Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
As Thanksgiving preparations are already undereway for tomorrow’s eating feast, I wanted to share with you some last minute ideas. Most of us will be having a lot of family and friends over tomorrow during the day to help out with cooking the food for Thanksgiving Dinner. While the men usually gather in the family room and catch up on their latest fantasy football scores or their favorite NFL teams standings, the women standing in the kitchen hard at work (and also the other way around as well!), and with the children in the play room; it’s a sure bet that stomachs will be growling if you don’t feed your guests something in between their arrival and the time dinner is to be served. Here are some ideas (to go along with the usual cheese, fruit, nuts, and cracker or vegetable crudites platters) for dishes that will satisfy your guests and still leave them with enough of an appetite to feast on the main meal. You can put these dishes/platters out on the coffee table or set up a separate fold up table in your family/tv room. These dishes can also be made ahead of time (today).
It’s also always a good idea to have a cocktail table/bar with light Apéritifs…you don’t want your guest drunk, just slightly intoxicated to feel enough of the holiday cheer! Below are also some of my favorite holiday cocktails that can be made in batches and left in punch bowls or glass decanters.
For the children at your holiday party, put out juice boxes or make a batch of hot apple cider and serve with whip cream, dusted with cinnamon, and a slight drizzle of caramel. Make sure the children’s Apéritif table is also stocked with healthy snacks like cheese string, grapes, sliced apples, animal crackers, and low sodium sausage bites. This will keep them from having a melt down while they play and allow their mommies and daddies to enjoy the party.
Yields: 24 straws
Total Time: 55 min
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Oven Temp: 400
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sauté shallot and roasted red pepper in olive oil, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Stir in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Roll 1 sheet puff pastry to 1/16-inch thickness. Trim to about a 16- by 8-inch rectangle. Spread red-pepper mixture over dough. Roll out the other sheet to same dimensions and place over first sheet. Press slightly to seal. Lightly brush with water and sprinkle with more grated cheese.
- Cut dough into 24 eight-inch-long strips. Twist each strip and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking pans. Chill for 20 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by using grated or shredded cheese, spinach or mushroom to make “pastry pinwheels”. Layer the ingredients in between each layer of puff pastry and roll up. Cut pastry into one inch circles. Place on baking sheet, paint with a little melted butter or extra virgin olive oil. You can also make sweet versions of these pastry pinwheels with cinnamon & sugar, chopped nuts, pieces of dark chocolate and dried cherries or cranberries, or candied ginger, cinnamon, & nutmeg.
Store the savory/sweet straws (or pinwheels) in an airtight container or zip lock bags and they will stay fresh until you need them.
Yields 60 Pieces
Total Time 40 mins
- 2 sheet(s) frozen pastry dough, thawed
- 12 all-beef hot dogs
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
- Poppy seeds, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 puff pastry dough sheet into a 12- by 14-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 equal pieces for a total of 6 pastry pieces. Repeat with second pastry.
- Pat hot dogs dry with paper towels and pierce each several times with a fork. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and salt for egg wash. Roll each hot dog in 1 puff pastry piece, then seal with some egg wash.
- Place pastry-wrapped hot dogs on parchment-lined baking sheets and lightly brush with remaining egg wash; sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Slice each pastry-wrapped hot dog into 5 sections and serve warm with spicy mustard, if desired.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made with sausage or chorizo. You can also serve with a cheese sauce for those who don’t like spicy mustard. Sesame seeds also taste great in place of poppy seeds!
- Puree all the ingredients together in a food processor. Mix in fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, rosemary, or thyme, if you desire. Serve on toasted pita triangles.
*NOTE: Variations of this dip can be made with black beans, garbanzo beans, or red kidney beans. You can also melt some shredded cheese on top or mix a little goat cheese in with the original recipe. You can also choose to serve the dip with bagel chips or pretzel chips. You’ll see how fast your guests eat this up!
- 1 loaf(s) day-old Italian bread, cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- Peppercorns in pepper mill
- Heat broiler or grill. Toast bread slices on both sides.
- Arrange toasts in basket. Serve with a bottle of olive oil and pepper mill alongside to season toasts.
Tomato and Olive Topping
- 1 teaspoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup(s) Niçoise olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/3 cup(s) chopped yellow bell pepper
- 2 cup(s) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon(s) sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned — about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and add the olives and yellow pepper. Increase heat to high, add the tomatoes, and sear until heated through.
- Toss the charred tomatoes with the onion mixture. Serve over toasted breadslices. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by adding crispy proscuitto and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top of the diced tomato. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf or sprinkle with leaves of fresh basil that have been julienned. Or add some chopped shrimp (sauteed with butter and garlic) to top the toasted bruschetta.
- 1/2 cup(s) crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon(s) capers, chopped
- 4 slice(s) pumpernickel toast
- 1 cup(s) pea sprouts
- 8 ounce(s) sliced smoked salmon
- 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
- Stir crème fraîche and capers together. Spread onto toast slices. Place pea shoots on each toast slice. Layer with smoked salmon. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by slicing seedless European or Japanese cucumbers in place of the smoked salmon for those who do not eat fish or are Vegetarian.
Preparation time 50 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
1 can white crab meat (about 170 g), drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts (about 230 g), drained and coarsely chopped
1 can (310 g) corn kernels, drained
4 spring onions, chopped, green parts reserved
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
6 sheets filo pastry (about 45 × 30 cm each)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Sweet chile sauce to serve.
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Combine the crab meat, water chestnuts, corn, spring onions, ginger, chile and Chinese rice wine in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the canola and sesame oils in a cup.
2. Stack the filo sheets on top of one another and roll up the sheets loosely, rolling from a short side. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll across evenly into three pieces. Cover two of these shorter rolls with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Unravel the third roll, remove one of the strips and set the rest aside, covered.
3. Lay the strip of filo flat on the work surface, with a short end nearest to you, and brush with a little of the oil mixture. Place a heaped teaspoon of the crab mixture near the bottom, towards the right-hand corner of the short end, and fold the pastry diagonally over it. Continue folding diagonally, over and over, until you reach the end of the strip, making a neat triangular parcel. Place on a baking tray, seam-side down.
4. Repeat with remaining strips of filo, uncovering them only when needed, until all of the crab mixture is used.
5. Lightly brush the tops of the parcels with any remaining oil mixture and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 12–13 minutes or until crisp and golden.
6. Transfer the parcels to a wire rack and cool slightly. Meanwhile, shred the green tops of the spring onions for garnishing, to form ‘brushes’. Serve the parcels warm, on a tray garnished with the spring onion brushes and a small dish of sweet chile sauce.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by using prawns or shrimp to fill the parcels: Use 4 ounces chopped cooked peeled prawns in place of the crab. Replace half of the water chestnuts with canned sliced bamboo shoots.
The parcels can be prepared in advance; cover the baking trays with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator. The baking time may need to be increased by 2–3 minutes if the parcels are very cold.
**NOTE: You can also make a simpler version with crab meat, chopped green onions (which are scallions), cream cheese, and ricotta cheese. Use a wonton wrapper and stuff the crab mixture inside. Brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 20 mins or until the wrappers are a light golden brown.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Roasting time: 10 minutes
2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine walnuts with remaining ingredients. Arrange coated nuts in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan.
2. Roast about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container.)
Makes: 2 cups
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by using pecans, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts. You can also make sweet spiced nuts by using cinnamon, brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter.
Pour the following into a whiskey glass or a tumbler:
1 oz pear liquor
1/2 oz whiskey
Fill to top with ginger ale.
Garnish with cranberries, slices of pear, or candied ginger.
Baked Apple Martini
Cut an apple into quarters and skin it. Soak in brown sugar and dash of cinnamon. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place in a glass baking pan for 15 minutes. You do not want the apples to get soggy but stay a little crisp but combine with all the sugars and flavors. Remove from heat and let cool. You can prepare these ahead and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
In a classic martini glass mix:
1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz apple liquor
1/2 oz sweetened apple juice
You can skewer the apple pieces with cocktails skewers which can be found at any party, food, or craft store. Or simply place the apple pieces at the bottom of each cocktail glass. Don’t forget to rim your glass with cinnamon and sugar to complete the presentation!
