Old Bay Baked Fries

You may’ve seen my salmon burger a couple of weeks back, in a This Week’s Eats post. The burger was a frozen salmon patty, leftover Stella’s Spicy Fish Sauce, and red onion on toasted bagel thins (I love these things! A regular bagel is just too much bread for me).

Well, here’s the easy-peasy recipe for the baked Old Bay French fries I served on the side.  This is one you won’t even need to refer to, after making it once!  So quick and tasty.  Obviously, the Old Bay flavor goes really well with fish, so this is my go-to side for salmon burgers and salmon croquettes!

4 large Idaho or Russet potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
~1 heaping Tbsp Old Bay seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 450°.  Meanwhile, rinse the potatoes and cut them into 1/4″ strips (as below.;  You can also use a mandolin, but I find that for a small to moderate batch, it’s just as fast to cut by hand.

2. Drizzle the olive oil in a large baking dish or cookie sheet.  Add the fries and Old Bay and mix thoroughly by hand.

3. Smooth out fries so that they are as close as possible to a single layer.  This will help them cook evenly and turn out nice and crunchy.  Bake for 25 or 30 minutes, or until browned and crispy.  I usually stir them up and turn them over once during baking, halfway through.

4. Remove and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

Pecan-Stuffed Delicata Squash

It’s decorative-gourd-eating season!

So, I had these two Delicata squash.  I had a bag full of pecans.   I had a handful of freshly-picked sage from our garden.  And I had a little sour cream that was about to go off (do we say that in America, or is that a Britishism I’m still saying, to everyone’s bemusement?).

Lucky for you, I created this recipe, which I’m earmarking for re-use at Thanksgiving.  It would make an excellent main for vegetarian guests, and could be easily veganized by substitution tofu-based faux sour cream for the real thing and skipping the egg.  I might add some breadcrumbs if I was making it vegan, too.

This dish is rich enough for an entrée, but would also make a delightful surprise served alongside a plainer chicken or turkey main.  It’s hard to beat the combination of parmesan, sage, and nuts!

So autumnal, y’all.  It was 63 degrees this morning (when I had to go for a walk instead of a swim!), so this recipe was perfect for dinner.  I hope you like it as much as we did.

2 Delicata squash
2 Tbsp butter
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
~1 Tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 black pepper
1/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook for about five minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Add sage, salt, and pepper. Stir, and cook for about one minute. Add pecans, stir again, and remove from heat.

2. Slice each squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Delicata squash are some of the easiest to work with, and the pulpy center is perfectly sized for a tablespoon! Place each of the four halves, skin-down, on a cookie sheet or shallow roasting tin lined with foil. Set aside.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix beaten eggs, sour cream, pecan mixture, and Parmesan, reserving a little of the cheese for garnish. Spoon into each of the squash halves, so that each has about the same amount of stuffing. Sprinkle with a tad more Parmesan.

4. Bake for 45 minutes (or until squash is soft and easily pierced with a fork). The cheese should be slightly browned when done.

Serve immediately, either as a main or a side dish (one squash half per person should be enough as a side).

Serves 2-4.

Stella’s Chicken Salad

There are a million chicken salad recipes, but here’s mine! I think the tiny bit of Dijon mustard and splash of balsamic vinegar really make it extra tasty. I also love slivered almonds.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken*
2 Tbsp olive oil, separated
1 cup celery, finely diced (one regular sized celery rib)
2 Tbsp minced white onion
1/4 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup kefir
1/4 cup full fat mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 black pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 375°. Place the chicken in an oven-safe dish and drizzle with half the olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Bake for about twenty minutes, turning once or twice, or until chicken is fully cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. In a large bowl, toss celery, onion, pecans, and almonds. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine kefir, mayonnaise, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Whip with a whisk until well combined, then add sugar. Keep whisking until it becomes silky smooth, then add dill, salt, and pepper. Stir thoroughly and taste; add more salt and/or pepper as desired.

3. Chop the cooked, cooled chicken into chunks of desired size (or shred, if preferred) and mix with the vegetables and nuts in the large bowl. Then pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently until the ingredients are well mixed.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and cool in refrigerator for at least two hours, or even overnight. To serve, re-stir with a large wooden spoon and eat as a main course, sandwich filling, or green leaf salad topping.

*I used white meat here, but you can use either white or dark; the latter will give your salad a slightly richer flavor and fattier texture.  I wanted a light, crisp, cool salad for summer, so I went with white meat—it’s supposed to hit 106° today!

Honey Mustard Collard Greens

Another variation on one of my favorite type of greens, this savory side dish will be liven up any dinner.  The bacon grease gives these collards their distinctive Southern flavor, while the honey mustard provides an unexpected note of sophistication.

~4 cups collard greens, washed and chopped
2 tsp bacon grease
1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
2 tsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp honey

1. In a large skillet, melt bacon grease over low heat. Add garlic and onion, stir, and sauté for about five minutes, until fragrant and translucent.

2. Deglaze pan qith red wine, then add collard greens and balsamic vinegar. Stir continuously for about five minutes, until the greens begin to wilt and turn bright green.

3. Add mustard and honey, stir thoroughly to coat all the leaves, and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Serves 2. What looks like a huge pile of raw greens turns out to be just right for two people! Double or triple recipe as desired, but don’t cook too much! These are best freshly cooked—leftover greens don’t translate.

Shown here with oven-baked bison sausage and a side of creamy brown rice.