Thanksgiving Traditions…The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 

Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce | Dear Martini

Thanksgiving is all about tradition… good and bad.  In Chef Mia’s house we have the Dilemma of the Cranberries.  Artist husband grew up on canned cranberry sauce and loves it like nobody’s business.  He even claims it is an essential part of the Norman Rockwell painting.  Chef Mia thinks otherwise.  How to keep peace in the family? Compromise solution: Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce | Dear Martini

What she came up with is a delicious compromise.   A recipe catering to his tastes and still beautiful enough and made with simple fresh ingredients for her.  Sometimes it’s time to adopt new traditions.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Makes 4 cups

2 packets unflavored gelatin

2 (12-ounce bags) fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and sorted

1 Granny Smith apple, small diced

1 navel orange, zest removed in strips and juiced

1 cup granulated sugar

Special Equipment: Food mill and 4 cup decorative mold

Place cranberry juice in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the juice and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a deep saucepan, combine the cranberries, apple, orange zest & juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer stirring often until the cranberries begin to pop about 5 minutes. Continue cooking an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn off the heat and stir in the softened gelatin.

Transfer the berry mixture to a food mill and pass through the finest holes into a bowl. (Discard the solids in your compost) Transfer the berry mixture to a lightly oiled mold. Top with a piece of oiled plastic wrap placed directly on top of the jelly. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. (Can be made several days ahead)

To unmold, dip briefly in a bowl of hot water. Using a spatula, press gently on one side of the jelly (placing the spatula between the side of the mold and the jelly) to release the vacuum seal. Then turn out onto a plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe | Dear Martini

Dearest Readers, We are so very thankful for each and every one of you who have supported us all year.  We love hearing from you and when you share with us.  Please share your favorite dish with us here or on Facebook!  We’d love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xxoo Mia and Terri

 

Yammy Gobblers

Yammy Gobblers - Yams Dressed Up Like Turkeys

We’re sure every family has a Thanksgiving tradition — whether it’s your Aunt Carol’s Walnut-Celery Jello Ring or your Mummy’s Famous Pecan Pie.  At Chef Terri’s house, the Yammy Gobblers take center stage alongside the Stuffed Pumpkin and the turkey (of course).

Every tradition has a beginning.  These roasted yams, wrapped in foil shaped to resemble a turkey, were inspired from a childhood memory:

Imagine it’s 1977, and your 7-year-old self has just had dinner with your parents at Smith & Wollensky in New York.  You weren’t able to finish your entire meal, so your friendly waiter offers to pack up your leftovers into a Bowser Bag.  You nodded, from the goading of your parents; and your obedience was rewarded with the presentation of your leftovers wrapped in aluminum foil shaped like a bright and shiny magical swan.  Breathless, you thanked your waiter for the lovely and elegant prize which you cradled in your hands all the way home to place in the fridge.  (and then the next day you wept bitterly when you discovered your dad satisfied his midnight craving by finishing off your meal, and left the ripped up remains of the beautiful swan on the counter for you to find in the morning).

But we digress.

Chef Terri pays homage to her beloved foil swan by featuring Yammy Gobblers on the Thanksgiving Feast menu.  You can use any roast yam or sweet potato recipe you like; Chef Terri roasts yam with aromatic ingredients like orange zest and cinnamon in ceramic ramekins and wraps the packages up in foil shaped like turkeys.  The presentation can be downright adorable.  According to one family member, it’s not Thanksgiving unless the Yammy Gobblers are served.

Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s tradition.  Who’s going to mess with tradition?

 

Yammy Gobblers

Serves 6 to 8

4 medium-sized yams, peeled and 1/2-inch diced

Zest and juice of 2 navel oranges

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1/4 cup Maple syrup (grade B – or the darkest color you can find)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

pinch each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Special Equipment:

  • 6-8 4-ounce ramekins
  • heavy duty aluminum foil
  • baking sheet

 

Preheat the oven to 425 ℉

Butter each ramekin all over the insides and bottom and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, toss the yams with the orange juice, zest, ginger, syrup, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg until the yams are well coated.  Evenly divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.

Wrap each ramekin with a sheet of foil, folding and crimping each end to represent the turkey’s head, neck and tail.  Cut the fringes on the tail to represent the tail feathers.

Place the turkeys on a baking sheet and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, or until fragrantly caramelized.  The yams are done with a knife inserted into one slides in with no resistance (though you’ll have to unwrap a sacrificial turkey to test that!)

Allow the turkeys to cool slightly for about 15 minutes before serving (if the turkeys are too hot, the steam escaping from them when you open them may burn you).  Let each guest unwrap his own yammy gobbler.  The aroma from the steam coming out is quite heady.

 

Yams in Ramekins Dressed Up Like Turkeys with Dear Martini

 

 

Company’s Coming: Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potato Recipe | Dear Martini

When company’s coming we pull out all the stops and make the creamiest and smoothest potatoes we know how!  The secret is…our mashed potatoes aren’t mashed at all, but put through a ricer or food mill. Instead of a rustic mash the texture is smooth and perfect for making a “gravy lake” in the center.  We know, we know, there are purists who will say you can’t call it mashed if it’s not mashed but potato puree sounds scary so we’ve agreed to call it an elegant mash!

