|This just makes me laugh!|
As soon as the calendar turns the page to November, my mind immediately begins holiday menu planning and plotting and scheming in earnest.
It's a nice deversion from all the regular menu planning and plotting and scheming that I do the rest of the year in earnest....
Although most of our holiday meals are all about tradition and the comfort that comes with the "familiar" foods that go along with the holiday, I do try to add one new menu item to each holiday meal.
I'm fortunate enough (hmmmmm....ask me if I feel the same way on January 2) to have several associated meals to cook around the holidays...whether it be for houseguests or my own children or family or for a party or an event. So, I have several opportunities to try out new recipes and menus. And, trust me, I do back flips to figure those out too. However, I am always looking for that one big splashy recipe that sends everyone into gastronomical dilirium to add to the BIG MEAL!
Considering that is always my goal.....no wonder I find myself in a slight panic now that November is here. Although I seriously doubt that I had the menu item nailed down by November 1 in previous years, for some reason I always entertain myself with the falicy that last year I was so much more organized.
Thankfully, I have my blog---which can act as diary of sorts--to remind me that I was not more organized last year on November 1.
The truth of the matter is---I didn't even have a clue. And, if you want even more truth---the fact is that I am usually completely overwhelmed by all the ideas in my head from all the research I do ahead of time to prepare for the debut of November. For some reason, I have myself convinced that by having so much to pick from, my choice will be so easy. Notsomuch. Damn my addiction to Pinterest. In reality---too much is just too much! My head is swimming in pumpkins and sauces and squashes and potatoes and spinach and sausage and mushrooms and cheese and chestnuts and well.....you get get the picture....
Here's some winners (recipes that *almost* caused gastronomical dilirium) from previous Thanksgivings......
(as you know....I keep detailed notes on everything that I serve so I know which recipes went over well. This means that you can be assured these have been taste tested by a variety of folks!)
I'll be sharing more as the month goes on.....including the ones that caused gastronomical dilirium!
Butternut Squash Chowder
(This is velvety and yummy. If you are serving this as a first course for a big holiday meal, you probably don't want to serve big bowls.... it's very hearty...)
4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrots
2 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus small sage
leaves for garnish
Kosher salt--- to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 jar (32 oz.) butternut squash puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towellined plate. Set aside.
Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, chopped sage, the 4 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add the butternut squash puree and bacon and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and garnish with sage leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
(In addition to tasting great, this makes a beautiful presentation....you can wow your guests' eyes and taste buds!)
3 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped granny smith apples
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup golden raisin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Slice squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and discard..Place squash, cut edges down, in a large baking dish. Fill dish with hot water until 1/2 inches deep. At 350 degrees, bake, uncovered for 40 minutes; drain. In a large skillet, cook apple and onion in butter for about 10 minutes, or until apples and onions are tender. Mix together apple mixture, cheese, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a big bowl.
Arrange baked squash, cut edges up, in the large baking dish.Fill squash with apple mixture.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until squash is tender and cheese is melted.
Soppressata and Cheese in Puff Pastry
(Yes, I know, this sounds hard to make....but it's easy, easy, easy! Cut them in very small pieces for appetizers. Be sure to steal yourself a piece of it before it's all gone!!!)
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, defrosted
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
12 thin (not paper thin) slices soppressata salami (3 1/2 inches in diameter)
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
Lay one sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and lightly roll into a 10-inch square. Place it on the sheet pan and brush the pastry with all the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the soppressata in overlapping layers on the mustard and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on the soppressata, also avoiding the border. Brush the border with the egg wash. Lightly roll the second piece of puff pastry into a 10-inch square. Lay the pastry directly on top of the first square, lining up the edges. Brush the top with the egg wash, cut three large slits for steam to escape, and chill for 15 minutes.
When the pastry is cold, trim the edges with a very sharp knife to make a clean edge. Bake the pastry in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once while baking, until puffed and brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut in squares, and serve hot or warm.