turkey in its original wrapping. Did you know that turkeys are only technically considered frozen if they are below zero degrees? A refrigerated turkey is one between one and 24 degrees, while a fresh turkey is at, or above, 26 degrees. My probe thermometer went above 40 degrees, but the turkey still felt quite frozen, so I left it in the cooler until late Wednesday night. Sometime while your turkey is thawing, you want to make your brine. You can make the brine up to two days ahead, and you will want to make it early since it needs to chill. For the brine, combine vegetable stock, Kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a pot. I ended up adding my ginger later, as I did not have any in the house.

Brine ingredients:  vegetable broth, brown sugar, allspice berries, Kosher salt, and peppercorns. Not pictured:  candied ginger.

Brine ingredients: vegetable broth, brown sugar, allspice berries, Kosher salt, and peppercorns. Not pictured: candied ginger.

Brine on the stove, minus the candied ginger.

Brine on the stove, minus the candied ginger.

Bring this mixture to a boil, and then allow it to cool to room temperature with a lid on the pot. Once cool, you want to thoroughly chill the brine in the refrigerator.

Candied ginger. I added this after my brine had cooled, as I did not have any.

Candied ginger. I added this after my brine had cooled, as I did not have any.

Cooled brine with candied ginger added.

Cooled brine with candied ginger added.

Thanksgiving morning, or late the night before (this is what I did), combine your brine with a gallon of heavily iced water in a five-gallon bucket.

Brine plus ice water in a bucket.

Brine plus ice water in a bucket.

Remove the turkey’s guts, give him a rinse, and place him into the brine, breast down. You want to put the breast down since it tends to dry out the fastest. Alton tells you to leave your turkey in the brine for six to eight hours, though the online recipe says you can leave the bird in the brine for up to 16 hours. Since Alton tells you in the episode that you can begin the brining process late in the evening prior to your cooking day, I went with that. Regardless of how long you choose to brine your turkey, you want to flip it over once in the middle of the brining period. What about stuffing? Alton calls stuffing “evil” in this episode. Why? Not only is it potentially unsafe to cook stuffing in the bird because of possible foodborne illness, but it also causes your turkey to take longer to cook, which can result in a dry bird. Now, I grew up with parents who always stuffed the bird, and none of us have ever gotten sick because of it, so I am not overly frightened of stuffing. But, since the goal of my blog project is to cook all of the Good Eats recipes as closely to how Alton does them on the show, there was no stuffing in my bird yesterday. Instead, once I was ready to cook my turkey, I removed it from the brine, rinsed it off, and patted it dry, placing it on a rack over a sheet pan.

My 13 pounder.

My 13 pounder.

I microwaved a sliced onion and a sliced red apple in some water for a minute on high. When you remove the apple and onion from the microwave, throw a cinnamon stick into the liquid to steep for a couple of minutes also.

Sliced apple and onion, microwaved with some water, and steeped with a cinnamon stick.

Sliced apple and onion, microwaved with some water, and steeped with a cinnamon stick.

While this is steeping, put some fresh rosemary and sage into the cavity of the bird; I did two big sprigs of rosemary and one bunch of sage.

Sage and rosemary to go in turkey's cavity.

Sage and rosemary to go in turkey’s cavity.

Rosemary and sage in the bird.

Rosemary and sage in the bird.

You want to tuck the turkey’s wings up under its body to prevent them from burning. If your bird has its legs tied, leave this on. My turkey did not have its legs tied, but I tucked them inside its skin, which held them in place nicely. After a few minutes of steeping, add the apple, onion, and cinnamon stick to the cavity of the bird. It is easiest to use tongs to do this. I crammed as much of these aromatics into the bird as I could fit.

Apple, onion, and cinnamon stick placed in the bird.

Apple, onion, and cinnamon stick placed in the bird.

Leave the turkey popper thermometer in the bird, but ignore it. Here is where one of the biggest tricks of Alton’s recipe comes in, and this is not mentioned in the online recipe. You want to take a large piece of foil and fold it into a large triangle.

Turkey triangle.

Turkey triangle.

Oil this “turkey triangle” and mold it so it covers the breast of the bird, and then set it aside for later.

Oiled turkey triangle.

Oiled turkey triangle.

Molding the turkey triangle to the breast.

Molding the turkey triangle to the breast.