1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz Pumpkin Liquor
2 oz milk or cream
Medium roast blend coffee
Pour ingredients into a tall glass dessert coffee cup. Top with swirled whipping cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin spice. Serve Immediately and Enjoy!
- 1 part vanilla vodka
- 1 part Kahlua
- 1 part Irish Creme
- A dash of pumpkin pie spice
- Candy Corns
- Place a Candy Corn on the bottom of a martini glass.
- Mix together the Irish Creme, Kahlua and vanilla vodka in a shaker with ice. Pour into a martini glass and sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice on top for decoration and to add extra flavoring.
- 1 part bourbon
- 3 parts apple cider
- 1 part apple schnapps
- Cinnamon sticks
- Warm the apple cider in a glass mug.
- Add the bourbon and apple schnapps, then stir in a cinnamon stick.
- 2 parts cranberry juice
- 3 parts apple juice
- 2 parts rum
- 1 part Chambord
- Ringlet sliced apple
- Mix all ingredients, except for the sliced apple, in a tall glass with ice.
- Strain into a martini glass
- Garnish the edge of the glass with a ringlet of apple.
- Top with a dollop of fresh whip cream
- 1 part apple brandy
- 1/2 part ginger brandy
- 1 part spiced rum
- 4 parts eggnog
- Ginger cookies
- Mix the eggnog, spiced rum and brandies in a cocktail glass with ice.
- Garnish the top with crumpled up ginger cookies or rim your martini glass with crushed gingersnap cookies.
“Eating is Believing!”
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
At the end of your fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner impress your guests further with a Dessert Table. This showcase of sweet delights is a wonderful way to finish your dinner party and also allows guests to pick and choose what they want to nibble on. Include an array of teas, both caffeinated and herbal. Also don’t forget to satisfy those java lovers with their choice of coffee, latte, cappuccino, or espresso. You can also stock your table with digestifs of sherry, port, madeira, and ice/dessert wines. Give those looking for something less sweet a cheese and fresh seasonal fruit plate. I always like to finish my meal with some fresh season fruit salad (mixture of pears, pomegranate, sweet Bing cherries, and honey tangerines) topped with mascarpone cheese mixed with honey, cinnamon, and fresh made whip cream infused with brandy or Kahlua…it’s light and airy with just a touch of sweetness to compliment the fruit. Sprinkle a little toasted coconut or perhaps a bit of chopped candy pistachios and you have yourself a beautiful dessert to offer along with the usual pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies, chocolate cakes and brownies.
If you’re looking for a new dessert recipe that has the “wow factor”, here’s a few of my favorite desserts to make for my Thanksgiving Dessert Table. Also included is a recipe for a delicious cupcake called “Everything But The Kitchen Sink”. It’s an original recipe from a high school friend of mine, Danielle Kath Spyropoulus, who is one of the original founders of a cupcake club called What’s Up Buttercup Cupcake Club. The group meets up once a month to try out a new recipe they have invented!
Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cupcake
Recipe by Danielle Kath Spyropoulos of What’s Up Buttercup Cupcake Club. http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=120221354656944
It’s a banana chocolate chunk cupcake with a walnut cream cheese icing infused with honey.
Cupcake: Makes 18
Preheat oven to 350F
1 Stick of butter room temp
1 cup of sugar
6 oz of cream cheese room temp
1 tsp of baking soda
2 cups of sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp of vanilla
2 bananas mashed
1/2 bar of Ghiradelli bittersweet baking chocolate chopped into small pieces
Cream butter and sugar together
add eggs and mix thoroughly
add cream cheese, flour and baking soda
add vanilla and mashed up bananas
then add chocolate
Put into cupcake tins and bake for 18 to 20 mins
1 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar
1 stick of butter room temp
6 oz of cream cheese room temp
2 tbs of honey
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
Cream butter and sugar together
add cream cheese and whip till smooth
stir in walnuts
Yields: 1 9-inch tart or 12 4-inch tartlets
13 tablespoons (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1. Let the butter sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until malleable.
2. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat. Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer, combine the sugar and butter at medium speed, until the sugar is no longer visible.
3. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible.
4. Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl. Add half of the flour, then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly. Add the remaining flour and then the cream and mix until the dough forms a sticky mass.
5. Flatten the dough into a thick pancake, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before preparing to roll out the dough.
6. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring (or fluted tart pan) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat pad.
7. Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, cut it in half, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, until you have 16 equal pieces. Work quickly with the dough so that it remains chilled. Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Knead the pieces of dough together until it forms one new mass and shape it into a flattened ball. Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough. Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick.
8. To easily transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan, fold it in half gently, then in quarters. Move the folded dough to the tart ring or pan, with the point of the dough in the center, then unfold it, gently patting the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top of the ring. Dock the dough with a pastry docker or prick the dough all over with a fork.
9. Put the baking sheet and pastry ring into the freezer for 1 hour.
10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the baking sheet and ring in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.
Filling and assembly
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 cups unblanched sliced almonds
1. Keep (or preheat) the oven to 350 degrees. Measure the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, remove from heat.
2. To make the caramel, spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry, deep 10-inch skillet and place it over medium-low heat.
3. The sugar should turn straw-colored, then gold and then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes. If the sugar cooks unevenly, gently tilt or swirl the pan to evenly distribute the sugar. Remove from heat and slowly whisk the cream and butter into the sugar, which can splatter as the cream is added (long sleeves are a good precaution). If the caramel seizes, return it to the heat and continue to stir until it is smooth and creamy. Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.
4. Stir the frozen cranberries and the almonds into the caramel and mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough mounding toward the center.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges. Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 hour, then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.
6. Carefully transfer the tart to a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Hazelnut Pear Tart
Recipe from Readers Digest
You Will Need
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped blanched hazelnuts
1/3 cup apricot preserves
2/3 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3/4 pounds pears, peeled, cored and sliced
What to Do
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat in vanilla, flour and hazelnuts. Press into a greased 11-in. tart pan with removable bottom. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; reduce heat to 350°.
2. Spread apricot preserves over crust. In a bowl, combine the hazelnuts, sugar, flour, butter and egg. Spoon over preserves. Arrange pear slices over filling in a concentric circle, slightly overlapping slices.
3. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.
Maple Praline Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup half-and-half cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup English toffee bits or almond brickle chips
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups whipped topping
1/4 cup English toffee bits or almond brickle chips
What to Do
1. In a bowl, combine the pecans, coconut, flour, and brown sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a 10-inch spring-form pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack (leave oven on).
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine brown sugar and flour; add to cream cheese. Add the cream, syrup, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs just until combined. Stir in toffee bits. Pour over crust. Return pan to baking sheet.
3. Bake until center is almost set, 50-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Remove sides of pan. In a small bowl, combine the syrup and whipped topping; carefully spread over cheesecake. Sprinkle with toffee bits. Refrigerate leftovers.
Marshmallow Cranberry Cheesecake
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 can (16 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2/3 cup superfine sugar
What to Do
1. In a small bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, nuts and sugar. Stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9- in. spring-form pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
2. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved; cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and marshmallow creme until blended. Beat in cranberry sauce. Add cooled gelatin; mix well. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour over crust. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
3. Scrub cranberries in soapy water; rinse and dry completely. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand for 1 minute. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Whisk until slightly frothy.
4. Lightly brush mixture over all sides of berries. Place on a wire rack over waxed paper; sprinkle with superfine sugar. Let stand at room temperature for up to 24 hours (do not refrigerate or the sugar will dissolve).
5. Just before serving, carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan. Spoon sugared cranberries over cheesecake. Refrigerate leftovers.
Snowball Cake Pops
Serve these snowball sticks upright in a block of Styrofoam to add a touch of whimsy to your party. The nonalcoholic variation makes great holiday snacks for a kids’ party. You’ll need 36 candy sticks, available at bulk food or candy-making supply stores.
- 1/2 cup cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch pinch salt
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup amber rum or apple juice
1-3/4 cups white chocolate coating wafers
1 cup cup sweetened flaked coconut
In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and sa< stir into butter mixture alternately with milk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of milk. Scrape into greased and parchment paper–lined 9-inch (2.5 L) square metal cake pan.
Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack; peel off paper. Let cool. (Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap; overwrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)
Trim darkened edges off cake. Crumble cake into food processor; drizzle with rum. Process until in fine crumbs; transfer to bowl.
