Nov 28 2010

Thanksgiving

Published by at 9:16 am under Salads,Sweets,Vegetarian

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving’s Supporting Actors

The most important dinner of the year is what my mother would call it. For me, it is an excuse to eat until my body enters a state of temporary paralysis on that comfy living room couch in front of the plasma broadcasting Beyonce’s World Tour. To Mom, it’s a twenty year tradition, symbolizing her commitment to family, her passion for entertaining, and ultimately her superstition that all traditions must be practiced piously otherwise the evil forces will cast a family curse on us rivaling that of an Ancient Greek tragedy. But for both of us, it is about perfection, the perfection in presenting a beautiful spread and snapping photos minutes before everyone else devours our sacred creation, and then our watchful eyes trace the empty plates’ paths as they make their way back to the buffet table. Back and forth they go, until they reach their destiny, a tall, messy stack next to the kitchen sink. And then, with a heightened anticipation, we scurry to the buffet table and survey what’s left of what was once our masterpiece. Which platter is empty and which has been barely touched? As much as it’s hard to let go of one of our biggest labors, it is our moment of victory, knowing these labors rest in the bellies of those we love the most.

The star of the spread, my mom’s ten pound turkey had many supporting actors that nearly stole the show, my Mom’s usual suspects aka our Persian favorites including dill and lima bean rice, kotlet (meat and potato patties), and kookoo (a parsley, cilantro, and green onion pancake).

Undoubtedly, my salad was a winner with bites of sweet, sour, salty, and creamy. And as humdrum as mashed potatoes may seem to the typical American, it is always a traditional favorite and won praise by all with its garlicky goodness. As for the cranberry sauce with a sweet twist and textural surprise (pomegranate seeds), it was my husband’s favorite by far. And my personal favorite was dessert, one which I cannot take credit for because it is Bobby Flay’s winning Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch (from the show Throwdown with Bobby Flay.)

Traditional, or not, this was a Thanksgiving to be thankful for.

Autumn Salad Recipe
10 dates (seeded and chopped)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup goat cheese
Spring mix or dark greens
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 large seedless cucumber sliced thin

Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup Cranberry juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 lemon’s juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Bobby Flay: Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch and Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream

Makes 1 10-inch pie

Cinnamon Crunch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup light muscovado sugar or 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Filling
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
11/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
11/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for the top
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream (recipe follows) for serving

To make the cinnamon crunch, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flour, oats, muscovado sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor, and process a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until combined. Pat the mixture evenly into a 4-inch square on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Keep the oven on.

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until combined. Press evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie plate. Brush with the beaten egg. Bake until light golden brown and firm, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300ºF.

To make the filling, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, both sugars, and the molasses together in a medium bowl. Mix in the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Whisk in the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla seeds or extract. Strain the mixture through a coarse strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the butter.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, pour the pumpkin mixture into the shell, and sprinkle additional cinnamon over the top. Bake until the filling is set around edges but the center still jiggles slightly when shaken, 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Cut the pie into slices and top each with a large dollop of whipped cream and some of the cinnamon crunch.

Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, very cold
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved
2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon, to taste
Combine the cream, vanilla seeds, maple syrup, and bourbon in a large chilled bowl, and whip until soft peaks form.

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