Many people are interested in what chefs might serve on the holidays at their own homes. After all, if someone spends so much time in the kitchen cooking for others, how much energy will be left to prepare a big meal for themselves?
Thanksgiving this year, for us, was a relatively simple affair. We prepared some tried-and-true recipes from our own book Cooking with the Moviesfor a small number of guests. Halfway through the afternoon we were asking ourselves, "Have we forgotten something, or have we just become efficient?" because our cooking was well ahead of schedule. But the lack of stress allowed us more time to enjoy ourselves and our company!
We started out with a Tarragon Bread, made in the bread machine.
To top the fresh, warm bread, we made some Guacamole: our recipe includes onions, tomatoes, and a few secret ingredients in addition to the avocados.
We also had some select cheeses: New York cheddar and Jarlsberg.
The real appetizer was Steamed Artichokes.
We served them with a vinaigrette for dipping. The basic vinaigrette that we use all the time is one part Balsamic, one part olive oil, 2 crushed cloves garlic, a teaspoon of mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
Finally, the turkey: Pavo Méxicano (Turkey Mexican-style). from the film What's Cooking?
1 23-lb. turkey Mixed Vegetable Stuffing (see next) 1 c. butter, melted greens whole jalapeño peppers Concord grapes (If turkey has been frozen, make sure it is completely defrosted; this may take several days).
Preheat oven to 325°F. Wash the turkey inside and out, making sure to remove the neck and giblets that are usually stuffed inside the cavity of the bird. Pat dry. Place in a large roasting pan on sheets of aluminum foil arranged perpendicular to one another so that the pan is completely covered and there is enough foil left to lift the bird from the pan when holding all sides. Stuff the turkey just before placing it in the oven (as per the instructions that follow). Bake covered for 4–5 hours, basting about every 20–30 minutes with melted butter. (If desired, test with a meat thermometer to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked [165°F for inner breast, 180°F for the legs] and safe to serve.) Uncover and cook for the last half hour to brown the top. Remove turkey from the oven and let it stand for 20–30 minutes before slicing. Place the turkey on a large serving tray that has been completely laid out with greens, and decorate the perimeter with whole jalapeños and Concord grapes.
Mixed Vegetable Stuffing 2 c. Vidalia onion, chopped 2 c. celery, diced 2 c. carrots, peeled and chopped 3 c. corn off the cob 3 plum tomatoes, finely chopped 1 c. butter, melted 2 tsp. thyme 2 tsp. parsley flakes 2 tsp. sage ½ tsp. Cayenne ½ tsp. salt ½ c. pecan bits 1½ c. dried mixed fruits
1½ c. chicken broth 4 c. bread, cubed
Mix the onions, celery, carrots, corn, and tomatoes in the butter; transfer to a skillet and cook over a low heat. Stir occasionally, until the onions are soft but not brown. Mix the seasonings with the pecans and dried fruits, then fold into the vegetable mixture. Stir in the chicken broth and simmer for a bit. Add the bread cubes and mix well. The stuffing should be wet as it is placed in the bird. Stuff the turkey (but do not “pack” it), reaching deep into the cavity. Smear the stuffing all over the top of the bird, and along its sides. Place leftover stuffing in a small roasting pan, and cook alongside the turkey, uncovered, for about 2 hours.
One of the side dishes: Garlic Mashed Potatoes. from the movie What's Cooking?
8 lg. Idaho or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into halves 2 lg. onions, chopped ¼ c. milk
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise 1 tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. pepper 3 cloves garlic ½ c. butter, melted
Place the potatoes and onions in a large pot and cover with water; bring to a boil and cook until a fork stuck into a potato easily breaks it apart. Drain the water. Place the potato halves into a food processor and whip to a fluffy consistency, adding the milk to facilitate the process. Remove to a covered casserole dish, and stir in the onions, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Put garlic cloves through a press, and add to the butter, stirring quickly. Make a well in the potatoes and pour in the garlic butter, allowing it to sit. Mix all ingredients together in the dish as the first dollop of potatoes is served.
