So, 42 pounds of turkey (two turkeys, one 20 pounder and another 22 pounder), three kinds of stuffing, and five pies later (and no, that's not counting the vegetables, salad, fruit salad, Jell-O molds, etc.), a food-filled Thanksgiving was had by all. Thankfully, there were enough of us there that we made a dent in all the food, 12 people or so, but mostly we ended up taking about a week's worth of leftovers home.
So, what did I make for Thanksgiving? This year I tried some more...experimental dishes, except for the sweet potato pie I made, which everyone liked last year. Oh yeah, pictures to come soon, too, once my sister e-mails them to me.
Starting with the maple bourbon sweet potato pie, here's the first recipe:
Maple Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie, based on Food Network's recipe by Karen Barker
1 9-inch pie crust (Trader Joe's brand in my case)
1 15-ounce can of pureed sweet potatoes (yes, you can cook and puree them yourself, but the can I bought for the pie worked fine)
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
A few grinds of black pepper
So, first preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Next, combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them well. Let the pie crust thaw for about 15 minutes but before putting it into the glass pie dish, wet the outer edge of the dish with water. This will help keep the pie crust from sticking. If you think the crust may stick, spray a little bit of nonstick coating (I'd use a canola spray over olive oil one) onto the dish before laying the pie crust down. Pour the filling into the pie crust (I used a Trader Joe's pie crust, which doesn't call for blind baking). I did use a "pie shield," and it did keep the pie crust from over browning. Let it cook for about 45-50 minutes or so. Take the pie out and let it sit for at least 30 minutes so it can set. Serve with whipped cream, or whatever sort of dessert topping you and your guests prefer. Serves about 8.
Next, I tried a sort of cornbread "pudding," which came out a bit more like a savory cornbread cake than anything else. Part of the problem with my recipe was that I used a crusty sourdough bread, which, although it had decent flavor, made the slices of the pie that had the pieces of bread with crust on them somewhat chewy. I determined that next time I really need to use French, or some other kind of softer bread, like the recipe says. At any rate, here's the recipe, courtesy of Alton Brown's show Good Eats. Mine is slightly modified, and I've substituted the type of bread I plan to use next time in the recipe over what I actually used.
Sweet Cornbread Pudding
1/2 medium onion, diced fine
1-ounce of unsalted butter
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 15-ounce can of creamed corn
1 cup of heavy cream (I actually used fat-free half and half and 1/2 cup of cream)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (you can choose any kind of cheese, really, though I would avoid particularly sharp cheeses, such as bleu cheese)
1 tsp kosher salt
Ground pepper to taste (3-4 turns)
2 cups cubed French bread (if the crust is too tough, remove it before mixing it in; trust me)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice bread into 1-inch cubes. Next, combine corn, cream, half and half, eggs, baking powder, cheese, salt, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make sure you have enough room to add 2 cups of 1-inch cubes of bread to the mixture without it overflowing. Fold in the bread cubes and let it soak while you sweat the onions.
Next, sweat onions with butter and herbs in an oven-safe skillet over low heat until they're translucent. Pour the batter into the skillet, on top of the onion mixture. Bake for 50 minutes or until set. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.
With those two dishes out of the way, I made creamed spinach, which everyone seemed to like. I kind of just made it up as I went along, but it turned out well enough, so here it is.
2 bags of frozen spinach
1/2 medium onion, diced fine
4 medium cloves of garlic, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp sage
2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
Salt and ground pepper to taste
First, cook the frozen spinach in a separate pot (the package directions said to cover it with 1/4-inch of water, bring it to a boil and then cook it for about 5 minutes). Drain the spinach and squeeze the water out. The less water you have left, the better. Next, sweat the onions, garlic and herbs in the olive oil for about 3-5 minutes over low heat, or until they're translucent. Next, add the spinach, milk, melted butter, half and half, heavy cream and nutmeg. Cook this mixture for about 15-20 minutes or so over medium low heat. You want some of the liquid to have evaporated but if there's some left, it's not a big deal. The key, again, is to make sure you've squeezed as much liquid out of your cooked spinach before start cooking all of this. Serves 10-12 people who like spinach.
I also made a cranberry sauce recipe, but I'll leave that for the next post. Stay tuned for some pictures.