Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}This year will be an unusual Thanksgiving for my family. Not only will all of us be together over the holiday, but we’re also going to be home in Fort Worth and we’re going to make the big meal ourselves. I honestly can’t remember the last time we did all that–I think I was eleven!

Since we’ll be cooking in my mom’s kitchen, she’s the lady in charge. So far, she’s requested a Butterscotch Cream Pie. Other than that, nothing’s set in stone.* None of us are particularly fond of turkey, so we’re not married to the traditional meal.

Note: I mean, there will be Artichoke Dip. It’s not the holidays without Artichoke Dip.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Now, I can live without the traditional sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce, and even the rolls. I generally don’t care for gravy, so that’s no biggie. But stuffing…well, it’s my lone non-negotiable side dish. 

I’ve already got a great stuffing recipe in the archives–the base is homemade cream biscuits! I love that recipe, but I’m going in a different direction this year. My little sister has cut gluten out of her diet over the past several months, so this year, I’m using my accidentally-gluten-free Southern-Style Cornbread as the base, and doctoring it up with apples and fennel. So freaking good, y’all.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel might be my new favorite Thanksgiving side. The southern cornbread makes for a super savory base, but the pops of sweetness from the apples and fennel keep it interesting. Adding to the flavor are all the aromatics (celery, onion, garlic) and herbs (parsley, sage, thyme) you’d expect in a stuffing, plus some vegetable stock. Oh, and butter–a whole stick. It’s holiday food, not everyday food.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}My grandmother (the one with the biscuits and Lemon Meringue Pie) made a cornbread dressing that was so dense and moist that it could be sliced into squares. (It also had hard-boiled eggs in it. 😬😫😑) This recipe has very little in common with hers. While it’s definitely moist and buttery, this stuffing cannot be sliced and requires a serving spoon. 

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}With Thanksgiving just fifteen days away, I can’t wait to share this with my family. The cornbread base gives a nod to our Texan heritage, the apples and fennel are seasonal and delicious, and it’s all gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy it. Oh, and it can’t be sliced and stacked like a pyramid on a serving dish, so we’ve got something for which to be thankful.Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel {Gluten-Free}
makes 8 servings

Southern-Style Cornbread:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or neutral-flavored oil)

Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a measuring cup. Whisk together with a fork. Fold into dry ingredients. Fold in melted butter.

Heat an 8- or 9-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat for at least 3 minutes. Add bacon fat and coat. Add cornbread batter. Cook for one minute before transferring to the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

For the stuffing:
1 recipe Southern-Style Cornbread, cut into cubes, stale
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 medium white onion, small diced
2-3 stalks celery, small diced
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and small diced
2 large baking apples, peeled and small diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Remove cornbread from the pan and slice into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread cubes onto a dry sheet pan and let sit uncovered overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole. Set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, fennel, apples, and garlic, and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add sage, thyme, and parsley and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth and turn the heat up to medium high. Once liquid comes to a simmer, remove pan from heat.

Transfer dry cornbread cubes to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the vegetable mixture and mix until combined. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter and add to the stuffing. Fold in an additional 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, depending on your taste.

Cover pan with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

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Apple Breakfast Crumble

 
I love recipes that can work at multiple times of day. Take poached eggs, for example. They are great with toast at breakfast, on spinach salad at lunch, and in tomato sauce at dinner. They cover all the bases. Side note: isn’t breakfast for dinner the best? But I digress. Today, I’m bringing you an apple crumble. Apples and pie spices, topped with a crunchy oat crust. It’s a classic, home-style dessert. But I have an odd serving suggestion: make it for breakfast. 

Before you go thinking I’ve done a swan dive off the deep end, know that this was not my idea originally. You can blame Deb Perelman for all of this. Do you read her blog, Smitten Kitchen? You should–there’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular food blogs out there. She’s like Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, and Julia Child morphed into one hilarious, cooking-obsessed Manhattan mom. Deb makes things like Saltine Crack Ice Cream Sandwiches and Apricot Pistachio Squares, not to mention all the salads and impressive main dishes. She daydreams about food the way I do (or at least, I like to think we have that in common). This is all a very long way of saying that I was flipping through her cookbook a year or two ago and became obsessed with her recipe for Breakfast Apricot Crisp. I made it as-written a couple of times and have since gone a little crazy with adaptations. I’ve made it with plums, rhubarb, blueberries and raspberries, and pears and cranberries. It can take pretty much anything you throw at it and still be divine.