What is the purpose of the turkey triangle? Dark meat is perfectly cooked at 180 degrees, while white meat is ready at 161 degrees. Since there is this discrepancy in temperature, you will use the triangle to protect the breast meat, while allowing the dark meat to cook more quickly. This will result in a bird that has perfectly cooked white AND dark meat. Now, coat the outside of your turkey with oil and insert your probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, ensuring that you do not hit any bones, as that can result in a false temperature reading.

Turkey, filled with aromatics and oiled up.

Turkey, filled with aromatics and oiled up.

Probe inserted into deepest part of breast.

Probe inserted into deepest part of breast.

Set your alarm to go off when your turkey’s temperature hits 161 degrees.

Starting temperature of my turkey (42), and end goal temperature (161).

Starting temperature of my turkey (42), and end goal temperature (161).

Now, the turkey is ready for the oven. Place it in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes are up, place the previously molded turkey triangle onto the bird, protecting the breast. I did not get a picture when I did this. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees and wait for your alarm to sound. How easy is that? Alton recommends that you place the turkey in the oven legs first, but my turkey would only fit sideways. According to Alton, a 14 pound bird will take about two hours to cook, but my 13 pound bird took two hours and 45 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the starting temperature of your bird (mine was at 42 degrees), the size of your turkey, and your oven. When your bird is done cooking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Turkey, photo bombed by the hound.

Turkey, photo bombed by the hound.

Turkey, fresh from the oven.

Turkey, fresh from the oven.

If you have a classic round charcoal grill, you can use the lid of your grill to cover your turkey while it rests. If not, foil will suffice.

Turkey resting under foil.

Turkey resting under foil.

When ready to carve, use an electric knife. To best carve your turkey, carve between the legs and the body first, going down until you hit the joint. Press on the leg with your hand until it pops, and then use the knife to cut the rest of the way through. Next, to carve the breast, cut horizontally toward the center of the bird at the wing line, and then make slices perpendicularly down to the initial cut. This will result in perfect slices of white meat. My turkey could not have turned out any better. It was golden brown on the outside, while incredibly juicy and moist on the inside. The white meat, in particular, shocked everyone with how moist it was.

Moist, flavorful, perfectly cooked white AND dark meat.

Moist, flavorful, perfectly cooked white AND dark meat.

The turkey was loaded with flavor, without being salty. We all agreed that it was great, including the Coonhounds, who howled while the turkey was carved and were all too willing to clean up the turkey juice trail that led from the kitchen to the garage; when you live with hounds, and an always-hungry cat, you must hide your Turkey in the garage while you eat your Thanksgiving dinner. Though this was my first turkey, I cannot imagine that I will ever prepare a turkey another way, but I do have to say that my dad has cooked some amazing turkeys with his basted, grilled method too. Oh, and if you have leftover turkey, Alton says it freezes very well – just be sure to wrap it in both foil and plastic before freezing. Seeing as Ted and I both just finished delectable leftover turkey sandwiches, I do not think our leftovers will need to be frozen! Long story short, if you do not yet have a turkey plan for Thanksgiving, try Alton’s turkey. It is wonderful.

Here is a synopsis of my turkey timeline to give you an idea of how this recipe plays out:

  • Sunday afternoon – purchased turkey.
  • Monday, 5:30 pm – began thawing turkey in cooler.
  • Wednesday morning – made and chilled brine.
  • Wednesday, 11:45 pm – put bird in brine.
  • Thursday, 4:00 pm – took bird out of brine.
  • Thursday, 4:30 pm – put bird in oven.
  • Thursday, 7:15 pm – bird done when temperature reached 161 degrees.
  • Thursday, 7:30 pm – carved bird.


Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce

To go along with your perfect turkey, in the Thanksgiving special, Alton shows you how to make a cranberry dipping sauce. The recipe for this sauce can be found here, which for some reason shows up as under a different Good Eats episode. I happen to like the gelatinous cranberry sauce you can buy in a can, but it truly does not compare to a dish made with fresh cranberries. For Alton’s cranberry concoction, combine 12 ounces of frozen cranberries (the online recipe calls for a pound), orange juice, ginger ale, maple syrup, light brown sugar, the zest of an orange, and a pinch of Kosher salt in a saucepan. I could not find frozen cranberries, so I used fresh cranberries.

Sauce ingredients: cranberries, OJ, ginger ale, maple syrup, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and the zest of an orange.