Press by heaping 1 tbsp into balls; insert candy stick into each. Refrigerate on parchment paper–lined baking sheet until firm, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate wafers until smooth. Remove from heat.
Dip balls in chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl; refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Dip balls again; sprinkle all over with coconut. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
- Tip: Chocolate coating wafers are designed to be melted and moulded. They coat thinly and are ideal in this recipe, especially in comparison to finicky white chocolate. Available in a variety of colours, coating wafers are found at bulk food stores.
- Tip: You can coat your cake balls with chopped nuts and toasted coconut too!
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Makes 12 whoopie pies
- FOR THE PUMPKIN WHOOPIE COOKIES
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cloves
- 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- FOR THE CREAM-CHEESE FILLING
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
- Make the filling: Sift confectioner sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
- Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.
*Note: Here’s a recipe for a Maple Cream Cheese filling!
For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Baked Apple Doughnuts
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1-3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup Crisco (shortening)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 milk
- 1/2 cup finely diced apples
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
How to make it
- Cut shortening with a pasty blender or 2 knives until mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Set aside.
- 1 egg beaten, 1/2 cup milk and apples. Mix Well. Add to dry ingredients. Mix just until blended.
- Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
- Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until done.
- Melt 1/2 cup butter, set aside. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with cinnamon mixing well and set aside also.
- Remove donuts immediately from muffin cup. Roll first in butter mixture coating evenly. Roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture.
- Cool on wire racks
- Dust with powder sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon and granulated sugar, or make a vanilla glaze dip for the doughnuts.
“Eating is Believing!”
Thanksgiving’s main dish is traditionally roasted turkey or baked ham. But what do you do if you’re a Vegetarian? Of course a lot of the sides dishes are filled with vegetables, but it’s always nice to have an option for a Thanksgiving main dish that caterers to Vegetarians too. Here’s some ideas and recipes for your main dish if you’re having an all Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu. They are so delicious and filling they might make you turn Vegetarian if you’re not and forget all about the turkey and ham! Not only are these some of my favorite Vegetarian Dishes, but they are also loved by my friends and clients.
Recipe from Emeril Lagasse
Cook Time: 20 mins, serves 4 adult portion sizes
- 1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, about 3 large, scrubbed and boiled in skins until tender
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
- Salted water, for cooking gnocchi
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Allow the cooked potatoes to cool slightly, then carefully peel while holding potato with a kitchen mitt. While still hot, puree potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool completely before proceeding. Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, egg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper and mix well. Gradually add in enough flour to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Briefly knead the dough to incorporate the flour, being careful not to overwork.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and place 1 piece on a lightly floured work surface. Roll piece into a long rope, about 1/2-inch in diameter, flouring lightly if needed. Slice the rope into pieces 1/2-inch wide. Holding one piece at a time, roll the tines of a fork against the dough until slight indentations are formed. Repeat with each piece of dough, setting formed gnocchi on a floured kitchen towel or baking sheet.
Immediately add the gnocchi to the boiling water and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes once they have risen to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon or skimmer and set aside briefly while making the sauce.
In a skillet over high heat add the butter when pan is very hot. Let butter sit undisturbed until almost all melted and outside edges have begun to caramelize. Quickly swirl the skillet and add minced sage. Let cook for 30 seconds longer, season with salt and pepper to taste and add gnocchi to skillet to toss with sauce and rewarm if necessary. Serve immediately with shaved Parmesan cheese
Recipe is Amy Sue’s Tasty Bites Original
1 large yellow onion, small dice
1 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
4 cups of grated cheese (you can use any kind of cheese you want. I usually do a mixture of Munster, Swiss, and Gouda, and Parmesan)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice (or grain of choice…i like to use Quinoa or Wild Rice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (you can use white navy beans or any other kind of bean you like)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I like to use homemade breadcrumbs, but if you’re going to use store bought Japanese Panko works really well)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus extra for garnish
6 portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.In large skillet, sauté the onions and walnuts with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until onions are soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes.
3. In a large bowl combine onion mixture, your grain choice, dried cherries or cranberries, beans, breadcrumbs, vegetable broth, basil and thyme. Mix together and season to taste with salt and pepper. (The stuffing can be made up to three days in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator.)
4. Brush both sides of mushroom caps lightly with olive oil and place top-side down on an oiled sheet pan. Stuff mushrooms with about 1/2 cup stuffing mixture, then sprinkle generously with cheese. (The mushrooms can be stuffed and assembled on a baking tray the day before you plan to bake and serve them.)
5.Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the stuffing is browned and the mushroom begins releasing juices. Garnish with extra fresh thyme leaves. I usually always add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and basalmic vinegar reduction as well.
Yield: Serves 6.
*NOTE: You can use different chopped or diced vegetables to make your own stuffing mix…tomatoes, zucchini, tofu, goat cheese, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, corn nibblets, and kale also work really well.
Recipe from Food & Wine Magazine
Eggplant is sautéed in olive oil until it’s creamy soft and then tossed with pasta and cheese. A quick stint under the broiler melts the fontina and browns the top.
- 7 tablespoon(s) olive oil
- 1 large eggplant (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 pound(s) zitti or penne
- 1/2 pound(s) fontina, grated (about 2 cups)
- In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the eggplant and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and cook 3 minutes longer.
- Heat the broiler. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain.
- Toss the pasta with the eggplant, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cheese and toss again. Transfer the pasta to a shallow baking dish or gratin dish. Broil until the cheese melts and starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Wine Recommendation: Though dolcetto translates as little sweet one, that refers to the grape; the wine is delightfully dry. It will make an ideal partner for this tasty dish.
Tips & Techniques
Eggplant controversies: Cooks in Italy, as everywhere, disagree about whether or not eggplant should be peeled. It seems to be a matter of personal preference, but keep in mind that an eggplant that is overgrown or has been stored for a long time will have a tough skin that will not soften during cooking. It’s often a good idea to peel it. Whether or not to salt and drain eggplant before cooking remains a matter of dispute, too. Some say you should salt slices heavily and drain them on paper towels for an hour to rid the eggplant of any bitterness; others feel it’s an unnecessary step. What is indisputably true is that eggplant that has been salted and drained will absorb less oil during frying than eggplant that has not.
Recipe from EatingWell
Total Time: 40 min
Cook Time: 30 min
- 1 can(s) salad beans or other beans, rinsed, divided
- 2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup(s) chopped carrot
- 1/4 cup(s) chopped celery
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
- 4 clove(s) garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup(s) white wine
- 1 can(s) diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup(s) chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 8 ounce(s) whole-wheat fettuccine
- 1/2 cup(s) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. Mash 1/2 cup beans in a small bowl with a fork.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine; increase heat to high and boil until most of the liquid evaporates, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juices), 2 tablespoons parsley and the mashed beans. Bring to a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining whole beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in the boiling water until just tender, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
- Remove the bay leaf from the sauce. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Top with the sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining parsley.
Recipe from Good Housekeeping
*Note: Substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth to keep in vegetarian friendly. This dish is perfect over pasta or rice. It’s also delicious and filling on it’s own!
Yields: 6 1/2 cups
Total Time: 43 min
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 28 min
- 2 teaspoon(s) olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) curry powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground allspice
- 1 can(s) (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 can(s) (14 to 14.5 ounces/1.75 cups ) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup(s) no-salt-added garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed and drained
- 1 large (about 16 ounces) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 2 small (about 6 ounces each) zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 1 cup(s) whole-grain couscous
- 1/4 cup(s) loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
- In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic, curry powder, cumin, and allspice; cook 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes, broth, beans, and sweet potato; cover and heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini and cook, covered, 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare couscous as label directs.
- Stir mint into stew. Serve stew with couscous.
Recipe from Food & Wine Magazine
Total Time 1 hour and 45 minutes
*Note: You can also make regular biscuits or puff pastry to top these individual servings of pot pies. Both work really well and tastes delicious!
