Let Us Give Thanks for Bounty We Are About To Prepare (And Have The Fire Extinguisher Close At Hand for Us Amateurs)
This Is Bert - An Old Boyfriend Of Mine
Ahhhhh Thanksgiving. I think it's everyone's favorite holiday. It's a day you can unbuckle your belt and appetite and let loose (in more ways than one). Of course, you have to pay for it later on but it's worth it.
I am going to share with you not only simple, traditional recipes handed down through the generations, but a few new ones as well. Some will probably be what you already have on your menu — and possibly some will improve upon the old standbys. Whatever the case may be, if you're not staunch in your convictions to serve the same time-honored delectables since great grandmother, you may want to try these, and if you're not, you may touch upon a new territory that may start your own tradition. Below is the menu for a five-course dinner according to the food chain:
Turkey Soup Potatoes Biscuits Vegetables Dessert
Everyone basically knows how to cook a turkey already and if not, instructions are on the package or given out by the butcher so I won't waste space here going through that. I will only tell you that we have two additional steps that make our turkey scrumptious and that is: brining and basting with a sherry and butter sauce.
Brining the turkey several hours before cooking will yield a moist and tender bird. In fact, it's a method of cooking my husband stumbled upon last year (even though it's centuries old) and has been a "devout briner" since for every type of critter that used to walk this good earth before it reached the supermarkets. And it's simple. To figure the solution, cover your turkey (in a pan already of course, not on the counter) with water, remove and measure the amount of water, this will tell you how much brine you need (or salt -- because salt is brine essentially). Standard measure is 1/4 cup of table salt per quart of water. You can add flavoring if you'd like (spices, juices, etc.) the sugar content will enhance the browning of the meat during cooking. I like to add OJ but apple cider works well too. Dissolve your salt in as little hot water as you can and add to the rest of the cold water and stir to thoroughly dissolve. Put your bird in the solution, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Unlike our forefathers, a cellar is not always food safety. Rule of thumb is 2 hrs. per pound for total brining time so it depends on the size of your feathered friend how long to brine. Then, take your bird, place on a rack, pat dry and let sit uncovered for several hours until completely dry because this will produce a crisp skin while cooking.
Before, during, and after, baste the turkey with sherry and butter. You be the judge of much how you like and how big your turkey is. For a 25 lb. turkey we use 2 sticks of butter and a 1/4 cup of sherry. If you don't want to use alcohol, use whatever you like, orange juice, apple juice, etc.
I guarantee that the brining and basting method will not only produce a moist, melt-in-your-mouth bird that you can cut with a fork but the flavor enhancement surpasses that of any other method of cooking - even deep frying.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BEAN SOUP
Hearty, wholesome, warms the body and soul and in season, nothing beats homemade soup made from Mother Earth's own root vegetables, not to mention the vitamins and nutrients it contains.
3 tbsp. olive oil 3 med. carrots, peeled and sliced 2 stalks of celery 1 med. diced onion 3 lrg. minced cloves of garlic 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes 1 28 oz. can tomatoes 2 c. cooked cannellini beans 8 c. chicken or veg. broth 1 sm. savoy cabbage with core removed and shredded 1 Swiss chard, leaves only and chopped 1 bay leaf Salt and pepper to taste
Warm your olive oil, add carrots, celery and onion and sprinkle a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 mins. Add garlic, stir for a min. and then add remaining ingredients and cook until tender. After cooked, you can either use a hand-held blender or put in electric blender and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with parmesan. What could be easier?
Although this recipe is another page, I will place it here for your convenience. What could go better with a wonderful turkey than these potatoes.
4 c. hot, mashed potatoes (is equivalent to 2-3 lbs of potatoes - depending on potatoes - I used Idaho) 1 8 oz pkg. of cream cheese 1 sm. chopped onion 1 tsp each of salt 'n pepper 1/4 c. whipping cream 1 egg 3 Pats of Butter Bacon Bits
Put all of the ingredients (room temperature) into a Kitchen Aid bowl or any bowl you have handy as long as it ain't the toilet bowl. Boil potatoes, drain, and put in bowl over the yummy ingredients. Mash altogether then whip the hell out of 'em. Fold final product into a greased soufflé dish (or whatever dish you have handy), sprinkle with bacon bits and bake for 40 min. @350°. These potatoes will rise like a soufflé and melt in your mouth. You can add herbs, more seasonings of any sort and taste, garlic, cheddar cheese, dill, and even half sweet potatoes and half white.
GREAT AUNT MARTHA'S SWEET POTATOES
What Thanksgiving meal would be complete without sweet potatoes? Some people don't like them and my husband was one of them until he tasted mine and now he can't get enough of them and wants them more often than only on Thanksgiving so here they are!
3 large sweet potatoes cooked 1 c. raisins (soaked in rum or water) 1 pkg of chopped pecans (or ground if your dentures aren't working properly) 2 apples, sliced brown sugar butter
Boil your potatoes with the skins on (keeps in the vitamins and flavor) until a fork easily comes out of them (but not too soft because you don't want mush - just so's when you fork 'em the fork comes loose but doesn't stick nor drops the potato like a bad habit either) and then cool enough so you can peel them. Slice in half then half again. Pat with butter (to your taste), sprinkle with brown sugar, place slice apples on, sprinkle raisins, sprinkle more brown sugar and add more butter. My mother used to add Mrs. Butterworth's syrup but I found it makes 'em too watery. The butter and brown sugar renders a nice thick glaze. Bake at 350° for 30-40 mins.
