Bye Bye Pepperidge Farm: DIY Stuffing Recipe Selected


Bye Bye: Pepperidge Farm Stuffing in a bag

First time ever: I will stray from my trusted Pepperidge Farm dry stuffing “foundation” in a bag. It is my family’s tradition – what my mom always made, and what I’ve made in recent years. Mind you, she always doctored it up significantly  sauteing carrots, celery, onion and mushrooms before adding the cubed bread mix. Strictly vegetarian, of course. So I am taking it to the next level this year and saying Bye Bye Pepperidge Farm and doin’ it from scratch.

I’ve been inspired by several recent articles online and in print to go my own way, as well as the From Scratch Club blog. I’ll follow the “Simple is Best” Dressing recipe by Sam Sifton from November’s Bon Appetit. It most closely mimics our old recipe – keeping it simple as the recipe title claims. Lots of fresh herbs. No sausage, no dried fruits, nothing fancy.

The recipe doesn’t seem like that much more effort than my old version, just a few additional steps and the need to remember to buy the bread in advance so you can let it go stale.

Please comment below if you make your own stuffing or dressing from scratch.

My No-Knead Bread Needs Some Work

I finally attempted Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey’s much touted No-Knead Bread Recipe. I used the 4 ingredients as instructed in the recipe (flour, instant yeast, salt and water), letting the dough rise untouched on my countertop for about 14 hours (instructions advised 12 – 18 hours). The dough was really more of a batter when I turned it out on the work surface and it was with great difficulty that I turned the “blob” into itself. It would have been impossible to knead, even if I had wanted to do so. I had to wash and flour my hands several times to move the blob around the work surface.  Despite the loose batter, it did have a great yeast-y bread aroma and I was optimistic. I dutifully followed the instructions, letting it sit for another 15 minutes, then wrapping it in a towel for another 1-2 hours. I checked out Breadtopia’s site and modified recipe, too. Breadtopia suggested 1 1/2 cups water vs. Bittman’s 1 5/8 cups (which is a hard to measure quantity, to boot). I think my dough/batter had too much liquid.

No-Knead Bread fresh from the Oven

After the final rising period, I turned my still blob-like dough into the heated Le Creuset dutch oven and placed in the oven for 30 minutes covered. As an aside, my dutch oven does not get enough use, so I am always excited to put it to work (along with my biceps when lifting it in and out of the oven!) When I removed the cover, I was excited to see a bread-like loaf had indeed formed. Maybe this was going to work out after all…

I let it cool on a wire rack for several hours and then placed it in a paper bag overnight. The bread did have an attractive crust and color, and definitely looked homemade. But the uneven height concerned me. Had my dough risen sufficiently? What is wrong with this picture, I wondered?

No-Knead Bread or Focaccia??

We tested the bread for breakfast yesterday morning. It took a little work to cut into the super crusty exterior, even with a sharp serrated bread knife. Points for a crisp crust, I thought. The interior was airy, too, but there just wasn’t enough of it. The 1 1/2 – 2 inch height was more like that of focaccia, than a traditional boule. We ate a few slices plain, untoasted, and the bread had good bite and flavor, but as Hubs aptly noted, the crust:bread ratio was off. Mind you, this bread was still infinitely edible, and there were no complaints from baby Sam. A decent first attempt, but definitely not a fool-proof recipe. I look forward to trying again.

Have you tried this bread recipe before?

Two Strikes Against Eggplant Curry

Combining the words Eggplant + Curry = guaranteed dish Hubs will never eat. Despite these two strikes, I forged ahead and gave From Scratch Club’s Eggplant Curry recipe a go.

Sauteed Eggplant with curry seasonings

I put “curry” into the category of dishes that I am better off eating outside of the home. Whenever I have thought about preparing a curry, I usually find that I am missing 1 or more of the spices. I was excited about this From Scratch Club recipe because I actually had all of the necessary spices on hand: tumeric, coriander, cumin and cheyenne. So, between my CSA pick-up and the pantry, I had all the required ingredients on hand. Ok, I was missing cilantro, but I didn’t let that stand in my way.

I sauteed the onions and shredded ginger as instructed, then added in the eggplant. The tumeric made it all turn a pretty pale yellow.  The thought that I don’t use tumeric enough in my cooking also came to mind. I fear I overdid it on the quantity of eggplant. I had hoped to use up 2 eggplants (sad that I’ve come to use that language after a long summer of cooking!), but after dicing up 1 1/2 eggplants, I realized I already had much more than I would ever consume. I knew Sam would help me, but still.

Sauteed Eggplant with fresh tomatoes simmering on the stove

I then added the chopped tomatoes, including a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes, too, simply because I had them on hand, and then added about 1/4 cup of tap water to ensure the mixture would not be too dry. I needn’t have worried because the tomatoes soon broke down and there were plenty of “juices.”

Conclusions: Yummy eggplant dish with mild spices and seasonings. I think I heavied up on the eggplant component and probably needed more spices and garlic to compensate for that. I would have liked a stronger curry flavor, but very tasty nonetheless. I had some for lunch today with crusty bread and loved it. Hubs doesn’t know what he’s missing. Thank you, From Scratch Club, for the inspiration!