Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving Desserts


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons butter
1 8 oz package cream cheese; room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh pressed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

berries; optional

Preheat oven to 325.
Melt butter, add graham cracker crumbs and stir to combine. Press into a 9″ pie pan lining the bottom and sides.
Beat cream cheese till fluffy. Blend in sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Add eggs, beating well after each. Pour into crust and bake until firm, for 30 minutes. Test by gently shaking the pie plate to be sure the center is fully baked.
Meanwhile, combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla.
Remove cream cheese base from oven, pour sour cream mixture evenly over the cream cheese base and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool completely. Serve with optional berries. *suggestion- make day in advance

2 eggs; lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups (16 oz can) cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 9″ unbaked pie crust with high fluted edges (frozen or recipe below)

whipping cream

Preheat oven to 425. Combine filling ingredients in order given, pour into pie shell and bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake an additional 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Serve with optional fresh whipped cream. *suggestion- make day in advance

PIE CRUST- one 9″ crust
1/2 cup flour
6 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons water

Combine flour and butter with a pastry knife, cutting until the mixture is finely crumbled. Add the water and combine quickly with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball. Chill 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare filling.
With a rolling pin, roll out into an 11-12″ circle between plastic wrap or parchment paper. This was my mother’s trick to prevent dough from sticking to the counter. Peal plastic/parchment from top side of dough and turn into pie plate/pan. Fold edges to create a double layered edge. Leave edge as is, crimp or flute and fill.

Double the recipe for covered pies. Divide the dough in half then chill. After lining the pie plate/pan let the crust hang over the edge then fill the pie. The top crust can be laid solid over the top with the edges rolled and pinched together -or- cut the top round crust into strips and weave them over the top and end by folding the edges together to seal.

1-1 1/2 lbs apples
2 Tablespoons sugar

Core and slice apples into thin wedges, place in baking dish, sprinkle with sugar and cover with crust (full sheet or strips in lattice)


Thanksgiving Recipes



DINNER ROLLS or FRESH BAKED BREAD with cheese platter

SALAD GREENS served with
MAMMA’S HOUSE VINAIGRETTES  (red wine and balsamic)
1 clove garlic; crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup vinegar of choice or fresh pressed lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients together. Mix or shake before each use. Store at room temperature.

Per 1 lb of turkey

1 clove garlic; crushed
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine (or more to achieve the paste consistency)

The night before roasting the turkey- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and rinse inside and out then pat dry. Make a paste with the above ingredients. Rub the paste all over the turkey, inside and out, place in a basin/container, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 300-325. An 8-12 lb turkey will take 2 ¾ to 3 hours to cook; plan accordingly. Place the turkey on a rack in a broiling pan and pour 1 cup water into the pan. **if making Rik’s gravy read the recipe below to put vegetables in the pan as well** Place a lid over the pan -or- loosely “tent” the turkey with aluminum foil. Do not baste the turkey and do not open the oven door. Remove the lid/foil for the last hour so the turkey browns. The meat thermometer should read 165°F when inserted in the breast meat it is good practice to double check the turkey timer. When the turkey is done remove from the oven and pan and place on the cutting board and cover with the foil for 20 minutes before carving.

Note- Grandma Pietri roasts the turkey without a rack, allowing it to sit in its own juices and keeps it covered the whole time. She bastes the turkey every couple of hours for the duration of the bake time. My brother Rik, cook extraordinaire, gave me the “rack don’t baste” recommendation.

neck and giblets (excluding liver) from the turkey
1 celery stalk; coarsely chopped
1 carrot; coarsely chopped
1 onion; pealed and quartered

3 tablespoons fat from oven-roasted turkey drippings
1 cup giblet broth/water
3 tablespoons all purpose flour (rice flour for gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt; more to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Place the giblets (minus the liver), celery, carrot and onion into the pan under the turkey with water to keep it from burning. After the turkey is finished baking strain the vegetables and poultry drippings through a sieve into a large (at least 4 cups) measuring cup. Deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup broth/water, stirring until the crusty brown bits are loosened and pour the liquid through the sieve with the other pan drippings. Over medium heat, spoon 3 tablespoons fat from the poultry drippings (floats to the top of the measuring cup) into a 2-quart saucepan. Whisk flour and sea salt into the heated fat and continue to cook and stir until the flour turns golden brown. Meanwhile, skim and discard any fat remaining on top of the poultry drippings. Add the remaining broth and enough water to the poultry drippings to equal 3 1/2 cups. Gradually whisk in warm poultry drippings and broth mixture. Cook and stir until the gravy simmers and is slightly thick. Season with more salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

