Happy Thanksgiving!

tday2How has your week been so far? Did you cook over the weekend? Have you cleaned out the fridge so there is room for the turkey? Are your linens pressed? Do you have your time-table ready for the big day or are you one of the lucky ones and eating at someone else’s home?

Despite the fact they are predicting snow for the big day, I am forging ahead with the biggest culinary day of the year and not listening to the forecast! I am a little bit behind the 8 ball this year and next week I’ll tell you why! I made my favorite Astor House Rolls over the weekend, but I still have squash to roast, creamed onions to make (I’m probably the last person on earth who likes these, but I had a craving for them this year), and I still need to make a pie! No rest for the weary cook! But in the meantime, I raise my glass to my ever faithful and supportive readers for a happy holiday and for a meal filled with delicious food!

Happy Thanksgiving!

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Thanksgiving Day Culinary Crisis Averted!
endors2I enjoyed listening to a recent “America’s Test Kitchen Radio” podcast, where Christopher Kimball chatted with an expert from Butterball’s Turkey Talkline and some of the questions they have received through the years. So don’t worry if you have questions about your turkey on Thursday, they will be available to answer them for you! Just call 1-800-Butterball! Or a local chef who has her own cooking shop has her own Thanksgiving hotline and will be accepting calls from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday! You can call Chef Contos at 802-318-7328.

Advertisements

Recipe Redux: Astor House Rolls

I first brought you this recipe two years ago around this time and since then they have become an early winter staple in our house. If you aren’t afraid of yeast and want to make rolls for your Thanksgiving meal, these are the ones to make! Warmed with some good butter, they are to die for. I like all rolls, but those made with milk add a bit of richness to them. Light and airy, I have made these several times and have never had any problems with them—a foolproof recipe! You can make them this weekend and pop them in the freezer; take them out Thursday morning and they will be thawed by dinner time!

astoruseAstor House Rolls
From The Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser, p. 652

1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
About 6 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups whole milk scalded and cooled to lukewarm
7 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cold unsalted butter

1. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let stand until foamy. Put 5 cups of flour in a large bowl (you can use a mixer with a dough hook if you want) and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, salt, sugar, softened butter, and milk and stir, slowly incorporating the flour from the sides. Then stir and beat the mixture until a ball of dough has formed. Pour the dough and any remaining flour onto a work surface and gradually knead in the remaining 1 cup flour.

2. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover, and let rise until light and fluffy and almost doubled.

3. Punch down the dough and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes–you should need very little, if any, extra flour for this step. Return to the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size.

4. Punch down the dough and divide into 22 pieces. Shape each piece into a tight round (see ** at end), keep the other pieces covered with plastic wrap while you work. Beginning with the first round, flatten each roll, seam side up, to 1/2-inch thick. Place 1 teaspoon butter in the center, lift one edge of the dough, and pull it up and over the butter, forming a turnover-shaped roll, and pinch the ends firmly closed to seal in the butter. Arranged rolls 3 inches apart on nonstick baking sheets (or baking sheets covered with parchment). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

6. Bake until the rolls are puffed, golden, and cooked through, about 16 minutes. Cool on baking racks.

Makes 22 rolls.

Originally published in the New York Times, October 27, 1878: “Useful Hints for Housekeepers.” Recipe signed Lillie.

** To shape rolls, follow the instructions of Nancy Silverton in her book Breads from the La Brea Bakery: “Shape the dough into balls by cupping your hand lightly around the dough and rounding it against the friction of the work surface to form a smooth bun. Begin slowly and increase speed as the ball becomes tighter and smoother. Use as little flour as possible to prevent sticking.”

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Thanksgiving all in one place!
I know I extol the ingenuity of The New York Times probably a little too much, but when it comes to holidays, it is one of my first stops! So if your Thanksgiving meal isn’t completely planned, take a look at their website, where you can find everything from the turkey to the desserts and everything in between. Tips on how to roast a turkey, make a pie crust, how to make gravy, plus tips for a vegetarian meal. You name it, they have you covered!

I’m not completely set on my menu, so I know I’m going to spend a lot of time here this week! You can find this great resource here.

Leek and Pancetta Potato Rösti

As someone who has cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd for several years now, I find one of the hardest things to make for the meal is mashed potatoes. I don’t have a microwave, so if I make them in advance they are difficult to reheat, but then I don’t want to make them at the time I’m head over heels fixing the turkey and gravy either. So when I suggested to the Eater of the House the idea of a different kind of potato dish that I could make in advance and reheat easily, I was greeted with silence. “Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes?” I heard a few minutes later. I got it. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes!

