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RECIPE: Oyster Dressing & The Difference Between Stuffing & Dressing

Dressing - Stuffing
[1] Dressing is cooked in a separate pan (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

Bluepoint Oysters
[2] Bluepoint oysters, a variety of Atlantic oyster (the different types of oysters; photo courtesy JP’s Shellfish).

Fresh Sage
[3] Fresh sage, an aromatic herb for recipes and garnishes (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

 

Mom was an autocrat in the kitchen (a nicer-sounding word than synonyms like dictator, despot, tyrant, she agrees). Everything had to be exactly as she willed it. As she was a great cook, it was tough to complain.

Every Thanksgiving, her stuffing was made with white bread, sweet Italian sausage, celery, onions, fresh parsley, sage and thyme.

Want chestnut stuffing? Oyster stuffing? Cornbread stuffing? Go have dinner elsewhere!

By the time we had our own kitchen, we had grown so used to Mom’s sausage stuffing that it was tough to rebel, except by switching out the white bread for cornbread.

And, we switched to dressing over Mom’s preferred method of stuffing (the difference is below).

We did shell chestnuts for stuffing for a couple of years before the wide availability of peeled, vacuum-packed chestnuts. But when you’re trying to save time, it’s easy to try another recipe.

Fortunately, our grocer’s fish counter has all the oysters one can afford, shucked and ready to plop into the dressing.

This year, we received a classic oyster stuffing recipe from Sandy Ingber, “The Bishop of Bivalves” and executive chef of the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

If you don’t want to make it yourself, the restaurant is selling it for $18/pound, ready to pick up between 12 noon and 8 p.m. on November 21st.

Orders may be placed by emailing info@oysterbarny.com, by calling 212-490-6650, or in-person at the Oyster Bar. Place your order no later than Monday, November 20th.

Otherwise: Cook away! This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance.
 
 
RECIPE: CLASSIC OYSTER STUFFING FROM THE OYSTER BAR

Ingredients

  • 1-pound loaf of white bread, cut into ½” cubes (substitute cornbread)
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups medium diced Spanish onions
  • 1 cup medium diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 24 shucked oysters (the restaurant uses Bluepoints)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRY the cut bread cubes overnight, or toast them in a low temp oven (115°F-185°F) until crisp.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F oven. Melt half the butter in a medium skillet. Add the onions and celery, cooking until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, sage, thyme and nutmeg; cook for 30 seconds more.

    3. COMBINE the cooked vegetables with the bread cubes, parsley, stock, milk and eggs, mixing gently. Fold in the oysters. Season with salt and pepper. If making dressing in a separate pan…

    4. TRANSFER the mixture to a large greased baking dish. Dot the surface with pats of the remaining butter. Lightly oil both sides of a piece of parchment and place of top of the dressing. Bake until it is crisp on top and the stuffing temperature reaches 160°F (check after 40 minutes).
     
     
    STUFFING OR DRESSING: THE DIFFERENCE

    It’s simple:

  • Stuffing is cooked inside the bird.
  • Dressing is cooked in a separate pan.
  •  
    While the idea of stuffing the bird appeals to many, most experts recommend cooking a separate dressing.

    For food safety reasons, stuffing in the cavity of the bird must reach the same 165°F temperature before it is ready to serve. If you have a vegetarian dressing, it’s not an issue.

    (But if you have a dressing made with raw meat or seafood, do make sure it cooks to 160°F.)

    It’s also a heck of a lot easier to make dressing, both in placing it in a pan instead of spooning it into the turkey cavity; and in avoiding the labor of scooping the stuffing out of the bird.


      

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    THANKSGIVING: Easy Cranberry Flower Centerpiece

    If you like flowers on the table for a special dinner, you know that it’s necessary to keep the arrangement low.

    Otherwise, guests can’t see each other across the table.

    Tall arrangements belong on a buffet or side table.

    You can finds scores of Thanksgiving centerpieces online (check out these on Pinterest).

    But for the time-pressed or craft-challenged, this arrangement from Ocean Spray (photo #1) couldn’t be easier.

    The centerpiece uses elegant white ranunculus in a bowl of cranberries.

    Yellow ranunculus or other white blooms like roses (photo #2) work just as well.

    THANKSGIVING CENTERPIECE

    Materials

  • 1 clear glass vase, pitcher or bowl
  • 1 or 2 12-ounce bags of fresh cranberries (depending on size of vase)
  • 1 bouquet of fresh flowers
  • Water
  • ¼ teaspoon of bleach per quart of vase water*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cranberries in the vase with enough water to fill the vase 3/4 full.

    2. USING a sharp knife or scissors, trim 1/4″ off the ends of the flowers, cutting at a 45° angle. Add the cut flowers to the vase, arranging as needed.

    2. REPLACE the water as needed, and discard the berries when they become soft. Snip the ends of the flowers 1/4 inch each day, as you change the water in the vase.

    ________________

    *Instead of changing the water daily, you can add bleach to the water to keep bacteria (along with their aroma and cloudiness) from growing.

