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American Thanksgiving
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:34 pm    Post subject: American Thanksgiving Reply with quote

The U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching. I was wondering, for those who celebrate, do you go the "traditional" turkey & fixings route, or do you prefer a different approach?
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a vegetarian, so turkey isn't an option for me, but I do like making a meal in the spirit, if not perhaps the letter, of tradition. Last year for a main I made a mushroom wellington (essentially a vegetarian pate en croute) which was so good that I think it may well become a tradition when I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner. It was a bit of a production to make, but since it can be made a few weeks ahead and frozen before baking with no harm done, it saved a lot of stress on the day itself. To go with it, I made cranberry sauce, but not the jellied kind (which I've never liked) - this was just a rough puree of cranberries, orange juice and zest - plus a big pan of roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes and some spinach, wilted and dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

Dessert was pumpkin pie... that's one tradition I see no need to mess with! Wink
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That Mushroom Wellington sounds great, Rachel. Did you use a particular crust recipe? I make a wild-mushroom pate' that would probably work really well prepared en croute.

I also agree with you about jellied cranberry sauce. I've always preferred something made with whole berries. We have one recipe that I put up as preserves, because cranberries are only available around now. We then use it all year round:

Cranberry Conserve

In a large, heavy saucepan combine 1 pound raw cranberries (about 4 cups) and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer until the berries pop. Stir in 3 cups sugar, 1 cup crushed pineapple, 1/2 cup golden raisins, and 1 seeless orange, pith removed and chopped fine. Simmer the mixture, stirring from time to time, for 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Pour the mixture into canning jars, adjust the lids, and process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 pints.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not a huge fan of cranberry sauce in any way shape or form but that cranberry conserve with the crushed pinapple et alia sounds really delightful! Thanks for sharing KY!
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At first, I was thinking my post would be a simple "very traditional, nothing ever changes", but I realized that's not exactly true. I'd still characterize our Thanksgiving meal as "traditional", but some things have definitely changed through the years. Every time I talk about making major changes (in the stuffing, for example), I'm met with waves of opposition. So...

My turkey is still roasted (not brined) and stuffed with a simple bread/celery/onion stuffing. I know that brining is "the thing", but I think you sacrifice a certain roasted turkey flavor by using it. I find that by buying a good bird and being careful with timing and flavors, I can turn out a moist turkey without brining. And gravy, of course.

Most years, I do make mashed potatoes, and I always make some kind of yam. No marshmallows--ever--but a bit of sweetness with brown sugar and butter, i.e. "candied". Recently, I've varied that by making a tian of yams/apples.

The ubiquitous green bean casserole made with mushroom soup and crispy onions no longer shows up around here, but a simple green veg, perhaps finished off with a splash of olive oil satisfies. Also, mixed roasted root vegetables are great with this meal.

Breads: sweet potato muffins, anadama bread.
Several types of cranberries: sauce, relish, chutney.
Desserts: pumpkin, apple/cranberry, pecan pies. Cookies for the kids. This year, a childhood favorite dessert for my brother (to celebrate his b'day last month).

A great deal of wine and bubbly stuff to drink. While my wine tasting has expanded to include wines from all over the world, for this meal, I like to drink American wines. It just seems fitting, 'ya know?

So, what's different? There hasn't been a jello mold on our table for years (shows you how old I am), no jellied cranberry sauce, no gloopy green beans.

Every year I pour over my cookbooks and magazines, dreaming of cooking up some fabulous new flavors, and every year I am voted down. In the end, our favorites triumph, we sit around a big table (20 of us this year), happy to be together, and give thanks for all of it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone Very Happy
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being as I brought it up I reckon I should talk about our preferences.

The "traditional" dishes associated with Thanksgiving really don't go back very far. Most of them stem from the Rooseveldt administration, along with things---like green bean casserole and Jello molds---introduced by food companies to promote their products. So, basically, it's a tradition that only stretches back 50 years. And it certainly does not begin to resemble the "first Thanksgiving" attributed to the Pilgrims.

Being as we hunt, fish, and gather wild edibles, Thanksgiving, for us, is a celebration of the bounty of the earth. For a glimpse of the sort of thing I mean, you can see this year's planned menu at http://www.the-outdoor-sports-advisor.com/Thanksgiving-dinner.html. Or go over to Cheftalk.com to see an alternative version.

Only time we have turkey for Thanksgiving is when we're guests somewhere. We do eat turkey, but at other times of year. Usually we stock up about now, because the prices are so good (I've heard that Wallmart will have them as a lost leader for 40 cents/lb). Two or three of them in the freezer see us through the year. At least one of them will get smoked.
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bainst



Joined: 07 Aug 2005
Posts: 151
Location: Baghdad, Iraq

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never been a huge turkey or pumpkin pie fan. One year I managed to convince my Mom to make baked chicken instead and was very happy. But since I've been in the Army and haven't been home for Thanksgiving for the last ten out of thirteen years, I partake in traditional Thanksgiving meals for the comfort factor.

