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Lamb Boulettes, Confetti Rice and Honey Nut Broccoli

Lamb boulettes, confetti rice and honey nut broccoli

Lamb boulettes, confetti rice and honey nut broccoli

Meatballs don’t usually seem festive or unusual, but they’re easy to make and grassfed meats are the most economical when ground. I was in the mood for lamb and wanted to use a frozen package I had from Bayou Farm, Ville Platte, Louisiana. We’re so lucky to have abundant sources of pastured protein in Acadiana, and I’m grateful for all the farmers and producers who make these amazing and delicious meats.

Lamb Boulettes

Lamb Boulettes

Recently at a family gathering, I was reminded of the lamb scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It’s the sort of thing the carnivore cook in me thinks is funny. If you don’t, no problem. There are scores of recipe sites that cater to you and make you laugh at us as well. Mom, he’s a vegetarian.

My daughter mentioned a meatloaf recipe she knew of from her junior year abroad in Rome that had some unique (for meatloaf) ingredients, and I decided to use them in this boulette recipe. Seasoned with lots of parsley, lemon zest, parmesan and allspice, they are tender and toothsome without the use of a panade made of bread and milk. Instead, I used tapioca starch or you could use arrowroot.

And for accompaniments I made colorful confetti rice and broccoli. If rice isn’t for you, cauliflower “rice” is a great substitute. My nut’n’honey broccoli complements the boulettes with just a hint of sweet to lift the cashew butter and Tabasco flavors. And it’s a poke in the ribs to my long ago and wayward cereal monogamy.

Confetti Rice

Confetti Rice

Honey Nut Broccoli

Honey Nut Broccoli

This week’s Spotify playlist features some late-summer inspired tunes as much of the country returns to school, and we all savor the sweet, ripe days of the season.

Lamb Boulettes
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Lamb Boulettes
Savory lamb boulettes are meatballs seasoned with parsley, lemon zest and allspice.
Lamb Boulettes
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Savory lamb boulettes are meatballs seasoned with parsley, lemon zest and allspice.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 10minutes 20minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 15minutes
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Sauté onion and garlic in one tablespoon ghee for 5 minutes or until soft, but not brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. In a large bowl, dissolve tapioca starch in wine.
  3. Add lamb and all other ingredients except two remaining tablespoons of ghee. Combine well. Using a 1/8 cup measure, shape into 12 boulettes (meatballs).
  4. In large, oven proof skillet, add 2 tablespoons ghee and sauté meatballs on all sides until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked all the way through.
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Confetti Rice
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Confetti Rice
Long-grain rice side dish with colorful, flavorful bits of onion and pepper.
Confetti Rice
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Long-grain rice side dish with colorful, flavorful bits of onion and pepper.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 5minutes 15minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 15minutes
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  1. Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and peppers and sauté over medium heat for three minutes.
  2. Add rice and salt. Sauté for two minutes.
  3. Add broth, stir to combine ingredients. Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes. Lift lid and using the end of a wooden or other spoon, insert into center of pan, scraping gently to the bottom. If liquid remains, re-cover, cook another 2-3 minutes and check again. When liquid is evaporated, turn off heat, re-cover pan and allow to steam gently for five minutes. Fluff rice and serve.
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Honey Nut Broccoli
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Honey Nut Broccoli
Crisp broccoli with cashew butter, honey, Tabasco and macadamia nuts.
Honey Nut Broccoli
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Crisp broccoli with cashew butter, honey, Tabasco and macadamia nuts.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 5minutes 5minutes 3minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5minutes 3minutes
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Instructions
  1. Add 1/2 cup of water to large sauce pan, bring to boil over high heat.
  2. Add broccoli, cover and steam for three minutes, until crisp tender. Drain and remove broccoli to serving dish.
  3. Add remaining ingredients in now empty saucepan over medium low heat. Stir to combine thoroughly, until cashew butter is completely melted. Add broccoli to pan and combine, heating through and cooking to desired tenderness. Taste and correct seasoning, adding salt, pepper or Tabasco as desired.
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Beef Heart Burgers and No-Bake Potato Buns

Hearty Burger

Beef Heart Burgers: a new twist on an old standby.