1 lb sliced firm white sandwich, French or Italian bread including crusts cut into 1/2″ pieces (*gluten free bread works great too)
4-8 Tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4-1/2 cup fresh parsley; minced
1 teaspoon dried sage (1 Tablespoon fresh; minced)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (1Tablespoon fresh; minced)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3-1 cup stock (I use vegetarian so all can enjoy but the original recipe calls for chicken)
1-2 large eggs; well beaten

Preheat oven to 400, prepare bread, arrange on baking sheet in a single layer and toast until golden brown. Remove toasted bread cubes from oven and pour into a large bowl.

Preheat a large skillet to medium-low and sauté onions and celery in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in herbs and spices. Pour over the bread cubes and stir to combine well. Add stock and egg a little at a time so the stuffing is moist but not packed together.

Turn mixture into a shallow butters baking dish and bake at 350 until the top has formed a crust and the stuffing is heated through, 25-40 minutes.

3 fresh sweet potatoes; pealed and boiled till tender
17 oz can apricot halves with syrup drained and reserved
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (be sure to stub skin well and use organic if possible)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Slice cooked sweet potatoes into 3/4 “ thick rounds. Arrange sliced sweet potatoes in a buttered 10x6x3/4” pan in an even layer. Cook and simmer reserved syrup, brown sugar, cornstarch, orange peel, salt, and cinnamon for 3 minutes. Add the apricot halves and pecans and simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes and bake for 25 minutes.

MASHED POTATOES (with skins if organic)
Scrub 8-10 organic potatoes (otherwise peel), place in a large pot, add water to just cover the potatoes and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook till the potatoes are tender, almost falling apart (about 30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes). Drain potatoes and return to pot, coarsely break apart and allow to cool slightly (this will help the potatoes to dehydrate so they can absorb butter and milk/cream). Add 6 tablespoons butter,  1/2 cup milk/cream, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Turn heat to low and using a hand beater whip the potatoes with the butter and milk/cream and sugar till creamy. Add more milk/cream as needed for consistency. Season with more salt to taste.

Love garlic? Add crushed 1-2 cloves garlic to the pot or simply serve with garlic butter on the side.

1 cup wild rice; cooked
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion; minced
1/4 cup carrots; minced
1/4 cup celery; minced
1/4-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
pinch-1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Bring water and wild rice to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till the grains split (you will see with seems) and are tender, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté the vegetables in butter on low heat till tender. Drain the water from the wild rice, add the sautéd vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. I have also tossed in cooked white or brown rice so it is more of a pilaf.

SWEDISH BRAISED RED CABBAGE (recipe from “Hemmets Kokbok”)
1 small head of red cabbage
1 onion; chopped
2 sour apples (granny smith); quartered and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons butter (or canola oil)
1 teaspoon sea salt
4-5 whole cloves
1 Tablespoon sugar (brown sugar or honey)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 cup water

Remove outer leaves of red cabbage, cut in to quarters and remove the thick stem inside. Cut into think strips or chop into small chunks.sauté cabbage, onion and apples in canola oil. Add the salt, cloves, sweetener, vinegar and water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer over low heat with lid on until the cabbage is tender, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally and taste to adjust seasoning.

Fresh Orange Cranberry Relish
I believe this recipe was originally on an “Ocean Spray” package.

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries; rinsed and picked through
1 orange; diced and seeded if needed
1 cup sugar

Process the above ingredients in a food processor at least 4 days and up to 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving.

Puerto Rican Style Shrimp Soup

This recipe was inspired by a delicious stew, “asopao con camarones”, that we had many years ago at a Taino Restaurant in Puerto Rico. Pictured with an arugula, carrot and tomato salad dressed in a simple vinaigrette and plantain chips on the side.

serves 4

1 lb raw shrimp
1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup recaito *see below for modification
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
dash turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cups tomato sauce
3 cups water

*modification for recaito
1/2 onion; finely chopped
1/2 small pepper; finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro; chopped
1 clove garlic; crushed

Peal, de-vein and set aside shrimp.

In a large pot over low heat sauté the recaito (OR modification -onion, pepper, cilantro and garlic) in olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices and tomato sauce, stir, bring to simmering and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp, return to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.

If serving this in the traditional style, over rice- start the meal by cooking the rice so it is done once this quick stew is prepared.