Today we’re going with apples. It’s very cold and windy here in New York City–the kind of weather that just demands comfort food. And nothing says comfort quite like a bowl of steamy cinnamon apples and crunchy crust. Let’s get started.

  The apples are diced small so that they cook quickly. They’re tossed with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, some cinnamon and other pie spices, a bit of cornstarch, and a touch of apple cider vinegar. The crumble itself is made by cutting butter into a mixture of oats, white whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and chopped nuts. Place the apples in a prepared pie plate and top with the crumble mixture. Then, dot everything with butter before baking for 30 minutes at 400F. The apples will be soft, but not too soft, and the crumble will be reminiscent of granola, with plenty of nubbly bits between the oats and nuts. All it needs is a dollop of yogurt (I like Siggi’s), and it’s good to go. 

Now, you might be thinking that this sounds great for a weekend brunch, but too decadent for everyday breakfasting. Let me point out a few things that might (just might!) sway you. This crumble is full of diced apples, whole grains, and nuts. There’s no pie crust full of butter and empty carbs. Instead, there are oats and white whole wheat flour, keeping this recipe whole grain. There are nuts which are, of course, high in protein and healthy fats. If you have an allergy or simply don’t want to use the nuts, they can be omitted without any negative effect on the final product. There’s butter here, but it’s not much for a recipe that feeds six–only five tablespoons. It could be cut to four if you don’t dot the top before baking, but I really love how well the crumble browns with that extra tablespoon. The least nutritious part of this crumble is probably the sugar, and there really isn’t much to be spoken of–less than 1/2 cup in the entire recipe. There is plenty of sweetness from the fruit, so a ton of sugar really isn’t necessary.

Now, I’m not a nutritionist or anything, but given the low added sugar, low fat, high volume of fresh fruit, and whole grains, I can’t see any glaring reason why this Apple Breakfast Crumble isn’t perfect for breakfast any day of the week. I am fond of keeping it in the fridge so I can dip into it whenever the mood strikes. Most people would probably warm it up, but I think it’s great cold. And on that note, instead of becoming Martha or Ina or Julia, I am slowly morphing into my mother. 

 Apple Breakfast Crumble
adapted from Breakfast Apricot Crisp by Deb Perelman
makes one 9-inch pie plate, about six servings

Filling:
4 large baking apples*, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar*

Crumble:
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour*
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped nuts*, optional
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, divided
yogurt, for serving*

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine diced apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and apple cider vinegar. Toss with your hands until evenly mixed. Pour into the pie plate.

Make the crumble. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together oats, white whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in chopped nuts. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut four tablespoons of butter into the mixture until the largest pieces are the size of small pieces. Pour mixture over the apples and use your hands to press it into an even layer. Cut one tablespoon of butter into very small pieces and use them to dot the top of the crumble. Bake for 30 minutes, until the apples are tender and the crumble is golden. Let cool ten minutes before serving with yogurt.

Apple Breakfast Crumble will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Notes:

1. I recommend using a mix of tart and sweet apples. This crumble was made with two Granny Smith and two Fuji.
2. Fresh lemon juice may be substituted.
3. Regular whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour may be substituted. 
4. I used walnuts here, but have also used pecans and almonds.

Apple Cider Snaps

 Have you ever read any of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s work? Well, you should. She is an accomplished baker and writer with several books to her name, the seminal work being The Cake Bible. She’s also written books on pie, bread, cookies, and general baking, and I own almost all of them. I love all her books and reference them regularly, but this time of year I am especially into Rose’s Christmas Cookies. The book is full of old-fashioned, elegant recipes, a million thoughtful tips to ensure success, and even has such categories as “Cookies for Giving” and “Cookies for Sending.” Basically, what I’m saying is that Rose Levy Beranbaum knows what’s up when it comes to holiday baking (and all baking, for that matter).