This menu makes me think of 50s early rock, especially rockabilly. So there’s a punky Spotify playlist for your prep and noshing. Eddie Cochran had a too-short life, but a powerful influence in music. Many music historians credit him for the birth of punk rock by way of his tune, “Somethin’ Else.” Punk is in-your-face and the main course is too—so let’s get to the “heart” of the matter and have somethin’ else for supper.

The prevailing advice is: eat more organ meats. It’s where the great stuff is. But most people are put off by offal. I have my limits, but I also have the motivation to expand those limits since I know how good these foods are for robust health. Plus I have my DH (darling husband) for inspiration because there aren’t any pieces/parts this Cajun hasn’t tried, and he enjoys them all.

First up: heart. I picked up some grassfed/grass-finished beef heart, kidney and liver from Brookshire Farm (Abbeville, LA) at the Lafayette Hub City Market and decided that as ground meat, heart would be simple to incorporate into a dish. With my cheap but effective grinder, it was easy to add this often-forgotten, nutrient-packed meat into my burgers.

Ground Beef Heart

Ground Beef Heart

I wasn’t as intimidated by the raw meat as I thought I’d be. Bless them, the folks at Brookshire Farm sliced the heart prior to packaging, and I didn’t have to deal with a whole organ. I combined four ounces of the ground heart with three-quarters of a pound of ground, grassfed beef.

I wanted a real burger to eat out of hand, and I didn’t want to use a long list of ingredients. Plus I wanted something that I could make on the stove in under 30 minutes. The result is a potato cake that works well and tastes great. I purposely didn’t season the “buns” with anything other than salt, since burger buns are plain. The key to this hack is using only a tiny bit of oil in the pan so the bun wouldn’t be greasy on the fingers. You could use sweet potatoes instead of white, though I’m not sure if they hold together as well.

Potato Buns

Potato Buns

Then I assembled the burgers with garden tomato slices, lettuce, and some fresh goat cheese flavored with herbs and garlic. Along with the burgers I served grilled pattypan squash and melon and cucumber salad—light, refreshing, and no awful offal.

Pattypan Squash Ready for the Grill

Pattypan Squash Ready for the Grill

Melon and Cucumber

Melon and Cucumber

Finally leave to the scientists to figure out the best way to hold a loaded burger so all the goodies stay inside the bun. Here’s a graphic of how to do it:

