For the holidays I'm serving chocolate mini-candy bars at home and giving them as gifts. They're a lot of fun to make. They taste great and look so cool.
MAKING THEM AT HOME
To make chocolates requires a few specialized tools, some of which may already be in your kitchen.
A double boiler or two saucepans that can fit together, a Silpat or nonstick sheet, and a silicone spatula are the basics. If you want to make individual chocolates, you will also have to invest in hard plastic or silicone molds sold in restaurant supply and some kitchen supply stores.
Be prepared to do a lot of tasting in pursuit of a chocolate you like. What you need to find is chocolate sold in bulk, not chocolate bars that are designed to be consumed like candy bars. Once you find a chocolate you like, start thinking about flavors and nuts.
Some people think Roast Prime Rib is tradional for Christmas and lots of people just go with Roast Turkey – stuffed, brined, fast-cooked or whatever – but we thought it would be fun this year to serve duck or goose. Here's to hope, change and peace in the New Year. Happy Holidays from all of us at One for the Table.
Whenever my sister-in-law comes to visit, she tries to sneak in rum balls. There's a deli near Union Square that sells them and it must be sending out a homing signal. A rum ball beacon. It doesn't matter what we're doing or where we are, it's only a matter of time before she says "who wants to go get rum balls!" It's not really a question so much as a rallying cry.
So this holiday season I decided to make them. Not having eaten very many of them makes it hard to know if I have duplicated the version my sister-in-law likes so much. Lee says they are actually better than the deli version. All the recipes I could find are fairly similar. You can use rum or bourbon, cocoa or chocolate, walnuts or pecans and vanilla wafers, chocolate wafers or graham crackers. The crucial element in the beloved rum balls seems to be that they are covered in chocolate sprinkles (or jimmies as they are sometimes known). Making them stick presented a problem but not an insurmountable one.
Have you seen the Reddi-Wip commercial that’s been running on television? They’ve timed it to run this time of year when pumpkin pie is being jotted down on the planned menu for many Thanksgiving Day cooks. Every slice of creamy pumpkin pie needs a dollop of topping, right?
In the commercial, a woman is seated at the counter at a diner. When she orders pie, the waitress holds up a can of Reddi-Wip in one hand and a plastic tub of topping in another. “Oil or cream?” she asks.
The viewer knows very well the plastic tub represents the light-as-cotton candy whipped topping that can be found in the freezer case at all supermarkets. And, no matter what brand it is, the frozen topping is usually referred to as Cool Whip.
When Cool Whip was introduced to the public in 1967, my mom went nuts over the whipped cream look-alike. My mother, who grew up eating real food on a farm in Indiana, snubbed the thick liquid cream as she marched right past the cartons of thick white liquid on the shelf in the dairy case and headed straight to the freezer, tossing a couple of plastic tubs of frozen whipped topping into her grocery cart.
Since Thanksgiving is all about so many heavy dishes, such as mashed potatoes, gratin and gravies, it's always nice to have a little bit of
green at the table.
These beans are the perfect palate-cleansing side, providing that clean, acidic sweetness, much like the cranberry sauce. The citrus just pops and will refresh the senses in between spoonfuls of sweet potatoes and turkey.
Best part, serve them room temperature, which means you can make them up a few hours ahead and not worry about getting them to the table hot. In fact, I'm betting these could be made the day before, refrigerated in the dressing, and re-tossed right before dinner is served.
They are outstanding and a recipe I will use all year.
Thanksgiving isn't complete without some sort of sweet potato dish. There's the traditional marshmallow-topped sweet potato side dish or the classic dessert of sweet potato pie. Sweet potatoes are almost magical when cooked or baked. Their bright orange flesh turns soft and almost creamy. Roasting them heightens their natural sweetness even more. Many holiday recipes further improve upon the sweetness by adding brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup. With the holiday only one week away, it's time to start planning. I'll be making a few new recipes to add to my repertoire.
Sweet and savory flavors are the basis of many classic Thanksgiving recipes. This side dish strays from the typical in favor of something a bit more gourmet and savory. Roasted sweet potatoes are mashed with butter, cream, and maple syrup and then spread in a gratin dish. The mashed sweet potatoes are then topped with fluffy panko breadcrumbs, fresh sage, and chopped walnuts. It's then drizzled with melted butter and broiled, turning the top golden and crunchy. It's a side dish that's sure to please both sweet potato traditionalists and those looking for a new take on a holiday favorite.
Thanksgiving is my favorite national holiday. It is not focused around the obligatory(bad) gift, it’s secular, and the abundance of flavors, color, and creativity in the food and recipes cannot be beat.
I started creating my Thanksgiving menu over 25 years ago, in a 2 bedroom duplex with a very small kitchen. The size of my kitchen didn’t matter, nor did the fact that I only had one oven. I was organized, made lists, prepped and did as much as I could in advance. My pumpkin soup and this cranberry sauce remain the two constants on my holiday table. Today, I may have a slightly larger kitchen, two ovens, an extra fridge, but the joy of this holiday remains the same.
Regardless, making a Thanksgiving meal requires organization, lots of prep, and time management. I do as much as I can in advance. This cranberry sauce can be made a week in advance, Pie crusts are made and frozen, soups are made 2 days prior, and all veggies are cleaned, blanched, and chopped the weekend before.
It's already in full swing. Thanksgiving turkey mania. You know what I'm talking about. The endless, frenzied debate over how to cook the perfect turkey. With all the food magazines, cooking shows and turkey hotlines available, I know you'll find more information than you ever wanted on the bird.
That's why I'm posting about Thanksgiving side dishes: They're much less controversial. You can't brine sweet potatoes or deep fry cranberry sauce. At least, I don't think you can.
year I shared four Thanksgiving side dishes with a twist: Perennial
favorites like sweet potatoes and string beans got a makeover. They
looked fabulous. But we can't make the same veggies this year. Well,
except for the String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Lemon. I have to make those again. Don't worry though. I've got a few new ones for you that won't disappoint.
Let's start with Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash. A robustly sweet and tangy filling of shallots, cranberries, prunes and pecans is nestled inside of a hot roasted acorn squash half.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it was time to experiment with some turkey recipes. Some years I have a house full of people and often cook two big birds, but other times it’s just a small group and cooking a huge turkey just seems to be too time consuming.
Roasting a turkey breast is a great solution for small gatherings and it makes a great dinner any time of year – not just at Thanksgiving! Most of the “experts” (Alton Brown, Emeril, Cooks Illustrated, etc.) recommend brining in a saltwater solution to season the meat and keep it moist, juicy and succulent and though it does add to the prep time, it’s really worth it.
My first taste of goat’s cheese was at a tapas restaurant in Chicago many years ago. The soft, creamy cheese with a fairly mild, salty taste was topped with pine nuts. At the time, the flavors were so different from what I was accustomed to eating. During the years since that first introduction, I’ve become quite fond of the full, rich flavor of goat cheese.
One of my favorite ways to serve goat cheese is to spread the room-temperature cheese on a platter and top it with sliced sundried tomatoes in oil, smashed kalamata olives and slivers of fresh basil. I drizzle some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes over the whole platter and serve it with baguette slices. Guests cover the bread with oil-soaked cheese and then top it with the tomatoes, olives and basil. The whole thing can be assembled right before guests arrive. It’s not a concoction I developed myself. Mary Risley, of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco served it at the first class I ever took from her.
This holiday season I’ve combined those same ingredients and baked them in tiny little cream cheese tart shells. The rich custard holds all the ingredients together in a flaky cream cheese cup.