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes | Dear Martini

Call them what you will, this is not the recipe to skimp on the fat and cream.  This dish is all about the little details… The butter, crème fraîche, and heavy cream all play an important role in the richness and texture of the final dish.  If you can’t find crème fraîche in your area you can substitute with a really good quality sour cream or full fat Fage plain yogurt.

Don’t forget to infuse the cream with the aromatics — it’s an extra step but adds depth to the flavors. And, pop the drained potatoes back into the hot pot for at least 30 seconds to dry out the potatoes which makes them even fluffier.

Watch for the tip at the end of the video on how to keep the potatoes warm — it’s worth the price of admission we promise! Happy Start-to-the-Holiday Season!

 

Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

 2 pounds (about 3 large) russet potatoes

Handful of kosher salt

½ cup heavy whipping cream

4 to 5 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed

½ stick unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature

½ cup crème fraîche

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters and place in a large saucepan. Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water. Add the salt and bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat with peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and return potatoes to the pot to allow the potatoes to dry.Process the potatoes through a food mill or ricer. Toss in the butter to the hot potatoes as you work. Fold in the crème fraîche and heavy cream and gently fold until the potatoes are thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Aromatics and Cream Infusion | Dear Martini

Perfect Pecan Pie

Rich and delicious a perfect pecan pie is a study in contrasts… nutty crunchy pecans on top with a layer of silky-not too-sweet filling underneath.  Chef Mia is our pecan pie purist (she’s been making pecan pie since she was knee high!) and insists that this contrast between gooey filling and the pretty concentric circles of whole nuts on top is what pecan pie is all about.

Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream | Dear Martini

Her secret to the perfect filling is resisting the urge to whisk the filling.  Unlike many other pie fillings, you DO NOT want to incorporate air in the filling.   To make it look as good as it tastes, we take the time to place the nuts in concentric circles in the bottom of the shell before pouring in the filling.  Many cooks just toss them in with the filling.  Using our preferred method as you pour the filling over the nuts they are coated with the filling and magically float to the top (creating the two distinct layers!)  Top off the pie with a dollop of Bourbon Chantilly Cream and it’s heaven.  And, before we fall into that sugar coma after the Thanksgiving meal we usually head outside for  an after dinner walk (or as Mia’s dad likes to say “the pre-amble to a second piece-o-pie”!)  Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Check out the video to see for yourself the pecan magic.

Pecan Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Yep, you read that right… the recipe calls for a pinch of finely ground black pepper!  Just as with savory dishes a little salt and pepper brings out and enhances the flavors in a sweet dish too.

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup dark corn syrup

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch finely ground black pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 ¼ cups pecan halves

1 recipe Bourbon Chantilly Cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and corn syrup; stir to combine.  Add sugar, salt, pepper, and vanilla, and melted butter.  Allow filling mixture to rest while you place the pecans in the pie shell.

Remove your pie shell from the refrigerator.  Place pecans in concentric circles on the bottom of the pie shell.  Pour filling gently over the pecans following the concentric circles as a path.  Once all of the pecans are floating, continue to pour the remaining filling around the edge trying not to disturb the circles.  If you have left over pecans, you can fill in gaps and or slide them gently underneath the top pecans.  Bake pie in the center of the oven 40-50 minutes or until center is firm.  Remove pie from oven and cool on a baking rack for at least 1 hour before serving.  Do not even think about cutting this pie before it cools — the pie needs the cooling time for the filling to set — if you cut it hot the filling will ooze all over the plate.  

Cut pie into wedges and serve with a generous dollop of Chantilly Cream.

Cook’s note: Pecans have a tendency to go rancid quickly (as do all high fat nuts.)   Store nuts in the freezer for best results.

How to Make a Pecan Pie | Dear Martini

Bourbon Chantilly Cream

Makes 2 cups

Chantilly Cream is the  cooking term for any lightly sweetened whipped cream that includes a liqueur.

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with bourbon and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cook’s note:  Substitute 3 teaspoons of vanilla if you’d rather skip the bourbon.  

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

When they coined the phrase “easy as pie” they must have been referring to a classic pumpkin pie.   All you need are a couple of minutes and a few simple ingredients  — eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin puree,  and a little cream are whisked into a quick custard and poured into a pre-made shell. Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Pumpkin Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

We use grated freshly ginger in our pie because we love the depth it adds to the spicy flavors of the pie.  If you aren’t a big fan of ginger you can substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger or simply omit it.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt

One (15-ounce) can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree

¾ cup heavy cream

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 recipe Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl with a whisk or in an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugars, spices and salt.  Mix in pumpkin and cream.   Mix until well incorporated.  Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell.