But, if I were making a potato side for the meal, this would be it. I tried it out with a roast chicken supper one Sunday night and it was so delicious. Crispy potatoes and leeks, my favorite, with a hint of smoky meat and fresh sage. I substituted three slices of bacon for the pancetta and it was delicious. It would also make for a tasty weeknight main dish with a side salad. So for those of you looking for a different kind of potato side for your Thanksgiving meal, try this! And you can make it ahead! Cool on a wire rack, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reheat in an ovenproof skillet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until it is recrisped. And just leave out the pancetta for the vegetarian version!

rosti
Leek and Pancetta Potato Rösti
This recipe originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

4 1/2 cups shredded peeled baking potato (about 2 pounds)
3 ounces diced pancetta (such as Boar’s Head)
1 large leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place shredded potato on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; squeeze cheesecloth to extract excess moisture. Place potato in a bowl.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Stir in leek; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add pancetta mixture, flour, sage, salt, pepper, and egg to potato; stir well to combine.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add potato mixture to pan; flatten with a spatula into an even layer. Cook 12 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Place a large plate upside down on top of pan; invert onto plate. Carefully slide potato cake into pan, browned side up; cook 10 minutes or until golden brown. Place potato cake on a cutting board; cool slightly. Cut into 8 wedges.

chefMVK’s Endorsement of the Week: “Chef”
Enough about Thanksgiving! If you are looking for a feel-good movie that is a love story to food, check out “Chef.” It’s just out on DVD. I had been wanting to see this movie all summer when it was in the theater, but there was never a right time. So a lazy November Sunday afternoon it was! A well-known chef quits his comfortable job in a restaurant where his creativity is hindered and decides to open his own food truck where he lets his creativity shine. It’s one of those movies that makes you feel good, which seem to be few and far between these days. It has a happy ending, a bit unrealistic, but I walked away inspired, wanting to get in the kitchen and start cooking! And you’ll also think about making and eating a grilled cheese sandwich. Trust me!

 

Slow-Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomato, Fennel, and Lemon

‘Tis the month of November, when it is cold, rainy, and blustery outside, so I find myself in the kitchen more on Sunday afternoons as opposed to a lazy day at the lake. And this recipe, which originally appeared in the October issue of Cooking Light, is perfect for warming up the kitchen. Slow roasted chicken with a flavorful sauce makes for a delicious meal in addition to inexpensive. And leftovers warmed wonderfully for lunches.

I had some trouble sectioning the lemons, so I found after I was done a lot of the fruit was still left in the peel. So I turned my lemon peels into lemon water! I gathered them up and had lemon water all week long!

I bought parsley which I completely forgot about adding, along with the cheese and breadcrumbs. But it was still delicious. Served over linguine, it was a perfect dinner to end the weekend!

slowbaked chick
Slow-Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomato, Fennel, and Lemon

This recipe originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine. You can serve on crusty toast or a bed of pasta if you like.

2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups shaved fennel (about 2 bulbs)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, drained
12 garlic cloves, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slice
3 lemons, sectioned
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 (1-ounce) slice whole-wheat bread
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour into a 13 x 9–inch glass or ceramic baking dish; tilt to coat bottom of dish. Top with fennel.

3. Rub salt into chicken; arrange chicken over fennel. Hand-crush tomatoes; tuck between thighs. Scatter garlic and lemon over chicken; sprinkle with thyme.

4. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into pieces; scatter over dish. Cover; bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 180°.

5. Uncover; bake 45 minutes, basting every 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Combine bread and cheese in a food processor; pulse for coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over chicken; drizzle with basting juices. Bake 10 minutes. Top with parsley.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Prepare for Thanksgiving with These Tips
Clever_Cookstr_podcastClever Cookstr is a new podcast from the Quick and Dirty Tips family that I recently discovered and it is terrific! Each podcast, less than ten minutes in length, takes on a food topic to discuss, from 7 new ways to cook pumpkin, what to serve vegans at your next dinner party, to the more timely “Thanksgiving Day Countdown Begins Now”-October 21. For those cooking the meal this year, whether it’s your first or tenth, I found some great bits of information that can help all Thanksgiving cooks!