burger hold

How to Hold a Burger

Hearty Burger
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Beef Burgers with Heart
Grassfed beef heart contributes delicious flavor to nutrient dense beef burgers.
Beef Burgers with Heart
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Grassfed beef heart contributes delicious flavor to nutrient dense beef burgers.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 20minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 20minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
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Instructions
  1. Cut beef heart into 1-inch chunks while partially frozen (this makes grinding easier). Grind into a medium bowl. You can also reduce the heart pieces in a food processor. Pulse in very short bursts, checking every two pulses for consistency. Scrape down the processor bowl between pulses. Do not over process. Ground Beef Heart
  2. Add ground beef and with two forks toss together with ground heart combining the two. Form into 4-ounce patties.
  3. To cook on the stove: heat cast iron or other skillet on medium high heat until hot. Sprinkle surface of skillet with generous dusting of salt. Add patties and cook for two minutes. Turn the patties over and cook for two minutes. Turn patties again and cook for two minutes. Check temperature with instant read thermometer, inserting the tip of the thermometer horizontally through the patties: 125 degrees for medium rare, 130 for medium and 135 to 140 for medium well. Continue cooking until desired temperature is reached. Serve with toppings of your choice.
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Potato Buns
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No-Bake Potato Buns
Easy-to-make, no-bake potato buns for your favorite burger or sandwich—four ingredients, no grains. Sweet potatoes can be used, too, for a paleo alternative.
No-Bake Potato Buns
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Easy-to-make, no-bake potato buns for your favorite burger or sandwich—four ingredients, no grains. Sweet potatoes can be used, too, for a paleo alternative.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
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  1. Using the large holes on a box grater, shred potatoes. On a clean kitchen towel, place a large handful of shredded potatoes and wring out as much liquid as possible. Remove from towel and add to a large mixing bowl. Squeeze liquid from remaining potatoes in batches as needed.Red-skinned potato and shreds - GheeWhizz.com
  2. Sprinkle with tapioca starch and salt. Toss to mix thoroughly. Heat 12-inch skillet on medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp. ghee or oil to skillet, spreading it evenly over the surface with a basting brush. Using a half-cup measure, scoop up potato mixture and place in the skillet. With a spatula smooth the round into a 3-3 1/2-inch circle about 1/3-inch high. Continue with remaining potato mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn potato cakes over and cook on that side for 5 minutes, covered. Remove cover, turn cakes over and cook for 2 minutes, uncovered or until spotty, golden brown. Turn again and cook for 2 minutes more, uncovered. Remove to cooling rack. Cakes can be reheated briefly in dry skillet over medium heat if making ahead of time.
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Pattypan Squash Ready for the Grill
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Grilled Pattypan Squash
Known in Cajun country as ciblème, this vegetable is also called scallop or custard squash. Meaty enough to hold their shape on the grill or in a grill pan, this vegetable is perfect at a summertime cookout.
Grilled Pattypan Squash
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Known in Cajun country as ciblème, this vegetable is also called scallop or custard squash. Meaty enough to hold their shape on the grill or in a grill pan, this vegetable is perfect at a summertime cookout.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 5minutes 10-12minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time
10-12minutes
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  1. Toss squash slices with olive oil, seasonings and herbs. Cook on grill or grill pan 5-6 minutes per side until browned and cooked to your liking. Cut off a taste to check for doneness.Ciblème or Pattypan Squash
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Melon and Cucumber
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Melon Cucumber Salad
Refreshing melon and cucumber salad tossed with lime make a super summer salad.
Melon Cucumber Salad
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Refreshing melon and cucumber salad tossed with lime make a super summer salad.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
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  1. Combine melon and cucumber in a bowl. Mix together lime juice and zest and honey until combined. Pour over melon and cucumber. Serve chilled.
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Chicken Sauce Piquant

Chicken Sauce Piquant

Chicken Sauce Piquant

Ask a Southern cook how to prepare a legendary dish like gumbo or shrimp and grits, and you will get as many answers as there are cooks. Each will explain why certain ingredients or methods are necessary or why it isn’t authentic if they are. Normally chicken sauce piquant is a long-simmered dish with lots of sauce and canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. I wanted to take advantage of an abundance of peppers and tomatoes in our garden, and this version of chicken sauce piquant is the result.

The dish comes together quickly, sautéing on the stovetop in just enough time to cook the chicken through. The bright flavors and colors are summer at its best. For the side dish, I’ve got a quick recipe for potatoes, feta, lemon and the herb of your choice. Quick enough for a mid-week meal and pretty enough for company, I hope you enjoy.

Chicken Sauce Piquant Cooking

Chicken Sauce Piquant Cooking

New Potatoes with Lemon, Herbs and Feta Cheese

New Potatoes with Lemon, Herbs and Feta Cheese

For your listening and dining pleasure, the Spotify playlist features summer tunes in a mix of patterns and textures.