Thanksgiving is not complete without cranberry sauce. We made a special Cranberry and Orange Mêlée.
from the film What's Cooking?
2 pkg. whole cranberries 4 whole oranges 1 c. sugar 3 sprigs mint
Boil the cranberries until soft; drain and allow to cool. Zest the oranges and discard the shredded peel. Cut the oranges in quarters, remove any seeds, and cut away as much of the pulp as possible. Put the cranberries in the food processor with the orange zest, orange slices, sugar, and mint and blend until a thick, pourable liquid. Serve at room temperature as a side dish for the turkey.
This side has become one of our favorites: Butternut Squash Latkes.
from the film Mostly Martha
2 lg. butternut squash 2 onions 2 eggs 1 tsp. lemon juice 2¼ c. flour 2 Tbsp. cornstarch ¼ tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. salt ½ tsp. Cayenne ½ c. grapeseed oil
A view of the batter. Frying the latkes.
Peel, seed, and grate the squash; strip the onions and grate them also. Transfer the squash and onions to a colander and press out any excess moisture. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice, flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, salt, and Cayenne; add the squash and onions, and mix well. (If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour.) Heat the grapeseed oil in
a large frying pan. Drop a heaping spoonful of the mixture into the oil and press down with a spatula to flatten. Fry until brown and crispy on the edges, cooking each side for about 3–5 minutes. Drain on paper towels placed on a large platter and keep warm until serving.
We also served a refreshing Fruit Salad, with strawberries, blackberries, pears, bananas, pineapple, apples, and oranges. (To keep the apples and pears from turning brown, sprinkle with lemon juice.)
We finished the meal with Two-crust Apple Pie. This can be prepared the evening before. It is easy to make and not too heavy or sweet--a lovely way to complete the feast.
from the film What's Cooking? 4 med. Granny Smith apples ⅔ c. sugar ¼ c. all-purpose flour ½ tsp. ground nutmeg ½ tsp. ground cinnamon pinch of salt 2 Tbsp. butter, very cold
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel, core, and slice the apples, making the slices as even as possible. Mix the sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the apples, and pour into a pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with very cold butter, and cover with the top crust, sealing the edges. Cut slits in the top for venting. Bake for 40–50 minutes until golden brown.
From our first cookbook, Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals. We made these for a church event this past weekend.
King David's Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons
3 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut ¼ cup matzoh cake meal 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar 2 large eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white 6 oz. imported bittersweet chocolate ¼ cup water 1 tsp. almond extract
Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325°F.
In bowl, mix together coconut, matzoh cake meal, and 1 cup of the sugar. Add eggs and extra egg white and mix with fingers until well blended. Gently shape about 2 tablespoons dough into a pyramid and set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving about 2″ between cookies. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden on top. Cool completely.
In saucepan, melt chocolate with the water, almond extract, and remaining Vacup sugar. Bring to boil; then simmer slowly for a few minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Cool slightly. Holding each macaroon with 2 fingers, dip half the cookie into the chocolate so that it is half black and half white. Allow to dry for a few seconds while tilted over a dish, then place on wax paper. Repeat with remaining cookies. Cool completely.
Yield: 16 macaroons
Source: King David's Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons recipe reprinted by permission of Recipe Gold Mine (www.recipegoldmine.com ).
The next course was Marinated Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Arugula, Seared Duck, and Candied Walnuts. This dish is from the film Mostly Martha (Bella Martha), which we featured in our cookbook Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels.
The main course was Poached Salmon in Light Basil Sauce over Butternut Squash Latkes, again from Mostly Martha. (I made the latkes--and though it's a lot of work to grate a whole butternut squash, these "pancakes" are really worth it!)
Finally, dessert: White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse. Again, from Mostly Martha. The mint adds a delicious flavor too.