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October 25, 2010

Thanksgiving: Let the next generation take over [RECIPES]

http://www.jewishjournal.com/tribe/article/thanksgiving_let_the_next_generation_take_over_20101025

After 55 years of celebrating Thanksgiving in our home with family and friends, our son Zeke and son-in-law Jay announced that they wanted to take over the responsibility for Thanksgiving dinner.

Our first reaction was to say no, but we reconsidered. Maybe it was time for a change.

Their first attempt was almost a disaster. We received a telephone call just as we were leaving the house: “Mom, when do we put the turkey in the oven?”

It was a late dinner, but everything went well.

Jay does a great job roasting the turkey, baking it in a brown paper bag, allowing the necessary four or five hours. And Zeke makes the stuffing using Gramma Molly’s Vegetable Stuffing recipe.

We were thrilled that they served all of our traditional Thanksgiving favorites, and each member of the family participated by bringing a potluck dish to share.

Our family dinner usually begins with Chopped Chicken Liver Salad, a recipe handed down from Gramma Gene, which is served with Red Pepper Jelly, along with Jay’s favorite fruit salad.

For those who don’t eat turkey, Jay roasts a salmon, brushed with mustard and maple syrup, along with baked mangos and apple slices.

Of course, apple and cranberry sauce are always on the menu, and Zeke bakes a sweet potato casserole, using fresh sweet potatoes, apple juice and honey.

Our son Marc is assigned to bring wine — an easy task since it is his hobby. Our daughters-in-law, both great bakers, are asked to bring a nondairy dessert — Amy makes pumpkin bread and an Apple Crisp With Rosemary, and Amber’s chocolate peanut butter heirloom cookies are always a treat.

Thanksgiving has turned out even better —  not like the old days, when we prepared the dinner for our kids. Now it’s fun to sit back and enjoy having them cook for us. We kvell as we watch how our passion for cooking has inspired them to continue holiday traditions.

It is a special time to be together with family and friends, enjoying good food, conversation and sharing experiences.

GRAMMA GENE’S CHOPPED CHICKEN LIVER SALAD WITH RED PEPPER JELLY

This is one of the basic Jewish favorites I remember from my childhood. I used to watch my mother, sitting on the back porch steps, doing the hard work of chopping away at beef liver, hard-cooked eggs and chicken schmaltz in a huge wooden bowl. I have preserved the integrity of Gramma Gene’s recipe but enhanced it with apple, mushrooms and a little brandy. I use a meat grinder to get an old-fashioned coarse texture, but you can also make this with a food processor, resulting in a finer texture. The Red Pepper Jelly adds an extra sweet-spicy flavor.

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound chicken livers (prepared according to kosher dietary laws)
4 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cucumber slices for garnish
Red Pepper Jelly (recipe follows)

In a large, heavy skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until lightly browned. Add the livers, mushrooms and apple; sauté, turning the livers on both sides until lightly browned; do not overcook. Add the brandy and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.

Spoon the mixture and the eggs into a meat grinder; grind into a large bowl, making sure to add the juices from the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Transfer to a bowl or mold lined with plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, lift the molded chopped liver out of the bowl, invert onto a serving plate, and peel off the plastic wrap. Garnish with cucumber slices, and serve with Red Pepper Jelly and challah.

Makes 3 to 4 cups.

Photo by Dan Kacvinski

RED PEPPER JELLY

Serve as a condiment with chopped chicken liver, cold meats, poultry or goat cheese. It may be made in advance and refrigerated.

1 1/2 pounds sweet red peppers (about 4 large)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder or 1 small red chili
5 cups sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
6 ounces liquid pectin (kosher)

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Rinse peppers and cut into pieces, discarding seeds and stems. Place pieces, a few at a time, in food processor and chop fine. In a large pot, combine chopped peppers, cider vinegar, salt and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar and lemon juice, mixing until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Stir in pectin and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for exactly 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam with metal spoon. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 (8-ounce) jars.

TURKEY IN A BAGWITH GRAMMAMOLLY’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

1 turkey (15 to 20 pounds)
Gramma Molly’s Vegetable Stuffing (recipe follows)
1/4 cup safflower or vegetable oil
1 cup apricot preserves
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Spoon the cooled stuffing into both cavities and close with a needle and thread or skewers. Rub the outside of the turkey with the oil and preserves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grease the inside (unprinted side) of a large brown paper bag, or use a large plastic baking bag. Place the turkey, neck first and breast down, inside the bag. For a paper bag, fold the open ends and seal it with paper clips or staples; if using a plastic baking bag, tie it with the plastic ties supplied in the package.

Line a large roasting pan with heavy-duty foil. Place the turkey on a large rack in the roasting pan. Bake in preheated 325 F oven according to the suggested cooking times below.

About 30 minutes before the turkey is done, remove it from oven, make a slit in the bag under the turkey, and let the liquid drain into a saucepan. When all the juices are poured off, remove the bag, and return turkey to the oven to brown, uncovered, for the remaining cooking time.

While turkey finishes cooking, heat the juices in the saucepan, skimming off and discarding the fat that forms on top.

When turkey is done, remove from oven, and transfer stuffing to a heated serving bowl. Carve the turkey and arrange the slices, legs and wings on a large platter. Serve the juices in a gravy boat.

Suggested Cooking Time for Stuffed Turkeys

10 to 12 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours

14 to 16 pounds: 5 to 6 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 6 to 7 1/2 hours

Photo by Dan Kacvinski

GRAMMA MOLLY’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

My mother was very proud of this very special stuffing and served it in chicken as well as turkey. She did not, however, cook the ingredients, but mixed everything together and placed it in the bird. I have found that sautéing the stuffing first allows it to cook more evenly. I have also added raisins, which gives it a nice sweet taste. It is especially festive for Thanksgiving.

1/4 cup safflower or vegetable oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 bunch carrots, peeled and grated
1 parsnip, peeled and grated
2 large zucchinis, grated
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup golden seedless raisins, plumped in sweet red wine and drained
8 to 10 mushrooms, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons rolled oats
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
2 to 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dry red wine
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until transparent. Add the celery, carrots, parsnip and zucchini; toss well. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add parsley, raisins and mushrooms; mix thoroughly. Simmer for 5 minutes. Blend in the oats, flour and breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of each at a time. Add the wine and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients, a little at a time, until the stuffing is moist and soft, yet firm in texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes about 4 to 5 cups.

APPLE CRISP WITH ROSEMARY

FILLING:

6 large Granny Smith apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

STREUSEL TOPPING:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup unsalted nondairy margarine, cut in pieces

Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with 1 tablespoon softened margarine; set aside.

For Filling:
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples; place in a large bowl with the lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and rosemary. Add sugar mixture to apples in large bowl, toss lightly to coat apple slices with sugar mixture. Transfer apple mixture into prepared baking pan and set aside.

For Streusel Topping:
In large bowl of an electric mixer, blend the oats, flour and brown sugar. Add the margarine and blend until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples in baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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