Light & Fluffy Biscuits
LIGHT & FLUFFY BISCUITS
The secret to airy, fluffy biscuits is the same with pie crusts - don't overwork and handle as little as possible. Their egos and bodies are fragile you know so handle them like you would fine Waterford or Steuben crystal (or a prima donna). These biscuits are guaranteed to melt in your mouth so have plenty of bibs and napkins handy.
1-1/4 c. flour 2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 c. sour cream 1/2 c. whipping cream 1 tbsp. sugar 1/2 c. melted butter
Sift flour then sift again with salt, baking powder, soda and sugar. Mix sour cream and whipping cream together. Make a well in the center of the flour and add in the creams and mix gently with a fork until the mixture goes around the bowl and dry and wet ingredients are incorporated. Gather the dough and pat gently into a 3/4" thick circle. Cut out with a biscuit or cookie cutter or a glass if you have neither. Do not twist. Place on greased cookie sheet and drizzle with melted butter. Bake @450° for 12 mins.
Only the Purplest Will Do
You may ask, like a lot of folks do, "what's a rhutabaga?" Why, it's a vegetable of course! My Irish mother grew up on them because they were healthful and cheap during the Depression and they've been a tradition in our family since my grandparents came over on the boat from Ireland. They're as simple as mashed potatoes and you can either serve them after mashed or bake them in a greased casserole dish with the sweet potatoes and potatoes chantilly for convenience if you don't have the time to serve them up right then and there. That's what I do to save time and hassle. I hope you'll at least give them a try.
2 rhutabagas, peeled, quartered, cooked until tender then mash with butter, salt and pepper to taste.
No TG Day would be complete without pumpkin pie.
1 lrg. c. pumpkin (2 c.) 9" piecrust 1 c. sugar 1 c. whipping cream 1 tsp. salt 1/4 c. brandy 3 beaten eggs 1/4 tsp. cloves 1/4 tsp. ginger 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Incorporate all of the ingredients and put into pie shell (whether you make it yourself or buy it makes no difference to me)
Preheat oven to 450°. Bake pie for 10 mins. Reduce heat to 300° and bake for 45-50 mins. until toothpick comes out clean. I usually peek after 30 mins. to see if the top looks like it's setting then peek again after 45 mins. If the top looks jiggly don't open the oven door but if it looks set, stick a pick in it and if it comes out clean you're home safe. Garnish with whipped cream or ice cream.
Tis The Season
Nothing More Succulent Than a Sweet, Juicy Apple - Except for an Apple Pie That Is!
GREAT AUNT MARTHA'S APPLE PIE
My mother always used lard for her pies and baked them with love, which is why they turned out perfect every time. And..........never bake when your "friend" is visiting because for some odd reason it just won't work. How true that turned out to be because every time I tried to bake - whatever it was - it wasn't edible. But, I did manage to improve upon her crust. Seems like everyone has a difficult time getting that pie crust just right but I found a fool proof method. Even though the traditional recipe of lard, flour, ice water delivers the flakiest crust, most folks find it difficult to roll out without cracking. This dough recipe was taught to me by my favorite aunt, Mary, who used it to make Eastern Europe cookies called Kolackies, a delicate cookie with fruit or poppy seed filling, but I found it adapted quite well to pie crusts too. I also use it to make cinnamon, walnut cookies called Butterhorns, which I'll give you later on. This recipe is simple and turns out great every time. My mother only used 2 lbs. of apples - I use 3lbs. because, well, let's face it, most people want to taste the apples - not the crust, I know I do, but there was one friend of my daughter's who complained that he didn't like my pie because it had too many apples!! Imagine that! So, if you're not a good pie maker, try this. You may find out that your second calling is opening up a bakery.
1 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese 2 sticks of butter 2 cups of flour (or more if too sticky) - this is usually a judgmental issue 1 tsp. salt
Mix together cream cheese and butter with your hands, add salt, mix, then flour and knead gently just until incorporated and it feels like dough you can work with. Add more flour if necessary if it feels too greasy or sticky. Form into ball and chill for a half hour or so (the longer the better). Prepare your filling.
3 lbs. of MacIntosh apples (or any baking apple - I find this to hold up the best), peeled, cored, sliced and add 2 tbsps. of lemon juice 2 tbsps. of cinnamon (again, a taste preference, if you love it add more) 1/2 c. sugar 8 pats of butter 1/8 c. flour
Mix all ingredients except for butter and flour and chill until dough ready.
After dough is chilled, separate into 2 discs. Roll the first one out and lace one into the pie plate, overlapping. Add your filling. Fill your pie plate, dot with pats of butter and sprinkle flour over. Put your top on, tuck in to secure so juices don't run out, crimp edges either with thumbs or fork, put 4 slits on top to allow steam to escape. If you have scraps of dough be creative - lattice, leave shapes, etc. Place in preheated 450° over for 10 mins. Reduce heat to 350° and bake for 50 mins. If edges get too brown cover w/foil.