Chicken Sauce Piquant
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Chicken Sauce Piquant
An abundance of summer tomatoes and peppers can turn another chicken dinner into a feast of fresh colors, textures and flavors. This quick-cooking dish won't overheat your kitchen on languid summer nights. Use a pastured bird and home grown or farmers market produce for stellar results.
Chicken Sauce Piquant
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An abundance of summer tomatoes and peppers can turn another chicken dinner into a feast of fresh colors, textures and flavors. This quick-cooking dish won't overheat your kitchen on languid summer nights. Use a pastured bird and home grown or farmers market produce for stellar results.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 10minutes 20minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 15minutes
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, add oil of choice. Place chicken pieces, skin side down, in skillet and sauté 5 minutes or until deep golden brown. Flip chicken to the other side and sauté 2-3 minutes.
  2. Remove chicken to a plate, lower heat to medium and add onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Onions should be golden but not browned.
  3. Add peppers and sauté 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds until aroma blooms. Add tomatoes and combine all ingredients.
  4. Add chicken broth and Worcestershire. Stir again and place chicken, skin side up, on vegetables. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.Chicken Sauce Piquant Cooking
  5. Check chicken for doneness using a paring knife. Cut down to the bone and make sure there are no traces of pink juice. Continue cooking if necessary until chicken is cooked through. Plate and serve.
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New Potatoes with Lemon, Herbs and Feta Cheese
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New Potatoes with Feta, Herbs and Lemon
Tender new potatoes combine with feta cheese, herbs and lemon juice elevating spuds-as-side-dish to company fare. But why wait for guests?
New Potatoes with Feta, Herbs and Lemon
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Tender new potatoes combine with feta cheese, herbs and lemon juice elevating spuds-as-side-dish to company fare. But why wait for guests?
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 5minutes 10minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 10minutes
Ingredients
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  1. Cover potatoes in cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes. Add feta and herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over all and serve.
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Collard Rolls with Boudin and Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc

Cabbage Rolls' South Louisiana Cousin: Easy boudin filled collard leaves with luscious Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc.

Cabbage Rolls’ South Louisiana Cousin: Easy boudin filled collard leaves with luscious Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc.

Collaboration is a beautiful thing. Bringing together different skills to a shared goal is rich and fulfilling. Families should endeavor to do this as much as possible. Marriages within this framework are gratifying and life-affirming. So it is with the menu this week.

Harris’s garden continues to produce: Meyer lemons, collard greens, broccoli, and green onion tops. His new greenhouse is alive with thriving vegetables, flowers, tiny trees, ferns, and seedlings. We’ve dined on perfectly ripened tomatoes, and I harvested a handful of bâton-rouge red Tabasco peppers, dried and crushed them.

A corner of Harris's prolific greenhouse.

A corner of Harris’s prolific greenhouse.

Last week Harris had a brainstorm: how about filling the collard leaves with boudin? That sounded great; we had the requisite components, and I hadn’t narrowed down my recipes for the post. I asked, “What kind of sauce do you think would be good?” His answer: “Something with lemon.” The collaboration began, and the inspired result makes a unique and delicious entrée.

There’s an old joke about a South Louisiana seven-course meal: a six-pack of beer and a yard of boudin. Generally speaking, boudin is a snack food. Eaten on the go, it’s hard to resist diving into the fragrant, steamy treat, hot from your favorite boudin purveyor. Probably 90 percent of the boudin sold in this state is consumed while driving. Boudin for supper would be amazing and different. And a twist on cabbage rolls would be fun to try.

The collards are a perfect choice for wrapping the pork and rice sausage. Cabbage would be too strong. A sweet, tomato-based sauce wouldn’t do at all. Eliminating the baking stage would make a super quick and easy meal. The Meyer lemon beurre blanc would tie all the elements together. So we thought, and right we are. We both flipped for the combo and will make it a staple recipe in our repertoire.

They say that people in Acadiana have two distinct methods for procuring their boudin and their boiled crawfish: the boudin must be around the corner, and the crawfish has to entail a road trip. That was partially the case in our house … until a fateful trip to LSU one memorable and happy Sunday. We traveled a ways for both boudin and boiled crawfish, but the travel time increased for the boudin.