- 1 pound(s) parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound(s) Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 pound(s) pearl onions, peeled and halved (see Tips & Techniques)
- 1 medium (1 1/2 pounds) head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
- 1 large (1 1/2 pounds) celery root , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup(s) extra-virgin olive oil
- 20 sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon(s) chopped sage
- 6 sprig(s) thyme
- 1 teaspoon(s) chopped thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 1/2 cup(s) milk
- 1/4 cup(s) finely chopped yellow onion
- 5 sprig(s) flat-leaf parsley
- 4 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup(s) heavy cream
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Unbaked Sweet Potato Biscuits
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large roasting pan, toss the parsnips, Brussels sprouts, pearl onions, cauliflower, and celery root with the olive oil. Add 6 of the sage leaves and 4 of the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned in spots. Discard the sage leaves and thyme sprigs. Lower the oven temperature to 375°.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the chopped onion, parsley, 6 of the sage leaves and the remaining 2 thyme sprigs, and bring to a simmer. Cover and let stand off the heat for 15 minutes. Strain the milk; rinse out the saucepan.
- Melt the butter in the saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the strained milk to the saucepan, reduce the heat to low, and whisk occasionally until very thick, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the chopped sage and thyme and the heavy cream and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Fold the sauce into the roasted vegetables.
- Spoon the vegetable mixture into eight large, 4-inch-wide ramekins and top with the unbaked Sweet Potato Biscuits. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg and press the 8 remaining sage leaves onto the biscuits. Bake the potpies in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden and risen and the filling is bubbling. Let the potpies cool slightly, then serve.
Tips & Techniques
To peel pearl onions, blanch them in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Let cool, then peel off the skins.
*NOTE: Visit me again on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 to read “Dessert Table Menu Ideas & Recipes!” It’s the perfect way to end your Thanksgiving Dinner Party!
“Eating is Believing!”
If you’re still planning your Thanksgiving Dinner Party Menu and need some ideas for the side dishes, here are some of my all time favorite Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes.
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 Anjou pear or 3 Seckel pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup water
- Sweetened whipped cream (optional)
*Recipe from Better Homes & Garden
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup brown sugar, the 2 tablespoons butter, and the 1 tablespoon water. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to boiling. Pour mixture into a 9x9x2-inch baking pan, spreading to cover bottom. Arrange pear slices in a decorative pattern on top of brown sugar mixture; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and cloves; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/3 cup brown sugar; beat until combined. Beat in eggs and molasses until combined.
3. Alternately add flour mixture and the 3/4 cup water to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter evenly over pear slices in pan, being careful not to disturb pear.
4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife or narrow metal spatula, loosen edges of cake from sides of baking pan. Carefully invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm. If desired, top each serving with sweetened whipped cream. Makes 9 servings.
Time: One hour plus 24 hours for drying bread
1 large loaf Pullman or other firm white bread
1 pound chanterelle mushrooms
1/3 pound pancetta, diced small
10 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins
1 large chopped onion
1/4 cup minced shallots (about three)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup white wine
3 1/2 cups diced pears (about four or five firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou) plus one whole pear
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup minced chives
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups turkey stock.
1. Tear bread into small pieces (you should have about 16 cups) and set in roasting pan or bowl. To dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside.
2. Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a large plate.
3. Add 2 tablespoons butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding pancetta.
4. Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.
5. Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.
6. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour one cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If you are stuffing a brined turkey, remember that the bird will add a bit more salt.
8. Just before roasting turkey, place some room-temperature stuffing lightly inside a prepared bird. Place whole pear in opening of cavity to help hold stuffing in the bird.
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.
Yield: Enough stuffing for a 12- to 14-pound turkey and a dozen muffin tins. If not stuffing a turkey, recipe will fill two dozen muffin tins or a small casserole dish.
*Recipe from NYTimes
Acorn squash has a mild flavor and goes well with sweet and nutty seasonings. This makes a nice Thanksgiving side dish, though you might want to cut the baked halves in half again for smaller portions.
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Freshly ground nutmeg
*Recipe from Martha Rose Shulman
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until soft enough to easily cut in half. Cut in half, and scoop out the seeds and membranes.
2. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Stir the maple syrup and walnut oil together in a bowl, then brush over the cut surfaces of the squash. Sprinkle with a very small amount of ground nutmeg. Place in the oven and bake one hour, brushing every 10 minutes with more oil and maple syrup. When the squash is tender, brush once more, then spoon a tablespoonful of finely chopped walnuts into each cavity and return to the oven for five to 10 minutes, until the walnuts are toasty. Remove from the heat. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: Makes four large servings or eight medium servings.
Advance preparation: This can sit for an hour or so after it’s done. Cover with foil.
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably organic stone ground
1/2 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (to taste)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 9-inch cast iron skillet, a heavy 2-quart baking dish or a heavy 9-inch square baking pan in the oven while you prepare the batter.
2. Place the cornmeal in a bowl, and sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir the mixture with a spoon or whisk to amalgamate. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt (or buttermilk), milk and honey. Whisk the cornmeal mixture into the liquid mixture. Do not overwork the batter.
3. Remove the pan from the oven, and add the butter to the pan. Swirl the pan so that the butter melts quickly before it gets too brown, then quickly whisk the butter into the batter. Brush the sides of the pan with any butter remaining in the pan.
4. Quickly scrape all of the batter into the hot pan, and place in the oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It will be quite brown on the edges. Allow the bread to cool in the pan, or serve warm.
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings. This is easily doubled for a larger quantity of stuffing. Bake it in a 3-quart baking dish (it will take about 45 to 50 minutes) or in two 9-inch pans.
Variation: Sage Cornbread
Stir 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon rubbed dried sage into the batter before turning into the pan.
Cornbread and Sage Stuffing
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each olive oil and unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste
4 stalks celery, cut in small dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons rubbed sage, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper
A double batch of cornbread (see above), crumbled (you can do this in a food processor fitted with the steel blade)
1/2 cup milk, or as necessary, for moistening
4 tablespoons unsalted butter if baking separately
1. Heat the olive oil (or oil and butter) over medium heat in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about three minutes, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the celery. Cook together for another few minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the garlic, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. Combine well. Taste and adjust salt. Moisten as desired with milk.
2. Stuff the cavity of the turkey, or transfer to a buttered or oiled 2-quart baking dish. Dot with butter. Cover with aluminum foil, and heat through in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.
Yield: Makes enough stuffing to fill an 18-pound turkey.
Advance preparation: You can make the cornbread several days ahead and the stuffing a day ahead.
*Note: You can add rosemary, lemon thyme, mushrooms, sausage, chorizo, cheese, peppers, pecans, walnuts, golden raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, or apricots to make your cornbread stuff more special. Use your creativity and come up with your own unique stuffing by adding different ingredients.
You can also hallow out small pumpkins or apples and bake the cornbread stuffing in them. Sprinkle a little cheese over the top and they are not only delicious, but the presentation is beautiful! You’re guests will be impressed that you’ve put a spin on traditional Thanksgiving stuffing!
FOR THE BARLEY-MUSHROOM MIXTURE:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light-green part only, finely chopped
2 cups pearled barley
1 rosemary sprig
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
1 1/4 pounds shiitake mushroom caps, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup toasted, peeled hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
For the chive butter:
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon plus one teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 cup chopped chives (about 1 bunch)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add barley and rosemary sprig; cook 1 minute more. Pour in the stock, 1 1/2 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and simmer until barley is tender and most liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Check it after an hour. If it is tender but liquid is not absorbed, drain barley in a strainer. Or if liquid has evaporated and barley is still not tender, add a little more water and continue cooking until it is.
2. Meanwhile, toss mushrooms with oil,
3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer on two large baking sheets. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and beginning to crisp around edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Make chive butter: In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, mash together the garlic and salt until it forms a paste. Stir in the lemon zest and juice until salt dissolves. Pound or pulse in the chives, then stir in the butter until incorporated.
4. Spoon hot barley into a large bowl. Stir in mushrooms, hazelnuts, parsley and chive butter until well combined. Taste and add more salt and lemon if necessary.
Yield: About 9 cups, enough to stuff a 10- to 12-pound turkey.
*NOTE: Variations of polenta cakes can be made sweet or savory. Look below for some ideas.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
FOR THE LEMON CURD:
8 lemons, preferably thin-skinned and seedless
3/4 cup sugar.
1. For crust, combine flour, salt, butter and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl. Mix with your fingers until it forms flaky crumbs and lumps. Mix in egg, almond extract and lemon juice. Continue to mix until it clumps; at first it may seem very dry. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 day ahead of baking.
