Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner, Part 3

On to the best part of the meal: dessert! We had 3 choices: apple torte, carrot cake, and chocolate-covered coconut macaroons.

Pike’s Apple Torte
(This recipe recreates a dessert from the film Big Eden. Although there was not enough room for this movie in Cooking with the Movies, it's a wonderful film with delicious food.)

7 Tbsp. butter
2 c. Red Delicious apples, skinned, cored, and sliced
4 eggs, well beaten
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ c. chopped walnuts

1 c. Granny Smith apples, cored, pared, and thinly sliced
½ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small frying pan, melt half the butter and fry the apples in it until soft, about 3-4 minutes on each side. (Do not allow to burn.) Pour out into a large bowl, and mix together with the remaining butter and all other ingredients.

Generously butter a 9” round funnel cake pan. Pour the mixture into it.

In a large bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Individually place each apple slice on top of the cake mixture, in a fan shape, or some other clever way.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until the center is set. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Yield: 8-12 servings

Carrot Cake
(from the film Gosford Park; our guest Judy Baker lovingly prepared this luscious cake for our repast)

4 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. white granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
3 c. carrots, peeled and grated
1 c. canned crushed pineapple (without the juice)
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. flaked coconut
½ c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugars, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and sift into the batter. Stir in the carrots, pineapple, almonds, coconut, and raisins until well blended. Pour into three 9" round pans that have been lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 50–60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to settle for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cooled, remove parchment paper.

Ice the top of each cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting (see next), then ice the sides until the entire cake is covered.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

½ c. butter, room temperature
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
½ c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream the butter, then add the sugar a little at a time until the mixture begins to resemble crumbs. Slowly add the milk, beating all the while, then pour in the extract. Continue to beat until wispy. If the icing appears to be too runny, add more sugar.

Yield: 12–16 servings

King David's Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons
(This is a recipe that we used in our book Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals. It is a hit every time.)

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 ( ).

Thanksgiving Dinner, Part 2

The meal continued with some wonderful vegetable dishes: sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and "wilted" lettuce.

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts, Cranberries, and Marshmallowettes
(also from the film What's Cooking?)

8 med. sweet potatoes
4 Tbsp. butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ c. white grape juice
½ c. walnuts
½ c. whole cranberries
½ c. mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2" disks. Place them in a large pot with enough water to cover and cook until boiling; reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain, and place in a large oven-proof casserole dish.

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan, and stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and grape juice. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Arrange a walnut, a cranberry or two, and a marshmallow in and around each potato for decorative effect. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Yield: 10 –12 servings

Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts
(from the movie Gosford Park)

1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts (try to buy them fresh the day they are to be used)
salted water
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
½ c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ c. hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Wash the sprouts and pull off any yellowed leaves. Parboil them in just enough salted water to cover for no more than 5 minutes, then drain.

In a small bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar with the Balsamic vinegar and pepper, then stir
in the hazelnuts. Transfer the mixture to cover the bottom of a small baking dish. Place the sprouts on top of the nut mix, close enough together so that they don’t tip over. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve piping hot as an accompaniment.

Yield: 6–8 servings

Wilted Lettuce with Peas and Pearl Onions
(also from the film Gosford Park)

1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 bag frozen peas, or 2 small cans
1 bag frozen pearl onions
2 c. water
1 lb. bacon, well done and cut into bits
1 Tbsp. bacon grease

In a medium pot, combine the lettuce, peas, and pearl onions with the water and cook until the lettuce is quite wilted and the peas and onions are cooked through. Drain. Add the bacon bits and grease, toss, and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Although a dish featuring “wilted” lettuce might lack a certain “title” appeal, this recipe is quickly prepared, colorful, and quite tasty.

Thanksgiving Dinner, Part 1

For this year's Thanksgiving feast, Rusty prepared a luscious organic turkey with oyster and shiitake mushroom stuffing. This is one of the turkeys shown in the film What's Cooking?, directed by Gurinder Chadha, and is featured in our chapter on the movie in our book Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels.

For those who would like to enjoy the meal vicariously--and, next year, perhaps in actuality--here's the recipe:

Organic Turkey

1 20–24 lb. fresh organic turkey
½ c. melted butter
½ c. dried sage
½ c. dried tarragon
¼ c. paprika
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lime pepper
1 tsp. salt
mushroom stuffing (see next)
½ c. water
1 pkg. fresh spinach leaves

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 set 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. Pour the melted butter over the top of the turkey. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, then spoon them over the bird, making sure to cover the legs as well as the breast. Pour the water around the sides of the turkey, and bake uncovered for 4 –5 hours, basting about every 20 –30 minutes with its own juices. (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.)

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 spinach leaves as decoration (presentation is everything!).

Yield: 15–18 servings

Mrs. Williams’s Special Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing

2 c. hot water
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1¾ lb. bread, crust trimmed, cubed
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 leeks, chopped
1 c. shallots, chopped
1¼ lb. oyster mushrooms
½ lb. Shiitake mushrooms
2 c. celery, chopped
1 c. dry hazelnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
¾ c. chicken stock

Combine hot water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Let stand until mushrooms are soft,
about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Chop porcini mushrooms. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake cubed bread on baking sheets until brown, about 15 minutes.
Cool, then transfer to a large bowl.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks, shallots, and oyster and Shiitake mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix in the celery and porcini mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes. Mix in the hazelnuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the eggs and chicken stock. Stuff into turkey.

Any stuffing that remains, spoon into a buttered baking dish, covered with buttered foil. Bake stuffing in dish alongside turkey until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp, about 15 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings

The lusciousness of an organic turkey is a real treat for the taste buds. Cooking is the same as for any other turkey, but an organic bird will be a bit more costly. Still, it’s worth the extra expense.