Harris was returning the girl child to school, and the packed parking lot at their usual boudin stop in Krotz Springs sent them across the street to a place we’d passed by a hundred times: Kartchner’s Grocery and Specialty Meats. Shame on us! That first purchase of boudin and cracklins led to a ritual snacking stop to and from LSU. We purchased boudin-stuffed chickens, deer sausage, duck-and-jalapeño sausage, housemade bacon and so much more — all of it superb. And now that our girl has graduated, it’s a good 20 minutes from the house: good being the operative word. If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss this gem. Just watch your speedometer. The limit is 45 and getting caught going over will cost you a bundle for your delicious boudin.

Don’t despair if boudin doesn’t exist in your area. It’s very simple to make. The hardest part is stuffing the casings, and that’s unnecessary for this dish. I’ve paired the collard rolls with smashed butternut squash. Or you could serve mashed potatoes.

For the music, I’ve chosen a playlist that is sparkling and contemplative by turns. It features Grace Kelly on sax — oh yeah, go check it out — and a tune by Terrance Simien that’s included on a new CD of Cajun and Creole lullabies. Talk about a collaboration! The Lafayette General Medical Center and Louisiana Folk Roots teamed up and created music to welcome newborns to the world. It’s called, “Je m’endors,” and it’s lovely. If you know a new parent, it makes a terrific gift. Another great tune is by Bonsoir Catin from their newly Grammy-nominated CD. So from our house in the woods to your abode: we hope your holiday season is off to a merry beginning, and that you enjoy our newest recipe collaboration!

Cabbage Rolls' South Louisiana Cousin: Easy boudin filled collard leaves with luscious Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc.
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Collard Rolls with Boudin and Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc
Iconic and delicious, boudin is not often a suppertime treat. But why not? And in this homage to cabbage rolls, boudin is wrapped in collard leaves and served with a Meyer lemon butter sauce. Super fast to make if you have a favorite boudin place nearby, and collard leaves are easier to work with than cabbage. If you (sadly) don't have access to Kartchner's in Krotz Springs, Louisiana, included is a recipe for making boudin yourself.
Collard Rolls with Boudin and Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc
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Iconic and delicious, boudin is not often a suppertime treat. But why not? And in this homage to cabbage rolls, boudin is wrapped in collard leaves and served with a Meyer lemon butter sauce. Super fast to make if you have a favorite boudin place nearby, and collard leaves are easier to work with than cabbage. If you (sadly) don't have access to Kartchner's in Krotz Springs, Louisiana, included is a recipe for making boudin yourself.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
6servings 20minutes 15minutes 1hour
Servings Prep Time
6servings 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 1hour
Ingredients
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  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In an oven-proof pot, place pork, liver, onion, green pepper, celery, garlic and seasonings. Add cool water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Stir, cover and place in oven. Cook for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
  2. Being sure to reserve the meat-cooking liquid, remove the meat and vegetables, draining well, onto a sheet pan and allow to cool.
  3. In batches, chop meat and vegetable mixture well and add to a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rice and green onions. Mix thoroughly. By small amounts, add reserved cooking liquid and mix, until the boudin holds together when you scoop up a handful and squeeze it gently. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes or until ready to assemble collard rolls.
  4. Fill a large bowl with ice, water and a tablespoon of salt. Fill a large sauce pot three fourths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and collard leaves one at a time so they remain flat. Lower heat to brisk simmer and cook collards for 5 minutes. Remove collards to ice water, stirring gently. When cool, carefully remove leaves and drain.
  5. In a large pot outfitted with a steamer tray, put 1-inch of water. Shape boudin into 3-inch logs (or remove boudin from casings and cut into 3-inch segments. Starting at the stem end of a collard leaf, place boudin perpendicular to the leaf stem and roll up once, pull sides of leaf to the middle, overlapping the ends. Continue to roll until neat, tight package is created. Repeat with remaining collard leaves and boudin.
  6. Fill steamer liner or basket with collard rolls and place inside pot. Bring water to a boil making sure water does not touch the bottom of the collard rolls. Steam until heated through, 10-12 minutes. Check temperature of filling by inserting the tip of a sharp paring knife into one of the rolls and touching the tip to your lip. When it is hot enough, turn off burner and remove rolls carefully. The filling will be soft, so using a large slotted spoon or a spatula is better than tongs.
For the Meyer lemon beurre blanc
  1. Add lemon juice and shallots to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce to about a tablespoon, 3-5 minutes. Remove the shallots draining well. Return reduced lemon juice to the pan.
  2. This sauce is about technique. In order to keep it from "breaking" or losing its creamy look and consistency, the sauce cannot get too warm. Add a tablespoon of butter and without a spoon, swirl the butter in the reduced lemon juice. Above the low heat of the burner, continue swirling the pan, lowering it to gain additional heat and removing it once the butter starts to melt. Do not place pan directly on the burner. Continue add the butter by the single tablespoons, swirling and lowering. After one stick of butter has been added, season with salt, white pepper and cayenne to taste. Taste for acidity level. This is very personal. Continue to add butter by the spoonful until the flavor is bright with lemon flavor, but not too tart for your taste. Remove pan to a back, unlit burner until the collard rolls are ready to serve. Don't worry if the beurre blanc becomes thickened and starts to congeal. The heat of the collard rolls will return it to sauce consistency. Note: If the sauce does break, don't fret about it. Tell your diners you are serving a broken beurre blanc. The flavor will still be delicious.
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Earthy and creamy, this is butternut squash with lots of flavor.
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Smashed Butternut Squash
Squash that's boiled can be washed out and tasteless. Simmering the vegetable in butter and cream allows the full, sweet flavor to come through. And don't feel guilty about the richness: fat is needed for your system to extract the nutrients found in vegetables. Enjoy and be nourished!
Smashed Butternut Squash
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Squash that's boiled can be washed out and tasteless. Simmering the vegetable in butter and cream allows the full, sweet flavor to come through. And don't feel guilty about the richness: fat is needed for your system to extract the nutrients found in vegetables. Enjoy and be nourished!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 10minutes 20minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 15minutes
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  1. Place squash, butter and heavy cream in sauce pan over medium heat. When butter is melted, lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally until squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Do not allow to brown.
  2. Mash the squash, leaving it as chunky as you like or until it is smooth. Season to taste, sprinkle with green onions and and a generous pat of butter.
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Quail, Turnip, Zucchini and Pear