2. For confit, slice off and discard ends of lemons. Slice 5 crosswise, peel and all, as thinly as possible. Remove any seeds and place in a bowl. Peel skin, including white pith, from remaining 3 lemons, then slice thinly crosswise, and add to bowl. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Toss and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
3. Place lemon slices and their juice in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook down until lemons are candied and small amount of liquid in pan is sticky and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
4. To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Roll one ball until large enough to fit into a 9-inch round tart pan. Dough will be crumbly (more shortbread than pie crust); if it falls apart, press it back together. Spoon confit over crust, spreading evenly. Roll out second ball of dough and place on top, sealing edges but making sure no crust overlaps the rim (or tart will be difficult to remove later).
5. Bake until edges of tart are lightly golden, about 35 minutes, then sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Return to oven for about 10 more minutes; edges should be lightly golden and crust cooked through but not browned. Serve warm or cooled.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
Pear Ginger Crumble
2 1/2 to 3 pounds pears (about 5 large ones), peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons raw brown (turbinado) sugar, preferably organic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 2- or 2 1/2-quart baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together the pears, sugar, lemon juice, candied ginger, vanilla extract or seeds, and cornstarch or arrowroot.
2. Scrape the fruit and all of the juice in the bowl into the baking dish. Set the baking dish on a baking sheet for easier handling, and place in the oven. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the liquid syrupy. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool if desired.
3. About 30 minutes before serving, spread the crumble topping over the pear mixture in an even layer. Bake 20 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves eight.
Advance preparation: The crumble topping keeps for several months in the freezer. The recipe can be made through Step 2 several hours before the final baking.
*Quinoa-Oat Crumble Topping
This topping can be used to make any number of delicious, gluten-free crumbles.
1 1/4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup quinoa flour (grind quinoa in a spice mill to make the flour)
1/3 cup unrefined turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Place the oats, quinoa flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the grain mix. The mixture should have a crumbly consistency.
2. Spread the topping over the parchment-covered baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven, and bake 10 minutes. Rotate the pan front to back, stir the mixture and bake another 5 to 10 minutes until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool. You can keep this in the freezer for several weeks in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Yield: Makes a little over 2 cups, enough for one crumble serving eight made in a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish.
1 1/3 cups gingersnap crumbs (about 25 gingersnap cookies)
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, slightly cooled
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
9-inch pie plate
Making the Crust: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. The cookies must be finely ground for this crust. This can be done with a food processor or any other method you choose. You need to have approximately 1 1/3 cups of crumbs. Next, combine the gingersnap crumbs, melted butter, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir until the crumbs are moistened. Press your crust mixture evenly into your pie plate. Press evenly and pack tightly as you cover the bottom and sides of the dish. Use your fingertips to work the crust over the bottom and sides. Now, bake the crust for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it is crisp. Let the crust cool completely before filling. If you’d like to prepare your crust early to reduce the kitchen stress, feel free to make the crust and wrap it in plastic. It can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Prepare the Pumpkin Mousse Filling
1 prepared gingersnap crust
1 tablespoon of cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of heavy cream (keep chilled)
An instant-read thermometer
Making the Filling:
Put your water in a small stainless-steel bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, letting it stand to dissolve.
In a slightly larger stainless-steel bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Add about 2 inches of water to a medium-sized saucepan and bring just to a simmer. Place the bowl with yolk and sugar on top of the simmer water
Take care that your bowl’s bottom is NOT touching the simmering water. Heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reaches 160 degrees on the instant-read thermometer.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in your gelatin mixture. With an electric mixer, beat about 5 minutes, or until cool and thick. Next beat in the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla.
Place the chilled heavy cream into yet another mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into your pumpkin mixture.
Your pie filling is now ready to be placed in the previously prepared crust. Be sure to scrape the entire filling into the crust. A spatula may help with this. You will now need to cover your pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The pie should be refrigerated for at least 6 hours and can set for up to 1 day. Be sure that the filling has set completely before serving your pie.
Serving the Pie: Once the filling has completely set, it is ready to serve. Top each slice with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream or store bough cool whip. If you are making homemade whip cream, you can also infuse with a shot of brandy or vanilla liquor. One taste of your scrumptious creation and your diners will be begging for seconds!
*NOTE: Visit me again tomorrow for more recipes ideas for an all Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu and Dessert Table Menu and Ideas!
“Eating is Believing!”
On Thanksgiving Eve (or two days before Thanksgiving Day to be honest) I usually start to get excited and anxious. Not only because I’m high on anticipation of the next day’s holiday festivities, but because there’s things I can start on to reduce the amount of cooking and stress on Thanksgiving day.
Here are some tips for which ingredients I usually prep one or two days before Thanksgiving and also what dishes I make in advance.
Tip #1: Vegetables & Fresh Herbs - Any vegetables that need to be chopped, diced, or sliced for any of my dishes can be done the day before Thanksgiving. They keep well in zip lock bags until you need to use them. By doing this simple prep a day ahead, it makes putting my dishes together easier. Also if you have guests or family coming over to help with the cooking, it takes less time for each dish to be cooked by eliminating this tedious task the day before. I will also label the vegetables for which dish and portion them out according to my recipes before putting them in zip lock bags.
With the herbs, I wash them and pat them dry with paper towel or spin them a few times in a salad spinner. Then I wrap them loosely in a semi damp paper towel before putting them in the zip lock bag. This helps the fresh herbs stay vibrant and also eliminates the task of washing and picking the herbs off their stems. This is especially useful for fresh herbs such as cilantro and Italian flat leaf parsley. For fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, I usually keep them on the stem until they need to be used. You can give your herbs a quick rinse and put them in a tall glass or jar with water to sit on your counter top. It’ll be ready for use the next day and also makes a nice presentation for those gathering around the kitchen to help.
Tip #2: Turkey and/or Ham
By now my frozen turkey will have been completely thawed and ready for my dry (or wet if you choose) salt brine. I have used a wet brine for some previous Thanksgiving turkey dinners, but I find that unless you have a very large fridge (or chef’s restaurant refrigerator) that can hold the container the turkey is being brined in, it’s much easier and less stressful to do a dry salt brine. I also like the texture of the turkey meat much better when you use a dry salt brine. The turkey meat comes out very juicy, tender, and still firm. If you use a wet salt brine, the meat is juicy, but the texture can turn out a bit spongy if let your turkey sit in the wet brine for too long.
A dry salt brine requires you to salt your turkey 24-48 hours ahead of Thanksgiving day. Massage the turkey every so often to redistribute the salt. The salt will release moisture from the turkey which gets reabsorbed by the turkey (when it roasts in the oven). You are basically brining your turkey with this method as it cooks. When you are dry brining your turkey, remember to carefully loosen the turkey skin and rub the salt under the turkey. You can also mix dry herbs in with the salt to give your turkey more flavor. I usually do this with a mixture of sea salt, fresh cracked peppercorns, and a mixture of Herbs de Provence.
Once my dry brine is done and the turkey is ready to go into the oven to begin roasting, I place small pats of non salted butter under the skin. I also make a mixture of lavendar honey, white basalmic vinegar, verjuice or lemon, and orange marmalade for the turkey glaze. I also stuff my turkey with quartered lemons, oranges, and a bundle of fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary. This makes your turkey more aromatic and also the juices and flavors of the herbs absorbs into the turkey meat as it roasts.
For my ham I usually make a Glazed Spiced Maple Ham. I make sure the ham’s skin in scored so the flavor of my glaze will penetrate through to the meat. The glaze base is made from pure Maple Syrup, honey blossom spread, non salted butter, a mixture of spices that usually are Middle Eastern Influenced, and a reduction of homemade cherry or pineapple jam with fresh orange juice. I make enough of my glaze to coat the ham several times as well as extra to make a gravy/sauce to be served with my glazed ham if guests want any on the side.
Tip #3: Take Home Treats & Thank You Notes - The day before Thanksgiving I wake up in the morning and start baking the take home treats for my guests. I try to make 2-3 variations of bite size cookies, brownie or nut bars. I make 2 batches of each kind and that’s usually enough to fill my take home boxes or goodie bags. Remember, you’ll have a dessert table at dinner so this treat is just a small sweet something for your guests to enjoy at a later date. I also write out my short Thank You Notes to be included with each treat box/bag. Remember to write special thank you notes to those guests who have lent a helping hand or supplied your party with a cooked dish, pot, or pan.
