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Thanksgiving 2017

This Thanksgiving will definitely be one for the Memory Book. November 23rd was our 23rd Anniversary! What better way for the two of us to celebrate an anniversary than with a holiday all about food?!? And food, we had.

What – or, rather, who – we didn’t have, was Nonna. She spent the holiday in the hospital. She’s been coughing too much and short of breath, so on Wednesday, he made an appointment with her PC Dr who said she should probably go to the ER.

And then the fun began…

NeverNeverNever let an otherwise healthy 91-year old into the clutches of the Medical Industrial Complex if you can in any way avoid it. Really. Just.Don’t.Do.It. She just got home an hour ago – 4 days later – with a litany of physical therapists and home care specialists scheduled over the next few days to drive her completely crazy. And she’s still coughing and short of breath.

Meanwhile, we were cooking up a storm for a festive holiday. One needs food between trips to the hospital – and food we had! And booze, of course!

Victor made Linda’s Chicken Livers – and it was the best batch made – ever.

This is one of those recipes that you like even if you don’t like chicken liver. We just do half-batches…

Linda’s Chicken Liver Pâté

  • 4 sticks butter
  • 2 lbs chicken livers
  • 2 med onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 – or more – tsp cognac

Melt 1 stick of butter. Add onions but do not brown.

Add other ingredients – except butter – and cover. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.

Process in food processor with remaining butter. Add cognac, and S&P, to taste.

Serve with chopped eggs or onion and toasted baguette or crackers.

We also had cheeses, salamis, homemade baba ghanoush I made and canned with the last of our eggplants…

One of my favorites, this year, was a flatbread with a cranberry onion jam, Boursin cheese, arugula, and balsamic. I didn’t get a picture of the flatbread, but this is the jam…

The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine – and it is pretty awesome! Make some, today!

Cranberry Onion Jam

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 (12-oz.) pkg. fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Step 1
Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium. Add onions and salt; cover and cook 30 minutes or until caramelized. Add honey, pepper, thyme, and cranberries; cook, uncovered, 30 minutes or until cranberries break down and mixture is syrupy.

Step 2
Remove pan from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Stir in vinegar.

And onto the dinner table…

For many years, I have made Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving. I really like them, but decided something new was in order for 2017. What I ended up with was a recipe from King Arthur Flour that would rival any bakery – anywhere. These were some of the lightest, soft white rolls I have ever had – let alone made! And easy. Really, really easy!

Soft White Dinner Rolls

King Arthur Flour

  • 1 packet “highly active” active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.

Instructions

  1. If you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
  2. Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a smooth dough. If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Rising may take longer, especially if you’ve kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
  4. While the dough is rising, lightly grease two 9″ round cake pans, or a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  5. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 16 pieces.
  6. Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom, then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.
  7. Place eight rolls in each of the round cake pans (or all 16 rolls in the 9″ x 13″ pan), spacing them evenly; they won’t touch one another.
  8. Cover the pan(s) with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise till they’re very puffy, and have reached out and touched one another, about 1 hour. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  9. Bake the rolls until they’re a deep golden brown on top, and lighter on the sides, about 25 minutes.
  10. Remove the rolls from the oven, and after 2 or 3 minutes, carefully transfer them to a rack. They’ll be hot and delicate, so be careful. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

We had the obligatory canned cranberry sauce in Mom’s crystal dish, along with homemade cranberry orange relish and homemade whole berry cranberry sauce. And an Eggplant Lasagne, because… well… because!

From eggplant to Nonna’s dressing and Marie’s sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans with garlic and parmesan, carrots with honey and dill – and a vat of gravy – the table was filled to overflowing.

Totally filled to overflowing…

And then, of course, we had desserts…

First up was the Maple Walnut Cheesecake I had made a few weeks ago for work. Same recipe but this time I used a sugared walnut in the topping. Yum.

Maple Walnut Cheesecake

crust:

  • 1 sleeve graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

filling:

  • 4 pkg cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt

topping:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°F / 160°. Butter or spray a 10″ springform pan.

Make crust:

Pulse together graham crackers, walnuts, and brown sugar until fine crumbs are formed. Add melted butter and pulse to combine. Press firmly onto bottom of buttered pan – a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup works well.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Make filling:

Mix cream cheese, mascarpone, spices, and pinch of salt together until creamy. Add maple syrup and mix well

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Pour into crust and smooth top.

Bake until center is barely set – about 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool before refrigerating overnight.

Make topping:

Mix together 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup maple syrup. Heat to boiling – stirring constantly. Reduce heat and reduce to about 2/3 cup, stirring occasionally. Stir in nuts and refrigerate.

Final assembly:

Spread cold caramel topping over cold cake almost to edge.

Slice and enjoy!

From cheesecake we went to Chocolate Cherry Mousse – in a mini Chocolate Cup. The cherries are Amarena cherries  – and if you’ve never had them, stop reading right now and go buy them. Really. Chocolate cups are easy – just brush melted chocolate into small molds or small muffin cups and chill until set.

The mousse is based a on Martha Stewart recipe.

Chocolate Cherry Mousse

  • 3 tbsp Amarena Cherry syrup from jar

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until mixture coats back of spoon, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat; whisk in melted chocolate, cherry syrup, and vanilla. Strain into a bowl; chill until cool

With an electric mixer, beat remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into cooled custard mixture, then gently fold in the rest with a rubber spatula.

Pipe or spoon into chocolate cups and top with a cherry!

The Pumpkin Pie is our classic recipe – the same one we have made for years.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 10″ pie shell
  • Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 425°. Beat eggs, sugar, maple syrup, and spices in large bowl. Add pumpkin amd mix well. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425° F. for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Top with whipped cream before serving.

And then a new one this year – a take-off of one of my Mom’s recipes from way back when. Her original recipe was for a pecan pie with a custard topping. I turned it into tartlettes with a bourbon vanilla mousse.

Pecan Tarts with Bourbon Vanilla Mousse

  • 12 tart shells

Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

Mousse

  • 3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix eggs with corn syrup, sugar, butter, and vanilla until well blended.

Divide pecan pieces among the tart shells. Carefully pour filling over pecans.

Bake about 20 minutes, or until set.

Make Mousse.

Mix 1 1/2 cups cream, bourbon, cornstarch, egg yolk, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Whisk everything together and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute and then remove from heat, stir in vanilla, place in bowl, cover, and refrigerate until set.

When set, whip remaining cream. Fold into pudding and whisk until smooth.

Pipe or spoon onto top of tarts.

Marie made two more tarts that I didn’t get pictures of. Needless to say, we had enough food.

Tonight is the Turkey Soup we would have had last night if life had been normal.

Nonna’s home, we’re back to normal, and all is right with the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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