Pan roasted, confit, poached and shredded. Fall flavors for a celebration.

Pan roasted, confit, poached and shredded. Fall flavors for a celebration.

We don’t do turkey anymore. A few years ago there was a turkey disaster, and we faced our Thanksgiving dinner with an array of lovely side dishes and hastily prepared chicken thighs standing in for the main attraction. So the family decided that it was a good time to ditch the traditional main course and go with something everyone preferred: a standing rib roast of beef. Same sides, different star.

I love all manner of birds though, and quail is easy to find here in South Louisiana. The local Super1Foods has them in the freezer occasionally; a local producer shows up at the farmers market once in a while, and Whole Foods had them the last time I was there. Two quail make a perfect serving, and they’re quick and easy to cook. They’re delicious, too, and fall pears, cranberries, and turnips complement the rich meat so well. I added the zucchini because the mom in me can’t bear to see a dinner plate without something green on it. Habits die hard. This recipe for zucchini is a nice change from the usual zucchini preparations. Shredding the vegetable and squeezing out the liquid improves the texture considerably.

Turnips are the wild card in this meal. Some people love them, others not so much. I fall on the not-so-much side. I love the idea of turnips — they’re a nice substitute and change from potato with much less starch, but they can be bitter. I thought I’d try brining them to see what happens, and I found that much of the bitterness is removed when taking this step. It’s up to you and your tastebuds. Hey. Maybe that could be the new term for your “foodie” friends and family. The term foodie has lost its appeal; it’s almost an insult these days.