Once the treats are all baked, cooled, and cut into bite size pieces (the bars) I put them into seperate plastic containers that are air tight. This keeps them fresh until I am ready to box/bag them up. I usually box/bag them first thing in the morning on Thanksgiving day, before the guests start to arrive.
Tip #4: Baking Your Pies, Cakes, and/or Desserts – While my oven is still on, I start the baking process for any dishes that will sit on my dessert table (i.e. pies, cakes, brownies, cookies, etc). These items will keep well until the next day and can be also kept on the counter in a cake/pie stand or bakery box. If you have room in your fridge you can also put them in there for extra freshness and just warm in the oven the next day after dinner is eaten.
Tip #5: Baking Cornbread, Stuffing Cups, Rice Stuffing, or Pasta Dishes – If any of these dishes (or categories related) are on your menu, you can also make them the day before Thanksgiving. They are also easily reheated in the oven and leaves you time to mingle with your guests. The next day you only have to cook (or bake) your fresh vegetable dishes, mashed potatoes, the turkey or ham, and your turkey gravy or sauce for the ham. If you have a soup course on your menu, you can also make this 1-2 days before Thanksgiving. This is a good idea if you want to be able to socialize during your Thanksgiving party and not be in the kitchen the entire day.
Tip #6: Last Minute Check and Pick Ups – The day before Thanksgiving Day, I also check to make sure I have everything I’ll need for the next day. Remember to pick up your fresh flowers and pre-ordered bakery items. I also send out one last friendly reminder email to those guests brining anything to my party.
Tip #7: Relax and Remember It’s Only Thanksgiving!- If you’re getting super stressed or overwhelmed for your Thanksgiving Dinner Party go for a walk or stroll around your neighborhood. While this holiday can be stressful, remember to have fun and that whatever happens, it’s only Thanksgiving. The fact that you are taking on this huge cooking holiday is a feat in itself! It’s not an easy holiday to cook or host and while you may want it to go perfect, nothing in life ever is…so remember to relax and just go with the punches. Next year you can pre-order some of the dishes from your favorite caterer!
To read more about what dishes or items you can make in advance of Thanksgiving Day, visit my RECIPES page to see which dishes Mark Bittman from NYTimes makes days ahead of this huge eating holiday! http://amysuestastybites.com/page-3/
To read “Chefs’ Tips For The Thanksgiving Meal” by Sam Sifton for NYTimes, visit my What’s New? – NEWS page. http://amysuestastybites.com/page-8/news/
For last minute tips from Good Housekeeping, click here. http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/holidays/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-prep?GT1=47053
“Eating is Believing!”
So it’s 2 (or 3 if you want to allow yourself some extra time) days before Thanksgiving Day and 1 day before you’re going to start prepping for your Thanksgiving Dinner Party. What to do now? This is the time where you want to go over everything to make sure the cooking part of your party is stress free and your dinner comes out perfect!
Here’s a list of what I check for before the real fun begins!
Check #1: Recipe & Gathering- I go over all my recipes that I will be using. I print them out, then I gather the ingredients together and put them aside each in a separate pile or cardboard box. The ingredients that need to remain refrigerated, I also gather and put in plastic bags. I then label each box or bag with a printed recipe, stapled or taped to the front. This allows me to just reach for a box and bag when I’m ready to begin making that specific dish.
Check #2: Missing Ingredients – If I’ve missed any ingredients during check #1, I write them down on a notepad to get at my local grocery or food store later that day.
Check #3: Checking Pots & Pans- I check all my pots and pans to make sure they are the right size for the amount of food I will be cooking in them. I also make sure all of them are cleaned (if I haven’t used them in a while…dust does collect, even in cupboards and the pantry) so I don’t have to clean any the day of cooking. I then set them aside and write on a piece of scrap paper what I am using the pot or pan for. The scrap paper goes into the specific pan/pot so there is no confusion when the cooking starts. This is especially helpful if I am having guests over to help cook. Everything is written out and labeled so there are no questions. If I have requested any guest to bring over a pot or pan (if I don’t have enough), I email (text or call) them to make sure they remember to bring it on Thanksgiving Day.
Check #4: Serving Plates, Dishes, Glassware, Cloth Napkins, and Cutlery- Again, I go through my entire cupboard to make sure I have enough serving plate and dishes for all the dishes I will be cooking for Thanksgiving. I also label them, make sure they are clean, then set them aside with a sticky note for which dish I will be placing in them. A cardboard box works nicely to stack and keep them clean. You can set it on the floor without worrying about them taking up counter space. If I have requested any guests to bring a serving plate or dish, I also email (text or call) to make sure they remember to bring in on Thanksgiving Day.
With the dishes, glassware, cloth napkins, and cutlery that my guests will be using for the actual eating of the dinner, I also make sure they are clean and set them aside. Again, you can put them in a cardboard box so you’re counter spaces is clear. I mark the box “Dinner Set” so when I’m ready to set the dinner table, I can (or whomever is helping with this task) just pull the items out of the box and begin.
I also make sure I have a stack of plastic cups, plates, forks, and napkins for guests to use during the day when they are munching on the hors d’oeuvres. You can recycle them and there is no washing to worry about (other than those you’ll need to do while the food is cooking from the pots and pans). You can buy relatively inexpensive and festive designs at your local party, craft, or grocery store. Or if you have some left over from you last summer gathering and your party is more informal, you can utilized these as well.
Check #5: Decorations/Centerpiece- I always advise clients to have a centerpiece on their dining table for dinner parties. This creates a focal point for your table-scape and also makes the party more festive. You can either have an Autumn floral display, a medium size pumpkin with smaller gourds surrounding the pumpkin, a holiday wreath of Autumn leaves with pine cones and candles, or whatever your imagination desires. Have fun with it! Use your creativity and put some of your personality in it. Not only will it make a statement, but it’ll lend your party some fun and festive atmosphere! Once you decide what to do, you can head to your local craft store and nursery. Craft stores are relatively inexpensive and most also have a silk flower section if you’re not into real flowers. They will create something wonderful for you based on what you like. It looks just like the real thing and can be saved for another holiday party. If you’re looking for real flowers, most grocery and food stores have a floral department that have pre-designed bouquets. You can order ahead and pick them up on Thanksgiving Eve, when you go out to get the baked goods you pre-ordered at your favorite bakery. If you live in NYC like I do, almost every bodega or your corner deli’s will have fresh flowers that you can buy daily. Also relatively inexpensive, it’s a cheaper alternative if you don’t want to splurge with your favorite florist.
Check #6: Take-home treats for Guests- When throwing a dinner party, I always like to have a little something for guests to take home as a reminder of what a wonderful time and dinner they had with me (or my clients)! Much like restaurants giving you a small box of candy sweet jellies, Bon Bons, truffles, or macaroons and hotels leaving warm chocolate chips cookies or gourmet chocolates on your pillow at night, I like my guests to have a happy feeling when parting at the end of the evening. It’s a sweet reminder of the food experience they just had…able to be savored at a later date. I usually like to make these small treats myself and box or bag them up in elegant or themed wrappers with satin ribbons. But if you’re pressed for time, picking up a few of your favorite truffles or bite size cookies at the bakery or food store works just as well. When your guests leave with their leftover bags, stick one of your treats in their bag…and don’t forget to attach a Thank You Note. If specific guests have helped with the cooking, brought over a cooked dish, or supplied you with a pot, pan, or serving dish to use, write a personalized thank you to these guests. Not only will they appreciate it, but you’re giving a special “Thank You” on the holiday where it’s warranted most! Generic Thank You notes are also fine.
*NOTE: Check back on Friday, November 19th 2010 to read “Prepping Your Food For Your Thanksgiving Dinner Party” and to get some of my “Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes” for your perfect dinner party!
“Eating is Believing!”
Shopping for fresh produce and the turkey for your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu should be done 4-5 days in advance of Thanksgiving day. This will allow for you to buy the freshest fruits, vegetables, and meats and still have a couple of days to go through your checklist to see if you’ve missed anything. If something wasn’t available at the grocery store or food market on that day, it still allows you enough time to go back (3 days before Thanksgiving day) and get the required ingredients. Shopping for your fresh produce 5 days before Thanksgiving also alleviates the stress of the dealing with the masses at the food stores that usually occur on Thanksgiving Eve with last minute shoppers.
