Cuisine: American

Jambalaya by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


Jambalaya is a Cajun/Creole rice dish wit smoked andouille sausage, some chicken and seafood. (And this version is definitely more Creole wit the addition of tomatoes.)

 Ingredients may vary from home-to-home but all agree It’s one-pot cooking, delicious and soulful.


French Lentils, Roasted Butternut Squash, Smoked Chicken Chorizo and a Drizzle of Pomegranate Molasses by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


I’m still thinking about dishes that I can bring/share to our pot-luck Thanksgiving.  I think this works as a substantial side dish…and could play a supporting role in the after-the-feast-turkey-sandwich tradition!!

(Pomegranate Molasses is a syrup-like reduction of pomegranate juice.  It is both sharp and sweet and will lend a bright note to the earthiness and smokiness of the dish.)


Mushroom Turkey Gravy by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Sauces and gravies are very satisfying to make, and not so difficult.
That being said, I think turkey-gravy-making falls into two camps: Those who can make turkey gravy right in the roasting pan using the turkey drippings (the roasted bird having first been removed to a platter). No measuring involved. My mother belonged to this group. A true gravy-alchemist.
And then there’s the rest of us: Those who make a separate classic French flour-bound sauce; aka a ‘velouté’ using measured amounts of flour, butter and stock. No ‘winging it’ for this group!
I know that as a classically trained French chef, I lack my mother’s gravy-boldness. And I console myself by saying my version is perfect to make in advance. Waiting for drippings not necessary.
Small consolation, I know.
But, be assured this gravy is equally delicious and perfect for the smaller turkeys or turkey-parts we will be roasting this year.
And yes, it can be made in advance.


I have Thanksgiving anxiety and I’m not alone.
What will dinner look like this year??
One of the ideas currently being floated about by my family and countless others is a ‘pot-luck-special’: we will each make a dish and bring it to a designated porch and take home a share of all the available dishes. Truth be told, it’s a glorified take-out. Sigh.
My contribution might be this salad because it doesn’t need to be re-heated and would be delicious in the post-Thanksgiving-turkey-stuffing-cranberry-sauce-sandwiches. (I would put it right up next to the cranberry sauce.)
And It’s my effort to combat the ‘food-won’t-be-hot-at-the table’ blues.

Plum Ginger Almond Cake by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


This is an easy cake to put together and get into the oven.  There’s no frosting to make; the wreath of sliced plums and toasted almonds circling the top of the cake provides sweetness, crunch & contrast.


 I have swapped in some almond flour, which gives the cake a bit of a pound cake like texture. 


Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.



Smoked Salmon, Corn & Potato Chowder by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


I enjoy salmon in all its preparations:  grilled, poached, smoked, roasted & pan-seared. 


I especially like smoked salmon in a chowder with corn, peas and potatoes—a classic combination.


Here, I offer a lightened version: I have omitted the bacon and eschewed heavy cream for a combination of half-and-half, chicken stock and water.  A couple of tablespoons of flour along with the starch from the potatoes, binds the soup just enough to keep it from separating.  I have also employed a ‘chef’s technique’ of pre-cooking the diced potatoes and then adding them to the chowder at a later stage of cooking.  Pre-cooking the potatoes gives you more control over the ultimate thickness of the chowder and ensures the potatoes keep their shape and texture.



Quick Stir-Fry Rice with Smoked Salmon Bits, Broccoli & Corn by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


This was my recent Maine vacation’s contribution to dinner one evening.  And we ate the leftovers for breakfast the following morning with scrambled eggs. 


It both preps and cooks quickly.  If you plan ahead and have leftover, cooked rice on hand, the dish can come together in 30-40 minutes.



Summer Tomatoes with Ricotta & Brown Butter by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


A great summer appetizer:  Sliced ripe tomatoes are fanned out on a bed of ricotta flavored with basil, lemon zest and chopped pistachios.   

To finish: ‘Nutty’ and aromatic browned butter is drizzled over the top. The flavor of the fresh tomatoes with the browned butter is a surprising and delightful treat.



Southwestern Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


When it’s too hot to turn on the oven or the stove, here’s a quick and savory melted cheese sandwich that can be done outside on a grill in a pre-heated cast iron pan. 


Use a delicious, firm cheddar cheese and the kernels, shaved from two (2) pre-cooked ears of corn.  Choose a ‘sturdy’ bread, thick-sliced if possible, but at least ½-inch.  Grate the cheese on the largest holes of a box-grater and mix with a ‘binder’…I used chipotle ranch dressing, but any creamy dressing would work, as would mayonnaise or a combo of dressing & mayo.

Additionally, thin slices of tomato and/or cooked bacon would be yummy additions.


Toasted Muffin Shortcake Stacks by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Of course, you could make your own shortcakes; it’s simple enough.  But this is a super-easy hack using already baked muffins.  And if they are a day old, even better.  I used blueberry muffins but choose your favorite flavor(s).