     

    Floral Cranberry Centerpiece Ocean Spray
    [1] Easy, peasy: two ingredients, plus a vase and water (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

    Floral Cranberry Centerpiece
    [2] A variation with white roses, from Xmaslet | Tumblr.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 30+ Ways To Have A Greener Holiday

    Reusable Christmas Shopping Bag
    [1] Go green with reusable shopping bags (photo courtesy Pier 1 Imports).

    Rechargeable Batteries
    [2] Give rechargeable batteries with gifts that require batteries (photo courtesy Energizer).

    Feeding America
    [3] Some people would rather you give a donation in their name (image courtesy Feeding America).

    Newspaper Gift Wrap
    [4] Use newspaper wrap to plain or fancy effect (photo courtesy Steemit).

    Living Christmas Tree
    [5] Buy a living tree that you can plant outside after the holiday (photo courtesy Paramount Landscaping).

    Pine Cone Christmas Tree Ornament
    [6] Make tree ornaments from pine cones (this one from DIY Ready, more from Pinterest).

     

    We try to live as green a life as possible: recycling everything we can, making judicious purchase choices, using a Sodastream and a water filter instead of tossing endless empty bottles into the landfill.

    We don’t use wrapping paper, instead packaging gifts in reusable gift bags; and using our mom’s example of wrapping large gifts in yesterday’s newspapers (use the comics section for kids’ gifts).

    We weren’t surprised to learn that, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%.

    Environmental activist C.J. Quinn has devoted her life to raising awareness about environmental stewardship. She has shared with us her article, “Six Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint During the Holidays.”

    Give the earth a present this year, she says. “Celebrate the holidays with the gift of giving by knowing that you are thinking about the environment. Use the following tips this holiday season and smile because you are not only giving to your loved ones, but to our precious planet as well.”

    Here are her tips, interspersed with a few of our own.
     
    GIFT-BUYING TIPS

  • Bring your own bags when shopping; several reusable bags should do the trick (photo #1).
  • Get to know responsible manufacturers and shop green.
  • Buy energy-saving electronic items.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries for gifts that take batteries (photo #2).
  • Shop online and save gas (editor’s note: balance this with supporting local merchants).
  • Shop for fair-trade and locally made products.
  • Purchase natural and organically grown products.
  • Make your own gifts: bake, knit, sew, build, photograph, craft, etc.
  •  
    GIFT-GIVING TIPS

  • Give a charitable donation in someone’s name (photo #3). Some people will prefer this to “more stuff.”
  • Give gift certificates to a spa, restaurant, concert, sporting event, rock climbing wall, etc.
  • Purchase memberships to a museum, theater, gym, etc.
  • Create coupons to cook dinner, babysit, pet sit, etc.
  • Try your hand at crafting: soap, candles, ornaments (photo #6), etc.
  • Propose a “white elephant” gift-giving to friends, family or your work group. Regifting is fun and purposeful…and empties out the closets of things you’ve never used.
  •  
    GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS

  • Avoid paper that is made out of foil or metallic materials.
  • Purchase wrapping paper that is made out of recycled materials and can be recycled. Better yet…
  • Paint or stamp recycled kraft paper or plain shopping bags to make the wrapping personal (photo #4).
  • Wrap with newspaper. You can even make bows from it (photo #5). Tie with twine, which can be reused.
  • Wrap your gifts in large handkerchiefs or scarves (check out furoshiki, Japanese fabric wrapping).
  • Re-use ribbon and bows and keep the ones you get this year.
  •  
    CHRISTMAS TREE TIPS

  • Buy a living tree that you can replant (photo #5).
  • Recycle your non-living (cut) tree after the holidays.
  • Plant a tree in your yard or in a pot on your rooftop to replace the tree you bought.
  • Buy an artificial tree and spray it with essential oils of cedar, pine, or any earthy fragrance to spread holiday cheer in your house.
  • Decorate your tree with ornaments that you find at thrift stores, or use pine cones (photo #6), origami or other homemade ornaments.
  • Take the old-fashioned approach, using strings of popcorn and cranberries instead of tinsel.
  •  
    DECORATING TIPS

  • Use decorations year after year.
  • Set a timer for your lights to turn on at dusk and go off at bedtime.
  • Use LED string lights.
  • Use natural materials from your yard: branches, pine cones (photo #6), dried leaves, etc.
  • Use LED candles.
  •  
    CHRISTMAS CARD TIPS

  • Send eCards.
  • Buy only holiday cards printed on recycled paper.
  • Make your own cards using recyclable materials.
  •  
    Reducing your carbon footprint creates another kind of peace on earth—as well as your own peace of mind.

     


      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry-Apple Crisp

    Not excited about pumpkin pie? Can’t have pecans or other nuts?

    There’s always the venerable apple pie to end Thanksgiving dinner. But let us suggest an easy-to-make alternative:

    Cranberry Apple Crisp from Ocean Spray.

    We recently were served a piece, and it was love at first bite. When one guest had to leave in advance of dessert, it was all we could do not to reach across the table and snatch her plate (we were among strangers, and shy).