Here are some tips for shopping for your fresh produce and how to store them.
Tip #1: Frozen or Fresh Turkey?
At the stores you will see a choice of either frozen or fresh turkey. Depending on the space in your fridge or freezer, this is really up to preference. Growing up we always had an extra large freezer down in our basement, so my mom bought frozen turkey for the holidays as soon as it came on sale in November at the supermakerts. She always bought more than one large bird…we like turkey! It’s a bit cheaper than buying the fresh turkey…and tastes the same (we also had fresh turkey during some of the holidays).
If you are buying a frozen turkey, first, check and see how many pounds your turkey weighs. Then use this chart andsee how many days it takes to unthaw in the fridge. You will need to put the turkey in the fridge from the freezer that number of days before cooking day, or you will need to buy your frozen turkey from the grocery store on that day.
8 to 12 pounds – needs 1 to 2 days to unthaw in the refrigerator
12 to 16 pounds – needs 2 to 3 days
16 to 20 pounds – needs 3 to 4 days
20 to 24 pounds – needs 4 to 5 days
The size (lbs) of your bird depends on how many guests you are having over, how much leftovers you want, and if you are baking another main protein in addition to your turkey. I usually buy a bird about 20 -25 lbs. and a ham (10 lbs) for a dinner party of 10 people. This allows me to have enough leftovers for guests to take home (I always get requests for leftovers). It also leaves me enough to make my Baked Turkey Cornbread Casserole and Glazed Ham Frittatas for brunch the next day.
You can also opt to buy two smaller birds (about 10 – 12 lbs each). I have done this for a previous client’s Thanksgiving Dinner party and it worked out great! We carved one bird (and the additional Spiced Maple Glazed Ham) and the 2nd went to the packaged leftovers my guests requested. I have also done 4 turkey breasts instead of a whole Turkey for an elegant dinner party where my guests wanted only white meat.
Here is a link from Butterball to help you calculate what size turkey you’ll need depending on number of adults, kids, if you’re a big eater, and if you want leftovers. http://www.butterball.com/tips-how-tos/tips/calculators-and-conversions
Tip #3: Buying Vegetables and Fruits
When shopping for your fresh vegetables and fruits, you should always look for firmness, no browning in the greens, and vibrant colors. Here a link that will tell you what to specifically look for in each vegetable. http://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/VegetableBuyingGuide.htm
Supermarket fresh fruit displays hold fruit products raised in the U.S. or imported from other countries, mostly South America depending upon the season of the year. No matter the supplier, their will be regional taste differences since the fruit will have been raised in different soils, under a wide variety of conditions and blossoms fertilized by a variety of bees. Look for shelving that is clean and cooled.
When choosing fruit, it’s a touch-feel-smell game. You have to touch the fruit and test it for firmness. Granted, not all the fruit is sold in a ripened state, but a lot of the stuff in the shelf will already have ripened. Select fruit slightly under ripe with firm unbruised skins.
Oranges will have a color the looks bright. A little green may not matter depending upon the variety. Strawberries must be inspected because the fruit always looks better on top. Each box could contain spoiled fruit underneath. Once a particular fruit spoils, the spoilage transfers to other fruit in the package. The spoiled fruit may have white fuzz or mold growing on it.
Use your nose to smell. Fruit should smell like fruit and nothing else. A piece of fruit that is too ripe will smell too sweet, as the sugars in the fruit become more intense as it ages. If any odor seems strange to you, discard the fruit and go onto another. This is not to say that you’ll have to sniff all the fruit on the shelf, but one or two should be indicators enough for you to make an informed decision about freshness.
Tip #4: Storing Vegetables and Fruit
Carrots: The ideal temperature for carrots is between 32-40 degrees F, with a 90-95 percent relative humidity.
To prepare for storage, wipe the carrots clean and trim the tops to 1/2 inch. Do not include any carrots damaged by insects or disease. They can spoil and the rotting can spread to the other carrots. Also, never snip off the bottom tips of the carrots as this too can lead to rotting. Perforated plastic bags are a good choice as a storage container. The carrots can touch each other, just don’t pack them in too tightly. Some moist air must be able to circulate.
Another storage method is to use a cardboard or wooden box lined on the bottom and sides with a 2 or 3 inch layer of damp peat moss or sawdust. Place a layer of carrots on the bottom, on top of the insulating material, leaving 2 to 3 inches of space near the sides. Cover them with a layer of peat moss or sawdust and alternate layers of carrots with the peat moss\sawdust. Store the box in a cold, but not freezing area, such as a garage, porch, or unheated room. -
Potatoes and Yam: Before storing the potatoes, put them in a paper bag with holes in it. Avoid using plastic bags, as they tend to increases condensation and thus, lead to development of mold.
Potatoes should always be stored at a place which is cool, dark and has lots of ventilation. One of the best options is to store the potatoes in a root cellar. Avoid storing the potatoes in a pantry, as it may lead to their sprouting and dehydration. Potatoes should not be in the refrigerator, especially below a temperature of 7 deg C. This is because below this temperature they develop a sweet taste and get darkened when they are cooked.
The ideal temperature at which potatoes should be stored is somewhere around 7- 10 deg C. Never ever store potatoes along with onions. When the two of them are put together, they produce certain gases that spoil both of them.
Mature potatoes should not be stored for more than 2 months, while the new ones should be consumed within 1 week. Sweet potatoes should be stored for a maximum period of one week only, since they are very delicate. Never ever keep the potatoes in direct sunlight. Infact, keep them away from prolonged exposure to light. If exposed to light for too long, they become green, develop a bitter taste and might become toxic.
Keep on checking the stored potatoes every few days. The moment you see a soft, shriveled or sprouted potato, remove it from the storage area.
Onions: Onions should be kept in cool, dark, and dry conditions. The ideal temperature would be somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees.
A good place for storing onions is in a root cellar or dark corner of the garage. Stored onions require ventilation as well. You can use a mesh bag for storing the bulbs or a pair of panty hose.
It is okay to eat an onion that has sprouted if you chop into a stored onion and find a green center. Just slice off the sprout and remove the green part. If the onion is slimy or discolored, do not take any chances eating it and throw it on the compost pile instead. You will have plenty more to choose from since you learned how to store onions properly.
Mushrooms: Place your mushrooms in a paper bag. The paper will absorb excess moisture that is released by the mushrooms. Fold over the top of the paper bag. You only have to loosely fold it. The idea is to close the top, but in a way that will still allow the mushrooms to breathe. Place the paper bag in the refrigerator, but not in your vegetable crisper. The cool air from the refrigerator will allow the mushrooms to stay fresh for several days.
Oranges, Lemons, Limes: Citrus fruit should be stored at room temperature, but must be consumed quickly within a week. Make sure that you cull out spoiled fruit to prevent the spoilage from transferring to other pieces. Fruit will keep in your refrigerator’s crisper for six to eight weeks. Make sure you check it once a week to cull out the spoilage.
Here is a link that tells you how to store each specific produce. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Consumer/story?id=6951820&page=1
* Note: Visit me again on Wednesday, Nov. 17th to read “Checklist Day for Your Thanksgiving Dinner Party!”
“Eating is Believing!”
Now that you have your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu set, it’s now time to shop! Though this can be a tedious task to many, it’s actually quite simple if you follow how I shop for my Thanksgiving Menu. Here are some easy tips to follow to make sure your shopping expedition goes smoothly and stress free!
You’ll first want to look through your kitchen cabinets, pantry, and fridge to see what items you already have that will last you through Thanksgiving Eve (when you start your prep work for your dinner party).
Tip #1: Make a list of all items that you need, listing each item into it’s category of
E. Meats (or other proteins)
I. Pre-made items (i.e. frozen pie crust – if you are not making one from scratch, any syrups or extracts you might need when baking, sweeten coconut flakes, canola, vegetable, or olive oil, or boxed/bagged stuffing -if you are not making them from scratch, etc.)
