I get a little bored with the same old sweet potato dishes on Thanksgiving, don’t you? Instead of the sweet potato pie or casserole you have every year, try this recipe. It’s elegant, not hard to make (although it takes a little love and a little time) and your guests will be thankful you did.
It takes maybe 30-40 minutes to roast your own sweet potatoes rather than using the canned puree and there is a marked difference in the flavor. I didn’t add any seasoning to them before roasting. I put them on a sheet pan that was sprayed with cooking spray and roasted them flesh-side down at 400 degrees F until a fork could pierce them all the way through.
2 cups mashed sweet potato
5 TB butter
5 TB flour
5 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
5 large eggs, separated
1 oz sugar, plus one cup
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
1 TB cream
In a 2-quart saucepan, add the butter and flour over medium-high heat. Whisk until the butter is melted. It will be bubbly. Add the milk and whisk to incorporate well. Add salt and cinnamon and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. It will thicken further upon standing. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In another 2-quart saucepan, add one cup sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, without stirring. Do not walk away from this! When the sugar turns a carmel color, add 1 cup of the white sauce and pecans. Whisk to combine. Allow to reduce until thickened somewhat. It will thicken further upon standing. Add the cream and stir in when you remove the pot from the heat. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Prepare a 6-cup souffle dish or a medium glass bowl by spraying with cooking spray. Whip egg whites until frothy, add the 1 oz sugar and continue whipping until firm peaks are achieved.
In a large bowl combine the sweet potato with the egg yolks and 2 cups of the white sauce. Slowly fold in the egg whites.
Place mixture in the baking dish (souffle dish) and bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 375 F and bake for another 30-35 minutes until it only moves VERY slightly (not loose at all) when you take it out of the oven. It will continue to cook upon standing.
Using two forks back-to-back, gently open the center of the souffle and pour the caramel sauce into and over the top of the souffle. Serve immediately.
Each year, families spend a lot of time planning and getting ready for Thanksgiving. One of the toughest dishes to make well is the dressing. I still call it stuffing, although I don’t cook it inside the bird. Call me sentimental, but whether in a glass dish or any other way, it’s always stuffing to me.
I tested this recipe a few times to get it right. Knowing the flavors and ingredients I wanted was easy. Getting the right level of moisture can be challenging.
This “stuffing” is made interesting by the addition of glazed walnuts, red grapes, bacon and just the right amount of sage.
1 16 inch baguette
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp rubbed, dried sage (the rubbed sage has a much better consistency than regular, dried sage)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
4 oz walnuts, chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 cup red, seedless grapes
6 slices cooked bacon
1 cup of chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Shred the baguette into approximately one inch pieces and place in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the salt, pepper, sage and garlic. Glaze the walnuts with the sugar in a small pan over low heat. Chop the bacon into 1/4 inch pieces. Add the egg mixture, walnuts, bacon and grapes into the large bowl with the bread, gently mixing to combine. In a 9 x 14 inch glass dish sprayed with cooking spray, add the entire mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered. Pour the chicken stock evenly over the top and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden. Let cool for a few minutes before serving, as the grapes will be very hot.
Tired of those same old dishes on Thanksgiving? Try this easy to make, flavorful bisque with flavors of the season. It’s an elegant addition to the table and takes just a few minutes to put together. You may want to start with one tsp of hot sauce if you are very sensitive to spicy food. I did not find it to be overwhelmingly hot.
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetarian stock)
2 TB real maple syrup
1/8 tsp best quality imported sherry vinegar
2 tsp Intensity Academy carrot hot sauce
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 TB sugar
1 cup heavy cream
In a 2 quart saucepan, add all ingredients listed up to sea salt. Bring just up to simmer. Allow to gently simmer for a few minutes while you place the cranberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the cranberries pop. They will be a little tart and you can add more sugar to taste if you like. Whisk the heavy cream into the pumpkin bisque. Do not allow to boil. Keep burner on low until ready to serve, whisking occasionally. Serve with a tsp of cranberry garnish. Serves 4.
The biggest food-related holiday of the year deserves some real attention. This recipe keeps it simple and will impress even the most critical turkey connoisseur.
