I wanted to share a quick recap of a few Thanksgiving highlights. We started the day with my sister's bloody marys that were laden with her famous "fixins". If there's one thing that girl can do, it's top a bloody mary with meats, cheeses and assorted pickled vegetables to keep you coming back for more. I know a bloody mary can be made an infinite number of ways, but we start with a good tomato juice mix and add horseradish, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce as a minimum. We call it "meal in a glass," and I would definitely recommend that you make these at your next home made brunch. You can add the traditional celery and then go crazy from there. Below is a pepperdew pepper, pickled asparagus, dill pickle, stuffed olive, salami and marinated mini-mozzarella ball.
As so many holiday cooking stories go, our turkey was cooking away nicely, the butter laden cheesecloth neatly laid on top was doing its job of keeping everything moist whilst browning the skin to a delicious crispiness. Meat thermometer at the ready, we plunged it into the leg after about 3 hours and declared it done. Oh dear. We hadn't started cooking any of the sides, although everything was expertly prepared by my Dad's wife, Lisa. After she and I quickly finished off all the side dishes, another inspection of the turkey proved that alas, it was not finished. Back into the oven it went. Instead of pressing the panic button, we decided to drink through many, many bottles of my Dad's wine and a gorgeous bottle of Champagne that our friend, Phillipe, had brought. I like Julia Child's mantra of never apologizing for any mistakes you make in the kitchen.
Luckily, it turned out to be a very relaxing Thanksgiving and the turkey was expertly cooked and carved.
Here are two recipes that are staples with my family and can be cooked throughout the holiday season. I mentioned the shrimp loaf before the weekend began, and remarkably, it successfully set when I made it Wednesday night. Unfortunately, I dipped it for a few minutes too long in the warm water bath I made it. After several glasses of wine, I cared very little, but wished it had turned out of its mold perfectly.
The recipe is from my Grandmother, Dorothy, who obtained it from a friend she used to play bridge with. It really is a great salad that pairs wonderfully with turkey, which is why it made its way into our holiday traditions. I can imagine it would also blend perfectly into a ladies' luncheon buffet and a nice game of cards and cocktails.
I'm painfully aware that the photo is not as appetizing as I might have hoped. It's pale pink and wobbly, but trust me- it's fantastic with turkey, especially leftover turkey sandwiches.
1 cup mayonnaise
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 lb cooked small shrimp (if you only have larger, cut it into small pieces)
1/2 ground pepper
1 1/2 celery
1 pkg lemon jello, regular size
1 1/2 cup tomato juice
1 pkg Knox unflavored gelatin
Mix the Knox gelatin with a few tablespoons of water and whisk until it's dissolved. Heat the tomato juice until just before boiling. Add the hot tomato juice to the gelatin and dissolve the lemon jello into the tomato juice.
While that is cooling, cream the mayonnaise and cream cheese together. Finely chop the onion, green pepper and celery in a food processor and add to the cream cheese/mayo mixture.
Add 1/2 tsp salt and combine with the tomato juice once it has cooled.
Take a loaf pan or any other gelatin mold you have and grease it with Pam spray or take a paper towel with vegetable oil and make sure the mold is greased.
Pour the mixture into the mold and refrigerate overnight until firm. To turn out successfully, make a warm water bath in your kitchen sink and dip the mold into the water for a matter of 30 seconds before turning it out onto a plate. Don't leave it too long in the water like I did!
This year, my Mom's pumpkin soup didn't make the main event, but I just finished off the holiday weekend by preparing it for an early supper. In years gone by, she used to serve this pumpkin soup in small individual pumpkins for a fancy start to any festive meal. You can also make this and serve it out of the pumpkin you got the meat from, but honestly, it's fairly tedious. I like to make a big batch of this and dip ladle after ladle into it until it's gone.
Another thing to mention about this pumpkin soup is it's nicely rounded out with a tablespoon of rice and potato, so it's got body and richness, unlike other thin pumpkin soups I've come across.
I took a large pumpkin that I bought at the end of October and cut it's meat into large chunks and froze them in two batches. I think cooking with squash or pumpkin can be tricky because of all the peeling and knife work involved, so doing the pumpkin ahead of time makes the soup preparation super simple.
Adapted from the Winners cookbook by The Junior League of Indianapolis
1 medium size pumpkin cut into large chunks (or about 3 cups)
4 tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes or 16 oz can of chopped tomatoes, drained
1 quart boiling water
1 quart chicken stock
1 tbsp long grain rice
2 cups peeled and sliced potatoes
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over low to medium heat. Add the pumpkin and tomatoes and cook for about five minutes. Do not brown.
Add the boiling water, chicken stock, rice, potatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 40-60 minutes Puree the soup using a hand blender (which I prefer because it literally takes seconds and you can do it in the pot you're cooking in or risk burning yourself while blending) or a little at a time in a blender or food processor.
Check seasoning at this point and add salt, pepper and a little nutmeg before tasting again.
Pour soup into individual or the larger pumpkin shells to serve and garnish with nutmeg.