J. Kitchen Supplies *Note: This is very important because some recipes you will be using will call for items you might not have. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender works just as well in a pinch. Aluminum baking sheets or pans can also be used for the turkey or any items you are putting into the oven. Pots and pans you will need, but don’t feel as if you should go out and buy them all if you don’t have as many as you need. Ask your guests who are coming early to help out with the cooking to bring a pan or pot. If it’s an informal dinner party, they won’t mind..and it’ll make them feel more at home!
K. Serving Platters and Bowls *Note: If you don’t have enough for all the dishes you are planning on having on your menu, again, you can ask you guests to bring one from their home. Mixing and matching creates a fun table-scape when the dinner is set.
Tip#2: Shop for items that are non perishable or won’t spoil while it sits in your pantry or fridge/freezer (i.e. canned pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, frozen spinach, canned corn, corn meal, vanilla extract, aluminum foil and aluminum baking pans/sheets, etc.) These items are usually always in stock at your local grocery or food store. This is also a good time to go shopping for the wine or other spirits on your list. If you shop for them in advance, you can cross them off your shopping list and leave the fresh items for 3-5 days before Thanksgiving.
Speciality or seasonal items around this time of year are usually well stocked in the stores, but just to be on the safe side, get your bag of fresh cranberries (for the chutney, relish, or sauce) in advance. They keep well in the fridge until you need them for Thanksgiving Day.
Tip #3: If you are ordering any baked items from your favorite bakery instead of baking it yourself, make sure you have placed your order by now. Most catering companies and bakeries in NYC allow orders to be placed up until the beginning of the 3rd week in November. That’s when they place their orders with their vendors for fresh fuits or other items they will be using for their baking needs for their client’s Thanksgiving orders. You can pick up the baked goods you’ve ordered on Thanksgiving Eve.
Tip #4: After shopping for all your items, place them aside where you (or others in your house) will not mix them up with the other items you shop for weekly. Just to be safe, I also always label mine with stickers marked “THANKSGIVING” (a permanent marker works just as well).
Tip #5: If you are using any recipes, print them out and place them in a 1″ binder or folder labeled THANKSGIVING. This will come in very handy when you do your check list 3 days before Thanksgiving.
NOTE: Visit me tomorrow to read more about shopping for your fresh items for your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu and Check List Day!
“Eating is Believing!”
Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away and like most people, I’ve already started to prepare for this massive food and eating holiday! Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving. It’s my all time FAVORITE food holiday because of the endless things you can cook and bake. I remember the first Thanksgiving I cooked for was back in college. My sorority did a joint dinner party with the fraternity next door. Since I had some experience with helping my mom prepare Thanksgiving dinner (we hosted many parties and my mom always made a huge Thanksgiving spread), it was decided that we would need 5 turkeys to feed all the hungry mouths and I added a ham as another option to the turkey. One turkey was roasted by my sorority sister, Jenn, that turned out a beautiful golden brown. I decided to roast the rest and the one ham at my off campus apartment. It was a long 2 days of brining the turkeys and preparing some side dishes. I don’t think I slept much the night before, but it was all worth it…the dinner party turned out to be an amazing success with a smorgish-board of things to pig out on!
Prepping for Thanksgiving dinner is much easier these days since I only cook one turkey (or 2 turkey breasts) and one ham (unless I am catering for clients). But I still start prepping for it as soon as it turns November on the calendar. I usually start by writing down ideas for different menu options. I never want to make the exact same thing as the year before, but I still want to keep the classics, adding my own twist. And depending on if I have any Vegans or Vegetarians at Thanksgiving dinner, I always make an all Vegan menu option as well.
So for today’s post, here is how I start planning for my dinner menu.
Step 1: Outline – breaking down the selection of ideas.
1. Cocktails & Apéritif
- red wine
- white wine
- holiday themed cocktail
2. Hor d’oeuvres
- vegetarian/vegan option
6. Main Course
- vegetarian/vegan option
7. Vegetable Side Dishes
8. Carb Side Dishes
11. Digestifs , Coffee, and Tea Selection
By breaking down my menu into the above sections, I can easily gather ideas and put them in their correct place. Also, depending on how many guests I am entertaining (or my clients are entertaining), I am able to see where I can add more dish options to a section or take out a section if it is an intimate dinner party with fewer guests. This is a great way to help you start planning your dinner party if you have never hosted one before. It takes a lot of the stress out of choosing which dishes to cook by placing all the dishes you’ve selected for your menu ideas in front of you.
Step 2: Choosing dish selections.
I always consider this step of my process the most fun! It’s where I get to show my creativity in the kitchen with new ideas or twists on classics. If you have a family recipe that’s been handed down to you, you should make the original version and also an “updated version” of the family recipe. This makes the recipe your own and adds your signature to not only the dish, but still keeps the “tradition” of Thanksgiving dinner, family, at the forefront. When choosing dishes to put down in your outline, make sure they are all things you can make and won’t stress you out. If you have family or friends coming over earlier in the day, give them a dish to make (recipe included) or ask them to make their variation of the dish at their home and bring it to the dinner party.
Step 3: Narrowing down your dish ideas to create a Menu.
Once you know how many guests your are entertaining, you can start to narrow down your dish ideas to create your Thanksgiving Menu. For me, I always cook for my company. If I know my guests personally, I usually know what they like and don’t like (or what guests may have food allergies). This is a good way to help you cross out dish ideas on your outline. For example, I know a guest of mine is lactose intolerant and a few of my soup options call for milk or cream, I will opt out of those ideas. Instead I will choose to make a soup that has vegetable stock base and no cream. Since I will be only making one soup, I want all my guests to be able to enjoy it. Other sections on my outline calls for me making more than one dish for that section, so I can always have a milk or cream dish in that section and not feel as if I’ve compromised my ideas.
If you are having your guests arrive earlier in the day (say around 11am or noon) to help out with the cooking or to come over and enjoy some Thanksgiving Day football, it’s a good bet to have the hor d’oeuvres section on your menu be a fruit and cheese basket with mixed spiced nuts and cocktail crackers, as well as Mediterranean olives and vegetable crudites platter with dips. Noshing on these things won’t fill up your guests, but will satiate their hunger till dinner is ready. You can also choose to have chilled shrimp platter with fresh cocktail sauce, mini crab-cake balls, or sausage stuffed mushrooms for guests (like the men) that just can’t do without some sort of meat during the day. These options are still light enough to have so your guests won’t be full when they sit down to dinner and their stomachs won’t be rumbling in embarrassment.
Step 4: Menu and Notice
Once you set your menu, look at what you want your guests to make if any at home or help out with during Thanksgiving day. Email them in advance the set menu and and again, send them the recipe you would like them to make at home with a short note to make it their own, or notify guests to arrive early so that they can help in the cooking festivities for that day.
This research and prepping should all take about a week or less to do. By the end of the week, once your email (or phone call) has been sent out to your guests, you can relax for another week before the real craziness starts…shopping for your Thanksgiving dinner party menu!
Note: Please visit me tomorrow to read more about ideas for shopping for your Thanksgiving Menu!
“Eating is Believing!”
Most of us try and eat healthy by choosing a salad over the french fries or maybe salmon instead of a rib roast. But even though we think we might eat healthy, we could be doing a better job. What am I talking about you say? Pairing certain foods together helps our bodies naturally absorb the vitamins easier. Studies have shown that when you interact certain vegetables with either protein, olive oil, or other foods, it helps your body absorb more of the vitamins.
Take for example chickpeas. We all know that these beans are a great source of protein and iron, being low in fat and cholesterol. We throw them into salads, eat them as hummus, and saute them with herbs for an easy tapas. But if you combine the chickpeas with red peppers, your body will process more iron. How’s that? Well,
“The kind of iron that comes from plant foods is difficult for our bodies to absorb,” says Heather Mangieri, R.D., owner of Nutrition CheckUp in Pittsburgh.” -Women’s Health
The vitamin C in the red peppers (when digested), allows your body’s blood cells easier access to the iron in the chickpeas. Eating more chickpeas for more iron won’t work, but pairing it with red peppers will. So next time you reach for the hummus at your local grocery store or food market, make sure it’s roasted red pepper hummus, your body will have more energy and thank you!
*Note: To read more on which food pairings gives your body an extra boost, visit my What’s New? – NEWS page. http://amysuestastybites.com/page-8/news/
“Eating is Believing!”