    Fortunately, this Ocean Spray recipe is so easy…and with a crisp, you don’t have to roll out pie crusts.

    This is a recipe everyone will enjoy.

    Crisp, crumble, cobbler: here’s the difference.
     
     
    RECIPE: CRANBERRY-APPLE CRISP

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 45 minutes. This recipe is made in a baking pan, but you can make individual servings in ramekins.

    Ingredients For 9 Servings

  • 5 cups sliced tart apples (about 6 medium apples)
  • 1 1/2 cups Ocean Spray fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • Optional garnish: vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

    2. PARE and core the apples, rinse the cranberries. Layer the apples and cranberries in the pan, sprinkling with sugar as you layer.

    3. MAKE the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Work in the butter the until light and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and cranberries.

    4. BAKE 45 minutes or until apples are tender.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF CRANBERRIES

     

    Cranberry Crisp

    [1] It looks humble, but tastes divine (photo Amy Sussman/AP Images for Ocean Spray—all photos courtesy Ocean Spray)

    Cranberry Crisp
    [2] You can make individual portions in ramekins.

    Ocean Spray Cranberries
    [3] Ocean Spray cranberries are available fresh or frozen…and the fresh ones freeze beautifully if you have to many (photo Ocean Spray)

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Opal Apples

    Opal Apples
    [1] Opal apples: golden beauties (both photos courtesy Golden Sun Marketing).

    Opal Apples Sliced
    [2] Slice it and enjoy it, without any browning.

    Opal Apples Tree
    [2] Growing in the sunshine.

     

    The most food excitement we’ve had recently in our house is…an apple.

    Not just any apple, but The Opal® apple, a relatively new breed that has finely made its way across the country.

    This exceptional, golden-skin apple (with touches of blush) is:

  • Super juicy (the juice ran down the apple into our mouths)
  • Sweet and tangy (analogous to Honeycrisp, but even better)
  • Crunchy
  • All purpose (they work in any recipe—try this slaw)
  • Non GMO-verified (the first U.S. apple variety to be verified)
  • Available in conventional and organic varieties…
  •  
    …and (drumroll…)

  • Naturally non-browning (i.e., less likely to brown after slicing)
  •  
    Yes, the flesh of this beautiful golden orb won’t turn brown.

    It’s our new favorite apple-a-day. They’re available November through March, so we’ll be happy for a while. Here’s a store locator.

    For recipes and more, visit OpalApple.com.
     
    THANKSGIVING IDEA

    Use Opals as name cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Create name tags and attach them to the apples—which turns them into party favors.

    If you don’t use name cards, place a bowl of apples at the front door, so guests can take an apple with them upon departing.

    When they wake up the next morning and dig into their apple, they’ll have another reason to give thanks.
     
    OPAL APPLE HISTORY

    Opal is the brand name for a cultivar of apple also known in the industry as UEB32642. It was created by crossing a Topaz apple with a Golden Delicious (let us hastily add that to us, the Golden Delicious seems to have contributed only its color, and not the bland qualities we associate with that particular cultivar).

    The breed was developed by the Institute of Experimental Botany in Prague, Czech Republic in 1999*.

    In North America, it is grown exclusively by Broetje Orchards in Washington, and marketed by the First Fruits company, a collaborative marketing company owned by growers. It has limited growers worldwide; currently Austria, France and the Netherlands.

    It was first introduced in 2010* in the Pacific Northwest, where it is grown by family-owned Broetje Orchards in Washington. The child of the Topaz was christened Opal, much more memorable than UEB32642.

     
    Opal Goes To Outer Space

    On January 10, 2015, the Opal embarked on a mission to outer space, on a delivery mission to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

    NASA approached FirstFruits with the request.

    Because of the high cost of sending items into space, each crew member received only one or two apples…but no doubt have another to-eat item on their lists when they return.

    Opal Gives Back

    The Opal apple also gives back. Each Opal grower also commits to contributing a minimum of 10% of their profits to charitable causes. Broetje Orchard, the North American grower, donates 50% or more of their net profits to charities around the globe.

    The Opal Apple Youth Make a Difference Initiative was launched in 2013, awarding grants to youth-led non-profits focused on issues surrounding food security and politics, nutrition and agriculture.
    ________________

    *It can take decades to develop a new cultivar of fruits and vegetables. The release date, 1999 for this cultivar, denotes when the new breed was ready for release, i.e., to be distributed to growers, who pay a royalty fee per tree planted. The developer (in this case, the Institute of Experimental Botany in Prague) can grant exclusive rights to one grower in a country or region; or enable a wider distribution.

    After they plant the seedlings, growers wait years for trees to mature and bear fruit (and also, to see how well the cultivar grows in their terroir. Standard apple trees will not produce fruit until they are between 6 and 10 years of age.

    Once the trees bear successful fruit, the grower can then expand the acres cultivated…and wait up to 10 more years for those trees to mature. That’s why the rest of the country is only now getting shipments of the Opal apple.


      

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