I was able to cut down the roasting time considerably and keep it moist and flavorful. Spend more time with friends and family while giving them something to remember.
This is the first recipe in this year’s Food Nation Radio Network Thanksgiving Menu. Enjoy.
Let’s start with a few more tips on buying and prepping the crown-jewel of the table.
1. Try to get a fresh turkey or defrost according to package directions. It’s important to keep the turkey refrigerated while it’s the defrosting. The days of Mom leaving it on the counter to defrost are over. It will take a day or two to thaw completely in the fridge.
2. When it is defrosted, reserve the giblets and rinse the turkey completely.
3. Brine the turkey overnight. (Instructions on this are below.)
4. Use the giblets to make stock for the gravy.
5. Season the bird generously. (Instructions on this are below.)
6. Make sure you have a pot and roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey for brining, steaming and then roasting. Find a round rack the size of the bottom of the pot, or an oven-safe plate you can turn upside down for the turkey to sit on in the pot. (More instructions below.)
7. Baste every 15 minutes while it is roasting. No exceptions! Set the timer to make sure.
8. Make sure you have a festive platter to serve your size turkey and try to have some garnishes on hand, like fresh herbs or fruit to add around the platter. People eat with their eyes first.
9. Reserve the drippings in the roasting pan, because you are going to make the gravy right in the pan.
1 12-15 lb turkey (If it’s much bigger than that you will lose flavor. Get two if you need more meat than that)
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh tarragon
2 large onions, 1 small onion
1 stick of butter, softened
sea salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of thyme
a few sprigs of parsley
3 or 4 black peppercorns
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup of ruby port
Thaw the turkey (if frozen) according to package directions. Always do this in the fridge.
Rinse the turkey, reserving the giblets for stock. Fill a pot large enough to hold the turkey about 1/3 full of water. Add the Kosher salt and sugar. Stir. Add the turkey and enough water to just cover it. Put a lid or foil on it and refrigerate overnight. Sanitize any areas in the kitchen that came in contact with the turkey.
Remove the turkey to a large plate. Rinse the pot. Add the rack and about 2 inches of water. Make a slit between the leg and thigh to allow for quicker cooking. Remove the wishbone by making two knife cuts directly around the bone and pull out in two pieces. This will add several ounces of meat that would otherwise be wasted. Add the turkey and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Steam with the water slowly bubbling for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Sanitize the kitchen areas that came into contact with the turkey.
While the turkey is steaming, heat a two quart saucepan to high. Cut the other large onion in half, leaving the skin on. Place each half in cut-side down in the saucepan. Chop the other carrot into large pieces and add it to the pot. Add the giblets. When the onion is browned very well, pour water up to almost the top of the pot. Add the thyme, parsley, peppercorns and cloves. Bring to a simmer, letting it slowly simmer while the turkey is steaming and roasting.
During the last 15 minutes, heat the oven to 450 degrees F, making sure your oven rack is low enough to allow room for basting.
Cut one large onion into chunks and place in the roasting pan. Chop one carrot into large pieces and add to the pan. Add the garlic cloves. Put several sprigs of tarragon in the pan, reserving the rest for the turkey. When the turkey is cool enough to handle after steaming. Tuck the wing tips underneath the turkey. Cut off any excess fat at the leg opening of the cavity. Rub the entire bird, inside and out with two thirds of the butter. Don’t touch the remaining one third of the butter with raw turkey hands! Try to get some under the skin, as well. The skin will have retracted somewhat in steaming, so make sure you rub those exposed areas well and baste those generously during cooking. Cut the small onion in half and put inside the cavity. Do the same with the orange and lemon. Generously salt and pepper with sea salt and black pepper. Tie the legs together, or use the plastic device that sometimes comes with the turkey. Tuck some of the tarragon into the cavity and try to get some of the tarragon under the skin of the bird. Put a couple of ladles of the stock into the bottom of the pan.
Place the turkey in the oven for 15 minutes. While you are waiting, in a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter and add 1/4 cup of the port. Baste the turkey with the port/butter mixture all over, paying more attention to any areas where the skin has retracted. Do this again at 15 minutes. Check the temperature of the turkey in the thickest part of the thigh (being careful not to hit bone). If it is not 165-170 degrees F, turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and cover any areas of the turkey that are getting too brown with foil. Baste again and continue basting every 15 minutes until the proper temp is reached (baste under the foil, as well). If the pan dries out, add a little more stock. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove to a serving platter and cover.