Sauce ingredients: cranberries, OJ, ginger ale, maple syrup, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and the zest of an orange.

All of the ingredients in a saucepan.

All of the ingredients in a saucepan.

Bring this mixture to a boil, decrease the heat to medium, and cook it for 30 minutes. A skin will form on the surface of the sauce, so skim that off.

A skin formed after 30 minutes on the stove.

A skin formed after 30 minutes on the stove.

After skimming off the skin.

After skimming off the skin.

If you have an immersion blender, you can use that to blend the sauce. Our immersion blender is incapacitated, so I used a traditional blender to blend my sauce.

Into the blender.

Into the blender.

Completed cranberry sauce.

Completed cranberry sauce.

Tart cranberry dipping sauce.

Tart cranberry dipping sauce.

Serve this sauce in individual ramekins for each diner to dip their turkey in. This sauce really does pair nicely with turkey, as it is quite tart and contrasts nicely with the meat. It is loaded with cranberry and orange flavor, and is a brilliant cranberry red, which also adds a lot of color to the Thanksgiving table. Also, you can make this sauce ahead of time and reheat it while your turkey is resting. I would definitely make this again to pair with turkey. It does make quite a large volume of sauce, so I am already thinking of other ways to use it. Perhaps we will have to have this with some homemade pound cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert one night! If you are looking for a new way to incorporate cranberries into your Thanksgiving dinner, or an alternative to gravy, this is a fun (and easy!) one to try.

Sweet Corn Bread Pudding

The final recipe Alton prepares in “Romancing the Bird” is for his Sweet Corn Bread Pudding. I happen to love stuffing, especially my dad’s, at Thanksgiving, so I was happy to see that Alton made this bread pudding, as it is along the lines of stuffing. Again, this is a nice recipe for Thanksgiving, as you can make it early in the day and reheat it in the oven while your turkey is resting, which means you are not scrambling to make a bunch of things at the last second.

Ingredients for bread pudding:  pepper, Kosher salt, onion, creamed corn, butter, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, rosemary, thyme, and Parmesan.

Ingredients for bread pudding: pepper, Kosher salt, onion, creamed corn, butter, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, rosemary, thyme, and Parmesan.

To begin, heat an iron skillet and melt some butter.

Preheating iron skillet.

Preheating iron skillet.

Melting butter.

Melting butter.

Add a diced onion (the online recipe calls for half an onion, but Alton uses a whole onion in the show) and some chopped, fresh rosemary and thyme.

Onion sweating in butter.

Onion sweating in butter.

Onion, butter, rosemary, and thyme.

Onion, butter, rosemary, and thyme.

In the meantime, mix together, in a bowl, a can of creamed corn, heavy cream, two eggs, cornmeal, baking powder, Kosher salt, and some pepper.

Creamed corn, cream, eggs, cornmeal, baking powder,  Kosher salt, and pepper.

Creamed corn, cream, eggs, cornmeal, baking powder, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Once this is combined, fold in some shredded Parmesan cheese and cubed bread; the recipe calls for French bread and Alton uses Italian bread in the show.

Whisked mixture.

Whisked mixture.

Folding in Parmesan.

Folding in Parmesan.

Folding in bread cubes.

Folding in bread cubes.

11-21-14 023 Pour this over the onion, butter, and herbs in the iron skillet and put it in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.

Bread mixture added to skillet.

Bread mixture added to skillet.

Corn bread pudding straight from the oven.

Corn bread pudding straight from the oven.

I have kind of a negative perception of bread pudding in general, as I have had some very soggy, wet bread puddings. This recipe, however, produced a pudding with the texture of a moist cornbread, which reminded me of the texture of my dad’s stuffing when it is cooked inside the turkey. The flavor of the herbs, especially the rosemary, really came through, along with the onion. You could also taste the Parmesan cheese, yet the pudding was hardly cheesy. I thought this was great, especially as a stuffing stand-in. And, again, it was super easy! I could see making this to serve with chili too. We all liked this too, and I foresee making it again in the future, though I would opt for Dad’s stuffing, if given the choice.

All in all, our Thanksgiving dinner was quite successful and delicious. We all liked all of the dishes and they will likely appear on our table again, especially the turkey. You cannot go wrong with any of Alton’s Thanksgiving recipes.

A decent Thanksgiving dinner, if I say so myself.

A decent Thanksgiving dinner, if I say so myself.