This entrée is easy to make. There are several steps involved, but none is difficult. And components of the meal can be prepared in advance making the final cooking that much simpler. It’s also a dish that isn’t going to make you feel overfull and uncomfortable, which is a boon in this season of edible excess. To start I’d suggest Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon: soothing and seasonal, it’s a warm way to open the meal. So whether you want to treat yourself, surprise a special someone, or have a holiday menu that will please a wide range of diners, this menu should do you proud.

I sincerely hope that this Thanksgiving brings you joy and genuine gratitude. For the music, I’ve selected a playlist with the theme of hopeful thanks. Wherever and however you celebrate the day, may you feel love, peace, and appreciation.

Pan roasted, confit, poached and shredded. Fall flavors for a celebration.
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Quail, Turnip, Zucchini and Pear
Autumn opulence and straightforward prep combine in an elegant meal for many or one.
Quail, Turnip, Zucchini and Pear
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Autumn opulence and straightforward prep combine in an elegant meal for many or one.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 30minutes 40minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 30minutes
Cook Time
40minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add water, salt and honey. Stir to dissolve. Place turnips in brine and let soak for 30-60 minutes. (If you do not find turnips to be bitter, skip this step.)
  2. Meanwhile start the poached pears (if not prepared ahead of time) and zucchini.
  3. Peel the pears, slice lengthwise and remove seeds with small spoon, set aside. Add cranberries, wine, water and honey to saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Trim the ends from the zucchini and shred on large holes of box grater. Place half of the zucchini on a clean kitchen towel. Draw up the sides and ends around the zucchini and twist, removing as much liquid as possible. Place squeezed zucchini in a bowl and repeat with remaining shreds.
  5. Place pear halves in cranberry sauce mixture, submerging as much as possible. Poach for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that all sides of the pears become tinted.
  6. Drain turnips and dry well with paper towels. Melt ghee in saucepan over medium heat. Add turnips and cook gently until tender, about 10 minutes. You don't want turnips to brown. Lower heat if necessary. Turn heat to very low to keep warm.
  7. Remove pears to a plate and slice lengthwise. Continue to cook cranberry sauce until thickened and syrupy. Taste for sweetness and add honey as desired. The pears can be made 1-2 days ahead and refrigerated. Serve warm, room temperature or cold, depending on your preference.
  8. Preheat oven to 375. Season quail and melt ghee In an oven proof skillet over medium high heat. (If you don't have an oven proof skillet, use a baking sheet to oven roast the quail.)
  9. Place 4 quail in the skillet and brown for 3-4 minutes, turn and brown the other side an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining quail. Replace first 4 quail in the skillet in a single layer or place all quail on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil.
  10. In a large skillet heat butter over medium high heat. Add shredded zucchini, season and cook, stirring well and often, for 5-7 minutes depending on your preference for texture. Add parmesan if desired. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.
  11. Remove turnips from pan and drain well. Season to taste. This meal can be served individually plated or family style.
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Luscious sweet potato soup is an easy starter to a festive meal.
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Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon
This super simple sweet potato soup is a lovely appetizer or lunch choice and reheats well. The bright flavors enhanced by lemon and bold color will cheer and nourish throughout the seasons.
Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon
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This super simple sweet potato soup is a lovely appetizer or lunch choice and reheats well. The bright flavors enhanced by lemon and bold color will cheer and nourish throughout the seasons.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 15minutes 30minutes 20-25minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 20-25minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add onion and sauté without browning about 5 minutes. Add celery and sauté 5 minutes. Add ginger and bay leaves and sweet potatoes. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, stir to combine, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook 20 minutes.
  2. Check sweet potatoes for doneness. They should be tender and mash easily. Remove bay leaves and using an immersion blender, purée. You can also purée in batches in a blender or food processer. Or you can use a potato masher if you prefer a chunkier texture.
  3. Add heavy cream or coconut milk, stirring to combine and heating for a minute or two. At this point you can cool to room temperature if serving later and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat. Ladle into serving dishes, squeeze lemon juice on each serving, garnish with lemon slices and serve.
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