Wednesday, November 24, 2010

traditions.

There’s something very comforting about tradition this time of year, therefore I understand why people gravitate towards that green bean casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup. I never had it in my house growing up, but wouldn't dare berate it as I’m sure it’ll appear on millions of tables tomorrow and be happily gobbled up. Who am I to mess with tradition on Thanksgiving?

At our house we enjoy our Thanksgiving meal rather late in the day (between 4 and 6 pm), and I’m really not sure why, although maybe it’s because that’s the usual custom at my mom and dad's house, so it must have carried over to us. We normally host a medley of people, but this year it’s just the two of us. It just kind of worked out that way, plus I have some deliveries to make earlier in the afternoon for the new business. Since there is no real sense of urgency or rush about dinner itself, I plan to lounge around in my pajamas most of the morning while drinking some spiked coffee and making fun of the Macy Day Parade in New York (I know it’s not called that, but that’s what I like to call it). The boy and I have had spiked coffee every Thanksgiving morning for yearsss and I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without it.

Nutty Irishman. For one serving:

. coffee
. 1 oz Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
. 1 oz Bailey’s (or other Irish cream)
. Whipped cream

Pour coffee and liqueurs in cup. Stir, and top with whipped cream. Drink. Repeat. Smooth sailing into the morning.


Since we will be eating the feast so much later in the day, I plan on having some snacky things to munch on. I always have bowls of spiced mixed nuts and caramelized onion dip with chips (one of the only times of the year I’ll eat potato chips). The spiced nuts are easy peasy:

. one of those 11.5 oz cans of unsalted mixed nuts that has cashews in it (if you can only find salted, that’s fine; just be lighter with salt addition later in the recipe)
. ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
. 2 teaspoons brown sugar
. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
. 1 tablespoon butter
. 2 tablespoons of finely chopped up herbs like rosemary and thyme

Melt the butter and sugar in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the cayenne pepper, salt, and herbs; stir together. Add the nuts and stir to ensure they’re evenly coated. Cook them in the skillet for 3 to 4 minutes longer over low heat until they’re heated through and smell good. Spoon the nuts into a bowl and serve.


Tomorrow I’ll also be serving pigs in blankets. I’ve made them the last couple of thanksgivings (and also for any other festive party), and I like them because they are great warm but are equally as good at room temperature, so they can be left out on the sideboard for people to snack on. Put out little bowls of a variety of things to dip them in. I like stone ground mustard and a spicy barbecue sauce myself, but any sauce will do. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of half used bottles of dippy things in the door of your fridge.

Pigs in blankets – adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites

Technically these are “cows in blankets”, as I normally use little beef sausages, but “pigs in blankets” sounds so much more charming than “cows in blankets”; at least, that’s what I think.

. 2 cups flour
. 1 teaspoon baking powder
. 1 teaspoon salt
. 2 tablespoons grated good cheddar cheese (white if you can find it; if not, yellow is just fine)
. 1 cup whole milk
. 1 egg, beaten
. 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
. 1 or 2 packages of little beef smokies (you can find them near the hot dogs and sausages at your grocery store) (I say 1 or 2 packages because I’m not sure how many of these you want to make – each package has about 20 ish sausages I think)
. 1 egg mixed with a splash of milk and a pinch of salt.


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Put flour, baking powder, salt, and cheese into a large bowl and mix with a fork. Make a well in the middle; add the milk, egg, and oil. Mix together. You may need to add a bit more flour or a bit more milk, depending on the humidity in your kitchen. Don’t be alarmed if you do. The dough should come together and be somewhat soft but not too sticky.

3. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. You can roll it out however thick as you like it. Anywhere between ¼ inch or less is good. Cut dough into strips about 1 ¾ inch to 2 inches wide – this does not have to be perfect at all. You will notice that this dough is very forgiving, so should you screw up cutting one of the strips, who cares? Pat it back together and roll it out again. No biggie. Not the end of the world. Cut the strips at around 2 or 3 inch intervals.

4. Take one of the sausages and place it at the end of one of the strips, and roll it up, squeezing in the end so that it doesn’t unravel. Place it on the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the others until you’ve got a full sheet (you may end up needing another baking sheet). Take that last egg mixed with milk and salt, and using a pastry brush paint the egg wash on the wrapped babies. Put the baking sheet(s) in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until they’re golden, brown, and delicious looking. Chuck them on a serving tray along with little bowlfuls of dippy sauces.

Here’s wishing you all a really happy Thanksgiving! and please remember to stop and smell the roses.

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