Monday, March 3, 2014

A Modern Thanksgiving!

Okay, I've been bad, I forgot to re-post my Petaluma Post articles for the past few months, so let's start with Thanksgiving!

During the month of November we all seem to eat a lot of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, yams…etc.  We get together with friends, with our clubs, and with family, with all the menus being a very slight variation on the turkey day theme.  But, do you really have to do the same menu over and over?  Have some fun with it!  Use the “same” ingredients but in different ways; make it a play on words; use something in a different way

Here are a few of my ideas:

Of course you must have Turkey…..wild turkey… Wild Turkey BOURBON!  And of course cranberries.  Make a cocktail.  A couple of year ago I created a “Happy Pilgrim”, which made our thanksgiving very happy!  It was inspired when I couldn’t find a cocktail that really paired well with Thanksgiving, and this one fits the bill very well.

Happy Pilgrim
 1 shot wild turkey bourbon
 1 shot ginger beer
 2 shots cranberry juice
 1/3 shot blood orange bitters
 Shake and serve over crushed ice
 Garnish with a fresh cranberry

An extra note on this one: When I selected Wild Turkey it was just for the turkey theme; I didn’t have the best impression of Wild Turkey, it just seemed like a lower shelf product, but it is actually quite good, and I’ve found it getting increased respect from craft bartenders.

Let’s go to yams, I’m not talking marshmallow or even maple syrup.  Let’s talk salad.  Thanksgiving is a very rich meal, so cut it with some healthy greens. Tell your family you’re bringing roasted yams and pecan pie!  Well maybe don’t tell them that, I know hubby would be disappointed with salad instead of pie!  But it’s still a great addition to the holiday feast.

Baby Arugula and Chèvre Salad with Yams Croutons and Candied Pecans
6 oz wild baby arugula
2 oz Chèvre
Candied Pecan (see recipe below)
Yam Croutons (see recipe below)
Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Just toss the arugula, chèvre and vinaigrette, and finish with the pecans and croutons.

Yam Croutons
1 large yam cut into ½” cubes
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

Roast your yam croutons, turning often to allow to brown and crisp evenly (they’ll get brown and slightly crispy on the outside, but stay soft in the center).  While their baking make your vinaigrette by combining the sherry vinegar, olive oil, honey and S&P.  Allow crouton to cook 10 to15 minutes.  You can allow the croutons to cool or toss and serve immediately for a warm salad. 

Candied Pecans (aka Pralines)
¾ cup pecans
½ cup sugar
Water to cover

Place all in heavy bottomed pot and cover with water, and boil till small thick bubbles (10-12 minutes).  Drain and place on greased sheet pan, then bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until dark in color, stirring every 5 minutes.  NOTE: you only need about a third this volume for the salad recipe above, but hey, who doesn’t want extra pralines?

Sherry Vinaigrette
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup olive oil
 2 Tbl honey
 Salt and Pepper to taste
Blend well

As for stuffing, if you have read my articles in the past you know I love stuffing.  But change it up by bringing stuffed apples for dessert.

Baked Stuffed Apples
8 large, Granny Smith Apples
4 Tbs butter
8 Tbs brown Sugar
¼ cup chopped nuts (recommend pecans or walnuts)
½ tsp Cinnamon

Place the apples in baking dish, if they do not stand up easily trim bottoms to balance.
Cut off the top quarter of the apple, then using a melon baller, scoop out the core with the apples.  Combine all other ingredients, and mix till crumbly.  Pack into apple centers.
Bake at 350 degree for 15-20 minutes until the apples are knife tip tender. Serve with vanilla ice cream

What about your pumpkin pie, does pie have to be dessert? What about hand pies, like empanadas.  Do an hors d’oeuvre and start the meal with the usual ending.

Pumpkin Empanadas with Truffle and Parmesan
1 batch of your favorite pie dough - or purchased pie dough sheets
Pumpkin Empanadas

1 cup canned pumpkin
4 oz grated parmesan
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp white truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix pumpkin, parmesan and spices to for a thick paste; taste test, some pumpkin need more salt.  Using a round cutter, cut out 2½” circles from the pie dough, an place 1 tablespoon of filling in each circle.  Egg wash the edges, and seal with your fingers or a fork.  Chill for about 30 minutes (they freeze great if you would like to make them for the future).  When ready to bake, lay out on a cookie sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with parmesan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.

Now let me think about mashed potatoes.  NO.  STOP.  My family will never forgive me if I mess with the mashed potatoes!

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