In the section “Cookies for Holiday Dinner Parties,” she has a recipe for Brandy Snaps Filled with Whipped Cream. They are absolutely stunning–ginger-spiced lacy cookies rolled like cigars and filled with whipped cream. Who wouldn’t want one? Well, children probably. Nothing tastes worse in little mouths than a hint of booze. And I don’t like brandy either. But I do love lacy cookies and whipped cream, so I decided to make a non-alcoholic version of a classic. I rummaged around our fridge looking for something, anything that could work in place of brandy and, lo and behold, we had a half gallon of freshly pressed apple cider. And while apple cider may say autumn to many, it says Christmas to me.     These cookies start by cooking butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, apple pie spices, and salt until they come to a boil. Then the mixture is removed from the heat so flour and apple cider can be stirred in. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, lest they become stuck to the pan. These spread about four inches, so there shouldn’t be many on the sheet. I have a tiny apartment oven, so I can do four at a time on two sheet pans. Bake these for 7-10 minutes at 350F, until they are lightly browned and are still flexible. For me, this is almost exactly 7 minutes–any longer and they become difficult to roll. They should not wrinkle when lifted. Speaking of lifting, don’t even think about it without a thin spatula in hand. I use a small offset icing knife with good results.

Now, you must work quickly here. Remove cookies from the sheet pan one at a time and immediately roll them around the handle of a wooden spoon or dowel. Press the edges to seal them. Then, slide the rolled cookie off of the handle and set aside to cool on a rack while you complete the rest. I recommend wearing rubber gloves while you do this, as the cookies will be very hot. The rolled cookies are filled with whipped cream. And while plain whipped cream would be just fine, why not jazz it up a bit? This cream is flavored with an extra little bit of apple cider, just to really drive home the apple flavor. Use a piping bag fitted with a tip to fill each cookie. The whipped cream will start to liquefy again after a little while, so don’t fill these until right before you are ready to serve.

While these cookies are simple, they aren’t easy, but they are worth all the effort. This time of year, it’s so easy to look for shortcuts in all the busyness, but there is something to be said for taking the time to make something the old-fashioned way. I highly recommend spending a little time making these crispy, crunchy, cream-filled cookies with notes of caramel and apple cider. As Ms. Beranbaum says, these cookies would be a sweet ending to a holiday dinner party. Your family and friends will certainly appreciate them.

Looking for more holiday cookies? See my Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, and Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles. Stay tuned for eight more recipes during the Twelve Days of Cookies! Apple Cider Snaps
adapted from Brandy Snaps Filled with Whipped Cream in Rose’s Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum
makes two dozen cookies

Cookies:
10.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup*
1/4 cup light brown sugar*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons freshly pressed apple cider

Cider Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly pressed apple cider
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Make the cookies. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir over medium-high heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the flour, followed by the apple cider. Drop tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, leaving ample room for them to spread (at least four inches). Place the pot of dough in a bowl of hot water to keep it fluid. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at 3 minutes. When the cookies are light golden brown and lacy, remove the pans from the oven. Let cool one minute.

Working quickly, use a small flexible spatula to remove each cookie, and gently wrap it around the handle of a wooden spoon or a 1″ dowel. Press the outer seam to hold the shape. Remove the rolled cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat until all dough is used.

Make the Cider Whipped Cream. With an electric mixer, beat cream and brown sugar just until the mixer starts to leave defined marks in the cream. Add apple cider and vanilla, and continue to whip the cream until fluffy. Place it in a piping bag with a tip. Immediately before serving, pipe whipped cream into rolled cookies on each end. Serve immediately.

Un-filled rolled cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Whipped cream will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days, but will need to be lightly whipped before piping.

Notes:
1. Light corn syrup may be substituted.

2. Dark brown sugar may be substituted in both the cookies and the whipped cream.

Apple Cider Snaps