Archive for October 10th, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinners

Thanksgiving pies 2011 1024x682 Thanksgiving Dinners

Two. Maybe three? Four? I can’t remember as far back as Friday.

There were artichoke dip poppers and potato croquettes, and Brussels sprouts (BRUSSELS! Not brussel sprouts. Ahem.) with bacon and candied pecans, and braised red cabbage, smashed potatoes, roasted squash and winter veg and cranberries and plums, and yes a turkey, a turducken and four pies. Five, if you count tonight’s, which was actually a tarte tatin.

I’m not sure where to start.

Artichoke dip poppers 2 1024x726 Thanksgiving Dinners

The poppers? That’s where we started on Saturday, so i’s as good a place as any. I had them at the Jasper Park Lodge last weekend, and swore to make them as soon as possible. (Or as soon as I had people over on whom to pawn them off. Speaking of the JPL, I’ll be at Christmas in November at this time next month! With Michael Smith and Anna Olson! It’s a ton of fun! Who’s coming?)

So it works like this: you take leftover artichoke dip – any kind, really, provided it’s baked and then cooled (read: congealed) so you can roll it into little balls. (Don’t worry about them being perfectly firm; prepare to get messy.) If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to bake a dip expressly for this purpose, because leftover + artichoke dip don’t go in the same sentence around here. If you are like me you’ll eat all the crispy cheese off the top, thinking it won’t matter in the poppers anyway.

Artichoke dip poppers 1024x691 Thanksgiving Dinners

You roll them in flour, then egg, then Panko, then send them for a swim in a shallow pot of oil. They get all crisp and golden on the outside, with gooey artichoke dip on the inside. Oh yes.

Here’s a baked artichoke dip recipe, if you need one:

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

If you don’t like your dip chunky, put everything in the food processor and pulse it until it’s as smooth as you like.

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese (regular or light – not fat free)
1/4 cup mayo
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
salt & pepper
grated Parmesan or mozzarella, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350F.

Pulse the artichoke hearts and spinach with the sour cream or yogurt in a food processor until roughly chopped and blended. In a bowl, mash together the cream cheese, mayo, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt and pepper; stir in the artichoke-spinach mixture and spread in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips or sliced soft, crusty baguette. Or refrigerate until firm to make dip poppers.

To make dip poppers: chill the baked and cooled dip overnight, or up to a few days. Heat a couple inches of canola oil in a pot set over medium-high heat and roll the chilled dip into walnut-sized balls. While your canola oil is heating in a heavy skillet or shallow pot (enough to come almost halfway up the side of the balls) beat an egg in a shallow bowl, and some Panko (crispy Japanese breadcrumbs) or dry breadcrumbs in another bowl and a bit of flour in a third.

When the oil is hot but not smoking (it should sizzle around a bit of bread dropped in), dredge the balls of dip first in flour, then in egg and Panko, and gently drop them a few at a time into the oil. (Don’t crowd the pan, or it will cool the oil down too much.) Cook until golden on one side, then flip and cook on the other. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and serve warm.

It turned out to be the same technique as the potato croquettes my Aunt Chris, who came to visit from Milwaukee and whom I haven’t seen since I was about 10, made for turkey dinner with the family. She makes them out of potatoes mashed with egg yolk and salt, and rolls them – shaped like a double-long tater tot – in flour, then beaten egg white and dry breadcrumbs.

Aunt Chris testing the oil 1024x697 Thanksgiving Dinners

She tests to see if the oil is hot enough with the handle of a wooden spoon. She says she learned it from Rachel Ray. The oil is supposed to bubble around the handle – I do this with a bit of bread. You need some moisture in there.

Potato croquettes uncooked 1024x682 Thanksgiving Dinners

Potato croquettes 1024x682 Thanksgiving Dinners

We had two great birds this weekend – my Mom roasted a free range turkey (below) from Winter’s out in Dalemead. I tweeted photos of it as it emerged from the oven, which prompted a barrage of questions about how to get it to look like that. Because I didn’t think tweeting out my mom’s phone number was a good idea, I posted some turkey roasting advice – mine along with the good folks at Winter’s Turkeys – if anyone is having turkey trouble.

Thanksgiving turkey 2011 1024x682 Thanksgiving Dinners

On Saturday I cooked a locally made turducken from Calgary Co-op – turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with Spolumbo’s sausage. The cooking instructions specified a long cooking time at very low heat (225F?), and so I thought why not do it in the CrockPot? Turduckens tend to be smaller than regular turkeys – or they should be, since they are solid meat. With no carcass or cavity, they’re heavier and feed more than a regular turkey of the same size. Bonus: are they ever easy to carve! Nip off the legs and slice ‘er up like a meatloaf. Beauty,

The turducken tucked perfectly into a 6 qt oval slow cooker – I didn’t add stock or anything – the juices are contained and enough – and it generously freed up the oven to bake things like pies.

turducken in slow cooker 1024x682 Thanksgiving Dinners

But chickens and turkeys done in the slow cooker aint pretty; A quick turn in a hot oven crisped up the skin nicely. Not the best photo – it was dark by the time we ate – but you get the gist.

Turducken 2011 1024x772 Thanksgiving Dinners

And yes, more pie! Apple-pear, maple pecan, a sort of new version of cherpumple (more on that later) and Sue’s plum pie, from her very first blog post. Welcome to the inter-web Sue!

Sues plum pie unbaked 1024x684 Thanksgiving Dinners

I didn’t cram the plums in as neatly – nor as tightly – as she did, partly because I was running out of time, and partly because I didn’t have quite enough plums. (I counted the pits – there were 30.) It still looked fab, and didn’t overflow, as Sue’s did (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – which could be due to the fact that I used a shallow quiche dish instead. The problem with tart pans that have removable bottoms? Whenever I go to use them their bottoms have been removed.

Sues plum pie 2 1024x682 Thanksgiving Dinners

Many dinners, even more desserts. I’ll catch you up on the rest soon.

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October 10 2011 | appetizers | 16 Comments »