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Chef Bruce - Christmas Side Dishes

What to serve with the turkey? I don't know about you, but I find the turkey the easy part. It's all the side dishes that can get a bit daunting. Timing them just right especially. With that in mind I had a chat with North by North West's resident chef, Bruce Wood, from Bruce's Kitchen on Salt Spring Island. He's talking Christmas side dishes and he started off with a very simple braised cabbage.

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Braised red cabbage

This is the perfect vegetable dish to serve with the Christmas turkey. Warm and comforting it is very versatile, as it can be served cold like a salad, and will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
1 head red cabbage, split and thinly shredded
2 apples, shredded
1 red onion, thinly sliced
6 juniper berries
1 tsp. freshly milled black pepper
½ tsp. Sea Salt
1 tbsp. Fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
1 cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid.
Cook covered over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes or until the cabbage is soft.
Serve hot with the turkey.
Refrigerate the leftovers for up to a week.

Horseradish whipped potatoes

Being a chef you get the greatest presents. A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a jar of housemade horseradish. Now this was no ordinary horseradish, she had grown the horseradish herself and had nurtured it into some kind of thermonuclear condiment. When I got it home a friend spied the jar. Before I could shout out a warning they had whipped off the lid and taken a deep inhalation of its contents. When her eyes stopped watering she managed to choke out WHAT WAS THAT!

2 pounds baking potatoes, washed and cut in pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup whipping crème
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. grated fresh horseradish or to taste (you can substitute jarred horseradish use the extra hot)
pinch fresh nutmeg
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste

Place the potatoes, garlic and 2 tsp. salt in a pot and cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and lower to a hard simmer. Cook the potatoes until tender (approx. 25 minutes) and drain the potatoes in a colander.
While the potatoes are boiling bring the crème, horseradish, butter and nutmeg to a boil. Boil for one minute and remove from the heat.
Pass the potatoes through a ricer or place them in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the crème mixture and beat well. (if using the electric mixer turn it on slowly so as not to wallpaper your kitchen with potatoes) Season to taste and add more horseradish if needed.

Old cheddar and pepper spoonbread

When people tell me they don't like cornbread I find that it is more a question of texture rather than taste. This boils down to the style of cornmeal you use. If you use a stone ground meal than you will have a grittier texture, if you have a finer cornmeal on hand than you will get a smoother more palatable bread.

3 slices bacon
31/2 cups white all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 cup old cheddar, grated
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
½ pound unsalted butter, melted

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a cast iron pan cook the bacon until crisp, drain the bacon on paper towels and reserve the fat in the pan. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients and fold in the dry ingredients. Crumble the bacon and mix it into the batter.
Drain almost all the fat from the pans and pour the batter into the frying pans. Place in the pre heated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a metal skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool 10 minutes in the pans. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

Maple roasted root vegetables with an oatmeal and cheddar crust

This is a recipe I developed for CBC radio when they asked me to make parsnips edible. They were pleasantly surprised to find out that they actually liked them. You can mix the vegetables any combination will work and you could even add 3-4 nice firm pears diced.
2 white turnips
4 medium carrots
6 parsnips
6 good sized jerusalem artichokes
1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded
12 pearl onions, peeled
8 cloves garlic
1/4 cup maple sirop
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 tbsp. Organic canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 branches fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. sea salt
freshly milled black pepper
1 cup rolled oats ~ or ~ organic 7 grain cereal
½ cup grated old cheddar
2 tbsp. Butter


Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel all the vegetables and cut into one inch cubes.
In a pan melt the butter with the canola oil, cinnamon, thyme, sherry vinegar and maple sirop.

Place the vegetables, onions and garlic in a bowl and toss with the butter & sirop mixture, salt & pepper.

Place the vegetables in an ovenproof casserole. Pour in the apple cider. Place the casserole in the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and pierce easily with a fork, approximately 45 minutes.

In a bowl mix together the oats, cheddar and butter and spread over the vegetables. At this point the casserole can be refrigerated for up to two days. Place the dish in the pre heated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the casserole and serve hot.

Brussels sprouts with bacon, onion & caraway

Ah the much maligned brussel sprout, sort of the Adrian Mole of the vegetable world. Reduce the size by shredding and add the intoxicating flavours of bacon and caramelised onion and you are in vegetable heaven.

If you are cooking for 6 take about 2 lbs of sprouts, cleaned and shredded, one small onion minced, 4 slices of bacon chopped.

In a heavy bottomed pan cook the bacon until it begins to get crisp. Pour off most of the fat(save about two tbsp.) add one tbsp. butter and the onion and cook until the onion is lightly browned (about 10 minutes. You can do this in the morning and just cool the pan and put it in the fridge. You can shred the sprouts ahead of time and keep them in cold water in the fridge.

Just before dinner return the pan to medium heat and when it is sizzling add the sprouts, 1 tsp. caraway seeds, salt pepper and a scraping of fresh nutmeg. Cook for 5-6 minutes and add 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar. Give the whole thing a good stir and you're ready to go. If you wish you can add 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or pinenuts to the pan.

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