Tag Archives: Side Dish

Second Side: Baked Fennel

21 Nov

Webster Groves, the St. Louis suburb where I grew up, is home to the oldest high school rivalry west of the Mississippi.  Every year, on Thanksgiving, the Webster Groves High School Statesmen (a trustworthy government official… what a mascot) compete with the Kirkwood Pioneers for the Turkey Day title.  The winning team receives the Frisco Bell, a large bell that the school holds on to and displays until the next game.  It’s all very idyllic.

And it’s a big, big deal in town.   Both of my parents attended WGHS, my brother played football, I was a cheerleader; the whole nine yards (get it?).  Here’s a little trivia for you– I was SO into it, I actually made up a cheer:

“Hey Pioneers are you ready for attack?  Are you ready to lose to the orange and black?” 

This chant is followed by a series of clapping motions, which I still remember.  I hear, in fact, the cheer is still chanted, almost twenty years later.  How do you like me NOW??!?  I may not be an athlete, but I can write a poem.

Circa 1992. T and Popo and friends also attended the game. Nice hat, Dad. Will you be landing planes on that thing?

The Thanksgiving meal is planned around game time and even though I live in California, I’m still TOTALLY AWARE of how the team is doing while it’s being played (and this was the case even before the advent of Facebook).

So as all of my Statesmen are furiously getting their final prep on before the bonfire tonight and the big game tomorrow, here’s another fast, easy side dish option you can toss on the table for eating Turkey Day-style.

BAKED FENNEL (serves 4)
2 young fennel roots
2T milk
1 1/2oz. butter
2T grated Parmesan cheese

Remove any coarse outer leaves and cook fennel in boiling, salted water until just tender, about 20 minutes.  Cut vertically into 1-inch slices and arrange in a shallow baking pan in which half of the butter has been melted.  Pour the milk over, sprinkle generously with cheese and dot with the remaining butter.  Bake at 400 degrees until golden, about 20 minutes.

The big game

Fennel is a distinctly Italian ingredient, and most people don’t use it that often, because they’re put off by the black licorice taste.  But when it’s baked and cheesed, the flavor completely mellows out.  So try it.  And GO STATESMEN!  Mangia!

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Superb Side: Sweet Potato Casserole

20 Nov

It’s almost Turkey Day!  Time to break out a recipe you can present at your table, or take along to a friend or family member’s house as a super sweet potato dish to go with the turkey.

Since I live out of town from the rest of my family, I always have the pleasure of celebrating with generous friends, with family sometimes visiting.  It’s a good excuse to party (and, of course, eat).  So spruce yourself up, slap together this side, and enjoy your holiday… let the feasting begin!

Dad comes to Malibu to celebrate seaside.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE (serves 8)
6 large sweet potatoes, cooked
1C dark brown sugar
4oz. butter
1/3C honey (the original recipe calls for Karo syrup, but honey is a good substitute)
2T lemon juice
1/4t salt
1/4t nutmeg

Peel and slice cooked sweet potatoes.  Arrange in baking dish, allowing for two layers.  Mix remaining ingredients together and spread half on first layer of potatoes and the rest on the second layer.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until nicely glazed.

Shopping for the feast with a friend

While it’s not an Italian holiday, I’ve never passed up an excuse to have fun.  Happy Thanksgiving and mangia!

Birthday Breakfast: Biscuits

21 May

In honor of what would have been Popo’s 91st birthday yesterday (wowsers!), we’re featuring another post by Aunt Lisa.  Get ready for a killer breakfast.

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Okay, I’ll admit it…I make a damn good biscuit.  It’s the only thing I make that tastes as good as my mom’s, and every time I make them I think of her.  I see her hands cutting the shortening, gently folding the dough and popping out the biscuits from the biscuit cutter.  It’s a skill I learned by watching, not by doing.  Biscuit dough was too fragile for unskilled hands.

When I was growing up, biscuits were a regular weekend treat, especially in the winter.  One of my father’s greatest loves was a BIG breakfast.  The man liked his eggs over easy and his sausages browned crisp.  And please don’t forget the fried potatoes.  My mother would roll her eyes when he’d ask, “What about the fried potatoes?”  The meal was complete with a light and fluffy biscuit hot from the oven smothered with butter and honey.  My father didn’t just eat breakfast in our kitchen; he also liked to go out.  He knew every breakfast place in town, and they knew him.  He was on a first name basis with every short-order cook within a 20 mile radius of his house.  But when eating out, he always order toast, not biscuits.  My mother had spoiled him.

Biscuits, like scones and pie crust, take a special touch.   For this recipe, use cold shortening and milk.  Mix the dough by turning it over onto a pastry cloth and folding the ends of the cloth toward the center.  Be gentle; don’t knead the dough– just bring the crumbs together and press down.

BISCUITS (Makes about 1 dozen)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening
2/3 cup cold milk

Mix dry ingredients together and then cut in the shortening.  Add cold milk all at once and stir with a fork just until the dough starts to hold together.  Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured pastry cloth and bring the crumbs together by gently pressing down.  When the dough is solid and about ¾ inch thick, cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter or use a floured drinking glass edge.  Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and put in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  Then, bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.

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Yum!  Thanks, Aunt Lisa.  Mangia!

Uncle Tom likes it when Aunt Lisa volunteers to blog