Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Southwest - Part 5, The Grand Finale!

What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie? This traditional dessert of the season originated with the early American settlers of the Plymouth Plantation, who celebrated their first harvest season in 1621 with a three day celebration along with the local native Americans. Although the pumpkins were more likely hollowed out, filled with milk, honey, and spices, and then baked in hot ashes. It wasn't until 1651, when famous French chef Francois Pierre la Varenne wrote La Vrai Cuisinier Francois, which included a recipe for pumpkin pie, did pumpkin pie take its modern form. In 1929, when the Libby McNeill and Libby Company (LM&L) purchased Dickinson and Company, canned pumpkin became readily accessible. Today, LIBBY'S is now owned by Nestle and produces 85% of the world's canned pumpkin!

For my nontraditional Southwestern Thanksgiving menu, of course traditional pumpkin pie is not on the menu. Gasp! Instead, a decadent pumpkin creme brulee served with fresh raspberries is the grand finale! This luscious custard is made with cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs, and is elevated with the addition of canned pumpkin! It's an unforgettable dessert and unique alternative to traditional pumpkin pie! Bissinger's Chocolate Cinnamon Chile Cake would also be a wonderful addition! Happy Thanksgiving!


Pumpkin Creme Brulee


Serves 6

Ingredients:
For the Custard
1/2 vanilla bean, split
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin (LIBBYS of course!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Topping
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise. 

Heat cream, sugar, and vanilla bean until hot, but not boiling to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. 

Meanwhile, beat egg yolks, pumpkin, and vanilla extract until smooth. Strain out vanilla bean from cream mixture. Reserve bean and scrape out seeds. Add seeds back to cream mixture and stir to incorporate. 

Temper the egg yolks by adding just a little of the hot cream mixture to equalize the temperature. This will keep the eggs from "scrambling" when the rest of the hot mixture is added. Then add the rest of the cream and mix well. 

Pour into 6 small ramekins. Place the ramekins in a bain marie (a 2-inch high roasting pan filled halfway up with hot water). 

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes until firm, but still a little wiggly in the center. (It took mine a few minutes more). Remove from water and chill 4 hours or preferably overnight. 

Sprinkle sugar onto the tops and using a torch or broiler, quickly brown to caramelize sugar. Garnish with a few raspberries and serve immediately.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Southwest - Part 4

As part of my Southwestern Thanksgiving menu, these "Smashed Candied Sweet Potatoes" make a colorful substitution for the traditional mashed potatoes. Unusual additions like chile powder and red wine vinegar balance the sweetness of the honey. Not only is this a beautiful side dish, it is interesting and addictive! It's almost like dessert! If this fabulous recipe doesn't appeal to you, another option would be Whipped Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.


Smashed Candied Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients:
5 large sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons Guajillo or New Mexican red chile powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast potatoes until tender, about 45 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Cut in half and scoop insides into a large bowl. Discard the skins. Smash, mixing in remaining ingredients. Place in a serving dish and return to oven to reheat until hot. Serve hot.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Southwest - Part 3

I love it when cranberries come into season! Not only are they a must with your Thanksgiving turkey, they make beautiful displays in hurricane lanterns with candles. One of my favorite brunch recipes is my Cranberry Pear Coffee Cake, as well as this exciting "Cranberry-Jalapeno Chutney." This recipe utilizes jalapenos for a touch of heat, golden raisins for added sweetness, crystallized ginger for zing, and a splash of lime juice to counteract the sugar. If you are afraid of the jalapenos, just remove the seeds. It is the perfect addition to my Southwestern Thanksgiving menu, alongside Stuffed Turkey Rolls with Poblano Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing and Pecan Mole Sauce. Easy, delicious, and beautiful!



Cranberry-Jalapeno Chutney

Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, roughly chopped
2 fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until cranberries are tender and chutney has thickened. Taste; if too tart, add more sugar. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve as a garnish for the Stuffed Turkey Rolls. This is also great served with pork tenderloin or roasted turkey.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Southwest - Part 2, and the Disappearing Table!

It's no secret that my mother was a terrible cook! Nor did she cook often. In fact, I only remember one Thanksgiving that she attempted to make herself. It was a small affair because my father, who was Chief of Surgery, always worked on Thanksgiving so he could spend Christmas at home. I remember sitting with my brother and sister at our formal dining table from Italy, which consisted of a cast iron base and an inch thick beveled glass top. While we sat there horsing around, my mother brought in the piping hot turkey in its roasting pan, sat it on the corner of the table, and promptly returned to the kitchen to get the remaining dishes. One minute later, the entire corner of the table cracked and fell to the ground, turkey and all! My siblings and I sat there wide-eyed, not knowing her reaction, and didn't mutter a peep. When she returned and saw that part of the table had disappeared along with the turkey, she said, "I always hated that table. Your father has terrible taste." Needless to say, after their divorce a few years later, she left the table when we moved....and that darn glass corner was still sitting there, just where it had fell! 