When your turkey is done, your vegetables should be well cooked and soft. While you set it aside to cool, use a slotted spoon to put the vegetables, garlic and herbs in a food processor or blender. Puree them well. Place the roasting pan on the stove over high heat, add a half cup of port to the pan and scrape the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Add two cups of the stock, or a little more, if desired. Put puree back in roasting pan, and over high heat, reduce the gravy by half. Check for seasoning. At this point you can strain it or serve it as-is. I like it as-is. If it is still not thick enough for you, you can continue to reduce or cheat and sprinkle some Wondra on it while it is boiling and stir with a whisk. Chop up the giblets and add to the gravy, if desired.
Decorate your platter with fruit and/or fresh herbs and bring it to the table with the gravy on the side.
It’s Thanksgiving Day, and everyone gathers around the kitchen making small talk. This year everyone is talking politics, jobs and the economy. You’ll hear the occasional story about Aunt Bertha and her fibromyalgia. Another glass of wine, please.
What’s really happening though, is folks are waiting for that moment the golden-brown, succulent bird emerges from the oven. The house is already filled with the smell of slow roasting and it doesn’t make the wait any easier every time the oven opens for another brush of butter over that crispy, seasoned skin.
Cooks who are serious about Thanksgiving dinner start planning now. That means ordering a turkey or deciding you’ll go with what your grocer provides (there ARE some great choices in stores these days).
I’ve been down the path of turkey experimentation for several years now. Yes, it’s true. I can inhale a turkey with the best of them. Here are my impressions of some of the types available to make your decision a little easier.
If you want to be adventurous (short of going hunting yourself) you might consider a Heritage turkey. It’s the closest you’ll find to a wild turkey and you’ll notice a remarkably heavy game flavor. The breast is smaller and dark meat is predominant. You need to be aware that this type of turkey will cook faster and tend to dry out easier. Basting this turkey every 15-20 minutes is important.
Another type of turkey I’ve tried that I thought was succulent and moist is a brand from a California ranch called Willie Bird. These turkeys are in high demand and they tend to run out of them quickly. Williams-Sonoma sometimes carries a certain number of them for special order. Again, the breast will be somewhat smaller than a conventional bird, and these are flavorful turkeys.
My all-time favorite turkey is still Bell & Evans, suppliers of the White House turkey each year. These free-range birds are allowed to mature slowly and still have as much breast meat as any conventional brand. The meat has a slightly rich turkey flavor without crossing into game territory. Every Bell & Evans turkey I have roasted has been juicy on the inside and beautifully bronzed on the outside. They do tend to cook a little faster than conventional turkeys however, so be sure and keep your thermometer handy.
As I do every year, I’ll be writing/tweeting/posting some quick tips and tricks to get through the holidays in a stress-free and organized way. So, tell Aunt Bertha to settle down, you’ve got dinner handled.
Here’s a fall dish that will warm you up with heat, spice and some love on a plate.
Ingredients – goulash
2 large, sweet onions
1 tsp tomato paste
2 ½ lb chuck roast cut into 2” cubes
1 TB caraway seeds
1 TB hot Hungarian paprika (found in 5 oz tins)
2 TB sweet Hungarian paprika (also in tins)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp sea salt
1 carton 26 oz(preferably organic) beef stock
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Slice onions thinly and place in a large oven-safe pot over medium heat. Put an oven-safe lid on it and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, until soft and caramelizing. Add tomato paste, let simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add meat and all other ingredients. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then place in oven for 2 ½ hours or until meat is tender. While it is cooking, make the pancakes below. When meat is tender, remove the meat to a warmed bowl while you reduce the liquid in the pot to 2 cups. Serve meat and sauce over the pancakes.
Ingredients – pumpkin pancakes
4 oz all-purpose flour
½ TB baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten
8 oz pumpkin puree
1/3 cup half and half
cooking spray and butter for griddle
In a mixing bowl, scale flour, add other dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to “sift”. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until just combined. Spray a griddle or frying pan with cooking spray, heat to medium high and add a small pat of butter to the pan or griddle. Add enough batter to make a pancake 4” in diameter. Flip when golden, remove when the other side is golden. Serve pancakes under the goulash for a special treat.