Place pie pan on and baking sheet and place sheet on the middle rack of the oven.  Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer until top is firm  or a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.  Remove pie from oven and cool on rack. The pie will continue to set as it cools and deflate slightly.  Serve cool or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes:  We welcome you to make your own pumpkin puree from scratch, but we all know that the Thanksgiving feast is a kitchen marathon so we usually make an exception to our do-it-from-scratch mantra and use canned pumpkin.

Whipped Cream

Makes 2 cups

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

The Plentiful Pumpkin

The Vegetarian Thanksgiving —  it’s a topic that’s coming up more often now.  Years ago, if a vegetarian came to Thanksgiving dinner, all he or she could hope for was to enjoy some of the meatless side dishes, salads and of course pumpkin pie.  In more recent years, folks are becoming more health-conscious and in general adopting a meat-free lifestyle.  A happy consequence:  dinner hosts are also becoming more conscientious and planning for more meatless options for the Thanksgiving Table.

I originally developed this for my sister, Alex.  I wanted to make something unforgettably special for her that was filling, delicious and healthy… something that would be so special, she wouldn’t miss having turkey at all.

As I heartily encourage you to make this recipe, I am obligated to warn you:  it’s not something that can be quickly thrown together.  This recipe is for a very special occasion, so please take the necessary time and steps to prepare.  Cook and season each component before it gets mixed together as the filling – by doing so, each component has its own flavor.  The whole thing will become greater than the sum of its parts!  (and consequently, that’s why it’s so darn complicated to make this dish).

I serve this pumpkin with onion gravy (it looks and tastes like turkey gravy but it’s vegan) and a side of cranberry sauce!

* Be sure to click on the blue links to see all the helpful videos we’ve prepared to guide you along!  Subscribe to our YouTube Channel!  

Stuffed Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Serves 4

4 sugar pumpkins, about 6 to 8-inches in diameter

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (or wild rice)

1 cup cooked quinoa (red looks better)

1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sub-recipes:

Sautéed Dino Kale w chopped garlic and red pepper flakes

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with shallots and garlic (thinly slice the shallots and garlic)

Sautéed chickpeas with diced carrots, minced garlic and olive oil (optional)

Roast the pumpkins by first cutting their tops off and scooping out their seeds and strings.  Prick all over the inside of the pumpkins with a fork and brush with olive oil.  Season the insides with salt and pepper.  Place the pumpkins cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 35 min at 350.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Prepare the filling:  In a large bowl mix together the cooked couscous, quinoa, cranberries, nuts, parsley and any of the prepared sub-recipe components (mix 1 – 1 ½ cups of each component).  Season with salt and pepper and moisten with vegetable stock.

Stuff each pumpkin with the filling – making sure you’ve firmly (but not compressed) packed it in.  Make sure it comes over the top.  Return the stuffed pumpkins to the foil-lined baking sheet and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes.  You can roast the tops of the pumpkins, too and place on top for presentation.  Bake any leftover filling in a baking dish to serve along side.

Serve hot with lots of onion gravy and cranberry sauce.

Onion gravy:

Makes 2 ½ cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

One large yellow onion, diced 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups water

2 tablespoons Tamari sauce (or low-sodium soy sauce)

1 vegetable boullion cube

2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed w cold water to create a slurry

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame and sauté the onions until soft, about 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the water, tamari, and boullion cube.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the onion is clear.  Mix together the cornstarch slurry and pour in.  Bring to a boil, stir a few times until the gravy thickens and turn off the heat.  Set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender.  If you are using a traditional blender, cool the gravy down completely before blending (you’ll have to heat the gravy back up).  Strain the gravy into a clean saucepan, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed and keep warm until ready to use.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Soup

This recipe comes with a very personal story.  And I dedicate this post to my lovely cousin, Sandra Bignardi who asked so nice and sweetly for the recipe.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite fall vegetables.  Ten years ago, when my husband and I were planning our wedding, I wanted to do something special and personal for our guests.  While discussing the reception dinner menu with our wedding planner, I spontaneously asked if the chef wouldn’t mind making my pumpkin soup recipe as the first course.  The chef happily agreed and the rest is history.  It warms my heart whenever relatives speak so fondly of that soup… even 10 years later.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, check us out on Vimeo or subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Chef Terri’s Pumpkin Soup

Serves 12

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2  large yellow onions, diced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup dry sherry

8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian recipe)

4 1-pound sugar pumpkins, roasted (yields about 3 pounds of roasted pumpkin)

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

To prepare the pumpkin:  Cut open the top of each pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp.  Prick the insides of the pumpkins with a fork and brush with canola oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in a 350℉ oven.  Roast for about 40 minutes or until soft.  Peel the skin off and then cube, or scoop out with a spoon and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, but not browned, 10-12 minutes.   Add sherry and cook until liquid evaporates, 3-5 minutes.  Add chicken broth, pumpkin, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and thyme.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until veggies are tender, 35 – 45 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick.

In a blender or food processor, puree vegetable mixture in 4 batches. To achieve that velvety, silky texture, strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois.  Return to the soup pot and warm over low heat.  Add nutmeg, vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.