And one of my favorite traditions about an Army Thanksgiving in our Dining Facilities is that the Senior Staff ranging from Colonels, Majors, Sergeant Majors, etc.., will serve the meals to soldiers. Which I always thought was a nice touch.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, but O-5s really make terrible servers. Laughing

But since I've been in the Army ....

Thank you!
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KYH, no particular crust recipe - I just used puff pastry for the mushroom wellington... frozen at that! I may attempt it in future with homemade rough puff, but I was quite pleased with how it turned out with the frozen stuff (I used the best brand I could find - all butter). If you ever try it with your own mushroom pate, keep us posted as to how it turns out.
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bainst



Joined: 07 Aug 2005
Posts: 151
Location: Baghdad, Iraq

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KYHeirloomer wrote:
Yeah, but O-5s really make terrible servers. Laughing


They're not Le Cirque quality, but it's the thought that counts. Wink
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachel, I've got no problems with frozen puff pastry. Well, one problem---last time I tried using it I waited too long between removing it from the freezer and removing it from the package, and it all grew into itself. Embarassed Surely not the product's fault!

I certainly intend trying the Wellington, cuz it does sound so nice. But if anyone wants to beat me to the punch, here's the wild mushroom pate recipe I use.

You want an earthy flavor to this, so strong mushrooms like portobella work best. But I've done it with all sorts of combinations, and it's always good. If you do use portobellas, be sure and scrape the black gills away, because they contribute a sort of dirty, moldy flavor.

Wild Mushroom Pate

1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
A good splash of Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs, hard cooked and coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup almonds
1 tbls tamari (or other soy sauce)
1/2 tsp chili powder (I prefer ancho)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the butter with the balsamic until soft and almost golden. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade pulse the eggs and nuts until thoroughly minced. Add the mushroom mixture, tamari, chili powder, salt and pepper. Process 5-10 seconds to combine.

Transfer mixture to a serving bowl, cover with plastic film, and refrigerate a couple of hours to let flavoes meld. Remove from fridge about half hour before serving.
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Mmel'ours



Joined: 10 Nov 2009
Posts: 41
Location: Chicago suburbs

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wild mushroom pate? Oooooo!
I am matriarch of a family of purists. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans or sauteed spinach, pumpkin or apple pie. We have access to a couple of half-decent bakeries, so we have baguette. Any deviation will result in picket lines and broken windows. Shocked
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Rachel et als, I did the mushroom pate wellington thing. With one exception, the way I dished it was 100%.

Decided to make individual servings, as a first course. So I extruded the pate through my apple corer, to make logs. These were wrapped in (frozen) puff pastry. Instead of merely slitting the dough I cut small triangles out of it.

While they baked I quickly sweated beech mushrooms in a little butter. I wanted them to be cooked, but still strong enough to stand on their own.

I also planned a sauce made by boiling plums in mushroom stock, straining, and reducing. Couldn't find plums, and, in a fit of pernicious creativity gone wild, decided to try the same sauce using persimmon.

Anyway, when the logs were done baking I fit a small bunch of the beech mushrooms through the diamond cut-out. A puddle of the sauce was brushed across a serving plate, and the mushroom-bedecked log set on the sauce.

A beautiful presentation for sure. However, the persimmon reduction was, I felt, too sweet for this dish. It's likely a plum reduction would have also been too sweet. So, next time, just a plain brown sauce, or, possibly, sauce diable.

Anyway, I wanted to say thanks to Rachel for steering me in this direction. Sure, the dish needs a little fine-tuning. But I'm confident we've got a winner on our hands.
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KYH, you're very welcome! I'd like to give your recipe a try (probably not til Christmas when I am in a house with a food processor again) because, although the method is the same as mine, the seasonings are slightly different - mine uses sherry and tarragon instead of the chili and balsamic vinegar, and cashews instead of pecans.

If you're thinking of experimenting with the sauce again, the original recipe (from The Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur - not sure if it's available in the US) suggests slicing and sauteeing a few mushrooms in butter, seasoning with white wine, salt and pepper and adding a dash of cream. I've never tried it myself, but I imagine it would work nicely.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I reckon that mushroom sauce would work. But I wanted something dark that would look somewhat like forest duff. Basically the idea would be a log with wild mushrooms growing out of it.

I'm wondering if a duxelle-based sauce wouldn't be the best of both worlds?

We'll get there.

Cashews sound terrif! The recipe I adapted used Brasil nuts, which work fine, too, when they're available.
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