Sunday, November 27, 2016

Holiday Soiree: Thanksgiving

The Holiday: Thanksgiving(United States)
We all know the basic story/myth behind Thanksgiving in this country: The Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sharing a meal. Most sources say this took place in or around 1621. We'll probably never really know what actually happened, but we have built a narrative around what information we do have.

What you may or may not know, though, is what happened afterwards. Thanksgiving wasn't an annual celebration until over two centuries later. New York state became the first state in the Union to adopt an annual Thanksgiving celebration in 1817, and it wasn't until 1863 that President Lincoln declared the holiday to be celebrated by the entire country, in an attempt to unify a nation torn apart by war. It wouldn't be until the 1870's, though, when all states actually started participating.

From that time, until 1939, the holiday was celebrated on the last Thursday in November. President Roosevelt changed the date to the third week of November, in hopes of giving shoppers an extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas in an attempt to boost the economy, which was still lagging due to the Great Depression. The outrage was so great, however, that by 1941, he changed it to the fourth Thursday in November, which is has been ever since.

Regardless of the true history, or how the dominant culture treats minorities in this nation, I still feel that there is nothing wrong with setting aside a day for being grateful for what we have in our lives. If done right, that gratefulness could be used to extend kindness to others. I think it's actually intended to be so, but we forget that part, most of the time. This is how I choose to think about Thanksgiving.

The Food: Stuffing Bread, Vegetarian Dressing, Cranberry Applesauce, Holiday Cranberry Tart, and Turkey Hash

I started these last Saturday, but because of timing and when I would actually get to taste them, I decided to put off writing this post until this weekend, when I could write about all of them from start to finish. This will be a long post, be warned!

Stuffing Bread
3 1/2-4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. rubbed sage
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
For Stuffing:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
3-4 cups chicken broth or water

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and seasonings.
Add water and oil; beat just until moistened. Add egg and beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Shape into a large round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet. cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To make stuffing, cut cooled bread in 1" slices and then into cubes. Let stand 24 hours to dry.
In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, eggs, butter, and enough broth to achieve desired moistness. Stir to blend.
Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Uncover, bake 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Makes 8 servings (Editor's note on the recipe card: Stuffing may be used to stuff a turkey, chicken, or pork roast by substituting 3/4 cup egg substitute for eggs.)
This recipe is courtesy of Marion Lowery of Medford, Oregon, from the December/January 2001 edition of Taste of Home magazine. I have had this recipe forever and every year I looked at it and thought about trying it out, but it never happened. I thought this blog project was the perfect time to finally do it. It was so worth the extra work of making the bread. I ended up using about 5 cups of liquid for this, and I added sauteed onions and celery like a traditional stuffing. I used vegetable broth to make it suitable to the vegetarian in my family. It ended up being about 3 cups broth and 2 cups water. My entire family enjoyed this recipe and I am currently trying to convince my mom to switch over to it next year and use it in the turkey. I'd love to see how it tastes with the turkey flavor.

I made this bread last Saturday, and cut it up on Tuesday to sit and dry out a bit. I assembled the stuffing on Wednesday and baked it Thursday morning. There were a lot of leftovers, and I used some of them for last night's blog meal.

Turkey Hash
2 Tbsp. butter
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 cups leftover stuffing
2 cups (1/2" pieces) leftover cooked turkey
1 cup leftover cooked vegetables, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped(I skipped this, I think parsley is one of the most useless herbs in existence. Don't waste your money on it.)
1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce

In 12" nonstick skillet, melt butter on medium. Add onion and cook 8-10 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Stir in mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and vegetables. (You have to really stir it a lot to get it to mix together, but I think it's better that way.)
Cook 20 minutes, turning occasionally and pressing with spatula, until browned.
Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with cranberry sauce. Makes 4 servings; 550 cal, 23g fat, 6g fiber
Like all hash recipes, this one looks a bit like a train wreck, but boy is it delicious! There's just nothing elegant about how a hash looks, but it's all about the flavor anyway, right? And don't skip out on the cranberry sauce, it really enhances the overall taste.

And speaking of cranberry sauce, why not try out the sauce I made this year? It turned out to be pretty excellent!

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups sliced tart apples
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
Zest of 1 orange

Combine cranberries, apples, water, and orange juice.
Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until cranberries have popped and apples are tender. Add honey and orange zest.(I cut down the amount of honey to as little as I could get away with. I ended up doubling the recipe because I had too many apples, but ended up using only a bit over 1 Tablespoon of honey. Start with a small amount and adjust to your personal preference.)
Puree in a blender.(I used a hand-held blender.) Serve warm or cold. Makes about 3 cups.
This sauce is really smooth, more like an applesauce with cranberries than a cranberry sauce with apples. It's really easy to make too. I highly recommend this one.

And now that we're on the subject of cranberries, we can move onto the dessert!

Holiday Cranberry Tart
1 med. orange
2 bags(12 oz. each) cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening(I used butter or you could use lard if you want)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

1.) Prepare Filling: Grate zest and juice the orange. In 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, heat orange zest, orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to boiling.
Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, until cranberries pop and mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; cool filling to room temperature.(This can be done a day ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to use.)
2.) Prepare Pastry: In medium bowl, using fork, mix flour, sugar, and salt. With pastry blender, cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle about 4 Tbsp. cold water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, into flour mixture, mixing lightly with a fork after each addition, until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Shape dough into disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes.
3.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On lightly floured surface, using floured rolling pin, roll dough into 12" round. Press dough onto bottom and up side of 10"x1" round tart pan with removable bottom.
Press overhang in and against side of tart pan to form rim 1/8" above edge of pan. Using fork, prick dough at 1" intervals to prevent puffing and shrinking during baking.
4.) Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake 20 minutes; remove from oven. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and remove foil and pie weights from the pie.(The original recipe calls for you to bake longer after taking out the foil and weights but this overbaked my crust. I do not recommend doing this step.)
5.) Meanwhile, prepare crumb topping: In medium bowl, mix flour, sugars, and cinnamon until well-blended. Using fingertips, work in butter until evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.(This can be prepared a day ahead.)
6.) Pour cranberry filling into tart shell (no more than 1/4" from the top.) Using hand, crumble topping into chunks; sprinkle evenly over filling.
Bake tart until crumbs are golden brown, 30-40 minutes, if necessary, covering edge of crust with foil to prevent browning. Cool in pan on wire rack at least 30 minutes.
Makes 10 servings; 425 cal, 19g fat

I didn't alter the sugar content in this recipe because I didn't want to mess with the texture of the sauce. This was really tasty, but you don't need a lot. I tried my piece with Cool Whip(don't judge me, you try liking delightful whipped cream and being lactose intolerant. You'll turn to this stuff gladly, rather than have nothing at all.) and that made it even better.

Well, I am really glad that all of my recipes turned out ok this year. It's always risky trying out new things for a holiday meal, but I like the excitement and challenge of it. I would make any one of these recipes again. The cranberry sauce and tart would also work well for Christmas.

I hope everybody had a lovely Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for next week's post. I think you'll like it!

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