Thursday, November 29, 2012

Giving Thanks

Vegetarians have long known that the best part of a Thanksgiving feast is the side dishes and pies. No need for tofurky. I must say that my appreciation for tofu has lessened after years of hearing my brother refer to it as whale snot. But that's what brothers are for, right? Besides, the flavors that can be accomplished in the late- November kitchen from seasonal produce and aromatic herbs are so special that I never feel like I am missing out.

This Thanksgiving, my family decided to try some different takes on our traditional dishes. I am especially fond of the smashed potatoes. I mean, mashed potatoes are so last Thanksgiving...and the Thanksgiving before that...and the Thanksgiving before that..... In my opinion, the crispy skin of the smashed potatoes, the salt and the thyme are what makes them superior.

Sage is definitely an herb that comes to mind when I think of Thanksgiving. Not pictured above, was a particularly delicious gluten free sage stuffing. I know most of us have probably exhausted Thanksgiving themed recipes, but I do encourage you to try these dishes sometime in the future.

The appeal of this holiday, for me, is only partly about the food, however. I really do begin to realize just how thankful I am to have been given so many great opportunities, and I truly could not have a more supportive, loving family. I have come to the conclusion that because I am fortunate enough to have such a beautiful home and family, that is why I am so reluctant to go off on my own and be more independent. But I know that when I do go away, I will only appreciate all that I have even more. I know that I will continue to take the time to express my gratitude and reflect this holiday season. It is easy to get bogged down, but after all, gratitude and thoughtfulness are what holidays are all about.  

Kumquat and Cranberry Relish
makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups kumquats (9 to 10 oz), trimmed
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries (3 1/2 cups)

1. Prick kumquats 2 or 3 times with a sharp fork. Cover kumquats generously with cold water in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse with cold water, then drain and rinse two more times (to remove bitterness).
2. Bring kumquats, sugar, and water to a boil in rinsed saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered.
3. Remove from heat and cool kumquats in syrup, about 20 minutes.
4. Transfer kumquats with a slotted spoon to a bowl, reserving syrup in saucepan. Add cranberries and 1/4 tsp salt to syrup and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until berries burst, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. While cranberries cook, quarter kumquats lengthwise, discarding any seeds.
6. Stir kumquats into cranberry mixture and transfer to a bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Can keep in refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Recipe from Gourmet Holiday: Special Edition Fall/ Winter 2012

Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Thyme
serves about 4

12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme

1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan (preferably in one layer) and cover with at least an inch of water. Add 2 teaspoons salt to the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook potatoes until completely tender and can be easily pierced with a skewer, 30 to 35 minutes.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, set a cookie sheet on your counter top. As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, dry them well with a dishcloth or paper towel, then place them with plenty of room apart, on the cookie sheet.
3. Fold a dishcloth or paper towel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat with all potatoes.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, and using a spatula, lift the potatoes to let the oil run under them. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoons salt, pepper, and thyme.
5. Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 minutes, turning over once with a spatula halfway through cooking. Serve hot.

Recipe slightly adapted from Susie Middleton of Fine Cooking 83

Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnuts, Sage, and Shallots
serves about 4

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets about 3/4 inch wide
1/2 cup toasted, halved hazelnuts
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1/4 cup olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts, sage, and shallot. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until edges of cauliflower begin to caramelize.

Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque du Souffle :)

Green Beans with Roasted Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Parmesan
serves 4 to 6

1 pound green beans or haricots vert, trimmed
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
olive oil for drizzling
salt, to taste
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan, asiago, or dry jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread out the tomato halves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 30 minutes.
2. Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the green beans in the boiling water, and reduce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook just until al dente, about 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with cool water.
3. Return the green beans to the pot, add the roasted tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with olive oil and salt, to taste. Toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cheese.

Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque du Souffle :)

Let me know if you would like the recipes for the gluten free pies!

1 comment:

  1. yummy! I'm glad my parents could enjoy this amazing meal! It looks sooooo good!