Moral of the story? Besides not placing a hot roasting pan directly on a glass table, sometimes roasting an entire turkey is more trouble than it's worth! So as part of my Southwestern Thanksgiving menu, try this unforgettably delicious recipe for "Stuffed Turkey Rolls with Poblano Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing and Pecan Mole Sauce." Instead of dealing with an entire turkey, turkey tenderloins are marinated in a delicious white wine-Dijon marinade, rolled around a fantastic chorizo-poblano stuffing, and served with a simple yet delicious pecan mole sauce. The turkey needs to be marinated 2 days ahead, filled and rolled 1 day ahead, making it convenient and hands-off on Thanksgiving day. In addition, the pecan mole sauce can also be made days ahead so you can enjoy the holiday with family and friends! I promise you will love it!


Stuffed Turkey Rolls with Poblano Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing and Pecan Mole Sauce

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for Turkey Rolls:
4 turkey tenderloins

For the Marinade:
1 cup white wine
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Mustang Spice* (*1 teaspoon Guajillo chile powder, 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

1 recipe Poblano Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing (see below)
1 recipe Pecan Mole Sauce (see below)

Directions for Turkey Rolls:
*Two days before cooking:
Remove tendon from tenderloins, splitting in two. Butterfly each piece open and pound slightly to flatten and even out thickness.

Mix wine, mustard, seasonings and oil in a freezer zipper-close plastic bag and add tenderloin fillets. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. (Overnight is preferred.)

*One day before cooking:
Remove from the marinade and discard bag. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and lay out 4 approximately 12-inch pieces of kitchen twine on top of the plastic wrap. 



Next nestle 4 of the tenderloin fillets next to each other and top with half of the Poblano Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing. (If you can't get all the stuffing in the turkey rolls, reserve the remainder and refrigerate until time of baking.)


Using the plastic wrap to help, roll and tie the tenderloins together. Tighten the plastic wrap around the turkey roll, twist ends and fold under. Repeat with the remainder of turkey and stuffing, making two rolls. Refrigerate overnight.



*Time to cook:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Carefully remove plastic wrap and discard. Lay turkey rolls seam-side down in a buttered baking dish. Add any leftover stuffing to the ends of the rolls. (At this point, I recommend inserting an oven-safe meat thermometer. See Gadgets.) Pour in 1 cup of stock and cover with lid or foil.


Bake for approximately 1-1 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving with pecan mole sauce (recipe follows). I promise you will love it!


Poblano Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing

Ingredients:
1, 9"x9" pan cornbread, crumbled (I baked 1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix and it was just the right amount.)
1/2 teaspoon each dried sage, thyme, oregano, and cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced (See Techniques for more information, if needed.)
1/2 stick butter
1 cup red onions, diced
1 cup celery, sliced
14 ounce Mexican chorizo, casing removed, cooked, and well drained
3 eggs
1 cup chicken stock (or more as necessary)

Directions:
Crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Add herbs, poblano, and spices. Heat butter over medium heat and saute the onions and celery until translucent. Add to cornbread. Mix well. Add enough stock to moisten. Add drained chorizo and mix in well. Beat eggs and add to stuffing. Use to stuff turkey rolls, or to use as a casserole, bake in a pan about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.


Pecan Mole Sauce

Ingredients:
2 Ancho chiles (Ancho chiles are dried poblano chiles, available at most well-stocked grocers, Mexican grocers,or online.)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 roma tomatoes
1 cup toasted pecans
2 slices stale white bread, torn into pieces
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:
Soak Ancho chiles in warm water for about 10 minutes to rehydrate. Drain and remove stems.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic for approximately 8 minutes or until browned and caramelized. Set aside.

Broil or roast tomatoes until the skins are blackened and slightly softened. Peel when cool enough to handle and discard the skins.

Place the tomatoes, pecans, onions and garlic, bread, Anchos and 1 cup of the chicken stock in a blender. Process until smooth.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the puree from the blender and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook stirring occasionally until thickened, about 1 hour. Strain if a smoother sauce is desired and serve.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Southwest - Part 1

Last Thanksgiving, the thought of making my traditional Thanksgiving menu seemed unexciting and filled me with a sense of dread. In addition, with house guests and many meals needing to be made, filling my fridge space with an entire turkey seemed inconvenient and counterproductive. Instead, I threw caution to the wind and made an entire Southwestern Thanksgiving menu courtesy of Canyon Cafe: Bringing the Southwest Experience Home. (One of my favorite cookbooks ever!)

This incredibly unforgettable menu is as follows:

My guests and I were so enchanted by the menu that I am doing it again this year (minus the green bean salad)! Check back for the rest of these wonderful recipes for a Thanksgiving that is anything but boring!



Sunburst Squash Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound yellow onions, diced
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons butter
Your favorite green and red bottle hot sauces (I use El Yucateco brand.)

Directions:
Heat the oil in a soup pot and saute onions until translucent. Do not brown, Add squash cubes and spices, toss to coat. Add stock, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook just until tender. Strain and reserve stock.

In a food processor or with a hand mixer, puree soup with enough stock to make a medium-thick soup. Return to soup pot. Add cream and stir to heat well. Add butter and adjust seasonings if necessary. Keep on low-do not allow to boil from this point. If it gets too hot the soup may separate.

Serve dotted with your favorite green and red bottled hot sauces pulled out from the center to form a sunburst.