Monday, November 21, 2011

A few special touches can make a good holiday meal into one that gets rave reviews. If your family has traditional family favorites, go ahead and keep them, but be adventurous and add one or two new vegetable dishes to your holiday table.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

A few years ago, I saw Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network prepare this side dish. I have always liked traditional Brussels sprouts and found pancetta (it is like Italian bacon, the meat is cured, but not smoked) and garlic make them even tastier.

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 oz paper thin slices pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until beginning to crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet and sauté until heated through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the broth and simmer until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes.


Sally Norgaard, of Carroll, my mom’s longtime friend, shared this recipe with my family. This is an easy cheesy cauliflower dish, with a bit of a tang.

Precook one head of cauliflower in boiling salted water for 12-15 minutes. Drain. Place in ungreased shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with salt. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup mayonnaise and 2 teaspoons prepared mustard and spread over cauliflower. Top with ¾ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sour Cream Scalloped Corn

This simple corn side dish is courtesy of Mrs. Neal Smith, wife of Neal Smith, the longest-serving Iowan in the United States House of Representatives. Corn, a traditional Thanksgiving food, was eaten by Native Americans at almost every meal as it was easily stored and preserved over the winter months.

1 stick margarine
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream style corn
1 cup sour cream
1 box Jiffy corn mix
Melt margarine in 2 quart casserole dish. Stir in corn including liquid. Add sour cream and muffin mix. Stir until smooth. Bake for 1 hour or until done at 350 degrees. May be frozen and reheated in microwave.

Molded Broccoli Ring

My mother’s late friend, Karolee Lehman (formerly of Carroll), made this unusual side dish for special occasions. She and my mom were very close friends and I remember they shared a lot of laughs throughout their friendship. Broccoli, Swiss cheese, and toasted almonds come together to create a fancy and flavorful combination.

2 (10 oz) pkgs chopped broccoli
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
¼ cup chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup minced green onions, including tops
3 eggs
¾ cup grated Swiss cheese
½ cup slivered almonds toasted
1 teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon pepper
Cook broccoli until barely tender. Drain. In large skillet, melt butter. Add flour. Over low heat, blend in broth, sour cream and onions. Stir and cook until thick and creamy. Beat eggs lightly and add to sauce, stirring constantly. Add cheese. Stir until melted. Add to broccoli with almonds and seasoning. When blended, bake in an oiled 1-quart ring mold in a water bath at 350 degrees for 45- 50 minutes. Center may be filled with mushrooms sautéed in butter just before serving. This freezes well.

Honey-Glazed Carrots

Here is a simple way to prepare carrots full of flavor. Be careful not to overcook the carrots, since nobody likes them mushy. I like to add a touch of dill weed as a finishing touch (I do the same for green beans and peas).

1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
Combine carrots, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add sugar, honey and oil and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Watch so mixture does not burn. Add lemon rind; and remove from heat. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes 4 servings

Mixed Vegetable Casserole

This is an old family favorite from my mom’s side of the family. Her aunt always made this for the holiday table. Any variety of mixed veggies can be used. California blend makes for a bright color contrast.

Steam 2 packages of frozen mixed vegetables in ¼ c. water plus water required on packages. Cook until barely tender (not soft). Drain and save liquid. Season with 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic salt.

To make sauce:
1/4 cup butter
2 cups liquid
¼ cup flour
Add enough cream to liquid to make 2 cups.
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
dash of thyme
pinch of nutmeg
Simmer 5 minutes, place in 9x9 pan. Cover surface with bread cubes. Drizzle 3 tablespoons melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Apple Juice

Take advantage of the abundance of fall vegetables and prepare them for your upcoming family gathering. This vegetable assortment has just the right amount of sweetness from the apple juice and white wine. It includes rutabagas, or Swedish turnips, which originated as a cross between cabbage and turnips.
3 cups apple juice
1 cup semi-sweet white wine (such as Riesling)
3 Tablespoons butter
1 ¼ lbs turnips
1 ¼ lbs parsnips
11 ¼ lbs carrots
1 ¼ lbs red-skinned sweet potatoes (or yams)
1 ¼ lbs rutabagas

Boil apple juice and wine in heavy large saucepan until reduced to ¾ cup, about 30 minutes. Whisk in butter. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cut vegetables into ½ inch pieces. Divide between 2 large roasting pans. Pour apple juice mixture over vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and coat. Roast until vegetables are tender and golden, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.