Do you ever have that savory craving? You know, the one that requires something acidic, a little salty with just a bit of decadence (the power of cheese) to make it complete? This dish is low-carb but still lends satisfying flavors without heading off the plank. It’s chicken piccata with sautéed spinach, and not like Mom used to make. That’s okay sometimes, you know.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sea salt, pepper, to taste
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 slices of bacon
2 TB flour
juice of one lemon
1 TB capers
¼ cup chicken stock
1 10oz package fresh spinach
1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg
½ tsp minced garlic
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Carefully slice the chicken breasts lengthwise to create four fillets. Pound them until thin with a mallet. Season them with sea salt and pepper. Put two oz of cheese on each and roll up. Set in a baking dish.
Saute bacon until cooked, but still soft. Cut each slice in the middle, for four pieces. Wrap one piece around each chicken roll (it will go about halfway).
Sprinkle flour over the breasts and into the baking dish. Add lemon juice, capers and chicken stock.
Bake for 30 minutes.
While they are baking, and using the pan you sautéed the bacon in, heat it to medium-high heat. Add the spinach, nutmeg, garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Saute briefly until wilted. Remove to a plate.
When the chicken is done, place each roll on a plate and serve with spinach and lemon wedges. Serves 2 as an entrée, 4 as an appetizer.
As far as the eye could see were fields of wheat, softly swaying in the breeze. The sky was so blue it was almost azure. The sun shone brightly over the heartland of America. The occasional silo interrupted the blanket of gold; a reminder that these are the homes of farmers. These are the people who feed us and the world.
It was a breathtaking sight.
Stopping for a moment to stretch my legs, I walked into one of the wheat fields. The wheat felt unyielding, like straw waiting to be packaged into neat cubes of hay. I was surprised it wasn’t what I expected. Little did I know that years later, the farm industry in this country would be involved in a prickly controversy that was far more of a surprise than that special day.
Genetically modified food was a distant thought back then; an idea with promises to increase crop yields, eradicate pests damaging cotton and corn and making our favorite vegetables look prettier and last longer. Maybe we could finally make a dent in world hunger, if we could get rid of that pesky distribution problem in some nations.
It sounds too good to be true.
Studies are now showing crop yields are not larger, pests are becoming superbugs resistant to these genetically modified seeds and farmers are dependent upon them since they are designed to sprout for one season, then they have to buy more.
By contrast in North Dakota, canola sprouts from Canada are found growing through cracks in the sidewalks and out in the wild. These genetically modified plants are combining with our plants and spreading at an unknown pace, possibly into organic farms, making it impossible to certify them as organic any longer.
National Institute of Health studies are showing toxicity levels higher than the standard in Roundup Ready harvests. Farm workers are getting sick and so are the livestock that eat the leftover plants. Studies are showing infertility problems and concerns about new allergens showing up in the food supply. With upwards of 90 percent of soy crops being modified, what does that mean to families buying soy formula and people on a vegetarian diet? The people most dedicated to health are those most at risk.
No one is really trying to stop any of this. At this point it might be impossible anyway. What do 80 percent of those polled in California want? They want genetically modified food to be labeled as such. They want to know what they are eating, as was promised in 2007 on the campaign trail for the presidency.
For years now, people have been afraid to talk about these issues in a public forum. I do so at risk of retribution to myself and my family. I’m doing it anyway, because it’s important enough to take that step in the hopes we will start really talking about it, without fear and with a positive outcome in mind.
The former Monsanto employee appearing on my show this Saturday has a research background and left the company of his own accord after he was disheartened and afraid of some of the actions he felt were irresponsible and possibly dangerous.
His claims are backed-up by research scientists in the field of genetics. The scientist we spoke with had even more concerns about the future of our food supply.
Every week I wonder if it will be my last show. This week is certainly no exception. We begin Saturday afternoon at 3:30 on WWBA AM820 News. “See you” on the radio and pardon me now, while I go make sure I’m registered to vote in the next election.